PCB Connectors

Everything from computers to toasters now has a printed circuit board (PCB) inside it, and many devices often have more than one. A PCB is a sheet of insulating material that has many thin copper tracks running across it. The tracks carry electrical power and data signals between the components and the PCB connectors. A typical PCB accepts input signals from controls and sensors, and then sends output signals to motors and other components. Anyone who wants to learn about electronics needs to have a basic knowledge about the different types of PCB connectors and what they are used for.

PCB connectors are small plugs and sockets that are designed to be mounted on a printed circuit board (PCB). They typically have a plastic housing containing several metal contacts, with metal pins on the base for soldering to the board. The soldered pins secure the connector to the board and make contact with the the copper tracks that carry the electrical signals. There are literally hundreds of different PCB connectors available but only a few are well known. The USB and Ethernet ports are probably the most widely known ones, since they can found on almost every personal computer sold today.

Every computer has a large PCB inside the case, which is either called the motherboard or the mainboard. All the parts that make up a computer are joined to the motherboard with PCB connectors. One of the largest of these is the CPU socket, which is a flat plastic square that measures about two inches on each side. The CPU socket has hundreds of contact spots or pin holes, depending on the type of processor it holds. Next to the CPU socket are the rectangular slots that hold the sticks of RAM memory. These long and thin slots contain hundreds of contacts that touch the contacts on the base of a memory stick.

The other PCB connectors found on the motherboard are used to add expansion cards and peripheral devices to the computer. In the past, serial and parallel ports were the most common ports for peripheral devices, along with PS/2 ports for the keyboard and mouse. All of these older ports have now been superseded by USB ports, but they are still included for the sake of compatibility. SATA and IDE ports are also there for the hard drives and optical drives, and a few PCI slots are included for any expansion cards. An AGP or PCI-E slot is included for a video card, and there may also be a video port if the motherboard has its own graphics processor.

Audiovisual equipment often has a large number of PCB connectors on the back panel. There are usually two RCA ports for audio input, one for composite video input, and three for component video input. There may also be a similar number of RCA ports for output signals, depending on the type of audiovisual equipment. Other ports can also be found, such as S-Video, TOSLINK, and SCART. The HDMI port for high definition audio and video is fast becoming a standard connector, and several of them can be found on most new televisions.

Mobile phones, USB flash drives, digital cameras, and portable music players also have PCB connectors. Many of these devices are nothing more than a small PCB and a battery mounted inside a plastic case. There is often a small audio jack for the headphones, as well as a USB port or custom slot than handles both charging and data transfer. Some devices, such as the iPod Shuffle, have only an audio jack to handle all these functions. Other components that use a PCB connector include the battery, SIM card, and memory card.

PCB connectors are also used for attaching wires in devices like alarm systems, car radios, door bells, and intercoms. They are often called terminal blocks because they have many contacts in a row. To connect a wire to a terminal block, a short piece of insulation is stripped from the end before it is inserted into the block. A screwdriver is then used to tighten a screw that presses down on the wire and holds it in place, allowing electricity to flow freely.

This PCB Connectors Review is Written/Updated on Oct 21st, 2010 and filed under Computer Hardware. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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