With all the antennas present on civil aircraft, cable assemblies for airborne electronic systems are still receiving plenty of development attention. Coaxial cables remain the transmission medium of choice – it is not uncommon for a single aircraft to contain several hundred coaxial cable assemblies. Often the connection is difficult to reach and even more difficult to secure with tie wire.
To expedite the installation of these assemblies into the aircraft, new self-locking connectors have been developed by Radiall. Eliminating the need for safety wires saves many hours during both the initial build cycle and whenever equipment is removed or replaced for service.
Despite the obvious advantage of eliminating tie wires, several constraints imposed by the aircraft manufacturers made this effort a challenge. The envelope dimensions and mass had to remain very similar to those of the original connectors. Although this increased the mechanical complexity for the new design, this requirement has been achieved.
Additionally, the ability to resist harsh environments has been maintained. The assemblies provide reliable performance over the -55°C to +125°C temperature range from below sea level to above 21 km altitude even when subjected to vibration levels up to 25 G. An internal engineering test and evaluation programme has shown that these designs still meet the stringent MIL-T-81490 and MIL-C-87104 requirements with the self-lock mechanism, all with limited increases in size and mass.
The self-locking design is intended to eliminate the need for lock-wiring the coupling nut in place with tie wire. The connector will still need to be tightened to the mating connector via the use of a torque wrench. The locking feature is achieved via a spring loaded, corrugated washer.
Self-locking SMA and N connectors are also available upon request in addition to the TNC and SMA 2.9 connectors illustrated. As shown by the TNC and SMA 2.9 connectors, the self-lock feature can be applied to straight connectors as well as 90° right-angle connectors.
Self-lock connectors are intermateable with any standard jack or female receptacle, without any change in performance. All electrical, mechanical and environmental specifications are preserved. With this solution, mating and unmating become faster, safer (no forgotten lock wire) and are proven to be more robust even in the harsh environment of an airplane bilge.
The self-lock connectors can be provided on any compatible cable size. The innovative crimp system attachment offers the opportunity for on-site assembly as well as ordering finished cable assemblies.
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