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    Following the online documentation there are two possibilities to place vias.


    1.) Press * key or Shift+Ctrl+Mouse wheel in interactive routing mode. You can choose the favorite via size in the Favorite Interactive Via Sizes dialog pressing Shift+V while routing.

    2.) Press V to place a via when not routing. As the documentation says, a default via will be placed.


    How do I change the default via settings? When nailing vias into polygons and planes, I am not in interactive routing mode and I do not want to change the settings for every via pressing the TAB key. I also do not want to select all vias with a filter and change the settings afterwards.



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    I will like to generate a file that only has the coordinates of the top origins in it. i am trying to list all the SMD centers so I can use that for my pick-and-place cnc.

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    Sensors II

    Sensors for IoT Wearable Devices

    Sponsored by

    1. Introduction 2. Objective 3. Review 4. Approaches to Human Body Sensing 5. Introduction to Photoplethysmographic Technology
    6. Types of Sensors 7. Sensor Evaluation Boards Parts Used Test Your Knowledge


    Also Available:

    Sensors I:
    IC Sensors

    Sensors III:

    1. Introduction

    Perhaps ever since the introduction of the Dick Tracy Two-Way Wrist Radio many decades ago, the fascination with and utility of wearable devices has steadily increased (1). But today's wearables are a far cry from the creative inventions of Hollywood copywriters from an age gone by. IoT wearable devices today are powerful tools that can sense, process, store, and communicate significant information. The great leap forward in wearable devices is not only the result of its innovative technology, but also the applications they now can provide such as patient monitoring, wellness/sports/fitness, entertainment, and other forms of computing. But all wearable devices today have one thing in common: they all use sensors. And there are all kinds of IoT wearable device sensors available today, including temperature, UV, proximity, heart rate, motion and many others. This learning module is an introduction to some of the common types of sensors used in IoT wearable devices today.

    (1) Of course, this statement is the subjective inclination of the author of this learning module. Perhaps the reader may find his/her fascination with wearable devices from The Jetsons' Promotional Wrist Watch or the Star Trek Communicator or some other très chic device. If you are so inclined to evangelize about your preferred technological inspiration, please leave your comments below.

    2. Objective

    The objective of this learning module is to provide you with basic knowledge of sensors used in IoT wearable devices. You will first review some of the main concepts of sensor technology and then get an overview of the approaches to human body sensing. In the last section, you will learn about the main types and characteristics of sensors for wearable IoT devices.

    Upon completion of this learning module, you will be able to:

    Review sensor essentials covered in Sensors I

    Discuss how the human body is sensed

    Describe how photoplethysmographic technology is used in IoT wearable devices

    List the main types of types of sensors for wearable IoT devices

    Explain the features of the most common wearable device sensors

    3. ReviewBack to Top

    In the first Essentials Sensors learning module, the definition of a sensor was presented, as well as the classifications and characteristics of IC sensors. Let's revisit some of the important terms from Sensors I that are applicable to this learning module:

    Definition: According to The Handbook of Modern Sensors: Physics, Designs and Applications, a sensor is defined as "a device that receives a stimulus and responds with an electrical signal."

    Categories: There are two main categories of sensors: simple and complex. Simplex sensors typically have a sensing function only, while complex sensors can have both transduction and sensing functions due to the integration of signal conditioning, A-to-D conversion and other circuitry within the sensor's integrated circuit package.

    Classifications: Sensors can be classified in a variety of ways. Passive/Active, Absolute/Relative and Digital/Analog are the most common classifications. There are also other ways to classify sensors, but, for the most part, these are for special situations. These special situations include: characteristics, material, applications, and type of stimulus.

    Characteristics: Sensor characteristics describe the capabilities and parameters of specific sensors. The common characteristics include: Accuracy, Dead band, Drift, Hysteresis, Linearity, Nonlinearity, Offset, Precision, Range, Repeatability, Resolution, Response Time, Saturation, Sensitivity, and Stability. Sensor characteristics are normally found in a datasheet, user guide or other documentation. These documents provide specific information that's essential to understanding not only how to select a sensor, but also on how to use it in a specific application.

    4. Approaches to Human Body SensingBack to Top

    While there are many types of physical conditions that IoT devices are capable of sensing – acoustic, electric, magnetic, mechanical, optical and thermal – wearable devices primarily sense biological (or biochemical) conditions and the body's movement. Gaining an understanding of these conditions with respect to human body sensing is a necessary prerequisite to understand the applications of sensors in IoT wearable devices.

    To begin, the physical condition of the human body can be sensed in three different ways: the skin, body fluids and movement. Let's discover in this section of the learning module how these components can be used in a wearable device sensing design.

    - 4.1 The Skin

    While we may discount the importance of the human skin (excluding perhaps a nice tan at your favorite beach in the summer) or even forget that the skin itself is a body organ, the fact is that the skin is a superb “natural” sensor. It senses both internal and external conditions. And it responds to heat, cold, fear, pressure, pleasure and pain. As a medium for determining the overall condition of the human body, the skin can be leveraged to gather data on body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate,  peripheral capillary oxygen saturation (SpO2) and more.

    - 4.2 Body Fluids

    Body fluids also tell us a lot about the condition of the human body. Blood has long been used as a medium for sensing the body's medical condition; however, it requires an invasive sensing technique that is not always desirable to use. Therefore, a lot of new and non-invasive techniques are being developed utilizing sweat, tears, saliva and interstitial fluids. In general, body fluids can be used by wearable device sensors because they contain a lot of chemical and biochemical information about the state of the body's functions. What follows is an overview of the information body fluids can provide:

    Sweat contains a lot of biological substances such as sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium, ammonia, glucose, and lactate. For fitness activities, sweat can tell a lot about the body's hydration level and electrolyte balance. Since it is readily accessible by a wearable device, it is the easiest fluid to leverage as a source of information about the condition of the body.

    Saliva contains an incredible amount of biological information. It includes ions of sodium, potassium, chloride bicarbonate, nitrates, urea, uric acid, creatinine, and hundreds of types of proteins. The downside of saliva as a sensing stimulus is that it also possesses, in varying degrees, mucus, food debris and blood, all of which can impede the operation of a sensor.

    Tears are another body fluid that can be used by a wearable device to sense the condition of the body. They contain proteins, electrolytes and sugars like glucose that can be leveraged in diabetes monitoring.

    Interstitial fluids– fluids that surround tissue cells – contain sugars, salts, fatty acids, amino acids, coenzymes, hormones, and more. These fluids tell a lot about the condition of the body and would be typically used in wearable medical devices such as diabetes monitors.

    - 4.3 Body Movement

    The movement of the body can be utilized in monitoring the motor activities of a human being. The human body's motor activities are useful in patient monitoring, especially for movement disorders such as Parkinson's Disease or diseases related to Parkinson's such as bradykinesia. Motion sensors such as accelerometers, gyroscopes or magnetometers can be placed in wearable devices or in garments to obtain movement data.

    5. Introduction to Photoplethysmographic TechnologyBack to Top

    For many years, heart rate monitoring has been recognized as a useful parameter in both diagnosing diseases (e.g., autonomous neuropathy, cardiac arrhythmia or infarction, etc.) as well as in optimizing the physical regimen of an athlete. In general, heart rate monitoring has been accomplished using a variety of technologies, with the most common ones, being:

    Bio-potential (electrocardiography - EKG)

    Electric acoustic (phonocardiography)

    Ultrasonic (echocardiography)

    Bio-electrical (impedance cardiography)

    Despite the above time-tested technologies, photoplethysmographic technology (PPG) has found new interest by researchers and designers in the area of heart rate monitoring because of it offers a compact, low cost, simple and low power technology that's a good fit for the growing wearable market of fitness and medical devices.

    In its most basic form, PPG technology utilizes an LED and photo-detector as well as associated circuitry to make up a pulse oximeter, which offers a way to determine the heart rate by assessing the arterial pulsability of tiny networks of blood vessels in the tissue of the skin. As an optical sensor, PPG illuminates living tissues with a light source, gathers a portion of the light that propagates through the tissue, and then analyzes the resulting attenuated light. LEDs are typically used as the light source and detector for PPG-based heart rate monitors.

    One of the challenges of using PPG technology in this application is that in some areas of the body (e.g., forehead, ankle, and torso) the emitted light is fully absorbed by the body. In these cases, the PPG optical sensor can be operated in an alternative “reflectance” mode where the light source is placed next to the detector to collect the propagated light by means of the light scattering effect. The reflectance mode allows the PPG-based heart rate monitor to be used on many different parts of the body such as the wrist, forearm and ankle – all ideal for use in wearable devices such as smart watches, and fitness or arm bands.

    6. Types of SensorsBack to Top

    Since the field of wearable IoT devices is expanding so rapidly, it would be difficult to cover every type of sensor that IoT wearable devices would utilize. Electronic textiles, micro needle arrays, wearable colorimetric sensors, body-conformable electronics, one-time/re-usable sensors, invasive/non-invasive sensors, and implantable devices are all part of this exciting yet burgeoning field of technology. Since this is an essentials learning module, we will only focus on the most common types of wearable sensors that feature the following characteristics: low-power, lightweight, compact form factor, and multi-functional.

    Silicon Labs Si114x Multi-LED Heart Rate, SpO2, Proximity and Ambient Light

    Wearable devices, such as smart watches or activity-tracking wrist and arm bands, typically have more stringent requirements than handheld or other portable devices. They are smaller and must be comfortable to wear, and they need to be lightweight and low-power. To meet these requirements, manufacturers will produce multi-functional, highly integrated sensors. To illustrate this sensor design approach, the Silicon Labs' Si114x Series sensors combine digital UV index sensing with ambient light and blood oximetry sensing on a single chip. This sensor is designed to track UV sun exposure, heart rate, blood oximetry and proximity/gesture control.

    Packaged on a tiny 2 mm x 2 mm clear QFN package, the monolithic Si114x sensors integrate multiple photodiodes, an analog-to-digital converter, a signal processor, up to 3-LED drivers and a digital I2C control interface. This low-power sensing family enables long battery life with standby less than 500 nA and an average power of as little as 1.2 uA with once per second real-time UV Index measurements. Capable of controlling one, two and three-LED systems, the sensors enable developers to implement proximity detection with a range over 50 cm, multi-dimensional systems capable of advanced 2D/3D motion sensing, heart rate/pulse oximetry measurements, or cheek detection. The Si114x sensors' LED drivers enable implementation of reflective heart rate and blood oximetry measurement capabilities for health and fitness trackers, as well as touchless interfaces that support end-user control from a distance. Different models in the Si114x family offer advanced motion and gesture sensing.

    Si1132 Ultraviolet (UV) Index and Ambient Light Sensor

    UV sensing in wearable devices has seen an increase in demand in recent years. UV tracking is helpful for those with an elevated risk for sunburn or for people who have concerns about excessive sun exposure. But conventional UV sensors require UV-sensitive photodiodes along with an external microcontroller (MCU), analog-to-digital converter (ADC) and signal processing firmware. Lacking a high level of integration gives them a larger footprint and places some limits on their use in compact wearable IoT devices.

    A good example of how the problem of conventional UV sensors is solved is with the Si1132 UV index and ambient light sensor IC. It's a monolithic sensor that integrates multiple photodiodes, an analog-to-digital converter, a signal processor and a digital I2C control interface in a small 2 mm x 2 mm clear QFN package.

    (Note: Standardized by the World Health Organization (WHO), the digital UV index is linearly related to the intensity of sunlight and is weighted according to the Erythemal Action Spectrum developed by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE). This weighting provides a standardized measure of our skin's response to different sunlight wavelengths including UVB and UVA.)

    Silicon Labs Si705x Digital Temperature Sensor IC

    Temperature sensing is the most commonly measured parameter for monitoring the condition of a human body. Low body temperature can be an indication of hypothermia, but it can also be a symptom of infection, kidney/liver failures, shock, stress and others. On the other hand, high body temperatures can indicate a fever (hyperthermia) accompanying the flu, or can indicate the more harmful heat stroke.

    The Silicon Labs' ultra-low-power, high-precision Si705x digital temperature sensor offers accurate temperature sensing in a lightweight and compact form factor that's ideal for wearable and other portable devices. It consumes only 195 nA when sampled once per second, which minimizes self-heating and enables multi-year coin cell battery operation.

    Traditional approaches to temperature sensing, using thermistors or embedded MCU temperature sensors, often lack accuracy and possess higher power consumption. Although improved accuracy can be achieved through end-of-line calibration, this technique presents additional manufacturing costs; the sensor's accuracy can still be susceptible to variations in power supply voltage. In contrast, the Si705x sensors' signal processing technology provides stable temperature accuracy over the entire operating voltage and temperature ranges without the need for costly end-of-line production calibration. The Si705x Series sensor maintains its accuracy across the full operating temperature and voltage ranges and has four different accuracy levels up to +/-0.3 °C. Available in a compact 3 mm x 3 mm DFN package, the Si705x  Series sensors feature an industry-standard I2C interface for easy configuration. With a low 1.9 V minimum power supply voltage, it can be connected directly to a battery without the need for an external voltage regulator. It also provides up to 14-bit temperature resolution for high-precision measurement.

    Si7005 Relative Humidity and Temperature Sensors

    Typical approaches to relative humidity (RH) sensing use discrete resistive and capacitive sensors, hybrids and multi-chip modules (MCMs). These approaches suffer from high bill of materials (BOM) costs, high component counts, large footprints, and the need for labor-intensive calibrations. Silicon Labs solves the problems of conventional RH sensors with its Si7005 digital relative humidity and temperature sensor. It uses low-K polymeric dielectrics for sensing humidity, which enables the construction of a low-power, monolithic CMOS sensor IC with low drift and hysteresis, and excellent long term stability.

    Temperature is sensed by a precision band gap referenced circuit on the die. Humidity is sensed by measuring the capacitance change of low-k dielectric layer applied to the surface of the die. Both temperature and humidity are precisely measured in very close proximity on the same monolithic device, providing exceptional measurement accuracy. The Si7005 device consumes only 2 µA on average at one measurement per minute. It integrates sensing elements, an analog-to-digital converter (ADC), signal processing, non-volatile memory for calibration data and an I2C interface in a monolithic CMOS IC. This high level of single-chip integration makes the sensor rugged and reliable, reduces cost and development time, and simplifies board design.

    Silicon Labs  CPT112S-A01-GMCPT112S-A01-GM Capacitive Touch Sensor Controller

    It is easy to add capacitive touch to wearable or other portable devices with the Silicon Labs' CPT112S TouchXpress Capacitive Touch Sensor Controller. It supports up to 12 capacitive sensor inputs in a 3 mm x 3 mm QFN package. The I2C interface provides an easy way to track the status of touch sensors, and an interrupt pin can wake the host processor from sleep after a proximity touch detection. The device also comes with advanced features like moisture immunity, wake-on proximity, and buzzer feedback for an enhanced user experience. No firmware development is needed, and all the capacitive touch sense parameters can be configured using a simple GUI-based configurator.

