9 Truths You Should Know About Board to Board

You’ve probably heard about wire to wire or wire to board connector, right? This time, let’s talk about board to board connector of a printed circuit board. Generally, board to board connectors are used to connect electronic components of a printed circuit board. The components contain a conductive pattern etched on the insulating surface. Each terminal of a BTB connector is attached to a printed circuit board and is made from conductive components, plated for greater conductivity.

Board to board connector includes specific number of terminals and plate housing. The terminals will transmit electric current between circuit boards that are connected by a board to board connector. Now, it’s time to know the basics of BTB connectors and apply these learnings to your future PCB project.

Different Technology Application:

When it comes to manufacturing board to board connectors, the most common technology used is either through-hole technology or surface mount technology. Each has its own uses and advantages.

  • Through-hole Technology – This technology creates connections by using leads that are inserted through drilled holes of a printed circuit board. On the other side of the board, the leads are soldered to pads in order to complete electrical connection. This method is feasible in building strong vertical connections between layered boards.
  • Surface Mount Technology – A method where connectors are mounted directly on top of the printed circuit board. SMT technology may have short leads, completely no leads, or leads that don’t pass through the circuit boards. Because of its breadboard compatibility, SMT technology is widely used.

Board to Board Connector Specifications

When you select your board to board connectors, there are certain specifications you need to consider, such as features, contacts, or type. Most of these specifications are based on its PCB connector.

Special Features :

There is more to board to board connectors than meets the eye. They include several special features. These are the following:

  • Environmental features – This means that device is protected from any outside elements (chemicals, solvents, and other factors). Board to board connector manufacturers may offer connectors that are resistant to environmental damages. Some are even made for subfreezing use.
  • Connection features – This is applied to a device’s connection method. For example, a locking connector can be sealed to avoid unapproved disconnection. Other connectors have a quick connect feature which means a device can be connected and disconnected easily via a twist and seal contact method. As for press-fit connectors, these don’t need soldering. Instead, the leads are etched into the circuit board.
  • Medical connectors – Adhere to strict safety standards, including prevention of inadvertent plug disengagement.
  • Filters – These are installed into board to board connectors in order to decrease interference of electromagnetic and radio frequency.

Basic Types of Board to Board Connectors:

These are the most common board to board connectors in the market:

  • Pin Header or Male Header
  • Elevated Pin Header or Stacked Stacker Mezzanine PC104 Header
  • Elevated Socket or Stacked Stacker Mezzanine PC104 Socket
  • Shrouded Header or Box Header

Board to Board Connector Header:

One way to determine the type of a board to board connector is by its header. It is a mounting plate or plastic base where contacts are connected. There are basically two major headers of a board to board connector. A box header is a connector that features a header surrounded by its contacts; while a pin header is a connector where its contacts are exposed.

There are two different board to board connector gender configuration. The first one is called, male connectors or plugs which consist of a metal projection, and the 2nd one is the female connector or known as a receptacle. Connectors may have several forms of geometry. Straight connectors have pins aligned at the top or bottom, and right angle connectors have pins on each side.

Mounting of a Board to Board Connector on a PCB:

Premium board to board connectors can be purchased in different technology varieties, such as Surface Mount (SMT) and Through Hole (TH).

For you to mount board to board connectors, make sure you have locating pegs or also known as alignment pins. These pins are made to support connector alignment to the circuit board. Moreover, alignment pins are mainly used when surface mount technology is being utilized.

The Right Connector Pitch:

Pitch is the space between single pins. You need to consider numerous things when choosing the right connector pitch to complete your PCB layout.

  • Current Carrying Capacity – If the header pin is smaller, the current carrying capacity will be lower.
  • Space Constraint – Smaller pitches enable lower connector build and lower circuit board stacking build. You see, if a pitch is small, the connector will also be small. There are tons of low profile connector choices available in different manufacturers.
  • Physical Constraint – This is a matter of connector ranges achieving the layout you want. Larger ranges most likely depend on larger PCB design frames. However, small size range is made for basic designs, like parallel orientations or circuit board’s mating in co-planar.

Board to Board Connector Rows:

SCONDAR offers headers that can be used for a wide variety of configurations. These configurations range from single to quad row. There are rows that are mostly available in smaller style and pitch varieties.

PCB Profile Calculation:

When calculating a printed circuit board connector stacking, you need to calculate the board to board connector height. The measurement is form the circuit board’s face to its topmost insulator point above. This is called the profile.


There are obviously tons of things to consider when designing a printed circuit board. From wire to wire, wire to board, and board to board connectors. Each has its own specifications and components you must know before getting on the right material. As you can see, each component depends mostly of the PCB’s size.

So, make sure you get the right measurement for every component you will get, from pin headers, connectors, pitches, etc. before starting your PCB layout. Hope this gives you valuable insight about board to board connector and things you need to know.

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