How test equipment for connectors has contributed to the evolution of automotive electronics

The development of the automobile towards a climate-neutral, networked and autonomous vehicle ultimately depends on the progress of the electronics installed. The real-time transmission of data not only poses technological challenges for components such as connectors, but also requires efficient testing technology that helps to ensure quality and reduce costs.

The steady increase in the number of electronic components installed in vehicles is not only technologically challenging, but also leads to rising prices: While automotive electronics only accounted for 5% of costs in 1970, this will rise to about 50% by 2030 – fuelled by megatrends such as 5G, electro-mobility and autonomous driving. From the component level to the assembly of the printed circuit boards, to the kilometres of cables and hundreds of connectors – all these components and subsystems must be tested and validated.

Automobile manufacturers and suppliers are thus faced with the challenge of achieving zero-defect production without an astronomical increase in expenditure on testing and quality. In order to prevent the costs for vehicle electronics in particular from escalating, innovative test solutions that combine absolute reliability with efficiency, and thus cost savings, are required. INGUN has long specialised in test technology and works closely with leading suppliers of automotive electronics to provide optimal solutions – shown here as an example in the field of plug connector testing.

Reliability and efficiency are crucial
Connectors for the automotive industry have undergone particularly rapid development over the last 20 years, enabling ever larger data volumes and higher frequencies to be transmitted. Starting with the first FAKRA connector in 2000, a very large variety of high-performance connectors has been developed. These connectors are usually tested at the socket, which is soldered onto a circuit board.

INGUN offers the suitable test solution for almost every version (including all male/female version) and is constantly developing new test solutions for the following general requirements:

  • precise, low-wear contacting
  • optimised life expectancy
  • reliable data transmission
  • float-mounted assembly
  • interfaces mainly via original connector plug

FAKRA connectors, which are tailored to the conditions in the automotive field (temperature, vibration, etc.), are not only flexible for the countless versions, but also meet other requirements, such as good high-frequency performance up to 6 GHz. This is the only way to ensure that everything from the transmission of simple antenna signals, signals for entry systems, camera technology and mobile communications through to GPS and telematics functions reliably.

Ever increasing data rates and frequencies
The further development of the first generation of FAKRA connectors led to the creation of the miniature version of coaxial connectors in the HFM series. They operate at frequencies of up to 15 GHz and achieve data transmission rates of up to 20 Mbit/s – and all this with less weight and up to 80% less installation space required. With their compact design and high performance, they create the pre-requisites for more sensors in and increased electrification of the vehicle, which is particularly essential for autonomous driving – when a large amount of data from different sensors, cameras, operator panels and HMIs must be transmitted in real time.

For testing the highly developed miniature connectors, INGUN offers a complete portfolio of high frequency or dipole test probes. They can be assembled in a modular way so that test probe combinations for single, dual and quadruple connectors are available – also in all male and female versions. Depending on the manufacturer, either the high-speed cable SMPM or a special solder connection is used as interface to the test system. In addition to absolute reliability, the focus of Mini-FAKRA is also on optimum high frequency performance for fast data transmission.

At your service, even for special requirements

Thanks to its extensive vertical range of manufacture and expertise acquired over decades, INGUN is able to supply innovative and efficient test solutions even for special requirements. This applies for example to the HFS-819, a test solution specially developed for high-speed data (HSD) connectors. The innovative high frequency test probe enables data rates of up to 1.6 Gbit/s – for example for LVBS, GVIF or USB signals – and is freely adjustable to ensure optimum connection to the connector.

Another example from this sector is the HFS-802, an RF contact probe for fully shielded differential connectors H-MTD, which are becoming increasingly important for automated driving – high performance is combined with a robust, space-saving housing. Here, too, the degree of modularity of the test system corresponds to that of the connector system (singe, double or quadruple housing); in addition, the original cable is used as an interface for contacting.

In addition to the ones mentioned here, INGUN offers a wide range of value-added test solutions for a variety of applications. They ensure a reliable and cost effective testing of electronic components. Consequently, the company is continuously developing new solutions and test probe designs for a very dynamic industry with continually growing requirements.