Connectors for coax cable: How to Install F Connectors on Coaxial Cable

How to Install F Connectors on Coaxial Cable

By

Timothy Thiele

Timothy Thiele

Timothy Thiele has an associate degree in electronics and is an IBEW Local #176 Union Electrician with over 30 years of experience in residential, commercial, and industrial wiring.

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Updated on 01/24/23

Reviewed by

Larry Campbell

Reviewed by
Larry Campbell

Larry Campbell is an electrical contractor with 36 years of experience in residential and light commercial electrical wiring. He worked as an electronic technician and later as an engineer for the IBM Corp. He is also a member of The Spruce Home Improvement Review Board.

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The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Project Overview

Traditional coaxial cables were once the standard means of connecting a television to an antenna or cable TV access point. But they are less common now that high-definition and ultra-high-definition televisions make prevalent use of HDMI, fiber optical, and ethernet cables for many of their connections. Still, coaxial cables have their purposes, and your video system may still use them. 

A coaxial cable used to bring electronic signals to a television or other electronic device terminates in an F connector. Despite the name, F connectors are round metal barrel-like bits that attach to the end of the coaxial cable.

There are several ways these F connectors can be attached to coaxial cable. Professional installers use a coaxial cable stripper, which strips all three layers of the cable at once. Then, they slip on the F connector and secure it with a coaxial cable tool, which presses the connector onto the cable and crimps it at the same time.

What Is an F Connector?

An F connector is a fitting that connects a coaxial cable to an electronic device or a wall jack. It contains threads that allow you to screw the cable onto a TV, cable wall outlet, or other electronic devices.

Watch Now: How to Install F-Connectors on Coaxial Cable

If you’re not a pro, you probably don’t have these special tools. But you might own (or can borrow) a basic cable crimper that will allow you to install a crimp-type F connector. Don’t have a crimper? No problem—simply buy a twist-on F connector, which you can install by hand. 

As for stripping the cable before adding the connector, an ordinary utility knife will do the trick. It helps to have standard electrical wire strippers for one of the steps, but you can also get by with the utility knife. Just be sure to work cautiously to protect the inner copper cable—and your fingers.

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Equipment / Tools

  • Utility knife
  • Wire strippers (optional)
  • Cable crimper (for crimp-style connectors)

Materials

  • Crimp-type or twist-on F connector
  1. Strip the Wire

    First, you’ll strip 3/4 inch of the black or white outer jacket from the end of the coaxial cable, using a utility knife.

    Carefully make a shallow cut all the way around the cable, cutting through the outer jacket only. Use your fingernails to peel away the jacket from the cable. This exposes the layer of fine metal shielding wires and foil just inside the jacket. 

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

  2. Trim the Shielding Foil

    Fold back the shielding wires onto the cable jacket, and trim them with wire strippers or scissors so they are about 1/8 inch long. Now, use the utility knife to cut through the metal shielding foil so it extends only about 1/4 inch from the cut in the cable jacket.

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

    Warning

    The metal shielding wires inside the outer sheath of a coaxial cable are very fine and have pointy tips. This means they can easily stab a finger, so be extra cautious working with them. Using gloves will make the job much harder to complete, so go for an ounce of prevention here.

  3. Trim the Plastic Layer

    Strip 1/4 inch of the white plastic insulating layer from around the copper wire core of the cable, using wire strippers or a utility knife. Be very careful not to cut or nick the copper wire itself, as this can affect the cable’s performance. There should now be 1/4 inch of the bare copper wire extending from the end of the white plastic layer.

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

  4. Install the Connector

    This stage depends on which type of connector you are using:

    Crimp-type F connector: Fit the crimp ring of the F connector over the end of the cable and slide it down over the outer jacket and shielding wires. Slide it until the white plastic layer makes contact with the hole inside the connector. You should see about 1/4 inch of copper wire inside the end of the F connector. Continue to the final step.

    Twist-on F connector: Fit the F connector onto the end of the cable and twist it clockwise until the white plastic layer contacts the hole inside the connector, and the copper wire extends about 1/16 inch beyond the front end of the connector. For twist-on connectors, your work is done.

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

  5. Complete a Crimp-Type Installation (if Necessary)

    On a crimp-type F connector, place the crimping tool jaws over the crimp ring of the F connector, and squeeze the tool handles to secure the connector to the cable. You are now finished.

    The Spruce / Margot Cavin

 

Coax Connectors – RF Types


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Along with the many types of coax cables there are to pick from, there is also an assortment of different types of RF coax connectors. When selecting a connector, you need to make sure you select one rated for the cable you are assembling. The back end of the RF connector that attaches to the coax cable needs to be the right size for installation. If the connector is too small, it will not fit. If it is too big, the connector will not secure properly and can be pulled off or even just fall off.

The type of RF connector you need will be determined by the equipment used with the coax cable. A television coax connection, for example, uses an F-type connector as the industry standard. Not every connector can be used with every type of coax cable, but all types of coax cables do support multiple types of RF connectors.

