Understanding Copper/Fiber Media Converters

August 28, 2013 at 10:00 AM

What is a Media Converter?

 

Diagram of fiber optic premise wiring converted to copper with media converters

A media converter is used to extend Cat 5e/6 Ethernet cabling to distances beyond the 100 meter maximum for Ethernet by converting IP voice/video/data signals to fiber optic cabling.

 

Where are Media Converters used?

 

Media converters are used in environments where EMI/RFI is present, such as manufacturing facilities and other industrial environments. Other applications include campus networks where many buildings need to be connected via fiber. Also, high-rise buildings typically use a fiber backbone, which is laid vertically and taps into copper (UTP) networks on each floor via a media converter.

 

L-com's Media Converter offering

 

L-com offers media converters designed for both commercial and industrial use.

 

Commercial-grade fiber-to-copper media converters from L-com

 

L-com Ethernet Media Converter 10/100TX to 100FX MM SC 2km

- Plug-and-play installation
- Rugged metal case ensure longevity
- Multimode and Single-mode versions available
- Easy-to-read LEDs provide at-a-glance system status information
- Operating temp: 0°C to +70°C 

 

Industrial DIN Rail Media Converters from L-com

 

LCMC Media Converters

- 35mm DIN rail mounting
- Rugged aluminum case
- 24V DC power input
- Plug and play
- Operating temp: -40°C to +70°C

 

Tips for Buying Coaxial Cable

August 14, 2013 at 10:00 AM

 

What’s right for your application?

 

Selecting the proper coaxial cable can go a long way toward satisfying the needs of a specific application. Which criteria are most important to the specifying process? There are 4 key points to be considered when choosing coaxial cables:

 

      RG174/U Bulk Coaxial Cable - Flexible Small Diameter 50 Ohm Cable

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Cable Type

 

There are basically two types of coaxial cables: those with an impedance of 75 Ohms (Ω), used mostly for video applications, and those with an impedance of 50 Ω, used mostly for data and wireless communications.

 

Typical 75 Ω cables are our RG59/U and RG6/U. These cable types are available in 100-, 500- and 1000-foot reels.

 

Typical RG-style 50 Ω cables for data are RG174/U, RG188/U and RG316/U. These bulk cables can be used in applications where cable assemblies must be built in the field. Available in 100-, 500- and 1000-foot rolls, their stranded 26 AWG center conductors result in very flexible cables for tight-fit applications. Additionally, the bulk RG188A/U cable has a Teflon-taped outer jacket to help achieve a 200-degree C operating temperature, and the RG316/U has an extruded FEP outer jacket that helps achieve a 200-degree C operating temperature.

 

50 Ω cables are also available in the low-loss version: 100-, 200-, and 400-series specifically for wireless applications. Low Loss coaxial cables provide far better shielding than their RG style counterparts and are best suited for RF applications.

 

 

2. Operating Frequency

 

Another important consideration is the operating frequency of the signal carried on the cable. As the frequency increases, the signal energy moves away from the cable's center conductor to the cable's shield outside of the conductor, a phenomenon known as the "skin effect".

 

This has a direct correlation to how far the signal can travel over a cable of a certain length, for a given signal frequency and power level. The higher the signal frequency, the shorter the distance traveled.

 

For our full Coaxial Cabling Tutorial, click here.

 

 

3. Cable Attenuation

 

Cable attenuation is the amount of signal loss over a specific distance. In general, the higher the frequency, the larger the attenuation will be. The larger the diameter of a cable's center conductor, the lower the attenuation is.

 

For example, an RG59/U cable with a 14 AWG center conductor can carry a signal (at a specific frequency and power level) about twice the distance as that of an RG11/U cable with a 20 AWG center conductor. It's imperative to know how much cable attenuation is acceptable in your particular application when selecting coaxial cable.

 

 

4. Characteristic Impedance

 

A coaxial cables characteristic impedance is an important parameter that affects the performance of the signal being carried over the cable. Also known as transmission impedance, it is defined as the relationship between a cable's capacitance per unit length to its inductance per unit length. For optimum signal transfer, the cable's characteristic impedance should be matched to the impedance/resistance of the load.

 

RG59A/U Bulk Coaxial Cable - Stranded Center Conductor 75 Ohm Cable
50 Ohm BNC Crimp Plug for RG58 - Amphenol #31-320-RFX
See a Matrix of Data
and Wireless Coax Cable Assemblies for Easy Ordering
Looking for bulk 75Ω cable for audio/video? See it here!
Get Coax Connectors
from L-com and build your own cable assemblies!
 
Quick note: RG-style coaxial cables are not all built the same. Check the specification requirements before you buy, and if you need help contact our technical support.
 

