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Author Archives: Greg Diblasi

  1. What Are Tactile Switches?

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    Tactile switches are electromechanical switches installed beneath the keys of a computer keyboard, motor control keyboard, keypad, and other electronic devices. They produce the satisfying “bump” that users feel in their fingers when they strike a key, coupled with a distinct clicking sound. These tactile and auditory cues inform a user that a key or keyboard is functioning as it should and is registering the applied actuation force during typing. Learn more about the components that make up a tactile switch, why they are useful, and their advantageous characteristics.

    Click to ExpandWhat are Tactile Switches

    Tactile Switch Components

    Standard tactile switches have a rather simplistic design structure, generally using only about five key components in their operation. These include:

    • Cover. A cover of metal or another rugged material is the external-most component of a tactile switch. It offers protection, shielding the internal components beneath or, if necessary, utilizing a ground terminal to safeguard against detrimental static discharge.
    • Plunger. Beneath the cover rests a plunger, which, depending on its application, may be composed of rubber, metal, or another material and have either a raised or flat configuration. The plunger is partly responsible for the tactile and auditory feedback of the switch.
    • Contact dome. The contact dome is the other component that, with the plunger, produces the telltale click and feel of a tactile switch. Be it metal or another material, the composition of the plunger and contact dome determine the kind of sound and feel a user will experience. Contact domes have an arched shape that allows these components to reverse their configuration under compression, ultimately creating a circuitry connection between dual contact points fixed in the switch base to power the switch.
    • Base. The largest of a tactile switch’s components, a base of molded resin holds the contact points and terminals that enable a connection with a corresponding printed circuit board (PCB) base.
    • Actuator. The actuator controls the electromechanics of the tactile switch, allowing it to function. It is responsible for closing and opening the circuit.

    Why Choose Tactile Switches?

    Tactile switches are a highly reliable and safe mechanical switch option as their operational life typically lasts years. This makes them useful in critical applications that need dependable components, as well as in electronic devices for which constant maintenance would be problematic. They are also easy to use, not requiring much force to activate them, which can help boost typing speed. 

    If an application has space constraints, tactile switches are ideal as these small devices possess a low profile, making for an optimal fit in notebook computers or other devices with limited internal space. Compared to quiet linear switches or louder clicky switches, tactile switches produce a moderately audible clicking noise and offer a range of tactile feedback based on the plunger and dome material compositions, as well as the switch variant. Their sound is less distracting if volume is a concern in a user’s application.

    All of that said, the best tactile switches offer a range of benefits for versatile keyboard and keypad applications from computers and security systems to telephones and appliances.

    Benefits of Tactile Switches

    These electromechanical switches possess advantageous features that enhance both their reliability and the user experience, including:

    • Feedback that users can feel and hear. The sound and feel of a tactile switch are evidence to the user that the switch is operational and engaging with the circuitry. As users are typing, tactile switches help enable them to tell when they have missed a key because they don’t feel or hear the corresponding bump or click.
    • Engagement of circuitry. Tactile switches are either on, meaning the electrical current is flowing through them, or they are off. Depending on the switch, the “on” function can be either when a user presses a key or when they release it. This is beneficial because it enables both continuous operation and quick, efficient data input.
    • Minimal current and power demands. Tactile switches are capable of functioning while utilizing lower current and power ratings than some other switch types and have less arcing occurring at their points of contact. As a result, this makes them an ideal fit for low-voltage systems and components. They also tend to be more economical to manufacture.
    • Longer life span than other varieties. As another factor that impacts their cost-efficiency, tactile switches only contain a small amount of moving components, which means that they often have a longer life cycle than comparable mechanical switch types. Given the reduced maintenance concerns, manufacturers can even mount them directly to a circuit board.

    Tactile Switches From Amphenol NEXUS Technologies 

    Tactile switches are highly versatile given the array of key, material, and actuator options that are available, and Amphenol NEXUS Technologies can assist you in finding the right switch for your application. Our push-button switches offer significant tactile feedback for reliable proof of actuation, and we also offer military-grade components for critical applications. Contact us today to learn more about our product line and how our switches can support your operations. 

