A sensor provides a measurement of the degree of seating of an electrical connector. This sensor provides a number of discrete distances that a plug is inserted into a socket or receptacle. The number of measurements is equal to the number of pins available in the connector for sensing.
On at least two occasions, the Shuttle Program has suffered serious time delays and incurred excessive costs simply because a plug was not seated well within a receptacle. Two methods were designed to address this problem: (1)
the resistive pin technique and (2) the discrete length pins technique. In the resistive pin approach, a standard pin in a male connector is replaced with a pin that has a uniform resistivity along its length. This provides a variable resistance on that pin that is dependent on how far the pin is inserted into a socket. This is essentially a linear potentiometer.
The discrete approach uses a pin (or a few pins) in the connector as a displacement indicator by truncating the pin length so it sits shorter in the connector than the other pins. A loss of signal on
this pin would indicate a discrete amount of displacement of the connector. This approach would only give discrete values of connector displacement, and at least one pin would be needed for each displacement value that would be of interest.
This work was done by Ellen Arens, Janine Captain, and Robert Youngquist of Kennedy Space Center. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Physical Sciences category. KSC-13210/559