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May 2007 edition

Interconnect for 'black box' technology in aerospace applications

By Roger Brown, engineering services manager, Tekdata Interconnect

As demands made on black boxes in aerospace applications become more complex, their overall capabilities increase and the interior space tends to become increasingly restricted. Designers may have a tendency to overlook the interconnects, or delay this element of design, with the result that the box can become an inefficient user of space, a major reliability factor and/or a cost driver.

Servicing and component replacement is more difficult in cramped working conditions with poor access, which may in turn lead to failures of the interconnections. In addition, routing cabling incorrectly can stress components. This is common as cables and connectors are generally squeezed into any space left within the box rather than locations where they are best. This article examines best practice design of interconnection solutions for this demanding and essential aeronautical application. It outlines: The use of fibre for the inter-box highway; Fibre usage within the box; The use of a 'header' as a one-time connection principle; The choice of connectors with pin protection; 'Hinged lid' assembly techniques and grommets as a viable alternative to two part connectors.

Key considerations with units that need to accommodate increased functional requirements are weight, space and accessibility. Another is the need to adjust the level of switching current employed to reduce RFI and EMI. Additionally,....

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