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Connectors are the weak points in any cabling system. Your choice of connector, both in quality of manufacture and application suitability, will directly affect the quality and reliability of your cabling system.
We stock coaxial connectors and elliptical waveguide connectors from Amphenol, Antenna Factory, ANDREW, RFS, and RF Industries. Not sure what connector you need? Feel free to contact us (or by phone 847-584-1000) for help in figuring out what works best for your application.
Antenna cabling, like any signal cable, is part of a system. That system consists of the cable (obviously), the raceway (if used), mechanical support devices, junction/terminal boxes, and the connectors. All of this must work together, work with the antenna, and be listed for the application.
Before you select individual cables, develop an understanding of what that system will be doing and what the environment is where the cable is routed. For example, if you're going to route the cable through environmental air spaces, then you plenum-rated cable. Passing through a bulkhead? You need bulkhead cable.
A simple system design process begins with drawing out the major components. Then you determine what types of spaces exist between and around the components. This helps you narrow down the cable selection process. If your design is complicated or is for a critical application, please feel free to contact us. We have experts who can help you.
At a minimum, the cable must be:
Listed for the application. The word "listed" means an authorized testing lab has listed the cable for safe use in a given application. That's pretty much a matter of the jacket material.
Appropriate to the signal. Partly a matter of how much DC resistance, but several other specs come into play. For example, frequency attenuation is critical.
Physically cable of being installed. Pay attention to the bend radius; ensure you have sufficient room on your planned installation route to install this cable.
In many cases, the technical selection criteria will result in a list of cables to choose from. When you reach this point, price and deliverability become decision factors. But not until you reach this point.
Careless installation of cabling can severely limit performance or cause outright failure. Some key issues to address:
Ensure every raceway bend, pullbox, junction box, and anything else the cable runs through will permit installation without exceeding the bend radius of the cable.
Ensure every electrician or other installer understands the bend radius limitations and how to handle the cable accordingly.
Obtain the proper tools for pulling and cutting the cable.
Follow the requirements of National Electrical Code, NFPA 70, Chapter 8.
Select compatible raceway, observing both the fill requirements and the bend radius requirements.
Mechanical mounting. Is the mounting surface suitable to the anticipated mechanical stress? Is it secure, and does it provide the necessary protection?
Location. Put as much distance as is practical away from power wiring. As with real estate, location is pretty critical.
Access. You need to mount components such that they are reasonably well-protected from damage and, where possible, secure from unauthorized access. But you also need to make these accessible for maintenance, repair, and upgrades.
Interference. Don't locate cabling close to utility lines or other sources of signal noise problems. Don't route cabling in runs parallel to power runs. Right angle is best, if practical.
It's better to conduct cable tests as you go, rather than during acceptance testing only. This way, you can correct problems at the least cost and without removing finished surfaces do do rework. If you're a contractor, this step is crucial because it means you don't get callbacks to replace failed cabling.
Today, cable testers allow technicians to quickly and accurately run a variety of tests on signal cabling. The testers come in a variety of price ranges and capabilities. For a particular run or project, you may find it makes sense to buy a more sophisticated cable tester than the one you already have.
The National Electrical Code, NFPA 70, provides communications cabling requirements in Chapter 8. Other NEC Articles may also apply, especially those in Chapter 5.
The IEEE provides many communications-related standards. If you go to the IEEE Website's Standards library and select "Communications" you will see these. It's a huge list, but only certain ones will apply to your specific application.
Of course, if you just need to buy antenna cables you have come to the right place. If you don't see what you need here, contact us and we can probably get it for you.