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Title:
CONNECTORS AND CONTACTS FOR A SINGLE TWISTED PAIR OF CONDUCTORS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/165466
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An aspect of the present disclosure is directed to a connector. The connector is suited to connectorizing exactly two conductors. The connector includes a forward connector body, a rear connector body, a metal frame and exactly two electrical contacts. The rear connector body interfaces with the forward connector body. Further, the metal frame, which includes a shielding interface, surrounds at least a portion of both the forward and rear connector bodies. The electrical contacts extend from the rear connector body into the forward connector body. A first of the electrical contacts is electrically coupled to a first conductor of a shielded cable and the second of the electrical contacts is electrically coupled to a second conductor of the shielded cable. The shield interface of the metal frame is electrically coupled to the shield of the shielded cable.

Inventors:
TOBEY, Shawn Phillip (CommScope, Attention: IP Legal Department 1100 CommScope Place S, Hickory North Carolina, 28602, US)
PEPE, Paul John (CommScope, Attention: IP Legal Department 1100 CommScope Place S, Hickory North Carolina, 28602, US)
KEITH, Scott Martin (CommScope, Attention: IP Legal Department 1100 CommScope Place S, Hickory North Carolina, 28602, US)
OBERSKI, Jeffrey A. (CommScope, Attention: IP Legal Department 1100 CommScope Place S, Hickory North Carolina, 28602, US)
Application Number:
US2019/019660
Publication Date:
August 29, 2019
Filing Date:
February 26, 2019
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
COMMSCOPE TECHNOLOGIES LLC (1100 CommScope Place SE, Hickory, North Carolina, 28602, US)
International Classes:
H01R4/12; H01R13/648; H01R24/62
Foreign References:
US20130171885A12013-07-04
US20060134966A12006-06-22
US20060116021A12006-06-01
US20100151740A12010-06-17
US20100003863A12010-01-07
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BRUESS, Steven C. (MERCHANT & GOULD P.C, P.O. Box 2903Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55402-0903, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims:

1. A connector for exactly two conductors:

a forward connector body;

a rear connector body that interfaces with the forward connector body;

a metal frame surrounding at least a portion of both the forward connector body and the rear connector body, the metal frame including a shielding interface;

exactly one pair of electrical contacts comprising a first electrical contact and a second electrical contact, the first and second electrical contacts extending from the rear connector body into the forward connector body, wherein the first electrical contact is electrically coupled to one of the exactly two conductors and the second electrical contact is electrically coupled to the other of the exactly two conductors.

2. The connector of claim 1, wherein each of the first and second electrical contacts include a forward contact comprising a tuning fork receptacle contact and rear contact comprising an insulation displacement contact (IDC).

3. The connector of claim 1, wherein the rear connector body includes a cavity to receive a shielded cable carrying the exactly two conductors and wherein the shielding interface of the metal frame extends into the central cavity to interface with the shield of the of the shielded cable.

4. The connector of claim 1, wherein the rear connector body includes an upward conductor-directing channel and a downward conductor-directing channel.

5. The connector of claim 4, wherein the rear connector body includes a first insulation displacement contact (IDC) slot in the upward conductor-directing channel and a second IDC slot in the downward conductor-directing channel.

6. The connector of claim 1, wherein the forward connector body includes at least one recess and wherein the metal frame includes at least one forward extending arm, wherein the at least one forward extending arm interfaces with the at least one recess to secure the metal frame to the forward connector body.

7. The connector of claim 1, wherein the rear connector body includes a latch and the metal frame includes a cut-out, wherein the latch interfaces with the cut-out to secure the rear connector body to the metal frame.

8. The connector of claim 1, wherein each of the first and second electrical contacts include a tuning fork receptacle contact, wherein the tuning fork receptacle contact includes exactly two contact zones.

9. The connector of claim 1, wherein the connector is coupled to at least one end of a patch cord, wherein the patch cord has at least two conductors.

10. An electrical contact for a two-conductor-only connector, the two-conductor-only connector housing exactly two of the electrical contact, each electrical contact comprising: a tuning fork receptacle contact at a first end of the electrical contact; and an insulation displacement contact (IDC) at a second end of the electrical contact, wherein the IDC is electrically coupled to one of the two conductors.

11. The electrical contact of claim 10, wherein the tuning fork receptacle contact receives a pin contact.

12. The electrical contact of claim 10, wherein the tuning fork receptacle contact includes a pair of opposing spring arms.

13. The electrical contact of claim 12, wherein the pair of opposing spring arms define an disengagement zone tapering to a fully engaged zone.

14. The electrical contact of claim 13, wherein the disengagement zone provides an arcing zone.

15. The electrical contact of claim 14, wherein the disengagement zone permits an arc between the tuning fork receptacle contact and a pin contact received by the tuning fork receptacle contact without damaging a final contact point of the pin contact when received at the fully engaged zone.

16. A method of connectorizing exactly one pair of conductors comprising a first conductor and a second conductor, the method comprising:

inserting a first and second electrical contact into a connector housing, wherein each of the first and second electrical contacts include a first end having a tuning fork receptacle contact and a second end having an insulation displacement contact (IDC); securing a metal frame to the connector housing, the metal frame surrounding at least a portion of the connector housing; electrically coupling the first conductor to the IDC of the first electrical contact and electrically coupling the second conductor to the IDC of the second electrical contact; and electrically coupling a shielding element of the metal frame to a shield of the shielded cable.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein the connector housing comprises a forward connector body interfaced to a rear connector body, and wherein the metal frame surrounds at least a portion of the forward connector body and at least a portion of the rear connector body.

18. The method of claim 17, wherein the shielding element extends through the rear connector body to electrically couple the shield of the shielded cable.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein the rear connector body includes an upward conductor-directing channel and a downward conductor-directing channel.

20. The method of claim 19, wherein the rear connector body includes a first insulation displacement contact (IDC) slot in the upward conductor-directing channel and a second IDC slot in the downward conductor-directing channel.

21. The method of claim 20, wherein the tuning fork receptacle contact include a disengagement zone and a fully engaged zone.

22. A connector comprising:

a housing body housing exactly two pin contacts and having a forward opening that receives a mating connector having exactly two pin receiving contacts; and a metal frame about at least a portion of the housing body, wherein the metal frame is secured to the housing body.

23. The connector of claim 22, wherein the housing body includes first and second sides each of which includes a recessed portion that is recessed from the forward opening, wherein the metal frame includes a first clip and a second clip, and wherein the first and second clip interface with the respective recessed portions to secure the metal frame to the housing portion.

24. The connector of claim 22, further comprising a plurality of connectors distributed in a high density connector panel.

25. The connector of claim 22, further comprising a first connector and a second connector, wherein the exactly two pin contacts of the first connect are electrically coupled to the exactly two pin contacts of the second connector to define a dual-sided adapter.

26. The connector of claim 22, wherein the connector is coupled to at least one end of a patch cord, wherein the patch cord has at least two conductors.

27. An electrical contact for a two-conductor-only connector, the two-conductor-only connector housing exactly two of the electrical contacts, each electrical contact comprising:

a tuning fork receptacle contact, wherein the tuning fork receptacle includes a pair of opposing spring arms that define a disengagement zone tapering to a fully engaged zone, wherein the disengagement zone provides an original touch point for a pin contact received in the tuning fork receptacle and wherein the fully engaged zone is a final touch point for the pin contact, wherein at the final touch point the pin contact is not in contact with the disengagement zone.

28. The electrical contact of claim 27, wherein the tuning fork receptacle contact is at a first end of the electrical contact and wherein a second end of the electrical contact comprises an insulation displacement contact.

29. The electrical contact of claim 27, wherein a first distance of a gap between the opposing spring arms at the fully engaged zone is equivalent to a width of the pin contact and wherein a second distance of the gap between the opposing spring arms at the disengagement zone is wider than the first distance.

30. A connector for exactly two conductors comprising:

a forward connector body including exactly one pair of contact receiving channels, wherein each of the contact receiving channels have a cross-shaped cross-section;

a rear connector body;

a metal frame coupled to the forward connector body and the rear connector body; and

exactly one pair of electrical contacts positioned within the exactly one pair of contact receiving channels.

31. The connector of claim 30, wherein the forward connector body further includes a recess to receive a flex tab, wherein the flex tab extends forward from the metal frame.

32. The connector of claim 31, wherein the recess includes a recessed notch that receives an interfacing tab extending perpendicularly from the forward extending flex tab of the metal frame.

33. The connector of claim 31, wherein the forward connector body includes an outward extending tab proximate a rearward face of the forward connector body, wherein the outward extending tab interfaces with a corresponding recess in the metal frame.

34. The connector of claim 30, wherein the forward connector body additionally includes cantilevered latch extending from a forward portion to a rearward portion of the forward connector body and wherein the cantilevered latch interfaces with a fixed connector to removably secure the connector to the fixed connector.

35. A connector for exactly two conductors comprising:

a forward connector body;

a rear connector body including a forward portion that defines an upward directing conductor channel and downward directing conductor channel;

a metal frame coupled to the forward connector body and the rear connector body; and

exactly one pair of electrical contacts.

36. The connector of claim 35, wherein the upward directing conductor channel includes a first slot that receives an insulation displacement contact (IDC) of one of the one pair of electrical contacts and the downward directing conductor channel includes a second slot that receives an insulation displacement contact (IDC) of the other of the one pair of electrical contacts.

37. The connector of claim 35, wherein forward portion of the rear connector body interfaces with a rear receiving portion of the forward connector body.

38. The connector of claim 35, wherein the rear connector body includes a rearward portion that defines a cavity that receives a cable having exactly one pair of electrical conductors.

39. The connector of claim 38, wherein the rearward portion of the rear connector body includes a side face opening providing access to one or both of an exposed foil shield and a drain wire of a shielded cable having exactly two conductors that is inserted into the cavity.

40. The connector of claim 39, wherein a shield beam of the metal frame extends through the side face of the rearward portion of the rear connector body to contact the one or both of the exposed foil shield and the drain wire.

41. The connector of claim 35, wherein a rearward portion of the rear connector body includes a lip edge about a rear face of the rearward portion that seats against the metal frame.

42. The connector of claim 35, wherein a rearward portion of the rear connector body includes a latch on a lower face of the rearward portion that interfaces with a

corresponding cut-out on the metal frame that secures the rear connector body to the metal frame.

43. A connector for exactly two conductors comprising:

a forward connector body;

a rear connector body;

a metal frame coupled to the forward connector body and the rear connector body, wherein the metal frame includes a pair forward extending flex tabs that interface with the forward connector body and a cut-out on a face of the metal frame that interfaces with an outward extending tab of the rear connector body; and

exactly one pair of electrical contacts.

44. The connector of claim 43, wherein the pair of forward extending flex tabs each include an interfacing tab extending perpendicularly from the forward extending flex tab, wherein the interfacing tab interface with a corresponding slot in the forward connector body.

45. The connector of claim 43, wherein the metal frame includes a flexible shield beam that extends into a cavity of the rear connector body to contact and electrically interface with one or both of foil shield or drain wire of a shielded cable having exactly two conductors that is inserted into the cavity.

46. The connector of claim 43, wherein the metal frame includes a slot opening to interface with an outward extending tab on the forward connector body.

47.. The connector of claim 43, wherein an exterior surface of the metal frame defines a maximum height and width of the connector.

48. The connector claim 47, wherein a forward portion of the forward connector body is of a smaller height and width than the metal frame.

49. The connector of claim 48, wherein an upper face of the metal frame seats against a cantilevered latch on the forward connector body.

50. The connector of claim 49, wherein a forward face of the metal frame seats against a shoulder of the forward connector body and wherein the an outward extending tab of the metal frame bends around the shoulder of the forward connector body to interface with a recess of the forward connector body.

51. A connector for exactly two conductors:

a housing body defining a central channel;

a metal frame about the housing body that provides access to the central channel; and

exactly two pin contacts extending into the central channel.

52. The connector of claim 51, wherein the central channel is defined by a pair of side walls wherein each of the side walls contains a clip recess.

53. The connector of claim 52, wherein the metal frame includes a pair of clips that wrap around a front face of the housing body to interface with a respective clip recess in the central channel.

54. The connector of claim 51, wherein the housing body and the metal frame have an open rearward face presenting the central channel as a thru-channel.

