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PCB Module Sockets

Sockets are also useful for testing small PCB modules. These devices are made up of components and IC devices soldered to a PCB sometimes with metal covers or plastic encapsulation.  As long as the contacts are on one side and on the same plane then the PCB module can be tested in a simple socket. Even devices with contacts on both sides and more than one level can often be tested in a socket.

RTI designs and manufactures custom test fixtures for everything from a 1mm square die to large complex PCBs. We have designed fixtures to test medical hybrids, hybrids used for space satellites, multi-chip silicon-on-silicon modules, optical devices, cell phones, RF sub-assemblies, fingerprint detectors, guitar amplifiers, and many other applications. 

PCB Module Types

  • RF Modules:  These modules are designed to be integrated into larger systems and have a metal RF shield and often an antenna port.  These modules often have castellated contacts to interface to a standard footprint on the target system.  Modules may be Bluetooth, Cellular, GPS receivers etc.
  • Medical Devices:  Often designed to be compact like mobile devices but with more irregular shapes, medical device modules take many forms.  In many cases, the module takes flat contact on one side form and is compatible with this design style.
  • Flex Cables & Circuits:  Flex and flex-rigid assemblies with active circuitry or just contacts is a good candidate for sockets for modules
  • Camera Modules:  Optical devices integrated with driver circuitry on a small board are common products in aerospace, machine vision, and security camera products.
  • Sensor Modules:  Modules that sense light, sound, temperature, pressure position, and motion may all need to be socketed for test or analysis purposes.  Many of these come in OC package formats but others come integrated with other support components into a module.

Socket Features and Design Options

  • Castellated Contacts:   This is a special type of contact that resembles a plated thru hole cut in half, each contact has a half circle notch.  Packages with this type of contact resemble the ramparts of a castle when turned on its side.
    • If the contact has sufficient metal on the bottom, RTI can treat it like a QFN device and any lid type can be used
    • If contact can only be made from the side, a custom socket with clamping action is required.
  • Wide range of sizes:  Most of these sockets are custom footprint, modules up to 20 square inches or more can be fixture this way.  Smaller devices that can fit in our semi-custom socket sizes will benefit from a non-custom status and no NRE
  • Multi Site: Smaller format modules can be made in 2 up and 4 up formats for better efficiency when loading devices during test and lower cost per test site.
  • Clamshell Lid option: For larger devices, we offer a clamshell lid with gimballed pressure plate that reduces torqueing of the DUT in the socket when closing the lid
  • Compression Mount Socket:  Our sockets mount directly onto the PCB using screws, no soldering required.
  • Higher precision than a test press:  A test press is recommended down to 50 mil pitch (1.27mm) min, while a socket configuration can tolerate 0.4mm pitch if necessary
  • Contacts on 2 levels: Some boards have the test points on more than one plane.  RTI can usually find a combination of pins to make this work.
  • Contacts on both sides:  RTI can usually find a solution to connect to devices with contacts on the top and bottom side.
  • Alignment Features:  Devices with larger pads and larger pitch can be aligned on the body of the device but it is recommended that in most cases a non plated thru tooling hole is provided for alignment purposes.  A small post is placed in the socket to ensure the contacts are in the right spot every time.

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