Design Variation: Exceptions to Standards

Usually, most parts or components conform to particular standards and/or standard terminology, however, there can be exceptions for particular parts. I recently came across something interesting for a particular part in a series made by Phoenix Contact. Digi-Key part number 277-5713-ND; Phoenix part number 1786190 is an example of an exception on the following standard for connectors.

Mating Gender vs. Contact Gender

Many connectors share the following definitions: there is a gender for the plastic housing that surrounds metal contacts that are usually classified as a plug or receptacle (receptacle can be named jack at times). The metal contacts inside connectors also have genders classified as either pins or sockets. Usually, plastic housings classified as plugs cannot mate to other plugs and the same goes for receptacle to receptacle. The metal contacts also usually have one gender and cannot mate to the same gender.

Examples of Standard Connectors

A34234-ND; 5-103945-9 is an IDC rectangular connector with 10 positions with male pins and the housing is classified as a plug. All of the mates in the “Mating Products” section, all have a description of RCPT meaning receptacle. The whole category typically follows this pattern. There are cases where a housing plug can have female sockets and a housing receptacle can have male pins, but the gender of the housing is still opposite for the mate for the majority.

CP-2060-ND; MD-60 is a circular connector with 6 positions that are male pins that can be crimped or soldered. The housing is classified as a plug. Again, the mates in the “Mating Products” section on that same page are all classified as receptacles. This is another category that is consistent with the terminology.

Examples of Exceptions

277-5713-ND is classified as a four-position male pin plug and its corresponding mates are four-position female plugs (scroll down on the page to see “Mating Products” to see descriptions and part numbers). I found out from Phoenix that there is not currently a true header that may be fastened on a printed circuit board which technically means that there are no “receptacles” but just mating plugs. This seems to be pretty consistent for this category for other connectors, some mates are referred to as “headers” rather than receptacles. Some types of connectors do not hold the same definitions as others.

Certain connectors have metal contacts that are designed to mate with themselves instead of having a single-gender for convenience. Here is a link to some rectangular connectors as examples:

There are more examples that I’ll add to show that it happens on occasion for a few categories. If you ever have questions on discrepancies, feel free to ask on the forum.