Test Connectors Overview

What Are Test Connectors?

Test connectors are devices that technicians will use as a means to test various types of electronic equipment and products. They hook the connectors from their bench testing equipment or multimeter to the devices they want to test and then take their various measurements. The connectors allow the technician to connect their meters to all different types of electronics as a means to measure things such as current, resistance, and voltage. Test connectors are available in a variety of different styles and sizes to accommodate the widest possible testing range.

 

Why Is Testing in Electronics so Important?

Testing is very important at many stages of an electronic product’s life. Testing helps to determine a number of different things. First, it can ensure that the devices a company is manufacturing are meeting compliance standards. Many times. The company will not test every single unit that they ship. Instead, they will have technicians test only a certain number of units as a sampling to help with quality control.

In addition to testing in manufacturing, the development side contains a substantial amount of testing in an effort to get the devices to the point where manufacturing is even possible. They often test for device safety and durability, and to make sure the device is meeting the current, voltage, and resistance requirements.

Without proper testing, it means that far more electronic equipment would fail when used in the real world. While this might merely be an inconvenience when it comes to things such as DVD players or a laptop, it can mean life and death when medical equipment fails to function properly due to electrical issues. Proper testing, and meeting or exceeding compliance ratings, is essential for all companies that make electronics today.

 

What Types of Test Connectors Are Available?

Because of the wide range of different types of devices on the market when it comes to electronics, there needs to be a number of different ways to test those devices. As mentioned, technicians will often make use of handheld multimeters, as well as mounted devices when testing equipment.

While they might be able to use just a few pieces of equipment to test a host of different devices, they do need to have a wide range of test connectors that they can hook up to the device in order to test properly.

 

What Are Test Plugs and Sockets?

Test leads can feature either plugs or sockets for use with certain types of equipment. They come in a variety of different sizes and they can work in conjunction with other testing equipment and connectors. The plug on the end of the connector simply slips into the testing socket of a clamp or other connector just as easily as plugging in a pair of headphones. Many of the options are brass with gold plating. They have insulators on them as well, and the insulators are generally flexible, helping to make the testers relatively easy to use on different types of equipment.

 

  • 1 mm
  • 1.5 mm
  • 2 mm
  • 4 mm
  • 6 mm

 

What Are Test Terminals and Accessories?

The testing terminals have cable connectors at one end, and you can then insert your plug to the other end to start the test.

Again, they are available in a number of different sizes, so it is possible to create connections with many different types of electrical equipment. The following are the sizes available as testing components. Always consider the types of equipment you will be testing to make sure you are getting the right size. Since some technicians may need to test different sorts of devices, it is often a good idea to have more than one option on hand. Having an array of test terminals and accessories, as well as plugs and sockets, is always a smart choice.

 

  • 4 mm
  • 5 mm
  • 8 mm

 

In addition to the actual test terminals, there are also a number of accessories to consider when making a purchase. Terminal posts are a good example of an accessory. Adding these to the device you are testing can provide you with more torque when the wires are attached. In addition, safety bungs are available that will actually fit into the top of the terminals. They fit flush to the top of the terminals, and this can prevent insertion of a testing probe or plug into the conductive socket.

 

What Are Automotive Test Sockets?

An automotive test socket is useful for testing leakage of current or the current consumption. The sockets feature two poles with a 4 mm socket at the rear of the device. They also have shrouded center contacts, which helps to make them safer to use. Different test sockets are available featuring different leg spacing. Check to see the leg spacing on the sockets you are considering to make sure they will work well with your application. Again, having more than one socket on hand of varying sizes could be a benefit to anyone who does regular testing on different types of vehicles.

 

What Are Binding Posts?

Binding posts are common parts of testing equipment. They will attach to a single wire or test lead and terminate it. They are actually a part of many different types of electrical equipment, including audio amplifiers. They have a threaded metal rod in the center and a cap that will screw onto the rod. The cap is often plastic for insulation, and it has color-coding to help users know the active terminal, which is usually red, and the inactive terminal, which is black. Green would indicate a ground terminal.

Even though the binding posts can help to increase the safety, it will not keep users entirely away from the danger of contacting the metal parts of the equipment that carry voltage. It is best to use these posts for items that do not carry dangerous amounts of voltage. Some choose to use safety banana jacks rather than binding posts today, but both are still acceptable. As always, it is important to remain as safe as possible.

 

What Are Terminal Posts?

