Microwave and Millimeter-Wave RF Connectors Product Roundup

By Christine Stieglitz | April 14, 2020

This week’s Product Roundup highlights microwave and millimeter-wave RF connectors, cable assemblies, materials, and tooling from leading suppliers. All of the connector products collected here are ideally suited for use in telecom and networking applications, and several are also well suited for use in military and aerospace and autonomous vehicle applications.

Microwave and Millimeter-Wave RF Connectors

RF connectors from RadiallRS Components Americas stocks Radiall’s NEX10 Series miniature, lightweight, and robust RF coaxial connectors, which provide excellent intermodulation performance for outdoor telecom applications up to 20GHz. The series is 50% smaller than 4.3-10 RF connectors, employs contact protection mechanisms and RF shielding to maintain high signal integrity, separates the electrical and mechanical reference planes to maximize intermodulation performance (i.e., maintain low PIM) under static and dynamic vibration and torque stress conditions, and exhibits exceptional performance up to 20GHz. It is optimized for quarter-inch super-flexible corrugated cables and compatible with smaller flexible cables and is available in several different configurations: square flange and bulkhead jack, straight and right-angle plug, and multi-coax with screw-on or push-pull coupling mechanisms and optional boots and jumpers. NEX10 Series RF connectors are rated for 50Ω impedance, 1kV operation, 5Nm bending force, and a minimum of 100 mating cycles in operating temperatures extending from -55°C to +125°C and additional features include IP68 protection (24 hours for 1m at room temperature when mated), lightning protection, boot protection, corrosion protection, and RoHS compliance. The series is well suited for use in both indoor and outdoor applications including small cells, MIMO radio links, in-building and distributed antenna systems (DAS), antennas, radios, filter outputs, multi-coax and blind-mating applications, and applications that require PIM stability in a compact size.

RF connectors from SamtecSamtec’s new high-performance RF23C Series cable assemblies exhibit 50Ω impedance and support up to 50GHz over solid dielectric, 23AWG, flexible, low-loss microwave coaxial cable manufactured in the company’s Wilsonville, Oregon, facility. The cable provides a more pliable alternative to RG405 semi-rigid cable, employs copper foil shielding for optimized signal integrity and FEP dielectric and jacket materials, and exhibits a bend radius of 6mm, 50Ω (±1Ω) impedance, 4.76nsec/meter propagation delay, and 97.80pF/meter capacitance. The cable assemblies are available with 2.92mm or 2.4mm male or female RF connectors with stainless steel housings and cable bodies, Ultem 1000 insulators, and beryllium copper (BeCu) contacts. The PRF24 and PRF92 Series RF connectors are rated for 50Ω impedance, 40GHz (2.92mm) or 50GHz (2.40mm), maximum return loss of -15.56dB, maximum VSWR of 1.40, and operating temperatures extending from -65°C to +125°C. According to the RF23C Series’ online characterization report, 12-inch microwave cable assemblies typically exhibit less than 1.3:1 VSWR and just over 2dB of insertion loss up to 50GHz.

Schleuniger CoaxStrip for RF connectorsSchleuniger offers several coaxial cable stripping machines that support the development of high-quality, high-performance RF cable assemblies. Its CoaxStrip 6480 semiautomatic stripping machine is designed to process coaxial cables with outer diameters extending from 1.2–12mm and offers several benefits over both manual stripping processes and competing stripping machines, including faster production speeds (an average of 15%), reduced operating costs, and guaranteed processing flexibility and strip quality. It also features precise and powerful drives, enables fast and easy machine setup, and is equipped with several unique processing functions, including cable-end detection, cable diameter verification, and automated cable retraction, as well as intuitive, high-performance control software. In addition, the CoaxStrip 6480 makes machine maintenance quicker and easier by allowing the protective cover to be removed without any tools and completely eliminates changeover times for changing mechanical parts since both the cutting blades and the centering and clamping jaws can be used for the entire range of wires. 

SV Microwave RF connector cable assembliesAmphenol SV Microwave offers a complete line of fixed-length Extreme RF Cable Assemblies with SMA, 2.92mm, 2.4mm, SMP, SMPM, and SMPS connectors on flexible Ø.047” and Ø.085” cables. These high-frequency, commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) RF cable assemblies support DC to 50GHz performance with a low maximum return loss of -14dB, exhibit low solder wicking and high flexibility to achieve both tight bends behind cable ferrules and stable performance after numerous flex cycles, and are available in 6” and 12” lengths at Digi-Key Electronics and Mouser Electronics or in custom lengths and connector configurations at SV Microwave. Ideal applications for the range include IoT devices, 5G wireless infrastructure, short cable runs where space and weight are at a premium, cable runs that require high flexibility and loss losses, lab test cables, rugged low-loss applications up to 50GHz, and RF test and measurement equipment.

