The Ins and Outs of RF Connectors

RF or radio frequency connectors are the metal connector pieces at the ends of a coaxial cable and are commonly found on television cable wires. These coaxial connectors are designed to work at radio frequencies in the multi-megahertz range and are designed to maintain the shielding a coaxial cable wire offers. Besides coaxial cables, other uses include radios, surge protectors, enclosures, and antennas. The most common connector types are Type N, UHF (Ultra high frequency), TNC (Threaded Neill-Concelman), RP TNC (Reverse Polarity Threaded Neill-Concelman), BNC (Bayonet Neill-Concelman connector), SMA (Sub-Miniture version A), and RP SMA (Reverse Polarity Sub-Miniture version A).

The main differences between RF connector types is in the gender and polarity of the connectors. Typically, RF plugs are male, consisting of a shell with threading on the inside. RF jacks are typically female with threading on the outside of the shell. The shell of a male plug typically covers the shell of a female jack. The term polarity in the case of RF connectors refers to the ability of a connector to only be connected in one orientation. Reverse polarity means the gender of the interface has been reversed. Establishing these terms and concepts will help you understand which RF connector you are dealing with.

A standard polarity male plug has a center pin that sticks out from the middle with threading on the inside. Standard polarity female jacks have a socket in the middle designed to receive the male plug pin and has it’s threading on the outside. In reverse polarity, the RP male plug will be reversed and now have a socket in the middle designed to receive the female pin. Subsequently, the reverse polarity female jack will now have the center pin in the middle and a shell threading on the outside.

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