Getting Started

A connector is any device that joins to electrical circuits or more than two electrical circuits together. They may be used to transmit electricity itself or they may be used to transmit signals, such as audio or video signals. There is a huge number of different types of connectors available. These connectors have been developed over the years to allow for the connection of specific types of signals – AV connectors – to allow a specific manufacturer's equipment to be more readily attached to other equipment – RCA connectors – and for many other purposes. Connectors can be provided with devices that allow them to be locked, which can prevent unauthorized people from being able to break the connection. They are also sometimes provided with crimp on features that make it possible to permanently affix them to a group of wires, making it very easy to connect and disconnect various pieces of equipment without having to do any wiring. Connectors also include terminal blocks, plugs, blades, rings, D-sub connectors and many other variations. These connectors are sometimes purpose specific – such as RF connectors used for transmitting radio signals – or are sometimes more generalized, such as spade connectors, which may be utilized to transmit data and even electrical power. Electrical connectors come in two varieties: male and female. The male and female designation refers to whether or not the connector is plugged into a jack or if it receives a connector.

How to Terminate Connectors?

Terminating connectors generally requires specialized equipment. For example, adding an RJ-45 connector to a Cat 5 cable requires a specialized crimper. Most modern connectors, in fact, do require a specific tool in order to crimp them properly and ensure a solid connection. Some connectors have a boot or another feature added to them after they are attached to provide extra protection. In the case of connections such as coaxial connectors, this protector may contain threads that are utilized to screw a male connector into a female receptacle. On heavy-duty, industrial connectors, having a threaded screw on the connector to provide additional stability is a very common feature. In cases where electricity is being transmitted over the lines, the connectors have to be terminated with great consideration given to safety. Some types of connectors make it possible for electricians to create connections between circuits very easily. For example, some of them only require that the electrician put the wire in a groove in a piece of metal and, upon fastening the connector shut, that metal automatically strips a portion of the insulation off of the wire, allowing for a solid connection. When connecting different types of circuits together, it's important to keep in mind whether or not the circuit carries power. Some connectors are designed to do this – such as USB connectors – and others quite simply are not designed to carry power.

How to Splice Connectors?

Connectors that are made specifically to splice circuits together are typically a bit different than connectors with specific ends on them. Many of them simply receive two separate stripped wires and, upon closing, complete the circuit. These are usually referred to as tap connectors. There are also pigtail connectors, quick splice connectors and others, all of which require different splicing techniques. Quick splice connectors are sometimes referred to as ''vampire'' connectors, according to Bare. Most of the time, an electrician will strip some insulation off of the end of a wire and insert that stripped wire into the connector. The connector provides insulation, protecting users against shock and protecting the wire against the environment. Wiretaps are very common for the most primitive splices, consisting only of a hollow plastic shell with threads on the inside. The shell is placed over the top of the spliced wires and screwed down, which holds it in place and ensures an excellent connection. In cases where oxidization is a hazard, antioxidant compounds are typically added to the splice to ensure the safety of the wires and to ensure that the connection is not ruined by corrosion.

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