RF connectors from I-PEXI-PEX Connectors’ new MHF 7S coaxial cable connectors have a microminiature 2.0 x 2.0mm footprint, a maximum mated height of just 1.40mm, and a unique shielding design — the industry’s first stripline-terminated signal pin in a receptacle grounding ring — that improves EMI performance in millimeter-wave applications including 5G base stations and antenna systems. The new RF connectors exhibit 50Ω characteristic impedance, operate at frequencies up to 15Ghz with a maximum VSWR of 1.50 in operating temperatures extending from -40°C to +90°C with up to 90% non-condensing humidity, and are rated for 60VAC operation, a minimum of 200VAC dielectric withstanding voltage, a maximum of 20mΩ contact resistance, a minimum of 500MΩ insulation resistance at 100VDC, and 30 mating cycles. MHF 7S connectors also have UL94 V-0 LCP housings and nickel-plated phosphor bronze contacts with gold-plating in the contact area and are both halogen-free and compliant with REACH and RoHS directives. MHF 7S plugs are available as cable harnesses with 32AWG cable and optional inspection adapter and mating/unmating tool accessories, and MHF 7S receptacles are available with optional inspection adapter, high-cycle N30 SMPM adapter, and N30 SMPM-to-815mm adapter cable accessories.

RF connectors from RosenbergerRosenberger North America’s WSMP Series RF connectors and coaxial cable assemblies are roughly 45% smaller than the SMP connectors they’re based on — and 35% smaller than even Mini SMP (SMPM) connectors — and are designed for use in high-density, high-frequency microwave and millimeter-wave applications. The series exhibits excellent high signal integrity performance to 100Ghz, has a user-friendly push-on coupling mechanism, and is available in various configurations for broad application suitability in the semiconductor test and measurement, military and aerospace, high-speed telecommunications, and instrumentation industries. WSMP Series cable connectors are available in straight and right-angle female, straight male, and straight bulkhead male variants designed for use with 0.47 flexible, formable, or semi-rigid cable. Its PCB connectors are available in single- and multi-port configurations with standard solder, J-lead, or card-edge SMT terminations, as well as in a straight, solder-in hermetic version sealed to 1 x 10-8 cc/sec. Both connector types have gold-plated Kovar or copper beryllium (CuBe) contacts on a 2.15mm pitch; PTFE, polyimide, or Corning 7070 glass dielectrics; a standard board-to-board (BTB) height of 5.03mm and a minimum BTB height of just 3.05mm. The series also offers blind-mating and compressible bullet connectors for board-to-board signal applications, a pin/shroud kit, a range of between-series test adapters, and insertion and extraction tools. WSMP Series connectors are rated for 50Ω impedance, DC to 100GHz performance, ≥26dB typical return loss from DC to 26.5GHz and ≥19dB from 26.5–65GHz, and more than 100 (full-detent) or 500 (smooth bore) mating cycles in operating temperatures extending from -55°C to +165°C. The series is also RoHS compliant and tested to MIL-STD-202 requirements for thermal shock, corrosion, shock, vibration, and moisture resistance. Standard WSMP Series solutions are available through distribution partners including Digi-Key, Mouser Electronics, Powell Electronics, and RFMW and custom solutions designed to satisfy customer-specific footprints, layouts, and signal integrity requirements at no additional cost are also available upon request.

Alloys for RF connectors from MaterionMaterion’s Alloy M25 is a high-strength, high-conductivity copper beryllium alloy that’s ideal for circular and coaxial connector contacts employed in heavy-duty, harsh-environment military, telecom, aircraft, and automotive applications, including 5G infrastructure. Alloy M25 is based on Alloy 25, which provides both the highest strength of any copper beryllium alloy and considerably greater electrical and thermal conductivity than other high-strength copper alloys but has a slightly lower beryllium content and features the addition of lead, which enables excellent machinability. Available in rod and wire forms, Alloy M25 provides high tensile strength and high fatigue strength, which enables high-mating-cycle socket contacts, and also exhibits high resistance to wear, corrosion, galling, and stress relaxation. The material meets specifications and standards including MIL-C-2165 (rod), ASTM B196 (rod), ASTM B197 (wire), EN 12164 (rod and wire), and EN 1216 (wire).