The terminal posts are the actual posts where you would attach some type of testing equipment. A good and easily recognizable example of terminal posts would be on an automotive battery. One side, the red post represents the positive charge, and the other side, the black post, represents the negative charge. Terminal post mount connectors can connect to the posts so you can test them and determine voltage and current. It is important to know that more than merely car batteries have terminal posts. Many devices that have power supplies will have terminal posts or similar posts that you will connect to for testing.

 

What Types of Clips Exist?

A near countless number of electrical connectors and clips for testing exist today. The connectors will have plugs with male ends and jacks with female ends. Adaptors can help to being connectors of different types together, but when testing, it is always advisable to have the right connectors for the job. A wide range of connectors is available today, and the following are some of the most popular clips in use for testing.

 

  • Bed of Nails Test Clips – The bed of nails test clip has an appropriate name given the look of the clip. It features a spike and jaws that will clip onto the wires or device being tested. The clips come in many different sizes, and since some are larger than others are, they can open wider and are useful for testing equipment of different sizes.
  • Crocodile Clips – One of the most popular and common testing clip is the crocodile clip. They have a lever that opens up the clip’s jaws, which you can then clamp onto the testing area or terminal easily. These devices are a great choice for many testing applications because they are so fast to apply and remove. They come in many different materials as well, including steel, copper, and nickel-plated steel. They work well with test meters and can connect easily to many batteries. They also tend to be quite durable.
  • Dolphin Clips – The dolphin clips work similarly to crocodile clips, but they tend to be safer, and operate with a push button rather than actually touching the metal to open the jaws. They have a metal contact area, and they can do a good job gripping wires. The sleeve and button are plastic though, which is what helps make them safer. The dolphin clips are available in different sizes for different jobs.
  • Grabber Clips – Grabber clips are those that can grab and grip onto the different devices for testing. They can use different mechanisms for grabbing the terminals or devices, such as crocodile style clips.
  • Hook Clips – The hook clips have a small hook on the end of them, which the user can use to connect to the testing device. Since there are many different sized devices and objects, there are naturally a number of different sized hooks to make those connections.
  • IC Test Clips – You can use the IC test clips to touch the component contacts in DIL ICs. They can connect to the contacts and grip them tightly enough that there is little chance of them slipping off. They use high quality springs to ensure that tight connection.
  • Kelvin Clips – The clips feature four-conductor measurements, and they are used in the four-point probes method. Another term for this is Kelvin sensing. Often, these are utilize crocodile clip ends to make the connections.
  • Miniature Test Clips – As one might gather from the name, the miniature test clips are small versions of test clips that one would use for measuring small components, such as those mounted to PCB surfaces. Because they are small, it is possible to test devices even if they have very close contacts.

 

What Are Miniature Test Plugs and Sockets?

Similar to the mini test clips, the miniature test plugs and sockets are smaller versions of the traditional plugs and sockets. Technicians can use them for testing smaller boards and devices.

 

What Are Needle Point Probes?

The needle point probes feature a very small, fine and needlelike tip for getting into small areas and conducting testing. They come in different sizes so they can accept different size plugs. It is possible to use the needle point to penetrate thin insulation. They are a good solution for testing microelectronics.

 

What Are Spring Test Probes?

The probes feature spring-loaded tips that are small, sharp, and needlelike. The tips only come out after manipulating the spring. Again, they come in different sizes. Like the needle point probes, these are a good way to pierce insulation.

 

What Are Fused Probes?

Fused probes can offer added measurement protection and can measure voltages even when there is a blown fuse. They feature retractable sleeves for added protection, and you can connect a plug to them easily, but make sure you have the right size plug for the probe.

 

What Are Test Boxes?

Test boxes are useful for creating prototypes and testing them, and they can help to shield sensitive components from radiation. They can vary in size based on the need. They are generally made of aluminum.

 

What Are Test Clip Insulators?

The test clip insulators, usually made of PVC, go over the clips and provide them with insulation. Different clip insulators are needed for different sizes and types of clips. Always use the right insulator with the clip.

 

What Are Test Connector Adaptors?

In some cases, the clips that you have on hand or that you use regularly might not work, and you might need a way to connect two disparate pieces of testing equipment. The adapters are a great way to do that. Many options are available, including magnetic adaptors for screw heads.

 

What Are Tip Test Plugs and Jacks?

These are tips to place over connectors, turning them into plugs or jacks and allowing testing of different types of equipment. They can connect right to the tips of the other connectors the technician is using.