I thought nobody used Morse code anymore?

When I first got involved in Power connectors, one of the first things I noticed was there were a lot of “hybrid” connectors. Meaning a single connector had both power and signal contacts. At first I panicked. Omigosh, I thought. I am not only going to have to catch up on the power connector market after working in other connector markets for 20 years, but I was faced with learning about signal integrity. Terms like skew, FEXT and insertion loss danced through my head.

I quickly learned that these so called signal lines are running at rates that, to the backplane guys, are like comparing the hare to a dead tortoise! These are basically go, no go circuits, which are also borrowed for lower current usage. In fact, in the first four years I talked with customers, only one time did an engineer ask me about the signal speed of our hybrid power connectors.

Now usually a signal integrity engineer will load up models run on unbelievably complicated software and high-end computing machines and then spit out more squiggly lines than a Boston street map! But when I handed my engineer a sample of our power connector and asked him about speed, he just looked at it and said 600 mhz and it would be a waste of time to try to get more accurate. He also said that at that speed they don’t call it insertion loss, they call it resistance!

Now I don’t know if that is going to change and suddenly we’ll be asked to put 2 Gbps signal products in with the higher current products we are developing. But when it does, at least I now understand FEXT, NEXT and skew!