RF connector cable assemblies from SmithsSmiths Interconnect’s SpaceNXT™ Q Series flexible coaxial cable assemblies are designed to help operators overcome potential market entry barriers and provide several benefits over QPL and COTS products. These high-reliability, low-loss assemblies are pre-tested and qualified for space orbit environments, are cost effective, and are readily available as cut-to-length, dual-terminated assemblies. Currently available in three models (105Q, 190Q, and 200Q), the series covers key performance characteristics at various frequency bands from DC to 40GHz, is available in standard mechanical lengths and phase-matched electrical lengths, is resistant to temperature variations, and meets the rigorous outgassing requirements of NASA/ESA when tested per ASTM E595 standards. The assemblies combine stainless steel or beryllium copper contacts with silver-plated copper cable conductors that are directly soldered to achieve robust cable-to-connector transitions and are assembled in a controlled environment in which each solder joint is verified using real-time X-ray inspection. They can also be validated for a wide range of engineering model and flight model requirements at the company’s in-house test laboratories or one of its qualified external facilities.

RF connectors from CinchCinch Connectivity Solutions’ range of Johnson SMA RF Cable Assemblies features subminiature, high-frequency, semi-precision SMA connectors on at least one end and provide reliable broadband performance in a range of microwave and RF applications. The range is comprised of eight series: SMA Quick-Connect to SMA, SMA Quick-Connect to SMA Quick-Connect, SMA Reverse Polarity to SMA Reverse Polarity, SMA to 50Ω BNC, SMA to MCX, SMA to MMCX, SMA to N, and SMA to SMA Cable Assemblies and is available in both standard and custom lengths of flexible or hand-conformable, semi-rigid cables. Options include hand-formable 0.086 and 0.141, RG142, RG174, RG178, RG316, RG316DS, and RG58 cables in 12 standard lengths spanning 3–60” and 13 standard lengths spanning 75–3,000mm. The range also offers several connector options. End-A options include straight and right-angle SMA, SMA bulkhead, SMA Quick-Connect, and SMA reverse-polarity bulkhead RF connectors. End-B options include straight, right-angle, bulkhead, and bulkhead jack 50Ω BNC, MCX, MMCX, N, SMA, SMA Quick-Connect, and SMA reverse polarity RF connectors.

RF connectors from TETE Connectivity offers an extensive range of standard and customized RF connectors and cable assemblies for microwave and millimeter-wave applications including wireless communications, base stations, telecommunications infrastructure, consumer electronics, household appliances, infotainment systems, factory automation equipment, enterprise computing, IoT devices, avionics, test and measurement equipment, military communications, and autonomous vehicles. TE’s coaxial RF connector catalog combines the best RF connectors from industry-leading brands including AMP, M/A-COM, GREENPAR, and SIEMENS and provides rugged performance in challenging environments while maintaining low insertion losses and excellent VSWR, amongst other electrical and performance characteristics optimized for microwave and millimeter-wave applications. For example, 4.3-10 RF connectors and cable assemblies — a recent addition to the range — also offer space savings and easy installation and exhibit improved PIM and return loss performance while another new addition, micro-coaxial receptacles and cable assemblies, is designed to pair with TE antennas to offer a competitively priced end-to-end RF solution. The range also offers high-frequency RF connectors and testing cable assemblies that reliably support up to 67GHz with extremely low insertion loss and VSWR.

RF connectors from SV Microwave available at AvnetAvnet stocks SV Microwave’s high-speed RF/coaxial solderless compression-mount connectors, which support fast and easy assembly without damaging the PCB, are available in multiple configurations including SMA, 2.92mm, 2.4mm, 1.85mm, SMP, and SMPM series, and are ideal for use in high-frequency applications where precision is key. The 2.92mm connectors in the range were developed for use to 40GHz and feature shorter male pins than SMA or 3.5mm connectors to ensure that the outer contacts of the male and female connectors engage before the pin and female receptacle do in order to prevent the excessive wear and mating stress that can be caused by misalignment in SMA and 3.5mm connectors. They also have a thicker wall than standard SMA connectors and are mating compatible with SMA and 3.5mm connectors. The 2.92mm connectors in the range are rated for DC to 46GHz performance but can be used up to 46GHz and exhibit low VSWR (1.03+0.005f), low RF leakage, and superior reliability. They are also rated for 50Ω impedance, shielding efficacy ≥100dB, and 500 mating cycles in operating temperatures extending from -65°C to +165°C and are tested to MIL-STD-202 requirements for corrosion, vibration, shock, thermal shock, moisture resistance, and barometric pressure. Ideal applications for the series include high-speed digital, instrumentation, military, aerospace, satellite communications, and test and measurement equipment.

Like this article? Check out our other RF and coax and wire and cable assembly articles, our Product RoundupProduct News, and Connector Industry News features, and our 2020 and 2019 Article Archives.

Christine Stieglitz
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