Se t. 22, 19% J. T.. GREGORY MULTIPLE CONNECTOR 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed Aug. 23 1968 VEN'TOR.
5 Y v 2 GZ/W T 2 M W/ mm Sept. 22, 1970 J. T. GREGORY 3,530,424
MULTIPLE counmcwon Filed Aug. 23 1968 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 A 7' TOR/V5 YS United States Patent 3,530,424 MULTIPLE CONNECTOR James T. Gregory, Garden City, Mich., assignor to Essex International, Inc., Fort Wayne, Ind., a corporation of Michigan Filed Aug. 23, 1968, Ser. No. 754,771 Int. Cl. Hillr 13/54 U.S. Cl. 339-91 8 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A multiple connector adapted to be mounted on a curvilinear surface includes first and second housings having exterior faces of a shape to conform to the surface. The first of the housing carries a socket of curvilinear cross section into which one or more of the second housings which are also of curvilinear cross section are inserted, each of the housings including a plurality of passages for carrying electrical terminals therein. The housings include polarizing means for preventing disoriented insertion of the second housings in the socket and the housings include latching means for maintaining the housings in their inserted relationship.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a new and improved multiple connector and, more particularly, to a multiple connector for a plurality of electrical terminals which is adapted to be mounted on a non-planar curvilinear surface.
In modern vehicles, and especially automobiles, the number of accessories which are designed to be controlled by the driver in and adjacent to the steering wheel of the vehicle has substantially increased. For example, such numerous accessories may include turn signals, horn, cornering lights, speed control devices and emergency flashers among others, which are designed to be controlled by appropriate control levers and the like which are positioned on the steering column adjacent the steering wheel of the vehicle. Since such accessory controls are mounted on or adjacent to the steering column, it is desirable to provide a terminal connector block or blocks closely adjacent the controls to enable easy access to the terminal blocks for repairing and assembling the accessories and their electrical circuits. Due to the multiplicity of circuits involved, such connector blocks are generally cumbersome and large and thus must be located a substantial distance from the steering column either beneath the dash panel or in the engine compartment of the vehicle. Such mounting requirements are particularly necessitated since the available steering column space is at a premium and if the relatively large connector block is mounted within the visibility of the driver and/ or passenger visibility of the dashboard instruments would likely be impaired and an unpleasant appearance would result.
The multiple connector of my invention obviates the aforementioned disadvantages. The connector of my invention may be mounted within the steering column out of the view of the driver or passengers and closely adjacent the various accessories and their controls and will not impair the visibility of the driver. Moreover, a single connector block assembly may be provided to handle the multiple accessory circuits present in the modern day automobile and yet be extremely compact. The connector constructed in accordance with the principles of my invention is also rugged in use and capable of rapid and inexpensive manufacture and may be readily assembled by relatively inexperienced personnel. Also the connector of my invention may be readily employed even in the absence of one or more of the accessories thus allowing standardization.
Patented Sept. 22, 1970 These and other objects, features and advantages of my invention will become apparent upon consideration of the following detailed description.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS In the course of the description, reference will frequently be made to the drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is an exploded view of a preferred embodiment of connector constructed in accordance with the principles of my invention;
FIG. 2 is an end view of one of the connector housing blocks taken substantially along line 22 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is an end view of four additional connector housing blocks taken substantially along line 3-3 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary cross sectioned elevation view of a portion of a housing block taken substantially along line 44 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 5 is a cross sectioned elevation view of another of the housing blocks taken substantially along line 5-5 of FIG. 3;
FIG. 6 is a fragmentary side elevation view of one of the housing blocks as viewed substantially along arrow 6 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 7 is a side elevation view of another of the housing blocks as viewed substantially along arrow 7 of FIG. 3; and
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary cross sectioned elevation view of the housing blocks of FIGS. 4 and 5 in their assembled form.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring to FIG. 1, a preferred embodiment of the connector of my invention is shown and includes a plurality of curved housing blocks 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14. The blocks are moulded of a suitable polymeric material. Housing block 10 is generally arcuate in shape and includes a pair of exterior stepped faces 16 and 18 and a pair of curved faces 20 and 22. Curved face 20 has a curvature which substantially conforms to the curvature of the steering column (not shown) such that the housing 10 may be directly mounted against the curvilinear surface of the cylindrical steering column.
Housing block 10 carries at one end an extended potion 24 which forms a socket, generally 26. The socket is divided into individual arcuately shaped receptacles 28, 29, 30 and 31 by a plurality of partitioning walls 33, 34 and 35. Referring particularly to FIG. 2, a plurality of parallel passages 37 through 50 extend from the base 52 of each of the receptacles to the other end of the housing block 10, the longitudinal axes of the passages being substantially parallel to each other.
