Electronic Components Glossary

Electronic Components Glossary

Accessories
Sometimes referred to as “Rear Accessories” or “Backshells” are mechanical devices such as strain reliefs, cable clamps, adapters or potting boots, which are threaded onto the rear connector accessory threads of plug or receptacle connectors to make up the total connector assembly.
 
Alloy
A combination of two or more elements of which at least one is metal.
 
Alternating Current (AC)
Electric current that continually reverses its direction. It is expressed in cycles per second (hertz or Hz).
 
Ampere
The unit of current. One ampere is the current flowing through one ohm of resistance at one volt potential.
 
ANSI
American National Standards Institute
 
Anti-Oxidant
A substance which prevents or slows down oxidation of material exposed to air.
 
ASA
American Standards Association. Former name of ANSI.
 
ASME
American Society of Mechanical Engineers
 
Audio Frequency
The range of frequencies audible to the human ear. Usually 30 Hz to 20,000 Hz.
 
AWG
American Wire Gauge. A standard system for designating wire diameter.
 
Backshell
Housing on a connector that covers the area where the cable conductors connect to the connector contacts.
 
Bayonet Coupling
A quick coupling mechanism for mating a plug onto a receptacle utilizing three equally spaced pins protruding from the receptacle shell which engage corresponding ramps milled into the coupling nut of the mating plug. Mating and un-mating is accomplished by rotating the coupling nut.
 
Body
The main, or largest portion of a connector to which other portions are attached. Also called housing.
 
BOM(Bill of Materials)
A comprehensive listing of components and quantities required to manufacture an assembly.
 
Braid
A fibrous or metallic group filaments interwoven in cylindrical form to form a covering over one or more wires.
 
Bulkhead
Type of connector designed for insertion into a panel cut-out from the component side.
 
Cable Assembly
A cable with plugs or connectors on each end.  
 
Cable Clamp
A mechanical device attached to the accessory threads at the rear of a plug or receptacle to support the cable or wire bundle, to provide strain relief and absorb vibration and shock which would otherwise be transmitted by the cable to the contact or wire crimp area.
 
Cable Gland
A device used to firmly secure electrical cable entering a piece of equipment, and provide a seal between external and internal surfaces. Cable glands are often made from brass, steel and nylon.
 
CE (Conformité Européenne)
European Economic Community approval indicating that a product complies with a European Directive.
 
Certificate of Compliance (C of C)
A certificate which is normally generated by a quality control department, which shows that the product being shipped meets customer’s specifications.
 
Coaxial Cable
A cable consisting of two cylindrical conductors with a common axis, separated by a dielectric.
 
Composite Cable
A cable containing more than one gauge size or a variety of circuit types, e.g., pairs, triples, quads, coaxials, etc.
 
Conductivity
The capability of a material to carry electrical current– usually expressed as a percentage of copper conductivity (copper being 100%).
 
Conductor
An uninsulated wire suitable for carrying electrical current.
 
Conduit
A tube or trough in which insulated wires and cables are passed.
 
Configuration
Arrangement of contacts in a multiple contact connector.
 
Connector
A mechanical device, either a plug or a receptacle, used to terminate or connect electrical conductors (pin and socket contacts) of a cable and its individual wires and provide a means to continue or terminate these conductors to a mating connector which may be mounted on electrical equipment panels, bulkheads, printed circuit boards, etc.
 
Contact
Pin or socket – the conductive element of a connector which actually makes contact for the purpose of conducting electrical current. This is the heart of the connector.
 
Contact Arrangement
The number of contacts, their size and spacing in a connector.
 
Contact Wipe
The length of travel made by one contact in contact with another during the mating or un-mating of a connector.
 
Control Cable
A multi-conductor cable made for operation in control or signal circuits.
 
Contact Size
Defines the largest size wire which can be used with the specific contact.
 
Cord
A small, flexible insulated cable.
 
