Building Reliable Connectors

The many components of the flight deck – korry switches, incandescent bulbs, panel backlighting, AIRINC 429, flight controls inputs – must be connected to an interface boards to communicate with the avionics software. Connectors on on the original aircraft usually takes the form of a canon plug and receptacle. Interfacing with circular plugs would be the best case scenario – unfortunately they are relatively expensive proposition. They have been graded to military specifications and are of high quality and robustness; each plug can sell for $30-60 or more.

Fortunately there other more affordable solutions commonly found at your local electronics store. The D-subminiature is one such type or connector – frequently used in computer systems before the prevalence of USB. These connectors come in variety of pin layouts and are sufficiently durable to be implemented in a fixed based simulator. They can be purchased with pins or sockets already in situ (soldering) or in a casing only (crimp contacts) form.

D-Sub 9, 15 and 25 pin connectors; male and female barrel crimp contacts

D-Sub connectors with the soldering cups can be a challenge. If you are using tefzel wire, soldering may be difficult because of the high temperature wire properties. This can lead to a weakness in the solder joint with the potential to tear. Crimped contacts on the other hand are secure and can be easily installed into the D-sub connector. The end of the wire is stripped and then inserted into a barrel connector. Using a crimping tool, the metal holding is compressed holding the wire in place. Simply sliding the crimped barrel into the D-sub plug or receptacle secures the pin and completes the installation. Connections can be completed in minutes with professional end results. A soldering machine and power outlet is not required and fabrication of connections are not restricted to a work bench.

The only downside is the initial costs can be high – a professional crimping tool can cost hundreds of dollars, but it is well worth the investment as it can save you countless of hours from soldering and frustration from poor connections. Crimping a contact only takes a few seconds with the tool and provides you with the assurance the connection will be reliable.

D-Subs with soldering cups (center) can be frustrating experience; Crimped connectors (left and right) provide a secure connection

Equipment List

Precisetool YJQ-W2A M22520/1-01 Hand Crimping Tool
MH Connectors and Contacts

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