  2. What Are Waterproof Electrical Connectors?

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    Click to ExpandWhat are waterproof electrical connectors

    Water from rain, humidity, or snow can easily damage electrical wiring, potentially causing shorts and starting fires. That’s why it’s important to use waterproof electrical connectors to protect the wiring from the elements. Waterproof electrical connectors are designed to keep water out of the connection point, preventing damage and ensuring a safe and reliable connection. Here we’ll discuss how waterproof electrical connectors work as well as their specifications and ratings for various environments.

    How Waterproof Connectors Work

    7- And 10-Pin Waterproof Breakaway Connectors

    Waterproof electrical connectors are a critical component in applications where exposure to water is likely. They are commonly used in marine and outdoor settings, as well as in any indoor environment where high humidity is present. Waterproof electrical connectors form very tight seals to resist even the toughest high-moisture conditions.

    This seal is possible through prongs that fit snugly around the connection points. The connectors are often coated with a waterproofing compound like rubber, which enters the receptacle end, fills in any gaps, and provides insulation against electrical shocks. As a result, waterproof electrical connectors provide a reliable and safe way to power equipment in potentially hazardous environments.

    Ingress Protection (IP) Ratings

    Specified by IEC standard 60529, Ingress Protection (IP) ratings are standards used to rate the level of protection against water, dust, and temperatures that an electrical enclosure offers. The ratings range from no protection to full protection against complete immersion. The higher the IP rating, the greater the protection.

    When it comes to waterproof connectors, IP ratings are important to consider because they indicate how well the connector will perform in wet or dusty environments. The first number of an IP rating indicates the protection against solids like dust, while the second number indicates protection against liquids. For example, waterproof connectors are typically rated at IP68, meaning they are completely dust-tight and can withstand being immersed in water for extended periods.

    When shopping for waterproof connectors, check the IP code to ensure that the connector will meet your needs. This table provides a detailed look at what each IP number and rating indicates:

    Protection against solidsProtection against liquids
    0No protection0No protection
    1Protection against objects larger than 50 mm1Protection against dripping water
    2Protection against objects larger than 12 mm2Protection against dripping water if the enclosure is tilted up by 15°
    3Protection against objects larger than 2.5 mm3Protection against spraying water at angles up to 60°
    4Protection against objects larger than 1 mm4Protection against splashing water from any direction
    5Protection against some dust5Protection against water jetting from a 12.5 mm nozzle in any direction
    6Protection against all dust6Limited protection against water immersion up to 1 m in depth
    7Protection against water immersion up to 1 m in depth for up 30 min
    8Protection against water immersion over 1 m for a time specified by the manufacturer
    9Protection against high-temperature, high-pressure water spraying at close range

    Waterproof Electrical Connectors From Amphenol Nexus Technologies

    Waterproof electrical connectors are an important part of devices that function in high-moisture areas. If you are in the market for reliable and sturdy connectors, Amphenol Nexus Technologies can help. We offer waterproof plugs and waterproof jacks as part of our product catalog of connectors specifically rated for use in wet environments. 

    With over 60 years of experience and ISO 9001:2015 certification, we develop products guaranteed to meet even the most exacting performance requirements. Our quality assurance system meets the standards of MIL-Q-9858, MIL-I-45208, MIL-STD-45662, and the sampling standards of MIL-STD-105. Amphenol Nexus Technologies is also on the U.S. Government’s Qualified Products List (QPL) for MIL-C-55116, MIL-C-9177, and MIL-S-8805/3. Contact us or request a quote to learn how we can serve your application.

  3. Breaking Down Military Connector Specifications

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    Breaking Down Military Connector Specifications

    Components for military applications must be built and tested according to specific military specifications, or Mil-Spec. Learn more about the value of Mil-Spec connectors and the Mil-Spec standards that regulate their features, performance, and testing.

    What Are Mil-Spec Connectors?

