There are plenty of RF connectors in the market and looking for one to use for a specific application can be a bit confusing. If you are not familiar with the different types of RF connectors, you came to the right place.

At SEI, we manufacture high-frequency microwave and RF connectors. In this article, we will be sharing with you the six most common types of RF connectors and we will discuss what applications they are normally used for. If you want to know more information, make sure to continue reading below to find out.

What Are RF Connectors?

RF (Radio Frequency) connectors are connectors used in creating an electrical connection for the transmission of signal in radio frequency applications. Connectors are used in applications that range from 0 to 18 gigahertz and higher frequencies as well. RF connectors are designed to transmit the signal of antennas, coaxial cables, and radios.

RF connectors consist of two parts, one female and one male connector. The male connector is also known as the plug, while the female connector is known as the jack. A connector is composed of a center pin and outer grounding that comes with a locking mechanism that gives it a durable and strong connection. Choosing which RF connector to use for a specific application will depend on the specifications required. It can vary from the range of frequency, performance, shape, and size of the connector types.

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Below are the six most commonly used types of RF connectors.

1. Type N Connectors – This type of RF connector is a medium-sized, weatherproof, threaded connector. It is the preferred connector for durable applications and is capable of offering stable performances of frequencies that range up to 11 GHz. This connector is designed with a thread locking mechanism that helps produce a reliable and strong connection. The type N connector follows MIL-STD-348 and is commonly used in low-frequency microwave systems where low cost and toughness is necessary.

Type N connectors are also available in waterproof versions that can be used in various applications. Most RF test equipment uses the Type N connector as its default connector because of its impressive performance and durability. It is also used for well-matched electrical resistance applications. AType N connector has an operating frequency of 0-12 gigahertz.

Application uses: Base stations, low and high power UHF communication systems, RF equipment, RADAR systems, and satellite systems.

2. BNC Connectors – BNC connectors is a small RF connector that is quick to connect or disconnect. It is normally used in low-frequency applications. This type of connector is commonly used in military equipment and applications and it also has been used for video devices and applications with frequencies up to 2 gigahertz. It is easy to use and it has a rigid body and locking mechanism. The BNC connector has the simplest design compared to other connectors in the market.

BNC connector has an operating frequency from 0 to 4 gigahertz.

Application uses: Amateur radio, clock or timing signals, instrumentation, and video signals.

3. UHF Connector – The UHF or Ultra High-Frequency connector or Amphenol Connector is a threaded RF connector. Its available variants are the PL-259 and SO-239. It is used in the radio industry and is a shielded form of the banana plug. It is a popular standard connector used in HF transmission lines on radio equipment.

The PL-259 is one of the oldest RF connectors. It is built with a strong and durable structure and is easy to use and assemble with coaxial cable and it is one of the most common connectors used by radio enthusiasts. It is capable of transmitting low-frequency applications and is designed to carry signals with frequencies ranging up to 100 MHz. It is a non-constant surge impedance, is not waterproof, and is recommended to be used for amateur radio, citizens band radio, and marine communication systems.

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PL-259 has an operating frequency below 200 MHz.

Application uses: Low power HF communication systems, marine VHF radio applications, amateur radio applications, shortwave radio, and timing signal systems.

SO-239 is a low-frequency RF connector. It is commonly used for applications with frequencies below the 100 MHz range. The SO-239 has an operating frequency below 100 MHz.

Application uses: Amateur and shortwave radio applications.

4. SMA Connectors – Subminiature version A connector is one of the most fitted for UHF and SHF. It has a smaller size when compared to other RF connectors. It is a semi-precision coaxial RF connector. It is known for its reliable performance that’s why it is popular among RF engineers for their applications. The SMA connector is suitable for impedance matching. The most common type of SMA connector is a 3.5mm connector and is capable of operating up to 18 GHz although some versions are capable of operating up to 26.5 GHz.

SMA Connector has an operating frequency from 0 to 18 gigahertz.

Application uses: CDMA, directional couplers, GSM, low power UHF communication systems, microwave systems, mobile telephone antennas, power splitters, radio communication boards, radio astronomy at 5 GHz, RF power amplifiers, RF isolators, and Wi-Fi antennas.

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5. SMB Connector -The Subminiature version B is a rigid and easy-to-use coaxial RF connector. It has a lower cost and can be customized depending on the application requiring its use. It is smaller than the SMA connector and features a snap-on coupling. The SMB jack has a male center pin while the SMB plug, on the other hand, has a female basket. It is created with a simple design suited for easy connecting and disconnecting. It does not have any difficult mechanism for locking threads and operates with better performance at frequencies below 4 GHz.

SMB Connector has an operating frequency from 0 to 10 gigahertz.

Application uses: Base stations, low-power UHF communication systems applications, medical equipment, and radio applications.

6. TNC Connector – Also known as the Threaded Neill–Concelman, the TNC connector is a threaded version of the BNC connector. It is a coaxial RF connector. It offers better performance than the BNC connector at microwave frequencies. It operates best in 0-11 GHz frequency and is commonly used in radio and wire applications.

TNC Connector has an operating frequency from 0-11 gigahertz.

Application uses: Radio and wire applications.

RF connectors come in different shapes, sizes, frequency ranges, and fit a variety of application uses. When choosing an RF connector, it must be based on the required specifications for the particular application. If you need help on what RF connector to use for a specific application, make sure to consult an expert like SEI.

What Are the Different Characteristics of RF Connectors?

1. Cable types – There are different types of coaxial cables and they come in different sizes, variants, and dimensions. It is important to use the correct RF connector variant with the right coaxial cable so it will not be difficult to fit and you won’t have any problems while using it.

2. Circular shape – The RF coaxial connectors must be circular to retain the coaxial nature of the cable they are being used with. They consist of a central pin for the inner part of the coax cable, and an outer connection around the inner to serve as an outer conductor on the cable.

3. Characteristic impedance – The characteristic impedance of a coaxial cable is important. The coaxial cable connector and the characteristic impedance must match each other. If a mismatch occurs, it will result in power reflected towards its source. A discontinuity of the process and losses of power may happen. RF connectors are usually at 50 ohms, while others are at 75 ohms that are commonly used in domestic applications such as data transmission.

4. Screened – RF connectors screen the coaxial cable as radio frequency signals can radiate during transmission.

5. Male parts of the connector are used while the female part is fixed – In other forms of connectors, the female connector is the one responsible for supplying the signal or power because it is protected and prevents it from shorting out. With RF connectors, on the other hand, the male connector is on the lead and the ones mounted on the equipment are the female connectors. In some instances, the standard connector convention is adopted, but it usually depends on the application.

RF connectors are commonly used with a coaxial cable to screen the connections. They are normally used in different kinds of applications such as ham radio, CB, and domestic television. If you need RF connectors, make sure to contact SEI. If you need 75 ohms connectors, click this link. If you need 50-ohm connectors, you can visit this link.

Are you looking for RF Connectors? If you are based in California, USA, SEI is worth checking out. We are a company that manufactures high-quality high-frequency microwave and RF products. If you need RF and microwave products, make sure to contact us.

If you have any questions or inquiries about the products that we are currently offering please reach out to us. You can email us at [email protected]. Our company address is 1732 Aviation Blvd. #550 Redondo Beach, CA 90278 USA. Make sure to contact us today so we can help you with your microwave and RF products needs.