In this guide, you will learn about the various uses, types, and sizes of RF connectors and adapters.

What Are RF Connectors and Adapters?

RF connectors are also referred to as radiofrequency connectors. Radiofrequency (RF) adapters and connectors are passive electrical components designed for operating radio frequencies in the multi-megahertz range. RF connectors are highly valuable in places where screening is of high priority.

It has lots of uses, including military, industrial, professional, and domestic applications. At the same time, it can also be used in connection with radios, antennas, coaxial cable, surge protectors, enclosures, as well as test and measurement equipment. Almost every home uses RF connectors one way or another. In most cases, they are also used in various test instruments, such as oscilloscopes and many more.

There are numerous types of RF connectors and adapters that are sold in the market today. That is why they can be classified in various ways such as termination, impedance, size, and type. But they are usually identified by their polarity and gender.

Installing RF Coaxial Connectors

There are two different ways of installing RF coaxial connectors. The first method is to easily crimp the connector onto the cable. Another method is to screw the connector onto the end of the cable. The good news is both of these installation techniques are popularly used and quite easy to perform.

Another huge difference is its center pin. Depending on the installation technique that you choose, you can either solder or crimp it. Typically, the standard way is to solder the center pin. However, crimping is also another alternative.

The following is a step-by-step process on how to easily attach a coaxial cable to an RF adapter. Keep in mind that before you start with the task, you should be familiar with the manufacturer’s instructions.

  • First of all, you have to choose which connection technique you want to use, whether it is soldering or crimping.
  • Based on the manufacturer’s guidelines, strip the cable back.
  • Depending on the connection method that you chose, you can either solder or crimp the center pin.
  • Finally, complete the process by attaching the outer portion.

Although this is not a complicated process, it is crucial that you have to perform it accurately to prevent any possible damage to the components. After familiarizing yourself with the process and you have the confidence that you can do it, following the guide above can help you in accomplishing the task with ease.

Three Types of Coupling Mechanisms for Installation

Screwed Coupling

This method will require a thread and coupling nut with a superior torque setting to easily captivate the coupling nut.

Bayonet Coupling

This connection method is vital for quick mounting and a sturdy mechanism.

Snap-On Coupling

This mechanism offers quick snap-in connection and disengagement, making them perfect for most small connectors.

Different Types of RF Adapters and Connectors

There is a wide range of varieties for RF adapters and connectors. Each of them fits perfectly to various uses and applications. Since there are numerous types, it is worth knowing that some of these are more popular than others.

The different types of RF connectors include the standard types, high voltage types, thread types, quick lock types, audio and video types, blind mate types, precision types, and many more. However, some of the common connector types are BNC, SMA, UHF, type N, TNC, and reverse polarity TNC.

BNC RF Connector

There is no doubt that BNC connectors are one of the most well-known types of RF connectors. They are easy to use, making them perfect for low-frequency RF applications, most especially for those with an operating frequency of 4 GHz.

BNC connectors are also very useful for amateur radio applications, timing, and video signals. You can either choose 50 Ω or 75 Ω impedance.

SMB RF Connector

SMB connectors are very easy to use and have a simple design. They can perform well at lower frequencies. Ideally, they have an operating frequency of 4 GHz. These types of connectors are great for base stations, radio applications, as well as various types of medical equipment.

SMA RF Connector

While SMA connectors are small, they are dependable. This type of connector is preferred by professionals. It has an operating frequency of 18 GHz, making it perfect for ultra-high frequencies. SMA connectors are very useful for Wi-Fi antennas, RF isolators and power amplifiers, radio communication boards, as well as some ultra-high frequency systems.

N RF Connector

The latest N-type connectors are bigger than the previous types. At the same time, it provides a strong, stable connection. With an operating frequency of 11 GHz, they are fit for more heavy-duty environments.

These N-type connectors are ideal for radar, communication, and satellite systems as well as any matched impedance applications.

RF Connector Kit

RF connector kits include different types of RF connectors, with different types and sizes. These kits are very valuable since they provide a wide range of connectors that is ideal for different applications. For instance, a common RF connector kit comes with BNC, TNC, SMA, N, and UHF connectors.

Male and Female Adapters

Just like most adapters, connectors, and plugs/sockets, RF adapters can also be identified by gender. You can find both male and female RF connectors in the market today. That is why it is important to choose the accurate type for your application.

Female RF connectors are usually recognized by their pin, also known as the plug. On the other hand, male RF connectors have an opening designed for attaching the pins on female connectors. This is very useful in joining the two individual parts together. Male RF connectors are also referred to as jacks.

This might be a bit confusing since plugs are commonly male and jacks are usually female. However, with regards to the RF connectors, it is important to remember that the male housing sits within the female housing when the two are connected. For instance, if the BNC connector has a pin, then it is considered as a plug. While it’s mating, half of which fits inside is known as the female. Hence, it will be a male jack or socket and a female plug.

Reverse Polarity Female and Male Connectors

They are known as reverse polarity connectors because, instead of having the receptacles, the reverse polarity female connectors now have the center pins. The reverse male connectors now have receptacles rather than having the center pins.

RF Adapter Sizes

RF adapters come in different sizes, making them suitable for various applications and connector sizes. Basically, they are classified based on type. However, these types also depict the size of the device. Both imperial and metric measurements are being used in identifying RF adapter sizes.

However, it is also important to remember that the actual sizes of RF connectors are typically available in imperial sizes. The reason behind this is that most of the leading manufacturers and brands for these components are usually found in the USA. Hence, the connectors were created and developed using imperial sizes.

On the other hand, if you are interested in knowing its size in metric measurements, then you can easily do a standard conversion from imperial to metric measurement. This way, you can guarantee that you have chosen the accurate size of the connector that you need for your application.

RF Adapter Applications

There are a variety of applications where RF adapters can be used. This includes professional, commercial, domestic, and industrial environments. This means that RF adapters can be used whenever a connection using a coaxial cable is required.

Additionally, adapters can also be transformed from one type of connector to another. For instance, these can be used with legacy machinery. That is why these adapters can be considered highly useful and versatile in a variety of applications.

It is also worthwhile to know that there is no such thing as a universal connector. The reason behind this is that these specialized connectors are needed for specific high-frequency applications. Furthermore, RF adapters can also be used to enable test equipment that feature BNC connectors.

Are RF and Coaxial the Same?

More often than not, the terms RF and coaxial are used interchangeably. That is why it is important to know the difference between the two.

To put it simply, RF refers to the signals that are transmitted through shielded cables. On the other hand, coaxial refers to the cable itself. Sometimes, RF signals are transmitted through the coaxial cable.

At the same time, there is also a possibility that the coaxial cable features RF receivers and transmitters as well. Coaxial cables are also known as RF cables because of this, which is why it is common for some people to think that RF and coaxial refer to the same thing.

Most RF connectors can be used with coaxial cable to obtain highly-screened connections. Therefore, they are suitable for use with RF applications, specific test and measurement equipment, as well as in environments that require both RF and screening applications.

If you require RF and microwave products, then you can get them at SEI. For more information, you can contact us at (408) 374-1031.