55. The connector of claim 51. Wherein the housing body and the metal frame have a closed rearward face such that the central channel has a only forward opening.

56. The connector of claim 51, wherein the metal frame includes a pair of tension beams that extend through the housing body into the central channel.

57. The connector of claim 53, wherein the pair of clips of the metal frame interface with a metal frame of a free connector inserted into the connector.

58. The connector of claim 51, wherein the metal frame includes a plurality of shielding pins.

59. A circuit board mounted connector, comprising:

a connector comprising:

a housing body defining a central channel and a mounting pin;

a metal frame about the housing body that provides access to the central channel, the mounting pin extending through the metal frame;

exactly two pin contacts extending into the central channel; and a circuit board, wherein the circuit board includes a plated first contact via coupled to a first pin contact of the exactly two pin contacts and a plated second contact via coupled to a second pin contact of the exactly two pin contacts and wherein the circuit board includes a non-plated via that interface with the mounting pin.

60. The circuit board mounted connector of claim 59, wherein the metal frame includes at least four shielding pins and the circuit board includes at least four corresponding plated shielding pin vias that receive the four shielding pins, wherein a center of at least two of the shielding pin vias align with a center of the first contact via in a first direction and wherein a center of at least two of the shielding pin vias align with a center of the second contact via in the second direction.

61. The circuit board mounted connector of claim 60, wherein at least two of the shielding pin vias have centers aligned in a second direction that is substantially perpendicular to the first direction.

62. The circuit board mounted connector of claim 61, wherein the alignment of the first contact via and the second contact via with shielding pin vias minimizes alien crosstalk from one or more adjacent circuit board mounted connectors.

63. The circuit board mounted connector of claim 62, wherein the metal frame includes an additional two shielding pins proximate a forward face of the metal frame and the circuit board includes an additional two corresponding plated shielding pin vias.

64. The circuit board mounted connector of claim 59, wherein a forward face of the housing body and the metal frame are substantially perpendicular to a top surface of the circuit board.

65. The circuit board mounted connector of claim 64, wherein a plurality of shielding pins extend from a side face of the metal frame into corresponding plated vias of the circuit board.

66. The circuit board mounted connector of claim 59, wherein a forward face of the housing body and the metal frame are substantially parallel to a top surface of the circuit board.

67. The circuit board mounted connector of claim 66, wherein a plurality of shielding pins extend from an open rear face of the metal frame into corresponding plated vias of the circuit board.

68. The circuit board mounted connector of claim 59, further comprising a plurality of connectors mounted to the circuit board, wherein the circuit board includes a plurality of plated shielding pin vias, wherein each of the metal frames of each of the connectors include shielding pins and wherein adjacent connectors share plated shielding pin vias.

69. A system comprising:

a fixed connector comprising:

a housing body defining a central channel;

a metal frame about the housing body that provides access to the central channel; and

exactly two pin contacts extending into the central channel; and a free connector comprising:

a forward connector body;

a rear connector body;

a metal frame coupled to the forward connector body and the rear connector body; and

exactly one pair of electrical contacts; and

a cable having exactly two conductors, wherein the cable includes one or both of an exposed foil shield and drain wire, the two conductors interfaced each to one of the pair of electrical contacts, wherein the metal frame of the free connector is electrically coupled to the one or both of the foil shield and drain wire, and wherein the metal frame of the free connector is electrically coupled to the metal frame of the fixed connector when the free connector is fully inserted into the fixed connector such that the exactly one pair of electrical contacts is electrically coupled to the exactly two pin contacts.

70. The system of claim 69, wherein the exactly one pair of electrical contacts comprise a pair of dual-ended contacts.

71. The system of claim 70, wherein a first end of the dual-ended contacts comprises a tuning fork receptacle contact.

72. The system of claim 70, wherein a first end of the dual-ended contacts comprises a beam contact.

73. The system of claim 70, wherein a first end of the dual-ended contacts comprises an arched beam contact.

74. The system of claim 70, wherein a first end of the dual-ended contacts comprises a socket contact.

75. The system of claim 70, wherein a second end of the dual-ended contacts comprises an insulation displacement contact (IDC).

76. The system of claim 75, wherein each IDC is securable to one of the conductor without crimping.

77. The system of claim 76, wherein the fixed connector is circuit board mounted.

78. The system of claim 77, wherein the metal frame of the fixed connector includes a pair of shielding pins aligned with a first of the exactly two pin contacts and includes a pair of shielding pins aligned with a second of the exactly two pin contacts.

79. The system of claim 69, wherein the exactly two pin contacts are exactly the same length.

80. The system of claim 69, wherein each electrical contact of the exactly one pair of electrical contacts is exactly the same length as the other electrical contact of the exactly one pair of electrical contacts.

81. The system of claim 69, further comprising a circuit board, wherein the fixed connect is mounted to the circuit board.

82. A patch cord comprising:

a cable having exactly two conductors, the cable having a first end and a second end;

wherein the first end of the cable is electrically coupled to a fixed connector or a free connector and wherein the second end of the cable is electrically coupled to a fixed connector or a free connector, and

wherein the fixed connector comprises:

a housing body defining a central channel;

a metal frame about the housing body that provides access to the central channel; and

exactly two pin contacts extending into the central channel; and

wherein the free connector comprises:

a forward connector body;

a rear connector body;

a metal frame coupled to the forward connector body and the rear connector body; and

exactly one pair of electrical contacts.

83. An adapter comprising:

exactly two pairs of pin contacts, wherein a first pair of the exactly two pairs of pin contacts is coupled to a second pair of the exactly two pairs of pin contacts;

a housing body having a first end and a second end, the first end presenting a first open channel housing the first pair of pin contacts and the second end presenting a second open channel housing the second pair of pin contacts; and a metal frame wrapped about the housing body.

84. The adapter of claim 83, wherein the metal frame has a first end and a second end, and wherein the first end includes a first metal clip to interface with the first open channel and wherein the second end includes a second metal clip to interface with the second open channel.

85. The adapter of claim 84, wherein the first and second metal clip interface with a metal frame of a respective free connector when the respective free connector is fully inserted into a respective open channel.

86. A connector comprising:

a forward connector body;

a rear connector body;

a metal frame coupled to the forward connector body and the rear connector body; and

exactly one pair of electrical contacts extending into the forward connector body and having a first end and a second end, wherein the first end comprises a tuning fork receptacle contact.

87. The connector of claim 86, wherein a pair of contact receiving channels within the forward connector body each contain a respective one of the tuning fork receptacle contacts, and wherein each of the contact receiving channels contain an expansion of the respective tuning fork receptacle contact when a pin contact is received therein.

88.. The connector of claim 86, wherein the tuning fork receptacle contact has a width that is transverse to an elongate axis of the forward connector body.

89. The connector of claim 87, wherein the tuning fork receptacle contact includes a pair of spring arms having a height less than a height of a pin contact of a mating fixed connector that is received by the pair of spring arms.

90. The connector of claim 89, wherein each of the contact receiving channels has a cross-shaped cross-section that accommodates the height of the pin contact.

91. An electrical contact comprising:

a tuning fork receptacle contact having a pair of opposable spring arms, wherein the each of the spring arms includes a forward portion having an angled entry portion defining an opening between the pair of opposable spring arms, and

wherein the angled entry portion continues to a transition portion that narrows the opening between the pair of opposable spring arms to a final contact point.

92. The electrical contact of claim 91, wherein the transition portion includes an initial contact point proximate the angled entry portion.

93. The electrical contact of claim 91, wherein the opening subsequent the final contact point widens to a channel between the pair of opposing spring arms.

94. The electrical contact of claim 91, wherein the electrical contact is a dual-ended contact having a first end and a second end, wherein the first end includes the tuning fork receptacle contact and wherein the second end includes an insulation displacement contact.

95. An electrical contact system comprising:

a tuning fork receptacle contact and a pin contact received in the tuning fork receptacle contact,

wherein the tuning fork receptacle contact includes a pair of opposable spring arms, wherein the each of the spring arms includes a forward portion having an angled entry portion defining an opening between the pair of opposable spring arms, and wherein the angled entry portion continues to a transition portion that narrows the opening between the pair of opposable spring arms to a final contact point, and

wherein the pin contact comprises an elongate body having a rectangular cross- section defined by an upper face, lower face and a pair of side faces connector the upper and lower face and wherein the pin contact additionally a forward portion wherein each of the faces taper inward to a flattened apex.

96. The electrical contact system of claim 95, wherein the transition portion includes an initial contact point proximate the angled entry portion and wherein a first contact between the pin contact and the tuning fork receptacle contact, upon receipt of the pin contact within the tuning fork receptacle contact, occurs between the forward portion of the pin contact and the initial contact point.

97. The electrical contact system of claim 96, wherein elongate body of the pin contact is protected from any arcing at the first contact.

98. The electrical contact system of claim 95, wherein each of the spring arms is defined by a first width and wherein the rectangular cross-section is defined by a second width that is greater than the first width.

99. The electrical contact system of claim 95, wherein the upper and lower face of the pin contact are in contact with the pair of opposable spring arms at the final contact when the pin contact is fully received within the tuning fork receptacle contact.

100. The electrical contact system of claim 95, comprising exactly two tuning fork receptacle contacts and exactly two pin contacts.

101. The electrical contact system of claim 100, wherein each of the pin contacts are exactly the same length and wherein the tuning fork receptacle contacts are exactly the same length.

102. The electrical contact system of claim 95, wherein the tuning fork receptacle contact is a dual-ended contact having an insulation displacement contact at the second end of the contact.

Description:
CONNECTORS AND CONTACTS FOR A SINGLE TWISTED

PAIR OF CONDUCTORS

Cross-Reference to Related Applications

[0001] This application is being filed on February 26, 2019 as a PCT International Patent Application and claims the benefit of U.S. Patent Application Serial No.

62/635,227, filed on February 26, 2018, and claims the benefit of U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 62/671,738, filed on May 15, 2018, and claims the benefit of U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 62/693,583, filed on July 3, 2018, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entireties.

Technical Field

[0002] The present disclosure is directed to connectors and, more specifically, to connectors for use with a single-twisted pair of conductors.

Background

[0003] A single twisted pair of conductors can be used to transmit data and/or power over a communications network that includes, for example, computers, servers, cameras, televisions, and other electronic devices including those on the internet of things (IoT), etc. In the past, this has been performed through use of Ethernet cables and connectors that typically include four pairs of conductors that are used to transmit four differential signals. Differential signaling techniques, where each signal is transmitted over a balanced pair of conductors, are used because differential signals may be affected less by external noise sources and internal noises sources such as crosstalk as compared to signals that are transmitted over unbalanced conductors.

[0004] In Ethernet cables, the insulated conductors of each differential pair are tightly twisted about each other to form four twisted pairs of conductors, and these four twisted pairs may be further twisted about each other in a so-called“core twist.” A separator may be provided that is used to separate (and hence reduce coupling between) at least one of the twisted pairs from at least one other of the twisted pairs. The four twisted pairs and any separator may be enclosed in a protective jacket. Ethernet cables are connectorized with Ethernet connectors; a single Ethernet connector is configured to accommodate all four twisted pairs of conductors. However, it is possible that data and/or power transfer can be effectively supported through a singled twisted pair of conductors with its own more compact connector and cable. Accordingly, a connector design different from a standard Ethernet connector is needed.

Summary

[0005] A single twisted pair of conductors can be used to transmit data and/or power over a communications network that includes, for example, computers, servers, cameras, televisions, and other electronic devices including those on the internet of things (IoT), etc. A family of connectors to accommodate a single twisted pair of conductors is disclosed herein. The family of connectors includes a free connector, a fixed connector, and an adapter; the free and/or fixed connectors can be modified to accommodate the adapter configuration and/or modified to accommodate various patch cord

configurations. In certain embodiments, the one or more of the family of connectors adopts an LC fiber optic style connector configuration and an LC fiber optic footprint configuration. In certain examples, one or more of the family of connectors adopts an LC fiber optic style connector configuration but in a footprint that is larger or smaller than the footprint of the LC fiber optic footprint. Other configurations may also be adopted.

