N-type Connector

- an overview, information or tutorial about the N-type connector used for many high frequency, high power, or high performance RF applications.

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The N-type connector is a high performance RF coaxial connector. The N-type RF connector is used in many applications, particularly where RF performance is of paramount importance. Although not used as widely in small laboratories and hobbyist applications, the N-type connector is particularly good where high power s and high performance is required. Being physically larger than other types of connector such as the BNC connector, the N-type connector is more suited to use with the larger low loss cables.

N-type RF connector

... the N-type connector is used in many applications where RF performance is of paramount importance....

N-type development

The N-type connector has been in use for many years. It was originally designed by Paul Neill of Bell Laboratories, and it gained its name from the first letter of his surname. Its development arose out of the need for a high performance RF connector with a constant impedance. Since its first introduction, it has found many applications in areas where good RF performance is needed, along with the ability to carry high levels of power, and to be used with the larger sized coaxial cables.

N-type performance

The connector has a threaded coupling interface to ensure that it mates correctly to provide the optimum performance.

There are two versions of the N-type connector that are available:

  • 50 ohm
  • 75 ohm

Of the two versions of this RF connector that are available, it is the 50 ohm N-type connector that is by far the most widely used. This results from the fact that 75 ohm systems are only rarely used in commercial and professional systems these days.

The two versions of the N-type connector have subtle mechanical differences that do not allow the two types to mate. This can be an advantage in preventing the wrong standard connectors being used by mistake.

The connector able to withstand relatively high powers when compared to the BNC or TNC connectors. The standard versions are specified for operation up to 11 GHz, although precision versions are available for operation to 18GHz.

The N-type coaxial connector is used for many radio frequency applications including broadcast and communications equipment where its power handling capability enables it to be used for medium power transmitters, however it is also used for many receivers and general RF applications.

Bank of N-type connectors
Bank of N-type connectors

Connector formats

N-type connectors come in a variety of formats. Not only are there plugs and sockets but there are also adapters and also other items such as attenuators.

N-type plugs are designed not only for the required impedance, but also to accept a particular coax cable format. In this way all the internal piece parts are compatible with the coaxial cable used. It is therefore necessary to specify the N-type plug for use the cable to be used. Although there is some latitude, it is naturally best to select the correct cable format.

N-type connectors are often used where performance is of paramount importance, and under these circumstances large cables are often needed to ensure the levels of loss are minimised. In view of the fact that N-type connectors are slightly larger than either BNC or TNC connectors this makes them ideal for these applications. Accordingly a variety of N-type connector versions capable of accommodating larger types of coax cable are available.

In addition to this there are straight and right angled variants. Of these the straight connectors are the most widely used, although right angled connectors where the cable leaves the plug at right angles to the centre of the connector centre line are also available. These are ideal in many applications where the cables need to leave the connector in this manner to ensure cables are in a tidy fashion, or where space is at a premium. Unfortunately right-angled connectors have a marginally higher level of loss than their straight through counterparts. This may not be significant for most applications, but at frequencies near the operational limit of the connector there may be a small difference.

The sockets or female N-type connectors also come in a number of flavours. In view of the fact that TNC connectors are normally used for RF applications, bulkhead mounting connectors where coaxial cable entry is provided are normally used. Again these are available for a variety of cable dimensions and the correct type should be used.

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