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I'm planning to make some devices which I want to easily connect together.

Normally cables are used, but I wonder if there exists something like a 'clicable' connector, where the output of one enclosure 'clicks' into the input of another enclosure. Like a connection without or with a very short and solid 'cable'.

Of course I can use a cable from one component/microcontroller from one enclosure to the other, but than I cannot detach them. I want to have a detachable solution, without the excess of a cable.

Pins needed:

  • GND (by default)
  • VCC (that would save an adapter for the second device)
  • TX (to transmit the signal)
  • Maybe RX (for some acknowledgement, but maybe not necessary because of the short distance).

So 3 pins would do probably.

The transmission speed is probably 250 kbs, but maybe I extend it later to 1 mbps max.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Board to board protruding from the enclosure and edge connectors protruding from the enclosure come to mind. That said you can probably use standard pins in that manner as well. Pogos and magnets are also viable I think. \$\endgroup\$
    – Wesley Lee
    Apr 30, 2018 at 10:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ What's your connection density? \$\endgroup\$
    – awjlogan
    Apr 30, 2018 at 10:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WesleyLee You mean like any connector that extends out of the enclosure? I will search for that (never heard of 'edge' connectors). Pogos neither, so will check that too. Magnets might work too. Thanks for all these keywords/ideas. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2018 at 10:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @awjlogan You mean the speed? Not sure yet, but probably max 1 mbps, probably less. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2018 at 10:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ What's wrong with regular 0.1" male/female headers? Sure they don't click, but don't they work just fine otherwise? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2018 at 13:00

3 Answers 3

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3 Formats come to mind:

1 - Pogos and magnets

enter image description here (Image is from http://www.foxlink.com/)

When you mentioned "click" the magnet action came to mind. This is the least exerted force one, and also easiest to unplug. Not very dense, a bit expensive.

Some examples of products which use this are LitteBits and the old Macbook charger.

2 - Board to board / Mezzanine connectors

This is probably the highest density option, missing the "click" action. Potentially the stiffest connection.

enter image description here

(Image is from http://www.hirose.com/)

3 - Edge connectors

I bet you remember these? They are cheap on the PCB side (and I personally have found to be expensive on the connector side unless you use PCI-express). Also missing the "click" factor.

enter image description here (Image from Wiki Commons)

Other alternatives

Or just use pin headers protruding from the enclosure. I've also done a short-term project with springs and magnets in cheap a pogo-ish way - very cheap and has the "click" action.

Also, as in the MacBook charger, if you get at least N*2-1 connections, you can make the connector orientation indifferent. (As in, instead of VCC, GND, TX, you do VCC, GND, TX, GND, VCC, so you can flip it.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you very much ... especially the pictures make it more clear. I don't want expensive solutions, still not sure if I want to change the devices, that's why I want to make my project in separate boxes. The Mezannine connectors look good. I don't need the 'click' really, but it was the easiest way to express... of course a 'click' makes it good. Initially I thought about XLR connectors, but they do not protrude. And yes, I remember those connectors, mostly with my C64/Amiga time. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2018 at 10:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ And actually, the pin header solution seems also good (and cheap). At least a good start until I have my 'final' devices ready. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2018 at 10:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MichelKeijzers -- There are pogo headers in "standard" 2.54mm pitch, so you can potentially design a footprint that would accept normal headers or pogos. I regularly use that for intermittent connections. (i.e. solder a header in the prototype, but use a pogo on the "final version" to program a board, etc) \$\endgroup\$
    – Wesley Lee
    Apr 30, 2018 at 10:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ that might work indeed (just checked but Pogo connectors are not cheap). Also I found that RS232 (DB9) connectors might work (they protrude also from the enclosure). \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2018 at 10:36
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If I were to want to join two or more enclosures side to side in an inexpensive and rugged way I would consider the use of standard low cost D-Type connectors. These very conveniently can be mounted on the facing sides of the enclosures using male and female flavors of the connectors on either side.

enter image description here

These connector types can be procured with many types of back side interface types. Solder cup pin tails can have wires soldered to them to join to internal circuits. There are ribbon cable types where a ribbon can be attached and then terminated to internal circuits at the other end of the ribbon. Finally there are PCB mount types in both right angle mount and vertical mount where the connector can be mounted directly to the internal circuit board and protrude through a hole in the side of the enclosure.

The 9-pin size I show above should be applicable for your requirements. These are also available in 15, 25, 37 and 50 pin varieties as well.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks ... yes, I really like this solution too (already mentioned earlier). I will go for this, or one of Wesley's solutions.. Probably if I use these, it will be panel mount. I do not know how to mount a PCB exactly at such a position that the connector is at the location on the enclosure where I want it, so I will use some wires to bridge the gap from the connector to the PCB. And it's indeed flexible (did not know there were also 25, 37 and 50 pins, but the DB9 is enough for me). \$\endgroup\$ Apr 30, 2018 at 13:46
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In general it seems you want things called board to board connectors. Look around on the web site of any decent distributor, like Mouser or DigiKey. You can also look around on the web sites of obvious suspects that manufacture such things, like Molex, Tyco, etc.

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