Crimp
The act of physically compressing (deforming) a connector or contact barrel around a wire in order to make an electrical connection.
 
Crimp Barrel
The cylindrical portion of a terminal, splice or contact accommodating the conductor or conductors.
 
Crimp Contact
A contact, pin or socket, whose back portion (wire barrel) is a hollow cylinder into which a stripped wire (conductor) is inserted. The sidewalls of the wire barrel are then mechanically compressed (uniformly deformed) using a crimping tool to captivate the conductor.
 
Crimp Die
Portion of the crimp tool that shapes the crimp on the wire barrel.
 
Crimp Tool
Mechanical device that holds the crimp die and is used to perform the crimping function.
 
CSA
Canadian Standards Association a non-profit, independent organization which operates a listing service for electrical and electronic materials and equipment. The Canadian counterpart of the Underwriters Laboratories.
 
Current
Flow of electricity, measured in amps.
 
Current-Carrying Capacity
The maximum current an insulated conductor can safely carry with out exceeding its insulation and jacket temperature limitations.
 
Dielectric
A material having electrical insulating qualities capable of resisting electrical stress. Example: most plastics have dielectric strength.
 
DIN
German Standardisation Agency.
 
Direct Current (DC)
An electric current which flows in one direction.
 
Drain Wire
In a cable, the un-insulated wire in intimate contact with a shield to provide for easier termination of such a shield to ground.
 
Duct
An underground or overhead tube for carrying electrical cables.
 
Electromotive Force (EMF)
Pressure or voltage. The force which causes current to flow in a circuit.
 
EMI
Electromagnetic interference.
 
EMP
Electromagnetic pulse.
 
Epoxy
An adhesive used in the connector termination process.
 
Extraction Tool
A tool used for removing a contact from a connector.
 
Fieldbus
(1) A generic term for communication protocols used in industrial networks for instrumentation and control. (2) A specific set of protocols that includes Foundation Fieldbus and HSE (High-Speed Ethernet).
 
Flange
A projection extending from or around the periphery of a connector, and with holes that provide for mounting the connector to a panel, or to a mating connector.
 
Flash Plating
A very light plating, only enough metal to uniformly cover the surface is deposited on the base metal.
 
Flat Cable
Also referred to as ribbon cable. Any cable with two or more parallel conductors in the same plane encapsulated by insulating material.
 
Front-Mounted
A connector is front-mounted when it is attached to the outside or mating side of a panel. A front-mounted connector can only be installed or removed from the outside of the equipment.
 
Gauge
A term used to denote the physical size of a wire.
 
Grommet
A resilient elastomeric seal bonded to the rear of a connector. It is designed with internal sealing barriers that grasp and seal on the wire's insulation to prevent contaminants from entering into the rear of the connector.
 
Harness
A wire assembly consisting of several wires and possibly one or more connectors prepared for installation into a unit or system.
 
High Density Connector
A connector having its pins arranged close together without compromising system performance.
 
Hook-Up Wire
A single insulated conductor used for low current, low voltage (usually under 1000 volts) applications within enclosed electronic equipment.
 
Housing
The main, or largest portion of a connector to which other portions are attached. Also called the Body.
 
IDC (Insulation displacement connector)
One which uses 2 tine fork terminals to pierce the cable insulation and grip the conductor. Usually used with multi-conductor ribbon cable.
 
IEC Compliant
The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is the leading global organisation that establishes international standards for electronics, electro-optics, and related technologies. These standards are better known across Europe and Asia.
 
Insertion Tool
A tool used to insert contacts into a connector.
 
Insulation
A material having high resistance to the flow of electric current. Often called a dielectric in radio frequency (coaxial) cable.
 
Insulation Grip
Crimp-type contacts have extended cylinders at the rear designed to accept wire and a small length of its insulation. The wire and insulation are held firmly in place when crimped.
 
Interface
The two surfaces on the contact side of a mating plug and receptacle. The surfaces will face each other and interface when mated.
 
