Author Archives: StCross

Motorsport Wiring Harness Case Study

Posted on March 8, 2019 by

motorsport harnessing

We were approached in the summer of 2018 by a UK-based race car manufacturer who was looking for a motorsport wiring harness manufacturer in the UK. They run a single make race series and could see that there might be a supply area that would cause a weak area of the car in the near future. This was the wiring loom. What was already there suited them, they had a supplier who could provide motorsport harnessing to the cars on site and had done a very good job for many years, but this guy wanted to stop.

We looked at what they currently had, listened to the pros and cons for it. In this discussion the idea of a bespoke ECU came up. One ECU was mentioned, and we did some research on it. As for an ECU it was not a bad choice for now, but it did not give much room for the future. We went away and came up with a design for the motorsport wiring harness and suggested another ECU, one from ECUMaster. Using this ECU made the wiring harness much simpler as with all modern ECU’s it was a CAN based system. It also allowed the series to put a good engine map on it, and then it has two levels of password security. Why did they need this? Well a one make series needs to have security to the competitors, to ensure that nothing underhand is happening to power curves, maps, or increased rev bands. It stops the question, have they cheated?

Motorsport Wiring Harness UK

So, we had now gone from replacing a wiring harness, to changing all the electronic hardware on the cars, including the dash. Not a simple task, as engines will need to be dynoed and there are multiple type of engines. As with all UK motorsport harnessing customers, the start of a project is determined by the end of a season, and the start of testing the following season. In October 2018 we started, held meetings with the UK agent for ECUMaster, RRR Engineering. We all agreed what we needed, agreed a timeline and the project got underway.

First thing we did was make a rough wiring harness, that would become the dyno harness, this was produced and tested on the car. The first power up of the ECU showed it had worked perfectly, the next job was for RRR Engineering to create an engine map and get the engine working. We left the motorsport wiring harness with them for a few weeks. A couple of changes on the sensor wiring had to be made, and REV 2 was released into production. Our motorsport wiring harness was not going to be a one-piece harness as previously supplied, we have split it into 4 harnesses. Engine, ECU, Dash and Charging loom. To meet FiA requirements, the ECU and Engine Looms are connected through a fire bulkhead using Autosport connectors. We separated these two so that in the case of a fire or other damage to the engine loom, then a spare wiring harness can be taken off the team truck and fitted in minutes. It just gives the opportunity of getting the race car out on track quickly, whereas the current situation is game over for the driver as the motorsport wiring harness could not be repaired easily at the track.

Wiring harness

By mid-February the second car was fitted with our motorsport wiring harnesses, and again on power up of the ECU everything worked. It was now down to RRR Engineering to fire her up and ensure the map worked. That was carried out successfully, and on the very last day of February the car rolled out from Garage 1C at Silverstone for her first shakedown. After a couple of changes were made to the mapping, the car was handed over to the customer that evening and they enjoyed a full day of testing the following day.

Our customer has now gone from a supplier working in their factory making a one-piece wiring harness, to St Cross Electronics manufacturing a modular loom, having it fully tested here in Southampton, and supplied by post to the customer ready for them to take from the box to the car.

 


Cable Assemblies for Harsh Environments

Posted on October 9, 2018 by

Since 1983 we have been making cable assemblies here in the UK, and this month alone we have shipped our products to the UK, all over Europe, North and South America and even to China. Our cable assemblies can be found in all sorts of market sectors but one particular sector we are trusted to work in are Harsh Environments. Why do I say trusted, you may ask; surely making cables anyone can do? Why do you need to be trusted? The simple answer to all of those questions is that we are trusted to be a reliable manufacturer whose product will work under these harsh conditions. Below are just three examples where our cables are working and what the conditions and requirements are.

