In this session, Dave provides an overview of Times Microwave’s expertise in designing coaxial cable solutions for a wide range of applications. Starting with the company’s deep experience in supporting electronic warfare systems, Dave explores how the company has adapted to enhance its capabilities to meet the changing needs of industries that demand more power and precision from cabling and measurement solutions. The webinar also examines how the Times Microwave approach is helping to solve challenges that would be nearly impossible to address without a flexible, scalable coaxial cable application ready for deployment.
Watch the video or read the session notes below.
There are five common RF use cases that require coaxial cables and connectors, and each type has its individual characteristics and challenges.
A traditional place for coaxial cables has been in wireless communications, including mobile/telecom, two-way radio, public mobile radio/land mobile radio, satellite communications and military communications. The challenge with these types of voice-based applications is the signal to noise ratio. This is critical as any degradation of the signal will cause information to be lost.
Therefore, factors that must be considered in determining the optimal coaxial cables and connectors include low loss, shielding so that signals from outside can’t interfere, and reliability with 99.999% up time. This has been a traditional application for Times Microwave LMR® cables. The product line up has evolved to include additional options to meet the needs of 5G and Low-PIM such as SPP™, TFT, small cell cables and more. We also have TCOM cables for deploying emergency cell sites.
In this case, RF is used as a way of viewing the world, most often in places where the eyes cannot see. The classic example is radar. Essentially, vision applications use RF signals to locate and identify potential threats, landscape features, and more. This type of system is typically found in military airframe electronic warfare systems, ground radar, anti-missile defense, guidance systems, aviation collision avoidance and similar applications.
Times Microwave has a long legacy creating optimized solutions for military airframe electronic warfare systems and many other related technologies. The common challenge is the multiple antennas and location sensors that all come back to a common point. Vision systems work by looking at the differences.
So, what’s the challenge when it comes to the cabling? One, these systems are in difficult places— extreme and highly variable conditions in terms of elevation, temperature, and more—and the signals need to travel at consistent speed independent of these elements.
This is critical as unaccounted-for variations could mean a system is “looking” in the wrong place. Additionally, if any phase or amplitude errors are being introduced into the multi-antenna system, it will cause a problem. Therefore, amplitude and phase stability across temperature and between cables is a key challenge in finding the right coaxial cable and connector solution for vision applications.
Sensors and other data systems are a big investment area now. These are systems that are essentially designed to get feedback needed to understand what is going on in a particular environment. An example is measuring the water content in soil to optimize field irrigation.
What is the challenge with sensors? They are typically used in extreme environments or locations that are difficult to access. For example, it is very difficult to do soil samples every morning on a 100-acre cornfield, so sensors are used. They are also useful in contaminated areas, or nuclear applications where it is not safe. This means that once the cable is installed, it might not be easily accessible for replacement.
Additionally, even though the process typically involves a quick measurement from a sensor connected to an antenna, reliability is key. If a critical system dependent on a sensor does not work, things can quickly go haywire.
Data systems require coaxial cable solutions that can withstand the rigors of these important applications. Times Microwave engineers are skilled in looking at this intriguing world and figuring out how to architect the best interconnect solutions to meet its challenges.
Test and measurement applications are used to test RF equipment during the design and production stages. An example of this is a program testing electronic warfare systems before they go into F-35 aircraft to ensure they can identify potential threats with the utmost reliability.
This environment requires unique coaxial cables and connector solutions— repeatability, reliability, and reproducibility are critical to make sure the cable itself is not introducing uncertainty to the test. This includes ensuring amplitude (low loss) and phase stability. Flexure is also key as these systems (and cables) are connected and disconnected often and are used repeatedly, so the connectors must be able to withstand extensive handling.
This use case also fits nicely with Times’ unique capabilities and products. Test and measurement requirements often demand a special type of cable—for example, one that needs to be flexed or bundled with another type of cable into a multi-pin type of connector—and Times will tailor a custom solution for the application.
These applications vary a bit from those previously mentioned because RF is used to transmit power in this case (such as activating a magnet or gas) rather than a signal. RF is used in these instances because cables are easier to install than pipes or other options. Examples include lasers, deposition equipment, physics test equipment, microwave ablation, industrial microwave ovens and MRI machines.
Therefore, key system parameters include flexibility and low loss. Power also generates heat, so the cable jacket temperature needs to be optimized for a particular power level. Materials and constructions are important to prevent overheating and to ensure ease of installation.
Coaxial cable technology is being used in places you’ve likely never thought of before. Times Microwave applies its deep knowledge of this technology and dedicated engineers to create coaxial cable solutions for many different applications—whether the application is communications, vision, data systems, test and measurement, high power, or anything else. Bring us your tough challenges and I promise with almost 99.999% certainty that Times Microwave will be able to come up with a solution that meets your needs.
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