    7. Sensor Evaluation BoardsBack to Top

    Sensor evaluation boards make it easy to learn, test, and develop sensor applications. Here are some of the currently available sensor evaluation boards for the sensors described in this learning module:

    Environmental and Biometric Sensor Puck with Bluetooth Low Energy and iOS/Android App

    The SENSOR-PUCK is a demo platform for the Silicon Labs' Si114x Series Optical Sensors and Si701x/2x Series Relative Humidity and Temperature Sensors. Powered by a coin-cell battery, it is controlled by an EFM32™ MCU. A Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) module is used to broadcast sensor data to iOS or Android smart phones with the downloadable SENSOR-PUCK app. Placing your finger tip over the Si1147 sensor allows you to measure heart rate. Environmental sensing of UV Index, ambient light, relative humidity, and temperature are also provided. For power management, the board features a Touchstone TS3310 boost DC/DC converter.

    Silicon Labs  SLEXP8008ASLEXP8008A Capacitive Touch Sense EVM

    The  SLEXP8008ASLEXP8008A is an evaluation board for the CPT112S TouchXpress Capacitive Sensor Controller. The board serves as a user input peripheral for application development. It can be configured for different touch sense capabilities and also contains breakout pads and other peripherals for user feedback. It has 8-Capacitive Sense touch pads a 4-Channel Capacitive Sense slider. A Buzzer and a 20-pin expansion header is available for connection to a Silicon Labs Starter Kit (EFM8 or EFM32).

    Sensor Expansion Evaluation Board Sensor-EXP-EVB

    The SENSOR-EXP-EVB is a development board for Silicon Labs' Si701x/2x Series Relative Humidity and Temperature Sensors and Si114x UV Index, Ambient Light, Proximity and 3D Gesture Sensors. The card plugs into the expansion header of the EFM32™ Zero Gecko Starter Kit and is supported with example software and source code in the Simplicity Studio.

    Biometric Sensor Expansion Card for EFM32™ Wonder Gecko Starter Kit

    The Biometric-EXP is an evaluation board for the biometric applications of the Si7013 Humidity and Temperature Sensor and the Si1146 Proximity/UV/Ambient Light Sensor, which is capable of monitoring pulse rate and peripheral capillary oxygen saturation (SpO2). A Biometric-EXP Software Demo is available for download to an EFM32 Wonder Gecko STK through the Simplicity Studio.

    *Trademark. Silicon Labs® is a trademark of Silicon Laboratories, Inc. Other logos, product and/or company names may be trademarks of their respective owners.


    Shop our wide range of PCB-mounted, IoT and industrial sensors, EVMs and accessories.

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    Test Your KnowledgeBack to Top

    Are you ready to demonstrate your knowledge of sensors for IoT wearable devices? Then take a quick 15-question multiple choice quiz to see how much you've learned from this Essentials Sensors 2 module.

    To earn the Sensors 2 badge, read through the module to learn all about sensors for IoT wearable devices, attain 100% in the quiz, leave us some feedback in the comments section, and give this page a star rating.


    1) What characteristics would be most appropriate for a sensor that would be used in a wearable device such as an activity-tracking arm band?


    2) Choose the best possible answer from the choices below. Which of the following is considered to be the technological inspiration of IoT wearable devices today?


    3) What type of sensor(s) would be used to provide data on a patient movement disorder such as Parkinson’s disease?


    4) Temperature sensing by means of thermistors often lack accuracy and possess higher power consumption. How does the Series Si705x Series digital temperature sensor ensure stable temperature accuracy over its entire operating voltage and temperature ranges without the need for end-of-line calibration?


    5) Choose the best possible answer from the choices provided below:  Generally speaking, conventional UV sensors combine UV-sensitive photodiodes with an external microcontroller (MCU), analog-to-digital converter (ADC) and signal processing firmware. Why would this design pose a problem for a fitness wrist band?


    6) True or False: The digital UV index is a weighted scale that provides a standardized measure of the skin's response to different sunlight wavelengths including UVB and UVA.


    7) Why is saliva more difficult to use as a medium to sense the condition of a human body?


    8) True or False: The Silicon Labs’ Sensor Puck broadcasts sensor data wirelessly via NFC.


    9) What type of sensor is used to measure the heart rate of a person wearing a fitness band?


    10) Which of the following body fluids can be sensed to indicate the condition of a human body?


    11) If you were designing a device with a photoplethysmographic optical sensor, what type of body condition would you be sensing?


    12) What part of the human body can sense heat, cold, fear, pressure, pleasure and pain?


    13) True or False: Relative humidity is sensed in the Si 7005 by using a polymer dielectric film.


    14) True or False: According to this learning module, simple sensors have both transduction and sensing functions due to the integration of signal conditioning, A-to-D conversion and other circuitry within the IC sensor’s package.


    15) The Silicon Labs Si1132 is what type of sensor?

    Alas, you didn't quite meet the grade. You only got %. Have another look through the course, and try again.
    You nailed it, and scored %! To earn the Sensors 2 badge, read through the module to learn all about sensors for IoT wearable devices, attain 100% in the quiz, leave us some feedback in the comments section, and give this page a star rating. Other topics you want to learn? Send a suggestion.

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    Sensors I

    IC Sensors

    Sponsored by

    1. Introduction 2. Objective 3. Definition 4. Classification 5. The Physical Stimuli of Sensing
    6. Sensor Characteristics 7. Types of IC Sensors Parts Used Test Your Knowledge


    Also Available:

    Sensors II:
    Sensors for IoT Wearable Devices

    Sensors III:

    1. Introduction

    Sensors are the interface between the physical world determined by the laws of physics (i.e., mass, acceleration, conductivity, force, magnetic fields, etc.) and the digital world, which interprets the information that sensors provide for use in a wide range of products - from embedded Internet of Things (IoT) devices to smart phones to even the common household toaster. Because there are so many types of sensors available today, it would be a challenge to discuss all of them in one learning module. Since electronic design engineers often work with very compact integrated circuits (IC), this learning module will focus on some of the essential IC sensors in use today.

    2. Objective

    The objective of this learning module is to provide you with the essential knowledge of IC sensors. You will first review the purpose of IC sensors and what physical conditions or stimuli they sense. In subsequent sections of this learning module, you will gain an understanding of how sensors are classified as well as their characteristics and the types of commonly used IC sensors.

    Upon completion of this learning module, you will be able to:

    Define a sensor

    Explain the difference between a sensor and a transducer

    Identify the types of physical conditions or stimuli that are measured by sensors

    Explain how sensors are classified

    Discuss the characteristics of sensors

    Identify the types and applications of capacitive, inductive, electrical current, smoke detection, and temperature sensors

    Describe the requirements of a MEMS sensor

    3. DefinitionBack to Top

    What is a sensor? Or, what isn't a sensor? Let's begin this learning module with the definition of a sensor, which is sometimes confused with a similar term, transducer.

    According to The Handbook of Modern Sensors: Physics, Designs and Applications, a sensor is defined as "a device that receives a stimulus and responds with an electrical signal."

    Sensors are also called detectors, as well. But there is a slight difference between the terms and how they sense the physical world. Detectors sense information of a qualitative nature (i.e., presence of human movement), while a sensor measures physical stimuli quantitatively (i.e., ambient temperature in degrees Celsius). For the remainder of this learning module, we will use the terms "sensor" and "detector" as the same thing.

    In some circles, the terms "sensor" and "transducer" are considered equivalent. But technically speaking, they are not. While it is true that a transducer receives a stimulus or a form of energy just like a sensor, a transducer's output is not an electrical signal; rather, the output of a transducer is another form of energy. In this context, a transducer is an energy converter.

    A set of headphones is an example of a transducer since they convert an electrical signal into sound waves. A solar cell is also a transducer since it converts light energy into electrical energy. An electrical motor can be considered a transducer since it converts electrical energy (input voltage) into the mechanical energy (torque) needed to drive a rotating load (e.g., a centrifugal pump). But since it has a physical output, it is best characterized as an actuator.

    What may cloud the meaning of the term sensor is a special category of sensor technology, the complex sensor. These sensors consist of various stages of sensing and transduction. For this learning module, we will define sensors and transducers as if they were simple sensors or transducers.

    4. ClassificationBack to Top

    There are many types of sensors, ranging from displacement, level, velocity, acceleration, pressure, flow, humidity, ionizing radiation, temperature and many more. The growth of smart phones and the IoT has spawned the development of many more types of sensors, especially the highly integrated, intelligent, low-power sensors. As suggested in the previous sections, there are both simple and complex sensors. Yet these antipodal classifications do not represent all the different ways of classifying sensors. Knowing the classification of sensors can save an engineer a lot of time when he or she is trying to select a sensor for a circuit design. So, here are the main sensor classifications:

    Passive and Active
    Passive and active sensors are common ways of classifying sensors according to how their output signal is generated. Passive sensors do not require an external source of energy to produce an output signal. The energy of the input stimulus is converted by the sensor into an output electrical signal. A thermocouple is an example of a passive sensor. Conversely, active sensors do require an external source of energy (commonly called the excitation signal) to generate an output signal. The active sensor uses the excitation signal and modifies it to produce an output signal. An example of an active sensor is a temperature-sensitive resistor or thermistor. The excitation signal is modified by the resistor relative to temperature; variations based upon resistance can then be measured.

    Absolute and Relative
    Absolute and relative sensors are also two common ways of classifying sensors. However, these sensors are classified according to what reference is used to generate the output signal. Absolute sensors sense a stimulus that is referenced against an absolute scale and is independent of conditions. For example, a thermistor's output is referenced against the Kelvin temperature scale. Conversely, a relative sensor generates an output signal that is referenced against a special type of reference. For example, some pressure sensors are relative sensors because they use atmospheric pressure (14.696 psi) as the reference for their output signal.

    Digital and Analog
    Analog sensors are a type of sensor that produces an output signal that is continuous and proportional to the measurand. Digital sensors produce an output signal that is binary (0 or 1) and use analog to digital (A/D) data conversion.

    Other Classifications
    There are other ways to classify sensors, but, for the most part, these are for special situations. These special situations can include:


    Sensing material


    Type of stimulus

    5. The Physical Stimuli of SensingBack to Top

    Naturally, a sensor implies that "something" is sensed. So, let's now talk about what phenomena are sensed. Sensors are used to measure a variety of physical or material phenomena. These phenomena are sensed because they give us an objective "look" into the physical world, which is then converted into a form that embedded devices, computers and microcontrollers - the digital world - can understand and an engineer can employ in circuit designs.

    The most common types of physical stimuli include acoustic, biological, chemical, electrical, magnetic, optical, thermal, radioactive, and mechanical. The following table summarizes the stimuli and the physical condition being sensed.

    Stimulus Sensed Physical Conditions
    Acoustic Wave amplitude, phase or polarization; spectrum; wave velocity
    Electric Charge, current, potential, voltage, electric field, conductivity, permittivity
    Magnetic Magnetic field, magnetic flux, permeability
    Mechanical Linear or angular position, acceleration, force stress, pressure, strain, mass, density, moment, torque, shape, roughness, orientation, stiffness, crystallinity, structural
    Optical Wave amplitude, phase or polarization; wave velocity; refractive index, emissivity, reflectivity, absorption
    Thermal Temperature, flux, specific heat, thermal conductivity

    6. Sensor CharacteristicsBack to Top

    We had previously mentioned that sensor characteristics are a special way of classifying sensors. If you need to select a sensor for a circuit design, the usual place to begin the selection process is reading the sensor specs or characteristics listed in a datasheet. While datasheets are always informative, most of them do not explain all their terms.

    So, in this section, we will define the characteristics of sensors, explaining them well enough so you can make an informed decision regarding the sensors you use. (Note: Since this is an Essentials learning module, the mathematical derivations of these characteristics will not be discussed.) Here are the definitions of the main characteristics of a sensor:

    Accuracy: the maximum difference that exists between the actual value and the indicated value at the output of the sensor. The accuracy can be expressed either as a percentage of full scale or in absolute terms.

    Dead band: the insensitivity of a sensor over a particular range of input signals, where the output stays at a certain value (typically zero) over the dead band.

    Drift: the gradual degradation of the sensor and other components that can make the sensor's output signal slowly change independently of the measurand.

    Hysteresis: a deviation error of the sensor's output at a specified point of the input signal when it is approached from the opposite direction (e.g. low-to-high versus high-to-low). The typical causes for hysteresis are the design, friction and structural changes in the materials.

    Linearity: When a sensor output is directly proportional to its input over the entire range.

    Nonlinearity: a maximum deviation error of the real transfer function when compared to the approximation of straight line.

    Offset: a type of error that represents the difference between the real output value and the specified output value under a particular set of conditions.

    Precision: the degree of reproducibility of a sensor's measured output.

    Range: the minimum and maximum values of a measurable input.

    Repeatability: a reproducibility error that is caused by the inability of a sensor to represent the same value under presumably identical conditions. The possible sources of a repeatability errors can be thermal noise, build up charge, material plasticity, etc.

    Resolution: the smallest change that can be detected by a sensor, expressed as a proportion of the reading (or the full-scale reading) or in absolute terms.

    Response Time: the time for a sensor to approach its true output when a stepped input change has occurred.

    Saturation: when a sensor's output signal is no longer responsive to a specific level of an input stimulus. Saturation exhibits a span-end, non-linearity.

    Sensitivity: the minimum input of physical parameter that will create a detectable change in output.

    Stability: the ability of a sensor to maintain its output parameter constant over time. Changes in stability, also known as drift, can be due to components aging, decrease in sensitivity of components, and/or a change in the signal to noise ratio.

    7. Types of IC SensorsBack to Top

    IC sensors are the result of the new capabilities of large-scale, silicon processing that enables the inclusion of sensing and signal processing into a very compact, IC-sized package. As a result, electronics engineers now have a full palette of PCB-mountable sensors to employ in their circuit designs. IC sensors can sense a wide variety of physical conditions needed for the operation of consumer electronics devices, industrial control equipment, and embedded devices in IoT systems. The most commonly used IC sensors are grouped in the following categories:




    Smoke Detection


    - 7.1 Capacitive Sensors

    Capacitive sensors are used detect and measure proximity, position or displacement, humidity, fluid level, acceleration and more. The ability of capacitive sensors to sense a wide range of materials makes capacitive sensing an ideal choice for many applications.

    To understand how capacitance can be used as a sensing medium, let's review the definition of capacitance:

    C = Capacitance
    ε = Permittivity of the Dielectric
    A = Area of Plate Overlap
    d = distance between plates

    Capacitive sensors take advantage of the geometry of the flat capacitor, where capacitance as inversely proportional to the distance between the plates and directly proportional to the overlapping area of the plates. Thus, by changing the distance between the capacitor plates or the area of plate overlap, or causing variations in the dielectric material positioned between the plates, capacitance will be varied. This variable capacitance can then be used, along with a microcontroller and other signal conditioning circuitry, to produce an electrical output signal that's proportional to the change in capacitance as a result of the displacement.

    The above scenario is realized in a popular application of capacitive sensing - touch sensing - used in tablets, smart phones and other types of touch pads. Capacitive touch sensing has become an alternative to traditional pushbutton switch, user interfaces because it requires no mechanical movement and it enables a completely sealed and modern-looking design.

    A capacitive touch sensor is a copper sensor pad that's created on a printed circuit board that will have a parasitic capacitance to ground located elsewhere in the design. A covering plate is secured over the pad to create a touch surface.