Deep Sea Exploration

deep sea cable assembliesWe were selected along with some other competitors to compete for a tender where our cables would be in a deep sea exploration module. These modules would be launched from boats and would go to 4km deep under the ocean. For us that was not a real challenge and that may sound slightly blasé, but we knew our manufacturing processes, our choice of vendors and finally our excellent QC department would all work together to give the customer a quality product that will not fail. To the customer it was not that simple. Imagine the cost involved on such a project, and then imagine the cost of getting that project out to sea, the cost of the engineers on the boat, waiting for the correct window of opportunity with the currents and weather, then launching the module to the sea bed; a journey that takes over 6 hours each way. Imagine if they chose the wrong supplier, and when that module was set to work at its destination it did not work. The cost of choosing the wrong supplier would have been millions of wasted money. Luckily for us, our customer was not focused on price alone, quality and processes were far more important to them and they made the correct choice. In this case all our cables were CNC prepared on automatic machinery, all crimp processes were also checked and recorded and multi stage electronic QC tests were carried out throughout the process using HiPot voltage testing. We have the experience to produce these high quality looms and thankfully our customer had the trust in us to work with us.

 

Unmanned Air Vehicles

cable assemblies for unmanned aircraftThis is a growing industry in the world and one that has many levels of and types of aircraft. We were selected for an unmanned fixed wing aircraft that has a petrol rotary engine. It has a wing span of some 6m so is a pretty large drone. The use of this aircraft is for surveillance, it is used in the Arctic so it is prone to pretty low temperatures all the time. The customer could not afford to have a harness that would fail in any temperature. We helped with the design of this project, selected the correct materials that would withstand both low and high temperatures, chose some special wire that was very lightweight, strong and able to carry bigger current than standard same AWG could take. In this case we could lay up the loom on the air frame before and then we could look at minimising the weight further. Less weight equals longer fly time. We tested these cable assemblies on our Cirris CH2 tester. With that experience, we have since embarked on further unmanned aircraft and marine vehicles.

 

Ocean Marine Racing

cable assemblies for ocean racingWe have for the past 15 years had involvement in the world of motorsport, but in the past 5 years we have moved into the world of ocean sail racing. We have supplied many round the world yacht teams, and Americas Cup challenge teams. We are perfectly positioned on the South Coast of the UK and can see the Solent waters from our facility. We got involved in this industry from our motorsport work. Some of the challenges we have had in this area are the lengths of these looms, some are over 40m long as they go up masts, plus the other big challenge is sea water. It is very corrosive and gets in absolutely everywhere. We witnessed the destruction of one such harness, not ours I will add. A racing yacht had capsized over one weekend, and the harness was brought into us to repair two days later. The connectors were destroyed as standard autosport connectors had been chosen. So our guys set about the task of removing the connectors and the boots. As they did this it quickly became evident that water had got into the back of the connector under the boot on the back. When we fit heatshrink boots, we ensure that a ring of glue is fitted 360 degrees around the boot and cable. This other manufacturer had just missed a bit and salt water had got in. The simple fix of replacing a connector ended up being stripping the cable back about 300mm further back, splicing and replacing that cable length, then re-crimping and loading of the connector. It was just bad luck the boat capsized, but if the booting had been done correctly by this other manufacturer then salt water would not have got inside the harness.

As you can see harsh environments is a test of any manufacturers capabilities, but only the best can ensure they can do the job each and every time. Quality is key to us!


Code 60 Virtual Safety Car Device – C60VSC

Posted on January 9, 2018 by

Code 60 Virtual Safety Car – C60VSC

St Cross Electronics and Cartek Motorsport have become technical partners on a new device aimed at improving safety to race circuits, competitors and marshals.

The Code 60 Virtual Safety Car was launched at PMW Expo 2017 and already has been received well with new orders being taken in The Netherlands by the DNRT (Dutch National Racing Team).

 

 

***The product will be on display at The Autosport International Expo from 11-14 January 2018 on the Cartek Booth 8244.  You will find Dax there to give a demo, and be able to chat about the merits this new product brings to circuit safety and competitor fairness.***

A collaboration between two motorsport electronic companies, St Cross Electronics and Cartek has resulted in a simple system which can be installed on any car and used at any race circuit to allow all of the safety and performance benefits of Code-60 to be fully realised.

What is the Code 60 flag?

Introduced in 2000’s, the Code-60 flag concept was deemed to be safer, quicker and fairer way to neutralise a race when an on-track incident required marshal intervention.  Although successfully used in top level endurance racing in Europe, when this concept was later introduced to club level, circuit racing in the UK, several problems were encountered.  This was mainly due to cars and drivers at this level of racing not being equipped with the communication systems or instrumentation as commonly found in high level GT racing.  As such, it was almost impossible for a club level driver to hold their speed to the required 60kph when required and also for officials to monitor a drivers’ behaviour during a Code-60 situation.