The four additional housing blocks 11, 12, 13 and 14 are adapted to be inserted in particular ones of the receptacles formed in housing block 10. Housing block 11 is arcuate in shape and is adapted to be inserted in the arcuate receptacle 28. Housing blocks 12, 13 and 14 are also arcuately shaped and are adapted to be inserted in the arcuate shaped receptacles 29, 30 and 31, respectively. Referring particularly to FIG. 3, each of the housing blocks 11, 12, 13 and 14 also includes one or more longitudinally extending passages 54 through 67 which open to each end of their respective housing blocks and which are adapted to align with corresponding passages 37 through 50 in housing block 10 when the respective housing blocks have been inserted in their corresponding receptacles.
Each of the passages carries electrical terminal retaining means for retaining electrical terminals therein in such position that their respective terminals mate with the corresponding terminals of the aligned passages. The
construction of the terminals and their retaining means are not deemed to be the subject matter, as such, of the present invention, reference being had to the copending application of Taormina and McCardell, Jr., Ser. No. 711,675, filed Mar. 8, 1968, for a more detailed description of a suitable construction. However, a brief description of a suitable construction follows. Referring particularly to FIG. 4, a male terminal 70 is shown located in passage 47. Preferably, passage 47 includes a resilient tang 72 having a latching abutment 74 located thereon which is adapted to engage a recess 76 in the terminal 70 when the terminal has been fully inserted into the passage. The tang 72 acts to restrain removal of the terminal 70 from the passage and positions the terminal in the passage such that it may mate with a corresponding female terminal. Referring to FIG. 5, the corresponding female terminal 78 is shown in its inserted position in passage 64 of housing block 13. The female terminal 78 is also maintained in the passage 64 by a resilient tang 80 which also carries a latching abutment 82 which is adapted to snap into a recess 84 in the female terminal and engage the terminal when the terminal has been fully inserted in the passage.
Referring to FIGS. 1, 2, 4 and 6, portions of the extended portion 24 which outlines each of the receptacles 28, 29, 30 and 31 are slotted at 86 to form a latching element 87 having a generally rectangular aperture 88 defined by the longitudinally extending legs 90 formed by the slots 86, the base 52 and a cross portion 92 of the receptacle wall. Since the housing block 10 and its extended portion 24 is moulded of a polymeric material, the latching element 87 is somewhat resilient. Referring particularly to FIGS. 1, 3, and 7, each of the corresponding housing blocks 11, 12, 13 and 14 includes a raised shoulder 94 which is adapted toextend outwardly into each of the apertures 88 of the latching elements 87 of their respective receptacle when the housing blocks have been fully inserted into same.
The edge 96 and the inner face 98 of the cross portions 92 of each of the latching elements are somewhat beveled, as shown in FIG. 4. The shoulders 94 of the housing blocks also include a pair of angled surfaces 100 and 102 as shown in FIG. 5. As the end 104 of the housing block 13 is inserted into its receptacle 30, the leading surface 100 of the shoulder 94 contacts the beveled surface 98 of the cross portion 92 acting to increasingly deform the resilient latching element 87 in an outward direction allowing the housing portion 13 to move all the way into the receptacle. When the shoulder 94 has passed the cross portion 92, the latching element will again resume its initial position and the beveled edge surface 96 will engage surface 102 in a barbed relationship and urge the housing block 13 firmly in place in the receptacle 30 against the base 52. The distance between the end 104' of housing block -13 and the point of intersection of surface 102 with the main body portion of housing block is substantially the same as the distance between the minimum longitudinal length of the aperture 88. Thus, as the latching element 87 returns to its original undeformed position after the shoulder has passed, the beveled edge surface 96 of the cross portion will tend to urge the end 104 of housing block firmly against the base 52 of the receptacle, maintaining the housing blocks in firm association with each other. As the housing block 13 is inserted into the receptacle, the male terminal 70* mates with the female terminal 78, establishing the desired electrical icrcuit. Housing block 13 is shown in its fully inserted position in FIG. 8.
To prevent disoriented insertion of the housing blocks and crossed circuits, the housing blocks include polarizing means. Thus only housing block 11 may be inserted in only one orientation and only in receptacle 28; housing block 12 only in receptacle 29, housing block 13 only in receptacle 30, and housing block 14 only in receptacle 31. Polarizing is accomplished in a number of different ways.
