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Publication numberUS3731378 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication date8 May 1973
Filing date29 Apr 1971
Priority date29 Apr 1971
Publication numberUS 3731378 A, US 3731378A, US-A-3731378, US3731378 A, US3731378A
InventorsO Johnson, A Mitreuter, J Toma, C Ward
Original AssigneeAstrolab
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method of assembling sweep right angle connector
US 3731378 A
Abstract
A method is disclosed for constructing a right angle connector having a curved sweep instead of the conventional sharp or mitred corner. The connector includes a main curved shell, an internal notched insulator or dielectric and a central contact assembly. The contact assembly, which can take the form of a narrow conductor having a pointed tip, is inserted in a central bore in the insulator. The insulator is then lodged within the internal chamber of the connector body by inserting the insulator into a guide block through the bore of which an extrusion-type plunger is then forced, thereby driving the insulator and central conductor into the connector body. Because of its partially notched surface, the insulator maintains its structural integrity as it is compressed around the curve of the connector body and assumes the dimensions of that curve. The connector is thereby formed with all internal elements exhibiting the desired smooth sweep, and the connector may be adapted to receive a variety of fittings and terminations.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Toma et al.

METHOD OF ASSEMBLING SWEEP May 8, 1973 RIGHT ANGLE CONNECTOR [75] Inventors: Joseph R. Toma, Colonia; Oliver C. f lawman-Charles Lanham Johnson lrvingtorr Amelia M. Assistant Exammer-Carl E. Hall Mitreuter Colonial Charles C Attorney-Gottlieb, Rackman & Reisman 9 y 0 Ward, Brielle, all of NJ.

[57] ABSTRACT [73] Assignee: Astrolab, Inc., Linden, NJ.

A method is disclosed for constructing a right angle Flledl p 29, 1971 connector having a curved sweep instead of the con- {21} App]. No.: 138,648 ventional sharp or mitred corner. The connector includes a main curved shell, an internal notched insulator or dielectric and a central contact assembly. The [521 U.S. Cl. ..29/629, 29/234, 29/235, Contact assembly which can take the form of a nap 5] I C 29/451 339/89 i i' ig g row conductor having a pointed tip, is inserted in a 'f central bore in the insulator. The insulator is then I l R C lodged within the internal chamber of the connector 177 I77E 31 I body by inserting the insulator into a guide block throu h the bore of which an extrusion-ty e lun er is g P P g [56] References Cited then forced, thereby driving the insulator and central conductor into the connector body. Because of its par- UNITED STATES PATENTS tially notched surface, the insulator maintains its structural integrity as it is compressed around the curve of the connector body and assumes the dimen- 18 11/1970 3:: x sions of that curve. The connector is thereby formed 2,357 139 g 9 s 29 451 UX with all internal elements exhibiting the desired 3,639,972 2/1972 Schelin et al..... ..29/451 smooth sweep, and the connector may be adapted to 3,432,798 3/1969 Brishka .339/89 C receive a variety of fittings and terminations. 3,656,233 4/1972 Overholscr... .....29/629 3,371,413 3/1968 Rundle ..29/629 14 Claims, 9 Drawing Figures m 26b 1 24 L 240 426C 24b *1 2 w 42f I l2Cl l9 A2 1%., b 1 126 I4 I |8C TY i I g 6 122 {0g Z l 1-- 20 2O 12d I l2 1 I8 PATENTED HAY 8 75 SHEET 1 0F 2 22 INVENTORS JOSEPH R- TOMA OLIVER c. JOHNSON F/6 3 BY AMELIA M.MITREUTER CHARLES C WARD M ATTORNEYS PATENTEUHAY 81975 5.731378 sum 2 OF 2 FIG. 7

INVENTORS JOSEPH R.TOMA OLIVER c. JOHNSON BY AMELIA M. MITREUTER CHARLES c. WARD W MM ATTORNEYS METHOD OF ASSEMBLING SWEEP RIGHT ANGLE CONNECTOR This invention relates to connectors, and more particularly, to relatively small connectors (e.g., coaxialtype) usable in microwave applications.

As the related areas of electronic signal distribution and power handling have developed at a rapidly increasing rate in recent years, the demands for higher quality transmission equipment have grown correspondingly. One field of rather intense activity has been in microwave signal transmission and processing. While microwave signals (and other RF signals) can be handled with reasonable efficiency and relatively low power losses utilizing waveguides, such equipment is often not feasible for certain applications, principally due to the relatively large size of waveguides.

When size considerations become more critical, and more manageable equipment is needed (e.g., for installations in small spaces or where curved connections may be required), coaxial cables are often used. The widespread use of coaxial cables is particularly significant at terminal installations where nearly all signal handling is achieved by means of coaxial cables; at such locations, power input to and output from other parts of the overall system are achieved by the interconnection of coaxial cables and waveguides. In all of these environments, whether involving the interconnection of coaxial cables with each other or connection between waveguides and coaxial connectors, it is necessary to provide efficient signal transmission throughout the system.

Many coaxial connector configurations have been devised and are currently available to provide coupling between coaxial members. One frequently needed connector is utilized to couple two coaxial cables which, in a given system, are arrayed perpendicularly to each other. This is often necessary when coaxial cables emerge from transmitting or receiving equipment, or branch out, for example. Typically, the prior art has utilized two connector sections which together form a sharp 90 corner, either by butting one straight element against an aperture'in another straight element, or by using two mitred elements secured to each other. While these connectors do serve the general purpose of providing a corner around which signals can pass, such sharp corners are not entirely satisfactory because they are relatively cumbersome and not always compatible with thespace requirements of a system. Moreover, and certainly as significant, the use of sharp comer connectors generally lead to the introduction of losses and reflections at such locations because of the discontinuous path which the transmitted signals must follow.