[0006] An aspect of the present disclosure is directed to a connector. The connector is configured for exactly two conductors. The connector includes a forward connector body, a rear connector body, a metal frame and exactly two electrical contacts. The rear connector body interfaces with the forward connector body. Further, the metal frame, which includes a shielding interface, surrounds at least a portion of both the forward and rear connector bodies. The electrical contacts extend from the rear connector body into the forward connector body. A first of the electrical contacts is electrically coupled to a first conductor of a shielded cable and the second of the electrical contacts is electrically coupled to a second conductor of the shielded cable. The shield interface of the metal frame is electrically coupled to the shield of the shielded cable.

[0007] Another aspect of the present disclosure is directed to an electrical contact for a two-conductor-only connector that houses exactly two of the electrical contacts. Each electrical contact comprises a tuning fork receptacle contact at a first end of the electrical contact and an insulation displacement contact (IDC) at a second end of the electrical contact. The IDC is electrically coupled to one of the conductors. The tuning fork receptacle contact includes a pair of opposing spring arms that define exactly two contact zones, e.g. a disengagement zone and a fully engaged zone. The disengagement zone permits an arc between the tuning fork receptacle contact and a pin contact received by the tuning fork receptacle contact without damaging a final contact point of the pin contact when received at the fully engaged zone.

[0008] Another aspect of the present disclosure is directed to a method of

connectorizing exactly one pair of conductors comprising a first and second conductor. The method comprises: (a) inserting a first and second electrical contact into a connector housing, wherein each of the first and second electrical contacts include a first end having a tuning fork receptacle contact and a second end having an insulation

displacement contact (IDC); (b) securing a metal frame to the connector housing, the metal frame surrounding at least a portion of the connector housing; (c) electrically coupling the first conductor to the IDC of the first electrical contact and electrically coupling the second conductor to the IDC of the second electrical contact; and (d) electrically coupling a shielding element of the metal frame to a shield of the shielded cable.

Brief Description of the Figures

[0009] FIGS. 1A - IB illustrate example embodiments of cables having single twisted pairs of conductors.

[0010] FIGS. 2A and 2B provide a perspective view of an example embodiment of an unassembled and an assembled free connector, respectively.

[0011] FIG. 3 illustrates an example of LC connectors configured for use with optical fibers.

[0012] FIGS. 4A-4C provide a forward perspective view of an unassembled fixed connector, a rearward perspective view of the unassembled fixed connector, and a perspective view of an assembled fixed connector, respectively.

[0013] FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an assembled fixed connector with a bulkhead mounting feature.

[0014] FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an assembled free connector and an assembled fixed connector.

[0015] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an adapter and a pair of cables that have each been connectorized with a free connector.

[0016] FIGS. 8A-8C illustrate examples of patch cords that can be configured utilizing free connector and modified connectors.

[0017] FIGS. 9A-9E illustrate example configurations of socket contacts

incorporating a socket spring configuration. [0018] FIGS. 10A-10B are a side view and a perspective view, respectively, illustrating mating contacts including a pin contact and tuning fork receptacle contact.

[0019] FIGS. 11A-11H illustrate various side views of the pin contact and tuning fork receptacle contact of FIGS. 10A-10B.

[0020] FIG. 12 is a side view of an exemplary fixed connector mated employing the pin contacts of FIGS. 10A-10B with an exemplary free connector employing the tuning fork receptacle contacts of FIGS. 10A-10B.

[0021] FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional taken along line A-A of FIG. 12.

[0022] FIG. 14 is a perspective view of an example embodiment of a free connector.

[0023] FIG. 15 is a cross-sectional view taken along line C-C of FIG. 14.

[0024] FIG. 16 is a perspective view of an example embodiment of an electrical contact.

[0025] FIG. 17 is a forward perspective view of an example embodiment of a strain relief device.

[0026] FIG. 18 is a rear perspective view of the strain relief device of FIG. 17.

[0027] FIG. 19 is a perspective view of an example embodiment of a fixed connector; two alternative pin configurations are illustrated.

[0028] FIG. 20 is cross-sectional view taken along line B-B of FIG. 19.

[0029] FIG. 21 is a perspective view of the fixed connector of FIG. 19 mated with the free connector of FIG. 14.

[0030] FIG. 22 is a perspective view of the fixed connector of FIG. 19 unmated from the free connector of FIG. 14.

[0031] FIGS. 23A - 23C include an exploded perspective view of an embodiment of a free connector, an assembled perspective view of the free connector and a partially assembled perspective view of the free connector, respectively.

[0032] FIGS. 24A - 24F include a first side perspective view of a forward connector body for the free connector of FIGS. 23A - 23C, a second side perspective view of the forward connector body, a front view of the forward connector body, a rear view of the forward connector body, a sectional view of the forward connector body and a rear perspective view of the forward connector body, respectively.

[0033] FIGS. 25A - 25D include a perspective view of a metal frame of the free connector of FIGS. 23A - 23C, a forward perspective view of the metal frame, a side view of the metal frame and a bottom perspective view of the metal frame, respectively.

[0034] FIG. 26 is a perspective view of a rear connector body of the free connector of FIGS. 23A - 23C with electrical contacts.

[0035] FIGS. 27A - 27D include a perspective view of the rear connector body FIG. 26, a front view of the rear connector body, a rear view of the rear connector body and a bottom perspective view of the rear connector body, respectively.

[0036] FIGS. 28A-28B include a perspective view of an embodiment of a fixed connector and a front view of the fixed connector, respectively.

[0037] FIGS. 29A - 29D include a perspective view of the housing body of the fixed connector of FIG. 28A, a front view of the housing body, a rear perspective view of the housing body, and a sectional view of the housing body taken along line D-D of FIG. 29C, respectively.

[0038] FIGS. 30A-30C include a forward side perspective view of a metal frame of the fixed connector of FIG. 28A, a front view of the metal frame and a rear side perspective view of the metal frame, respectively. [0039] FIGS. 31A-31B include a forward side perspective of an embodiment of a fixed connector and a sectional view of the fixed connector taken along line A-A of FIG.

31A.

[0040] FIG. 32 is a sectional view of an embodiment of free connector illustrating a tuning fork receptacle contact.

[0041] FIGS. 33A-33D provide a side view of a fixed connector mounted to a circuit board, a front view of a plurality of fixed connectors mounted to the circuit board, a top view of the circuit board and a bottom view of the circuit board, respectively.

[0042] FIGS. 34A-34B provide a forward and rearward perspective views, respectively, of a plurality of mated free and fixed connectors with the fixed connectors mounted to a circuit board and a forward face of the fixed connector being parallel to the circuit board.

[0043] FIGS. 35A-35B illustrate a perspective view of the free connector contacts receiving the fixed connector in a partially inserted and a fully inserted position, respectively.

[0044] FIGS. 36A-36B illustrate side-sectional views of a free connector and a fixed connector with the contacts of the fixed connector being received in the free connector in a partially inserted and fully inserted position, respectively.

[0045] FIGS. 37A-37B illustrate front sectional views of a free connector and a fixed connector with contacts of the fixed connector being received in the free connector in a partially inserted and fully inserted position, respectively.

Detailed Description

[0046] A family of connectors to accommodate a single twisted pair of conductors is disclosed herein. The family of connectors includes a free connector, a fixed connector, and an adapter; the free and/or fixed connectors can be modified to accommodate various patch cord and mounting configurations. In certain embodiments, the one or more of the family of connectors adopts an LC fiber optic style connector configuration and an LC fiber optic footprint configuration. In certain examples, one or more of the family of connectors adopts an LC fiber optic style connector configuration but in a footprint that is larger or smaller than the footprint of the LC fiber optic footprint. Other configurations may also be adopted.

[0047] FIG. 1A illustrates two example embodiments of cables containing one or more single twisted pairs of conductors. The first cable 10 includes first and second conductors 12, 14 that are twisted together to form a single twisted pair 16. The conductors 12, 14 are enclosed by a protective jacket 18. The second cable 20 includes first through fourth conductors 22, 24, 26, 28. Conductors 22 and 24 are twisted together to form a first single twisted pair 30, and conductors 26 and 28 are twisted together to form a second single twisted pair 32. The twisted pairs 30 and 32 are separated by a separator 34, and are encased in a protective jacket 36. In certain example embodiments, the cables 10, 20 include a number of twisted pairs greater than two. In certain example embodiments, each single twisted pair of conductors, e.g., 16, 30, 32, is configured for data transmission up to 600 MHz (ffs) and has a current carrying capacity up to 1 A.

Each single twisted pair of conductors, e.g., 16, 30, 32, can be connectorized with the various embodiments or combination of embodiments of free connectors and fixed connectors as described herein. The connectorized twisted pairs can be coupled with an adapter as described herein. FIG. IB is an example of a shielded cable 40. The shielded cable 40 includes an outer jacket 42, a foil shield 44, a drain wire 46, and a single twisted pair 48 of conductors 50 and 52; each of the conductors 50 and 52 is provided with insulation 54.

[0048] Referring to FIGS. 2A and 2B, an example embodiment of an unassembled and assembled free connector 100, respectively, are illustrated. In certain embodiments, the free connector 100 is in the style of an LC connector that is used with optical fibers.

In certain embodiments the free connector 100 can adopt the LC connector footprint, e.g. the shape and size of the LC connector. In certain embodiments, the free connector 100 is of the LC style (e.g. similar in appearance, for example, a small form factor with a substantially square elongate connector body and a snap latch on the connector body) but in a larger or smaller footprint than the LC connector. In certain embodiments, the free connector 100 varies in other dimensions and/or features from the LC connector style and/or footprint.

[0049] Referring to FIG. 3 an example of a simplex LC connector 200 and adapter 202, as well as a duplex LC connector 204 and adapter 206, are illustrated relative to a panel 208. A snap latch 210 is used to maintain the coupling of a connector to an adapter. The LC family of connectors, adapters and active device receptacles are generally known as small form factor connectors for use with optical fibers (1.25 mm ferrule) in high density applications, e.g., in- building communication systems. A front face 212 of a simplex LC connector is generally square having outer dimensions of 4.42 mm by 4.52 mm. The IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) standard for an LC connector can be identified as IEC 61754-20; the noted IEC standard is hereby incorporated by reference.

[0050] Referring once again to FIGS. 2 A and 2B, the free connector 100 generally includes a connector housing 102, a connector insert 104 and a pair of socket contacts

106a, 106b

[0051] The connector housing 102 of the free connector 100 includes an elongate body portion 110 having first and second side walls 112, 114 connected by upper and lower walls 116, 118, respectively, to establish a square or substantially square forward face 120. The connector housing 102 further includes a rear portion 122 that extends rearward from the elongate body portion 110. The rear portion 122 has side walls 124,

126 connected by upper and lower walls 128, 130, respectively, to establish a square or substantially square rear face 132 of the connector housing 102. The outer dimensions of the rear portion 122 are reduced from the outer dimensions of the elongate body portion 110 to accommodate a rear cover 131 or boot to enclose the rear face 132 of the connector housing 102. In certain embodiments, the rear cover 131 includes a strain- relief feature. A central channel 134 of a consistent or varying cross-section extends through the connector housing 102 from the forward face 120 to the rear face 132. In instances, where the connector housing 102 is varying from the LC style connectors, the exterior and/or interior cross-sections of the connector housing 102 can assume a shape (e.g. round, oval, rectangular, triangular, hexagonal, etc.) that is different from a squared shape.

[0052] The connector housing 102 includes a snap latch 136 on the upper wall 116 of the elongate body portion 110. The snap latch 136 can be positioned proximate the forward face 120 of the connector housing 102 as illustrated or can be positioned further rearward along the upper wall 116 as appropriate to enable a releasable interface or coupling with a corresponding fixed connector or adapter, described below. In certain example embodiments, at least one of the side walls 112, 114 includes a cantilevered latch 138 that interfaces with the connector insert 104 to retain the connector insert 104 within the central channel 134 when inserted therein.

[0053] In certain example embodiments, the connector housing 102 includes a keying feature that is provided within the central channel 134 to ensure that the connector insert 104 is inserted into the connector housing 102 in a correct orientation. In the example embodiment of FIGS. 2A and 2B, the keying feature comprises a chamfer 140 that extends along a lengthwise portion, or the entire length, of a lower comer of the central channel 134; a complementary keying feature is provided on the connector insert 104, described below.

