Guide to Antenna Cables & Connectors

Guide to Antenna Cables & Connectors  main image Guide to Antenna Cables & Connectors  image

Cable Types

 

All cables lose some signal - the amount depends on the quality of both the cable and connector.

As a general guide the thicker and less flexible the cable, the better it is - Why? Because to reduce signal loss, cables often have a number of layers designed to insulate and shield the inner core from external noise.

For a detailed explanation of coaxial cable, please see our Coaxial Cable Theory guide.

 

Accessory Cable - RG316

 

rg316 coaxial cable cutaway specifications

 

RG316 is a low loss, FEP jacketed miniature coaxial cable, capable of withstanding operating temperatures up to 200°C.

The cable's stranded silver-coated CCS inner conductor and silver-plated copper braid provide superior shielding and low attenuation losses, making it the preferred accessory/patch cable over similar 2.5mm cables such as RG174.

 

Electrical Specifications

  • Resistance: 50Ω
  • Capacitance: 96pF/m
  • Signal Loss: 0.79dB/m @ 850MHz, 1.27dB/m @ 2100MHz
  • Frequency Range: 0-3GHz
  • Maximum Recommended Length: 50cm (cellular bands)
  • Velocity of Propagation: 70%
  • Nominal Delay: 5.08ns/m Voltage Withstand: 1200Volts DC

Mechanical Specifications

  • Weight/100m: 1.8kg
  • Minimum Bend Radius: 13mm
  • Conductor Material: Silver coated CCS (0.51mm)
  • Insulating Material: Teflon PTFE (1.52mm)
  • Outer Shield Material: Silver coated copper braid 95%
  • Coverage (1.95mm)
  • Outer Jacket Material: Brown FEP (2.5mm)

 

Standard Cable - RG58U

 

RG58 cable specifications cutaway

 

This is the most common type of cable around. It's likely that the cable supplied with your antenna is RG58. It's flexible, has reasonable performance characteristics, and is cheap.

 

Electrical Specifications

  • Resistance: 50Ω Signal Loss: 0.46dB/m @ 850MHz, 0.76dB/m @ 2100MHz
  • Frequency Range: 0-6GHz
  • Maximum Recommended Length: 15m (cellular bands)
  • Velocity of Propagation: 77%
  • Nominal Delay: 4.19ns/m

Mechanical Specifications

  • Conductor Diameter: 0.9mm
  • Insulating Material: Gas-injected FHDPE
  • Outer Shield Material: - (1) Aluminum Foil-Polyester Tape-Aluminum Foil 100% Coverage - (2) Tinned Copper 90% Coverage
  • Outer Jacket Material: Polyethylene (5mm)

 

Low Loss Cable - LMR195

 

LMR-195 cutaway coaxial cable

 

This cable is a weatherproof high performance alternative to standard RG58.

LMR-195 maintains a 5mm diameter and trades flexibility for far superior electrical shielding (90dB) and much lower attenuation.

LMR195 series cabling loses only 0.36dB per metre, compared to standard grade cables which lose 0.46dB/m at 850MHz.

 

Electrical Specifications

  • Resistance: 50Ω
  • Capacitance: 83.3pF/m Signal Loss: 0.36dB/m @ 850MHz, 0.53dB/m @ 1800MHz
  • Frequency Range: DC-6GHz
  • Velocity of Propagation: 80%
  • Nominal Delay: 4.17ns/m
  • Voltage Withstand: 1000Volts DC Peak Power: 2.5kW

Mechanical Specifications

  • Weight/100m: 3.0kg
  • Operating Temperature: -40° ~ +85°C
  • Minimum Bend Radius: 12.7mm
  • Conductor Material: Single Strand Solid Copper (0.94mm)
  • Insulating Material: Foam PE (2.79mm)
  • Outer Shield Material: - (1) Bonded Aluminium Polyester Tape 100% Coverage (2.95mm) - (2) Tinned Copper Wire 88% Coverage (3.53mm)
  • Outer Jacket Material: PVC Weather & UV Resistant (4.95mm ±0.15mm)

 

Super Low Loss Cable - LMR400

 

LMR-400 coaxial cable specifications cut-away

 

This is the highest grade antenna cable, recommended for critical, industrial, and harsh environmental applications.

