Rugged connector and component manufacturer Bulgin has successfully developed an ‘intelligent connector’ and trialled its use in agricultural sensing and control. In a customization project for their client, California-based AgTech Industries, Bulgin incorporated integrated electronics into a rugged miniaturised connector for AgTech’s new smart infield telemetry system called AgriCapture.
AgTech asked Bulgin to develop a connector with a built-in integrated circuit that would allow the connector to be electronically paired with the correct sensor, while at the same time performing these functions in the harshest possible environmental conditions such as temperature extremes, exposure to dirt and direct spray from rain or sprinklers.
The 400 series is one of the most compact series of connectors within Bulgin’s Buccaneer range, and is ideal for designs requiring a small footprint. The miniature sealed circular connectors are lightweight and rugged, offering highly reliable power, data or signal connections condensed into a compact form factor.
Bulgin designed the connector to contain a 7 x 5 mm PCB with an EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable read-only memory) device, situated securely underneath the overmold of the 400 series connector. The intelligent connector enabled the client to implement serialization, reduce expenditure and other challenges associated with the physical marking or labelling of connectors.
The connectors are easily reprogrammable and the system also allows the user to see whether or not a connector is active and connected.
EEPROM devices in connectors can be used for a wide variety of applications, including medical devices, test and measurement probe calibration, sensors and devices with TEDS (transducer electronic datasheet) requirements.
For AgTech, the intelligent connector project has enabled them to develop and deliver its AgriCapture solution in a cost-effective way — which has ultimately proven to be beneficial to its clients.
“One of the best things [about collaborating with Bulgin] was the customer service. They helped us find the connectors that we desired, and worked with us to make sure that they were cost effective as well as suitable for our solutions,” said co-founder and Chief Procurement Officer of AgTech, Jesse Martin. “Working with Bulgin to develop our smart cables could really revolutionize the agricultural monitoring industry.”