This problem, while recognized heretofore, has never been adequately resolved, particularly in smaller coaxial applications. Thus, curved waveguides have been possible because they are larger and thus more manageable in size, permitting them to be formed by casting or bending. However, this has not provided a comparable solution for coaxial connectors which are much smaller, thus creating a basic problem in the formation of the connector bodies. A related and extremely perplexing problem, even if the small curved connectors could be developed, is the insertion of the dielectric or insulator member within the connector body, with the central conductor lodged within the insulator.

No satisfactory technique has previously been developed to solve this problem, which is of great im portance when smaller coaxial components are being used and higher and higher signal frequencies are involved. The use of such frequencies makes it even more critical to minimize the reflections and signal transmission problems, which tend to be greatest at the sharp corner breaks employed by the prior art.

lt is therefore an object of this invention to obviate one or more of the aforesaid difficulties.

It is also an object of this invention to provide a method for producing a satisfactory curved coaxial connector.

It is a further object of this invention to avoid signal transmission difficulties and to minimize reflections and losses at comer junctions of coaxial cables.

it is still another object of this invention to establish a technique for inserting and accurately positioning an insulator and a conducting member within a small curved coaxial connector shell.

Additional objects and features of this invention will be more readily understood when considered in connection with one particular illustrative embodiment of this invention, in which a male end coaxial connector is assembled. The basic components of the finished connector include the connector body or shell which is cast or bent in the appropriate curved tubular configuration; a substantially cylindrical dielectric member or insulator having a central bore and a plurality of transverse compression notches on a portion of its outer periphery; and a central conductor having a male projecting tip at one and and a female aperture at the other end and adapted to be lodged within the central bore of the insulator. In one illustrative embodiment of the invention, the conductor comprises a contact assembly initially having three elements, a center conductor having miniature threaded members projecting from each end, and male and female portions being threaded to the center conductor; thereafter, the overall contact assembly can conveniently be bonded together to form an integral conducting member.

When the coaxial connector is fully assembled, the insulator will have assumed the curved configuration of the internal cavity of the connector shell. Similarly, the central conductor will have been lodged within the central bore of the insulator, and only the male contact tip of the conductor will project beyond the end surface of the insulator; this end surface, in turn, will be substantially flush with the outermost projecting rim of the male end of the connector shell. In order to obtain this finished configuration, an assembly tool is utilized in connection with the method of the present invention. The assembly tool includes a guide block having an internal bore substantially equal in diameter to the outer diameter of the insulator. Since the insulator will generally have some diametric compressability, it can still be forced through the guide block bore despite the equivalent diameters of the bore and insulator.

The forcing (i.e., extrusion) is achieved by means of a rigid pusher element having a projecting plunger adapted to be received within the guide block bore. A rear stop flange is positioned on the plunger to define the maximum extent to which the plunger may be inserted within the guide block. Thus, when the plungers flange contacts the end of the guide block, the forcing action of the pusher element will be terminated, and the insulator will remain at whatever location it has arrived at by the action of the pusher. By suitably dimensioning the length of the plunger between its forward surface and its rearward flange, the longest length of insulator desired (as well as any shorter lengths) can be arranged to be inserted within the connector shell with the end of the insulator flush with the maximum projecting rim of the male end of the connector.

The forcing of the insulator into the connector body is somewhat comparable to an extrusion process since the plunger portion of the pusher element forces the entire insulator memberout of the guide block during the insertion process. The connector body or shell itself is retained in position during the insertion process by being lodged in a stationary nesting block which may conveniently be formed of two pieces, each piece containing half of the shell-receiving cavity (as in a mold block). The nesting block cavity is shaped so as to receive the basic sweep connector body with a variety of end fittings. Accordingly, the same nesting block can be used for the insulator-insertion step regardless of which connector body is involved.

Initially, the nesting block halves are separated and the connector body is inserted into the nesting block cavity, after which the nesting block is again closed and clamped or otherwise fixed with its two halves together. The nesting block should be maintained in a rigid position throughout the insertion process. In the case of the male end connector, an outer flange at the male end of the connector shell rests upon the upper surface of the assembled nesting block, thus providing a reliable home position for the connector shell during the insertion step. As previously noted, the insertion step is facilitated by the use of the guide block and pusher elements. Specifically, the guide block in the case of a male end fitting has a slightly enlarged diameter aperture at the end in contact with the connector body so as to accommodate the projecting rim of the connector. The guide block is mounted upon the projecting rim and rests on the connector shell flange mentioned above during the insertion. To provide additional stability, a support ring is mounted on the upper surface of the nesting block the support ring snugly accommodates the flanges of the connector shell and also furnishes a rest surface for the lower surface of the guide block.

The straight conductor or contact assembly may then be inserted within the central bore of the insulator member in the case of a male end fitting, the hollow female end of the conductor is inserted into and through the insulator bore so that only the pointed tip of the conductor projects from the insulator, with the conductors female end being substantially flush with the opposite end of the insulator. The insulator is composed of appropriate dielectric material which, as is well known, may generally be semi-rigid. In order to promote the force-fitting of the semi-rigid insulator to the curved internal cavity of the connector shell, :1 series of transverse notches is made on the insulator's periphery. The notches are located on the insulator's periphery in such a manner as to permit the insulator to form a tight compression fit around its inner radius when the insulator assumes the connector bodys arc of 90 during insertion.

