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Micro coax connectors save board space, improve signal integrity

Posted: 04 May 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:micro coax connector? Molex? Gina Roos?

Micro coax connector from Molex

Micro coax connectors with a 0.40mm pitch from Molex Inc. offer increased board space savings and improved signal integrity for mobile devices. The connector system also provides high-performance routing channels.

Initially designed to run signaling through the hinge area of swivel-type cellphones with rotating LCDs, the micro coax connector system is now finding use in applications such as notebook PCs that require flexible circuit routing, shielding, higher speed support and additional space savings, said the company.

According to Molex, the micro coax connector system uses insulation displacement technology to terminate the center conductor of the ultra-thin 42 AWG coaxial cable for higher reliability and greater uniformity as opposed to hand-soldering termination or the use of unshielded discrete wire.

It also features a patented "double-clamp" wire grounding method for the outer conductor and cable jacket. Unlike traditional hand soldering methods that lay a solid ground bar across all wires, said the company, this method places a grounding/retention feature between each tiny coaxial wire, and a second retention feature clamps into the cable insulation for mechanical wire retention.

This method also offers several key benefits over solder-bar types, including avoidance of hardened wires and wire pull out; up to 30 percent diameter space savings; consistent grounding between circuits and the shell; increased signal skew prevention; and up to 60 percent fewer transmission (dB) loss at frequencies between 1MHz to 3 MHz, said the company.

The coaxial connector system is rated at 0.2A and 30V, and includes shielded top-entry and right-angle SMT PCB receptacles that include grounding springs and a short grounding path. Combined with the double-clamp grounding method, these additional shielding features provide consistent impedance control and high-frequency characteristics for higher signal integrity.

The PCB receptacles include gold-plated leaf-style contacts for repeat cycling, long wipe length for good electrical contact, as well as friction locks for secure mating retention. The right-angle version offers a low-profile height of 1.50mm, while the top-entry version has a mated depth of 3.94mm.

This coaxial system is also a suitable replacement for board-to-board connectors in certain applications due to its high signal carrying capabilities. For example, a 40-pin micro coax connector can replace a 100-pin board-to-board version for about a 30 percent space savings, while using 60 percent less signals and traces, said the company. The connectors are available in embossed tape packaging, while the custom cable harnesses are manufactured in-house for each application. These cable assemblies provide up to 65 percent higher cable harness output compared to hand-soldering termination assembly, according to the company. Insertion and extraction tools are also available.

Sample price for a PCB connector is about $2.50 to $3 per piece.

- Gina Roos

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