How does it work?

Each system has a Code 60 Driver Indicator System (C60DIS) that is GPS driven and through a sequence of LED’s on the C60DIS, it gives the driver a visual bright indicator of what speed they are doing.  This gives the driver the feedback they need to maintain a safe 60kph, but also external indicators show to other drivers and observers whether the car is above or at the desired 60kph speed limit in place set by the Code 60 flag.

 

For more information and a live demo of the C60VCS system do come and visit our booth at #8244


Exhibition Timetable 2017

Posted on October 27, 2017 by

EXPO Season 2017

We are heading towards Expo season, where we showcase we special area of our cable harnessing techniques and skills.  For many years we have been providing cable assemblies into the Motorsport and Racing markets, not necessarily all engine driven either, some are powered by the natural elements.  In 2017 we have supplied Mercedes AMG HPP, McLaren Racing, BMW and Kawasaki BSB teams, IOM TT bikes and sidecars and we even got to witness the Americas Cup with customer Ben Ainslie Racing coming so close to getting to the final.

In 2017 we have a new exciting new product aimed at club to mid level racers, this will be on demo at PMW in Cologne.  More details to follow on this in the next few weeks.

 

PMW EXPO – Cologne, Germany

Our first exhibition is at the fabulous PMW EXPO in Cologne.  We have been at this show from its inception and this year we are on Booth 5020.  The dates of the show are 15 – 17 November starting at 10am each day.  Both Ryan and Dax will be in attendance.  More details of the show can be found here, with the floor map here.

 

 

PRI EXPO – Indianapolis, IN, USA

After a 3 year break from exhibiting at PRI, we are back for 2017 on Booth 4448.  It is the 30th running of the show which has seen it recently move back home to Indy after a few years in Orlando, FL.  We will be sharing a booth with our long term friends in this Industry Cartek Motorsport Electronics.  Adrian and Dax will be in attendance, with Neil Armstrong from Cartek.

Cartek has been manufacturing electronic equipment for the motorsport industry since 2002. Their first innovation was the development of a fully electronic battery master switch for use in race and rally cars.  Today they manufacture many other high quality items with probably the most exciting new product, Power Distribution Panels.

The dates for this show are 7 – 9 December starting at 9am each day.  More details of the show can be found here, with the floor map here.

Do please come along to see us at either show, and if you want to arrange a meeting before then do please contact Marcus whose email is sales(at)st-cross-electronics.co.uk

We look forward to meeting you all.


How it all started – Patrick J. Kiely

Posted on March 31, 2016 by

St Cross Electronics was set up in the early 1980’s and still, today, trades with some of its first customers.  It even has some of the same staff members that joined in those very early years.  This post is written by its founder Mr. Patrick J. Kiely, who really did take a big gamble to leave what was a secure job to “go on his own”. Patrick retired from the business in 2003 after Adrian Jukes and Dax Ward carried out an MBO.  Below is Patrick’s story.

 

I always had a burning desire to run my own business and Vicky and I have, over the years, come up with many different ideas such as building houses, as I had done in Loughborough, to selling solar panels in Spain (this was the early days of solar panels).  But we could never see a way of getting things started until I joined ITT Cannon.  The new experience of dealing with people in the electronics industry made me realise that although these people were very good at something I knew very little about, I could do the mechanical and packaging side of it at least as good as them.

One day, visiting Mullards of Southampton, an engineer showed me a complicated assembly consisting of many soldered wires which, he said, would be very expensive to produce “in house” and did I know of a suitable sub contractor who could handle it.  I gave it two seconds thought and replied that I knew exactly the right people and would get back to him later with details.  Next day I registered “St. Cross Electronics” at companies house as “ sole trader”.

In the event nothing came of the Mullard deal but at least I had made the first step: we had a company.