Its exceptional performance is achieved with a much thicker diameter (10mm) and greatly reduced flexibility (72mm minimum bend diameter).

Manufacturers of LMR400, name their cable with different letters in front of '400', for example, the Super Low Loss LMR400 series cable we manufacture is LCU400, ZCG Scalar's is RU400, Benelec's is LL400, and so on.

 

Electrical Specifications

  • Resistance: 50Ω
  • Capacitance: 78.4pF/m
  • Signal Loss: 0.12dB/m @ 850MHz, 0.20dB/m @ 2100MHz
  • Frequency Range: DC-16GHz
  • Velocity of Propagation: 85% Nominal Delay: 3.92ns/m
  • Voltage Withstand: 2500Volts DC Peak Power: 16kW

Mechanical Specifications

  • Weight/100m: 14.6kg
  • Minimum Bend Radius: 72mm
  • Conductor Material: Solid Copper (2.74mm)
  • Insulating Material: Gas Injected Foamed Polyethylene (7.24mm)
  • Outer Shield Material: - (1) Sealed APA Tape 100% Coverage (7.37mm) - (2) Tinned Copper Braid 98% Coverage (8.17mm)
  • Outer Jacket Material: Black Polyvinyl Chloride PVC (10.3mm)

 

Cable Connectors

 

Similarities between connectors and naming conventions can often make identifying connectors difficult.

To make things easy, follow this rule:

  • Male Connector - has the protruding metal centre pin
  • Female Connector - contains a hole that receives the male connectors metal pin, called the receptacle.

 

7/16 DIN

7/16 series connectors are threaded coupling connectors for high wattage transmissions, requiring very low VSWR and minimal intermodulation.

The name is derived from the inner and outer contact dimensions - 7mm OD inner contact, 16mm ID outer contact.

You'll commonly find 7/16 DIN connectors on 1/2 and 7/8" feeder cables connected to LTE and WCDMA base station antennas.

7/16 connectors are also popular in defence, broadcast and other microwave applications.

identifying male female 7/16 DIN connectors

Female 7/16 Connector           Male 7/16 Connector

 

BNC

This is one of the most common antenna connectors, primarily used in VHF/UHF systems.

The 'B' in BNC refers to the bayonet twisting interface, with the female connector featuring two bayonet lugs on either side allowing connection to be achieved with only a quarter rotation.

Ideally suited to RG58/59 and subminiature cables, BNC connectors offer good performance from DC to 4GHz and have either 50Ω or 75Ω resistance.

All BNC connectors on our website are 50Ω.

 

Male BNC Connector Female BNC Connector
Male BNC Connector Female BNC Connector

 

F Type

Primarily used for cable TV, HFC, set-top boxes, cable modems, the F coaxial connector is a 75Ω connector often used in conjunction with standard RG59 and RG6 75Ω coaxial cables.

The connector has good performance characteristics up to about 1GHz and is not suitable for modern day broadband requirements.

 

Male F Plug coaxial connector              Female F jack coaxial connector
Male F Connector Female F Connector

 

FME

This is the standard 50Ω connector for all mobile phone and wireless broadband antennas.

The FME connector is selected for its excellent performance in the 0-2GHz frequency range, and small connector diameter making it easy to fit in tight places.

Rarely seen in any other RF applications, the FME connector is used almost exclusively for cellular telephony and data applications.

 

FME male coaxial connector           female FME Connector
Male FME Connector Female FME Connector

 

MC-Card

The MC-Card connector is a microminiature 50Ω that features snap-on mating, suitable for RF devices operating between DC and 6GHz.

This connector is often used as a substitute for MMCX in many wireless and telecom applications due to its similar performance and physical dimensions.

 

MC Card Male connector                     MC-Card female PCB connector
Male MC-Card Connector Female MC-Card PCB Connector

 

MCX

The MCX or Micro Coaxial connector, is a 50Ω miniature coaxial connector for RF applications between DC and 6GHz.

It has identical inner contact and insulator dimensions as the more common SMB connector, but with a 30% smaller outer diameter, making it ideal for tight installations.

