There is a huge variety of different connector types that can be used in a wide number of different applications. Some connector types may be intended for use where a single connection is required, whereas other connectors may be used where a very large number of connections is required.
Other requirements may include elements such as the size of the connector, the intended use, and many other elements. As a result many types of connector are available.
Connector gender types
One of the first distinctions for the different types of connector is whether they are male or female.
The female connector is generally a receptacle that receives and holds the "male" connector. The male connector has the pins that enter the female side of the connector.
Typically the male connector has the pins and the female has the connections that mate with these pins.
The main point to note is that the male and female connectors must be of the same connector type or series to mate.
Connector outline types
There are many different outlines for the different connector types. The outline and space occupied but the connector are two very important considerations when selecting a connector type.
The outline or pattern of the connector governs many of the areas where it can be used. Often circular connectors are used for external connections. The circular outline often lends itself to be made in a robust and sometimes it is made to withstand harsh environmental conditions.
Connectors are also made with connections in rows. Many header style and IDC concurs are made in this way, as are the familiar D-type connectors.
Popular connector types
Although there are many different types of connector available, brief summaries of some of the more popular connector types are given below:
- D-type This popular type of connector is quite robust. It has an outer shell with a shape that could be roughly equated to a D. There are various standard sizes with a given number of pins. 9 way, 14 way, and 25 way are common sizes. Read more about the D-type connector
- DIN 41612 This type of connector provides for multiple connections, typically 32, 64, etc. It comprises a long rectangular plastic shell and with the connections in rows. It is widely used for as a connector for a printed circuit board or card.
- Jack The jack plug was originally used for applications including manual telephone exchanges. Now they are often seen as connectors for headphones. There are a number of sizes, 1/4 inch (standard), 3.5 mm (miniature) and 2.5 mm (sub-miniature) sizes that are available. Read more about the Jack connector
- Phono The phono connector is used for many domestic audio connections. Typically hi-fi separates may be connected together using it. It provides a coaxial form of connection.
- XLR This type of connector has a metal outer shell, and is used in many professional audio applications. Read more about the XLR connector
There is an enormous variety of different types of connector available for making and maintaining equipment. Many of the connector types are available at reasonable prices, although some specialist connectors can be exceedingly costly. Nevertheless most of the types that are used in laboratories or by home constructors should be easy and cheap to obtain.