    Touching the covering plate over a pad creates an additional parallel capacitance essentially coupled to ground. This adds to the overall capacitance generated by the touch sensor used to detect a finger press.

    The capacitance generated by the touch sensor is used in conjunction with a dual comparator with SR latch peripheral found on a Microchip PIC MCU along with external components to generate a relaxation oscillator. This configuration will generate an oscillation on the Q bar output of the SR latch. The frequency of oscillation will be determined by the capacitance, generated by the touch sensor and represented here by Cs. By itself, the capacitive touch sensor generates a particular frequency of oscillation.

    The frequency of the oscillator is then measured in fixed intervals, using both Timer0 and Timer1 peripherals. Any shift due to a user's touch is detected and validated in software.


    Microchip CAP1208-1-A4-TR 8-Channel Capacitive Touch Sensor, QFN

    The Microchip CAP1208 is a multiple channel capacitive touch sensor used in Desktop and Notebook PCs, LCD Monitors, Consumer Electronics and Appliances.

    It contains eight individual capacitive touch sensor inputs with programmable sensitivity for use in touch sensor applications. Each sensor input is calibrated to compensate for system parasitic capacitance and automatically recalibrated to compensate for gradual environmental changes.

    The CAP1208 includes Multiple Pattern Touch recognition that allows the user to select a specific set of buttons to be touched simultaneously. It also has Active and Standby states, each with its own sensor input configuration controls.

    Power consumption in the Standby state is dependent on the number of sensor inputs enabled as well as averaging, sampling time, and cycle time. Deep Sleep is the lowest power state available, drawing 5μA (typical) of current. In this state, no sensor inputs are active, and communications will wake the device.

    Microchip CAP1298-1-A4-TR 8-Channel Capacitive Touch Sensor with Proximity Detection & Signal Guard, QFN

    The Microchip CAP1298 is a multiple channel capacitive touch sensor used in computer, consumer electronics and appliances.

    While similar to CAP1208, the CAP1298 can also be configured to detect proximity on one or more channels with an optional signal guard to reduce noise sensitivity and to isolate the proximity antenna from nearby conductive surfaces that would otherwise attenuate the e-field.

    The CAP1298 also has Active and Standby states, each with its own sensor input configuration controls. The Combo state allows a combination of sensor input controls to be used which enables one or more sensor inputs to operate as buttons while another sensor input is operating as a proximity detector.

    Microchip  MTCH102-I/MSMTCH102-I/MS 8-Channel Proximity/Touch Controller MSOP

    The Microchip MTCH102 provides an easy way to add proximity or touch detection to any application with human machine interface.

    It can integrate up to two, five and eight capacitive touch/proximity detection sensors which can work through plastic, wood or even metal front panels with Microchip's proprietary Metal over Capacitive technology. It also supports a wide range of conductive materials as sensors, like copper pad on PCB, silver ink, PEDOT or carbon printing on plastic film, Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) pad, wire/cable, etc.

    The MTCH102 uses a sophisticated scan optimization algorithm to actively attenuate noise from the signal. The sensitivity adjustment and flexible power mode allow users to easily configure the device at run-time. An active-low output will communicate the state of the sensors to a host/master MCU or drive an indication LED.

    Microchip  MTCH101-I/OTMTCH101-I/OT Single-Channel Proximity Detector SOT-23

    The Microchip MTCH101 provides an easy way to add proximity or touch detection to any human interface application.

    The device integrates a single-channel capacitive proximity detection, which can work through plastic, glass or wood-front panel. It also supports a wide range of conductive materials as sensor, like copper pad on PCB, silver or carbon printing on plastic, Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) pad, wire/cable, etc. On-board adjustable sensitivity and power mode selection allow the user to configure the device at run time easily. An active-low output will communicate the state of the sensor to a host/master MCU, or drive an indication LED.

    - 7.2 Inductive Sensors

    Inductive sensors are a type of displacement sensor used to sense changes in position, distance and proximity. One of the advantages of inductive sensing is that non-magnetic materials (e.g., stainless steel, brass, plastics, woods, and others) can be penetrated by a magnetic field without any loss of positional accuracy. Another differentiating advantage of inductive sensors is that they can work in severe environments where capacitive sensors cannot.

    Inductive touch sensors are a common replacement for electromechanical pushbutton switches in severe or outdoor environments. An inductive touch system uses the magnetic coupling between a solid metal target and an inductive sensing coil. The target is a passive, electrically conductive layer that is arranged to displace or deform along the measurement axis relative to the coil. The sensor coils are one or more inductors, implemented as flat spiral coils, etched into the copper layer of a PCB. The inductance of the coil is determined by the number of turns and the dimensions of the pattern etched into the PCB.

    If a user presses on the front panel, then the coupling between the target and sense coil will change due to the minute shift in the target's position. When the user presses the front panel, it deflects slightly. This deflection, on the order of microns, is inductively detected.

    Side View - Inductive Touch Sensor

    Top View - Spiral Coil

    The fundamental principle of operation of inductive touch technology is that the inductance of an inductor varies when a nearby magnetically permeable or electrically conductive material moves relative to the inductor. This is because the magnetically permeable or electrically conductive material provides an alternative route for the magnetic flux which, in turn, varies the inductance. The closer the material is to the inductor, the greater the effect. The coil's inductance decreases as the target approaches and, to a limit, vice versa.

    Microchip  MCP2036-I/SLMCP2036-I/SL Inductive Sensor Analog Front End Device SOIC

    The Microchip MCP2036 Inductive Sensor Analog Front End (AFE) combines all the necessary analog functions for a complete inductance measurement system. The MCP2036 measures a sensor coil's impedance by exciting the coil with a pulsed DC current and measuring the amplitude of the resulting AC voltage waveform. The drive current is generated by the on-chip current amplifier/driver which takes the high-frequency triangular waveform present on the DRVIN input, and amplifies it into the pulsed DC current for exciting the series combination of the sensor coils. The AC voltages generated across the coils, are then capacitively coupled into the LBTN and LREF inputs. An input resistance of 2K between the inputs and the virtual ground offsets the AC input voltages up to the signal ground generated by the reference voltage generator.

    - 7.3 Current Sensors

    Current sensors detect electrical circuit path current and convert it to an output voltage, which is proportional to the current through the measured path. There are a wide variety of current sensors, with each type rated for a specific current range and environmental condition. Many power and control applications benefit from current sensing, including battery life indicators and chargers, current and voltage regulators, DC/DC converters, ground fault detectors, linear and switch-mode power supplies, automotive power electronics and motor speed controls.

    Current Sensing Resistors
    Current sensing resistors are the most commonly used way to sense current. They can be considered a current-to-voltage converter, where inserting a resistor into the current path, the current is converted to voltage in a linear way of V = I x R. The main advantages and disadvantages of current sensing resistors include:

    Advantages Disadvantages

    Low cost

    High measurement accuracy

    Measurable current range from very low to medium

    Capability to measure DC or AC current

    Introduces additional resistance into the measured circuit path, which may increase source output resistance and result in undesirable loading effect.

    Power loss since current sensing resistors dissipate power (P=I² x R). Therefore, current sensing resistors are rarely used beyond the low and medium current sensing applications.

    The disadvantages can be somewhat overcome by using low-value sensing resistors. However, the voltage drop across the sensing resistor may become low enough to be comparable to the input offset voltage of subsequent analog conditioning circuit, which would compromise the measurement accuracy.

    In addition, if the measured current has a large high-frequency component, the current sensing resistor's inherent inductance must be low. Otherwise, the inductance can induce an Electromotive Force (EMF) which will degrade the measurement accuracy as well. Furthermore, the resistance tolerance, temperature coefficient, thermal EMF, temperature rating and power rating are also important parameters of current sensing resistors when measurement accuracy is required.

    Current Sensing Techniques
    Low-side and high-side current sensing are two common techniques for sensing for circuit current. Low-side current sensing connects the sensing resistor between the load and ground, while high-side current sensing connects the sensing resistor between the power supply and load.

    A) Low-side sensing is advantageous because common-mode voltage is near ground potential, providing for the use of single-supply, rail-to-rail input/output op amps. Normally, the sensed voltage signal (VSEN = ISEN x RSEN) is so small that it needs to be amplified by subsequent op amp circuits (e.g., non-inverting amplifier) to get the measurable output voltage (VOUT).

    Advantages Disadvantages

    Low input Common mode voltage

    Low VDD components

    Ground referenced input and output

    Simplicity and low cost

    Ground path disturbance

    Load is lifted from system ground since RSEN adds undesirable resistance to the ground path

    High load current caused by accidental short goes undetected


    B) High-side current sensing connects the sensing resistor between the power supply and load. The sensed voltage signal is amplified by subsequent op amp circuits to get the measurable VOUT. High-side current sensing is typically selected in applications where ground disturbance cannot be tolerated, and short circuit detection is required, such as motor monitoring and control, overcurrent protection and supervising circuits, automotive safety systems, and battery current monitoring.

    Advantages Disadvantages

    Eliminates ground disturbance

    Load connects system ground directly

    Detects the high load current caused by accidental shorts

    Must be able to handle very high and dynamic Common mode input voltages

    Complexity and higher costs

    High VDD parts


    Microchip  EMC1701-2-AIZL-TREMC1701-2-AIZL-TR High-Side Current-Sense and Internal 1°C Temperature Monitor MSOP

    The Microchip EMC1701 is a combination high-side current sensing device with precision temperature measurement for Notebook and Desktop Computers, Industrial Equipment, Power Management Systems and Embedded Applications.

    It measures the voltage developed across an external sense resistor to represent the high-side current of a battery or voltage regulator. The EMC1701 also measures the source voltage and uses these measured values to present a proportional power calculation.

    The EMC1701 contains additional bi-directional peak detection circuitry to flag instantaneous current spikes with programmable time duration and magnitude threshold.

    Finally, the EMC1701 includes an internal diode channel for ambient temperature measurement. Both current sensing and temperature monitoring include two tiers of protection: one that can be masked and causes the ALERT pin to be asserted, and the other that cannot be masked and causes the THERM pin to be asserted.

    Microchip  PAC1710-1-AIA-TRPAC1710-1-AIA-TR Single High-Side Current Sense Monitor with Power Calculation DFN

    The Microchip PAC1710 is a high-side bi-directional current sensing monitor with precision voltage measurement capabilities. The power monitor measures the voltage developed across an external sense resistor to represent the high-side current of a battery or voltage regulator. The PAC1710 also measures the SENSE+ pin voltage and calculates average power over the integration period.

    The PAC1710 can be programmed to assert the ALERT pin when high and low limits are exceeded for Current Sense and Bus Voltage. Available in a RoHS compliant 3 X 3mm 10-pin DFN package.

    - 7.4 Smoke Detection Sensors

    Smoke detection sensors are used in both residential and commercial alarms throughout the world. They come in two forms: photoelectric and ionization. Photoelectric smoke detectors use a light source to detect smoke, while ionization smoke detectors use a radioisotope to ionize air. Performance-wise, photoelectric smoke detectors respond faster to a fire in its early stage because the detectors are more sensitive to the large combustion particles that emanate during slow, smoldering fires. Conversely, ionization smoke alarms respond faster to fast flaming fires because they can detect small amounts of smoke produced by fast flaming fires, such as cooking fires or fires fueled by paper or flammable liquids.

    Microchip  RE46C141S16FRE46C141S16F CMOS Photoelectric Smoke Detector ASIC with Interconnect SOIC

    The Microchip RE46C141 is low power CMOS photoelectric type smoke detector IC. With minimal external components this circuit will provide all the required features for a photoelectric type smoke detector.

    The design incorporates a gain selectable photo amplifier for use with an infrared emitter/detector pair. An internal oscillator strobes power to the smoke detection circuitry for 100µs every 8.1 seconds to keep standby current to a minimum. If smoke is sensed the detection rate is increased to verify an alarm condition. A high gain mode is available for push button chamber testing. A check for a low battery condition and chamber integrity is performed every 32 seconds when in standby. The temporal horn pattern supports the NFPA 72 emergency evacuation signal. An interconnect pin allows multiple detectors to be connected such that when one units alarms, all units will sound.

    The RE46C141 is recognized by Underwriters Laboratories for use in smoke detectors that comply with specification UL217 and UL268.

    Microchip  RE46C166S16FRE46C166S16F CMOS Photoelectric Smoke Detector ASIC with Interconnect Timer Mode and Alarm Memory SOIC

    The Microchip RE46C166 device is low-power, CMOS photoelectric type, smoke detector ICs.

    Each design incorporates a gain selectable photo amplifier for use with an infrared emitter/detector pair. An internal oscillator strobes power to the smoke detection circuitry for 100 μs every 10 seconds to keep standby current to a minimum. If smoke is sensed, the detection rate is increased to verify an alarm condition.

    A high gain mode is available for push button chamber testing. A check for a low battery condition and chamber integrity is performed every 43 seconds when in standby. The temporal horn pattern supports the NFPA 72 emergency evacuation signal. An interconnect pin allows multiple detectors to be connected so when one unit alarms, all units will sound. A charge dump feature will quickly discharge the interconnect line when exiting a local alarm. The interconnect input is also digitally filtered. An internal timer allows for single button, push-to-test to be used for a reduced sensitivity mode. An alarm memory feature allows the user to determine if the unit has previously entered a local alarm condition. The RE46C166 was designed for use in smoke detectors that comply with Underwriters Laboratory Specification UL217 and UL268.

    Microchip  RE46C180E16FRE46C180E16F CMOS Programmable Ionization Smoke Detector ASIC with Interconnect Timer Mode and Alarm Memory DIP

    The Microchip RE46C180 is a low power, CMOS ionization-type, smoke detector IC. With minimal external components, this circuit will provide all the required features for an ionization-type smoke detector.

    An on-chip oscillator strobes power to the smoke detection circuitry for 5 ms every 10 seconds to keep the standby current to a minimum. A check for a Low Battery condition is performed every 80s and an ionization chamber test is performed once every 320s when in Standby. The temporal horn pattern complies with the National Fire Protection Association NFPA 72® National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code® for emergency evacuation signals.

    An interconnect pin allows multiple detectors to be connected, such that when one unit alarms, all units will sound. A charge dump feature quickly discharges the interconnect line when exiting a Local Alarm condition. The interconnect input is also digitally filtered. An internal 9 minute or 80s timer can be used for a Reduced Sensitivity mode. An alarm memory feature allows the user to determine whether the unit has previously entered a Local Alarm condition.

    The RE46C180 is designed for use in smoke detectors that comply with the Standard for Single and Multiple Station Smoke Alarms, UL217 and the Standard for Smoke Detectors for Fire Alarm Systems, UL268.

    Microchip  RE46C190S16FRE46C190S16F CMOS Low Voltage Photoelect ric Smoke Detector ASIC with Interconnect and Timer Mode SOIC

    The Microchip RE46C190 is a low power, low voltage CMOS photoelectric type smoke detector IC. The design incorporates a gain-selectable photo amplifier for use with an infrared emitter/detector pair.

    An internal oscillator strobes power to the smoke detection circuitry every 10 seconds, to keep the standby current to a minimum. If smoke is sensed, the detection rate is increased to verify an Alarm condition.