The notches of the insulator are initially aligned with the smaller external radius of the connector body and the insulator is then inserted into the central bore of the assembly guide block with the central conductors pro- 5 jecting male contact tip pointed away from the connector body. Heat may be applied to the insulator to slightly soften its outer periphery and thereby facilitate the insertion step. The pusher element is then brought to bear against the male contact tip end of the insulator; in the case of the male end fitting, the plunger of the pusher element is provided with a small central recess to accommodate the male contact tip of the central conductor during the insertion process. With the plunger end surface abutting the upper annular surface of the insulator, pressure is introduced into the system to force the plunger. through the guide block, thus providing a corresponding force to the insulator and conductor.

Uniform pressure continues to be applied to force the insulator (and the contact assembly within it) through the bore of the guide block and into the curved cavity of the connector shell. The semi-rigid insulator thereby assumes the curved orientation of the connector body, with the notched surface of the insulator being compressed on the smaller external radius side of the connector body, and the opposite side of the insulator stretching slightly to accommodate the opposite radial dimension of the connector body. The forcing continues until the pusher flange reaches the contact surface of the guide block, thus acting as a limit stop for the pushing process. When this stop position is reached, the forward end surface of the plunger will have almost precisely reached the outer rim of the male end fitting of the connector body since the plunger compresses the insulator slightly during the insertion process, the plunger drives the insulator just beyond the fittings end rim to allow for expansion of the insulator when pressure is removed. Accordingly, following the removal of pressure, the insulator will reside substantially flush with this outer rim, the male tip of the center conductor projecting outward from the flush surface.

Depending upon the length of the insulator as compared to the internal connector shell cavity, the opposite end of the insulator may either be flush with that end of the connector body, or, for example, it may be recessed therefrom, e.g., in contact with a recessed shoulder acting as a stop to the other end of the insulator.

The pusher element is then withdrawn from its guide block and the guide block is in turn removed from its mounted position on the male connector and the support ring. The nesting block is then split into its two halves and the completed connector is removed from the nesting block cavity. Suitable end fittings and fixtures can then be attached to the male end of the connector to finish the fitting. Typically, a snap ring is attached at the male end of the fitting and is retained in place by the connectors male end flange; a gasket is mounted on the connector so as to lie on the outer surface of the male end flange. Finally, a connecting nut is affixed to the end of the connector, initially retained in place by the snap ring being captured in a circumferential slot in the nut. lnterconnections between the connector and other coaxial members or connectors can thereafter be made by means of internal threadings on the connecting nut.

It is therefore a feature of an embodiment of this invention that a corner coaxial connector having no sharp breaks or angles is formed with all necessary elements internal to the connector.

It is a further feature of an embodiment of this invention that a sweep right-angle connector including a curved connector shell has lodged within it a dielectric member having a central conductor therein, with all elements being integral and conforming to the overall sweep of the connector.

It is also a feature of an embodiment of this invention that an insulator member retains its structural integrity as it is inserted into a curved connector body by having a series of parallel transverse notches on the insulators periphery.

It is a still further feature of an embodiment of this invention that a finished sweep right-angle coaxial connector is formed by lodging the connector shell in a nesting block and forcing an insulator and a center conductor into the shell by inserting the same through a guide block pushed via an extrusion-type plunger.

Additional objects, features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent when considered in conjunction with a presently preferred, but nonetheless illustrative, embodiment of the invention as explained in the following detailed description and as shown in the accompanying drawing, wherein:

FIG. 1 is'an exploded view of the connector elements, including the connectorbody (in section), insulator (partially broken away) and the contact assembly components;

FIG. 2 is a side elevation of the nesting block in which the assembling of the connector takes place, partly broken away to reveal the connector shell residing in the nesting block cavity;

FIG. 3 is a top view of the nesting block with the connector shell in the cavity thereof;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view of the notched insulator taken along the line 4--4 of FIG. 1 in the direction of the arrows;

FIG. 5 is a side view of the connector shell within the nesting block, which is partially broken away for clarity, during an initial phase of the assembling process for a male-end connector;

FIG. 6 is a side view of the connector shell in the nesting block, partially broken away for clarity, at the final point of the assembling process of the male-end connector;

FIG. 7 shows the assembled connector having selected fittings applied to its male end;

FIG. 8 is a side view of a female-end connector shell in the nesting block, partially broken away for clarity, near the end of the assembling process; and

FIG. 9 shows the finished female-end connector.

The Connector Components The unique assembling of the curved or sweep rightangle connector of this invention involves the assembling of the components illustrated in the exploded view of FIG. 1. The connector 10 includes a basic connector body or shell 12, a cylindrical dielectric or insulator l4 and a central conductor comprising a contact assembly 16. Connector shell 12 is formed with an appropriate right-angle curve as illustrated throughout the drawings and may preferably be cast, or in some cases bent to the desired angular shape. In so forming shell 12, the structural integrity of the connector, constructed for example of beryllium copper, must be maintained. Connector shell 12 is formed with a first outer flange 12a at its male fitting end, and a second flange 12b spaced from flange 12a, defining a recess therebetween. Internal to connector 12 is a sweep right-angle chamber 12c adapted to receive insulator 14 therein; as illustrated in FIG. 1, the internal structure of connector 12 also includes a section 12d of reduced diameter in comparison to chamber 120. At the junction of sections 120 and 12d, a shoulder 122 is defined which can act as a limit stop to the further insertion of insulator 14 within chamber 120 of connector l2. Cylindrical pipe 12f of connector 12 projects upward from flange 12a and will be received within an accommodating recess in assembly guide block 24 (FIG. 5), as will be explained in connection with the assembly process. The upper rim of segment 12f is intended to form part of the main flush surface at the male end of the assembled connector, together with the upper annular surface of insulator 14.

