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Re: [TowerTalk] In shack cable quick disconnects?

Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] In shack cable quick disconnects?
From: jimlux <>
Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2010 07:51:06 -0700
List-post: <">>
Paul Ferguson wrote:
> I want to put some quick disconnect connectors in my shack on cables to my 
> rotor control and antenna switch. Both are 8-conductor cables. I want to use 
> two sets of plugs/sockets with different numbers of pins so I do not 
> interchange the rotor and antenna switch.
> I looked for Cinch Jones Plugs, but found them difficult to find in 8, 10, or 
> 12 pin sets. 
> What would you recommend for plugs and sockets that are reliable and easy to 
> use in cable to cable applications inside the shack?

I used to build lots of cables for use on special effects gear for use 
on set, and I've gone through probably every kind of connector known to man.

Good (rugged, easy to mate/demate) connectors tend to be pricey, so you 
need to carefully consider what you need it for.

How often do you need to connect/disconnect?

You can gang up a whole bunch of Anderson PowerPoles to make a 
rectangular block of almost any size.  There are clever clip/bracket 
things to chassis mount them, too.  A piece of nylon cable tie cut off 
and jammed into a housing instead of the contact makes a fine key to 
prevent mismating, but I've just done it by configuration (e.g. for 12 
pins, you can stack 3x4 or 4x3)

the CPC (Circular Plastic Connector) series is fairly nice.  They look a 
lot like the round metal connectors on military and aircraft equipment.

Housings are a few bucks, and you get separate pin/socket inserts which 
slide in.  It's worth investing the couple bucks in the little tool to 
remove them (it's a piece of tubing of just the right size that 
compresses the side prongs).  There's dozens of shell sizes and pin 
configurations, including ones suitable for AC line current and/or coax.

For low current, modular 8 pin jacks (like used for network hookups) are 
another possibility. They really aren't designed for a lot of 
mate/demate cycles, and the little locking tab tends to rip off, but 
they are inexpensive and fast.

  XLR connectors are available in 3,4,5, and 6 pin configurations, and 
are pretty rugged, but the "more than 3 pin" flavors are pretty expensive.

I hate any of the Sub-D connectors, particularly the high density 15 pin 
one in the E sized shell (aka the VGA connector).. The metal shroud on 
the plug side is too easily bent, it's easy to mismate and bend/break a 
pin, etc.  They're really designed for "mate once" applications. 
Micro-D are even worse.

The standard MIL-C-38999 (aka "triple 9") series connectors are nice, 
and you can find them surplus inexpensively.  I like the bayonet style 
as opposed to the screw thread.  The challenge is in the insert 
keying/clocking.  In theory, you can pick keying that makes it 
impossible to mismate, but somehow, Bob the Gorilla can always jam the 
wrong plug into the wrong socket.

There are some very nice IEC pin/socket multipin connectors used for 
power, etc.  They mate nicely, have a rugged latch that holds them 
together, and optional spring loaded covers.

There are trailer plug/sockets available at the autoparts store in pin 
counts up to about 8.  They're ok, but not wonderful, and lately, it 
seems that the drive to lower prices has resulted in lower quality 
connectors that are harder to assemble and don't seem as durable.  The 
other problem is that the pin side is almost always only available as a 
chassis mount.

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