Like all technical jargon, connector terminology can easily separate the novices from the experts. But conveniently, many connector terms mirror humankind. A variety of parts, pieces, and actions are named after human parts, pieces, and actions that all people are familiar with: male and female, housing, a protect, mating, etc. If you’re over the age of ten, chances are, you know what these words average and can get a picture of them in your head. And if you’ve gotten that far, you can easily learn the connector terminology that correlates with it. Let’s get to it!
1. Accessory: Device supplementing a main device or apparatus, but not forming part of it, that is needed for its operation or to confer on it specific characteristics.
Much like a human’s hat or necklace, an accessory isn’t the dominant device (clothes) but it’s sometimes needed for a specific purpose (like protecting one’s eyes from the sun).
2. Blind Mate: A condition in which two fixed connections must mate without the assistance of human manipulation to align the connectors.
All connectors are blind, so a blind mate refers not to the connectors doing the mating but to the humans mating the connectors. When the humans cannot see, the connectors must mate without any outside help. This is called a blind mate.
3. Connector Housing: Part of a connector into which the connector insert and contacts are assembled.
Everyone needs a place to call home.
4. Contact, Female: Contact gender in which mechanical and electrical engagement is made on the inner surface of the contact.
5. Contact, Male: Contact gender in which mechanical and electrical engagement is made on the outer surface of the contact.
If you think of human anatomy, it is easy to determine a contact’s sex.
6. Guide Pin: A pin, rod, or projection extending beyond the mating confront of a part designed to guide the mating of the part to ensure proper alignment of the contacts.
The guide pin is similar to a tour guide, leading others to success.
7. Mate: The joining of two connectors.
Birds do it. Bees do it. And as connector terminology shows, already connectors do it.
8. Terminal: Conductive part of a device, electric circuit, or electric network, provided for connecting that device, electric circuit, or electric network to one or more external conductors.
Allowing for travel and connections to be made, think of a terminal in connector terminology like an airport terminal–it gets you where you need to go.
9. Cable Shielding: A conductive foil or braid that covers insulated wires in a cable. The protect provides electrical grounding and protection from external electromagnetic interference (EMI). Shielding is also used to control internal electromagnetic radiation.
Just as a protect protects a knight, cable shielding protects wire.