Coaxial-cable assemblies are indispensable, signal-routing components in many RF/microwave systems, although they are often specified and added as an afterthought. For military applications, the durability of high-reliability (hi-rel) cables can mean the difference between life and death. In deep-space missions, such as for communications or surveillance satellites, cable failure is not an option. But military and aerospace are no longer the only application areas for hi-rel cables and connectors. More commercial and industrial users come to depend on long operating lifetimes from cables installed in such applications as communications systems and manufacturing equipment.
Choosing a hi-rel RF/microwave cable assembly may be essential to the completion of a system design, whether it’s for commercial, industrial, or military applications. But it’s not just a simple matter of looking up a few specifications and making a cable fit a set of requirements. It’s important to understand how reliability is defined for different applications. Once defined, one must figure out how to achieve reliability with different types of RF/microwave cable assemblies, and that it stands the test of time and whatever an application can throw at it.
Coaxial RF/microwave cables (Fig. 1) have many uses in high-frequency applications. They range from “set-and-forget” interconnections in commercial or military communications equipment to applications in test systems that endure constant changes in cable positions and connections.
1. Low-loss cable assemblies such as these are often used for interconnections in high-reliability systems.