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In electronic equipment, we can come across numerous types of connectors and specific interfaces assigned to them. An example is the HDMI connector, which in principle only serves the purpose of transmitting audio-video signals through an HDMI interface. However, this is not always the case, as there are many more universal connectors, designed for transmitting different types of signals. They include DIN connectors and miniDIN connectors, which are described in this article.
DIN connector, also known as a “circular connector”, owes its origin to a German industrial standard. Initially, many different connectors were referred to as DIN, but it was only after some time that it was accepted that the term "DIN connector" describes a connection made according to the DIN 41524 standard, which has now been replaced by IEC 60130-9. In electronic equipment we can also find miniDIN connectors. This is a miniaturized version of the DIN connector, which was also developed by the German Institute for Standardization.
DIN connectors are marked by a three-digit code, the first digit of which indicates the number of pins and the two subsequent digits indicate the angle at which pins are arranged. The most popular DIN connectors are: 545 – used in megaphones, 590 – used as a headphone connector, and 560 and 660 – used for power transmission.
miniDIN connector is the successor to the standard DIN connector. Officially, there are seven types of connectors with three to nine pins. This is achieved by different pin layouts, an extra plastic element of different shapes and sizes, and the placement of additional pins on the shielding body.
In addition to the official seven types of miniDIN connectors, there are also those "unofficial", non-standard ones with an additional pin. In terms of construction, they have identical features as the official types – a shielding body and a diameter of 9.5 mm. However, these connectors are described as non-standard because they have not been approved by the German Deutsches Institut für Normung (German Institute for Standardization.
DIN and miniDIN connectors are applied in a wide range of electronic devices. Most often we can find them in audio equipment or as sockets in older computers.
DIN sockets and plugs are associated with audio equipment for a good reason. It is thanks to this field that they have become popular. The first to appear was a two-pin DIN 41529 connector, but it had quite a disadvantage – lack of external reinforcement. As a result, the connector was very easy to pull out. It happened that even a slight pull of the cable resulted in unplugging the connector. Nowadays, DIN connectors are manufactured using completely different technological processes, so we can find them in various sound systems. It is worthmentioning that they were used in radio systems installed in Mercedes-Benz cars.
Another quite popular application of DIN connectors, or, to be precise miniDINs, was connecting the mouse and keyboard to the computer. This was possible thanks to the 6-pin connector, which is also referred to as PS/2. The keyboard was connected to a purple socket and the mouse to a green socket. Currently, computer miniDIN sockets have been replaced by USB ports, but we can still find them in older models.
Custom 7-pin miniDIN connectors were mainly used in older graphics cards and laptops. Such connectors were fully compatible with ordinary 4-pin S-Video cables, however, after connecting a special adapter supplied by the manufacturer, the full potential of the 7-pin connector could be used. Additional contacts were mostly used as lines of auxiliary and synchronizing signals as well as signals such as YPbPr, SPDIF in some Dell laptops.
DIN connectors were also used in the film industry. They were mainly applied as speaker outputs in older types of 16 mm projectors.
3-pin DIN connectors were applied, among others, in 3D TVs. They were used to connect active "shutter" 3D glasses. Such a solution was used quite shortly, because watching films with glasses permanently connected to the TV set was rather uncomfortable. Manufacturers very quickly decided to place appropriate batteries in the glasses in order to power them wirelessly.
DIN plugs and sockets are also quite commonly used in various types of lighting systems, mainly as power supply interfaces for LED systems and halogen lamps. Moreover, DIN connectors were also widely applied in theatre analogue lighting systems. Over time, as the digitisation progressed, they were replaced by digital lighting control systems.
The above mentioned devices are commonly used in practically every retail store as well as in many companies. Not everyone knows about it, but we can also connect them to a cash register or other device thanks to the miniDIN connector. Nowadays, however, this type of connectors is more and more often replaced by USB ports.
MIDIs are also quite often fitted with DIN connectors. These sockets are installed in many audio devices, such as synthesizers, keyboards, audio cards and many others. Before the MIDI interface was developed, the issue of communication with musical equipment was solved individually, and it was only after its development that DIN sockets started to be commonly installed to facilitate and standardise connections between devices.
In conclusion, despite the passage of years, DIN and miniDIN connectors can be found in numerous application. Thanks to their versatility and lack of assignment to a specific communication interface, they are still successfully used in many devices. However, due to progressive digitization they are gradually being replaced by more common connectors such as USB. It should be remembered, however, that when designing our own devices or systems, we can use DIN and miniDIN connectors without hesitation.
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