[0054] In certain example embodiments, the connector housing 102 includes a stop feature to help ensure proper forward positioning and/or prevent over-insertion of the connector insert 104. In the example embodiment of FIGS. 2A and 2B, the stop feature includes a solid triangular portion 142 that interfaces with a stop feature of the connector insert 104, described below. The connector housing 102 may be of a unitary

configuration and can be manufactured through an appropriate molding process, e.g. insert molding. Other keying and/or stop features may be used without departing from the spirit or scope of the disclosure.

[0055] The connector insert 104 includes a body portion 144 having first and second side walls 146, 148 connected by upper and lower walls, 150, 152, respectively. A forward face 154 of the body portion 144 includes two apertures 156, 158 behind which extend first and second channels 160, 162, respectively. The first and second channels 160, 162 extend from the forward face 154 out through a rear face 164. The body portion 144 is configured to be received within the central channel 134 of the connector housing 102 such that the forward face 154 of the body portion 144 is proximate the forward face 120 of the connector housing. In certain examples, when inserted into the connector housing 102, the entirety of the connector insert 104 is maintained within the elongate body portion 110 of the connector housing 102.

[0056] In certain examples, each of the first and second channels 160, 162 of the connector insert 104 includes one or more bosses 166 and a lip edge 168 proximate the rear face 164. When the socket contacts 106a, 106b are inserted in their respective first and second channels 160, 162, each boss 166 operates to position the socket contacts 106a, 106b, so as to be axially aligned with the apertures 156, 158 of the forward face 154. The boss 166 also operates to establish an interference fit between the socket contacts 106a, 106b and their respective first and channels 160, 162 to help maintain the socket contacts 106a, 106b within the first and second channels. The lip edge 168 also aids in positioning each socket contact 106a, 106b, so as to place each socket contact 106a, 106b forward most in their respective first and second channels 160, 162

proximate the forward face 154 of the connector insert 104, and to prevent the socket contacts 106a, 106b, from being pulled rearward out of their respective first and second channels 160, 162 and out of the connector insert 104 itself. Other features and/or elements can also, or alternatively, be used to retain the socket contacts 106a, 106b within the first and second channels 160, 162 without departing from the spirit of the disclosure.

[0057] In certain examples, the apertures 156, 158 and respective first and second channels 160, 162 are stacked vertically or positioned side-by-side horizontally.

However, in order to minimize the crosstalk between adjacent contact pairs when a plurality of connectors 100 are deployed near one another, in certain examples, the apertures 156, 158 and respective first and second channels 160, 162 are provided in an offset configuration (see FIGS. 2A and 2B) so as to present the inserted socket contacts 106a, 106b in a cross-talk neutralizing position relative to the other connectors (e.g. minimize or prevent cross-talk from adjacent connectors to the socket contacts 106a, 106b)

[0058] In certain examples, at least one of the side walls 146, 148 of the connector insert 104 includes a ramped tab 170 that protrudes outwardly therefrom. When inserting the connector insert 104 within the connector housing 102, the ramped tab 170 allows the connector insert 104 to pass the cantilevered latch 138 of the connector housing 102 for full insertion and subsequently engages the cantilevered latch 138 preventing rearward movement or removal of the connector insert 104 from the connector housing 102. Other features and/or elements can also, or alternatively, be used to retain the connector insert 104 within the connector housing 102 without departing from the spirit or scope of the disclosure.

[0059] In certain examples, the connector insert 104 includes a keying feature that is configured to interface with the keying feature of the connector housing 102. In the example of FIGS. 2A and 2B, the keying feature comprises a chamfer 172 configured to interface with the chamfer 140 of the connector housing 102. The chamfer 172 can extend along a portion of the connector insert 104 or along a full length of the connector insert 104. The keying feature ensures proper orientation of the connector insert 104 within the connector housing 102.

[0060] In certain examples, the connector insert 104 includes a stop feature. In the example of FIGS. 2A and 2B, the stop feature comprises a boss 174 recessed from the forward face 154 of the connector insert 104 and configured to interface with the stop feature of the connector housing 102, e.g., the solid triangular portion 142. The recession of the boss 174 from the forward face 154 enables the forward face 154 of the connector insert 104 to be positioned flush with the stop feature, e.g., the solid triangular portion 142, of the connector housing 102 thereby presenting the combined forward face 154 of the connector insert 104 and the stop feature of the connector housing 102 as a generally unified planar surface. The connector insert 104 may be of a unitary configuration and can be manufactured through an appropriate molding process, e.g. insert molding. Other keying and/or stop features may be used without departing from the spirit or scope of the disclosure.

[0061] Each of the socket contacts 106a, 106b includes a tip contact 176 and a ring contact 178. Each socket contact 106a, 106b comprises a hollow cylinder having a rear end 180 and a forward end 182. An internal diameter 184 of the rear end 180 of each socket contact 106a, 106b, can be sized to receive a respective one of the conductors 12, 14 (or 22, 24, or 26, 28, see FIG. 1) of the twisted pair 16 (or 30 or 32, see FIG. 1) extending from the cable 18 (or 36, see FIG. 1). In certain embodiments, the internal diameter 184 is such that an interference fit between conductor 12, 14 and socket contact 106a, 106b is established to provide a good mechanical and electrical connection. In certain embodiments, the rear end 180 of the socket contacts 106a, 106b are crimped onto the conductors 12, 14. In certain embodiments, the conductors 12, 14 are soldered to the socket contacts 106a, 106b. The twist of the twisted pair 16 can be maintained up to the point of the conductors 12, 14 being coupled to the socket contacts 106a, 106b; the ability to maintain the twist in the conductors 12, 14 helps to minimize or prevent cross- talk from adjacent connectors to the socket contacts 106a, 106b improving operation of the connector 100. The forward end 182 of each socket contact 106a, 106b is sized to receive the pin contacts or conductors of a mating connector, e.g. fixed connector 300 described below; and can include one or more longitudinal slits 186.

[0062] The free connectors 100 can be configured in a simplex form or combined in a duplex form similar to that available with LC fiber optic connectors (see FIG. 1); forms including more than two free connectors 100 are also possible.

[0063] FIGS. 4A-4C and FIG. 5 illustrate example embodiments of fixed connectors 300 that are configured to interface with the free connectors 100. In certain embodiments, the fixed connector 300 is in the style of an LC connector that is used with optical fibers. In certain embodiments, the fixed connector 300 can adopt the LC connector footprint, e.g. the shape and size of the LC connector (e.g. the LC adapter or LC active device receptacle). In certain embodiments, the fixed connector 300 is of the LC style but in a larger or smaller footprint than LC connector. In certain embodiments, the fixed connector 300 varies in other dimensions and/or features from the LC connector style and/or footprint.

[0064] The fixed connector 300 is a two-piece component comprising a body portion 302 and a rear panel 304; the rear panel 304 enables placement of pin conductors 306a, 306b within the body portion 302.

[0065] The body portion 302 includes first and second side walls 308, 310 connected by upper and lower walls 312, 314. The first and second side walls 308, 310, and the upper and lower walls 312, 314 frame an open forward portion 316 that presents a port 318 within the body portion 302 that is configured to receive the free connector 100. A notch 320 proximate the upper wall 312 is configured to interface with the snap latch 136 to removably retain the free connector 100. A rear plate 322 of the body portion 302 fills that gap between walls 308, 310, 312, 314 save for a pin cavity 324 and pin channels 325 extending therefrom. The pin channels 325 are configured to receive the pin conductors 306a, 306b while the pin cavity 324 is configured to house the portion of the pin conductors 306a, 306b not within the pin channels and to interface with the rear panel 304. First and second notches 326, 328 extend through first and second side walls 308, 310, respectively, to the rear plate 322 and are configured to interface with the rear panel 304.

[0066] Referring to FIG. 5, the lower wall 314 of the body portion 302 includes first and second openings 330, 332 through which the pin conductors 306a, 306b extend when the fixed connector 300 is assembled. One or more stabilizing pads 334 and/or mounting features 336 can also be provided on the lower wall 314 enabling the mounting of the fixed connector 300 and the electrical coupling of the pin conductors 306a 306b to a circuit board or other circuit structure. FIG. 5 further illustrates that the body portion 302 of the fixed connector can include one or more flanges, e.g. first flange 338 and second flange 340 proximate the open forward portion 316. The flanges 338, 340 are for bulkhead mounting.

[0067] The rear panel 304 includes a forward face 342 and a planar rear face 344.

The forward face 342 is provided with a pair of forward extending tabs 346, 348 that are configured to interface with the first and second notches 326, 328 to fixedly, or removably, secure the rear panel 304 to the body portion 302 through an interference fit. In certain embodiments, a latching mechanism can be used additionally or alternatively to the interference fit to secure the rear panel 304. The forward face 342 is further provided with a forward extending upper stabilizer 350 curving toward a central location 352 and a forward extending lower stabilizer 354 curving toward the same central location 352. A pin stabilizer 356 is provided to either side of the upper stabilizer 350.

[0068] The pin conductors 306a, 306b each include a first end 358 and a second end 360. Each pin conductor 306a, 306b is bent to approximate a right angle between the first and second ends 358, 360 so that the first end 358 extends through the rear plate 322 and into the port 318. While within the port 318, the first ends 358 are to be received in the forward end 182 of the socket contacts 106a, 106b to make an electrical connection therewith when the free connector 100 is inserted into the port 318. The second end 360 of each of the pin conductors 306a, 306b extends through the lower wall 314. The first ends 358 of the pin conductors 306a, 306b are arranged to be offset from one another consistent with the offset of the socket contacts 106a, 106b while that second ends 360 of the pin conductors 306a, 306b are crossed proximate the right angle bend; the offset and crossing of the pin conductors 306a, 306b helps to minimize, or prevent, cross-talk between the pin conductors 306a, 306b and the pin conductors of vertically or horizontally proximate like connectors. In certain embodiments, the pin conductors 306a, 306b can be stacked horizontally or vertically to correspond to a placement of the socket contacts 106a, 106b. In certain embodiments, the pin conductors 306a, 306b are of equivalent lengths while in other embodiments the pin conductors 306a, 306b are of differing lengths.

[0069] Additional information about pin conductors and their positioning to minimize, or prevent, cross-talk can be found in U.S. Patent 9,407,043 entitled“Balanced Pin and Socket Connectors” and U.S. Patent 9,590,339 entitled“High Data Rate

Connectors and Cable Assemblies that are Suitable for Harsh Environments and Related Methods and Systems.” Each of the noted patents is hereby incorporated by reference.

[0070] When assembling the fixed connector 300, the first ends 358 of each of the pin conductors 306a, 306b are inserted into pin cavity 324, and corresponding pin channels 325, in their offset positions; a divider 362, which comprises a portion of the rear plate 322, separates the second ends 360 of the pin conductors 306a, 306b within the pin cavity 324. The rear panel 304 is then secured to the body portion 302 of the fixed connector 300. The second ends 360 of the pin conductors 306a, 306b pass through the central location 352 at the rear panel 304 where the upper and lower stabilizers 350, 354 help maintain/fix the position of the pin conductors 306a, 306b relative to the body portion 302; the upper and lower stabilizers 350, 354 are received within the pin cavity 324. In certain embodiments, an interference fit occurs between the upper and lower stabilizers 350, 354 and the pin cavity 324 to assist in securing the rear panel 304 to the body portion 302 of the fixed connector 300. The pin stabilizers 356 press against each of the pin conductors 306a, 306b to ensure that they are fully, forwardly positioned within the pin channels of the fixed connector 300 as well as to maintain/fix their position. [0071] The fixed connectors 300 can be configured in a simplex form or combined in a duplex form similar to that available with LC fiber optic connectors (see FIG. 1); forms including more than two fixed connectors 300 are also possible.

