The Low Down on Low-Loss Coax Cables for Wireless Applications

August 17, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

It may seem counterintuitive that a wireless network would need cables, but it’s true. The components of a wireless network, such as access points, amplifiers and antennas, all need cables to communicate with one another. Antenna cables introduces signal loss in the antenna system for both the transmitter and receiver. In order to reduce this signal loss, you need to either minimize the cable length, if you can, and use only low-loss or ultra-low-loss coax cable s in order to connect access points and amps to antennas.

 

Coaxial cable is one of the oldest signal cabling types and is still used today because it is robust and very good at carrying a signals over long distances. The term coaxial comes from the inner conductor and the outer shield sharing a geometric axis. The term "low-loss" refers to the cable's relative low-attenuation (loss) over distance. The general rule is that the thicker the cable is, the less loss of signal there will be over the length of the cable.

 

RG-style cables were the original standard for coaxial cable, but the signal in these cables degrades over longer distances. This isn’t an issue when covering short distances, but in a wireless application it is critical to maintain the signal strength throughout the cable and until it is sent out through the antenna. Thus, low-loss coaxial cable was created offering lower attenuation and better shielding, a much better solution for wireless systems than RG-style cables. Low-loss coaxial cables also use solid center conductors which provide lower attenuation than the stranded conductors found in some types of RG-style coax cables.

 

Low-loss coaxial cables are ideal for use in WLAN, Cellular, PCS, ISM and many other wireless communications applications. They are offered in multiple sizes with a three-digit “series” number designating the thickness of the cable and the low-loss properties. For example, 400-series low-loss coax is thicker and has less loss than 200-series, and 200-series is thicker and has less loss than 100-series. While the thicker cable will provide less loss, it will also be heavier and less flexible, though ultra-flex versions of the thicker series cables do offer more flexibility.

 

Here is a comparison chart for popular types of low-loss coaxial cables:

Ethernet Switch Showdown: Commercial vs. Industrial

August 10, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

An Ethernet switch is a great way to create a Local Area Network (LAN) to share resources. Ethernet switch LANs can allow an entire office to share the use of printers, servers, Internet connections and other Internet Protocol (IP)-based applications.

 

For decades, Ethernet switches were limited to climate-controlled IT closets and buildings for use in commercial and office networks. In recent years, their use has expanded to include Ethernet-based industrial IP networks for manufacturing, automation and process industries.

 

Here, we’ll look at the major features of commercial and industrial switches and how they differ from one another.

 

Commercial Ethernet Switches:

  • •   Designed for desk or rack mounting in controlled environments such as IT closets        and data centers
  • •   110V-240V AC powered
  • •   Limited operating temperature range, typically between 50° F to 95°F
  • •   Cannot withstand shock and vibration
  • •   Single Point of Failure (SPOF): many commercial grade switches depend on               cooling fans and other components that can compromise the entire switch if they         fail 
  • •   Most have lower Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) than industrial switches

 

Industrial Ethernet Switches:   

  • •  Designed for harsh environments with extreme temperatures, vibration, dust and        moisture
  • •  Typically used in manufacturing facilities, mining, oil production, power plants,            waste water treatment plants and other extreme environments
  • •  Usually do not have any moving parts, such as fans (SPOF)
  • •  Conformal coating used in damp environments to cover PCB and protect                    components
  • •  Wide operating temperature range, typically from -40° F to 167°F
  • •  DIN rail mounting and small form factor allows switches to take up minimal space
  • •  Safety Extra-Low Voltage (SELV): accepting 24 V DC power makes industrial switches safer than higher powered switches
  • •  Many have an Ingress protection (IP) rating which allows the switches to resist dirt, dust and wash down
 

Read All About It: PoE White Paper

August 3, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

Power over Ethernet (PoE) is a revolutionary technique that provides both power and data in one Ethernet cable. PoE equipment eliminates the need to run power to remote network devices, which allows for greater flexibility and is ideal for remote locations where traditional power sources are not available. PoE can save time and money and is becoming more frequently used in wired and wireless connectivity applications with network devices such as wireless access points, switches and IP cameras.

 

Our white paper takes a deeper look at PoE, its history and how it is used in today’s telecommunications networks. Topics covered include:

 

History of PoE

  • -          How the IEEE was called upon to create the 802.3af standard to help the growth of the PoE market with a unified standard              to rely on
  • -          Power Sourcing Equipment (PSE)
  • -          Powered Devices (PD)

 

PoE Details and Variations

  • -          Mode A vs. Mode B
  • -          Mode A: Combining power via Phantom Powering
  • -          Mode B: Power over Ethernet spare pairs

 

Click here to read our PoE white paper.

 

All of our free white papers are available from our website by clicking here.

 

Video Blog: Solid vs. Stranded Center Conductors

July 27, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

All cables have either a solid and stranded conductor, no matter if they’re Cat5e, Cat6 or any other category rating. To figure out whether a solid or stranded cable will work best for your application, you’ll need to look at the advantages and disadvantages of both.

 

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 because the cables aren’t moved after installation. They are also cheaper and transmit better over long distances with lower attenuation than stranded cable, but they are more likely to break if bent repeatedly.

 

Stranded cables are much more flexible because their 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 in shorter network cable runs that need extra flexibility.  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.

 

There are other factors to take into consideration when choosing a cable. For more information on which cable type is best for your application, watch our video blog.

 

Standards Showdown: 802.11 Standards Side-by-Side

July 20, 2017 at 8:00 AM

 

The IEEE is almost always working on another new amendment to the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard. We now have nearly as many 802.11 standards as there are letters in the alphabet, and keeping them straight can get confusing. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of all of the 802.11 standards, old and new, for easy reference. 

 

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