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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.


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


Exhibition season starting at PMW Köln

Posted on October 29, 2015 by

PMW2015LOGO

Adrian and Ryan will be heading up Booth 5022 in Cologne this year at the PMW show. This will be our 10 straight year of being at this show.  Products on display will be electronics hardware and of course our cable assemblies showcasing some examples of our motorsport range of product, but also other types from different industries.  Motorsport only makes up 15% of our turnover, with involvement mainly in military, medical and audio projects.

Our products can be found in hospitals throughout the world, in Boeing and Airbus aircraft, and they have even played their part in the new James Bond movie, Spectre.  Not bad for a company who has stuck to its routes and manufactured in Southampton, UK for the past 32 years.

What makes us as a world class facility is the constant investment in our quality systems.  Being UL approved and ISO aproved sets us apart from some of the competition out there.  In fact it is unheard of in the motorsport sector.  These approvals are essential for some of the other markets we are manufacturing for.  We are actively looking at replacing ISO with the AS9100 spec for 2016.

Please do come along and see the guys next week in Cologne, or alternatively contact them through the contact us page on the website.  We hope to see you all soon.


Ribbon / Flat Cables and Assemblies

Posted on August 14, 2015 by

Since the company was founded back in 1983, we have been very successful at producing Ribbon/Flat cable assemblies.  Be that in the form of IDC types with connectors terminated on them, or in the form of PVC Interboard connects that provide a low cost solution for connecting PCB’s together.  In fact the latter was how the company was founded by Patrick Kiely.  He had the opportunity to provide this solution to one of his clients whilst working in his previous company.  It was so well received that Patrick decided to start up his own business, and here we are today some 32 years later and still providing this cost effective solution to all corners of the globe.

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IDC Cable Assemblies

These are produced here using automatic machinery for cutting and even for terminating.  We are tooled for every connector manufacturer and in most cases could start delivering within 48 hours of processing your order.  All cables are of course made to our own ISO and UL approvals and meet RoHS standards.  Every single assembly we produce is manufactured in house, controlled by our ERP and QA procedures and then passes through QA for 100% electrical test and visual inspection.  Every aspect of manufacture is documented, recorded and stored.  Test certificates can be produced and a Certificate of Conformance is provided free of charge as standard, as with all our cable assemblies.

PVC Ribbon Cables

We use as standard a UL approved flat ribbon cable in either 24 or 26 AWG formats.  Both types are stranded and pre tinned so you have flexibility and ease when terminating through a PCB.  We offer various different pitches with 2.54mm being the most popular.  We can produce from 2 to 24 conductors, with or without a polarisation stripe, and from lengths of 25mm to over 3000mm.  Again all these products go through our strict manufacture and quality checks and is again recorded into our QA system.

Please do contact one of our sales team on +44 (0) 23 8022 7636 or here


New Production Manager.

Posted on May 13, 2015 by

We are very pleased to announce Mr. Martin Handley as our new Production Manager.

Martin joined the company back in 2011 initially starting in production.  His enthusiasm and adaptability eventually led to him working on customer sites, and running parts of the company ISO system.

Having the first hand experience of how our products are manufactured, and familirisation with the wide range of tooling we have will not only be a great asset to us, but also to our customer base.

Dax Ward, MD commented, “We had some strong candidates apply internally for this position.  I was very pleased Martin was one of the them.  I have admired his work and his attitude to the company from afar for some time.  I am positive Martin taking on this role will further enhance St Cross Electronics position as a world class manufacturer of cable assemblies, I look forward to working with him on our management team”.

 


Low Pressure Moulding Solutions

Posted on January 20, 2015 by

WHAT WE CAN DO

With electronics in every aspect of life, resin encapsulation is an increasingly popular option for protecting sensitive components.  Low pressure overmoulding is quite simply a better and faster option.  Here at St Cross Electronics, low pressure over moulding is something we have been perfecting for a number of years.

We can provide a full subcontract overmoulding service to the entire electronics sector. We use various materials including Macromelt products that meet UL94 V-0 requirements.

From the exacting standards of Medical and Industrial X-Ray equipment, the rigorous requirements of the off-shore and airborne industries, to the precision demanded by aerospace, military and motorsport customers, we provide excellent solutions for even the toughest applications.
With over 30 years of manufacturing experience manufacturing cable assemblies both here in the UK and at our Far East facility we are equipped to support high volume work, as well as the flexibility and dedication for small or special batches and for prototype and development projects. Pre-encapsulation of electrical assemblies and cabling can also be undertaken if applicable.

Some of our partners utilise overmolding in their designs for the following benefits.

Impact & Vibration

When the moulding material cools, it hardens . This provides the finished moulded assembly with very good protection against impact and vibration. All connectors, components and wires are encapsulated and held in place within the material.  This is very effective for the motorsport and automotive industry, military, medical and technology industries where motion, vibration and impact are a concern.

Waterproofing

We have found that all market sectors we supply have a requirement to protect electronics from moisture, condensation, immersion in water (inc. saltwater), or even from liquids such as bodily fluids.

Strain Relief

We can create a design, that gives the finished article using the same materials, a strain relief where a cable exits the rear of the assembly.   This same technology and process can even be used to create and incorporate grommets and create strain relief.

Please do contact one of our sales team if you have any requirements today on +44 23 8022 7636, or via our contact us page.

Many thanks for reading this blog.


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