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I'm looking to make a modular system which can be expanded left or right, as well as fed from either left or right side, depending on customer location and available space.

Having a standard outlet in a female connector and input in a male counterpart will make it less flexible since it has a given direction and/or you need to flip the board upside down. One can cheat using two connectors like this simplified example (pardon my MS paint skills):

enter image description here

But is there no magic search term for a connector which has one male and one female part in the same connector to achive the same thing? My google-fu is failing me here.

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    \$\begingroup\$ A beautiful rendition. Is the reason behind this so that only one item appears on the BoM (used in two places on each board)? \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka Sep 24 '20 at 15:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hermaphroditic connectors. \$\endgroup\$ – DKNguyen Sep 24 '20 at 15:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Andyaka Thanks! :-) Pretty much yes. Twice the volume on one just item is better than original volume on two different parts. \$\endgroup\$ – winny Sep 24 '20 at 15:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Hermaphroditic is the term. Like newark.com/samtec/lst-128-07-g-d/socket-2-54mm-56-position/dp/… \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Sep 24 '20 at 15:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is gender the right word? After all, you're asking about their physical attributes, not how they identify. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Acccumulation Sep 25 '20 at 4:29
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Hermaphroditic connectors. Most I see are vertically hermaphroditic though and you seem to want horizontally hermaphroditic. Note you can turn the board upside down and plug it in the wrong way, though you can do that in your original image too.

With regards to reducing BOM count, most hermaphroditic connectors seem to be vertically hermaproditic (like interlocking L-shapes that sit vertically on the board). In this case, unless it is truly an edge-mounted version, would need two different versions (right side up and upside down) to mount on the same side of the PCB in order to not produce a stair-case of PCBs when chaining boards together. So you would still need two parts on your BOM.

However, if you can find horizontally hermaphroditic connectors (like interlocking L-shapes that lay flat in the plane of the board) that basically look like single-part versions of your male/female connectors then the stair case is not an issue with just a single part number.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "I do not think you'll find this unless it is an edge mounted version" – I don't understand the point you're making here. Isn't it quite clear that the asker does want an edge mounted version? There are certainly horizontally hermaphroditic edge-mounted connectors for exactly this purpose, aren't there? \$\endgroup\$ – Tanner Swett Sep 25 '20 at 11:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TannerSwett When I mean "truly edge mounted", I do not mean "right angle but sits on either the top layer or the bottom layer of the board". I mean it actually mounts on the edge of the board like how some SMA connectors straddle the board or some USB connectors sit in a slot cut into the PCB so just as much of the connector sits above the board as it does below it. Because if it doesn't and you use it to chain a bunch of identical boards together, the boards form a stair case. \$\endgroup\$ – DKNguyen Sep 25 '20 at 13:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TannerSwett Actually, I think I understand your point. It is that any right-angle hermaphroditic connector would introduce a stair case even if it's just two PCBs. So there in order not to there would have be two versions of the right angle connectors and I just looked at the Samtec LSHM and there are: A right angle and reverse-right angle connector. \$\endgroup\$ – DKNguyen Sep 25 '20 at 13:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think I understand your point now. It sounds like you're interpreting the question as requiring the system to work for any 180 degree rotation of the second board, including flipping the second board so that the front of the second board lines up with the back of the first board and the back of the second lines up with the front of the first. I'm interpreting the question as only requiring the system to work for that 180 degree rotation which leaves the front and the back facing the same way. \$\endgroup\$ – Tanner Swett Sep 25 '20 at 13:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TannerSwett Yeah. From the pictures it seems that the OP wants either end of the PCB to be able into either end of the next PCB. No front or back for the train car, so to speak. Of course, that also allows you to flip the board upside down and connect it the wrong way which can't happen in your "one-way" method which does not need hermaphroditic connectors at all: just have horizontally keyed male connectors on one end and female connectors on the other end. \$\endgroup\$ – DKNguyen Sep 25 '20 at 13:56
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Samtec has the LSXX parts, other vendors have similar horizontal connectors. You should take into account all the creative ways your users can connect the boards.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, the Samtec LSHM is what I would have used. \$\endgroup\$ – DKNguyen Sep 25 '20 at 14:01

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