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“RF CONNECTORS: AN ASSET ACROSS INDUSTRIES
Technology has changed the way individuals and organizations communicate.With more complex and far-reaching communication becoming the norm, along with wireless connectivity, a need for more advanced hardware has developed.
RF connectors are a type of product that offers quality, versatility, and convenience. By using reliable devices, organizations in various industries are able to improve communications, which in turn helps these organizations grow effectively.
WHAT ARE RF CONNECTORS?
A radio frequency (RF) connector is an electrical connector designed to work in with a wide variety of signals at various levels of megahertz. These components are created to work with coaxial cables and operate at radio frequencies. The connectors are specially made to offer the protection and shielding common with coaxial hardware.
RF connectors can provide many qualities and help boost communications greatly. Regardless of the distance or platform, proper hardware makes a big difference when it comes to smooth and seamless data transmission.
WHAT DO THESE RF CONNECTORS OFFER?
Scalability: Connectors can link together multiple systems, allowing organizations to grow their communicative capabilities with ease.
Reliability: Designed for use with the same types of cables found in many largescale communication systems, these connectors make for reliable communication channels.
Versatility: Since so many communication systems use similar hardware, these connectors can be a great fit in a variety of settings.
WHERE ARE RF CONNECTORS USED?
Many industries depend heavily on RF technologies, so having the proper connectors is a top priority. Aerospace and defense are areas where the speed and accuracy of data transmission is of the utmost importance. With little room for errors, it is easy to see why this field invests in such technology. Industries like medicine and engineering also use this hardware.
From its scalable nature to its impact on wireless networking, RF technology is an asset when it comes to communication. Having the right connector is vital for making sure data is transmitted quickly, clearly, and consistently.
Why do cables have F connectors?
Yeah, you know what we’re talking about. The “F” connector is that screw-on connection used for your antenna, satellite and possibly even your cell booster. It’s so common you probably don’t even think about it. Before the coming of the internet, it was the most common connector in homes.
History of the F connector
The “F” connector doesn’t seem to have been named for anything (unlike the “N” connector for example which was named for its inventor Paul Neill.) If may have been named because it works for RF, UHF, and VHF, which all have the letter F in them, but that’s just speculation. What is known is that it was invented in the 1950s and became common on TVs when antennas started using 75 ohm cable.
Prior to the “F” connector, most antennas used twin-lead 300-ohm cable. Twin-lead cable had the advantage of having a similar impedance to the antenna itself. That meant no electronics were needed to change the characteristics of the cable. Today we don’t really worry about that, but in the days before transistors that was a very big deal. The package that sits in your antenna with a little bit of circuitry on it doesn’t even register with you today. That’s because it’s so small. In the 1940s it would have been huge and far more delicate. It also would have been made by hand and quite expensive.
Another option in the 1950s was the so-called UHF connector, also known as the PL-259 or SO-259 connector whether it was male or female. This was also a fairly compact connection but nowhere as easy to make as the “F” connector.
In the UHF connector, the center houses a sturdy pin which makes a more durable connection but also somewhat more prone to loss or poor connections. The UHF connector is still used in some radio applications, but I haven’t seen one on a television since the 1980s.
Advantages of the “F” connector
The “F” connector has a lot going for it. Because it uses the center conductor of the cable as its center pin, it’s both less expensive to make and provides a slightly better signal. Its screw-on outside makes it secure and watertight when used with weather boots. The connector itself forms a good shield. Push-on type connectors are the exception here, which is why push-ons are not used for satellite or other high-frequency use.
In addition to all that, the “F” connector takes up less physical space. Compared to the larger connectors used in the 1940s and 1950s, the F connector seems quite compact actually. The F connector is similar in size to an RCA connector (the one used to connect audio devices.) However the F connector has better shielding and better performance. What’s not to like?
Uses besides antennas
Antennas and satellite systems use F connectors, as pretty much all of us reading this article know. Consumer cellular boosters use F connectors, because it’s a comfortable and familiar connection. Commercial systems use 50-ohm cable with N connectors. Commercial grade 50-om cables like LMR400 have less loss than 75-ohm cables, although not every 50-ohm cable has less loss than a similar 75-ohm cable. Less loss means that longer runs from antenna to booster are possible.