Every connector comes in two versions, male and female. A male connector will have a pin in the center while a female connector has a hole. If you are using an RP (Reverse Polarity) connector, this is switched. Male RP will have the hole while female RP has the pin. The term “reverse polarity” refers to the fact that the hole and pin are switched. They do not change the polarity of the signal going through the cable.

RP connectors were originally implemented by the FCC to try to stop members of the public from using antennas and other equipment to boost their Wi-Fi signals, in violation of federal law. This worked for a few years but now RP connectors are just as available on the open market as their conventional counterparts.

 

Common types of coax RF connectors include:

 

  • BNC
  • F-type
  • N-series
  • TNC
  • UHF (PL-259/SO-239)
  • SMA/SMB
  • FME
  • QMA
  • PAL
  • MC/MCX/MMCX
  • DIN/Mini-DIN
  • TS-9
  • NMO

 

BNC

 

BNC (Bayonet Neill-Concelman) connectors are available for most types of coax cable. They come in both 50 ohm and 75 ohm versions. Originally developed in the 1980s for military use, today BNC connectors are commonly used on radios and security cameras. They are used at low frequencies, typically below 4 GHz.

 

 

TNC

 

TNC (Threaded Neil-Concelman) is an upgraded version of BNC that uses threads to secure itself. These threads minimize leakage and allow the connectors to work at frequencies up to 12 GHz. TNC connectors also have the benefit of being weatherproof and is commonly used for outdoor applications like antennas and cell towers. A reverse polarity version is also available.

 

 

F-type

 

F-type connectors are the type of RF connector seen on the backs of televisions. These connectors are most commonly used on RG59, RG6, and RG11 cable, although there are other options. They can be used for antenna, cable, and satellite television as well as cable modems.

 

 

N-series

 

N-series connectors, named after inventor Paul Neill, are a 50 ohm connector originally developed for military use. 75 oh versions do exist today, but they are much less common and incompatible with the 50 ohm version. Modern N-series connectors can handle frequencies up to 18 GHz and are also available in reverse polarity.

 

 

UHF (PL-259/SO-239)

 

UHF connectors are also referred to as PL-259 (male) and SO-239 (female). Originally built for military use during World War II, today UHF connectors are primarily used for amateur radios. At 50 ohms, it is most commonly seen on RG58 and RG8 as well as their LMR equivalents. There is also a Mini-UHF connector version designed for equipment where space is limited, like a cell phone.

 

 

SMA/SMB

 

SMA (Subminiature A) is a miniature sized threaded connector that is much smaller than most other coax options. At 50 ohms, it is usually used on RG58 or thinner coax at frequencies up to 24 GHz and is environmentally sealed. They are also available in reverse polarity. SMB (Subminiature B) is used with high-frequency equipment built for a maximum transmission of 4 GHz, with a snap-on connection.

 

 

QMA

 

QMA is an upgrade to SMA, being built to connect/disconnect easily and quickly. This is a newer type of coax connector, introduced in 2003, and has not widely caught on yet. Until QMA becomes more widespread, the number of coax cables it is available for will be limited.

 

FME

 

FME is another 50 ohm miniature RF connector that is mainly used with RG58. The small size of FME allows it to be run through holes and conduit that other coax connectors are too large for.

 

 

PAL

 

PAL (Phase Alternating Line) is a type of connection used in Australia, most of Europe, and parts of Asia, Africa, and South America. In the United States, the only time you will see PAL is if you need an adapter for connecting to a piece of equipment manufactured to international standards.

 

MC/MCX/MMCX

 

MC (Microcoaxial), MCX (Micro Coaxial Connector), and MMCX (Micro-Miniature Coaxial) are all types of downsized coax connectors used in areas where other coax connectors would take up too much space. MC is used for cars, antennas, and GPS. MCX was developed for the Apple Airport Extreme Base Station’s antenna and is also used on GPS. MMCX also sees use on GPS in additional to being used on tuners for computers to connect to Wi-Fi.

 

 

DIN/Mini-DIN

 

DIN/Mini-DIN cables for single line coax come in a few varieties. 1.0/2.3 was developed in the 90s for telecom systems. The 50 ohm version works with frequencies up to 10 GHz while the 75 ohm version supports a maximum of 4 GHz. 4.1/9.5 and 4.3/10 have similar functionality but are larger sizes, for use with thicker types of coax cable. 7/16 is a full-sized 50 ohm DIN that looks similar to an N-series connector. These types of RF connectors are German designed and known for their ability to support high levels of power.

 

TS-9

 

TS-9 is a very small connector used in compact devices like cell phones. Its small size means it must be used with very thin cable, such as LMR-100 and LMR-195.

 

NMO

 

NMO connectors are removable connectors that double as antenna mounts, designed to be used with Motorola products. They are used with RG58 and LMR-195 cable.

 

 

 

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Types of RF connectors for mounting coaxial cables offered by NPO Center-Proton

Connector instructions

  • Antenna connector U-113 F (PL259/4)

    Code: 896

    Corresponds to RG58 cable (similar to PK50-3-351) (for transmission path 27 MHz, 160 MHz)

  • Antenna connector U-113\5D (PL259/7)

    Code: 7649

    Corresponds to cable PK 50-4.