Although wildly ambitious I was always very aware that I should never compromise my position with Cannon; in terms of taking business that should be theirs or spending their time on my project.  So I was pleased that the very first order taken by St. Cross was to the benefit of me and Cannon.   A company in Egham wanted a “D-Sub” Connector for board mounting but with clinch- nuts to fix to a front panel.  Not a difficult request, I thought, but “D-Sub” was manufactured in France and they were not interested in producing a special.  My solution , accepted by them, was to buy the standard connector from Cannon and free issue it to me to be modified.  This first order was followed by various cable assemblies which I made in my little workshop.

Jumpers

The jumper is a very simple device for joining two printed circuit boards together. It consists of ribbon cable (usually on 0.100 pitch) of various ways with both conductor ends bared for soldering to the boards.  The first we saw at Cannon was supplied by “Spectrastrip”, an ITT company in the USA, for the “Oxford Calculator”.  I can’t remember now what it cost but for what it was the price was enormous.  I could see the future. I had to make them; but how to achieve that perfect 3 mm strip at each end?

As we were selling Spectrastrip in its many forms I had no trouble in getting cable to play with.  We tried a special abrasive machine that the makers claimed was designed for just that purpose and was nearly successful but not quite.  I nearly bought it thinking I could make it work but, fortunately, Vicky was not persuaded.  Eventually I  found a simple hand tool from Weidmuller that did the trick but, clearly, was not for mass production.  One of my first orders, using the new tool, was a from a speaker company.  They needed to get from a 10 way switch on the front of the unit to a PC board 800mm away.  The perfect solution was to free issue the switches to be soldered to a 10way colour coded ribbon cable stripped at the free end to be soldered, by them, to their board.

By this time I had so much work that I had to recruit and train a small army of “home workers” two of whom I entrusted with the Weidmuller tools and small solder pots to produce the jumpers.

By the summer of 1982 I became unhappy at Cannon due to changes in the Sales management and, in a fit of pique, I left to join Harting.   An action I regretted almost as soon as I committed it.  However, being more unhappy with my new company gave me the incentive to take my “hobby company” to the next level.  That September wandering around the InterNepcon exhibition in Brighton I was thrilled to discover the “Komax machine”.  This was a revelation: I had never heard of it before, and it did exactly what I wanted.  The demonstrator produced jumpers using Molex cable which with its single core conductor meant that they could be produced very cheaply because they required no secondary tinning operation.  The biggest customer for jumpers that I knew of was STC in Belfast who used them to join two boards together in their “Viscount” telephone hand set.  This was a hugely popular phone.  Indeed, every new BT subscriber was given one.

An old chum at Cannon who covered the area was kind enough to introduce me to the company and the Buyer was keen to receive a competitive quotation. So I bought a reel of cable and agreed with the distributor of the “Komax” that, if he would run off a batch of the three way jumpers as samples and if they were accepted, I would buy the machine.

Our samples and quote were accepted and we bought our first machine.  I partitioned off the end of my garage to produce a sixteen by eight foot workshop and installed the new machine together with a small hydrovane compressor.  I now needed to make the vital decision to leave full time employment and try earning my living through my tiny new company.  I can not pretend that I was not frightened by the prospect.  I knew I could not rely just on jumpers to create a successful company but needed more customers for cable harness.  Nowadays one can count the number of computer manufactures almost on the fingers of one hand but in the early eighties there were literally hundreds.  One of which, a company in Woking, I was hoping to supply.  When I got my first order from them I made the decision, left Harting, took a lease on a Vauxhall Cavalier and was on my own.  This was July 1983 and by the autumn of that year I had to find a proper factory if I was to expand and be taken seriously by the sort of companies I aspired to supply.

Southampton City Council, in their endeavour to promote industry bought a row of terraced houses and converted them to basic workshops to be let to start-up companies   at a reasonable rent.  We moved there in November and employed three young men under the governments “Young Workers Scheme”.

This got us started and when the council built smaller units behind we took one of them as well.  Finally, in 1986, we outgrew both units and took a twenty five year lease on a new factory in Mount Pleasant where we are to this day.


DFM – Design for Manufacturability

Posted on March 23, 2016 by

At St Cross Electronics Ltd we have been supporting our customers with Design for Manufacturability (DFM) for many years.  We work closely with our customers to ensure the most effective final design for efficient, high quality manufacture.

