Technological advances across industries are leading to more complicated requirements for RF systems to accommodate higher frequencies, inside of devices that are continually getting smaller. Cabling for these systems is a challenge because in tight space configurations, traditional semi-rigid solutions have shortcomings. Using flexible cables that are specially designed to optimize space, bend around tight corners, and connect to various ports without wasted cable length is emerging as a preferred option. Durability and material selection are additional considerations as these cables are often used in challenging environments and applications like 5G, space and quantum computers.
This webinar details new and emerging solutions for RF interconnect systems that are easy to install, low maintenance, and cost-effective, enabling the latest, most advanced in-the-box applications. Watch the video or read the session notes below.
The higher frequencies demanded by today’s advanced RF and microwave communications—up to 110 GHz and beyond in some cases—require smaller equipment installations, densely packed with ever more technology. That means smaller cables that must fit into extremely tight spaces, with more interconnect requirements. Cabling from the front panel to the board becomes more complicated, leading to more difficult packaging challenges.
At the same time, RF systems are being used in many new places where they were never required before. As a result, environmental challenges are also becoming greater. It is a fairly complicated design problem: make the boxes smaller, put more into them, and ensure they survive in the most challenging places imaginable.
On top of that, 5G is also a rapidly growing technology; the small acronym covers a huge array of applications. One of them is the Internet of Things, which has made it economically viable to put radios on just about anything.
Semi-rigid cables would traditionally be used for many of these applications; but in very small sizes, they become too fragile, making installation difficult as these types of assemblies are more prone to breakage. Semi-rigid is also more complex and time-consuming to manufacture because the cables must be bent to their final configuration at the factory.
One of the solutions that Times Microwave has developed to address this is InstaBend™. This product family is designed and assembled for extreme flexibility to fit into small spaces for interconnects between RF circuit cards, modules and enclosure panels. You want as much flexibility as possible when attempting to route cables tightly. InstaBend cable can be bent very closely behind the connector, saving space and simplifying cable routing.
The product family includes assemblies offered in two sizes: the InstaBend 047 and InstaBend 086. They are available in various lengths to make connections with minimum footprint. Connector types include SMP, SMA and 2.92 mm.
InstaBend is available within short lead times: standard configurations are stocked by many distributors, including DigiKey and Mouser, and custom configurations are available from Times Microwave with lead times of two to four weeks for the complete assembly.
Times Microwave has also developed its TLMP (Times Locking Miniature Push-On), a unique miniature connector to address the common challenges with vibration and shielding compared to a traditional SMP.
TLMP connectors offer striking improvements over SMP connectors, and although they are miniature, they are rugged and durable to withstand harsh conditions. With highly dense connectors, making sure the interconnect is fully engaged is a challenge. TLMP connectors feature a locking mechanism that prevents possible de-mating during mechanical or vibration shock. Color indicators signify “positive locking” to quickly confirm proper installation—the coupling interface reveals a red band when unlocked and shows green when properly mated. This feature maintains the connector’s mate integrity even during extreme shock and vibration and prevents materials like fluids and gases from entering the interface.
A flexible cable may not always work in extreme environments, so Times has also developed a new silicon dioxide semi-rigid cable that can withstand an incredibly broad range of temperatures from just above absolute zero up to 600oC and beyond. It is a very good low-loss cable, and it processes like a semi-rigid, but it can withstand temperatures, radiation, or just about any challenge.
Times Microwave designs robust and cutting-edge interconnect solutions to meet both electrical and environmental challenges outside and inside the box—and anywhere else you can imagine.
Following are the questions that were asked by the audience:
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