Switchable RF Connector that measures 2.7 by 2.7mm
July 2005
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ITT Industries, Electronic Components has introduced a new switchable RF connector that measures 2.7 by 2.7 mm, 1.6 mm high, and weighs 0.02 g. According to the company, its Mini RF connector is the smallest on the market, which makes it ideal for today’s shrinking wireless devices. Possible appliance applications include wireless handsets and wireless medical devices.

Using a split insulator design, the contacts are sandwiched between two insulators, minimizing the risk of solder flux contamination of the switch. The contacts are made of beryllium copper, while the insulators are made of liquid crystal polymer. The outer shell is manufactured out of phosphor bronze with plating variations of matte tin or gold-over-nickel for different applications. Ted Worroll, product manager, notes that material selection was key in attaining the connector’s small size. “With the shell of the connector, we might have normally used brass, but used a phosphor bronze to accommodate the thin walls and sharp angles,” he explains.

The Mini RF Series is available in a test port version and an accessory port version. The test port version is used to test electronic circuitry or a pre-transmitting element, while the accessory port version is used to test and redirect signals through an external transmitting element.

According to the company, there are several benefits in using the new RF connector. The first advantage is cost. Typically, when wireless devices transmit and receive information with an antenna, it is necessary to disconnect the antenna in order to test the electronic circuitry, which can be costly. Using the Mini RF connector or test port, eliminates this task and allows for easy testing. Mr. Worroll says, “With this device, a test probe can easily be mated with the board connector through the cap next to the antenna that covers the RF switching connector on the back of a cell phone.” This is also easier than dismantling the entire device.

The Mini RF with gold plate can also withstand 10,000 mating cycles, increasing its reliability in applications such as cradle connections. “With wireless medical devices that doctors use to monitor patients from home, the device is linked into a master station at the hospital,” notes Mr. Worroll. “These, or similar devices, are repeatedly placed into and removed from cradles such as those in cars or delivery vehicles to attach to/detach from higher gain antennas. The RF switching connector is a critical component to allow this action.”

ITT’s patented ball geometry offers another advantage for designers and end users. The ball geometry allows for angular misalignment, higher cycle content, and offset misalignment. “The outer body of the mating adapter is spring-loaded, and the outer ground moves back, exposing the center contact,” Mr. Worroll explains. “As the probe starts to engage against the male moving contact of the board connector, which also is spring loaded, it breaks the moving contact from the fixed contact, creating the antenna break. This can be done at an angle or offset while allowing the two connectors to engage and operate correctly.” Mr. Worroll also says this allows for more placement variability during the manufacturing process without threatening performance.


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