There are three types cable connectors in a basic cabling installation techniques: twisted-pair connectors,coaxial cable connectors and fiber-optic connectors. Generally cable connectors have a male component and a female component, except in the case of hermaphroditic connectors such as the IBM data connector. Usually jacks and plugs are symmetrically shaped, but sometimes they are keyed. This means that they have a unique, asymmetric shape or some system of pins, tabs, and slots that ensure that the plug can be inserted only one way in the jack.
Many people in the cabling business use twisted-pair connectors more than any other type of connector. The connectors include the modular RJ types of jacks and plugs and the hermaphroditic connector employed by IBM that is used with shielded twisted-pair cabling. Twisted-Pair Cable Connectors are used with patch panels, punchdown blocks, and wall plates. Twisted-Pair Cable connector is called an IDC, or insulation displacement connector.
Most unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) and screened twisted-pair (ScTP) cable installations use patch panels and, consequently, 110-style termination blocks. The 110-Block contains rows of specially designed slots in which the cables are terminated using a punch-down tool. When terminating 66-blocks, 110-blocks, and often, wall plates, both UTP and ScTP connectors use IDC technology to establish contact with the copper conductors. You don’t strip the wire insulation off the conductor as you would with a screw-down connection. Instead, you force the conductor either between facing blades or onto points that pierce the plastic insulation and make contact with the conductor.
Both UTP and ScTP cables use modular jacks and plugs. For decades, modular jacks have been commonplace in the home for telephone wiring. Modular connectors come in four-, six-, and eight-position configurations. The number of positions defines the width of the connector. However, often only some of the positions have metal contacts installed. Make sure that the connectors you purchase are properly populated with contacts for your application.
Unless you have operated a 10Base-2 or 10Base-5 Ethernet network, you are probably familiar only with the coaxial connectors you have in your home for use with televisions and video equipment. Actually, a number of different types of coaxial connectors exist.
The coax connectors used with video equipment are referred to as F-series connectors.The F-connector consists of a ferrule that fits over the outer jacket of the cable and is crimped in place. The center conductor is allowed to project from the connector and forms the business end of the plug. A threaded collar on the plug screws down on the jack, forming a solid connection. F-connectors are used primarily in residential installations for RG-58, RG-59, and RG-6 coaxial cables to provide CATV, security-camera, and other video services.
F-connectors are commonly available in one-piece and two-piece designs. In the two-piece design, the ferrule that fits over the cable jacket is a separate sleeve that you slide on before you insert the collar portion on the cable. Experience has shown us that the single-piece design is superior. Fewer parts usually means less fumbling, and the final crimped connection is both more aesthetically pleasing and more durable. However, the usability and aesthetics are largely a function of the design and brand of the two-piece product. Some two-piece designs are very well received by the CATV industry.
The N-connector is very similar to the F-connector but has the addition of a pin that fits over the center conductor; The pin is suitable for insertion in
the jack and must be used if the center conductor is stranded instead of solid. The assembly is attached to the cable by crimping it in place. A screw-on collar ensures a reliable connection with the jack. The N-type connector is used with RG-8, RJ-11U, and thicknet cables for data and video backbone applications.
When coaxial cable distributes data in commercial environments, the BNC connector is often used. BNC stands for Bayonet Neill-Concelman, which describes both the method of securing the connection and its inventors. Many other expansions of this acronym exist, including British Naval Connector, Bayonet Nut Coupling, Bayonet Navy Connector, and so forth. Used with RG-6, RG-58A/U thinnet, RG-59, and RG-62 coax, the BNC utilizes a center pin, as in the N-connector, to accommodate the stranded center conductors usually found in data coax.
The BNC connector comes as a crimp-on or a design that screws onto the coax jacket. As with the F-connector, the screw-on type is not considered reliable and should not be used. The rigid pin that goes over the center conductor may require crimping or soldering in place. The rest of the connector assembly is applied much like an F-connector, using a crimping die made specifically for a BNC connector.
Fiber-optic connections use different terminology than copper based connectors. The male end of the connection in a fiber-optic system is termed the connector, in contrast to the plug in a copperbased system. The female end of the connection is termed the receptacle or adapter, in contrast to the jack in a copper-based system.
To transmit data up to 10Gbps, two fibers are typically required: one to send and the other to receive. For 40Gbps and 100Gbps over multimode, as many as 24 fibers will be required. Fiber optic connectors fall into one of three categories based on how the fiber is terminated:
- Simplex connectors terminate only a single fiber in the connector assembly.
- Duplex connectors terminate two fibers in the connector assembly.
- Array connectors terminate more than two fibers (typically 12 or 24 fibers) in the connector assembly.
The disadvantage of simplex connectors is that you have to keep careful track of polarity. In other words, you must always make sure that the connector on the “send” fiber is always connected to the “send” receptacle (or adapter) and that the “receive” connector is always connected to the “receive” receptacle (or adapter). The real issue is when normal working folk need to move furniture around and disconnect from the receptacle in their work area and then get their connectors mixed up. Experience has shown us that the connectors are not always color coded or labeled properly. Getting them reversed means, at the least, that link of the network won’t work.
Array and duplex connectors and adapters take care of this issue. Once terminated, color coding and keying ensures that the connector can be inserted only one way in the adapter and will always achieve correct polarity.
As transmission rates increase and networks require the cramming in of a greater number of connections, the industry has developed small-form-factor (SFF) connectors and adapter systems for fiber-optic cables. The SC, ST, and FC Connectors shown in Table 10.5 all take up more physical space than their RJ-45 counterparts on the copper side. This makes multimedia receptacle faceplates a little crowded and means that you get fewer terminations (lower density) in closets and equipment rooms than you can get with copper in the same space. The goal for the designers of the SFF connector was to create an optical-fiber connector with the same or lower crosssectional footprint as an RJ-45-style connector in order to increase the number of connections per area (higher density). The LC, the VF-45, and the MT-RJ SFF fiber-optic connectors were initially developed to support the increase in density of fiber connections. The LC Connectoris gaining greater use and is regarded by many optical-fiber professionals.