A D-subminiature connector, also known as a D-sub, is a ubiquitous connector type named for its distinctive D-shaped metal shell. It is used in a broad variety of applications from consumer products to satellite equipment.
D-sub Connectors Defined
D-sub connectors contain two or more parallel rows of contacts surrounded by a characteristic D-shaped metal shell. The shell not only provides mechanical support and ensures the correct orientation, but it may also screen against electromagnetic interference (EMI). Several methods are used to connect the system circuitry to the contacts in D-sub connectors, including crimp, solder cup, PCB solder, PCB press-fit and wire wrap connections. Many times locking systems are implemented to ensure the connectors remain in a mated state despite shock and vibration conditions.
D-sub connectors are sometimes confused with the Micro-D family and the SCSI attachment family (featuring connectors like the HD-50 and HD-68). These products are separate and distinct from D-sub connectors. D-subs are sometimes referred to as “rectangular rack and panel” connectors and often carry vernacular references such as DB9, DB15, DB25, DB37 and DB50 where the numbers refer to the connector’s pin count.
D-sub connectors work with a wide variety of electronics. They are often found on communications ports, creating connections between different products such as computers, printers, and power supply units. DB9 connectors are used for token ring networks as well as other computer networks and the controller area network (CAN). D-sub connectors have also been used for computer video output, game controller ports, multi-channel analog, and AES digital audio in recording studios.
Over the years, the connectors’ use has varied with the technology available at the time. For example, early Macintosh computers used them to connect to external floppy disks, and the Commodore Amiga used a D-sub for external floppy disks as well as video output. But due to their size and cost, D-sub connector use in consumer products has all but disappeared. However, they are still popular in non-consumer applications where its form factor, size, density and cost combination offer significant value to the end user.
Positronic carries a wide variety of D-sub connector families and D-sub accessories. The standard and high-density D-subminiature families are highly reliable and feature six package sizes and multiple performance options for the best cost to performance ratio. All Positronic D-subs feature solid, machined contacts to ensure reliability, durability and strength.
The Combo-D connector is sub-category of D-sub connectors, which is characterized by a mixed density insulator that combines size 8 and size 20 or 22 contacts allowing for the combination of signal, power, fiber optic, coax, and/or high voltage contacts in a single package. Ideal as an input/output connector interface, these connectors have many package sizes and contact variants and a variety of accessories and options including blind mating and sequential mating.
Or if you’re looking for something a bit more cosmic, try the high performance D-sub connector, which is designed for use in space flight. Available with a lightweight aluminum hood for protection and low magnetic characteristics, many of these connectors are qualified to the NASA GSFC S-311 specification.
Not All D-Subs Are Created Equal
The D-sub is one of the most popular electronic connectors in the world, with many types, sizes, and applications. It’s a big category with a dizzying number of choices – not all of which are created equal. The MIL-DTL-24308 or "M24308" is one of the most robust, built to the very specific requirements of the U.S. military.
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