[0072] In certain embodiments, when the free connector 100 and/or fixed connector 300 are configured in the LC style and/or footprint, one or both of the connectors 100, 300 can be provided with a blocking/keying feature, to prevent the insertion of the free connector 100 into an actual LC fiber optic adapter or LC fiber optic active device receptacle and/or to prevent an actual LC fiber optic connector from being inserted into the fixed connector 300. In the example of FIG. 6, the free connector 100 is provided with a blocking/keying feature in the form of rectangular protuberance 602 extending outward from the connector housing 102; the protuberance 602 will prevent insertion of the of the free connector 100 into LC fiber optic adapter or LC fiber optic active device receptacle. Further, in the example of FIG. 6, the free connector 100 includes a chamfer 604 along a portion of a comer of the connector housing 102 that is accommodated by a blocking/keying feature in the form of a triangular panel 606 in a comer of the port 318. The triangular panel 606 of the fixed connector 300 allows the free connector 100 to enter the port 318; however, the squared housing configuration of an LC fiber optic connector will be blocked from entering the port 318 of the fixed connector 300.

[0073] FIG. 7 illustrates a single twisted pair adapter 700. The adapter 700 is configured to enable an in-line connection between a first free connector 100a and a second free connector 100b. For example, simplex and/or duplex adapters 700 can be used in wall plate application (similar to standard electrical wall outlet) or a plurality of adapters 700 can be used in a bulkhead configuration for high density applications.

[0074] The adapter 700 generally comprises a pair of fixed connectors 300 that are modified to be electrically and mechanically coupled to one another rather than being individually coupled to a circuit board. In certain embodiments, the adapter 700

comprises a two-piece component having a continuous body portion 702 that defines two ports 704 and an upper (or lower) panel 706 that is configured for coupling to the body portion 702. The body portion 702 defines an upper (or lower) channel 705 into which can be placed a single twisted pair of conductors 708, 710 where each has a pin contact first end 712 and a pin contact second end 714 that can be inserted into corresponding pin channels 716 formed in the body portion 702. The upper panel 706 can be configured with various outward extending stabilizing features to help position and/or maintain the position of the pin contacts 712, 714 in an offset orientation corresponding to the socket contacts 106a, 106b of the free connector 100 that will be received in each of the ports 704. The upper panel 706 can include outward extending tabs 718 or other type of mechanism for coupling the upper panel 706 to the body portion 702.

[0075] FIGS. 8A-8C illustrate various patch cord configurations that can be manufactured using the free connector 100 and a modified fixed connector 300. In the patch cord examples, the fixed connector 300 is configured for coupling with a cable having a single twisted pair of conductors rather than being configured for coupling to a circuit board. As shown, a patch cord 800 includes a first end 802 with a first free connector 804 and a second end 806 with a second free connector 808, see FIG. 8A. FIG. 8B illustrates a patch cord 810 having a first end 812 with a first free connector 814 and a second end 816 with a first fixed connector 818. FIG. 8C illustrates a patch cord 820 having a first end 822 with a first fixed connector 824 and a second end 826 with a second fixed connector 828.

[0076] FIGS. 9A - 9E illustrate various example embodiments of a socket contact 900 that can be used in the various configurations/embodiments described herein, for example, in place of socket 106a, 106b. As shown in FIGS. 9A-9C, a forward end 902 of the socket contact 900 includes a socket spring configuration that has a leading entry angle, e.g. angle A, and a flat transition 904 such that when a pin 906 is fully mated with the socket contact 900 the final contact point X is in a different location as the insertion/withdrawal point of contact Y. A rearward portion, now shown, of the contact 900 can include a ring contact (e.g., see ring 178 of socket contact 106a in FIG. 2A) or other appropriate contact configuration. In certain embodiments, the flat transition 904 is replaced with a rounded transition 908, see FIG. 9D. In certain embodiments, see FIG.

9E, the socket contact 900 is provided with a socket spring configuration wherein the forward end 902 is provided with a stepped surface 910 such that the final mated contact point X of the pin contact 906 is a in a different location as the insertion/withdrawal point Y of the pin contact 906.

[0077] FIGS 10A-10B illustrate various example embodiments of pin contacts and mating tuning fork receptacle contacts that can be used in the various

configurations/embodiments described herein. In certain embodiments, the pin contacts and tuning fork receptacle contacts are of the same or similar conductive material while in other embodiments the pin contacts and tuning fork receptacles are different conductive materials. For example, tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 can be used in place of sockets 106a, 106b while pin contact 1002 can be used in place of pin conductors 306a, and 306b. As shown in FIGS. 10A-10B, the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 includes a rear portion 1004 connecting first and second spring arms 1006a, 1006b. Each of the spring arms 1006a, 1006b includes a forward end 1010 having an entry portion 1012 that has a leading entry angle, e.g. angle B, and a tapering transition portion 1014 from the entry portion 1012 at a point C to a point D. Beyond point D, the forward end 1010 tapers to an open channel 1016 within a central portion 1018 of the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000. Two tuning fork receptacle contacts 1000 are used in the various connector embodiments described herein, wherein each of the tuning fork receptacle contacts 1000 can be electrically coupled to a conductor, e.g., conductors 10, 12, in any suitable manner. In certain embodiments, the

[0078] The pin contact 1002 includes a forward portion 1020 and a rear portion 1022 that can be electrically coupled to a conductor, e.g. conductor 10, in any suitable manner. The forward portion 1020 includes a first tapered face 1024 and a second tapered face 1026 opposite the first tapered face 1024. The forward portion 1020 further includes first and second tapered sides 1028, 1030 that connect the first tapered face 1024 and second tapered face 1026 to form a four-sided pyramid shape with a flattened apex 1027; the flattened apex 1027 having a rectangular or square cross-section; however other pin geometries, e.g., round, triangular, etc., are possible. In certain examples, the first and second sides tapered sides 1028, 1030 have bases that are narrower or wider than the bases of the first and second tapered faces 1024, 1026 thereby providing the rear portion 1022 of the pin contact 1002 with a rectangular cross-section while in other examples all sides and faces have equivalent bases providing the rear portion 1022 of the pin contact 1002 with a substantially square cross-section. A rectangular or square cross-section provides the rear portion 1022 of the pin contact 1002 a broader surface to make contact with the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 should either the pin contact 1002 or the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 become bent or warped in some way that might alter their original alignment; note that in certain embodiments a width wi of the pin contact 1002 is wider than a width W2 of each respective spring arm 1006a, 1006b. Two pin contacts 1002 are used in the various connector embodiments describe herein.

[0079] Referring to FIGS 11A and 11B, the position of the forward portion 1020 of the pin contact 1002 is shown relative to the forward end 1010 of the spring arm 1006a of the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000. As illustrated, the tapered surfaces of the tuning fork receptacle connector 1000 and the pin contact 1002 are designed such that the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 is provided with two contact zones, e.g. a

disengagement zone where the forward portion 1020 of the pin contact 1002 is in contact with point C of the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 as illustrated in FIG. 11A and a fully engaged zone where the rear portion 1022 of the pin contact 1002 is in contact with the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 at point D as illustrated in FIG. 11B. While the first and second spring arms 1006a, 1006b are illustrated as having aligned contact points C and D, in other embodiments the contact points C and D on the first spring arm 1006a can be offset from the contact points C and D on the second spring arm 1006b. The two contact zones, and particularly, the disengagement zone, help to protect against an arcing “spark” that can occur when the plug, e.g., the pin contact 1002, is inserted/removed from the receptacle, e.g. the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000; the disengagement zone enables an arc to occur prior to full insertion of the pin contact 1002 such that the final contact point, e.g. point D, which is vital for transmission of data, is not damaged.

Arcing, if not addressed within the contact design, can cause damage to the contact and prevent data transmission through the plug and receptacle. FIG. 11C provides a side dimensioned view of the forward end 1010 of each of the spring arms 1006a, 1006b, with dimensions in mm and angles in degrees. As shown, the entry portions 1012 the spring arms 1006a, 1006b are present an opening separated by approximately 60°±10° that narrows to an opening of approximately l0°±8° whereby a distance between the spring arms , contact point C of the disengagement zone is approximately 0.43 mm ± 0.08 mm to 0.43mm ± 0.13 mm. A distance between contact point C and contact point D is approximately 1.0 mm ± 0.6 mm to 1.0 mm ± 2.0 mm. A contact point D of the fully engaged zone the spring arms 1006a, 1006b are separated by distance of approximately

0.25 mm ± 0.03 mm. [0080] FIGS. 11D-11H illustrate the deflections of spring arm 1006a (with corresponding motions by spring arm 1006a not shown) as pin contact 1002 in inserted into the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000. FIG. 11D illustrates the pin contact 1002 prior to contact with the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000. FIG. HE illustrates the pin contact 1002 as it makes initial contact with the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 at contact point C in the disengagement; notably the initial contact occurs on tapered face

1024 of the pin contact 1002. FIG. 11F illustrates the pin contact 1002 as it moves past initial contact point C with the spring arm 1006a with the tapering transition portion 1014 of spring arm 1006a moving along the tapered face 1024 of the pin contact 1002. FIG. 11G illustrates the pin contact 1002 reaching contact point D of the fully engaged zone wherein contact point D on the spring arm 1006a rides on the planar upper surface

1025 of the pin contact 1002. FIG. 11H illustrates the pin contact 1002 fully inserted within the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 with a single contact point maintained between the pin contact 1002 and the spring arm 1006a at contact point D.

[0081] Referring to FIGS. 12 and 13, a fixed connector 1200 employing two pin contacts 1002 is mated with a free connector 1202 employing two tuning fork receptacle contacts 1000 wherein the pin contacts 1002, one of which is illustrated in FIG. 13, are fully engaged with the tuning fork receptacle contacts 1000, one of which is illustrated in FIG. 13. It should be noted that the pin contacts 1002 and/or tuning fork receptacle contacts 1000 can also be used in an adapter configuration, patch cord configuration or any other connector configuration described herein.

[0082] Referring to FIGS. 14 and 15 another example embodiment of a free connector 1400 is illustrated. In this embodiment, the free connector 1400 includes a forward connector body 1402, a metal frame 1404, a pair of electrical contacts 1406a, 1406b, and a rear connector body 1408. In certain example, the free connector 1400 additionally includes a strain relief device 1409. The free connector 1400 can be coupled to a single twisted pair of conductors, e.g. conductors 12 and 14 of the single twisted pair 16 of cable 10.

[0083] The forward connector body 1402 includes an elongate forward portion 1410 and a rear receiving portion 1412.

[0084] The elongate forward portion 1410 includes a first side face 1414 and a second side face 1416 as well as an upper face 1418 connecting the first side face 1414 and the second side face 1416. A lower face 1420 connected to the first side face 1414 is connected to the second side face 1416 via a chamfered face 1422. A forward face 1422 of the forward connector body 1402 includes a pair of openings 1424a, 1424b

corresponding to contact receiving channels 1426a, 1426b; the openings 1424a, 1424b receive pin contacts of the fixed connector 1500 (see FIG. 19). In certain embodiments, a recess 1428 is provided on each side face 1414, 1416 to interface with the metal frame 1404; however, other manners of interfacing with the metal frame 1404 can also be used. In certain embodiments, the forward connector body 1402 also includes a cantilevered latch 1430.

[0085] In certain embodiments, the openings 1424a, 1424b have a center-line to center-line horizontal spacing of 1.2 mm and a center-line to center-line vertical spacing of 2.7 mm, e.g. a vertical to horizontal ration of 2.25:1 or a horizontal to vertical ratio of 0.44 to 1. In certain embodiments, a vertical height of the elongate forward portion 1410 is designed to be greater than the vertical height of a standard LC connector by an amount of greater than or equal to 1 mm; the change in vertical height preventing the free connector 1400 from being coupled with a standard LC fixed connector (jack/receptacle).

[0086] In certain embodiments, a horizontal width of the elongate forward portion 1410 is designed to be the same width of a standard LC connector enabling a density of a certain plurality of free connectors 1400 to be the same as the density of a same certain plurality of standard LC connectors such as in a panel setting where multiple connectors are provided in a single panel. In certain embodiments, a horizontal width of the free connector 1400 is alternatively, or additionally, greater (e.g. > 1 mm) than the horizontal width of a standard LC connector to prevent the free connector 1400 from being coupled with a standard LC connector while the vertical height of the free connector 1400 is maintained as consistent with the vertical height of a standard LC connector. In certain examples, the chamfered face 1422 also prevents the free connector 1400 from being inserted within a standard LC connector.

