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I'm designing a robot gripper that needs to pickup an electronic device (the size of half a laptop) and move it around. The problem is that when the device gets picked up, I need to establish a USB connection (the device has one of those small USB connectors.

I was thinking about designing a PCB with an SMD right angle USB connector in one side and a few fat pads on the other. I would manually attach the connector to the device before the robot picks it up, and I would have some sort of spring on the gripper to make the USB connection. Something like the ones used in the SD cards, but bigger.

Question is: do you have another suggestion or know what component to use to make the electrical contact?

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  • Mill-max makes spring probe strips and buttons (See http://www.mill-max.com ) If you had two little PCBs you could put use the spring probes to hit large pads. You would need to apply constant pressure to insure the contacts stay mated.

  • There are conductive elastomer strips in a variety of sizes. The elastomer would connect two PCB pads.

  • Spring probes for in-circuit testing could work too.

I would look at the Mill-max contact strips first.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think jcl has the right idea. You might also google "pogo pin." \$\endgroup\$ – pingswept May 3 '10 at 2:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm sold with the Mill-max idea! Thanks a bunch! I'm calling my local distributor tomorrow. \$\endgroup\$ – Padu Merloti May 3 '10 at 4:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ You're welcome. Mill-max is good with samples. You could probably get a couple pieces to verify the parts will work in your application. \$\endgroup\$ – jluciani May 3 '10 at 10:38

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