Basic Connector Terminology
Connectors are used to join subsections of circuits together. Usually, a connector is used where it may be desirable to disconnect the subsections at some future time: power inputs, peripheral connections, or boards which may need to be replaced.
Gender- The gender of a connector refers to whether it plugs in or is plugged into and is typically male or female. Unfortunately, there are cases where a connector may be referred to as “male” when it would appear to be female.
Polarity- Most connectors can only be connected in one orientation. This trait is called polarity, and connectors which have some means to prevent them being connected wrong are said to be polarized.
Contact- Contacts are the business portion of the connector. They are the metal parts which touch each other, forming an electrical connection. This is also where problems occur: the contacts can become soiled or oxidized, or the springiness required to hold the contacts together may fade with time.
Pitch- Many connectors consist of an array of contacts in a repeated pattern. The pitch of the connector is the distance from the center of one contact to the center of the next. This is important, because there are many families of contacts which look very similar but may differ in pitch, making it difficult to know that you are purchasing the right mating connector.