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Making Sense of the Coaxial Connector Alphabet Soup

Take a stroll through our comprehensive catalog of coaxial connectors, and you’ll find solutions for technology from aerospace, broadcast, telecommunications, networking, and security industries—and beyond.

This includes lettered connectors like BNC, DVI, FME, MCX, MMCX, MHV, RCA, SC, SMA, SSMA SMB, SSMB, SMP,TNC, and UHF connectors, plus numbered and metric coaxial connectors like 1.85 mm, 2.4 mm, 2.92 mm, 3.5 mm, and 7 mm, Type C, Type F, Type G, Type N, Triax, Twinax, mini-UHF, USB Type A, and USB Type B.

Got it?

It can be confusing, we know. Demanding industries require unique solutions, after all. But understanding the functional differences of all the different coaxial connectors basically comes down to distinguishing the two main types of connectors, and the different performance variables that apply uniquely to each one.

The Two Basic Types of Coaxial Connectors

All coaxial connectors are either male (a “plug”) or female (a “jack”) in gender, have copper, gold, nickel, or silver plating, and are either straight or right-angled. All coaxial connectors also fall into one of two categories:

Threaded: As you can probably guess, threaded connectors require rotational force to secure one connector to another—simple twisting and turning. Over-torquing—anything beyond “finger tight”— is unnecessary, does not improve performance, and could damage the connector.

Push On: Again, as the name implies, push-on connectors secure simply by being pushed together.

Performance Differences Between Coaxial Connectors

Basically, each connector features a different combination of capabilities—specs you’ll notice in the product description for each connector available. Performance specifications for coaxial connectors include impedance, frequency range, voltage rating, contact resistance, insulation resistance, voltage standing wave ratio (VSWR) and operating temperature.

Let’s take a look at each factor:

Impedence: Impedence is basically the ratio of voltage to current in the cable, and it’s important to match impedence with both the cable and the equipment it’s attached to in order to avoid forming standing waves. Coaxial connectors simply ensure continuation of that ratio between cord and equipment. Nominal resistance levels are usually 50 or 75 ohms.

Frequency Range: Frequency range is the span of radio frequencies over which coaxial connectors are designed to function.

Voltage rating: The maximum operating voltage. Cables and connectors must work effectively together to safely regulate and transmit the power passing through.

Contact resistance: Contact resistance is the measurement of electrical resistance of mated pairs, when assembled for typical use. Effective connectors help minimize this.

Insulation resistance: Insulation resistance is the electric resistance between two conductors separated by an insulating material. Good connectors ease the passage from one conductor to another.

Voltage standing wave ratio: VSWR is a simple ratio ranging from 1 to infinity, which expresses the amount of reflected energy at the input of the device. A value of 1:1 indicates that all the energy will pass through, while any other value indicates that a portion of the energy will be reflected, and contribute to the attenuation, or loss, of some of the signal. Connectors play an important role in making the path as clean as possible.

This is just a start, but should give you an idea of what all the specs mean when you’re looking for the right coaxial cables and connectors. Contact us—we’ll make sure you get what you need.

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