    Mil-Spec connectors are paired male and female components that transfer signals or electricity through contact points. Connectors have three main parts: the contacts, exterior shell, and terminals. These components must be able to withstand harsh environments. For example, the contacts are typically made of a highly conductive, noncorrosive material such as gold-plated phosphor bronze.

    Mil-Spec connectors must comply with established requirements and are rated for safe and effective performance in certain military operations.

    Military Connector Specifications

    There are multiple Mil-Spec standards that guide the production and assessment of different types of connectors. The following standards apply to electrical connectors.

    • MIL-DTL-26482: This establishes the requirements for circular electrical connectors, which include quick disconnect, environmental resistance, and extreme temperature range.
    • MIL-DTL-55116: This describes requirements for connectors in radios and fill systems.
    • MIL-DTL-83527: This sets the requirements and testing criteria for highly specialized connectors meant for use in extremely rugged environments.

    Amphenol Nexus Technologies offers the following Mil-Spec connectors that are compliant with the above standards.

    • M8805/3 switches: These push-button switches are specially rated for water submersion. They are often used in aircraft, ground vehicles, naval systems, rugged communications, and avionics.
    • M9177 telephone jacks and plugs: Our M9177 jacks feature a contact material of nickel-plated beryllium copper, and the plugs have a Monel contact. Both have a plastic shell. These products are ideal for ruggedized commercial and military applications.

    Amphenol Nexus Technologies: Premium Mil-Spec Connectors

    At Amphenol Nexus Technologies, we specialize in designing and manufacturing durable Mil-Spec connectors that comply with military standards.

    We offer M8805/3 switches, M9177 telephone jacks and plugs, and M55116 audio jacks and plugs. Our M55116 Mil-Spec jacks and plugs provide long-lasting connections in audio components for radios, intercom systems, and more. They can take up to 60V and a 0.5A maximum current. With either solder cup contacts or crimp sleeves, these connectors are available with miniaturization, right angle, filtering, and shielding.

    If you’re ready to select a Mil-Spec connector for your application, contact us today to learn more about our manufacturing capabilities.

  4. The Importance of Mil-Spec Connectors

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    The Importance of Mil-Spec Connectors

    Military organizations establish strict standards for the components, equipment, and other manufactured goods they use in military operations. Those standards are referred to as Mil-Spec, or military specifications, and they establish the required dimensions, ratings, and features for each part.

    What Are Mil-Spec Connectors?

    Mil-Spec electrical and fiber-optic connectors, particularly the Army-Navy series, are the modern standard for military circular connectors. Their design, manufacturing, and operational capabilities must meet certain requirements for heavy-duty use in military applications. For example, mil-spec connectors consist of male and female pairs that must be constructed from noncorrosive, conductive metals such as gold-plated beryllium copper and contained in a dielectric insulator.

    Manufacturers and military organizations work together to ensure a product design meets the right standards for certain environments and applications. Because these standards demand durability and reliable performance, other industries—such as aerospace, marine, and automotive—also prefer Mil-Spec connectors.

    Choosing Mil-Spec Connectors

    When selecting Mil-Spec connectors, ensure each part of the component complies with the applicable military standards. Consider different product options such as size, type, coupling method, and materials.

    Contacts

    The contacts create the electrical path that travels from one connector to its mate. Contacts are made from pins and sockets, and they can have different coupling designs to ensure a reliable connection. These designs include threaded coupling, breech lock coupling, and bayonet coupling.

    Shells

    The connector shell is the protective housing that holds the contact points and internal parts. Usually made of corrosion-resistant aluminum, the shell can come in different styles, such as an angled or straight plug, box-mount or wall receptacle, or dummy receptacle. Circular Mil-Spec connectors are cylindrical and vary in size.

    Terminals

    Terminals into the system usually have a crimped or soldered connection. The terminals attach the connector to a conductor to facilitate an electrical flow.