Insulator l4 acts as a conventional coaxial connector, and therefore may be made of any one of several dielectric materials. A preferable one of such materials is electrical grade polytetrafluorethylene, which is generally semirigid with some slight resiliency. As can be appreciated from a consideration of FIG. 1, insulator 14 is formed with a central bore 14a and also has a plurality of notches 14b on the periphery of its surface. The notches 14b may be formed in the surface of insulator 14 by parallel scoring of the insulators surface at one side thereof as indicated in FIG. 1, prior to as sembling, the scored side of insulator 14 is aligned with the side 12g of connector shell 12 having the smaller external radius. It is important, however, that notches 14b not be completely cut through to the central bore 14a in order to maintain the complete power handling capacity of the overall assembled conductor by not cutting notches Mb all the way through to bore 140, the dielectric characteristics of insulator 14 will not be adversely affected.

Notches 1417 are arranged on one side surface of insulator 14 to permit that surface to accept the stresses applied to the insulator during the assembling process when insulator 14 is called upon to assume the curve represented by internal chamber 12c of connector shell 12. The surface of insulator 14 having notches 14b thereon will be compressed during the assembling process and in order to avoid crimping or otherwise disturbing the structural symmetry of insulator l4. notches Mb are included. It will be appreciated that during the assembling, the side walls of each of notches 14b will be pressed together as illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7; during the assembling process, the notches which have not yet reached the curve of connector shell 12 will remain in their normal uncompressed condition (shown at l4b in FIG. 5), while the leading notches will have had their side walls compressed by this time (see notches 14b, in FIG. 5).

The central conductor for contact assembly 16 is an integral one-piece element by the time the connector assembling process commences. However, the earlier disassembled version of assembly 16 is illustrated in FIG. 1. Specifically, contact assembly 16 originally includes an upper male contact 16a having a contact tip 16b and a recessed cavity 160 which is threaded with a minature series thread. The opposite end of contact assembly 16 comprises female contact 16g having recessed cavity 1611 and the lower end of which is formed with expansion slit 16i to permit the ultimate insertion of a male contact tip similar to 16b, for example from another connector or coaxial element, or to receive the center conductor of a semi-rigid cable of similar diameter. In practice, it is desirable for obtaining the desired electrical performance to make contact 16d slightly narrower in diameter than contacts 16a and 16g. Thus, the diameter of contact 16d may be about 0.048 inches, while that of contacts 16a and 16g is about 0.0495 inches.

Female contact 16g is adapted to be secured to middle'conductor member 16d by the insertion of male threaded element 16f in female threaded cavity 16g. Similarly, contact 16a is secured to middle conductor 16d by the screw threading of member 16e into threaded cavity 160. In order to insure the structural integrity of contact assembly 16, solder cream can be applied at the two joints of the assembly, i.e., between members 16a and 16d and between members 16d and 16g. As an alternative to threading and soldering, brazing with silver can also be used. When contact assembly 16 is thus fully assembled and bonded, a unitary structure is thereby attained.

The Assembing Tools The assembling of thecompleted connector 10 is connector shell 12 resides during the insertion of insulator 14, and by means of support ring 19, guide block 24 and pusher element 26. Referring to FIGS. 2 and 3 initially, nesting block 18 is seen to comprise two halves 18a and 18b, each of which contains half of the cavity 180 defining a shape which can accommodate the external dimensions of connector shell 12. Connector shell 12 is placed into cavity 18c of nesting block 18 with the lower surface of flange 12b resting on the upper surface of block 18. This placement of connector shell 12 is achieved when nesting block sections 18a and 18b are separated from each other by the removal of nuts 22 from threaded bolts 20. As illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3, bolts 20 are permanently set in nesting block section 18a, and when connector shell 12 has been placed in position in cavity 180, the nesting block halves 18a and 18b are again brought together and nuts 22 are tightened onto bolts 20, thus firmly securing connector shell 12 in place. In order to provide even greater security during the assembling process, nesting block 18 may itself be fixed into place on a conventional workbench or assembly table. Alternate securing techniques, including the use of air pressure or mounting the block in a vise, may also be employed.

The actual assembling, i.e., the forced insertion ofinsulator 14, with conductor 16 inserted in central bore 14a, into central cavity 120 of connector shell 12, is achieved through the use of support ring 19, guide block 24 and pusher 26, as illustrated for example in FIG. 5. Guide block 24, in addition to resting on support ring 19, is adapted to be mounted over upward projection 12f of connector shell 12, and is accordingly formed with a central bore 24a and a counter-bored region 24b. The diameter of central bore 24a is only very slightly greater than the outer diameter of plunger element 26b of pusher member 26. Since plunger 26b will be constructed of rigid metallic material (e.g., tool steel), there must be a very slight clearance between its outer diameter and the inside diameter of bore 24a. However, even though insulator 14 must also be forced through bore 24a during the assembly process, it will be constructed of semi-rigid material, such as a plastic dielectric; accordingly, its outside diameter can be made substantially identical to that of the inside diameter of bore 24a. This will result in a tight but slidable fit between insulator l4 and bore 24a. Plunger 26b is formed with a recess cavity 26c in its forward surface to accommodate male contact tip 16b of contact assembly 16 during the assembly process. This permits full forc ing pressure to be applied from plunger 26b to the upper exposed annular surface of insulator 14 without damaging projecting contact tip 16b.

