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Choosing the Right RF Connectors

RF connectors are electronic connectors that are designed to work at radio frequencies in the multi-megahertz range. Usually, they are tied with coaxial cables to protect the shielding of the coaxial design. These connectors are great for a variety of different applications but to maintain the best connection it is important to determine what RF connector suits your situation which is almost as important as the cable itself.  There is more that goes into building the prime connection than you may think. Specific tasks work better with some RF connectors than others. For example, SMA works nicely if you are setting up GPS but U.FL would work better if you are setting up mobile wireless. It is important to consider the different kinds of connectors and the applications you are using them for because it can save you hassle, time, and money in the long run.

Electronic Connectors

Image Courtesy of Signal and Power Delivery Systems

As mentioned above, an SMA (sub-miniature A) connector is a great choice for setting up GPS but it is also a great selection for setting up cellar and general high-frequency RF. This connector hits up to 17GHZ frequency range and is noted for being associated with antenna GPS, embedded SMA, and quad-band cellular antennas. The male attributes to this connector is a center pin with inside threads and the female attributes are a center sleeve with outside threads. On another side of SMA, there is an RPSMA (or a Reverse Polarity SMA) which is similar but has some distinctive differences. Most notably, the functions are some of the important differences. Typically, RPSMA is used for WiFi, commercial-grade wireless, and general high-frequency RF. Some of the products you may have seen this in are Bluetooth modem, BlueSMiRF, all with a less than 17GHz frequency range. Finally, some of the attributes to this products is that the males have a center sleeve with inside threads and the female attributes have a center pin with outside threads.

Computer CablesImage Courtesy of Signal and Power Delivery Systems

If these connectors do not perform the function for your necessary application, do not fret, there are more that might just be what you are looking for. One of these is the U.FL connector which is otherwise known as an AMC, UMCC, or IPX connector. An interesting fact about these connectors is that they are small, only standing about 2.5mm and still works great up to 6 GHz.  The applications that this connector is known for is WiFi, commercial-grade wireless, and mobile wireless. The traits of a male connector are that they U.FL will have a surface mount with a center pin. On the other hand, with the female side, it will have a center sleeve.

Finally, there is the BNC connector which provides for amateur radio antennas, testing equipment, and analog video. This connector provides up to a 3 GHz frequency range. The distinctive traits of a male part are that there is a center pin and coupling nut. For the female end, there is a center sleeve and out bayonet lugs. Typically, you will see these associated with BNC probe kits and frequency generator kit. The most important part of using these connectors is first determining the application that they need to be used for. Make sure you are using this guide as a reference and always contacting a professional in the field before making a purchase.