In motorsport applications, every component (including an electrical connector) impacts speed and performance and can make or break a race where every 10th of a second counts. Due to their extreme nature, motorsports — whether motocross or auto racing — can present many challenges when looking for the right electrical connector. These applications require small and lightweight connectors due to significant weight and space constraints. At the same time, ensuring driver safety and component reliability is key. Fortunately, there are connectors on the market that meet the demands of these motorsport applications.
Motorsport Application Requirements
It’s important to consider the following requirements when selecting the right connectors for motorsports:
- Vibration and shock-resistance
- Watertight and dust resistance (usually IP68-rated)
- Can withstand exposure to fluids (brake cleaner, in particular) and UV rays
- Reliable performance even in high temperature operating environments
Motorsport connectors typically use small amounts of aluminum, relying instead on primarily plastic components. While connectors and accessories may only count for a very small portion of the car’s total components, weight savings at every step can quickly add up to significant savings overall. The focus on lightweight connectors and small size have led to an increase in high-density connectors’ popularity. As more electronics are added to high-performance vehicles, miniaturized products are being used to optimize the use of available space.
A Look Inside and Outside the Vehicle
Connectors used inside the vehicle must be sealed against liquids and resistant to commonly used cleaning agents. Because panel space is minimal, mixed signal contact blocks (low/high voltage, coax, and fiber) are used. They make effective use of available space and reduce the time needed to disconnect/connect integrated communication equipment.
LEMO F-series connectors are ideal for this type of motorsport application. These lightweight, compact push-pull connectors were originally developed for racing in 1995 and are used in Formula 1 cars. These LEMO connectors provide a high-quality coupling system that is resistant to vibration and works exceptionally well for applications where EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) is vital. LEMO push-pull connectors, like the F-series, are commonly used for batteries, ECUs, fuel pumps, sensors, and communication systems.
Outside the vehicle lies the pit crew and members must be fully armed with reliable headset equipment to communicate with others. An innovative product ideal for pit crew members is the Stingray Series from Amphenol LTD. These connectors are low profile, compact, and sealed to withstand exposure to rain, dust, dirt, and chemicals. They feature a magnetic, non-keyed mating system which allows for easy mating without the need for pre-alignment nor the operation of a coupling mechanism. This series is optimized for USB 2.0 & Ethernet protocols and is an excellent solution for audio, power or data signals, while it also sits flat against the body to prevent damage and snagging.
Data acquisition is key to achieving high performance and safety in motorsports, and data comes from multiple systems on the vehicle. That means that the vehicle data must have a very high signal quality, and the connectors and accessories must be both robust and reliable.
TE Connectivity Raychem Heat Shrink Boots are a cable accessory designed to handle harsh conditions while preserving the reliability and signal quality needed. Raychem heat-shrinkable boots provide long-term protection against extreme temperatures, corrosion, and mechanical damage, and are even rugged enough to be used in crash dummy tests. They also offer added electrical insulation as well as flame resistance, environmental sealing, and strain relief.
One of the harshest environments for motorsport applications is the engine compartment, where electrical connectors must handle extremely high temperatures, shock loads, extensive vibration, and mechanical oil.
The LEMO M-series micro-circular connectors are well adapted for use in high-performance, rugged environment engine compartments. Made of high-strength aluminum, they are high vibration and shock resistant, oil and fuel resistant, sealed to IP68 when mated, and provide 360° screening for full EMC shielding. These lightweight M-series connectors can handle temperatures up to 200°C (392°F) and have a triple start ratchet coupling type with a one-grip ratchet screw system that enables a quick and secure coupling of the connectors. Additionally, the LEMO M-series connectors have an arctic grip that allows for simple, frustration-free manipulation of the connector while wearing gloves or when the connector is located in a difficult to access area.
PEI-Genesis: Your Partner for Motorsport Connectors
From the engine compartment's hot, vibration, shock-prone environment to the vehicle's crowded inside panel and the data acquisition system vital to success, finding the right electrical connector and accessory is critical. At PEI-Genesis, we have various connectors, cables, and heat-shrinkable boots for motorsport applications. Let us help you find the ideal solution for your application's needs to help you reach your motorsport goals.