The extent of which insulator 14 will be inserted within connector shell 12 is controlled by the relative dimensions of plunger 26b (between its forward surface and the lower surface of flange 26a) and of bore 24a of block 24 (for the corresponding length in guide block 24 through which plunger 26b travels). Thus, as illustrated in FIG. 5, the maximum extent of insertion of insulator 14 is governed by length L which is common both to the length of plunger 26b and to the dimension of guide block 24 between its upper surface and the maximum internal depth of counter-bored area 24b. By constructing plunger 26b and guide block bore 24a with substantially the same dimension L as illustrated in FIG. 5, it is thereby established that when insulator 14 is forced through bore 24a by plunger 26b, the upper surface of insulator 14 will complete the assembly process by being flush with the upper rim of projection 12f of connector shell 12. This occurs because flange 26a acts as a stop against further insertion movement of plunger 26b within bore 240. In actual practice, the L dimension of plunger 26b may be just slightly greater than the L dimension of bore 240. This will permit plunger 26b to drive insulator l4 beyond the rim of projection 12f since insulator-l4 is slightly compressed axially by the application of pressure during insertion, the insulator expands to the desired flush position when pressure is removed.

In the case of the particular connector shell 12 illustrated in FIG. 5 and in the other drawings herein, the further insertion of insulator 14 within cavity of connector 12 is also limited by the presence of lip l2e which results from the presence of reduceddiameter region 12d within connector shell 12. However, in the general case, it may well be that connector shell 12 includes no such region of reduced diameter such as 12d. In those situations, the desired flush relationship between the upper end of insulator l4 and the upper rim of projection 12fwill be arrived at solely by virtue of the relative dimensioning of plunger 26d and guide block 24 as described above. The other end of insulator 14 will merely stop its movement when plunger 26d has its movement stopped depending upon the length of insulator 14 and of overall connector 12, this may establish a recess at the opposite end of the connector,

or else that connector end may also be a flush fit with respect to the insulator.

The Assembly Process The first step in assembling the connector in accordance with this invention is the placement of connector shell 12 within the receiving cavity 180 of nesting block 18. As illustrated in FIG. 2, connector shell 12 is received within cavity 18c, and is retained therein due to the overall shape of cavity 18c, as well as by the residence of flange 12b on the upper surface of nesting block 18. In practice, nesting block halves 18a and 18b are separated, for example by removal of illustrative nuts 22 from corresponding bolts 20. After connector shell 12 has been placed within cavity 18c (which includes hollowed-out portions in halves 18a and 18b which may not be completely occupied by a particular connector shell see FIG. 2), the two block halves 18a, 18b are again brought together by joining block half 1812 to block half 180 with bolts 20 aligned with the corresponding apertures in block half 18b. Nuts 22 are then tightly fastened to the exposed threaded ends of bolts 20 and connector shell 12 is thereby firmly retained in place throughout the assembling process.

With connector shell 12 secured within nesting block 18, assembly guide block 24 is mounted onto connector shell 12 by aligning projection 12f with central bore 24a of block 24. In particular, the enlarged diameter (e.g., counterbored) region 24b of block 24 is lowered over projection 12f until the lower exposed annular surface of block 24 comes in contact with the connectors upper flange 12a. This defines a snug fitting relationship between block 24 and projection 12f. That relationship isaugmented by'support ring l9-on which block 24 rests, thereby providing a stable upstanding position for block 24 with respect to connector 12 during the assembling process.

Prior to actual assembly, insulator l4 and contact assembly 16 are assembled. Contact assembly 16 is initially formed into one integral conductor by screw mounting male contact 16a onto central conductor 16d, with threaded projection l6e being received within threadedrecess 160. Similarly, assembled elements 16a and 16d then have female contact 163 screw-mounted to them, with threaded projection 16f being received within threaded recess l6j. Following the screw attachment of the three elements 16a, 16d, and 163 to form the integral element 16, suitable bonding agents (e.g. solder cream, silver braze, etc.) may be applied to the joints between the members to supply even greater structural stability. When contact assembly 16 is thereby made integral, it is lowered into central bore 14a of insulator 14, to a point where the lower rim of assembly l6 (i.e., the lower rim of contact 163) is essentially flush with the lower surfaceofinsulator l4 (e.g., within l/32 inch). Because of the relative dimensions of insulator l4 and integral contact assembly 16, a portion of male contact 16a will project beyond the upper surface of insulator l4 for example, at least contact tip 16b and a portion of the underlying base of contact 1621 will project beyond the upper surface ofinsulator 14 (see FIG. 5).

With contact assembly 16 thusly lodged within bore 14a, insulator 14 is inserted within bore 240 of guide I block 24. This step of the process can be carried out either manually or automatically. Thereafter, heat (indicated by wavy arrows 27) is applied to the projecting portion of insulator 14 this achieves the advantages of both slightly softening the outside surface of insulator 14 to facilitate insertion within bore 24a and within connector shell cavity 12c, and also to insure that the insulator fully occupies cavity 12c, including any pits or crevices therein. The heat at 27 may be applied by means of a heat gun or other suitable source of relatively concentrated heat, and may also be applied to the entire guide block 24.

Once insulator 14 is lodged within bore 24a in a stable position (e.g., a small length of insulator 14 having been inserted within the bore), pusher element 26 is introduced into the process. As illustrated in H6. 5, the principal components of pusher element 26 are stop or limiting flange 26a and plunger 26b which extends downward from flange 26a. Suitable driving means (not shown) are provided to power pusher element 26 in the direction indicated by the arrow adjacent to pusher 26 in FIG. 5. For example, either hydraulic or pneumatic pressure drives may be used, just to cite two available and well-known techniques. Pusher element 26 is aligned with guide block 24 in such a manner that the center line of plunger 26b essentially coincides with the center line of bore 240. In particular, recess 260 in the forward end of plunger 26b is aligned with and captures projecting male contact tip 16b at the commencement of the assembly process while contact 16b still extends above the upper surface of guide block 24.

