While RF coaxial connectors are now widely available through international suppliers such as RS Components, we’d wager that many of you haven’t of this particular component.
In simple terms, a coaxial RF (radio frequency) connector is an electrical cable designed to work at radio frequencies within the multi-megahertz range. They’re generally used in conjunction with so-called coaxial cables, which maintain the protection and insulation associated with RF connectors.
In this post, we’ll explore the history of this component, while asking what types of RF connection are available on the market?
Exploring the History of RF Coaxial Connectors
This connector was first conceived and designed during the early 1930s, at a time when VHF/UHF technology was relatively new.
It was this technology that laid the foundations for innovations such as FM radio and television, and the RF coaxial connector played a pivotal role in such developments.
One of the first products of this type was known as the ‘N connector’, which was a threaded and waterproof RF connector that was used to join coaxial cables.
This product was capable of carrying microwave-frequency signals, and hit the market in 1940 having been developed and refined by Paul Neill of Bell Labs. Interestingly, this connector was capable of carrying signals at frequencies of up to 1GHz in military applications, but today’s iterations can handle up to 11GHz on average (including the modern-day version of the N connector).
Understanding the Basics and the Different Types of RF Connectors
There are now many different types of connector formats, while each RF connector also has its own unique characteristics.
For example, it’s male RF connectors that are typically used for coaxial cables, which is quite unlike other forms of connector where female alternatives supply the signal or underlying power.
You should also note that there are various types of coaxial cable in production, which in turn means that different iterations of RF connectors must be used in specific applications. Most crucially, you’ll need to ensure that the correct RF connector variant is used with the relevant coaxial cable, otherwise the connection and potential output may not be satisfactory.
In terms of specific RF connector types (in addition to the trail-blazing ‘N’ iteration), it’s the BNC product that’s arguably the most widely used.
This type of RF connector is particularly commonplace on oscilloscopes and similar laboratory instruments, along with radio frequency test equipment, transmitters and almost any kind of receiver.
You may also encounter TNC connectors, which is a threaded version of the BNC and was historically developed to provide low noise and reliable connections in settings where there may be vibration.