Specialized Cabling Systems for Military Applications

April 6, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

When you hear the word “military” you probably think of tanks, weapons and camouflage. Military communications and cabling systems may not be the first things that come to mind, but they certainly are an important part of military operations.

 

Cables being used in combat zones face more rigorous requirements than those used in everyday civilian applications. Military voice, video and data systems are designed for rapid deployment in harsh environments with exposure to extreme temperatures, shock, vibration, dust and moisture. Cables in these systems are also exposed to heavy EMI and RFI from motors, switching power supplies and nearby microprocessors, all of which can be detrimental to network performance.

 

These extreme conditions would render a commercial communications system useless, so combat-specialized infrastructure products have been designed to meet the needs of today’s combat-ready network systems.

 

Here are some examples of products and technologies designed to meet the needs of military communications networks.

 

Fiber Optics

 

By design fiber cables are immune to EMI and RFI sometimes encountered in the combat theatre. Additionally, fiber optic cables are now offered in special crush and impact-resistant designs and some military-styles are available with armored jacketed cable.

 

Connectors such as the Straight Tip (ST) are fitted with heavy tension springs to ensure proper mating when exposed to major shock and vibration. They are also offered with locking mechanisms for additional protection against optical disconnects.

 

Other fiber optic connectors for military applications feature Ingress Protection (IP) rated designs with screw lock mating and extra-strength strain reliefs of over 250 Newton’s to ensure a solid connection during field use.

 

Shielded Ethernet Cable

 

Shielded Cat5e or Cat6 copper cables are the way to go when fiber cabling isn’t an option. Military applications require shielded twisted pair (STP) copper cables and rugged military-style connectors for most applications. STP cabling reduces the damaging effects of EMI and RFI sometime encountered in the field.

 

Other Ethernet cabling options for military apps include IP68 rated cables that utilize ruggedized Anodized or Zinc Alloy finished connectors and double shielded, high-flex, UV and Oil resistant FR-TPE (Flame Retardant Thermoplastic Elastomer) jacket that is CMX outdoor rated to stand up to the toughest environments.

 

Jacket Compounds

 

Whether you’re using fiber or copper cables, the cable jacket compound should always be taken into consideration. The outer cable jacket of many copper and fiber cables is usually made of PVC material that is toxic when burned and can accelerate a fire spreading.

 

Low-smoke zero-halogen (LSZH) jackets are a much safer solution and a popular choice for military applications. As the name implies, LSZH cables produce minimal smoke and no halogen, both of which can be harmful to people and expensive communications equipment. LSZH cables will also self-extinguish which makes them ideal for enclosed spaces such as ships, aircraft, tanks and other vehicles.

 

Polyurethane jackets are sometimes used in military applications because of their ability to withstand damaging UV rays, oil and petroleum-based products, and mechanical abuse. Though cables with a Polyurethane jacket will also release toxic gases and will not self-extinguish like LSZH cables.

 

Video Blog - How to Assemble a Grid Antenna

March 30, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

High-performance grid antennas are perfect for point-to-point, point-to-multi-point and wireless bridge applications. L-com’s 2.4 GHz grid antennas can be used in 802.11b/g/n WLANs and feature a rugged design for long-term outdoor operation. Our 5.8 GHz grid antennas are ideal for long-range, highly directional 5.8 GHz ISM and UNII-band operations.

 

If a grid antenna sounds like something you need in your application  but you’re not sure how assemble one, we’re here to help with that too.  In six simple steps, we’ll have you from parts on the floor to high-gain antenna in the sky.

 

The process is easy, but first you should follow some safety precautions to make sure that no one will fall while working from heights, and that nothing will come in contact with power lines. All towers and masts must be securely grounded and lightning arrestors should be used on all coax cable connections.

 

Next, make sure you have all of the parts needed:

 

  • ·       Antenna feedhorn assembly
  • ·       Stainless steel U-bolts with nuts and washers
  • ·       Mast clamps
  • ·       Aluminum “L” bracket
  • ·       Machine screws with nuts and washers
  • ·       Antenna reflector grid section halves


Now, watch our video. In less than 4 ½ minutes, we’ll have you connected and ready to go.

 

 

For more tips and how-to videos, click here.

 

 

Cable Showdown: Cat6 vs. Cat6a

March 23, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

 

Cat6 and Cat6a may be two of the most popular standards for Ethernet cables, but how do you decide between them?  Depending on your application, one may work better than the other. To help you decide, we thought we’d stack them up side-by-side for a showdown.

 

  

 

Both Cat6 and Cat6a offer speed, flexibility and cost savings. They can both be used for PoE applications and are ideal for transmitting voice, video and data, though Cat6a is able to move larger volumes of data. Cat6 cables are great for connecting access points and other devices including media converters, switches and wireless controllers that are typically running at 1Gbps speeds. Cat6a cables are typically used in data centers and storage area networks (SAN) that require 10Gbps connectivity or more through trunked 10Gbps connections.

 

The cost difference between the two is minimal. The main difference is that Cat6a is able to transmit at 10 Gbps supporting 10GBASE-T over longer distances than Cat6 cables. Cat6a also builds upon Cat6’s capability to protect against alien crosstalk, which improves performance. Though if a shielded cable isn’t necessary and a lighter option would work best, unshielded Cat6 has the advantage. As always, the requirements of your application will dictate which cable to use.

 

All about Antenna Polarity

March 16, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

Whether you’re installing one antenna or an entire tower-full of them, antenna polarization is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle to consider, yet it is also one of the least understood properties of wireless communication.

 

Most antennas are typically mounted horizontally or vertically and the way they are mounted determines their polarization. For the best network performance, antennas used in point-to-point wireless applications should have the same polarization as each other. A wireless links can be established with antennas of different polarity, but usually it compromises the network performance and connectivity.

 

Though there are some cases where using antennas with different polarization is beneficial in reducing interference. For example, if you’re mounting several antennas on a tower, your best plan is to stagger vertically and horizontally polarized antennas to decrease interference.

 

Some wireless applications won’t work with horizontal or vertical polarization. In these cases, there are other polarization schemes to explore including: dual-polarized, cross-polarized and circular-polarized antennas.

 

The diagram below outlines the different antenna polarity types.

All Contacts are Not Created Equal

March 9, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

Certain contacts work best on certain types of cable. Here, we’ll take a look at how to determine which type of contact is best for your application.

 

First, you need to determine which type of cable you’re using – solid or stranded. All cables will fall into these two categories no matter if they’re Cat5e, Cat 6 or otherwise. 

 

A solid cable’s conductors are made of solid metal, usually copper, making the cable more rigid.  Solid cables are typically used as infrastructure cabling in walls, ceilings and conduit where flexibility isn’t necessary since the cable is put into place and left alone. They are also cheaper, transmit better over long distances (lower attenuation than stranded cable), but they are more likely to break if bent repeatedly.

 

Stranded cables are much more flexible because the conductors are made of thin metal wires that are twisted together to create a larger, thicker conductor. These cables are frequently used as patch cords and shorter network cable runs that need extra flexibility for bending.  Stranded cables are typically more expensive than solid cables, but they work well for shorter distances and can stand-up to repetitive bending without breaking.

 

Now that you’re clear on solid versus stranded cables, we can take a look at the types of contacts that are available for RJ45 plugs that are used on Ethernet cables.

 

Each contact is designed for a specific cable type and not all plugs will work on all cables. 

 

The diagram below outlines that main contact designs that are available. Some contacts can be used on both solid and stranded cable. Always check the manufacturer’s datasheet to determine if the plug/contact can be used with your cable type.

 

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