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Understanding the Ins and Outs of RF Connectors

All your everyday devices such as TV receivers, two-way radio, Wi-Fi routers with antennas, and even most scientific and industrial measuring instruments consist of RF connectors. They are also commonly known as coax connectors which assist in transmitting radio frequency signals by connecting transmission lines to different appliances.

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In this post, we will cover all the relevant information on RF connectors so you will be able to identify the type of connector used in your home or workplace. But before we go to the connectors, let us learn a bit about the coaxial cable.

What is a coaxial cable?

A coaxial cable or coax cable is electrical cabling which can transmit high-frequency radio signals from one end to another, with low loss. It is used in various applications, some of which are used in our day-to-day lives like television, telephones, broadband internet connections, high-speed computer data busses, and for connections between radio transmitters and receivers with their antennas.

Its anatomy consists of a central copper wire that acts as the main conductor that carries the information. It is thicker than that of a twisted pair cable so it is unaffected by electromagnetic interference. This center conductor is then surrounded by plastic insulation to filter out external disturbances, which is further covered by the return path that can be an aluminum foil or braided copper shielding. This outer jacket could be more in number, depending on the purpose and surrounding environment.

One main advantage of coaxial cable over others is that its electromagnetic field carrying the signal is only present in the space between the two conductors, inner and outer. This means that coax cables can be installed next to metal objects without having to worry about power loss that commonly transpires in another electrical wiring. Moreover, the cable is also shielded from any external electrical or magnetic fields that might interfere with the signals inside the cable. This is extremely helpful when signals are weak and cannot tolerate any interference from the outside. Similarly, it supports high bandwidth signal transmission, unlike twisted pair cable which is susceptible to noise or EMI. It is also relatively cheaper.

RF Connectors

While RF connectors are generally small they pack a bigger purpose. They are highly important for coaxial cables and are required to work with specifications of the cable in order to securely and accurately transmit signals. RF connectors are specifically created to provide the protection and shielding shared with coaxial hardware so they can work efficiently in those settings.

 

What do RF Connectors Offer?

  • Scalability: Connectors allow organizations to link multiple systems with ease, therefore, allowing a smooth communication channel without any disturbances.
  • Reliability: RF connectors act as a reliable and efficient communication conduit for cables that are found in several widespread communication systems.
  • Versatility: Many communication systems use hardware similar to RF connectors which makes them applicable in a variation of settings.

Nowadays, most industries are highly dependent on RF technology for smooth-running communication equipment and systems. Thus, it is essential to choose the accurate RF connector for the intended purpose to ensure data transmission is consistent and stable.

Top 5 RF Connectors in the Market Today

The most widely used RF connectors today are designed to block external signals from the circuit and prevent energy loss. Such connectors have some gripping features like built-in fastening mechanisms such as bayonet, threaded, braces, or blind mate.

  • BNC (Bayonet Neill-Concelman)
  • The BNC connector is a miniature radio frequency connector with a bayonet mechanism used for coaxial cable. Mainly used in television, radio, RF electronic equipment, scientific test instruments, and video signals. They are designed to match the impedance of cables with either 50 ohms or 75 ohms. BNC connectors are most commonly able to withstand frequencies of 4 GHz and voltages lesser than 500 volts.
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  • SMA (Sub-Miniature A)

SMA connectors are a semi-precision RF connector with a screw-like coupling mechanism. It is considered to be half the size of a BNC connector and is most commonly implemented in microwave systems, hand-held radio, mobile phone antennas and most recently with Wi-Fi router antennas. SMA is manufactured for use from 0 to 18 GHz frequency signals and 50-ohm impedance.

  • N-Type
  • This type of connector is manufactured to have a threaded appearance and is designed to be weatherproof and medium-sized compared to other RF connectors. The type n connector originated in the 1940s and was one of the first of its kind equipped to carry microwave frequency signals. Today’s N connectors can easily carry signals at frequencies up to 11 GHz and recent enhancements are pushing this limit as far as 18 GHz. Since it is comparatively larger than other types, it is more suitable for larger low loss cables that require high power and performance. It also has the capability to match the impedance of either 50 ohms or 75 ohms.
  • SMB (Sub-Miniature B)
  • SMB connectors are a miniature version of the SMA connector. It includes an easy snap-on fastening mechanism for quick connecting and disconnecting. Due to their small nature, they are particularly used for inter-board or assembly connections inside the equipment. They are available in the market for the impedance of either 50 ohms or 75 ohms and a frequency limit of 4 GHz.
  • TNC (Threaded Neill-Concelman)
  • This type of connector is known to be a threaded version of the BNC connector. It offers better performance compared to BNC connectors and has an impedance of 50 ohms with a frequency limit between 0-11 GHz. It was observed that the BNC connector often had disturbances caused by noise into the transmission line, which was then solved by the introduction of the TNC connector.

It is safe to assume that technology has drastically changed the way individuals and businesses communicate. As more complex communication tools and methods are being developed, there are visible developments being made in hardware as well.

You will discover that using the right hardware allows seamless transmission of data and signals. RF connectors are a type of product that is considered as the present of a communication hardware that helps organizations function and grows efficiently without any loss.

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Written by Arslan Hassan

Arslan is an electrical engineer with a passion for writing, designing and anything tech-related. His educational background in the technical field has given him the edge to write on many topics. He occasionally writes blog articles for Dynamologic Solutions.

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