More Wi-Fi antenna connector types exist than you may imagine. These connectors are matched to certain types of antenna cables. The appropriate cable and connector are based on the type of hardware, such as an access point, router or wireless card. The connector type found on Wi-Fi hardware is a reflection of its intended installation environment, along with manufacturer design preference. For example, an integrated wireless card might use a smaller connector than a stand-alone router or gateway. When examining connector types, you must also pay attention to the gender of each connector, which is many times counter-intuitive.
The N-connector or Type N is available in slip-on and threaded versions, offering bandwidth up to 11 gigahertz. These connectors are primarily used with smaller antenna wiring, such as RG-225. The connectors are used with coaxial cabling types designed to filter out distortions that interfere with radio communications. N-connectors are available in right-angle versions to facilitate cramped installation environments and keep Wi-Fi antennas vertical.
BNC and TNC
The Bayonet Neill-Concelman, or BNC, is a locking connector. While many coaxial connectors press or thread onto the mounting post, BNC connectors twist and lock in place. This is a commonly used connector in professional applications where durability and quick disconnect capabilities are required. Two grooves on the connector lock onto two mating posts on an unthreaded post. A version known as Threaded Neill-Concelman, or TNC, uses conventional threading instead of locking posts.
Subminiature A or SMA connectors are very similar to conventional cable-jack style coaxial versions. These connectors are optimized for minimal interference and internal signal reflection, along with durable overall construction. SMA connectors feature a machined brass center pin with large-diameter threads, and they're compatible to 18 gigahertz. These connectors are commonly used with semi-rigid antenna cabling, such as RG-316.
Micro coaxial or MCX connectors are approximately 30 percent smaller in diameter than SMA coaxial plugs and jacks. The smaller jack and plug size facilitates further miniaturization of Wi-Fi and local area network hardware. MCX connectors typically press-fit onto the mating post on the wireless router or gateway. These connectors are used with small-diameter antenna cabling.
Most coaxial cable manufacturers classify "male" connectors as those having an exposed center-conductor pin. These mate to "female" jacks with a receiving insert and an outer threaded post. Many Wi-Fi antenna connectors use reverse polarity connectors. These jacks are designated as "RP" or "RPA" connectors; female connectors feature an exposed center pin, while male connectors use a receiving insert. You choose the antenna connector based on what is already installed on the hardware.
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