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Rigiflex Helps Make Industrial Sensors Using RF Modules More Reliable
Rigiflex ties up with several organizations that support multifarious industries. One such organization develops wireless sensors for industrial use. These sensors can be used to control operation of applications as well as for automation. These sensors are used to detect any performance issues as well as control daily tasks. No matter what the application, their use is critical in nature. Another important aspect is their size. It is important that these devices remain compact so that they can be used in conjunction with any application, even in constrained spaces.
The client was developing a sensor using an RF communication module. In order to provide high data rates, they decided to use the RF200 module. This module had to be mounted on the PCB using the through-hole pins on the module. The RF 200 module was connected using an SMA (SubMiniature version A) connector. The SMA connector is not only bulky but also faces inwards, into the PCB. This causes several problems, like:
1. The SMA connector exceeds the size of the module, making the entire assembly bulky.
2. Since the SMA connector faces inwards, it does not hang over the edge, as is required. Hence, the underside of the SMA connector touches the mounting board. This causes one of the sides to be propped up at an angle.
3. Due to this problem, it becomes difficult for the pins on the module to be inserted into the board’s PTH barrels for proper mounting of the SMA connector.
4. Due to these problems, the installation of the module is unreliable, the SMA connector is not planar, and customer access to the connector is greatly compromised.
Having worked with similar assemblies in the past, the Rigiflex engineers also realized that the module could pose problems in the future. Sometimes, the RF 200 module could wiggle loose due to the forces present in the coax or antenna of the SMA connector. This could cause the RF module to become erratic over time.
After evaluating the problem, the engineering team at Rigiflex came up with a relatively simple solution to keep the SMA connector on a single plane. In order to keep the SMA connector from touching the mounting board, two single-row socket pin adaptors were used.
Regarding the secondary problem, the Rigiflex team decided that the RF module would need to be better secured onto the PCB. The RF module has one extra mounting hole as compared to the PCB’s PTH barrels. Hence, drilling an extra hole and providing a more secure connection to the module will allow for a more secure installation. Rigiflex has not only spent time improving on the layout of the PCB but also on the module footprint.
These solutions offered by Rigiflex have allowed the client to enjoy the following benefits:
1. This provided the requisite standoff to the SMA connector.
2. With a more planar installation of the SMA connector, the client can now enjoy easy access to the connector.
3. Since the use of the adaptors is a mechanical and not electrical modification, replacement and repair of the module is much easier as compared to the earlier installation. Major rework will not need to be done in order to employ maintenance procedures.
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