[0087] The rear receiving portion 1412 of the forward connector body 1402 is unitary (e.g., molded as single unit) with the elongate forward portion 1410 of the forward connector body 1402. The rear receiving portion 1412 defines a central cavity 1432 that provides rear access to the contact receiving channels 1426a, 1426b of the elongate forward portion 1410. The central cavity 1432 receives the rear connector body 1408.

[0088] The metal frame 1404 of the free connector 1400 is a metal shell having a central cavity 1434 that is slideable over the rear receiving portion 1412 of the forward connector body 1402. The metal frame 1404 is held in place about the rear receiving portion 1412 through use of a pair of flex tabs 1436 that interface with the recesses 1428 of the elongate forward portion 1410 of the forward connector body 1402. Note that the metal frame 1404 is not in contact with the pair of electrical contacts 1406a, 1406b. The metal frame 1404 helps to prevent crosstalk between multiple free connectors 1400 that are in close proximity to one another, e.g. in a high density connector panel.

[0089] The pair of electrical contacts 1406a, 1406b are illustrated in FIGS. 14 with a single electrical contact illustrated in FIG. 16. A forward portion of each of the electrical contacts 1406a, 1406b comprises a tuning fork receptacle contact 1000, which is illustrated and described in relation to FIGS. 10A - 13, while a rear portion of each of the electrical contacts 1406a, 1406b comprises an insulation displacement contact (IDC) 1440. In certain examples, the IDC 1440 includes a sharpened blade(s) that forces its way through insulation surrounding a conductor eliminating the need to strip the conductor while in other examples the conductor is stripped of insulation prior to placing the conductor in the IDC 1440. Each of the electrical contacts 1406a, 1406b includes a shoulder 1444 intermediate the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 and the IDC 1440. The shoulder 1444 interfaces with a stop 1446 (see FIG. 15) within the elongate forward portion 1410 of the forward connector body 1402. In certain embodiments, each of the electrical contacts 1406a, 1406b includes one or more tangs 1442 to help retain each of the tuning fork receptacle contacts 1000 within their respective contact receiving channels 1426a, 1426b.

[0090] As noted with reference to FIGS. 10A-10B and FIG. 16, the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 includes a rear portion 1004 connecting first and second spring arms 1006a, 1006b. Each of the spring arms 1006a, 1006b includes a forward end 1010 having an entry portion 1012 that has a leading entry angle, e.g. angle B, and a tapering transition portion 1014 from the entry portion 1012 at a point C to a point D. Beyond point D, the forward end 1010 tapers to an open channel 1016 within a central portion 1018 of the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000.

[0091] Referring to FIGS. 14, 17 and 18, the rear connector body 1408 of the free connector 1400 serves to enclose the forward connector body 1402. In certain examples, the rear connector body 1408 seats against the forward connector body 1402 while, in other examples, the rear connector body 1408 seats against the metal frame 1404. The rear perspective view of the rear connector body 1408, provided in FIG. 18, illustrates that first and second channel openings 1452a, 1452b are provided to receive first and second conductors 12, 14. The channel openings 1452a, 1452b are offset to

accommodate the offset positioning of the contact receiving channels 1426a, 1426b and their respective electrical contacts 1406a, 1406b (e.g., a nominal center-line to center- line horizontal offset of 1.2 mm and a center-line to center-line vertical offset of 2.7 mm). In certain examples, the first and second channel openings are countersunk to

accommodate the flexing of conductors 10, 12 when coupling/coupled to the electrical contacts 1406a, 1406b.

[0092] The forward perspective view of the rear connector body 1408, provided in FIG. 17, illustrates that the rear connector body 1408 is essentially divided into a first half 1454a, to accommodate the upper positioned electrical contact 1406a and a second half 1454b to accommodate the lower positioned electrical contact 1406b. The first half 1454a of the rear connector body 1408 includes an upward channel 1456 that is contoured to direct the end of a conductor upward (e.g., a 90 deg. bend) to extend through a contact-receiving slot 1458 and beyond an upper recess 1460. The IDC contact 1440 of the electrical contact 1406a can then be inserted into the contact-receiving slot 1458 to establish an electrical interface with the conductor. The second half 1454b of the rear connector body 1408 includes a downward channel 1462 that is contoured to direct the end of a conductor downward (e.g., a 90 deg. bend) to extend through a contact receiving slot 1464 and beyond a lower recess 1466. The IDC contact 1440 of the electrical contact 1406b can then be inserted into the contact-receiving slot 1464 to establish an electrical interface with the conductor.

[0093] The strain relief device 1409, shown in FIGS. 14, 17 and 18, includes an upper portion 1470 and a lower portion (not shown), which is essentially identical to the upper portion 1470 and interfaces with the upper portion 1470 to completely surround the cable 10 when the conductors 12, 14 are coupled to the electrical contacts 1406a, 1406b. In certain examples, the strain relief device 1409 comprises a component distinct from all other components of the free connector 1400. In certain examples, the strain relief device 1409 is molded unitary with the rear connector body 1408. In certain examples, the strain relief device 1409 is of metal and is manufactured unitary with the metal frame

1404

[0094] An example embodiment of a fixed connector 1500, suitable to mate with the free connector 1400 (or other connectors described herein), is illustrated in FIGS. 19 and 20. The fixed connector 1500 generally includes a housing body 1502, a metal frame 1504, and a pair of pin contacts 1506; FIG. 19 illustrates that the pin contacts 1506 can comprise straight pin contacts 1506a, 1506b, or, alternatively, can comprise bent pin contacts 1506c, 1506d, e.g. bent 90 degrees, to accommodate a board mounting of the fixed connector 1500.

[0095] The housing body 1502 of the fixed connector includes a forward central channel 1510 that receives the free connector 1400. The forward central channel 1510 includes a first side face 1514 and a second side face 1516 connected by an upper face 1518. A lower face 1520 and chamfered face 1522 serve to also connect the first side face 1514 and the second side face 1516. The faces of the forward central channel 1510 correspond to those of the elongate forward portion 1410 of the free connector 1400. A notch 1524 is provided within the housing body 1502 to interface with the cantilevered latch 1430 of the free connector 1400. As shown in the FIG. 20, the housing body 1502 includes first and second openings 1526, 1528 to channels into which the pin contacts 1506 are inserted; when fully inserted, the pin contacts 1506 extend into the forward central channel 1510. The horizontal and vertical center-line-to-center-line spacing of the pin contacts and openings 1526, 1528 correspond to those found in the free connector 1400, e.g. nominal 1.2 mm and 2.7 mm respectively. In certain embodiments, the pin contacts 1506 are overmolded in the housing body 1502. In certain embodiments, the pin contacts 1506 are inserted after molding of the housing body 1502; a rear connector body (not shown) can be used to seal a rear face 1530 of the housing body 1502 if necessary.

[0096] The metal frame 1504 of the fixed connector 1500 is a metal shell having a central cavity 1534 that is slideable over the housing body 1502. The metal frame 1504 is held in place about the housing body 1502 through use of a pair clips 1536 that interface with side notches 1538 of the housing body 1502. Note that the metal frame 1504 is not in contact with the electrical contacts 1506. The metal frame 1504 helps to prevent crosstalk between multiple fixed connectors 1500 that are in close proximity to one another, e.g. in a high density connector panel.

[0097] The pin contacts 1506 of the fixed connector correspond to the pin contacts 1002. Referring back to FIGS. 10A-10B, each pin contact 1002 includes a forward portion 1020 and a rear portion 1022 that can be electrically coupled to a conductor, e.g. conductor 10, in any suitable manner. The forward portion 1020 includes a first tapered face 1024 and a second tapered face 1026 opposite the first tapered face 1024. The forward portion 1020 further includes first and second tapered sides 1028, 1030 that connect the first tapered face 1024 and second tapered face 1026 to form a four-sided pyramid shape with a flattened apex 1027; the flattened apex 1027 having a rectangular or square cross-section. In certain examples, the first and second sides tapered sides 1028, 1030 have bases that are narrower or wider than the bases of the first and second tapered faces 1024, 1026 thereby providing the rear portion 1022 of the pin contact 1002 with a rectangular cross-section while in other examples all sides and faces have equivalent bases providing the rear portion 1022 of the pin contact 1002 with a substantially square cross-section. A rectangular or square cross-section provides the rear portion 1022 of the pin contact 1002 a broader surface to make contact with the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 should either the pin contact 1002 or the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 become bent or warped in some way that might alter their original alignment. However, in certain embodiments the pin contact 1002 is of a circular or oval cross-section. In certain embodiments, the pin contact 1002 is provided with a bullet-nose forward portion 1020 rather than the pyramid-style forward portion 1020 that is illustrated.

[0098] Referring again to FIGS 11A and 11B, the position of the forward portion 1020 of the pin contact 1002 is shown relative to the forward end 1010 of the spring arm 1006a of the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000. As illustrated, the tapered surfaces of the tuning fork receptacle connector 1000 and the pin contact 1002 are designed such that the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 is provided with two contact zones, e.g. a disengagement zone where the forward portion 1020 of the pin contact 1002 is in contact with point C of the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 as illustrated in FIG. 11A and a fully engaged zone where the rear portion 1022 of the pin contact 1002 is in contact with the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 at point D as illustrated in FIG. 11B. In certain embodiments, an introductory, or lead-in, angle of approximately 30 degrees is provided from the most forward portion of the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 to point C while a transfer angle from point C to point D on the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 is in the range of 10 - 15 degrees. As such, the forward portion 1010 of the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 transitions from a first plane defined by the introductory angle and a second plane defined between points C and D. Note that as the pin contact 1002 travels into the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 the pin contact 1002 is in continuous contact with the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 from the initial contact point C to the final contact point D causing the forward portion 1010 of the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 to flex outward. Further, note that contact points C and D are radiused to provide a smooth and continuous transition. In certain embodiments, projections (e.g. bumps) can be provided at contact points C and D. In certain embodiments, a single plane from the forward most portion of the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 to contact point D is provided, e.g. contact point C is eliminated.

[0099] While the first and second spring arms 1006a, 1006b are illustrated as having aligned contact points C and D, in other embodiments the contact points C and D on the first spring arm 1006a can be offset from the contact points C and D on the second spring arm 1006b. The two contact zones, and particularly, the disengagement zone, help to protect against an arcing“spark” that can occur when the plug, e.g., the pin contact 1002, is inserted/removed from the receptacle, e.g. the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000; the disengagement zone enables an arc, should it occur prior to full insertion (or upon final withdrawal) of the pin contact 1002 such that the final contact point, e.g. point D, which is vital for transmission of data, is not damaged. Arcing, if not addressed within the contact design, can cause damage to the contact and prevent data transmission through the plug and receptacle.

[0100] FIGS. 21 and 22 illustrate the free connector 1400 and the fixed connector 1500 in a mated configuration and an unmated configuration, respectively.

[0101] Referring now to FIGS. 23A - 23C, another example embodiment of a free connector 2300 is illustrated. Free connector 2300 includes a forward connector body 2302, a metal frame 2304, a pair of electrical contacts 2306a, 2306b and a rear connector body 2308. Free connector 2300 can be coupled to a single twisted pair of conductors, e.g., conductors 12 and 14 of the single twisted pair 16 of cable 10.

[0102] Referring to FIGS. 24A - 24B, the forward connector body 2302 includes an elongate forward portion 2310 and a rear receiving portion 2312 that is separated by a shoulder 2311. [0103] The elongate forward portion 2310 includes a first side face 2314 and a second side face 2316 as well as an upper face 2418 connecting the first side face 2314 and the second side face 2316. A lower face 2420 additionally connects the first side face 2314 and the second side face 2316. A forward face 2323 of the forward connector body 2302 includes a pair of openings 2324a, 2324b corresponding to contact receiving channels 2326a, 2326b; the openings 2324a, 2324b receive pin contacts that electrically interface with the tuning fork contacts 2306a, 2306b. In certain embodiments, a recess 2328 is provided on each side face 2314, 2316 of the elongate forward portion 2310 to interface with and retain the metal frame 2304. Each recess 2328 includes a recessed notch 2329 to receive an interfacing tab 2344 of the metal frame 2304 to further ensure that the metal frame 2304 remains secured to the forward connector body 2302.

However, other manners of interfacing with the metal frame 2304 can also be used. The elongate forward portion 2310 of the forward connector body 2302 also includes a cantilevered latch 2330.