    A high gain mode is available for push button chamber testing. A check for a low battery condition is performed every 86 seconds, and chamber integrity is tested once every 43 seconds, when in Standby. The temporal horn pattern supports the NFPA 72 emergency evacuation signal. An interconnect pin allows multiple detectors to be connected such that, when one unit alarms, all units will sound. An internal 9 minute timer can be used for a Reduced Sensitivity mode. The RE46C190 was designed for use in smoke detectors that comply with Underwriters Laboratory Specification UL217 and UL268.

    - 7.5 Temperature Sensors

    Temperature sensing is a fundamental function of control systems in many types of appliances, handheld devices, industrial equipment, as well as others. There are a number of passive and active temperature sensors that can be used to measure system temperature, including thermocouples, resistive temperature detectors (RTDs), thermistors and silicon temperature sensors. These sensors provide temperature feedback to a system controller that oversees control functions such as over-temperature shutdown, turn-on/off cooling fan, temperature compensation, or as a general purpose temperature monitor.

    Microchip MCP9701AT-E/TT Low-Power Linear Active Thermistor™ IC, SOT-23

    The Microchip MCP9701/9701A is a Linear Active Thermistor Integrated Circuit (IC) converts temperature to analog voltage.

    This low-power sensor features an accuracy of ±2°C from 0°C to +70°C (MCP9701A) and ±4°C from 0°C to +70°C (MCP9701) while consuming only 6 μA (typical) of operating current.

    Unlike resistive sensors, e.g., thermistors, the Linear Active Thermistor IC does not require an additional signal-conditioning circuit. Therefore, the biasing circuit development overhead for thermistor solutions can be avoided by implementing a sensor from these low-cost devices. The Voltage Output pin (VOUT) can be directly connected to the ADC input of a microcontroller. The MCP9701/9701A temperature coefficients are scaled to provide a 1°C/bit resolution for an 8-bit ADC with a reference voltage of 2.5V and 5V, respectively.

    The MCP9701/9701A provide a low-cost solution for applications that require measurement of a relative change of temperature. When measuring relative change in temperature from +25°C, an accuracy of ±1°C (typical) can be realized from 0°C to +70°C. This accuracy can also be achieved by applying system calibration at +25°C. In addition, this family of devices is immune to the effects of parasitic capacitance and can drive large capacitive loads.

    This provides printed circuit board (PCB) layout design flexibility by enabling the device to be remotely located from the microcontroller. Adding some capacitance at the output also helps the output transient response by reducing overshoots or undershoots. However, capacitive load is not required for the stability of sensor output.

    Microchip TC77-3.3MCTTR Digital Thermal Sensor with SPI™ Interface, SOT-23

    The Microchip TC77 is a serially accessible digital temperature sensor particularly suited for low cost and small form-factor applications.

    Temperature data is converted from the internal thermal sensing element and made available at anytime as a 13-bit two's compliment digital word. Communication with the TC77 is accomplished via a SPI and MICROWIRE compatible interface. It has a 12-bit plus sign temperature resolution of 0.0625°C per Least Significant Bit (LSb). The TC77 offers a tem- perature accuracy of ±1.0°C (max.) over the temperature range of +25°C to +65°C. When operating, the TC77 consumes only 250 μA (typ.).

    The TC77's Configuration register can be used to activate the low power Shutdown mode, which has a current consumption of only 0.1 μA (typ.). Small size, low cost and ease of use make the TC77 an ideal choice for implementing thermal management in a variety of systems.

    Microchip  TC622CPATC622CPA Low Cost Single Trip Point Temperature Sensor DIP

    The TC622 is a single point, programmable solid-state temperature sensors designed to replace mechanical switches in sensing and control applications. Both devices integrate the temperature sensor with a voltage reference and all required detector circuitry. The desired temperature set point is set by the user with a single external resistor. Ambient temperature is sensed and compared to the programmed set point. The OUT and OUT outputs are driven to their active state when the measured temperature exceeds the programmed set point. The TC622 has a power supply voltage range of 4.5V to 18.0V while the TC624 operates over a power supply range of 2.7V to 4.5V. It has a usable temperature range of -40°C to +125°C (TC622VXX). The device features low supply current making it suitable for portable applications. Eight-pin through-hole and surface mount packages are available. The TC622 is also offered in a 5-pin TO-220 package.

    Microchip  TC74A0-5.0VATTC74A0-5.0VAT Tiny Serial Digital Thermal Sensor TO-220

    The Microchip TC74 is a serially accessible, digital temperature sensor particularly suited for low cost and small form-factor applications. Temperature data is converted from the onboard thermal sensing element and made available as an 8-bit digital word. Communication with the TC74 is accomplished via a 2-wire SMBus/I2C compatible serial port. This bus also can be used to implement multi-drop/multi-zone monitoring. The SHDN bit in the CONFIG register can be used to activate the low power Standby mode. Temperature resolution is 1°C. Conversion rate is a nominal 8 samples/sec. During normal operation, the quiescent current is 200 μA (typ). During standby operation, the quiescent current is 5 μA (typ). Small size, low installed cost and ease of use make the TC74 an ideal choice for implementing thermal management in a variety of systems.

    Microchip MCP98244T-BE/MNY DDR4 DIMM Temperature Sensor with EEPROM for SPD, TDFN

    The Microchip MCP98244 digital temperature sensor converts temperature from -40°C and +125°C to a digital word.

    This sensor meets JEDEC Specification JC42.4-TSE3000B1 Memory Module Thermal Sensor Component. It provides an accuracy of ±0.2°C/±1°C (typical/maximum) from +75°C to +95°C with an operating voltage of 1.7V to 3.6V. In addition, MCP98244 has an integrated EEPROM with two banks of 256 by 8 bit EEPROM (4k Bit) which can be used to store memory module details and vendor information.

    The MCP98244 digital temperature sensor comes with user-programmable registers that provide flexibility for DIMM temperature-sensing applications. The registers allow user-selectable settings such as Shutdown or Low-Power modes and the specification of temperature Event boundaries. When the temperature changes beyond the specified Event boundary limits, the MCP98244 outputs an Alert signal at the Event pin. The user has the option of setting the temperature Event output signal polarity as either an active-low or active-high comparator output for thermostat operation, or as a temperature Event interrupt output for microprocessor-based systems.

    The MCP98244 EEPROM is designed specifically for DRAM DIMMs (Dual In-line Memory Modules) Serial Presence Detect (SPD). It has four 128 Byte pages, which can be Software Write Protected individually. This allows DRAM vendor and product information to be stored and write-protected. This sensor has an industry standard I2C Fast Mode Plus compatible 1 MHz serial interface.

    Microchip  MCP9904T-2E/9QMCP9904T-2E/9Q Multi-Channel Low-Temperature Remote Diode Sensor VDFN

    The Microchip MCP9904 is a high-accuracy, low-cost, System Management Bus (SMBus) temperature sensor. The MCP9904 monitors up to four temperature channels. Advanced features such as Resistance Error Correction (REC), Beta Compensation (to support CPU diodes requiring the BJT/transistor model including 45 nm, 65 nm and 90 nm processors) and automatic diode-type detection combine to provide a robust solution for complex environmental monitoring applications.

    Resistance Error Correction automatically eliminates the temperature error caused by series resistance allowing greater flexibility in routing thermal diodes. Beta Compensation eliminates temperature errors caused by low, variable beta transistors common in today's fine geometry processors. The automatic beta detection feature monitors the external diode/transistor and determines the optimum sensor settings for accurate temperature measurements regardless of processor technology. This frees the user from providing unique sensor configurations for each temperature monitoring application.

    These advanced features plus ±1°C measurement accuracy for both external and internal diode temperatures provide a low-cost, highly flexible and accurate solution for critical temperature monitoring applications.

    - 7.6 Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) Sensors

    The ability to microengineer and micromachine components with dimensions on the order of micrometers has brought forth the development of MEMS technology. MEMS is a micro-electro-mechanical system consisting of microcomponents of mechanical and electrical devices that enable the manufacturing of microsensors and actuators in combination with control and signal conditioning circuitry. MEMS are appearing in monitoring and control of applications ranging from biomedicine to IoT embedded systems to smart phones to automated manufacturing.

    Microchip  MM7150-AB0MM7150-AB0 MEMS Module Tri-Axis Gyroscope Tri-Axis Accelerometer Tri-Axis Magnetometer 2g Module

    The Microchip MM7150 Motion Module is a simple, cost-effective solution for integrating motion and positioning data into a wide range of applications.

    The module contains the SSC7150 motion coprocessor with integrated 9-axis sensor fusion as well as high performance MEMS technology including a 3-axis accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer. All components are integrated, calibrated and available on the module for PCB mounting.

    *Trademark. Microchip® is a trademark of Microchip Technology Inc. Other logos, product and/or company names may be trademarks of their respective owners.


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    Test Your KnowledgeBack to Top

    Are you ready to demonstrate your IC Sensors knowledge? Then take a quick 20-question multiple choice quiz to see how much you've learned from this Essentials Sensors 1 module.

    To earn the Sensors 1 badge, read through the module to learn all about IC Sensors, attain 100% in the quiz at the bottom, leave us some feedback in the comments section and bookmark this page.


    1) Power consumption of the Microchip CAP 1298 Eight-Channel Capacitive Touch Sensor in the standby and combo states depends on:


    2) True or False: All transducers are sensors, but not all sensors are transducers.


    3) Which of the following is NOT a type of mechanical stimulus?


    4) What is the difference between a passive and active sensor?


    5) What is hysteresis?


    6) Capacitive touch sensing has become an alternative to traditional pushbutton switch user interfaces because it:


    7) Which of the following is an advantage of low-side current sensing?


    8) True or False: An inductive touch system uses the magnetic coupling between a solid metal target and an inductive sensing coil. The inductance of the coil is determined by the type of coil material and the depth of the pattern etched into the PCB.


    9) What are the two types of smoke detectors?


    10) Which of the following do NOT typically use current sensors?


    11) What type of sensor is manufactured by micromachining processes?


    12) True or False: The Microchip RE46C180 is a low power, CMOS, photoelectric-type, smoke detector IC.


    13) The Microchip TC74 converts temperature data from an onboard thermal sensing element and makes it available as (a)an _________ digital word.


    14) What advantage do inductive touch sensors have over capacitive touch sensors?


    15) The Microchip CAP1298 is a multiple channel capacitive touch sensor. But it can be configured as a proximity detector with the addition of what type of feature?


    16) What are the causes of repeatability errors?


    17) If the area of plate overlap remains the same yet the distance between a capacitor's plates is decreased, the resulting capacitance will:


    18) A sensor is an electronic device that produces a (an) ___________ output signal derived from a physical condition or stimulus.


    19) Inserted on the right is the schematic for a Power Supply Over-Temperature Shutdown circuit utilizing the Microchip TC 622 Single Trip Point Temperature Sensor. What happens when the crowbar circuit is activated (closed)?


    20) Which of the following factors will NOT impact the measurement accuracy of a current sensing resistor?

    Alas, you didn't quite meet the grade. You only got %. Have another look through the course, and try again.
    You nailed it, and scored %! To earn the Sensors 1 badge, leave us some feedback in the comments section and then download the attached Sensors 1 PDF for future reference. Other topics you want to learn? Send a suggestion.

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    Ben Heck's Lunch Box Dev Kit is a portable, plug-and-play hardware development enclosure suitable for diagnosing problems on the go and swapping over between kits. It includes a screen, a keyboard, mouse, and a few power options in one convenient package. It was made using the BeagleBone Black, a modified Motorola Atrix phone dock and with various 3D printing tools at their disposal. You can lug your Ben Heck Lunch Box to trade shows or anywhere else you need access to an LCD screen and keyboard to plug-and-play dev boards!  The design is inspired by the first portable computers which were commonly known as "Lunchbox" or "Luggable" Computers.


    In 1973, the IBM Palo Alto Scientific Center developed a portable computer prototype known as SCAMP (Special Computer APL Machine Portable). It was based on the IBM Palm processor with a Phillips compact cassette drive, small CRT and fully functional keyboard. Two years later, in 1975, successful demonstrations of the SCAMP prototype led to the first commercial release of a "Luggable Computer", the IBM 5100. Examples, of other early "Luggable" computers included the MIT Suitcase Computer in 1975, the Xerox NoteTaker in 1976, and the Micro Star or Small One in 1979. They were followed by the first mass-produced microprocessor-based portable computer, the Osborne 1 in 1981; the Kapro in 1982; the first IBM PC compatible portable computer, the Compaq Portable in 1983; the first full-color portable computer, the Commodore SX-64 in 1984; and finally the Macintosh Portable in 1989.


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    0 0
  • 07/28/16--13:48: RoadTest the TI INA301EVM
  • texas_instruments_ti_stk_2c_pos_rgb_png1.png 

    Over Current Sensing Techniques Webinar


    {tabbedtable} Tab Label Tab Content
    About this RoadTest

    High accuracy, high slew-rate current sense amplifier with integrated high-speed comparator optimized for overcurrent protection.

    With three different gain devices in the same EVM package, you can quickly  setup and evaluate any or all the devices as desired.


    • Easy access to all device pins
    • All three gains included when the EVM is purchased
    • Visual LED light as indicator of ALERT condition (tripped comparator)
    • Addtitonal terminal block for the convenience of connecting input/output signals


    The RoadTesters

    Congrats to the selected RoadTesters!






    Terms and Conditions

    Texas Instruments INA301EVM


    These are the terms and conditions which govern the The Texas Instruments TI INA301EVM RoadTest. This Contest requires participants to submit an application indicating their previous experience with this type of equipment/component, information on what they would do to test the equipment/component, and the applicant’s desire to post a thorough review of their experience with images, photos, or other supplemental materials.. Participants will be required to meet the Conditions for Participation.  The winners of this RoadTest will receive the item(s) listed below. RoadTest Reviews are due no later than 60 days after the receipt of the item(s). No other prizes are offered.

    1. 1 The Principal terms of the Contest:

    The following words and phrases are used in these terms and conditions and have the meanings given to them below.

    RoadTest: TI INA301EVM RoadTest (or the Contest)

    Key dates:

    Applications Close: midnight (GMT) on 9 September 2016

    Judging Close: 11:59PM (GMT) on 23 September  2016

    Announcement of Winner(s) (estimated):  23 September 2016

    RoadTest Item(s): TI INA301EVM


    RoadTest Site:

    Site or element14 Community:

    Judges: members of the element14 community team chosen at the Organiser’s discretion.

    Judging Criteria: All of the following which will have equal weighting:

    1.1 • Demonstrated competence with the technologies including links or descriptions of past projects

    1.2 • Qualifications as indicated by current job role and/or schooling/vocational training;

    1.3 • A thorough description of how the prize would be tested

    1.4 • Likelihood that the Applicant will blog about the prize and provide a review on

    1.5 • Originality;

    1.6 • Innovation.

    Organiser: Premier Farnell plc (registered in England and Wales under company number 876412) whose registered office is at Farnell House, Forge Lane, Leeds, UK

    Conditions for Qualification: in addition to meeting the requirements of these terms, all persons applying to take part in the Contest (each one an Applicant) must:

    1.7 • Provide a RoadTest application describing what he/she would do if awarded the Prize including similar previous projects, product experience and qualifications

    Minimum number of Prizes: 5

    Terms: these terms and conditions which govern the Contest and to which the Organiser reserves the right to make changes from time to time and the latest version of these Terms from time to time will be posted to the Site.

