Friday, April 2, 2010
RF Connector Types & Proper Connector Care
Chess-set photo found on leapsecond.com!
There are many different types of coaxial RF connectors. The standard types can be reviewed on wikipedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RF_connector#Standard_types
The types which students will most encounter include the BNC, F connector, N connector, TNC connector, SMA, and UHF connector. All of these connectors can be reviewed online. Each connector has a male and female version. The N-Type is a very common threaded RF connector seen on most RF equipment.
There are a few important "Do's and Dont's" associated with connector care. I found this list on the microwaves101 site and found it usesful (http://www.microwaves101.com/encyclopedia/connectorcare.cfm). Here are the ones I find most important for students:
#1: Don't use pliers on a stuck connector - ever. A properly sized wrench is the tool you should be using.
#2: Don't make critical measurements with dirty connectors. Make sure connectors are clean (http://www.microwaves101.com/encyclopedia/connectorcare.cfm#cleaning)
#3: Don't use part of a calibration kit for adapters / connectors.
#4: Use a torque wrench (or gently tighten by hand for most non-critical classroom measurements).
#5: Don't overtighten, or tighten too much!!! These connectors in some cases cost more than your tuition. Be extra careful with them, pretend they are made of eggshells and filled with explosives.
#6: Don't 'spin' the connectors joining each other, only turn the threaded sleeve. If you 'spin' the junction you can wear our the mating surfaces.
Here is a photo of a damaged SMA from work. The cable this was connected to cost about $1,000. That's not the bad part, the damaged cable also caused about 4 hours of downtime for a well paid engineer! BE CAREFUL WITH CONNECTORS!!!!