Over the years there have been some wacky uses of the F connector. Some early networking schemes used it. More commonly, networking cables usded the BNC connector or some proprietary cable in order to make an easily removable connection. While the F connector can carry some power, it’s not good for more than 40 or 50 volts and a few amps due to the thin center conductor and dainty outer braid. Still, as any satellite fan knows, coaxial cable carries power quite easily.
What are Type-N Connectors?
The Type-N connector was developed in the 1940’s and was named after Paul Neill of Bell Labs. This connector was developed to fulfill the need for a durable, weatherproof medium size RF connector. It is a threaded, weatherproof, medium-size RF connector that can operate up to 18 GHz. It is officially rated to operate up to 11 GHz, however, precision enhancements made it possible to use this connector for applications up to 18 GHz.
N Connectors can be used in a wide range of applications like Antennas, Cellular, Military, Aerospace, Base Stations, Components, Cable Assembly, Instrumentation, Radar, Microwave, Surge Protection, WLAN, SATCOM and
Telecommunications.Type N connectors also find wide use in many lower frequency microwave systems, where ruggedness and/or low cost are needed. Many spectrum analyzers use such connectors for their inputs, and antennas which operate in the 0-11 GHz range often connect to a coaxial cable with type N connections.
What is SMA connector?
The SMA connector is a semi-precision sub-miniature RF and microwave connector that is extensively used, especially for RF connections within electronic systems for frequencies up to 18 GHz and sometimes more.
The SMA connector comes in a variety formats, male, female, straight, right-angled, bulkhead fitting and many more enabling it to meet most requirements. Its sub-miniature size also enables it to be used, even within relatively small items of electronic equipment.
Although now well established, the SMA connector is likely to see its use extended as many new RF systems see their operating frequencies extending well into the microwave region.
SMA connector performance
SMA connectors are designed to have a constant have a 50 ohm impedance across the connector. The SMA connectors were originally designed and specified for operation up to 18 GHz, although some versions have top frequencies of 12.4 GHz, some les and some are specified up to 24 or 26.5 GHz. The higher frequency top limits may need to operate with a higher return loss.
The actual specification for a given connector depends very much on the manufacturer and type – several different classes of quality / performance are available. It is always best to carefully check the connector specification.
In general, SMA connectors have a higher reflection coefficient than other connectors used up to 24 GHz. This arises from the difficulty in accurately anchoring the dielectric support, but despite this difficulty, some manufacturers have managed to suitably overcome this problem and are able to specify their connectors for operation to 26.5 GHz.
For flexible cables, the frequency limit is normally determined by the cable and not the connector. This is because the cables accepted by SMA connectors are small and their loss is naturally much greater than that of the connectors, especially at the frequencies at which they are likely to be used.
SMA connector power rating
The power rating for SMA connectors can be important in some instances. The key parameter that determines average power handling capabilities for mated coaxial connectors is its ability to pass high current and keep heat-rise to a moderate temperature.
The heating effect results chiefly from the contact resistance and this is a function of the contact surface area and the way in which the contacts mat together. One key area is the centre contacts – these must be properly formed and mate together well. It should also be noted that the average power rating decreases with frequency because the resistive losses increase with frequency.
Figures for power handling of SMA connectors vary widely between manufacturers but some figures indicate some can handle 500 watts at 1GHz falling to just below 200 watts at 10 GHz, but this is much higher than many people would be confident in passing through them.
The SMA connector is available in a variety of forms. The plugs are available in straight and right-angled formats and the sockets are available as cable entry or single pin centre solder contacts. Typically the cable entry types have a single nut fixing to enable them to be attached to a panel. They may also be free connectors. The centre pin types either have a two or four screw fixing capability to enable them to attach to a panel.
An Introduction About RF Terminators
RF terminators are devices used to electrically terminate coaxial RF (radio frequency) ports. They are usually placed at the end of the transmission line to prevent an RF signal from being reflected.
RF terminators are designed to match the surge impedance (ratio of current and voltage) of the cable to help minimise signal reflections and power losses. Unused tap ports or coaxial faceplates in a home, for example, can create entry and exit paths, which affect performance.
How do RF terminators work?
RF terminators absorb the electrical energy of the signal as it reaches the cable ends and prevents the signal from being reflected so it doesn’t become noise. They ensure that current flows smoothly from one device to another.
What are RF terminators used for?
RF terminators play a critical role in high-frequency systems and circuits, especially when managing high-power signals. They can also be used to close open terminations that might otherwise allow parasitic signals to enter the circuit, such as at a T-junction.