With recess26c having captured male contact tip 16b therein, the remainder of the annular forward surface of plunger 26b is in abutting contact with the corresponding annular surface at the upper end of insulator 14. The application of driving pressure to pusher element 26 thereby commences to drive insulator 14 (and contact assembly 16 lodged therein) downward toward connector shell 12. Shortly thereafter, insulator l4 begins to penetrate into shell 12. For the first segment of its travel within the internal cavity 12c of connector shell 12, insulator l4 encounters a relatively straight path. However, shortly before the point in the process illustrated by FIG. 5, the curved region of connector shell 112 is reached, and the further application of driving power to pusherelement 26 causes semirigid insulator 14, with its contained integral contact assembly 16, to follow the curved path of cavity 12c. The curvilinear shape which insulator 14 must assume is facilitated by the presence of notches 14b along the shorter radius side surface of insulator 14. As insulator l4 begins to follow the initial portions of the curve of connector shell 12, the forwardmost (i.e., the lowest) notches 14b, (FIG. 5) are compressed together, thus enabling insulator 14 to assume the necessary curved shape without crimping or fracture of its outer surface. On the other hand, the remaining straight portion of insulator 14 which has not yet entered the curve is simply driven downward; its corresponding notches Mb have not yet been compressed and retain their original open shape,as shown in FlG. 5.

Driving power continues to be applied to pusher element 26 throughout the stroke distance identified as L in H0. 5. Thus, when the full stroke distance L of plunger 26b has been travelled, the lower surface of plunger 26b will be in line with the upper rim of projection 12f. This is dictated by the relative geometry of plunger 26b and of guide block 24. Specifically, when stop flange 26a reaches the upper surface of block 24, pusher element 26 can be forced downward no further, and this constitutes the end of travel for plunger 26b. As indicated in FIG. 5, the forward surface of plunger 26b will thus define the final insertion position for insulator 14, namely with its upper surface flush with the upper rim of projection 12f. At the same time, the forward surface of insulator 14 will have arrived at the shoulder l2e established by the presence of cylindrical region 12d having a reduced diameter. However, as has already been noted, certain connector configurations may not have such a shoulder, and the terminal position of plunger 26b (when flange 26a contacts the upper surface of block 24) will be the sole determining factor as to the final position of insulator 14 within the internal cavity of connector shell 12. (As has been noted, plunger 26b achieves a slight over-push" of insulator 14 with respect "to the upper rim of projection 12f, so the flush relationship obtains when insulator l4 expands following the removal of pressure from pusher 26.)

It is also noted that in its final position, in which insulator 14 follows the complete curve of the internal cavity of connector shell 12 illustrated in FIG. 6, all of notches 14b are in their totally compressed conditions. This achieves the compression fit on the side of insulator 14 corresponding to the smaller radius of connector shell 12. Accordingly, when'insulator 14 is in its final position and has assumed the curve of connector shell 12 as illustrated in FIG. 6, the upper curved surface of insulator 14 is smooth and continuous since notches 14b are totally compressed.

Following the establishment of the position illustrated in FIG. 6, block 24 and pusher element 26 are withdrawn from their insertion positions. For example, plunger 26b may initially be withdrawn from bore 24a of block 24. After plunger 26b has cleared the top of block 24, block 24 may be lifted off from its operative position on ring 19 and flange 12a. In the alternative, block 24, with plunger 26b still inserted within bore 24a, can be removed from the rest position on ring 19 and flange 12a; in that event, pusher 26 will ultimately have to be at least partially withdrawn from block 24 in order to permit a subsequent insulator and contact assembly to be inserted within bore 24a. It is noted that, if desired, ring 19 may be made integral with nesting block 18, i.e., with half of ring 19 formed solid with block 18a and the other ring half solid with block half 18b.

After block 24 has been fully removed from connector shell 12 as described above, the additional fittings illustrated in FIG. 7 are applied to the male end of assembled connector 10. Initially, ring 28 is snapped into position in the recess defined between flanges 12a and 12b. This type of an installation is possible because of the slightly resilient nature of snap ring 28, which can illustratively be made of stainless steel or beryllium copper. Thereafter, gasket 30 is lowered over projection 12f, around which it snugly fits as it rests upon flange 12a. Finally, nut 32, having external shoulder 32a and internal threads 32b, is attached at the male end of connector 10, with snap ring 28 occupying a recess position in the lower body of nut 32.

The finished and assembled connector 10, as illustrated in FIG. 7, is thereby capable of receiving other male contact tips within its female recess 16h (at the female end of the connector), and can accommodate an externally threaded fitting to mate with threads 32b of nut 32. Such a fitting (not shown) may include a female recess for receiving male contact tip 16b.

The Assembly Process for a Female Connector The construction of a female connector is generally similar in most cases to that of the male connector described in connection with FIGS. 1-7 hereof. Accordingly, the assembly steps for the female connector, which steps are closely related to those already described, are summarized below in connection with FIGS. 8 and 9 ofthe present application. Thus, it will be appreciated that female connector 40 includes a sweep right angle connector shell 42, an inserted insulator 44 which assumes the curved shape of the internal cavity of connector shell 42, and a contact assembly 46 which has been lodged within the central bore 44a of insulator 44. However, in the case of female connector 40', contact assembly 46 differs from assembly 16 described above by including a flush female end at the threaded end of the connector, with a projecting contact tip 46b at the opposite end. (This opposite end may also be female, i.e., without a tip or it may include a tab or the like.) The operative end of connector 40, which will be connected to other fittings, includes flange 42a and external threads 42b. The connector also has a recessed aperture 42c which forms a narrow ledge 42d adapted to receive the assembly tools during the assembly process, and which also acts to receive portions of any connector body inserted internally within the threaded end of female connector 40. Finally, female connector 42 also includes surrounding flange 42e from which contact tip 46b (of the same diameter as contact assembly 46) projects at the non-threaded end of the connector.