[0104] In certain embodiments, the center of each opening 2324a, 2324b is offset from a vertical center line of the forward face 2323 by a distance A of 0.6 mm (center-to- center of 1.2 mm) and is offset from a horizontal center line of the forward face 2323 by a distance B of 1.35 mm (center-to-center of 2.7 mm). Further, the elongate forward portion 2310 of the free connector 2300, including the forward face 2323, has a width W of - 4.5 mm and a height H of - 5.6 mm. Notably, a fiber optic LC connector has a square forward face with dimension s of 4.5 mm x 4.5 mm. As such the free connector 2300 has a width similar to the LC connector but a slightly larger height, e.g., > lmm, to prevent the free connector 2300 from being inserted into an LC fixed connector (or LC adapter) yet provide a size similar to an LC connector enabling similar density of free connectors in virtually the same amount of space that can accommodate a corresponding density of LC connectors such as in connector panel setting.

[0105] The rear receiving portion 2312 of the forward connector body 2302 is unitary (e.g. molded as a single unit) with the elongate forward portion 2310 of the forward connector body 2302. The rear receiving portion 2312 defines a central cavity 2332 that provides rear access to the contact receiving channels 2326a, 2326b of the elongate forward portion 2310; the central cavity 2332 is provided with a chamfered keying feature 2329 to assist in the aligning the rear connector body 2308. Each side face 2331, 2333 of the rear receiving portion 2312 includes a slot 2335 to interface with the rear connector body 2308 and an outward extending tab 2337 to interface with the metal frame 2304.

[0106] The metal frame 2304 of the free connector 2300 comprises a metal shell body 2340 having a central cavity 2334 that is slideable over the rear receiving portion 2312 of the forward connector body 2302. The metal frame 2304 is held in place about the rear receiving portion 2312 through use of a pair of flex tabs 2342 that interface with corresponding recesses 2328 of the forward connector body 2302. Each of the flex tabs 2342 includes in inward facing tab 2344 to interface with recessed notch 2329 of the forward connector body 2302. Each side face 2346, 2348 of the metal frame 2304 includes an opening 2350 to interface with outward extending tab 2337 of the forward connector body 2302. Each point of interface between the metal frame 2304 and the forward connector body 2302 assists in securing the metal frame 2304 to the forward connector body 2302. Each side face 2346, 2348 of the metal frame 2304 is additionally equipped with an inward directed beam 2352 (e.g. shield beam) to establish an electrical interface with a cable shield (foil or drain wire) of the cable carrying the single pair of conductors (e.g., see FIG. 1B). A bottom face 2354 of the metal frame 2304 includes a cut-out 2356 to interface with a latch 2376 on the rear connector body 2308. Note that, while the metal frame 2304 includes a shield beam for interfacing with a shield of a shielded cable, the metal frame 2304 can also be utilized in conjunction with a non- shielded cable. In the instance of a non-shielded cable, the metal frame provides additional structural support to the connector 2300.

[0107] Electrical contacts 2306a, 2306b (see FIGS. 23A and correspond to electrical contacts 1406a, 1406b of FIGS. 14 and 16; note that the forward portion of each of the electrical contacts 1406a, 1406b comprises a tuning fork receptacle contact 1000, which is illustrated and described in relation to FIGS. 10A - 13, while the rear portion of each of the electrical contacts 1406a, 1406b comprises an insulation displacement contact (IDC) 1440. In certain examples, the IDC 1440 includes a sharpened blade(s) that forces its way through insulation surrounding a conductor eliminating the need to strip the conductor while in other examples the conductor is stripped of insulation prior to placing the conductor in the IDC 1440. Each of the electrical contacts 1406a, 1406b includes a shoulder 1444 that interfaces with a stop 2358 (see FIG. 24D) within the elongate forward portion 2310 of the forward connector body 2302. In certain embodiments, each of the electrical contacts 1406a, 1406b includes one or more tangs 1442 to help retain each of the tuning fork receptacle contacts 1000 within their respective contact receiving channels 2326a, 2326b of the forward connector body 2302.

[0108] As noted with reference to FIGS. 10A-10B and FIG. 16, the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 includes a rear portion 1004 connecting first and second spring arms 1006a, 1006b. Each of the spring arms 1006a, 1006b includes a forward end 1010 having an entry portion 1012 that has a leading entry angle, e.g., angle B, and a tapering transition portion 1014 from the entry portion 1012 at a point C to a point D. Beyond point D, the forward end 1010 tapers to an open channel 1016 within a central portion 1018 of the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000. Details regarding the specific angles and dimensions of the forward end 1010 of the spring arms 1006a, 1006b are provided in

FIG. 11C

[0109] Referring to FIGS. 26 and FIGS. 27A - 27D, the rear connector body 2308 of the free connector 2300 is illustrated. The rear connector body 2308 includes a rear body portion 2360 having a first side face 2362 and a second side face 2364 connected by an upper face 2366 and a lower face 2368. A rear face 2370 of the rear body portion 2360 includes an opening 2371 that defines a central cavity 2372 into which is inserted a pair of conductors (e.g., conductors 12, 14). Each of the first and second side face 2362, 2364 is provided with an elongate opening 2374; when the rear connector body 2308 is interfaced with the metal frame 2304 the inward directed beams 2352 of the metal frame 2304 will extend through the respective elongate openings 2374 into the central cavity 2372 of the rear connector body 2308 to establish an electrical interface with the foil (or drain wire) of the conductor within. A latch 2376 on the lower face 2368 of the rear body portion 2360 is provided to interface with cut-out 2356 of the metal frame 2304 to secure the rear connector body 2308 to the metal frame 2304. A lip edge 2377 of the rear body portion 2360 seats against a rear face 2357 of the metal frame 2304.

[0110] The rear connector body 2308 of the free connector 2300 includes a contact receiving portion 2380 that extends forward from the rear body portion 2360. The contact receiving portion 2380 is essentially divided into a first half 2382a to

accommodate the upper positioned electrical contact 2306a and a second half 2382b to accommodate the lower positioned electrical contact 2306b. The first half 2382a of the contact receiving portion 2380 includes an upward channel 2384 that is contoured to direct the end of a conductor upward (e.g., a 90 deg. bend) to extend through a contact receiving slot 2386 and beyond an upper recess 2388. (See FIG. 17 for example of conductors in position). The second half 2382b of the contact receiving portion 2380 includes a downward channel 2390 that is contoured to direct the end of a conductor downward (e.g., a 90 deg. bend) to extend through a contact receiving slot 2392 and beyond a lower recess 2394 (. The IDC contact 1440 of the electrical contact 2306a can then be inserted into contact receiving slot 2386 to establish an electrical interface with the conductor extending there through while the IDC contact 1440 of the electrical contact 2306b can be inserted into contact receiving slot 2392 to establish an electrical interface with the conductor extending there through. The IDC contact 1440 applies a normal force to the respective conductor and cuts through both the insulation of the conductor and a portion of the conductor itself to create the electrical interface. Note that the electrical interface is established without requiring crimping of the conductor to the electrical contact, i.e. the electrical interface is crimp-less. The upward channel 2384 is, in part, defined by an upper outward extending arm 2394 while the downward channel 2390 is, in part, defined by a lower outward extending arm 2396. Each of upper outward extending arm 2394 and lower outward extending arm 2396 interface with respective corresponding slots 2335 of the forward connector body 2302 (best seen in FIG. 23C) when the free connector 2300 is assembled to assist in aligning and stabilizing the rear connector body 2308 relative to the forward connector body.

[0111] In certain embodiments, the rear connector body 2308 of the free connector has channels, e.g. upward channel 2384 and downward channel 2390 that are sized to accommodate a specific gauge of a conductor. As such, a plurality of rear connector bodies 2308, each designed to accommodate a different conductor gauge, may be used interchangeably with the forward connector body 2302, metal frame 2304 and contacts 2306a, 2306b. To facilitate the interchangeability, the different rear connector bodies 2308 are color-coded or otherwise designated to indicate which conductor gauge is suitable to the respective rear connector body 2308. [0112] As noted herein, the metal frame 2304 of the free connector 2300 includes inner directed beams 2352 that comprise shield beams. Each of the shield beams 2352, one on each side of the metal frame 2304 of the free connector 2300, apply a normal force to the foil and/or drain wire of a conductor; in certain embodiments the drain wire may only be on one conductor side or may be on both conductor sides. Note that the cable jacket surrounding the pair of conductors coupled to the electrical contacts 2306a, 2306b of the free connector 2300 will be within the rear connector body 2308 of the free connector 2300 and the foil shield of the cable (and/or the drain wire) will be folded back on the outside surface of the cable jacket such that the conductive surface of the foil (and/or the drain wire) will be facing the shield beams 2352. During assembly of the free connector 2300, insertion of the rear connector body 2308 into the metal frame 2304 and forward connector body 2302 will cause the shield beams 2352 to move outward then return inward to extend through elongate openings 2374 of the rear connector body 2308 to make contact with the shield foil (and/or drain wire) of the cable (e.g., cable 10) and establish a grounding path. In some cables sizes, the shield beams 2352 may additionally function as a locking feature to prevent the rear connector body 2308 from moving rearward. In certain embodiments, the metal frame 2304 serves as only as a structural element of the free connector 2300 in that, in certain applications, shielding of the connector is not required.

[0113] The free connector 2300 is designed to interface with a fixed connector or adapter, similar to those described herein, that incorporate cooperating dimensions and keying features. Further, the free connector 2300 can be incorporated in a patch cord and can be incorporated into any suitable configuration requiring the functionality of the free connector 2300. A fixed connector and/or adapter suitable for interfacing with the free connector 2300 preferably includes pin contacts 1002 (see FIGS. 10A - 13), which are configured to interface with the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 of the electrical contacts 2306a, 2306b of the free connector 2300.

[0114] An example of a fixed connector 2500, suitable to mate with free connector 2300 is illustrated in FIGS. 28A-28B. The fixed connector 2500 generally includes a housing body 2502, a metal frame 2504 and a pair of pin contacts 2506a, 2506b (straight or bent for board mounting). A forward end 2503 and a rearward end 2505 further define the fixed connector 2500.

[0115] Referring to FIGS. 29A - 29D, the housing body 2502 of the fixed connector 2500 includes a forward face 2509 and a forward central channel 2510 that receives the free connector 2300. The forward central channel includes a first side face 2514 and a second side face 2516 connected by an upper face 2518 and a lower face 2520. The extended height of the free connector 2300 prevents it from being inserted into a fixed LC fiber optic connector. A chamfer 604 and a panel 606 as described above can be used as a key to prevent a free LC fiber optic connector from being inserted into a fixed connector 2500. A notch 2523 is provided within the housing body 2502 to interface with the cantilevered latch 2330 of the free connector 2300. Further, side recesses 2525 in each of first side face 2514 and second side face 2516 serve as an interface element for the metal frame 2504; the use of a recessed interface element in one or more of the faces enables the ability to maintain desired dimensions of the channel 2510 so as not to interfere with insertion of the free connector 2300. A mounting pin 2527 extends from the housing body 2502 and through the metal frame 2602 for circuit board mounting of the connector 2500.

[0116] The housing body 2502 of the fixed connector 2500 includes first and second openings 2526 and 2528 to channels (e.g., channel 2526a in FIG. 29D) into which the pin contacts 2506a, 2506b are inserted; when fully inserted, the pin contacts 2506a, 2506b extend into the forward central channel 2510. The horizontal and vertical center line to center-line spacing of the first and second openings 2526, 2528 correspond to the spacing of the free connector 2300 (see FIG. 24C).

[0117] Referring to FIGS. 30A-30C, the metal frame 2504 of the fixed connector 2500 is a metal shell having a forward face 2533 and a central cavity 2534 that is slideable over the housing body 2502. The metal frame 2504 includes a first side face 2508 and a second side face 2510 connected by an upper face 2512 and a lower face 2514. The metal frame 2504 is held in place about the housing body 2502 through use of a pair of clips 2536 that interface with the side recesses 2525. When free connector 2300 is inserted into the fixed connector 2500 the metal flex tabs 2342 of the metal frame 2304 respectively interface with the metal clips 2536 of the fixed connector 2500. In certain embodiments, a back face 2538 of the metal frame is enclosed with a back panel 2540 while in other embodiments that back face 2538 is left open. Further, in certain embodiments, the metal frame 2504 is provide with one or more shield pins 2542 that are insertable into vias in an application where the fixed connector 2500 is board mounted. The metal frame 2504 is not in contact with the electrical contacts 2506a, 2506b. The metal frame 2504 helps to prevent alien crosstalk between multiple fixed connectors 2500 that are in close proximity to one another, e.g., in a high density connector panel.

