Its compact size and low mass, coupled with its incredible robustness and resistance to shock and vibration have made Souriau’s 8STA the connector of choice for racing teams at the highest level of the sport looking for the ultimate in improving the electrical performance of their machines. These connectors are commonly used on steering boss systems, temperature and pressure sensors, data acquisition and electronic control systems and inside fuel tanks.
Miniaturization: a design challenge
The 8STA series is a range of connectors derived from aerospace standards, where high-density, lightweight and reliable solutions must be able to withstand high levels of shock and vibration. For smaller spaces such as racing cars, the challenge was to miniaturize these connectors while maintaining the same electrical, mechanical and environmental performance characteristics. Manufacturing miniature connectors requires a high level of skill and expertise; processes must be very clearly defined and strictly controlled to maintain the precision necessary to repeatedly produce and deliver high quality products, especially when it comes to very small injection moulded plastic components.
Electrical performance characteristics such as signal transmission and insulation resistance are key aspects, as long-term reliability of data and power distribution can mean the difference between a Did Not Finish (DNF) and winning a race. The choice of materials is also critical because each application may have different requirements such as resistance to fuel, lubricants or other fluids. Finally, the mechanical design means that the connectors must withstand more than 500 mating cycles and remain secure under high vibration. They must also be user-friendly for the technician who may have very limited time to couple and uncouple them during a pit stop.
New materials and designs
Racing teams are constantly looking for innovative designs that would give them a competitive edge. Weight distribution has a significant impact on how a car performs on the track: every gram saved on components where weight is not needed can be redistributed where it will bring performance improvements. For this reason, the trend in connector design is therefore towards increased miniaturization and higher contact density.
A connector that meets all requirements
Souriau has developed a size 01-03 connector, less than 2 cm long and with three #26 contacts (0.5 mm diameter). This revolutionary development has taken miniaturization to a new level and is the basis for further improvements, meeting market requirements for size and weight reduction while maintaining high integrity of mechanical and electrical performance. With miniaturization, visual and mechanical protection to prevent mistakes in mating the wrong connectors together is also becoming increasingly important. This is why color coding and mechanical coding options are a standard feature of the entire 8STA range.
Souriau has always worked closely with its customers and partners to promote innovation and efficiency. Sometimes a specific project developed to measure for a customer can turn into a new catalogue product on the market. This is the case of the fuel resistant version and the quick-disconnect version of the 8STA series, both of which started as customer specific products and have now become standard components of racing car harnesses.