The large housing block 11 is of such size that it may only be inserted into receptacle 28 and will not fit into the other receptacles. Also, since both receptacle 28 and housing block 11 are arcuate in shape, the housing block may be inserted into the receptacle in only one orientation, namely wherein the curvature of the housing block and the receptacle coincide. For substantially the same reasons housing blocks 12, 13 and 14 may only be inserted in receptacles 29, 30 and 31, respectively, and in only a single orientation. Housing blocks 12 and 14 are also polarized with respect to receptacles 28 and 31 by a rib 106 which is adapted to be received in a recess 108 formed between partitioning wall 33 and the stepped portions of the stepped exterior walls 16 and 18. Housing block 13 is also polarized with respect to receptacle 30 by a pair of projecting ribs 110' which are received in slots 112 formed in partition walls 34 and 35. The ribs 110 and slots 112 are offset from the center of the housing block 13 and receptacle 30 to further avoid disorientation of the housing block. Moreover, the shoulders 94 of each of the housing blocks prevent upsidedown insertion of each of the blocks in their respective receptacles.
By way of example, where the connector is employed in the electrical circuits of multiple automotive accessories, housing block 11 and its associated receptacle 28 and terminals may be utilized to couple the six turn signal switch circuits and one horn circuit; housing block 12 and its associated receptacle 29 and terminals to couple three cornering light circuits; housing block 13 and its associated receptacle 30 and terminals to couple the emergency flasher circuit, and housing block 14 and its associated receptacle 31 and terminals to couple the speed control circuits. Since each of the receptacles is separated from each other by partition walls 33, 34 and 35, the connector may be uniformly used in all automobiles irrespective of Whether certain of the accessories are present or absent, since each of the housing blocks is inserted and held independently in their respective receptacles. Thus the multiple connector may be used even though, as an example, the speed control accessory is not present. The above described connector is therefore capable of standardized use since different connectors need not be provided where the accessory load is varied.
It is to be understood that the embodiment of the invention which has been described is merely illustrative of one application of the principles of the invention. Numerous modifications may be made by those skilled in the art without departing from the true spirit and scope of the invention.
What is claimed is:
1. A multiple terminal connector adapted to be mounted about at least a portion of a substantially curvilinear surface, said connector comprising:
a first housing having an exterior face thereon of a shape to substantially conform with the curvilinear surface,
a first plurality of elongated passages extending in a direction substantially parallel to said face,
means in each of said first passage for mounting a terminal therein,
socket means formed at one end of said first housing, said passages communicating between said socket means and the end of said housing opposite said one end, said socket means including partition means partitioning said socket means into a plurality of individual receptacles,
a plurality of second housings being normally inserted in respective ones of said receptacles and having an exterior face thereon of a shape to substantially conform with the curvilinear surface,
second elongated passages extending through said second housings in a direction substantially parallel to their said face, the longitudinal axes of said first and second passages being in substantial alignment with each other when said second housings are inserted in said receptacles, means in each of said second passages for mounting a terminal therein, and
latching means on each of said first and second hous ings and receptacles for retaining said second housings in said inserted location in said receptacles.
What is claimed is:
2. The connector of claim 1 wherein said latching means comprises a resilient member on said socket means having an aperture therein and a shoulder on one of said second housings constructed and arranged to enter said aperture when said second housing is inserted in said socket means.
3. The connector of claim 1 wherein each of said individual receptacles and second housings include polarizing means to prevent the insertion of a given one of said second housings in any but one of said receptacles.
4. The connector of claim 3 wherein said polarizing means of at least some of said receptacles and second housings is defined by the size of said second housings relative to the receptacles.
5. The connector of claim 3 wherein said polarizing means of at least some of said receptacles and second housings is defined by the geometric shape of said second housings relative to the receptacles.
6. The connector of claim 3 wherein said polarizing means of at least one of said receptacles and second housings comprises a rib projecting beyond the exterior surface of said one second housing, and a recess defined in the wall of said one receptacle for slideably receiving said rib therein.
7. The connector of claim 1 wherein each of said receptacles and said second housings are defined by a pair of curvilinear walls, the curvilinear planes of said walls extending substantially parallel to said curvilinear exterior faces of said first and second housings.
8. The connector of claim 7 wherein said first and second housings are substantially arcuate in shape.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,146,051 8/1964 Woofter et a1. 339--47 3,267,410 8/1966 Baer et al. 339-184 3,399,374 8/1968 Pauza et al. 33991 MARVIN A. CHAMPION, Primary Examiner J. H. MCGLYNN, Assistant Examiner US. Cl. X.R. 339-186