    M55116 Mil-Spec and Mil-Spec-Type Connectors

    At Amphenol Nexus Technologies, we specialize in creating Mil-Spec components and connectors, such as audio plugs and jacks. Our M55116 Mil-Spec audio connectors feature polarized plugs with multiple pins, a waterproof design, and options for added shielding, filtering, miniaturization, and right angle. They can handle frequency circuits up to 60V and a maximum current of 0.5A. Our Mil-Spec connectors are commonly used in audio systems for military radios and intercoms.
    In addition to our M55116 Mil-Spec product line, we also carry M9177 telephone jacks and plugs and M8805/3 switches.

    Amphenol Nexus Technologies: Premium Mil-Spec Connectors

    Connectors that meet or exceed Mil-Spec standards provide long-term, reliable performance. Many products on the market meet these standards, but your specific application will determine which connectors are right for you. Amphenol Nexus Technologies is committed to providing the highest quality Mil-Spec connectors that fit your needs. Contact us today to learn more about our capabilities.

  5. What is a Breakaway Connector?

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    What is a Breakaway Connector?

    A breakaway connector is an electrical safety component used on cables to disconnect corded equipment from moving components or rotating machinery. If rotating or moving machinery starts to move while a sensor or cable is tangled within it, the breakaway connector will disconnect immediately so the corded equipment isn’t dragged into the moving equipment. 

    Breakaway connectors are commonly used with data collection equipment that connects to rotating machines, but they can be used for virtually any application where cords and corded equipment are in potential danger from high tensile loads. These components are also sometimes called weak links or weak fuses.

    Best Materials for Breakaway Connectors

    Breakaway connectors can be constructed from a wide variety of plastic and metal alloy options. Plastics provide lightweight, cost-effective components that resist corrosion damage. However, manufacturing plastic breakaway connectors does require an upfront investment to design and develop tooling for the molding process. Plastic may also wear down faster than other material options. 

    Metals such as aluminum offer another viable and popular choice. This material is more resistant to wear and damage than plastic, while remaining lightweight and easy to work with. However, aluminum is more vulnerable to corrosion damage than plastic. Heavier metal options include brass and stainless steel. While these options are more resistant to corrosion and physical damage, the additional weight can interfere with the effectiveness of the component. 

    It’s possible to enhance corrosion resistance and other properties on plastic or metal breakaway connectors through plating.

    An infographic explaining breakaway connectors

    The Importance of Plating and Color for Breakaway Connectors

    By plating metal or plastic breakaway connectors with thin layers of other materials, manufacturers can imbue connectors with the positive characteristics of multiple materials. Chroming aluminum components, for example, allows for the use of lightweight metal while protecting it from corrosion.

    Breakaway connectors also come in different colors, and those colors communicate important attributes of the connector. For example, mating pairs of components can have the same color so technicians can easily pair the parts together. Colors may also designate brand, orientation, and material characteristics for the connectors, depending on the application.

    Breakaway Connectors From Amphenol NEXUS Technologies

    At Amphenol NEXUS Technologies, we specialize in manufacturing and supplying 7- and 10-pin breakaway connectors with a durable, waterproof design. We provide a wide range of standard and miniature breakaway components, plugs, and jacks for an array of applications, including:

    • C4I systems
    • Military aircraft
    • Commercial aircraft
    • Military ground vehicles
    • Soldier systems
    • Missiles and ordnance
    • Commercial/industrial equipment

     Contact us today to see how our breakaway cables and components can improve safety in your operation.

  6. What is a Push Button Switch?

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    What is a Push Button Switch?

    A push button switch is a simple mechanism that initiates power to a machine, device, or appliance. The body is typically metal or plastic, featuring a durable and ergonomic design. With switches available that provide latching or momentary action, there are push button switches for virtually any relevant application. This blog will explain how push button switches work and discuss typical applications for various push button switch types. 

    How Does a Push Button Switch Work?

    Push button switches can serve many purposes, but each type operates on a similar principle. When an operator applies pressure to the push button actuator, an internal spring depresses. Contacts attached to the spring connect with the electrical contacts on the switch’s lower end to open or close the electrical circuit. Depending on the switch, releasing the button or pressing it again will retract the spring and return the circuit to its original state.

    The initial state of the push button circuit can be open or closed, depending on the application. The type of switch will also depend on the application.