To assemble the components of connector 40, nesting block 48 is separated into its halves 48a and 48b, substantially as described with respect to nesting block halves 18a and 18b in the previous embodiment of the invention described above. Connector shell 42 is then inserted within the cavity 48c, half of which is contained within nesting block 48a and the other half of which is within block 48b. The overall nesting block 48 is then reassembled, thus forming a tightly fitting retained position for the inserted connector shell 42 during the assembly process. Prior to insertion, therefore, connector 42 is suitably retained within nesting block 48, nesting block 48 may also be made rigidly stationary by means not shown.

Contact assembly 46 is then inserted within the central bore 44a of insulator 44. The orientation of contact assembly 46 is such that the flush end of contact assembly 46 is mounted at the upper operative end of connector 40; at the opposite end, contact tip 46b projects beyond the end of the assembled connector defined by flange 42e (see FIG. 9). With insulator 44 in its substantially straight cylindrical position (e.g., see insulator 14 in FIG. 1), integral contact assembly 46 is inserted within the central bore 44a of insulator 44. When contact assembly 46 has reached the point where its female end is substantially flush with the upper end of insulator 44 (thus causing tip 46b to project from the other end of insulator 44), the combined insulator and contact assembly is ready for insertion within connector shell 42. Prior to actual insertion, guide block 54 is lodged within connector shell 42 by having cylindrical projection 54b of guide block 54 reside within the outer periphery of recess 42c. Specifically, the lowermost rim of projection 54b rests on ledge 42d defined by the lowermost extent of recess 42c (see FIG. 9). For additional stability, guide block 54a also rests on support ring 49, the aperture of which snugly accommodates the outer dimension of external threads 42b.

As was noted in connection with the previous embodiment, the insertion of guide block 54 within connector shell 42 can occur either prior or subsequent to the lodging of insulator 44 and contact assembly 46 within bore 54a of guide block 54. Thus, if the insertion of the insulator into the block occurs prior to mounting block 54 into connector shell 42 and on ring 49, the extent of such insertion need only be sufficient to establish a stable position for insulator 44 within block 54 thus, either a manual or automatic insertion step can be utilized to insert the lower end of insulator 44 (having tip 46b projecting therefrom) into bore 54a. Thereafter, pusher element 56 will be brought into pressure contact with the upper end of insulator 44 to force the insertion of the insulator within the connector shell. As with the other embodiment, block 54 may be applied to connector 42 without insulator 44 having yet been inserted within bore 54a. In that event, after block 54 is placed in the position illustrated in FIG. 8 with respect to connector shell 42, assembled insulator 44 and contact assembly 46 will be introduced within bore 54a, following which pusher element 56 will be brought down under suitable pressure to commence the insertion step. With either technique, heat is applied to insulator 44 at location 57 (i.e., to the portion of the insulator projecting above block 54, or the heat may be applied to the entire block'54.

As illustrated in FIG. 8, plunger 56b of pusher element 56 includes a flat annular surface at its forward end which engages the upper annular surface of insulator 44. At the same time, plunger 56b has projecting downwardly therefrom tip 56c which is received within female recess 460 of contact assembly 46 during the assembly process. The engagement of tip 56c within recess 46c serves to insure the alignment of plunger 56b with insulator 44 and also prevents any structural damage to contact assembly 46, for example if the contact assembly is not initially flush with the upper end of insulator 44. As contact is made between plunger 56b and insulator 44 as illustrated in FIG. 8, the application of pressure (e.g., pneumatic or hydraulic) to pusher element 56 brings plunger 56b downward through bore 540 of guide block 54. This results in connector shell 44 assuming the curved shape of the internal cavity of connector shell 42. The use of transverse notches 44b on the surface of insulator 44 corresponding to the smaller radius of connector shell 42 permits a compression fit on that side surface of insulator 44 and facilitates the insertion step.

The extent of the insertion of plunger 56b within guide block 54 is limited by the presence of flange 56a. Thus, considering the position illustrated in FIG. 8, the uppermost designated dimension a" defines the remaining distance through which plunger 56b can travel before flange 56a comes into contact with the upper surface of guide block 54. This same dimension a" defines the remaining distance of travel for the upper end of insulator 44 before its upper surface becomes flush with the lower transverse wall of recess 42c (i.e., level with ledge 42d), and also defines the last portion of travel for the forward end of insulator 44 thus, when the further distance a has been traveled, the forward end 44c of insulator 44 is flush with the far end of connector 42, with only contact tip 46b project ing beyond that end of the connector. Thus, when flange 56a comes in Contact with the upper surface of guide block 54, the insertion is completed and further travel of plunger 56b downward into bore 54a is precluded. The dimension L on plunger 56b and along block 54 defines the common stroke distance for the insertion step.

