Interconnection


Connectors for the evolving world of test and measurement

30 May 2022 Interconnection

The sheer proliferation of electronic devices in the modern world means that test and measurement grows more important every day. As we rely on technology more and more, and even depend on this technology for our everyday safety, ensuring that systems are performing correctly is critical.

The world of test and measurement has evolved. It is no longer acceptable to simply test for open circuits or incorrect wiring. Instead, modern consumers and professionals expect any new product to be subjected to a sophisticated testing regime. This means that, as devices become more advanced, so too must the instrumentation employed to test them.

The instrumentation used for testing must be at least as capable as the systems they test, and this has become more challenging with the rise in bandwidth and the speed of communication. Silicon manufacturers are creating products that will communicate at 112 Gbps, and 224 Gbps is just around the corner. Testing equipment must be ready for these speeds, and the latest generation of instrumentation is built to provide remarkable accuracy by simulating real-world conditions.

Connectors and cabling serve as the highway for these signals, and in testing applications, they cannot be allowed to affect the test results in any way. When creating test equipment for the most demanding applications, designers must choose connectors that will provide the greatest possible signal integrity.

The challenges for connectors go beyond providing excellent signal integrity though. Connectors are the components upon which the rest of the instrumentation must rely, as they provide the interface between the test equipment and the finished product. Depending upon the complexity of the test and the production process, they also need to be capable of constant use.

Each plugging and unplugging of a connector is known as a mating cycle. Each mating cycle places a strain on the physical design of the connector itself. Test connectors may be in constant use, potentially hundreds of times every day, and their design needs to reflect this need for reliability.

Connectors for testing applications can take several forms. With the growth in demand for high-speed wireless communications, many of the latest test solutions use precision RF connectors that provide superior frequency stability. The Samtec range of precision RF connectors and cable assemblies are now delivering frequencies of up to 110 GHz for accurate testing and rapid results.

Board-to-board applications can benefit from the Samtec high-speed connector range. A range of high-density arrays, backplane and edge-card connectors are available for the latest printed circuit board (PCB) designs. Samtec also provides the Solutionator tool (www.samtec.com/solutionator/) which allows customers to rapidly configure mating pairs of connectors for a range of board-mount applications.

For testing solutions that require high reliability, Samtec has delivered the Severe Environment Testing (SET) programme, in which connectors are tested far beyond conventional standards for service life, vibration, shock and temperature cycling.


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