411 on M12 Connectors

May 17, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

Since their introduction in 1985, M12 connectors have grown to become the go-to interconnect system for industrial automation. These rugged connectors provide reliable connections in the harshest environments and have revolutionized the world of industrial automation connectivity.

 

M12 connectors are circular connectors that have a 12-mm locking thread and often boast IP ratings for protection against liquids and solids. They are ideal for connecting sensors, actuators, as well as industrial Ethernet and Fieldbus devices, mostly in industrial automation applications and in corrosive environments.

 

Prior to the inception of the M12 connector, engineers had to hard wire or repeatedly replace connectors that couldn’t endure in harsh conditions. Initially released with 3 and 4-pin models, the original M12 connector had a smaller current than its predecessor, the RK30, but still provided the protection of an IP67 rating. The 4-pin M12 connector allowed a single system to include more advanced sensors and actuators. Today, these rugged connectors are available with 3, 4, 5, 8 and 12-pin configurations with additional locking styles continuously being developed, such as bayonet and push-pull.

 

In addition to factory automation, M12 connectors and M12 cable assemblies are used in measurement and control, communications, transportation, robotics, agriculture and alternative energy applications. Choosing the correct pin count depends on the specific application. Three and 4-pin models are needed for sensors and in power applications. Ethernet and PROFINET require 4 and 8 pins. DeviceNet and CANbus mostly use 4 and 5-pin connectors. Twelve-pin models are typically specified for various signal applications.

 

Along with different pin counts, M12 connectors have multiple styles of key coding to prevent improper mating.  Here are the most common coding types and what they’re used for:

 

·       A-coded: sensors, DC power and 1 Gigabit Ethernet

·       B-coded: PROFIBUS

·       C-coded: AC power

·       D-coded: 100 Mbit Ethernet

·       X-coded: 10 Gigabit Ethernet

·       S-coded: AC power (will be replacing C-coded power parts)

·       T-coded: DC power (will be replacing A-coded power parts)

 

The most popular types of M12 coding are A, B, D and X.  The A, B and D-coded connectors are some of the first M12 connectors and have been on the market the longest. X-coded connectors are rising in demand for high-speed industrial Ethernet and will ultimately take the place of A and D-coded parts in Ethernet applications. The newest code designs being developed are K-coded for AC power and L-coded for PROFINET DC power.

 

802.3bz Provides Congestion Relief – 2.5 Gbps & 5 Gbps Over Copper

May 3, 2018 at 8:00 AM

 

Cat5e and Cat6 cables are two of the most widely used cables in the world. Traditionally, for conventional Cat5e and Cat6 twisted-pair copper cabling, Gigabit Ethernet (1 Gbps) is the fastest standard. A wired connection of 1 Gbps is probably enough speed for one PC user, but with the surge of high-speed Wi-Fi devices being used over the last few years, Gigabit Ethernet has become increasingly congested. Thus, the IEEE has developed the 802.3bz standard to ease the pain of 1 Gbps traffic and allow speeds of up to 2.5 Gbps and 5 Gbps over Cat5e and Cat6 copper cables.

  

To escape the 1 Gbps bottleneck and increase speeds to 10 Gbps, a network cable upgrade to Cat6a or Cat7 is usually required. At an estimated $300 per cable pull, upgrading cable is a costly process and not always feasible, especially for large networks which could also encounter expensive delays and connection disruptions in the process.  Fortunately, the 802.3bz allows users to avoid expensive cable upgrades. This new 2.5G/5GBASE-T standard can provide 2.5 Gbps speeds over 100 meters of Cat5e cable and 5 Gbps speeds over 100 meters of Cat6 cable. These higher speeds are bookended by a switch on one end and either an Ethernet extender or electronic device on the opposite end.

 

The physical layer of 2.5G/5GBASE-T is similar to 10GBASE-T, but uses 200 MHz or 100 MHz spectral bandwidth instead of 400 MHz. This is beneficial because 2.5G/5GBASE-T consumes less than half the bandwidth of 10GBASE-T and doesn’t require a high-quality, mega-shielded cable. The 802.3bz standard also provides additional features such as Power over Ethernet (PoE), which is useful when rolling out Wi-Fi access points.

 

With a growing need for faster connections, 802.3bz provides a sensible way to upgrade networking capabilities without the expense of re-cabling, all while improving user experience and avoiding costly downtime.

 

5 Things You Need to Know About Shielded Ethernet Cables

August 18, 2016 at 8:00 AM

 

Shielded Ethernet cables are widely used, so you may know what they are. You may even be familiar with some of the advantages and disadvantages of using them. But if you want to dig a little deeper into the world of shielded Ethernet cables, here are 5 things you need to know.

 

1. A single-shielded Ethernet cable has the lightest available shield but still weighs 12% more on average than an unshielded cable. A double-shielded Ethernet cable weighs as much as 30% more than the unshielded version. This additional weight may not be a big deal if you are only running a few shorter cables, but if your network is using dozens or hundreds of shielded cables, the combined weight could be enough to damage a rack, cable ladder or other cable management infrastructure. 

 

2. Double-shielded cables  have both a foil and braid shield and can better protect data from EMI/RFI and alien crosstalk (AXT). This protection results in higher transmission speeds and fewer data transmission errors.

 

 

3. High-flex industrial cables are shielded and built for continuous or high-flex applications, and also employ special jacket materials to solve common industrial Ethernet problems. They are designed for environments where ordinary patch cables fail. These cables will not breakdown when exposed to oil based lubricants, making them ideal for robotic control systems on the factory floor.

 

4. Shielded IP67-rated and IP68-rated Ethernet cables use a hood around the male connector that can screw onto the barrel of a female jack for protection against moisture and dust. Shielding the cables and connectors ensures better performance and higher data transmission rates.  IP67 and IP68-rated cables are also protected from liquid immersion, giving them another layer of protection.

 

5. Shielded Ethernet cables provide maximum performance even in high EMI/RFI environments.   Category 6 shielded cables are designed to handle today's hi-speed Gigabit Ethernet applications. Category 6a cable assemblies offer true 10 Gigabit Ethernet speeds at frequencies up to 500 MHz, making them ideal for high speed computing applications often found in data centers. Both Cat6 and Cat6a shielded cables are designed to outperform with super speeds and shielding protecting your data from interference.

 

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