Unless you have operated a 10Base-2 or 10Base-5 Ethernet network, you are probably familiar only with the coaxial connectors you have in your home for use with televisions and video equipment. Actually, a number of different types of coaxial connectors exist.
The coax connectors used with video equipment are referred to as F-series connectors (shown in Figure 1). The F-connector consists of a ferrule that fits over the outer jacket of the cable and is crimped in place. The center conductor is allowed to project from the connector and forms the business end of the plug. A threaded collar on the plug screws down on the jack, forming a solid connection. F-connectors are used primarily in residential installations for RG-58, RG-59, and RG-6 coaxial cables to provide CATV, security-camera, and other video services.
F-connectors are commonly available in one-piece and two-piece designs. In the two-piece design, the ferrule that fits over the cable jacket is a separate sleeve that you slide on before you insert the collar portion on the cable. Experience has shown us that the single-piece design is superior. Fewer parts usually means less fumbling, and the final crimped connection is both more aesthetically pleasing and more durable. However, the usability and aesthetics are largely a function of the design and brand of the two-piece product. Some two-piece designs are very well received by the CATV industry.
A cheaper F-type connector available at some retail outlets attaches to the cable by screwing the outer ferrule onto the jacket instead of crimping it in place. These are very unreliable and pull off easily. Their use in residences is not recommended, and they should never be used in commercial installations.
The N-connector is very similar to the F-connector but has the addition of a pin that fits over the center conductor; the N-connector is shown in Figure 2. The pin is suitable for insertion in the jack and must be used if the center conductor is stranded instead of solid. The assembly is attached to the cable by crimping it in place. A screw-on collar ensures a reliable connection with the jack. The N-type connector is used with RG-8, RJ-11U, and thicknet cables for data and video backbone applications.
When coaxial cable distributes data in commercial environments, the BNC connector is often used. BNC stands for Bayonet Neill-Concelman, which describes both the method of securing the connection and its inventors. Many other expansions of this acronym exist, including British Naval Connector, Bayonet Nut Coupling, Bayonet Navy Connector, and so forth. Used with RG-6, RG-58A/U thinnet, RG-59, and RG-62 coax, the BNC utilizes a center pin, as in the N-connector, to accommodate the stranded center conductors usually found in data coax.
The BNC connector (shown in Figure 3) comes as a crimp-on or a design that screws onto the coax jacket. As with the F-connector, the screw-on type is not considered reliable and should not be used. The rigid pin that goes over the center conductor may require crimping or soldering in place. The rest of the connector assembly is applied much like an F-connector, using a crimping die made specifically for a BNC connector.
To secure a connection to the jack, the BNC has a rotating collar with slots cut into it. These slots fit over combination guide and locking pins on the jack. Lining up the slots with the pins, you push as you turn the collar in the direction of the slots. The slots are shaped so that the plug is drawn into the jack, and locking notches at the end of the slot ensure positive contact with the jack. This method allows quick connection and disconnection while providing a secure match of plug and jack.
Be aware that you must buy BNC connectors that match the impedance of the coaxial cable to which they are applied. Most commonly, they are available in 75 ohm and 50 ohm types, with 93 ohm as a less-used option.