Cabling for LAN and Premise Architecture

July 31, 2013 at 10:00 AM

 

Diagram of Wiring Closet Rack

It's hard to fathom just how quickly Ethernet technology has grown. Today no modern office building would be functional without premise wiring, or the cabling run throughout the building to connect computers to the LAN.

 

We may be on the verge of a wireless revolution with new technologies like DAS and MESH, but for now you should at least understand the basic architecture of LAN cabling.

 

LAN wiring is often broken into three types: backbone, horizontal runs, and patch cabling, each with its own purpose and requirements. In an especially large building or in a campus of buildings, the backbone is the wiring that connects server locations together and to the Internet through an ISP. Since a large amount of data may be carried back and forth by these cables, they are typically designed for bandwidth, like T1 lines or fiber optic cables (usually multi-fiber lines like breakout or distribution style, or even ribbon fibers).

 

Close Up View of Solid Conductor Category-rated Cable

The horizontal runs are the individual cables coming from the servers to the Work Areas. Work Areas are the points where the cable is terminated in a wall plate or jack so a user can plug their computer or other device into it.

 

It is often deceptive to assume that a single horizontal run will connect to a single computer. More likely than not, it is connected into a local Ethernet switch or wireless access point, and many computers may be connected to that. For this reason, the actual data carried on a single horizontal cable could vary greatly, and if you are planning your LAN architecture, this is the trickiest thing to get right. It can also be the most expensive piece to change if you get it wrong as you may need to fish the cable back out of a wall or conduit to re-arrange it.

 

Horizontal runs are currently most often solid-conductor Category rated copper cable. This is slowly changing over to fiber optic cabling as the price gap between the two narrows and fiber optic technology improves. Note that the horizontal cable may also require special jacket types to comply with building fire codes.

 

Right Angle Ethernet Cable Assembly

The patch cabling in a LAN is often overlooked, but is also very important. In general it is used to connect two devices together in a rack in a server room, or to connect a device to a wall jack where a horizontal cable is terminated. Being exposed (not behind a wall or on a rack ladder) and possibly being moved frequently, a patch cable needs to be robust and flexible.

 

While patch cables are easily available and can be bought relatively cheap, you might want to consider that cheap cables may introduce problems to your LAN. Cheap cables often use substitute materials such as copper clad aluminum or feature low quality plugs not rated for the application. Cheap cables seldom pass the testing required for the network and will degrade your network performance.

 

With more devices requiring power (POE), the cheaper cables often cannot carry the added burden due to undersized conductors and low grade copper. For a single user's computer, the impact of this may be limited, but in a server room low quality cables can have a disastrous effect on the entire LAN. If the cable manufacturer you purchase from has a robust QC process, it will help.

 

Other features to consider are molded right angle connectors to ensure the connector isn't bent to fit into limited space, cable boots to make depressing the connector latch easier, and high-flex construction and oil resistant jackets for demanding environments.

 

L-com stocks components for every facet of your LAN, from Ethernet cables, plugs and jacks, to bulk copper or fiber cable, to active media converters. We also go beyond that, to reliable racks, panels and cable management accessories, lightning and surge protectors, Power-over-Ethernet components and everything for wireless deployment.

 

Choose the Right Cable Jacket Material

July 17, 2013 at 10:00 AM


Plenum, LSZH and More

 

L-com's Plenum rated multiconductor cable

 

For buyers and technicians using signal-grade cabling, much attention is usually given to the connector type, termination process and bulk cable construction. Another aspect not to be forgotten that can be critical to many applications is the cable jacket material.

 

 

What does the jacket do?

 

More than just a color coding cable management technique, the jacket has several important functions. It allows the separate conductors to be organized into a single data line for ease of organizing, or it can even contain several conductors or wires to be broken out at a drop point.

 

The cable jacket also aids tremendously in the cable's flexibility and durability. In covering any shielding within the cable, it can prevent noise that collects on the shield from degrading the signals of other cables nearby, or from draining at inappropriate spots. Finally, the outer jacket is often the last line of defense between the data-carrying conductors and the environment in which the cable is used.

 

 

Fire Code Considerations

 

Comparison of cable jackets burning

Perhaps the most important aspect of a cable's jacket is how that jacket burns in a fire. PVC, the flexible plastic material that makes up most general purpose or residential grade cables is cheap and convenient, but it burns quickly and releases poisonous gas while burning.

 

If cables are run behind the walls of a building or in a vehicle and a fire breaks out, that fire can "leap" from room to room or floor to floor by burning along the cables behind the walls. And if the location where the cables are run is difficult to exit, as in a submarine, ship, airplane or even crowded warehouse, the poisonous smoke would compound the difficulty in dealing with the fire.

 

Because of this, many cables are given flammability compliance codes to help technicians from buying or using inappropriate cables. But, differences in measurement techniques and designations can make the process very confusing. In general, though, there are two "types" or classes of jacket materials other than PVC.