    1. 2 Eligibility

    2. 3 Applications:

    3. 4 Selecting Winners:

    4. 5 Liability:

    5. 6 General:

    1.8 2.1 Save as set out in these Terms, the RoadTest is open to any natural or legal person, firm or company or group of natural persons or unincorporated body.

    1.9 2.2 All Applicants must be aged at least 18 at the time of their application.

    1.10 2.3 Applicants must not enter the Contest if doing so or taking part may:

    1.10.1 2.3.1 cause the Organiser and/or themselves to be in breach of any agreement (including but not limited to any contract of employment) to which they are a party or in breach of any law, regulation or rule having the force of law to which the Organiser or the Applicant may be subject or any policy of the Organiser or the Sponsor;

    1.10.2 2.3.2 Require the Organiser to obtain any licence, authorisation or permission to deal with the Applicant; or

    1.10.3 2.3.3 Be in breach of any policy or practice of their employer. Some employers prohibit or restrict their employees from taking part in contests such as these or receiving prizes under them and the Organiser respects those policies and practices.

    1.10.4 The Organiser reserves the right to disqualify any Application made in breach of these Terms and to reject any Application which it reasonably believes may be or become in breach. The Organiser reserves the right to require evidence in such form as the Organiser may reasonably require of any Applicant’s compliance with any of these Terms and to disqualify any Applicant or Participant who cannot provide such evidence reasonably promptly.

    1.11 2.4 Multiple applications are not permitted.

    1.12 2.5 Applications may not be submitted by an agent whether acting on behalf of an undisclosed principal or otherwise.

    1.13 2.6 The Contest is NOT open to:

    1.13.1 2.6.1 Any person or entity who is a resident or national of any country which is subject to sanctions, embargoes or national trade restrictions of the United States of America, the European Union or the United Kingdom;

    1.13.2 2.6.2 Any employee, director, member, shareholder (as appropriate) or any of their direct families (parents, siblings, spouse, partner, children) (“Direct Families”) of the Organiser.

    1.14 3.1 Each Applicant must fully complete and submit a response by the Application Close.

    1.15 3.2 By submitting a response, each Applicant:

    1.15.1 3.2.1 Authorises the Organiser to use his or her personal data (as defined in the Data Protection Act 1998) for the purposes of running and promoting the RoadTest;

    1.15.2 3.2.2 Authorises the Organizer to copy, reproduce and publish their application should they be accepted as a Participant;

    1.15.3 3.2.3 Will be deemed to have read, accepted and agree to be bound by these Terms. Applicants are advised to print and keep safe these Terms;

    1.15.4 3.2.4 Authorises the Organiser to copy, reproduce and use the application or subsequent Blogs submitted for the purposes of the Contest and as otherwise contemplated by these Terms. The Organiser will not be responsible for any inaccuracy, error or omission contained in any reproduction or use of the Project Blogs.

    1.15.5 3.2.5 Licenses the Organiser to use the intellectual property in the Project (IP) for the purposes of this Contest. As between the Applicant and the Organiser the IP remains owned by the Applicant.

    1.15.6 3.2.6 Grants the Organiser the right to use his or her likeness, photographs, logos, trademarks, audio or video recordings without restriction for the purposes of Contest or the promotion of it or the Site;

    1.15.7 3.2.7 Agrees to participate positively in all publicity surrounding the Contest;

    1.15.8 3.2.8 Agrees to be responsible for all expenses and costs incurred by him or her in preparing for, entering and participating in the Contest (save for any expenses expressly agreed by the Organiser to be borne by it in these Terms);

    1.15.9 3.2.9 Confirms that he or she owns all IP used in his or her application or Project or Blogs and indemnifies the Organiser from any claim by a third party that use of any material provided by an Applicant to the Organiser infringes the intellectual property rights of any third party;

    1.15.10 3.2.10 Agrees not to act in any way or fail to act in any way or be associated with any cause or group which would have a negative impact on the reputation of the Organiser and/or the Contest.

    1.16 3.3 All applications submitted to this Contest must meet the following criteria:

    1.16.1 3.3.1 Applications must not include or propose any of the following, the inclusion of which shall render any application null and void:

    (a) (a) Applications or designs which relate to socially taboo topics, such as illicit drug use or sexual gratification;

    (b) (b) Applications or designs that are or could reasonably be considered to be illegal, immoral, discriminatory or offensive as determined by the Organiser and/or the Judges;

    (c) (c) Applications or applications in relation to them which if accepted would infringe or breach any of the policies or terms of access or use of the Site.

    1.17 3.4 No proposed Application may contain any of the hazardous substances identified by Article 4 of Directive 2002/95/EC of the European Parliament on the Restrictions on the Use of Substances in Electronic and Electrical Equipment ("the Directive") or the use of such hazardous substances in the in any such Project must not exceed the maximum concentration values set out in the Directive.

    1.18 3.5 A proposed Application must not have been entered into any other Contest, unless that Contest has closed and the Application did not win a prize.

    1.19 4.1 Winners will be selected by the Organiser on the basis of the quality of his or her Application and its adherence to these Terms.

    1.20 4.2 The total number of Winners selected will be at least the minimum number set out in condition 1 above but the actual number is at the sole discretion of the Organizer.

    1.21 4.3 The Organiser will use all reasonable efforts to announce the Participants within 10 business days the Applications Close.

    1.22 4.4 The winner(s) will be selected by the Organiser in their absolute discretion based on the Judging Criteria. Winners must meet all eligibility requirements of these Terms. There shall be such number of winners as the Organiser shall determine.

    1.23 4.5 The Organiser’s decision is final and without right of appeal. No correspondence will be entered into. The Organiser reserves the right not to select a winner if, in their sole discretion, they do not consider any of the applications to merit the Prize.

    1.24 4.6 The Organiser will use all reasonable efforts to complete judging by Judging and Voting Close and to notify the winner(s) via a blog posted on the Contest Site by the Announcement of Winner Date.

    1.25 4.7 Winners agree to take part in all publicity which the Organiser or the Sponsor wishes to use to promote the RoadTest, the Products featured or other Contests with which the Organiser may be connected from time to time.

    1.26 4.8 Details of the Winners will also be published in the media.

    1.27 5.1 The Organiser hereby excludes all and any Liability arising out of the Contest or the acceptance, use, quality, condition, suitability or performance of any Prize, even where that Liability may arise from the Organiser’s negligence.

    1.28 5.2 Nothing in these Terms will affect any Liability of the Organiser for death or personal injury arising from its negligence, for breach of Part II of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (in the event that any entrant is entitled to claim rights under the Consumer Protection Act 1987) or for any matter in relation to which it would be illegal for the Organiser to exclude or to attempt to exclude its Liability.

    1.29 5.3 Subject to 10.2, neither the Organiser, any parent company nor any subsidiary of the Organiser or such parent company or any of their directors, officers and employees (together referred to in these terms and the ‘Associates’) makes any guarantee, warranty or representation of any kind, express or implied, with respect to this Contest or the Prizes potentially available under it. Neither the Organiser nor any of its Associates shall be responsible for any Liability that may arise out of or in connection with person’s participation in this Contest, the claiming, redemption or value of any prizes under it, the use or enjoyment of such prizes or any events or circumstances arising out of or in connection with any of them. Any implied warranties of condition, merchantability or suitability or fitness for purpose of any of them are hereby expressly excluded. Wherever used in these Terms, ‘Liability’ shall mean any and all costs, expenses, claims, damages, actions, proceedings, demands, losses and other liabilities (including legal fees and costs on a full indemnity basis) arising directly or indirectly out of or in connection with the matter concerned.

    1.30 6.1 The RoadTest is organised and sponsored by the Organiser. The Organiser reserves the right to delegate all or any of its powers, rights and obligations arising in relation to the RoadTest to any Associate and certain such rights and powers are assumed by the Organiser on behalf of itself and each Associate. Reference to “Organiser” shall be deemed to include reference to each Associate.

    1.31 6.2 The RoadTest may be terminated at any time if there are, in the sole opinion of the Organiser, an insufficient number of entries, or if the Applications are not of an appropriate standard for a Contest of this nature. The Organiser has the right to cancel or suspend the RoadTest at any time due to circumstances outside its reasonable control.

    1.32 6.3 The Organiser shall have the sole discretion to disqualify (without correspondence or right of appeal) any Applicant it considers to be adversely affecting the process or the operation of the RoadTest or to be in breach of these Terms or to be acting in a disruptive manner or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other Applicant or Participant.

    1.33 6.4 The Organiser has the right to amend or add to these Terms from time to time. Revised Terms and Conditions will be posted on the RoadTest Site and it is a condition of entry to the RoadTest that Applicants and Winners agree to comply with these Terms and, if appropriate, such Terms as amended from time to time.

    1.34 6.5 Headings are for convenience only and do not affect the interpretation or construction of these Terms and Conditions.

    1.35 6.6 These Terms and the operation of the RoadTest shall be governed by and construed in accordance with English Law and any claim or matter arising under these Terms shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

    1.36 the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts.

    0 0


    Bring Us Your Idea, We’ll Bring It to Life

    Choose from Custom Switches, Panel Meters, and Enclosures – or all 3!





    1. Fill out the application to submit your idea -  tell us how/why your project would benefit from customized parts [choose from custom rocker switches, modified panel meters, modified enclosures, or all 3!]
    2. Each submission will be reviewed by industry experts and judged based on creativity, functionality and market need
    3. Each of the three winners will work with our customization representatives, be and be supplied a quote for the services. A voucher for up to $300 in FREE Customization Services [choose from custom rocker switches, modified panel meters, modified enclosures, or all 3!] will be applied to the quote.
    4. See full Terms and Conditions (attached)


    IDEAL FOR: technitian-voltimeter.jpg


    • Generator manufacturers
    • Machine building
    • Truck manufacturers
    • Utilities
    • Aviation
    • Mining, metals and minerals
    • Rail
    • Military


    Custom Panel Meter Manufacturers:


    Custom Enclosure Manufacturers:


    BUDCamden BossFiBoxGeneral DevicesHammond ManufacturingHoffmanSchroff


    Custom Switches Manufacturers:

    0 0


    Connectors III

    RF Connectors

    Sponsored by

    1. Introduction 2. Objective 3. Electromagnetic Spectrum 4. RF Waves: AM/FM Bands 5. Coaxial Transmission Lines
    6. Coaxial Connectors 7. Performance Specifications 8. Types of RF Connectors Parts Used Test Your Knowledge


    1. Introduction

    The tremendous growth of wireless communication around the world has spawned the development of more types of RF connectors than was ever imaginable a mere twenty years ago. Radio frequency connectors today are providing critical links to a substantial amount of equipment, including networking, cellular communications, radio frequency identification, global positioning systems, mobile radio systems and many more. Understanding the factors that impact the selection as well as the design of RF connectors is essential knowledge for a design engineer who works with RF circuits. This learning module explores the features and applications of the most common types of RF connectors.


    2. Objective

    The objective of this learning module is to provide you with the essentials of RF connector technology. You will first review the basics of electromagnetic wave theory. In the later sections, you will gain an understanding of radio waves, coaxial transmission lines, and the common types of RF connectors and their applications.

    Upon completion of this module, you will be able to:

    Define the electromagnetic spectrum

    Discuss the elements of RF coaxial transmission Lines

    List the components, coupling styles, and termination types of coaxial connectors

    Explain the importance of RF performance specifications

    Identify the most common types of RF connectors and their applications


    3. The Electromagnetic SpectrumBack to Top

    Radio frequency and wireless communication devices have been built for over a century. Many scientists contributed to their development, including Sir Oliver Lodge, Alexander Stepanovich Popov, Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, and many others. But it was Guglielmo Marconi’s experimental broadcast of the first transatlantic radio signal in 1901 that ultimately led to the commercial viability and world-wide adoption of RF technology. Devices based on RF technology ranging from radio, TV, cellular and the Internet are so common today that we can hardly imagine a world without them. Before discussing the different types of RF connectors in this learning module, let’s begin with a brief review of the theory behind radio frequency devices, beginning with the Electromagnetic (EM) Spectrum.

    Decades before Marconi's first transatlantic radio broadcast, Scottish scientist James C. Maxwell demonstrated, in the 1860s, that time-varying electric and magnetic fields cause electromagnetic waves to travel in a vacuum at the speed of light. Twenty years later, Heinrich Hertz went on to apply Maxwell's theories and experimentally prove the existence of radio waves in the late 1880s.

    Electromagnetic waves are the result of self-propagating, transverse oscillations of electric and magnetic fields. These fields are perpendicular to each other and to the direction of the wave. Once formed, this electromagnetic energy travels at the speed of light until it interacts with matter.

    The discovery of electromagnetic waves led to the identification of an entire range of EM waves that are together called the Electromagnetic Spectrum (EM). These waves are radiant energy, resulting from electromagnetic interactions. While EM waves are continuous in nature, scientists typically divide the EM spectrum into discrete segments called bands.  The following table describes the EM spectrum's frequency bands:

    Frequency (f) Wavelength (λ) Band Description
    30-300 Hz 104 to 103 km ELF Extremely Low Frequency
    300-3000 Hz 103 to 102 km VF Voice Frequency
    3-30 KHz 100 to 10 km VLF Very Low Frequency
    30-300 KHz 10 to 1 km LF Low Frequency
    0.3-3 MHz 1 to 0.1 km MF Medium Frequency
    3-30 MHz 100 to 10 m HF High Frequency
    30-300 MHz 10 to 1 m VHF Very High Frequency
    300-3000 MHz 100 to 10 cm UHF Ultra High Frequency
    3-30 GHz 10 to 1 cm SHF Super High Frequency
    30-300 GHZ 10 to 1 mm EHF Extremely High Frequency (Millimeter Waves)

    Electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light in a vacuum. These waves are described by their relationship between frequency (f) and wavelength (λ). Their relationship is shown in the following equation:

    C = f  x  λ
    (with c = 3.0 x 108 m/sec)

    Since the speed of light is a constant (3.0 x 108 m/sec), the equation predicts that as the frequency of an electromagnetic wave increases, its wavelength decreases, and vice versa.


    4. Radio Frequency Waves: AM/FM BandsBack to Top

    Radio waves are one of the many types of electromagnetic (EM) radiation or energy; they appear at the lowest frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. They have wavelengths between 1 millimeter and 100 kilometers (or 300 GHz and 3 kHz in frequency).  While radio waves occur naturally in the world, radio waves can be generated by RF devices used in fixed and mobile radio communication, broadcasting, radar, communications satellites, computer networks and more.

    AM and FM bands are the part of the electromagnetic spectrum used for radio broadcasting. In the AM band, radio waves, called "carrier waves," are used to broadcast commercial radio signals in the frequency range from 540 to 1600 kHz. The abbreviation AM stands for "amplitude modulation," which is the method for broadcasting radio waves by varying the amplitude of the carrier signal to be transmitted. The resulting wave has a constant frequency, but a varying amplitude.