Interference
Electrical or electromagnetic disturbances which introduce undesirable responses into other electronic equipment.
 
Intermateable
Connector A connector which is the equivalent of another connector made by a different manufacturer.
 
IP Rating
EN 60529 outlines an international classification system for the sealing effectiveness of enclosures of electrical equipment against the intrusion into the equipment of foreign bodies (i.e. tools, dust, fingers) and moisture. This classification system utilizes the letters "IP" ("Ingress Protection") followed by two or three digits. (A third digit is sometimes used. An "x" is used for one of the digits if there is only one class of protection; i.e. IPX4 which addresses moisture resistance only.)
 
Jack-Screw Coupling
A method of coupling two connectors by means of a set of captive screws and nuts. The action of the screw is employed to facilitate mating and un-mating.
 
Key
A short pin or projection which slides in a mating slot or groove to guide two parts being assembled. Generally used in round, shell enclosed connectors to obtain polarization.
 
LAN
Local area network, typically with limited geography.
 
Locator
A mechanical device attached to a crimp tool with multiple locators to position different size contacts for crimping. It is indexed to a proper position by rotating.
 
Mated-Pair
A plug and receptacle joined or to be joined together.
 
Mating Cycle
One mating cycle comprises one insertion and one withdrawal operation. This term is often used in the definition of connector life.
 
MIL-SPEC
Military Specification. A document of the U.S. Government, issued to define a product that will be used in military end-use applications.
 
‘O’ Ring
Also referred to as peripheral seal is used around the periphery of a connector shell and is compressed internally between the plug and receptacle shells when mated to prevent contaminants from entering the connector.
 
PCB
Printed Circuit Board.
 
Polarization
Also known as clocking or keying – the mechanical arrangement of inserts or rectangular keys (projections) and keyways (slots) to ensure proper mating. It eliminates errors when mating identical connectors mounted beside each other.
 
Potting
The permanent sealing of the back of a connector, after the wires have been inserted, with a material to keep out the contaminants and/or provide strain relief.
 
Rear Mounted
A connector with its mounting flange mounted inside of a panel or box. A rear mounted connector can only be installed or removed from the inside of the equipment.
 
Receptacle
Usually the fixed or stationary half of a two-piece, multiple-contact connector. Also, the connector half usually mounted on a panel and containing socket contacts.
 
Removal Tool
A device used to remove contacts from a connector.
 
RFI
Radio Frequency Interference.
 
Ribbon Cable
A flat cable of individually insulated conductors lying parallel and held together by means of adhesive film laminate.
 
RJ-45
An 8-position modular plug and jack connector system, widely used in local- and wide area networks.
 
RoHS
(Restriction of Hardardous Substances) - A regulatory framework for restricting the amounts of hazardous substances, including lead, mercury, cadmium, haxavent chromium, PBB, and PBDE, in materials. The RoHS Directive and the UK RoHS regulations came into force on 1 July 2006.
 
Selective Plating
The application of plating material to a limited portion of a connector contact, especially those areas susceptible to wear.
 
Solder Cup
The hollow cylinder at the rear of a solder contact where a wire is inserted and soldered in place.
 
Soldering
Process of joining metallic surfaces with solder, without the melting of the base metals. Soldering is an economical, versatile and fast termination method. A soldered connection has metallic continuity and excellent long term reliability.
 
Terminal
A part of a component which provides a reusable connection.
 
Terminal Block
An assembly of terminals in a housing or body of insulating material to facilitate interconnection between multiple conductors. Also called terminal strip or barrier blocks if the terminals are separated by an insulation barrier.
 
UL Approved
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is one of the world's leading providers of product safety and certification testing services, performing more than 90,000 evaluations each year. Products that successfully navigate through its stringent tests are registered with the lab and can bear the UL Mark - a widely trusted symbol for product safety and assurance.
 

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