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This invention generally relates to connectors. More specifically this invention relates to an adaptor used to couple a portable
communications device such as a cellular telephone, a two-way radio or a pager to a separate antenna, power source, or external
communications device.
Many portable communications devices with an internal battery pack are designed to be operable while in a fixed or base station adapter which allows the device to use external peripherals. Communications devices designed to operate from an adaptor usually have externally accessible connections, such as antenna and power connections, to permit the device to be operated from the adaptor.
A problem with operating a portable communications device, using an adapter, has been the reliability of the electrical connections between the device and the adapter. Slight misalignment between connectors on the device and the adaptor can prevent the device from making a connection preventing the device from operating, possibly damaging connectors on the communications device itself. In some applications, a portable communications device might be inserted into and removed from an adaptor thousands of times over the life of the device. Repetitive connecting and disconnecting of misaligned electrical contacts can wear the contacts to the point where an electrical connection cannot be reliably made.
Some prior art adaptors for portable communications devices try to avoid the problems associated with misaligned contacts by relying on judicious placement of mating electrical contacts on the device. Exact alignment between connections in an adaptor and on a
communications device is difficult to achieve however because of dimensional tolerances. Other adapters rely on complex mechanical linkages to automatically mate connectors on the device and adapter but these are expensive and may be themselves unreliable.
A problem with adapters used in vehicles has been the degradation of the electrical connections caused by vibration in a vehicle. Vibration occurring in a vehicle can be transmitted to an adapter for a communications device and degrade the electrical connections between the device and the adapter.


An object of the present invention is to provide a reliable and vibration-proof connection between a portable communications device such as a two-way radio and a fixed adaptor for the device.
To achieve the forgoing object and other objects of the present invention there is provided an adaptor including a housing
dimensioned to receive a portable communications device with external contacts. The adaptor has self-aligning electrical contacts that automatically mate to contacts on the device and compensate for misalignment between the device and the adaptor. The adaptor also absorbs vibration between the device and the adaptor.
The adaptor is comprised of a base, a connector assembly, including electrical contracts mounted to the base, and a rotatably mounted cam for engaging contacts on the connector assembly with contacts on the communications device. The connector assembly aligns itself in at least two dimensions with contacts on a
communications device inserted in the adaptor.


Figure 1 shows an isometric view of a radio mounted in the adaptor.
Figure 2 shows an exploded view of the adaptor.
Figure 3 shows a side view of a radio in the adaptor, with the radio's contacts not engaging the corresponding contacts of the adaptor.
Figure 4 shows a side view of the radio in the adaptor with the radio's contacts engaged to corresponding contacts of the adaptor.


Referring to Figure 1, there is shown an isometric view of a portable communications device or radio (5) inserted into the adaptor (10). Radio (5), and adaptor (10), are shown in Figure 1 positioned mox ting boss (13) so as to extend dual-axis spring (18) so that it exerts a force acting to maintain connector assembly (11) against cam (30).
The connector assembly (11) is positioned in mounting boss (13) so that pivot pins (15) and locating tabs (19A) of dual-axis spring (18) fit into the mounting boss (13) relatively loosely, permitting the connector assembly to move with respect to the mounting base (12). When fit into mounting boss (13), the relatively loose fit of pivot pins (15), locating tabs (19A) and the corrugated spring section (19) of dual-axis spring (18) permit compensation for misalignment between contacts on a radio and the adapter and also act to absorb vibration of a radio or the mounting base (12) by moving with respect to mounting boss (13) when locating nest(25) mates with corresponding surfaces on a radio.
Still referring to Figure 2, it will be seen that contact carrier (14) includes at one end, the locating nest (25), integrally formed in contact carrier (14). Locating nest (25) has sloping lead-in surfaces to permit the locating nest (25) to find a "mating" lead-in surfaces on a
communications device. (A "mating" lead-in surface would be a surface which has conforming surfaces such that the sloping lead-in surfaces of locating nest (25) urge the electrical contacts (16)_ into alignment with electrical contacts on radio 5). When the connector assembly (11) is mounted to mounting base (12) by means of self-loading locating tabs (19A) and pivot pins (15), the entire assembly of connector carrier (11) can be moved with respect to both the communications device and mounting base (12) permitting locating nest (25) to align the connector assembly (11) to the radio, prior to engagement of the electrical contacts (16) with mating contacts on the radio.
Shaft (32) with cam (30) is movable about its axis of rotation, by means of actuator (34). Shaft (32) and cam (30) are positioned within mounting base (12) to contact the cantilever portion (18A) of dual axis spring (18). Actuator (34) is located outside of the mounting base (1) where a user can operate it. Rotation of actuator (34) causes shaft (32) including the cam (30) to rotate about the axis of shaft (32). When the completed connector assembly (11) is attached to the mounting base (12) by means of pivot pins (15) and locating tabs (19A), rotation of shaft (32) causes cam (30) to displace connector assembly (11) toward a radio in the adaptor (10).
When the connector assembly (11) is moved toward the radio, the lead-in surfaces of locating nest (25) of contact carrier (14) "find" a companion lead-in surface on the radio in adaptor (10) and align and guide electrical contacts in the contact carrier (14) to electrical contacts on the device. Misalignment of assembly (11) relative to the radio (5) is compensated for by means of the corrugated spring section (19) of dual-axis spring (18) which permits alignment of contacts (16) to contacts on the radio (5) in up to three orthogonal dimensions. If a radio is inserted into the adaptor (10) in such a way that it's contacts are not initially aligned with electrical contacts (16), the corrugated spring section (19) permits translational movement of the assembly (11) to insure that the contact are properly mated. Vertical movement of assembly (11) is also permitted by means of corrugated spring section (19) being extended as assembly (11) is moved toward radio (5) in adaptor (10).
Another function of the corrugated spring section (19) is to insure that assembly (11) disengages from the radio (5) when the actuator (34) is rotated to release the radio (5) from the adaptor (10). Corrugated spring (19) applies a force in a direction away from the radio (5).
In the preferred embodiment mounting base (12) is made of cast aluminum but could be any other suitable material. Cam (30) including shaft (32) and actuator (34) is a two-piece molded plastic sized to fit holes in adaptor (12). Cam (30) shaft (32) and actuator (34) could be any suitable material, metallic or plastic. Connector assembly (14) is a molded plastic piece with latching tabs (22) included as an integral elements. Dual-axis spring (18), including locating tabs (20) and locking cutouts (21) and including corrugated spring (19) with locating tab (19 A) is a stamped metallic piece but could also be formed from any suitable material to provide resilient behavior necessary for a spring. Figure 3 shows a cross-sectional view of the radio (5) inserted in adaptor (10) with the connector assembly (11) disengaged from
electrical contacts from the radio (5). Actuator (34), in the preferred embodiment is manually operated by an operator.
In review, there is shown an improved adaptor for portable communications devices. While a specific embodiment of the invention has been shown and described herein, further modifications and improvements may be made by those skilled in the art. Modifications which retain the basic underlying principles disclosed and claimed herein are within the scope of this invention.