    In the FM band, the carrier waves are used to broadcast commercial radio signals in the frequency range from 88 to 108 MHz. The abbreviation FM stands for "frequency modulation," which is the method for broadcasting radio waves by varying the frequency of the carrier signal to be transmitted. The resulting wave has a constant amplitude, but a varying frequency.

    RF technology continues to demonstrate itself as a durable technology with its growing impact on IoT wireless connectivity. Much of today's most popular wireless equipment operate in the 2.4-GHz radio band, including Wi-Fi hot spots and home wireless routers, ZigBee, Bluetooth, some cordless phones, among others. Sub-1GHz radio bands are even finding application in the transceivers and microcontrollers designed for this radio band and destined for use in long-range, wireless IoT networks.


    5. Coaxial Transmission LinesBack to Top

    A transmission line is a two-conductor structure that supports the propagation of transverse electromagnetic (TEM) waves (i.e., an electromagnetic wave where both the electric and magnetic fields are perpendicular to the direction of wave propagation). It is designed to transmit RF power in the most efficient manner from one point to another.  An RF transmission line consists of a source, a load, and the combination of RF cable and connectors. Coaxial lines are the most common type of RF transmission line.


    - 5.1 Coaxial Cables

    Coaxial cables are specially constructed cables with a core center conductor, surrounded by a tubular non-conductive insulator (dielectric), which is then enclosed by an braided copper shielding (the outer conductor). The dielectric separates the core inner conductor from the outer shielding conductor. The coaxial cable's outer shielding is typically protected by PVC material.

    Coaxial cable is designed to keep the RF waves inside the cable while keeping out magnetic interference. It does so by effectively placing two wires in one structure, each with current moving in opposite directions that cancel out the currents due to the proximity effect thereby preventing RF radiation.  Coaxial cable is ideal for applications where attenuation must be kept to a minimum and the elimination of outside interference is critical.

    - 5.2 Impedance Matching

    Transmission lines must be impedance matched over the entire coaxial structure in order to prevent reflections of the signal at the line terminations. If the impedances aren’t matched, maximum power will not be delivered (from source to load) and standing waves will develop along the line.

    In a transmission line, the source, line and load impedances must be matched for maximum power transfer to occur. In other words, ZS = Z0 = ZL

    - 5.3 PCB Transmission Lines

    Transmission lines can also be constructed utilizing printed circuit board technology. The substrate of the printed circuit board functions as the dielectric and separates the two conductors. The first conductor is typically a narrow etch, while the second conductor is the ground plane.  The most popular types of printed circuit board transmission lines are: microstrip, stripline, coplanar waveguide and slotline.

    The above illustration visualizes a microstrip transmission line utilizing an SMA RF connector.

    Coaxial RF connectors allow a cable to be connected to another cable or component (e.g, printed circuit board) of the RF transmission line structure. There is a wide variety of coaxial connectors designed to fit with different types of coaxial cable. Coaxial connectors will be discussed in the next section.


    6. Coaxial ConnectorsBack to Top

    In this section, let's discuss the components, coupling styles, and termination types of a typical coaxial connector.

    - 6.1 Components

    Inner Conductor (Center Conductor): functions similar to a terminal in an electrical connector; it carries the main circuit signal.

    Dielectric: functions as an insulating spacer between the inner and outer conductors.

    Shielding (Outer conductor): provides shielding that keeps interference outside the connector while keeping desirable currents inside. It’s held at ground or reference potential for a circuit path return.

    - 6.2 Coupling Style

    The coupling style is the method used to mate a coaxial plug to a coaxial connector or receptacle. There are four types of coupling mechanisms used with RF connectors, including: Threaded, Bayonet, Snap-On and Slide-On.

    In general, threaded styles maximize mating security. They are used in high vibration environments. Snap-on devices provide the quickest mating. Bayonet couplings offer a compromise between ease of use and mating security. Slide on coupling provides quick and easy installation.

    The coupling style also impacts performance. As with electrical connectors, higher performance RF products require exceptionally tight, stable mating interfaces to minimize noise and optimize energy transfer. Traditionally, threaded couplings have provided this integrity. Today, however, non-threaded coupling technology have advanced significantly to provide the same benefit and often in a small footprint.

    - 6.3 Terminations

    Coaxial cables are typical terminated with RF connectors. Coaxial connectors are designed to maintain a coaxial form across the connection and have the same impedance as the attached cable. Coaxial connectors can be terminated in the following ways: Plugging, Soldering, Crimping, Clamping, Pressing and Threading.


    7. Performance SpecificationsBack to Top

    Now that you understand the physical features of coaxial connectors, let's consider their performance. There are many factors that determine the performance of RF coaxial connectors, but the four main specifications are:

    Frequency range: Each coaxial connector series supports a specific frequency range. A connector's frequency rating is typically determined by the internal geometry of the coaxial structure with which it is used. Conductor sizes and the type and amount of insulation between them determine this spec. In general, higher frequency connectors tend to be smaller in diameter and have tighter tolerances.

    Impedance: Impedance can be thought of as the total resistance a system offers to the flow of RF waves. For maximum power transfer of RF energy, impedance should be matched throughout the entire coaxial structure. If the coaxial structure is not impedance matched, parts of the RF waves reflect back toward their source, decreasing energy transfer and flow efficiency. In addition, the reflections may distort the waves to the point where the information they carry cannot be accurately interpreted. Most RF application manufacturers design their products for either of the two industry-standard cable impedance ratings: 50 Ohm or 75 Ohm. 50 Ohm cable is commonly used for radio transmitters and receivers, laboratory equipment, and data communications. 75 Ohm cable is typically used in video applications, CATV networks, TV antenna wiring, and telecommunications.

    Voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR): While it's theoretically possible to achieve perfect impedance matching, it's not usually cost effective.  There will always be reflections. How much reflection an RF connector introduces is stated in its VSWR (Voltage Standing Wave Ratio) specification. VSWR expresses the reflected signal as a ratio to the pure signal; it measures the impedance matching of loads to the characteristic impedance of a transmission line. Impedance mismatches result in standing waves along the transmission line. An ideal VSWR would be 1.00, indicating that all RF energy passes through the connector. The VSWR should be as low as possible.

    Intermodulation distortion: intermodulation distortion (IMD) is the amplitude modulation of signals containing two or more different frequencies, caused by nonlinearities in a system. This expresses the signal distortion from factors caused by poor design and manufacturing, bad grounds, corrosion, low contact pressure, etc. These problems generate unwanted frequencies that distort the original signal, inhibit its ability to carry data without errors, and impede accurate demodulation. Some typical contributions to intermodulation distortion are: oxidized metal contact surfaces, current saturation, and oil or grease layers between contacts.


    8. Types of RF ConnectorsBack to Top

    There are many types of coaxial connectors. This learning module will discuss on the most common types, categorized by size.

    - 8.1 Miniature RF Connectors

    MOLEX  73100-010573100-0105 RF Coaxial Connector BNC Coaxial Right Angle Jack Solder 50 ohm Phosphor Bronze

    The BNC connector is one of the most common types of coaxial cable connectors. BNC connectors are used with miniature-to-subminiature coaxial cable in radio, television, and other radio-frequency electronic equipment, test instruments, and video signals. It features two bayonet lugs on the female connector. Mating is fully achieved with a quarter turn of the coupling nut. BNC Radio Frequency (RF) Connectors ensure proper operation and signal integrity throughout the entire broadcast-transmission line. They can transmit signals up to 12 GHz and exceed performance requirements of serial-data transmission for high-speed, high-definition TV (HDTV), HD video and broadcast applications.

    MOLEX  73216-271073216-2710 RF Coaxial Connector TNC Coaxial Right Angle Jack 50 ohm Phosphor Bronze

    The TNC connector is a threaded version of the BNC connector designed for demanding, high-vibration and harsh environments. It is commonly used in mobile communications, avionics and antenna ports for wireless base units. TNC miniature performs at a constant 50 Ohm impedance. The stability of the threaded coupling allows the connectors to perform up to 11 GHz with improved resistance to adverse environments. It has better performance than the BNC connector at microwave frequencies.

    - 8.2 Subminiature RF Connectors

    MOLEX  73298-003073298-0030 RF Coaxial Connector BMA Straight Plug Crimp 50 ohm RG55 RG142 RG223 RG400

    BMA connectors are an ideal solution for high-frequency performance rack and panel RF applications up to 22 GHz. BMA connectors are available in both fixed and float mount versions to allow for rack and panel mount applications where axial and radial float are needed. The BMA design has protected spring contacts that assure reliable, damage-free mating. They have blind mating capabilities up to 1.27mm axial and 0.5mm radial misalignment.

    Type F Connector

    The Type F connector is a coaxial RF connector commonly used for "over the air" terrestrial television, cable television and universally for satellite television and cable modems. In the 1970s, Type F connectors became commonplace on VHF television antenna connections in the US, as coaxial cables replaced twin-lead cables. They have a threaded coupling style to ensure the connector will not decouple in high vibration applications. They are designed for use from DC to 4 GHz.

    MOLEX  73403-626373403-6263 RF Coaxial Connector FAKRA II SMB Coaxial Straight Plug Crimp 50 ohm RG174 RG316 Phosphor Bronze

    FAKRA and FAKRA II SMB connectors are specifically designed for automotive telematic applications. Standard uses for FAKRA connectors are coaxial connections on devices with external antennas such applications include SDARS, Cellular, GPS Navigation, key-less entry and satellite radio. A 360° rotation inside the plastic shroud provides ease-of-routing and less stress on the cable. A secondary locking latch delivers easy cable routing between antennas and multi-media units. The connector is color coded and keyed shrouds prevent mismating and helps guide proper connection. It has a frequency range from DC to 4 GHz.

    SMP Jack SMP Plug

    The ever increasing need for higher density and lighter weight electronics within today's systems requires compact connections. SMPM RF Blind-Mate board-to-board and cable connections deliver the needed density in a high-performance connector. Providing superior frequency performance from DC to 65 GHz, the SMPM connector also compensates for the axial and radial misalignment issues inherent with board-to-board mating.

    SMP subminiature connectors offer excellent performance from DC to 40 GHz. PCB mount, cable mount and in-series adapters provide an interconnect solution for board-to-board and blind mate applications while maintaining package density. SMP connectors are also available in multi-port solutions. Interface styles include smooth, limited detent and full detent to cover a wide range of applications.

    MOLEX  73174-004073174-0040 RF Coaxial Connector DIN 41626 DIN 1.0/2.3 Right Angle Jack Through Hole Vertical 50 ohm

    DIN 1.0/2.3 connectors are compact RF/microwave connectors for applications where space limitation is a factor. They allow up to 1.00mm of axial engagement tolerance, providing excellent flexibility when mating orthogonal PCBs. They enable transferring multiple RF signals across mated boards in a single assembly. 50 and 75 Ohm designs ae available. Some versions of the 50 Ohm design are capable of operating to 10 GHz. DIN 1.0/2.3 connectors are also available in a Modular Backplane System that enables system designers to improve system routing of RF signals for board-to-board communications. They conform to CECC 22 230, DIN 47297 and DIN 41626.

    QMA Jack QMA Plug

    Developed as an alternative to the threaded SMA connector, the QMA connector is one of the most popular coaxial connectors in use today. Performance is comparable to a threaded SMA with the benefit of a faster installation and removal as well as higher density. This design can save handling time because it allows quick mating and demating without tools. Due to the smaller overall size, it can save the operating space and allows for high density arrangement. To make cable routing easier, it can rotate 360 degrees after installation. It is rated from DC to 18 GHz.

    SMA Jack SMA Plug

    SMA Connectors are high-performance subminiature connectors for microwave frequencies. The threaded coupling insures uniform contact of the outer conductors, which enables the SMA to minimize reflections and attenuation at higher frequencies while providing a high degree of mechanical strength and durability. SMA connectors are available in brass, beryllium copper and stainless steel materials. SMA Connectors are optimized for high performance, operating to 27 GHz.

    SMB Jack SMB Plug

    SMB connectors are a subminiature connector series designed for applications operating to 4 GHz and are available in 50 and 75 Ohm versions. This series includes a snap on interface, controlled by industry standard specifications and is easy to connect and disconnect. Mechanical stability provided by the SMB interface, and its relative small size allows uses in applications where space is limited.

    - 8.3 Microminiature RF Connectors

    MMCX Jack MMCX Plug

    Microminiature connectors are finding their way into an ever growing list of smaller, denser applications, such as switching equipment, cellular handsets, and mobile computers. Ideal for space-critical applications, MMCX connectors are compact and lightweight connectors that provide reliable electronic performance from DC to 6 GHz. Their mechanical stability is maintained via a snap-on interface that does not use slotting in the outer conductor. Typical applications include wireless/PCS devices, telecommunications, GPS receivers and consumer electronics. For medical MRI applications, non-magnetic versions are available.

    MCX Jack MCX Plug

    MCX subminiature snap-on connectors offer a stable and durable connection. Their subminiature design allows other electronic assemblies to be densely packaged on the PCB. MCX connectors are approximately 30% smaller than SMB connectors. They are available in both 50 and 75 Ohm versions and provide good electrical performance to 6 GHz. These connectors are used in telecommunications systems as well as wireless and GPS applications. For medical MRI applications, non-magnetic versions are available. Multi-port MCX connectors for coplanar board-to-board and cable-to-board applications.

    - 8.4 Ultra-microminiature RF connectors

    SSMCX Jack SSMCX Plug

    Super Snap-on MCX (SSMCX) or ultra microminiature connectors are designed for electronic applications with size and weight limitations while maintaining good RF characteristics. SSMCX connectors are approximately 35% smaller than MMCX connectors; they are available in 50 and 75 Ohm versions. The extremely small size makes SSMCX connectors are an ideal solution to create multi-port, high-density RF applications.They are  commonly used in board-mount applications, such as handheld devices and notebook PCs, where the jack is edge-mounted. They have a frequency range from DC to 6 GHz. A low-loss cable version is available to provide greater signal strength. It has a mechanical latch to ensure connectors are securely mated and to prevent accidental un-mating. Metal PCB board-lock posts provides proper PCB alignment, added strength, secure PCB retention during and after soldering.

    - 8.5 Medium RF Connectors

    MOLEX 73100-003373100-0033 RF Coaxial Connector N Coaxial Straight Jack Crimp 50 ohm RG58 RG141 RG303

    Type N connectors balance frequency and power by providing a low-loss interconnect up to 11 GHz for high-power RF applications. Type N connectors have a miniature classification; however, it is medium size in use. They accommodate a wide range of medium to miniature-sized RG coaxial cables in a rugged medium-sized design. Type N connectors can provide low-loss interconnects to 11 GHz, optimized precision versions are available up to 18 GHz. The screw-type coupling combined with the larger size, provides a robust design and proper fit for some larger coaxial cables. A durable threaded coupling ensures connector will not decouple in vibration intention applications. Applications include broadcast electronics, aerospace, telecommunication base stations and the passive/active components used in base stations.

    - 8.6 Large RF Connectors

    DIN 7/16
    DIN 7/16

    7/16 DIN connectors are designed for rugged, low-loss, high-power wireless infrastructure systems. They are designed for a wide range of cables, including corrugated styles. Silver or tri-metal (Copper, Tin and Zinc) plating is used for low Inter-modulation Distortion (IMD). The tri-metal plating is tarnish resistant and durable and provides abrasion resistance comparable to nickel with far better electrical performance. Tri-metal plating alloys are non-magnetic which is critical for low IMD. They are rated from DC to 7 GHz. They have an easy-Hex coupling nut to allow toolless application.

