I have built a capacitance measuring system using the Texas Instruments FDC2214EVM evaluation module. The system is used to monitor the location of the user's hand in an enclosed space, where capacitance is mapped on to displacement.
The FDC2214 device measures capacitance by determining the resonant frequency (40MHz or less -- in my case, roughly 5-10MHz) of an LC tank circuit connected to a capacitive sensor. As the sensor capacitance varies due to proximity of the user's hand, so does the resonant frequency of the circuit. Because all other parameters of the LC tank circuit are known, the resonant frequency of the circuit can be used to calculate the sensor capacitance, and therefore displacement.
Four capacitive sensors are connected to the FDC2214EVM -- one for each of the evaluation module's four inputs. Each sensor is a 5cm x 5cm piece of copper tape mounted on an acrylic plate. Each sensor is connected to the FDC2214EVM using 1m of coaxial cable.
At the FDC2214EVM-end of the coaxial cable, two jumper wires (small segments of 22759/32-22 wire terminated with Mini-PV connectors) are soldered to the conductor and shield, respectively, and plugged into female headers on the FDC2214EVM for sensor input and ground, respectively.
At the Sensor-end of the coaxial cable, one jumper wire is soldered to the conductor and plugged into an inline Mini-PV receptacle. On the other side of this inline Mini-PV receptacle is a wire that is soldered to the copper sensor.
I am considering replacing the Mini-PV inline plug-receptacle assembly between each coaxial cable and each sensor. I am concerned that the use of these connectors might lead to reliability issues, because of:
- Changes in connection quality after many mating cycles
- Loosening of the connection due to mechanical disturbance
Ideally, the chosen connectors should not affect the noise-level of the capacitance signal. If a connector introduces a constant offset capacitance, this is manageable, as the offset can simply be removed during data processing.
I have decided that, because the capacitive sensors will be removed and stored each time the system is used, the chosen connectors should:
- Be crimp connectors, which are, to my understanding, more tolerant of mechanical strain.
- Be latched, to prevent loosening due to tugging, etc.
I am exploring the option of using Molex Mini-Fit Jr connectors (see my associated Digikey cart: https://www.digikey.com/short/ztdzv4) instead of the Mini-PV connectors. They meet both of the requirements above, and also have a relatively cheap manufacturer-approved crimp tool, unlike many other connectors. That being said, this sort of connector is often used for power supplies and the like, which is very different than my application.
I am curious to know if anyone has any advice regarding which type of connector would be best for this capacitive sensing application.
Thank you, Dylan