What is a Connector?

What is a Connector?
The world of connectors has a much smaller world of acronyms all its own. They consist of such acronyms as RJ, SMA, ST, TNC, BNC, V.32, DIN, DB, N and more. One aspect that might complicate the world of connectors is that many of these connectors are also known by more than one name.

Most of us know that a connector is best known for providing the physical link between two components. Some example of the use of a connector might be a connector linking a cable and a network interface card or NIC card, a connector linking a transceiver and a cable or even a connector linking two cable segments.

When using an electrical cable, a connection is established when the conducting wires are joined by way of connectors in order to make and maintain continuous contact, allowing the signal to simply move along the cable across the contact.

When using fiber-optic cable, it takes much more work to manage and maintain good connections due to the degree of fit between the two fiber cores. The fit determines the quality of the connection between the fiber cores. To complicate matters, the diameters involved in this fit are smaller than a human hair.

Connections differ in various ways, which help in determining where that type of connector can be used. These features include:

  • Shape

  • Size

  • Gender

  • Connection mechanism

  • Function

In some cases, it is necessary to use a special adapter in order to use different types of connector combinations. An example of this is when using an N-series connector and a BNC adapter in order to connect thick to thin coaxial cable.

Another difference between connectors is their sturdiness, the ease of attaching and detaching the connector, and the amount of signal loss that may occur at the connection point.

When determining the type of connector that is used, it is important to take into consideration the components being used, and, as far as networks, the type of cable and architecture being used. An Ethernet network that is using a coaxial cable would use different connectors between the cable and the NIC, as opposed to an IBM Token Ring network that is using a shielded twisted-pair cable.

When about a half a dozen types of connectors available for electrical cable, there are also about a dozen more types of connectors available for use when using a fiber-optic cable.

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