    - 8.7 Multi-Port (Ganged) RF Connectors

    Ganged Jack

    Ganged Plug

    As applications become increasingly smaller and functionality requirements continue to grow, there has become a need for greater density and convenience. Multi-port (Ganged) RF connectors permit mass mating of RF circuits. They mitigate the risk of I/O coax connection failure in high-vibration environments with rugged and compact MPRF connectors. Cable weight under vibration can compromise connections and cause system failure in small multi-port connectors when terminations twist and/or move within the housing. Designed with dual side latches, MPRF connectors ensure reliable I/O connection by preventing cables from moving or twisting within the ruggedized housing even in high-vibration environments.

    *Trademark. Molex® is a trademark of Molex Corporation.  Other logos, product and/or company names may be trademarks of their respective owners.


    Shop our wide range of power, signal and data connectors, accessories and adapters.

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    Test Your KnowledgeBack to Top

    Are you ready to demonstrate your RF Connectors knowledge? Then take a quick 20-question multiple choice quiz to see how much you've learned from this Essentials Connectors 3 module.

    To earn the Connectors 3 badge, read through the module to learn all about RF connectors, complete the quiz at the bottom, leave us some feedback in the comments section and then download the attached Connectors 3 PDF (below) for future reference.


    1) The TNC connector is a threaded version of the BNC RF connector. The threaded coupling provides what benefit?


    2) For maximum transfer of RF energy, impedance should be matched throughout the entire coaxial structure (source, line and load).


    3) What feature of a QMA RF connector enables easy cable routing?


    4) True or False: Radio waves are a form of energy in the modification of velocity-dependent electric and magnetic fields.


    5) The enOcean Pi features a radio transmitter that transmits radio messages at either 868 MHz, 315 MHz or 902 MHz. What EM band are these frequencies?


    6) You need to select an RF connector for a densely populated electronic module that's destined to be installed in an environmentally controlled environment. What category of RF connector is the best choice for this application?


    7) RF is an electromagnetic wave that travels at the speed of light in a vacuum. RF waves are described by their relationship between _________ and _________ .


    8) What is the most efficient method of transporting RF signals from one point to another point?


    9) True or False: The Voltage Standing Wave Ratio (VSWR) is a numerical measure that describes how well an antenna is impedance matched to the radio or transmission line.


    10) RF Connectors have which of the following coupling mechanisms?


    11) What type of RF connector has a self-aligning feature that compensates for a small misalignment when mating?


    12) What component of an SMA connector minimize reflections and attenuation at higher frequencies while providing a high degree of mechanical strength and durability?


    13) 7/16 DIN connectors are ideal for what type of application?


    14) True or False: Fakra RF connectors are designed for on-board automotive telematics.


    15) In a PCB transmission line, what is the function of the PCB substrate?


    16) What is the wavelength of an EM wave with a frequency of 3 MHz?


    17) True or False: Electromagnetic waves are the result of oscillation of electric and magnetic fields. These fields are in opposition to each other and to the direction of the wave.


    18) Why does coaxial cable prevent the radiation of RF waves outside the cable?


    19) True or False: A transmission line must be impedance matched to prevent magnetic interference.


    20) What type of connector mitigates the risk of mass I/O coaxial connection failure in high-vibration environments?

    Alas, you didn't quite meet the grade. You only got %. Have another look through the course, and try again.
    You nailed it, and scored %!  To earn the Connectors 3 badge, leave us some feedback in the comments section and then download the attached Connectors 3 PDF for future reference.  Other topics you want to learn? Send a suggestion.

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    learningess.pngWith Essentials: Connectors II going live, comments on this new programme of learning modules have been echoing loudly in the element14 halls.


    Thanks to your enthusiastic response to Connectors I. We've got big plans for Essentials, and naturally you're a significant part of them. We've been kicking a few ideas around for future Essentials learning modules with the Top Members, and now it's time to put them in front of you guys and get some feedback on topics before composing new modules.


    At the minute we see Essentials as our 'learning technologies' modules; and later this year we will be launching Masterclasses, our 'how to' technology implementation modules - more on these later.


    So make your voice heard and vote on your favourite option from the following subjects, then we will start planning all that delicious content. And don't worry if your top choice doesn't win; none of these potential topics are off the table. It's more about prioritisation .


    Tick the Essentials topic you'd like to learn about most - technologies OR product categories - and feel free to make as many other suggestions as you like in the comments section below too!


    We'll be deciding on the next Essentials subject in the next couple of weeks, so don't delay, vote today!

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    Connectors II

    Industrial Connectors

    Sponsored by

    1. Introduction 2. Objective 3. Review 4. Common Connectors 5. Industrial Connectors
    6. Ingress Protection Rating 7. Industrial Connectors Types Parts Used Test Your Knowledge

    Vote for the next Learning Module subject!

    1. Introduction

    While consumer and industrial-grade connectors have essentially identical functions, industrial connectors are utilized in applications that diverge considerably from those used in consumer electronics equipment.  What differentiates industrial connectors from PCB and common I/O connectors is the substantial amount of engineering that went into designing the integral environmental protection needed for proper connector operation in many harsh or hazardous industrial environments. If you are an electronics student, a hobbyist in the maker community, or if you have been a design engineer focused on consumer electronics products, this learning module will expand your knowledge of the most common types of industrial connectors used in a wide range of applications spanning, IoT, M2M communications, motor control, parameter monitoring, energy production, and more.


    2. Objective

    The objective of this learning module is to provide you with the essentials of industrial connectors. You will first review the purpose and functions of common types of home and commercial connectors in order to appreciate the differences between these connectors and industrial connectors. In the later sections, you will gain a thorough understanding of the types, features, and applications of industrial connectors.

    Upon completion of this learning module, you will be able to:

    Discuss the four types of home and commercial power connectors.

    Identify the difference between an IEC and a NEMA connector.

    Understand the main differences between a consumer and an industrial connector.

    Determine the level of ingress protection of an industrial connector based upon the EN/IEC 60529 IP rating system.

    Discuss the different types of industrial connectors and their applications.


    3. ReviewBack to Top

    Before discussing the types of industrial connectors, let's begin this learning module with a brief review of connector basics, starting with the definition of a connector. A connector was defined in the element14 Connectors Essentials One learning module in the following way:

    'A connector is a device that is capable of connecting two circuit points, signals, or sub-systems with electrical integrity, mechanical durability, environmental protection and safety.'

    Electrical Integrity - connectors mate two points of a circuit with a very low contact resistance and provide protection from electromagnetic interference (EMI) and/or electrostatic discharge (ESD).

    Mechanical Durability - a connector can withstand vibrations or environmental abuse without causing a failure in electrical integrity.

    Environmental Protection - a connector's design meets the IP (Ingress Protection) ratings defined in the international standard EN/IEC 60529 for preventing the ingress of water, dust, debris, and other contaminants that would otherwise interfere with the electrical integrity of the connection.

    Safety - a connector is designed with features that eliminate personal hazards, or the risk of fire, shock or electrocution.

    While this extended definition was originally written for a discussion on PCB-level, I/O peripheral and consumer product connectors, it also applies to the broad category of industrial connectors. But the key difference between consumer and industrial connectors is the degree by which each of these features is emphasized in the design of the connector.

    To fully appreciate the engineering that went into the design of industrial conductors, it is worthwhile to digress a moment and discuss briefly some common types of home and commercial connectors. Understanding the differences between home/commercial and industrial connectors is a good way to become familiar with the unique characteristics of industrial connectors.


    4. Common Types of Home and Commercial ConnectorsBack to Top

    Power connectors are commonly used on extension cords and AC/DC adapters to power computers, home appliances and any number of devices we use in our daily lives. But a connector used to connect power to a typical kitchen appliance (e.g. toaster, coffee pot or blender) is quite different than one that would be used to power a 10 HP A.C. induction motor supplied by a 3-phase Wye (208/120V) power distribution system for an HVAC application. In general, power connectors used in homes or commercial buildings are grouped into the following types based upon their contact configurations:

    Straight Blade


    Pin & Sleeve


    Straight Blade: The straight-blade type is used to supply light-duty, general-purpose, electrical devices. The blades are flat, conductive and permanent contacts that mate with corresponding blade-sockets in the receptacle/inlet.

    Locking: The locking type is used to supply moderate-to-heavy duty, commercial equipment that do not require a sealed connector. This type features a curved ground pin and an integral locking mechanism. An operator needs to insert-and-twist the connector/plug in the receptacle/inlet to supply power to the load and lock the plug into place.  This locking feature provides increased protection against accidental disconnection. Connection security is an important feature because if a connector were removed from its receptacle while it was connected to a load, an arc flash event is likely to occur, resulting in a possibly deadly personnel safety hazard.

    Pin-and-Sleeve: The pin-and-sleeve type is a heavy duty power connector that's constructed with a large contact pin that mates with a surrounding contact sleeve when connected. These connectors are employed where higher voltages and currents are utilized.

    Poly-Phase: The poly-phase type is a heavy-duty commercial power connector that connects a 3-phase power distribution system to a 3-phase load such as a motor or a heater.

    - 4.1 IEC Power Connectors

    In order to ensure that a power connector will mate to equipment manufactured in different parts of the world, the design of connectors has been “harmonized” via manufacturing standards that are developed by organizations such as the International Electrotechnical Commission (

    The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is a non-profit, non-governmental, international standards organization that publishes standards for electrical, electronic and other technologies. The relevant IEC standard for the connectors discussed in this learning module is the IEC 60320: Appliance Couplers for Household and Similar General Purposes. The IEC 60320 sets the guidelines for two-pole appliance couplers with and without an earth ground pin for powering household and similar devices to a mains supply that does not exceed 250 VAC /16A. There are 13 pairs of IEC connector types. Here are a few examples:


    IEC C5/C6 connectors are a very common type of personal/home power connector. They are rated for 250V/2.5A and include an earth (safety) ground wire. They are commonly called a clover leaf or a Mickey Mouse (after the Disney cartoon character) connector due to their cross-sectional shape. C5/C6 connectors are commonly used on laptop power supplies.
    While the IEC C5/C6 connector is used for personal or home applications, the IEC 19/20 connector is used for commercial purposes such as datacenter enterprise-class servers or rack-mounted power distribution units (PDUs). It is rated for 250V/16A. It has a hot line (L), neutral (N) and earth safety ground (G) pins. As you can see from the image, its contacts are arranged in a unique configuration to ensure the plug/connector can only be mated to the proper receptacle/socket.

    - 4.2 NEMA Power Connectors

    Another common home and commerical connector is the NEMA connector. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association ( is the U.S. association of electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers that develops NEMA standards for the manufacturing of home or commercial power connectors. NEMA connectors are primarily used in North America; however, they can be used in other countries. They have a broader range of voltage and current ratings than IEC connectors, 125 to 600 V and 15 to 60 A, respectively.

    The relevant NEMA standard for the connectors discussed in this learning module is ANSI C119.6-2011: The American National Standard for Electric Connectors-Non-Sealed, Multiport Connector Systems Rated 600 V or Less for Aluminum and Copper Conductors. The standard covers non-sealed, multiport distribution connectors rated 600 V or less used to make electrical connections between aluminum-to-aluminum, aluminum-to-copper or copper-to-copper conductors for above-grade electric utility applications. There are 13 main categories of NEMA connectors (i.e., NEMA 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 14, 15, 18, 21, 22, 23), covering both locking and non-locking types. Here are a few examples:


    NEMA 5-15 connectors are one of the most common household power connectors employed in the U.S. They are rated at 125V/15A. They are a straight-blade type and include an earth (safety) ground pin. They are used to power TV sets, radios, computers and all types of small home appliances such as a blenders, toasters or coffee pots.
    In situations where there is a need for improved connection security – so the connector cannot be pulled out of its outlet in an energized state – the NEMA L5-15 is utilized instead of the NEMA 5-15. This variant of the NEMA 5-15 has a curved ground contact pin that will lock the plug/connector into the receptacle/socket after it is inserted and twisted. But it is worthwhile to note that since this connector is a non-sealed type, the connector should not be used in wet, harsh or similar environments.
    One of the advantages of NEMA connectors is the wide variety of power distribution systems for which it can provide a separable power connection. For example, a NEMA L14-30 connector is capable of connecting loads to two-pole, four-wire, 240/120 VAC power systems up to 30A. This type of multi-voltage connector simplifies installation by reducing the need and cost of hard-wiring multiple connections, while the locking feature aids in connection security.


    5. Introduction to Industrial ConnectorsBack to Top

    The previous section was a short overview of common home and commercial connectors. Both IEC and NEMA connectors have a wide range of sizes in order to provide an effective connection solution for different power systems and voltage/current ranges. Moreover, they are employed in home and office applications around the world, which is a testament to their quality, reliability, and safety. But are they a good fit for the industrial environment? To answer the question, let's compare a NEMA and an industrial connector with similar ratings.


    Non-Sealed Connectors

    NEMA L16-30: 480V/30A, Non-Sealed (IP20)

    Splashproof Industrial Connectors

    Amphenol® Industrial Amphe-309 Series: 380-450V / 32A Splashproof (IP44)


    Both of these connectors have similar ratings and would be used in similar applications such as connecting 3-phase loads to a 3-phase, 4-wire (L-L-L-G) power distribution system. But they are different in several respects, such as:

    Connector Pin Exposure: The NEMA L16-30 has exposed contact pins while the Amphe-309 industrial connector's pins are shrouded by a casing to provide a greater amount of personnel hazard protection.

    Color Coding: The Amphe-309 industrial connector's casing is color coded according to voltage and amperage ratings. In industrial situations where there are a lot of connectors mounted to a junction box (See image on left), the color coding of connectors is a decided advantage as far as operational readiness and maintenance convenience goes.

    Ingress Protection: When the NEMA L16-30 plug is mated to its receptacle it provides a highly conductive and secure electrical connection. Despite these benefits, it has only an IP20 rating, which indicates it is non-sealed and therefore not recommended for use in wet/washdown industrial environments. Conversely, the Amphe-309 Series industrial connector has an IP44 rating, indicating that it is sealed to the point of making it splashproof.

    Keep these three differences in features in mind as we discuss the different types of industrial connectors in the subsequent sections of this learning module.

    6. Ingress Protection Rating SystemBack to Top

    In the last section, we touched on the topic of ingress protection. Let's take a closer look at this concept in this section. Environmental protection is a key feature of industrial connectors. As we learned in the last section, a non-sealed connector is not recommended for use in wet industrial environments. But how can we tell if a specific connector has the right level of environmental protection for a particular industrial environment?

    This is done with an ingress protection (IP) rating system.