Although not a direct design house, we have over 30 years experience of manufacturing cable assemblies. So we can advise on better practices, components, sourcing on all entities involved with the design and manufacture of a cable assembly.

If this process is adopted at the start of a project it can reduce manufacturing costs.  DFM will allow potential problems to be fixed in the design phase which is the least expensive place to address them.

Other factors may affect the manufacturability such as the type of raw material, the form of the raw material, dimensional tolerances, and secondary processing such as finishing. If you get the foundations right the rest will follow.

Design for Manufacturability is a part of our business that we feel very passionate about, and we would value the opportunity to discuss any new projects with you, assisting in any way we can.

We also support rapid prototyping department, drawings and First Article Inspections.

Please contact one of our sales team to discuss your requirements in more detail and be directed to an engineer.


Quality Cable Assemblies – How do we do so well?

Posted on March 4, 2016 by

QUALITY IS KEY!!

A simple phrase that is bread into everyone here at St. Cross Electronics. We pride ourselves on quality, something that was imprinted into the foundations of St Cross Electronics from its inception back in 1983. We have always wanted our customers to be sure that they can use our product from delivery straight into their equipment.

We have from the start had processes, procedures and controls that ensure each stage of manufacture has a QC check incorporated. Dax Ward, Managing Director quotes “If the foundations of anything are secure and substantial then the build on top of these will be secure and less prone to fall down. These foundations were implemented by St Cross Electronics founder Patrick Kiely over 30 years ago, and still today every single process we follow has the same architecture. Soon after the business was started we added BS5750 as a QC approval, and today we now hold ISO9001, ISO14001, OHSAS18001 and we are also UL approved. Today we find ourselves seriously considering AS9100 quality approval.”

QC is targeted with KPI’s on quality, measured in pieces per million. Latest figures for quality measure 200 pieces per million, a very low figure and one most companies would strive to achieve, but Dax has a slightly different view on this. “I am not really happy with this figure. Yes it gives a yield of 99.98%, and our own target is 99.6% so we are surpassing our target, but that still gives a reject rate of 200 pieces. Imagine if a car production line had a failure rate of 0.02% when producing brakes; this would still be 200 cars that could potentially could not stop safely. I am never satisfied and we still need to improve further. However, I am a bit more realistic and car manufacture and making cable assemblies are obviously two different things. Makes you think though.”

Although Dax states he is not satisfied with the above, that QC level is still very good and way above the industry standard. St Cross Electronics quality process encourages all staff to log failures, whether that is in tooling, manufacture, or poor documentation. “You cannot improve if you do not log or accept things could go wrong. You have to take positives from everything, so learn from the failures you have discovered and stop them reoccurring. We spend a lot of our QC time trying to prevent rather than react to problems.”

All cables we manufacture will as standard have a 100% continuity test, checking for not only open circuits, but correctly wired circuits. We work very closely with Cirris on this and have a vast array of test equipment from them. From simple pin to pin testers to our flag ship electrical quality control tester the CH2. Crimps are also checked, from photos, crimp heights, and tensile tests. Full dimensional checks are also as standard with our own first article inspection reports (FAIR).  All evidence, and results of all these tests are recorded and kept on file for a number of years.

So QUALITY IS KEY to us, because without good quality foundations there is no business to support it on top.

Contact one of the team today if you want a free quote or want any other information on us.


Crimping – what makes a good crimp?

Posted on February 2, 2016 by

Here at St. Cross Electronics, we always prefer to use crimping practices over solder terminations.  Although in some types of terminations, you will never get away from a solder joint, but we will cover that topic another time.

To ensure we achieve a good crimp a number of  crucial factors need to be put in place.  We have created our own in house process and rule book on how these are produced.  These sound so simple when listed but to get a quality crimp termination we must follow this list.  These skills have been developed in house here at St Cross after 30 years of manufacture.  You will not believe what we have witnessed over the years when looking at other competitors work.

1 – The correct crimp terminal for the application it is being used for.
2 – The correct size wire for said terminal, this is both the CSA of the wire and also the O.D. of the wire.
3 – The correct tooling, this includes applicators and wire strip tools.
4 – The crucial strip lengths for the wire.
5 – Tensile testers and crimp height gauges are essential.