 

 

Plenum for Fire Retardation and Self-Extinguishing

 

In many large buildings, the duct work between rooms and floors is also the raceway for much of the building's data cabling. This space is often called the building's "plenum", and so the types of cables run in these environments are often called Plenum rated cables or just Plenum cables.

 

Plenum materials must be self-extinguishing, meaning that after they start burning and then the external fire or heat source is removed, the material must stop burning. This prevents the cables from "carrying" the fire to another location in the building and re-igniting unexpectedly. Sometimes Plenum cables are referred to as CL2P, OFNP, or CMP. Plenum cables are known to be more expensive than PVC, but in cases where a fire code requires plenum the cost must be factored into the overall installation job.

 

 

Low Smoke, Zero Halogen (LSZH) for Sealed or Mobile Locations

 

Jacket materials that have been designed to release very little smoke and no poisonous gas when burned are often called LSZH. These are typically reserved for special applications where the occupants near the cables may not be able to escape or ventilate the room in the instance of a fire. Again, this occurs frequently in military and aerospace applications.

 

 

Special Jacket Considerations

 

In addition to the above designations for particular fire codes, jackets may have other features useful in niche applications. UV resistance is important in applications where the cable may be exposed to strong sunlight for long periods. UV light can weaken and eventually destroy many PVC compounds over time. Or, oil resistance may be needed in many factory automation apllications as the petroleum-based compound could dissolve if immersed in oil. High-flex or hi-flex cables often use a special jacket that will not crack and split when the cables are flexed over and over again.

 

If you're looking for industry's largest selection of off-the-shelf Plenum, LSZH and other special-jacketed cable and cable assemblies, stop in at L-com's online configurator or contact customer service to get a quote started. We can custom manufacture cables with the jacket type you need.

 

Tutorial on Coaxial Cabling

July 3, 2013 at 10:00 AM

 

 

 

Coax is one of the most venerable cabling standards having been developed for the US military over 50 years ago. Unlike some standards that were popular for a while and eventually became legacy, coaxial cabling is still very relevant and used in a lot of common applications. It is a robust and reliable cable type with no sign of going away any time soon.

 

 

 Types of Coax Cabling

 

As you can imagine, over the years that coax has been around, many variations have been designed for specific applications. We will talk about the Radio Guide (RG) styles and the low-loss styles that were made popular by Times Microwave's LMR® standard. Though there are many other coax options like mini coax, twinaxial and tri-axial, the applications for those have dwindled in recent years.

 

 

RG-style Coaxial Cable

 

The original Radio Guide standard called for a number followed by codes to determine specific aspects of the cable (such as jacket type, center conductor material, etc.). However, today many of the standards have become "soft" meaning that RG58B/U, for instance, may have very different characteristics from manufacturer to manufacturer.

 

Exposed view of a coaxial cable

Most RG numbers refer to cables made with specific diameters (as thicker diameters typically have lower attenuation over long lengths), shielding, jacket type, and dielectric type. The dielectric is important as it can control the "characteristic impedance" of the cable. In general, cables with a characteristic impedance of 50 Ohms are used in data and wireless network applications, and cables with a characteristic impedance of 75 Ohms are used in higher bandwidth audio/video applications.

 

The bottom line about RG-style coax cable: if you need to get a specific type for your application, you should include the characteristics of the cable with your request. The actual standard may have some variations that would make the off-the-shelf product unsuitable for some circumstances.

 

 

Low-loss Coaxial Cable

 

Low-loss cable is almost exclusively used in wireless applications. It is ideal for any antenna-to-radio setup, and is often used extensively in wireless system installations. Low loss cable is often referred to by its series number, such as 200-Series cable, which is usually a rough approximation of the diameter of the cable. The higher the number (ie, 400, 800, etc), the thicker and heavier the cable, and the less attenuation over the length. Because of this, higher series numbers are typically used in cases where the antenna is permanently installed at some distance from the radio. Lower series numbers are used in cases where the antenna is closer, especially in portable setups where the weight of the cable is important.

 

 

Connectors

 

There are a large variety of coaxial connectors, usually designated by a letter or combination of letters. Most coaxial connectors are round or hex shaped, and can come in screw-on, push-on, or twist-lock designs. Be extra careful if you need a connector that is called "reverse polarized" or preceded with the letters "RP". These connectors are similar to the regular polarity versions except that the gender of the connector is reversed, making it unable to mate unless it is with another RP style connector. For a complete list of coaxial connectors with large images, try this coaxial connector chart.

 
If you are in need of coax: L-com has carried RG style coax cable and assemblies for decades, and together with our vast collection of low-loss coax cables it is one of the most comprehensive in the industry.
 
© L-com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. L-com, Inc., 50 High Street, West Mill, Third Floor, Suite 30, MA 01845