[0118] The pin contacts 2506a, 2506b of the fixed connector 2500 correspond to the pin contacts 1002. Referring back to FIGS. 10A-10B, each pin contact 1002 includes a forward portion 1020 and a rear portion 1022 that can be electrically coupled to a conductor, e.g. conductor 10, in any suitable manner. The forward portion 1020 includes a first tapered face 1024 and a second tapered face 1026 opposite the first tapered face 1024. The forward portion 1020 further includes first and second tapered sides 1028, 1030 that connect the first tapered face 1024 and second tapered face 1026 to form a four-sided pyramid shape with a flattened apex 1027; the flattened apex 1027 having a rectangular or square cross-section. In certain examples, the first and second sides tapered sides 1028, 1030 have bases that are narrower or wider than the bases of the first and second tapered faces 1024, 1026 thereby providing the rear portion 1022 of the pin contact 1002 with a rectangular cross-section while in other examples all sides and faces have equivalent bases providing the rear portion 1022 of the pin contact 1002 with a substantially square cross-section. A rectangular or square cross-section provides the rear portion 1022 of the pin contact 1002 a broader surface to make contact with the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 should either the pin contact 1002 or the tuning fork receptacle contact 1000 become bent or warped in some way that might alter their original alignment. However, in certain embodiments the pin contact 1002 is of a circular or oval cross-section. In certain embodiments, the pin contact 1002 is provided with a bullet-nose forward portion 1020 rather than the pyramid-style forward portion 1020 that is illustrated

[0119] FIGS. 31A-31B illustrate another embodiment of a fixed connector 3100. As with the fixed connector 2500, the fixed connector 3100 includes a housing body 3102, a metal frame 3104 and a pair of pin contacts (not shown). However, in the illustrated embodiment, the side recesses 2525 of the fixed connector 2500 comprise open slots 3126 in the fixed connector 3100. Further, in the illustrated embodiment, the metal clips 2536 of the metal frame 2504 instead comprise tension beams 3137 that flex outward to accommodate insertion of the free connector 2300 then return inward, through open slots 3126, to contact the metal flex tabs 2342 of the metal frame 2304 of the free connector 2300.

[0120] Referring now to FIG. 32, a sectional view of the free connector 2300 is provided to illustrate the orientation of the tuning fork receptacle contacts 2306a, 2306b relative to the free connector 2300 itself. As shown, tuning fork receptacle contact 2306a has a width w that is transverse (approximately perpendicular) to an elongate axis of the free connector 2300, e.g. elongate axis A indicated by the dashed line. Tuning fork receptacle contact 2306b similarly has a corresponding width w (not shown) that is transverse (approximately perpendicular) to another elongate axis of the free connector 2300, e.g. elongate axis B indicated by the dashed line. Also illustrated in the sectional view of free connector 2300 is the is the pin contact opening 2324a and the contact receiving channel 2326a. The contact receiving channel 2326a allows for width-wise expansion of the spring arms 1006a, 1006b to receive one of pin contacts 2506a yet also provides side channels walls 3202a, 3202b that serve to contain and limit the maximum expansion of the spring arms 1006a, 1006b. In certain embodiments, the tuning fork receptacle contacts 2306a, 2306b are rotated by 90 deg. from that show in FIG. 32, such that the width w of the tuning fork receptacle contacts 2306a, 2306b are perpendicular to the illustrated width (contact receiving channels 2326a, 2326b are modified to accommodate the rotated position). In certain embodiments, the tuning fork receptacle contacts 2306a, 2306b are rotated from the illustrated position to an angle less than 90 deg. such that the tuning fork receptacle contacts 2306a, 2306b provide a slanted presentation.

[0121] FIGS. 33A-33D illustrate the fixed connector 2500 in a board-mounted configuration with forward face 2503 and rearward face 2505 substantially perpendicular to a plane defined by the circuit board 3300; the forward face 2503 of the fixed connector 2500 extends beyond a forward face 3302 of the circuit board 3300. Mounting pin 2527 extends into the circuit board 3300 as do shielding pins 2542. In the illustrated configuration, the fixed connector 2500 includes three shielding pins 2542 along each elongate side for a total of six shielding pins 2542 per fixed connector 2500. However, a greater or fewer number of shielding pins 2542 can be used as appropriate to the application. FIG. 33B illustrates two fixed connectors 2500a and 2500b in a side-by-side configuration such that shielding pins 2542a and 2542b share a common via. FIG. 33C illustrates a top surface 3304 of the circuit board 3300 while FIG. 33D illustrates a bottom surface 3306 of the circuit board 3300. As shown, the circuit board 3300 includes a first forward via 3310 aligned with two rearward vias 3312a, 3312b to accommodate the three shielding pins 2542 along a first side 3316 of the fixed connector 2500. A second forward via 3318 (aligned in a first direction with forward via 3310) is aligned in a second direction with two rearward vias 3320a, 3320b (vias 3320a, 3320b are aligned in the first direction with vias 3312a and 3312b). Further, aligned with vias 3312a and 3320a in the first direction, is a pin via 3322a to receive pin contact 2506a, and, aligned with vias 3312b and 3320b in the first direction, is a pin via 3322b to receive pin contact 2506b; alignment of“a” vias and“b” vias, along with the alignment of their respective shielding pins 2542 and pin contacts 2506a, 2506b work to cancel the magnetic flux generated by the current flowing though pin contacts 2506a and 2506b of the fixed connector 2500 when coupled with the free connector 2300. Further, the resultant alignment of the shielding pins 2542 and pin contacts 2506a, 2506b provides inductive cancellation of alien crosstalk between side-by-side mated connectors. Note that each of the vias comprise a plated thru-hole. A non-plated thru hole 3324 is additionally provided in the circuit board 3300 to receive mounting pin 2527 of the fixed connector 2500. Also note that vias 3318, 3320a, 3320b serve as vias for fixed connector 2500b.

[0122] Each of pin contacts 2506a, 2506b, though offset in both the x- and y- direction, are designed to be of the same length and have a return loss that is maximized by being matched to the return loss of the conductors (e.g. conductors 12, 14); in certain embodiments, this return loss is approximately 50 ohms. In certain preferred

embodiments, there is a 6.6 mm pitch between side-by-side fixed connectors 2500.

[0123] FIGS. 34A-34B provide perspective views of a plurality of free connectors 2300 mated with fixed connectors 2500 in a plurality of rows and columns. However, in this instance, the rows and columns of fixed connectors present their forward face 2503 in an orientation that is parallel, rather than perpendicular, to the circuit board 3300. As such the rearward face 2505 of the fixed connector is coupled to the circuit board through shielding pins 2542 and corresponding aligned plated vias 3402a, 3404a, 3406a (aligned in the y-direction). Plated vias 3402b, 3404b, 3404c are also aligned in the y-direction and are shared with a neighboring fixed connector 2500. Plated pin via 3410a receives one of the pin contacts 2506a and is aligned in the x-direction with vias 3404a and

3404b. Plated pin via 3410b receives the other of the pin contacts 2506b and is aligned in the x-direction with vias 3406a and 3406b. As with the embodiment of FIGS. 33 A- 33B the shielding pins 2542 of the fixed connector 2500 help to prevent alien crosstalk between adjacent mated connector pairs.

[0124] FIGS. 35A-35B, 36A-36b and 37A-37B help to illustrate the movement of the spring arms 1006a, 1006b of each of tuning fork receptacle contacts 2306a, 2306b as pin contacts 2506a, 2506b are inserted/withdrawn (i.e., the free connector 2300 is mated with the fixed connector 2500). Each“A” figure illustrates the pin contacts 2506a, 2506b, as they are partially inserted and each“B” figure illustrates the pin contacts

2506a, 2506b as being fully inserted within tuning fork receptacle contacts 2306a,

2306b. FIGS. 35A-35B illustrate the tuning fork receptacle contacts 2306a, 2306b and pin contacts 2506a, 2506b with the structure of the free connector 2300 and fixed connector 2500 removed. FIGS. 36A-36b provide a top cross-sectional view of the free connector 2300 and fixed connector 2500 illustrating how the side walls 3202a, 3202b contain the spring arms 1006a, 1006b of the tuning fork receptacle contact 2306a and force the spring arms 1006a, 1006b to maintain contact with pin contact 2506a (see FIG. 36b). FIGS. 37A-37B provide a forward cross-sectional view of the free connector 2300 and fixed connector 2500. As shown the, contact receiving channels 2326a, 2326b have cross-shaped cross-section such that a central portion 3502a, 3502b of the cross-shape has a height in the y-direction that is greater than a height in the y-direction of an elongate portion 3504a, 3504b of the cross-shape. The greater height of the central portion 3502a, 3502b accommodates a height in the y-direction of the pin contact 2506a, 2506b which extends beyond (above and below) a height in the y-direction of the spring arms 1006a, 1006b of each of the tuning fork receptacle contacts 2306a, 2306b.

[0125] It should be noted that, while free connector 2300 is described as using a tuning fork receptacle contact 2306, various other types of electrical contacts may also be used to interface with the pin contacts 2506 of the fixed connector 2500. For example, a socket contact, a beam contact, an arched beam contact, a single spring arm contact, etc. might be used.

[0126] It will be appreciated that aspects of the above embodiments may be combined in any way to provide numerous additional embodiments. These embodiments will not be described individually for the sake of brevity.

[0127] While the present invention has been described above primarily with reference to the accompanying drawings, it will be appreciated that the invention is not limited to the illustrated embodiments; rather, these embodiments are intended to disclose the invention to those skilled in this art. Note that features of one or more embodiments can be incorporated in other embodiments without departing from the spirit of the invention. In the drawings, like numbers refer to like elements throughout.

Thicknesses and dimensions of some components may be exaggerated for clarity. [0128] It will be understood that, although the terms first, second, etc. may be used herein to describe various elements, these elements should not be limited by these terms. These terms are only used to distinguish one element from another. For example, a first element could be termed a second element, and, similarly, a second element could be termed a first element, wi th out departing from the scope of the present invention. It will also be understood that the terms“tip” and“ring” are used to refer to the two conductors of a differential pair and otherwise are not limiting.

[0129] Spatially relative terms, such as“under”,“below”,“lower”,“over”,“upper” , “top”,“bottom” and the like, may be used herein for ease of description to describe one element or feature's relationship to another element(s) or feature(s) as illustrated in the figures. It will be understood that the spatially relative terms are intended to encompass different orientations of the device in use or operation in addition to the orientation depicted in the figures. For example, if the device in the figures is turned over, elements described as“under” or“beneath” other elements or features would then be oriented “over” the other elements or features. Thus, the exemplary term“under” can encompass both an orientation of over and under. The device may be otherwise oriented (rotated 90 degrees or at other orientations) and the spatially relative descriptors used herein interpreted accordingly.

[0130] Well-known functions or constructions may not be described in detail for brevity and/or clarity. As used herein the expression“and/or” includes any and all combinations of one or more of the associated listed items.

[0131] The terminology used herein is for the purpose of describing particular embodiments only and is not intended to be limiting of the invention. As used herein, the singular forms“a”,“an” and“the” are intended to include the plural forms as well, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise. It will be further understood that the terms “comprises”,“comprising”,“includes” and/or“including” when used in this

specification, specify the presence of stated features, operations, elements, and/or components, but do not preclude the presence or addition of one or more other features, operations, elements, components, and/or groups thereof.

[0132] Herein, the terms“attached”,“connected”,“interconnected”,“ contacting”, “mounted” and the like can mean either direct or indirect attachment or contact between elements, unless stated otherwise.

[0133] Although exemplary embodiments of this invention have been described, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that many modifications are possible in the exemplary embodiments without materially departing from the novel teachings and advantages of this invention. Accordingly, all such modifications are intended to be included within the scope of this invention as defined in the claims. The invention is defined by the following claims, with equivalents of the claims to be included therein.