    Push Button Switch Types

    Push button switches come in two types: momentary switches or push-pull switches. 

    • Momentary. The momentary push button switch has a single pole and is initially in an off state. When the operator presses the push button switch, it changes to on. There are also double-pole momentary switches that provide an additional state of functionality. 
    • Push-pull. Push-pull switches are typically in an off state until an operator presses the button and engages the actuator. The machine or device will remain on until an operator pulls the actuator to its initial position.

    An infographic describing push button switches

    Selecting a Push Button Switch for Military Applications

    Military push button switches undergo rigorous testing and quality control. They must meet high reliability and performance requirements, in addition to ergonomic specifications. Relevant military specifications for push buttons include MIL-S-8805/3 and MS25089. Military push buttons require numerous capabilities, such as:

    • Electromagnetic immunity
    • Extreme temperature operation
    • Resistance to salt spray
    • IP67 or IP68 waterproofing
    • Shock and vibration resistance
    • Matte black chrome finish

    Push Button Switches From Amphenol NEXUS Technologies

    Amphenol Nexus Technologies can produce durable and tactile momentary switches and push-pull switches. Our experts have extensive experience designing and manufacturing rugged switches used in numerous commercial, industrial, marine, and military settings, such as:

    • Industrial machinery
    • Soldier systems
    • Command systems
    • Ruggedized communications systems
    • Naval systems
    • Ground vehicles
    • Avionics
    • Commercial and military aircraft

    Our custom switches allow us to meet your exact specifications, and our military push button switches comply with MIL-S-8805/3 and MS25089. We also manufacture connectors that make it simple to implement our push button switches.

    To see how we can help with your next project, please contact us today.

  7. What is the Difference Between Microphone Plugs & Jacks?

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    What is the Difference Between Microphone Plugs & Jacks?

    Even with the continued rise of wireless technology, many high-quality headsets, microphones, and other audio equipment still rely on wired connections to boost sound quality and functionality. How these devices plug into computers and larger pieces of equipment matters, as does the material used to make the contact points.

    When purchasing audio hardware, it’s important to know the difference between a plug and a jack. A plug is a male-type connector that users insert into the equipment, whereas the jack is the matching female-type connector the plug goes into. For example, a microphone plug will be inserted into a speaker or computer’s jack. Plugs and jacks come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and materials. When selecting plugs and jacks, it’s important to ensure the proper sizing and other properties for each component to ensure it will function in its intended application.

    Amphenol NEXUS Technologies Microphone Plugs & Jacks

    At Amphenol NEXUS Technologies, we specialize in building robust, durable microphone components to give our users equipment they can rely on. Our designs focus on building robust solutions that can handle a variety of conditions.

    For example, we incorporate nylon into our plug designs. Nylon is a synthetic material that has broad use cases ranging from clothing to electronics. This material is corrosion-resistant, insulative, wear-resistant, lightweight, and easy to customize. These properties make nylon an optimal choice for protective housings used on our ruggedized plugs and jacks used in even the harshest applications.

    Plugs and jacks from Amphenol NEXUS Technologies will withstand hard usage, up to and including the stresses found in military application environments. Aside from the protective nylon housings, we’ve ruggedized our components by choosing strong materials and designing the jack-plug contacts to withstand hectic conditions. Beryllium is very ductile, making it an excellent choice for forming detailed geometries with specific dimensions. Adding nickel plating protects the beryllium by reducing the potential for diffusion and degradation. It also adds a bright, appealing finish.

    With components designed for extreme wear resistance and failsafe capabilities, users of our microphone plugs and jacks can ensure a strong audio connection in rugged environments. This is what makes our solutions so well-suited for use as components in emergency commercial, municipal, and military communication systems.

    An infographic explaining the differences between microphone plugs & jacks

    Amphenol NEXUS Technologies for Rugged Applications

    Since 1961, our team at Amphenol NEXUS has been designing and manufacturing audio plugs and jacks for a broad range of rugged application environments. We specialize in microphone and OEM headsets that are built to last and provide a trustworthy audio connection.

    Contact us today to learn more about our capabilities or product line.