    The EN/IEC 60529 standard has delineated an IP rating system that indicates the level of protection provided by an enclosure. While the standard explicitly defines these as IP codes for electrical enclosures, connector manufacturers also use this standard to identify the level of ingress protection for their products.  The ingress protection rating system consists of “IP” plus a two digit code. The rating system is described in the following table:


    IP First number - Protection against ingress of objects Second number - Protection against liquids
    0 – No special protection 0 – No protection
    1 – Protected against solid objects over 50 mm, e.g. accidental touch by person's hands 1 – Protection against vertically falling drops of water e.g. condensation
    2 – Protected against solid objects over 12 mm, e.g. persons fingers 2 – Protection against direct sprays of water up to 15° from the vertical
    3 – Protected against solid objects over 2.5 mm (tools and wires) 3 – Protected against direct sprays of water up to 60° from the vertical
    4 – Protected against solid objects over 1 mm (tools, wires, and small wires) 4 – Protection against water sprayed from all directions - limited ingress permitted
    5 – Protected against dust limited ingress (no harmful deposit) 5 – Protected against low pressure jets of water from all directions - limited ingress
    6 – Totally dust tight 6 – Protected against temporary flooding of water, e.g. for use on ship decks - limited ingress permitted
    N/A 7 – Protected against the effect of immersion between 15 cm and 1 m
    N/A 8 – Protects against long periods of immersion under pressure
    N/A 9k – Protected against close-range high pressure, high temperature spray downs.


    Example:What does IP67 mean?

    Answer:A connector that is totally dust tight (6 – first number) and water resistant (7- second number - protected against the effect of immersion between 15 cm to 1m).

    7. Types of Industrial ConnectorsBack to Top

    Industrial power connectors are designed to safely and reliably provide power to equipment in harsh, high temperature, and other extreme environments such as wastewater treatment plants, oil production facilities (offshore rigs), mining operations, food/pharmaceutical processing plants and others.  In general, industrial connectors are grouped in the following categories:

    Harsh Environment

    High Vibration

    Explosion Proof




    - 7.1 Harsh Environments


    Certain types of industrial connectors are specifically built for use in harsh environments. So, let's examine what is meant by the term "harsh environment" in this context. Generally speaking, a harsh environment is one that places physical stresses on a piece of equipment. These stresses can include very high or low temperatures, high pressures, high vibrations, or explosion hazards. Harsh environment connectors are designed for durability and are environmentally sealed to offer a high degree of ingress protection. The range of applications for harsh environment connectors is rather wide, but they typically include Aerospace, Geophysical, Heavy Equipment, Rail & Mass Transit, Process Control, Factory Automation, Construction, and Agriculture.

    Amphenol® Industrial Star-Line™ Power/Signal Connector

    Amphenol® Industrial Star-Line™ Series connectors are a good example of a harsh environment connector. They are heavy duty, environmentally sealed connectors that are rated for a temperature range from -67°F to +225°F, a voltage range up to 1,000 VAC/DC, and come with an IP68 rating. They are constructed with machined aluminum and have a hard coat plating that's corrosion resistant for up to 300 days of salt spray. These connectors are commonly used in petrochemical, geophysical, complex ground support cable networks, process control systems and instrumentation systems.

    Amphenol® Industrial AT Series Thermoplastic Circular Connectors

    Industrial environments, such as agriculture, construction or trucking, are subject to the ingress of moisture, dust, debris and other contaminants that can impact the electrical integrity of a connection. In these applications, an environmentally sealed connector is a must. The Amphenol® Industrial AT Series Thermoplastic Circular Connectors is an example of an industrial vehicle diagnostic system connector that's designed for harsh environments. The round receptacles include strain relief for the wires coming out of the back of each unit and a wave spring for higher vibration applications. It has a positive reverse bayonet retention system for quick mating. It meets the requirements of SAE J1939, the standard for communication and diagnostics among industrial vehicle components.

    Amphenol® Industrial ACA-B Series, MIL-DTL-5015 Series Equivalent

    For heavy duty power and signal applications in factory automation, robotics and process control equipment  Amphenol® Industrial ACA-B Series connectors provide an environmentally sealed, quick-connect, positive-mating, customizable, bayonet-style connector. The shell is made from aluminum alloy with zinc alloy plating. Its contacts are machined from copper alloy or brass and can be plated with gold or silver. It has an IP67 rating. The insulators are made of high quality polychloroprene material and can withstand temperatures from -55°C to +125°C. Similar in design to a MIL-DTL-5015 connector, the ACA-B series has proven itself valuable in the military ground vehicle and alternative energy markets as well.

    Amphenol® Industrial Max-M12 Series, Datalink Connectors

    In the past, high speed data transmission lines have been installed into industrial applications with little regard to high vibration, high temperature or harsh environments. But as more heavy equipment, rail transit, and process control systems utilize high speed datalinks, the need for a ruggedized connection system has increased. The Amphenol® Industrial Max-M12 Series data communication connector is built to withstand harsh environments and electrical noise. Based on IEC 61076-2-101 and SAE J 2839 standards, the Max-M12 Series can withstand connector-to-cable retention forces of 444 newtons (N) and contact retention forces of 110 N (tested at 100 mating cycles minimum). All versions of this high speed connector are IP67 or above, making them dust and waterproof, and resistant to high pressure and high temperature washdowns. It's rated for 60-250 VAC/DC, depending on the model, and 4A.

    - 7.2 High Vibration Connectors


    Most heavy and industrial equipment – diesel engines, power generators, air compressors, and excavators – produce vibrations. Destructive torsional and harmonic vibrations can impact the reliability of a connector. But even normal vibrations can cause fretting corrosion in a connector – mechanical wear of electrical contact surfaces due to vibrations. In either case, the recommended solution is to employ high vibration industrial connectors that are designed to perform reliably in this type of industrial environment.

    Amphenol® Industrial AHVB Series, High Vibration Connector Kit

    To maintain the electrical connection in a high vibration environment, Amphenol® Industrial AHVB Series connectors employ high vibration brush terminals designed to withstand harsh environments with zero fretting. By intermeshing two small wire bundles together, a superior electrical connection is made with 14 to 70 points of contact per mated pair. The brush-like terminal technology is comprised of multiple strands of high tensile strength wire bundled together on each side of the contact and hooded for protection (see below).

    Amphenol's high vibration brush (AHVB) terminal is designed to withstand vibrations of at least 53.8 G(rms) at 8 hours per axis and 2,000 Hz. It is ideal for on-engine applications and fixed positions for all signal applications, including in-lines, sensors, fuel systems, and control modules where high vibration fret resistance and environmental performance is critical to function.

    Amphenol® Industrial Tru-Loc Series Connector

    Another type of high vibration connector is the Amphenol® Industrial Tru-Loc Series connector. It's designed for placement under valve covers on diesel engines, in high vibration sensors or on other devices such as fuel injectors, splitters, or pass-through connections. It features a molded thermoplastic main plug body with secondary latch and silicone rubber wire seals to support an IP67 rating. It has a fluoroelastomer main joint seal that's resistant to many fluids, including diesel fuel. They are rated for high vibrations at 32G(rms). It includes 2-way, 4-way, and 6-way inline plugs and receptacles. It has an operating temperature range of -40°C to +125°C or +150°C, depending on the model purchased.

    - 7.3 Explosion Proof Connectors


    Some industrial environments are explosion hazards due to the presence of flammable gases, dusts, mists or vapors in their atmospheres. Petrochemical refineries, land and offshore drilling systems are environments that can have flammable atmospheres. But flour & feed mills, grain silos & elevators, and coal & coke plants are dust explosion hazards. To mitigate the risks associated with these hazardous environments, explosion proof connectors have been designed to ensure that the device itself does not ignite an explosive chain reaction. In the context of industrial environments, explosion-proof connectors are manufactured with greater precision so that the arcing or sparks that occur inside the device do not ignite flammable gases, vapors or mists as well as combustible dusts that are present in the surrounding atmosphere.

    Amphenol® Industrial Amphe-EX Series, Hazardous Location Connectors

    Amphenol® Industrial AMPHE-EX Connectors are designed to provide signal, power, RF, fiber optic or Ethernet connections in potentially explosive environments and such as ATEX and IECex Zone 1 rated areas. Featuring a smaller interface than most heavy duty hazardous rated connectors, AMPHE-EX connectors are IP68 rated and made from high tensile strength aluminum and plated with a hard anodic coating as per Mil-A-8625 so they can withstand the most extreme environments. Bar stock components are precision machined with points of impact designed for extra strength. Double-lead acme threads allow for a self-cleaning mating action. AMPHE-EX connectors offer a complete array of insert patterns, ranging from 2-No.20 contacts through 79-No. 22D contacts as well as ATEX- and IECex-approved USB and RJ45 connections.

    - 7.4 Multipin Connectors


    Factory automation and industrial control systems utilize multipin connectors as part of the interconnection system for the programmable logic controllers (PLCs), sensors, gateways, AC/DC drives, and other equipment that control, monitor, or actuate a manufacturing process. Industrial environments that are prone to corrosion or moisture require industrial-grade, multipin connectors with sealing to provide a higher level of protection than required for general duty, non-environmental, benign environments.

    Amphenol® Industrial P-Lok® Series

    Amphenol® Industrial P-Lok® Series are environmentally sealed, multipin connectors that provide power, signal or hybrid electrical connections for a wide variety of industrial applications, including motion control and vision systems, industrial controls and communications. For complete environmental sealing, they feature an o-ring seal at the rear of the coupling ring and a corresponding o-ring seal on the receptacle to seal the front of the coupling ring. A tapered compression grommet creates a complete seal around the cable jacket.

    Featuring an IP67 rating, P-Lok connectors are manufactured from machined aluminum and finished in black hard coat, providing a strong industrial-grade connector. It has a rapid mating/coupling system that creates a positive locking action of the plug and receptacle through the use of a spring loaded coupling ring on the plug and stainless steel ball bearings on the receptacle. This system is similar to the coupling system that is employed on pneumatic hose connections, but with an added audible and tactile confirmation of a positive locking connection. P-Lok connectors eliminate all the issues that are inherent with Mil-C-5015 threaded connectors such as cross threading, improper mating and loose connections. It has service ratings from 250 VDC to 1750 VDC and up to 500 amps.

    Amphenol® Industrial Amphe-Lite™ Series, Circular Connector, MIL-DTL-38999 Series III Equivalent

    The Amphenol® Industrial  Amphe-Lite™ Series connectors are designed for communications equipment  manufacturers  with  signal,  power,  RF  or  fiber  optic  interconnect requirements in harsh environments such as communication towers, outdoor and roof-top  applications.  This 38999 Series III composite connector series is ideal for communications equipment, manufacturing process control and medical equipment. They offer very high performance in harsh environments, while being cost effective enough for general duty and non-environmental applications.

    A positive shoulder to shoulder coupling design, grounding fingers, and electroless nickel plating provide superior EMI shielding capability (65 dB minimum at 10 GHz). Amphe-Lite connectors can be used with many contact types: fiber optics, shielded coaxial, twinax ground plane versions, and power contacts. A non-magnetic Amphe-Lite with an unplated, non-conductive shell is also available.

    - 7.5 Vehicular Connectors


    Renewable energy is an important area of power and environmental engineering today. As a result of the needs for cleaner and more-efficient energy sources, electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids (HEVs) have gained market traction, resulting in a projected global growth from 2.6 million in 2015 to over 6 million by 2024. In response, this projected growth has spawned the development of new vehicular, charging plugs that barely existed a decade ago.

    Amphenol® Industrial Universal Power Connector for Hybrid Electric Vehicles

    The Amphenol® Industrial Universal Power Connector (UPC) is a plastic, power connector specifically designed for use as an interconnect for the EV and Hybrid markets. The 2-pole and 3-pole connectors incorporate patented RADSOK® technology for higher amperage, lower T-rise & voltage drop, and less contact resistance.  RADSOK's twisted grid configuration allows for up to 50% more current to pass through the same size pin, while also providing increased reliability, cycle durability (500 mating cycles minimum), and lower mating forces. It has a touch proof rating as per UL2251 and an IP 67 / IP69k rating when mated. The plastic shell structure is lightweight with a small footprint and a rated continuous power up to 400 A. It has an EMI rating of 60dB/100M and meets the requirements for UL 94V-0, the plastics flammability standard released by Underwriters Laboratories.

    - 7.6 Solar Connectors


    Solar energy is one of the most common types of renewable energy today. Consider this: Nearly 784,000 U.S. homes and businesses have solar systems. There are now over 22,700 MW of cumulative solar electric capacity operating in the U.S., enough to power more than 4.6 million average American homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association® (  Solar energy has found a commercial market as well with utility-scale solar power facilities in operation for over two decades. In response to the growth in solar power, a new range of power connectors have been developed for the solar industry.

    Amphenol® Industrial Solar Plug and Socket Connector

    The Amphenol® Industrial Solar Technologies H4 PV is a solar connector that can be used by solar panel manufacturers, installers and OEMs for both thin film and crystalline silicon technologies. It is fully intermatable with the industry standard connector and meets the US National Electrical Code (NEC) 2008/2011 standard “as is” with no additional locking-clip required.  It is rated for 1500V (IEC/TUV) or 1000V (UL) and a maximum current between 32 to 65A, depending on the size. It is IP68 rated with a UL94-V0 flammability rating. It can operate from -40°C to +85°C.

    *Trademark. Amphenol® Industrial is a trademark of Amphenol Corporation.  Other logos, product and/or company names may be trademarks of their respective owners.


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    Test Your KnowledgeBack to Top

    Are you ready to demonstrate your Connectors knowledge? Then take a quick 15-question multiple choice quiz to see how much you've learned from this Essentials Connectors 2 module.

    You'll see your score at the end of the quiz. If you score 100%, you're on your way to earning your Connectors Skills 2 badge, and 125 points. To fulfill all the requirements for earning this skills badge, you will also need to post a feedback comment on this Essentials Connectors 2 page to let us know what you thoughts on the module, and vote in our poll to help decide what our next Essentials learning module topic should be.


    1) A connector has which of the FOLLOWING characteristics?


    2) Which of the following is NOT a type of home or commercial building power connector?


    3) An IEC C5/C6 coupler is also called a ___________ connector.


    4) NEMA connectors have a broader range of voltage and current ratings than IEC connectors. TRUE or FALSE?


    5) What is fretting?


    6) What does IP68 mean?


    7) Which of the following are considered harsh environments?


    8) Would a connector that has an IP20 rating be appropriate for use on a production line's conveyor motor in a wet or washdown environment such as a beverage processing plant?


    9) If you were asked to recommend an industrial connector for a 100HP oilfield centrifugal pump used for mud solids control, what would be your first recommendation?


    10) An explosion-proof connector is designed to withstand an explosive ignition in the surrounding atmosphere caused by flammable gases, mists or vapors?


    11) What are inherent problems of threaded connectors?


    12) The ANSI C119.6-2011 standard sets the requirements for the manufacturing of both IEC and NEMA connectors. TRUE or FALSE?


    13) What type of industrial connectors are rated for ATEX and IECex areas?


    14) What's the advantage of having a connector with a brush terminal consisting of multiple strands of high tensile strength wire bundled together on each side of the contact?


    15) What type of connector is color-coded, according to the voltage range and frequency?

    Alas, you didn't quite meet the grade. You only got %. Have another look through the course, and try again.
    You nailed it, and scored %! Complete the quiz, leave your feedback in the comments, and vote in our Future of Essentials poll to earn the Connector Skills II badge, and bag 125 points!