This connector is often used for GPS, TV tuner cards, RF hardware, and is often PCB mounted.

 

MCX male connector           MCX female connector
Male MCX Connector Female MCX Connector

 

Mini-UHF

A minified connector based on the larger UHF connector, designed for space-limited RF applications.

Like its larger counterpart, the Mini-UHF series has a variable impedance and is suitable for transmissions between DC and 2.5GHz.

You will find this type of connector on many different RF applications, most prominently in UHF/VHF communications, where its variable impedance (around the 50Ω mark for good quality connectors) isn't as important.

 

Male Mini-UHF Connector           Female Mini-UHF Connector
Male Mini-UHF Connector Female Mini-UHF Connector

 

MMCX

The MMCX or Micro-Minature Coaxial connector, is a miniature version of the 50Ω MCX coaxial connector.

It performs well between DC to 6GHz and has a snap-lock function allowing 360 degree rotation once connected.

Most often you will see this connector PCB mounted on PCMCIA cards, modems, and GPS devices.

 

MMCX male connector                     MMCX female PCB jack connector
Male MMCX Connector Female MMCX Connector (PCB Bulkhead)

 

N Type

N connectors are the 50Ω connector of choice for most high quality antenna systems due to their wide performance band - DC to 11GHz.

This large sized connector has a wider diameter than most connectors but is easily tightened by hand.

You will find this connector on most RF applications including radar, mobile base stations, electronic instrumentation, and of course most microwave band antennas.

 

n male connector cable           n female connector
Male N Connector Female N Connector

 

QMA

The QMA connector has a snap-lock mechanism designed for easier, faster and safer coupling.

Often used to replace SMA, the connector can be seen in cellular base stations and defence applications.

This 50Ω subminiature coaxial connector has a frequency range extending up to 18GHz.

 

qma plug male connector           qma jack female connector
Male QMA Connector Female QMA Connector

 

SMA

A smaller 50Ω connector, most often found on the back of desktop modems and as the physical interfacing screw thread of some smaller antennas.

Some antennas come pre-terminated with an SMA connector over the normal FME connector for hassle-free connecting to desktop wireless broadband modems, like the Bigpond Wireless Gateway series.

SMA is designed for a diverse range of RF applications and is suitable for communications DC to 18GHz.

 

SMA male connector           sma female coaxial connector
Male SMA Connector Female SMA Connector

 

SMB

Similar in size and performance to the SMA connector, SMB is designed with a snap-on interfacing.

SMB connectors have a 50Ω or 75Ω impedance, and are suitable for RF applications from DC to 4GHz.

You will find SMB connectors in a wide range of areas, from telecommunications through to industrial equipment.

The gender of SMB connectors can often be confusing, as the male has the socket/jack body, with the female having the pin/plug body.

 

male SMB connector           female SMB connector
Male SMB Connector Female SMB Connector

 

SSMB

This connector is the subminiature version of the SMB connector.

It is a 50Ω impedance coaxial connector with good performance from DC to 12GHz.

Like its larger brother, SSMB also has a snap-on interface.

The gender of SSMB connectors can also be confusing, like the SMB connector, the male has the receptacle, and the female has the centre pin.

 

SSMB plug Mini-SMB male connector           female SSMB jack pcb connector
Male SSMB Connector Female SSMB Connector

 

TNC

It is identical to the BNC design, but has a threaded connector.

Operates better than the BNC connector at microwave frequencies.

TNC are miniature, threaded weatherproof units with a constant 50Ω impedance, and operate from DC to 11 GHz.

Widely used in WiFi equipment, radar, and military/aerospace systems.

 

Male TNC Connector           TNC Female Jack Bulkhead
Male TNC Connector Female TNC Bulkhead Connector

 

UHF

The UHF series are variable impedance connectors for low frequency operations 600KHz to 300MHz.

This very large connector is used almost exclusively for radio and UHF applications.

The low cost design of UHF connectors often results in impedance varying between 30-40Ω causing significant reflections above 300MHz. Despite this, the connector remains popular with CB/UHF (477MHz) users.

 

UHF Plug connector                     Female SO239 UHF connector
Male UHF (PL259) Connector Female UHF (SO239) Panel Mount Connector