PCB Connector Types and Its Uses

PCB, aka the printed circuit board, has become the lifeline to every electrical device we use these days for different use. The PCB helps link among PCB connectors to transfer signals from one component to another to help the entire device work properly.

Depending on their applications, functioning, and construction design, you will find many PCB connector types in a single device. The classification mainly includes board-to-board and wire-to-wire PCB connections, but it also has different subcategories due to versatile uses.

In today’s discussion, you will find the details about the common types of PCB connectors and their uses that will be understandable even for novices.

So, let’s check it out.

Table of Contents

What Is PCB Connector?

A PCB connector will connect electrical components. The connection could be on the conductive track itself. Also, it could be between the pads used in the circuit board. Many devices come with multiple PCBs and use various equipment or connections to link two or more printed circuit boards within the device.

You will find the connectors right on the circuit boards. It aims to transfer power or signals from one PCB to another to help the device function properly. Also, it may transfer the signal from one unit of the device to another via the different boards and connections.

The Two Main PCB Connector Types

Countless devices use the PCB connectors in different ways, which have usurped the development of different connections. That’s why it is essential that the connection type meets the design necessity of the device and is also suitable for it.

The two common types of PCB connectors are-

Board to Board Connections:

As the name suggests, the board-to-board PCB connectors link between two PCBs. It doesn’t use any cable or wire for the connection and transfers signals wirelessly. For the permanent board-to-board connections, manufacturers use the ‘fit and forget’ method.

The connection uses receptacles and pins instead of wires for signal transfer..

Wire to Board Connections:

The connection uses wire or cable to connect printed circuit board and PCB connectors. It is an easy connecting process for different devices and cost-effective too. It is used mostly in normal PCB devices where there’re not so many complex connections.

Apart from these two main PCB connectors, you will also see many connection types for PCB, depending on their functions and designs. The list includes the following ones-

Male PCB Connectors:

The PCV connector comes with a row of pins. The pins are simple and arranged in various spacing within the board. The pin arrangement works with its headers and is also known as pin header connections for the boards. The spacing differs from 0.1 inches to 0.2 to 0.197 inches or even more.

Female PCB Connector:

The female connector for PCB is also referred to as a socket connection. People also call it the header receptacles for its design. The female connector will accommodate the male connector header tightly within it.

The male and female PCB connections create a safe passage for the electrical components to pass through power and electrical signals.

Backplane Connectors:

The backplane connector helps to connect two different PCBs snuggly. The connection reduces signal loss, and so boosts the data transfer rate between the boards. It is, in reality, a support structure and provides help to connect printed circuit boards.

You can also use it to integrate different electrical components on its plane. The method is known as a daughterboard.

USB Connectors:

In today’s world, USB connection is the heart of many devices. Also, you will see the USB connectors more frequently than most other types of PCB connectors. You can see it in smartphones, laptops, tablets, computers, and where not!

There are four types of USB connectors you will find in modern-day devices-

  • USB-A: Computers and laptops have USB-A type connectors along with the female end. The common example includes computer mouse, memory sticks, etc. The female end works as the receptacle, and the male ends as the header to connect devices.
  • USB-B: Type B USB connectors are bulky and heavier. It is used in large devices where spacing isn’t an issue, such as music players.
  • USB-C: Type C connectors are the latest edition in the USB sector and have been the key of most smartphones these days. Its updated design is strengthened for most demanding jobs. It can transfer power, data, and video at the same time. So, it is the most versatile USB connector s at present. It also doesn’t have polarity, so you won’t have to bother about male or female ends to connect the devices with a USB-C cable.
  • Micro-USB: Likewise, USB-C connectors, Micro USBs are also the latest release. You can find it in smartphones, digital cameras, external hard disks, etc.

RCA Connectors:

RCA connectors are amongst the oldest PCB connectors and have been in the industry for nearly a century now. Until modern-day PCB connectors took over in the 21st millennium, almost every device used RCA connectors.

It transmits S/PDIF and stereo audio. It also transmits composite videos. Since the invention of USB connectors, RCA connections have lost their place and are nearly extinct now.

Audio Connectors:

As the name suggests, audio connectors are designed to transmit and transfer audio from one device to another. It has a varied size, and the size will determine where and how the audio connectors will be used.

The invention of Bluetooth and wireless transmission of data have slowly taken over the audio connectors, and they are also on the verge of extinction. There are three different types of audio connectors-

  • The 6.5mm connectors are the mainstream connectors and are used in amplifiers and guitars mostly.
  • The 3.5mm connectors are actually the headphones. You will see it on smartphones, PCs, laptops, and MP3 players. It is also the most common audio connector type.
  • The 2.5mm audio connectors are versatile since it has both headphone and microphone. So, you can use both of these benefits at the same time.

Barrel Connectors:

Barrel connectors for PCB are old but highly versatile. You can find the connector in AC/DC converter adapter. It is adaptable easily in different demanding needs and accommodates various power ratings as well.

Its sleeve works as the covering. The sleeve could be made of either plastic or rubber with 3.55mm or 5.55mm size variations. Its actual connector is the metal part with a 2.1mm pin.

Molex Connectors:

Molex connectors are also among the oldest PCB connection types. You can see it on the computers of the previous generation. The connection has a pin model, and it is used to generate power to various drives of the computer and devices.

The main benefit of this connector is that a high amount of current can pass through it without any damage. So, it is durable and dependable for abusive services.

JST Connectors:

JST connectors are designed and marketed by the company with the same name. If you are looking for permanent applications of the connection, JST connectors with their reliability and compact design will be your best option.

Once you attach the connector within the PCB, it will be extremely difficult to detach it.

IES Connectors:

It is a kind of transmission system that deals with AC power. You can find the IEC connectors in the older TV and computer versions but not in the latest models. It lacks any AC/DC converter, which has resulted in its diminishing in recent days.

Final Words

We have tried to include only the most commonly used and known PCB connector types in the list. However, there’re so many types of PCB connectors that it is nearly impossible, to sum up all of them within one article.

Some common connector types for PCB also include pin header connector, testing connector, screw terminals, alligator clips, IC clips, banana, and SMA connectors. FX PCB excels in developing PCBs to work with different connectors for various devices with reliability and affordability to make your business boom.

Peter Gong
Peter Gong

I am Peter Gong. I have been working in PCB and PCBA industry for 15+ years now. I have been a part of the PCB revolution with my dedication to circuit board technologies and creative ideas. I write in FX PCB to impart my knowledge on PCB and PCBA for all circuit board lovers, manufacturers, and users.