We have 3 methods of crimping here; Hand tools, bench press applicators, fully automated CNC machines that cut, strip, crimp and even test crimps.

Wherever possible, St Cross Electronics try to get all crimping onto bench press machines or our CNC automated crimp machines.  Hand crimping has it’s place but usually this is for small quantities and “out in the field” work.

The key to success is always “preparation”, so much time and planning is done here on getting the preparation done correctly.  We ensure that the crimp is suited to the connector you intend it for, we check the manufacturers spec sheet to ensure the wire size AWG (American Wire Gauge) and the crimp are suited together and we also check that the wire insulation O.D. is recommended.  There are two key areas to a crimp termination, the conductor and the insulation parts.  Both are very important. We ensure that we achieve a gas tight joint, which does not have any air voids. Air voids can get hot, and could lead to fires. At the other end of the spectrum, we ensure that the crimp is not over crimped. If you over crimp you will break the conductors inside. They may appear ok to you, but under vibration these conductors will weaken and could break off, causing an open or intermittent circuit. Similar applies to the insulation support on the crimp, too tight, and you could damage the strands under the insulation, too loose and you will not offer any insulation support, or another term strain relief. Our automatic CNC crimping machine have automatic crimp force analysers fitted, so each crimp is checked 100%.

So in summary if you want to receive a quality cable assembly with the correct crimped terminations, then come to St Cross as we always ensure we prepare correctly, use the correct tooling, strip the wire correctly and always check the set up using calibrated tensile and crimp height testers.  Contact St Cross Electronics today with your requirement to ensure your application is manufactured correctly, competitive and delivered on time.

 

 

 

 


Autosport International Exhibition 2016

Posted on January 4, 2016 by

Unlike previous years St Cross will not be exhibiting by holding a booth at this year’s Autosport Engineering show on the 14/15 January 2016.  Although there is not a stand, representatives from St Cross will be in attendance and “walking” the show on both of these dates.

So whether you have a full vehicle that needs a loom, or have sensors that need terminating then we can help.  We also have the capability to supply hardware from FARRINGDON, CARTEK, OBR, and MoTeC.  Some of our current customers love the “one stop” service we offer with this kit.

It is not often we actually get to walk the Autosport show, but it is still very easy to meet up with us there.  Please do contact us on 023 8022 7636 or at our email address [email protected]  Our facility is always open for you to visit.  So why not arrange a facility visit to see our manufacturing facilities first hand and witness another version of our booth.

We look forward to hearing from you and meeting you at the Autosport show next week in Birmingham, UK.

Please do visit our website and then visit the many dedicated pages to cable assemblies by clicking here.

CCB_080812_0024A   CCB_080812_0045

 

 

 

 

 

 

About St Cross – “St Cross Electronics has been manufacturing cable and wiring assemblies at their Southampton, UK site since 1983.  A fully ISO9001, 14001, and UL approved 10,000 sq ft facility with nearly 30 members in the team.  Quality is KEY to our success with constant investment in plant, and test equipment.  We not only cover Motorsport but also are key suppliers to other industries including Medical, Militarty, Aerospace, Marine, Audio Visual, and Surveillance.”


Welcome Interlink Express

Posted on December 1, 2015 by

From today we welcome Interlink Express as our new courier partner for all our next day deliveries.  One of the main reasons for this choice was a really nice feature that communicates to our customer where there goods are.  Every shipment that leaves here will have an update, emailed to our customer.  This will give them the confidence the parts are on the way, and when they are to be delivered.  It will even on the day of delivery give the customer a time line window for delivery.  Of course they offer a quality service which ensures on time delivery and goods which have not been damaged in transit.

Adrian Jukes, Production Director commented.  “Today’s world is all about communication, our customers like to know goods are on schedule and this service gives them just that and it is fully automated too.  Emails from Interlink are automatically generated even to the extent of the drivers’ name.  It saves our customers time as they do not need to call us, and also saves our time.  We have full confidence that Interlink offer a great safe service that ensures our hard work gets to the customer in the same condition it left us.”

 

interlink_logo


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