Appendix A. Care and Cleaning of Compression Connectors

The Silicon Graphics Octane2 workstation uses compression connectors to connect several modules and boards to the frontplane.

Compression connectors are located in the following places:

Each compression connector has 96 pads that enable passage of signals between the system (via the frontplane) and the system module, PCI module, or XIO board.

A compression connector has two halves: one half is located on the frontplane of the chassis; the other half is located on the system module, PCI module, or XIO board. Each pad on a frontplane connector is a flat, gold-plated surface. Each pad on the system module, PCI module, or XIO board is composed of hundreds of tiny bristles (dendrites), as shown in Figure A-1. When a bristled pad is pressed into a gold-plated pad, a connection is created for one signal.

Figure A-1. Identifying the Bristled Pad of the Compression Connector

Identifying the Bristled Pad of the Compression Connector

The bristled pads may attract and hold dust, lint, grease, powder, and dirt. The presence of these substances clogs or damages the bristles and prevents them from making proper contact with the gold-plated pads on the system's frontplane. It is important to prevent this.

Storing and Handling Compression Connectors

To avoid damaging a compression connector and to keep it in optimal working condition, follow these guidelines whenever the board is not installed in the chassis:

Caution: Failure to follow these instructions can result in irreparable damage to the surface of the connector's pads, which may result in intermittent or complete failure of the product.

  • Do not wipe or touch the pads of the compression connector with anything (no human fingers, no brushes, no cloth, no probes), except as specified in the cleaning instructions. The bristles might be damaged.

  • Whenever the module or board is not in the chassis, put the protective cap over the compression connector and put the module or board in an antistatic bag. Be sure to close (fold over) the open end of the bag to minimize exposure to dust and atmospheric gases.

  • Do not put anything (not even water) onto the pads, except as specified in the cleaning instructions.

  • Before laying the board on a surface, make sure that the surface is free of dust, lint, powder, metal filings, oil, water, and so on.

  • Do not blow dust, dirt, or powder anywhere near the board when it is not inside its protective bag.

Cleaning Compression Connectors

A compression connector should never need to be cleaned if you keep the protective cover on whenever the module or board is not in the chassis. However, if the connector becomes dirty, follow these steps for removing pollutants:

Note: Some pollutants can irreversibly damage (corrode or chemically alter) the pad surfaces. Although cleaning may remove the pollutant, it does not repair damage incurred by this contact.

  1. Obtain a can of dry compressed air or inert gas. The Envi-Ro-Tech 1671 Duster product manufactured by Tech Spray, L.P. (telephone +806 372 8523) works extremely well for this application.

    Caution: Do not use a cleaning product that contains any of the following ingredients: halogenated hydrocarbons, aromatic hydrocarbons, ethers, sulfur, ketones, or solvents of any kind. These substances cause irreparable damage to the connector's surface.

  2. Prepare the can for use, as instructed on the can. For example, if a tube is provided, attach it to the can's dispensing mechanism.

    Figure A-2. Spraying the Compression Connector

    Spraying the Compression Connector

  3. Hold the can in a vertical position.

  4. Place or hold the XIO board so that the rounded edge of the compression connector faces up. Note that the rounded edge is completely closed, so that air cannot flow into the connector, whereas the squared edge has an opening (see Figure A-2.)

    Caution: Spraying into the squared (open) edge of the connector can destroy it.

  5. Position the XIO board at an angle to the can, so that the tip of the can's applicator is one to two inches away from the first (topmost) row of pads. Do not allow the applicator to touch the pads. When you spray, the air hits each pad and flows downward.

  6. Start spraying. As you spray, move the spray along the length of the connector until the entire length has been sprayed. Move down a few rows and again spray along the entire length.

    Note: Do not shake the can. Stop spraying if any visible material (for example, foam) appears. This foam will blow away once you resume spraying just air.

  7. Repeat until all the pads have been sprayed.

  8. When you finish, cover the compression connector with its cap or immediately install the board in an XIO slot.