Subsequent to the completion of the insertion step, guide block 54 and pusher element 56 are withdrawn from the assembled connector. As with the previous embodiment, nesting block 48 is separated into halves 48a and 48b, thus permitting the assembled connector 40 to be removed therefrom. The finished assembled connector as pictured in FIG. 9 has, at its operative end, external threads 42b adapted to be received within a male end connector fitting having internal threads (e.g., see nut 32 having threads 32b in FIG. 7). In the particular embodiment of the female connector illustrated in FIGS. 8 and 9, a recessed aperture 420 is included. However, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that the assembly process of this invention can produce a female end connector whose insulator 44 is flush with the upper end of the connector itself, rather than being recessed as illustrated in FIG. 9. Other variations with respect to contact assembly 46 can also occur, such as omitting any projecting contact tip 46b from the far end of the assembled connector or forming the far end of the female connector 40 with a recessed insulator as at 112d in FIG. 7. The present invention can also be utilized to form a connector having more than a single curve or sweep right angle. For example, a U- shaped connector having two sweep right angle curves can be formed and assembled as disclosed herein, with the insulator member thereof having at least two sets of surface notches corresponding to the curved regions of the connector shell.

It is to be understood that the above-described embodiments are merely illustrative of the application of the principles of this invention. Numerous variations may be devised by those skilled in the art without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention.

What is claimed is:

l. A method of assembling an electrical connector having a curved corner and also having a curved connector shell and an insulator and contact assembly disposedin said shell, said insulator and contact assembly including a cylindrical dielectric having a central bore and contact means positioned in said bore consisting of the steps of placing the curved connector shell within an internal cavity in a stationary assembly location, mounting a guide block having a bore on said shell with said bore and said internal cavity substantially coaxial, forming a plurality of transverse notches on at least a portion of the outer periphery of said cylindrical dielectric, aligning the notched portion of said dielectric with the smaller radius region of said curved connector shell, inserting the notched and aligned insulator and contact assembly of predetermined length within said bore of said block, forcing said insulator and contact assembly through said bore and into said internal cavity and said shell and positioning said insulator and contact assembly within said shell by limiting the travel of said insulator and contact assembly during said forcing step such that the length and position of said insulator and contact assembly within said shell are those required for the completed connector.

2. The method of claim 1 including the step of applying heat to said insulator assembly to facilitate the forcing of said insulator assembly into said shell.

3. The method of claim 1 wherein said insulator and contact assembly is formed by inserting said contact means into said central bore of said dielectric.

4. The method of claim 3 wherein said contact means is an integral member comprising at leasttwo interconnected elements, a first of said elements having a contact tip and a second of said elements having a recess for receiving a contact tip, said inserting of said contact means proceeding until the end of said second of said elements is substantially flush with the corresponding end of said dielectric, said contact tip of said first of said elements projecting beyond the other corresponding end of said dielectric.

5. The method of claim 4 including the steps of connecting said first and said second elements together and then bonding said first and said second elements with a silver braze.

6. The method of claim 4 including the steps of screw-mounting said first and said second elements together and then bonding said first and said second elements with solder cream.

7. The method of claim 1 wherein said curved connector shell includes a male end having at least one flange and a tubular projection extending from said flange, and further including the steps of forming said assembly location within a nesting block, mounting a support ring on said nesting block to surround said flange and to provide a support surface level with said flange, and attaching said guide block to said tubular projection and concurrently resting said guide block on said support ring and said flange.

8. The method of claim 7 wherein said guide block bore includes a partial coaxial bore of relatively enlarged diameter, and said attaching step includes the step of mating said partial coaxial bore to said tubular projection, wherein said forcing step includes driving a pusher element through said guide block bore and into engagement with a first end surface of said insulator and contact assembly, and wherein said positioning step includes restricting the travel of said pusher element by contact between said guide block and a flange on said pusher element.

9. The method of claim 8 including the step of forming said insulator and contact assembly by inserting contact means assembly having a contact tip into a central bore of a cylindrical dielectric, and bringing a plunger of said pusher element into engagement with said contact tip projecting from said first end surface, said plunger including a recess in its forward engaging surface to capture said contact ti therein.

10. The method of claim 8 fur er including the step of forming said guide block bore of a predetermined length, and forming a plunger of said pusher element, adapted to be forced through said guide block bore, of said predetermined length between its forward engaging surface and said flange, and wherein said restricting of said pusher element is established when said plunger has traveled through said guide block bore for said predetermined length, to define a flush relationship between said tubular projection and said first end surface of said insulator and contact assembly.

11. The method of claim 1 wherein said curved connector shell includes a female end having an annular end surface defining an end recess, and further including the steps of forming said assembly location within a nesting block, mounting a support ring on said nesting block to surround said female end and to provide a sup- .port surface level with said annular end surface, and attaching said guide block within said end recess and concurrently resting said guide block on said support ring and said annular end surface.

12. The method of claim 11 wherein said guide block includes a tubular projection extending said bore therein, and said attaching step includes the step of mating said tubular projection to said end recess, wherein said forcing step includes driving a pusher element through said guide block bore and into engagement with a first end surface of said insulator and contact assembly, and wherein said positioning step includes restricting the travel of said pusher element by contact between said guide block and a flange on said pusher element.

13. The method of claim 12 including the steps of fonning said insulator and contact assembly by inserting contact means having a receiving cavity into a cen tral bore of a cylindrical dielectric, and bringing an alignment tip projecting from a plunger of said pusher element into capturing engagement with said receiving cavity.

14. The method of claim 12 further including the step of forming said guide block bore of a predetermined length, and forming a plunger of said pusher element, adapted to be forced through said guide block bore, of said predetermined length between its forward engaging surface and said flange, and wherein said restricting of said pusher element is established when said plunger has traveled through said guide block bore for said predetermined length, to define a flush relationship between said end recess and said first end surface of said insulator and contact assembly.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification29/879, 29/234, 439/312, 439/874, 29/451, 29/235
International ClassificationH01R13/646, H01R43/20
Cooperative ClassificationH01R2103/00, H01R43/20
European ClassificationH01R43/20