Beyond “Off the Shelf”: How to Choose the Right Connector for Your Custom Engineering Application

Selecting an appropriate connector for the custom application can come with many headaches. This article is intended to introduce design and mechanical engineers to custom solutions in the interconnect field. From circular, rectangular, PCB, RF and many more to all the various specifications—mil-spec, BACC, EN3645, etc. So, finding a perfect fit can be challenging. In order to help our customers choose a perfect connector fit, we provide a few useful tips on the various types of custom-engineered interconnect products.

There are countless of combinations when it comes to choosing a perfect connector fit for one’s engineering project A connector is a base component of any electronic product since it connects the entire electronic system together. It plays an important part in the successful design of an embedded system. Here are some custom connector solutions that might solve an engineer’s headaches.

  1. Connectors with Integrated Backshells
    For connector applications where weight reduction and increased shell-to-shell conductivity are paramount, turn to a line of connectors with integrated cable management features. Cable clamps, banding porches, shrink boot adaptors, and other widely used backshell configurations are integrated directly into the connector in lieu of accessory threads and user-installed accessories. Common styles are machined from a single piece of aluminum or stainless steel, and plated in accordance with Mil-Spec requirements. The result is a connector with exceptional electrical conductivity, a low-profile rear end, and fewer components—and often at a lower total system cost compared to a traditional connector and backshell. Below is a figure demonstrating a box mount with integrated backshell.
  2. Cylindrical Connectors with PC Tail Contacts
    For applications where size, weight, and electrical performance are of paramount importance, connectors designed to mount directly to PC boards offer clear advantages over traditional “crimp and poke” contact terminations. Air Electro combines expertise in mil-spec I/O connectors and decades of experience designing and building custom PC tail contacts to provide turnkey PC tail connector solutions.PC tail connectors are most often based around common mil-spec connectors—including D38999, M28840, M83723, and M24308—and are intermateable with off-the-shelf plug connectors. However, they differ in their ability to mount directly onto a rigid, semi-rigid, or flexible PC board by means of special PC tail contacts. Contacts are offered in a variety of diameters, lengths, materials, and plating configurations to ensure a perfect fit with board-level hardware. Connector bodies are available in configurations optimized for use on electronics boxes. Styles include low profile box mount and jam nut receptacles, integrated PC board standoff feet, and traditional accessory threads—all of which are available with aluminum, stainless steel, and composite bodies.
  3. Double Flange Connectors
    Double flange D38999 connectors enable users to securely install wall mount or jam nut connectors directly onto printed circuit boards without the use of flimsy standoffs or aftermarket adapters. Air Electro’s double flange connectors meet all applicable requirements of D38999 to ensure intermateability with qualified Mil-Spec plugs, and feature a rugged one-piece machined shell that incorporates PCB standoff feet and mounting hardware. Connectors can vary between standard and customized configurations, in a full range of Mil-Spec approved plating finishes, and can be supplied with a wide selection of PC tail contacts already installed.
  4. Filtered Connectors
    Filtered mil—spec circular and rectangular connectors—including D38999, M24308 D-subminiature, M83723, and others—designed to protect sensitive electrical equipment from unwanted electromagnetic interference (EMI), radio-frequency interference (RFI), and transient voltage spikes. Filtering can be accomplished by integrating capacitors, diodes, ceramic planar arrays—or any combination thereof—into a connector’s contacts to achieve the desired attenuation levels. Planar arrays are most commonly used, and provide a lightweight, low profile, and effective means of removing unwanted high-frequency noise from an electrical system. Diodes allow a connector to shunt spikes in voltage to the ground in the event of a surge, such as a lightning strike. Common filtering types include C, L-C, C-L, and Pi, selected based on the capacitance value desired. All types can be packaged inside inline, piggy-back, dual flange, or custom-designed shell configurations to meet the space requirements of every application.In addition to filtered connectors, Air Electro can provide complete testing and burn-in services to ensure that parts perform as intended, as well as an expansive line of contacts, backshells, and accessories to satisfy all interconnect requirements.
  5. Sealed Connectors
    Sealed connectors are ideal for mission-critical applications that call for lightweight, highly environmental-resistant I/O connections. Epoxy-sealed connectors offer outstanding moisture and gas ingress protection and are an excellent alternative to glass-to-metal sealed hermetic, whose weight, expense, and long lead times often make them unsuitable for certain applications.There is a broad range of standard connector families used in these types of application—including D38999, M24308, M26500, M83723, and others—that can be tailored to each application’s temperature, sealing, and electrical requirements. Available shell options typically include integrated PC board standoffs, low profile, standard accessory mounts, and integrated backshells. Connectors can be supplied pre-wired (pigtails) or with PC tails, and are available with standard M39029 type signal contacts as well as high frequency-matched impedance coax, twinax, and quadrax contacts.

Service “beyond the call of duty” has become a hallmark of AEI making us a leader in our field. Air Electro is ISO 9001:2008 & AS9100 REV.C certified, signifying our commitment to consistently providing quality products, customer service, and technical support.

We are proud of our commitment to providing quality customer service and technical support, as well as on-site quality control and inspection capabilities.

Air Electro—let our experience work for you.

Leave a Reply


  1. Avatar

    Excellent and decent post. I found this much informative.
    I’m impressed by the details that you have on this website. Thank you for this post

  2. Avatar

    Hey There. This is a really well written article.
    I will be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your
    useful information. Thanks for the post. I’ll definitely return. I would like to suggest an electronic industry which is design and development of Electronic Products, specialisation in embedded systems / microcontrollers. Major share being Automatic Test Equipments / Systems.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons