Suntsu has always given its main focus on wireless communication, in turn helping their customers to buy cables focused on antenna-to-board connectivity. As the customers continue to favor smaller and more compact products, the company wants to ensure they are saving time and money by using the right solution. So, which small coaxial RF connector would be better to use for their antenna cable?
U.FL is the established high-frequency miniature coaxial interconnection type. But it is proprietary to Hirose. Many manufacturers offer 100% U.FL compatible connectors under various names such as IPEX, IPX, MHF, AMC, UMCC, and MCRF.
Is there a difference in U.FL, IPEX, or MMCX (Micro miniature coaxial)? Let us look at a brief comparison of the connector types:
At first glance, it appears U.FL/IPEX/IPX has better performance than MMCX because U.FL/IPEX/IPX is designed for lower VSWR at < 3GHz frequencies. However, this is just a surface-level comparison. Other factors need to be considered, including performance, robustness, and ease of use across the connector, cable, and endpoint (antenna or otherwise) for the design.
When deciding which connector to use, it is crucial to compare performance in an entire antenna/cable assembly. Different combinations of connectors, cable types, and cable lengths will affect system performance, and designers should focus on the VSWR specs of the entire assembly.
Next, you should examine end-to-end signal paths of antenna and cable assembly. There will be little to no difference in performance between connector types unless the application requires very stringent tolerances. Around 20% of Suntsu’s customers fall into the stringent category, for which we have specialized designs. However, for the other 80%, we recommend a separate set of decision criteria.
For the larger part of our customer base, MMCX will be a better choice. MMCX has much higher contact retention and requires greater force to disengage, meaning it will better withstand jostling and vibration. Because it is designed for 500 mating cycles, MMCX will last longer than U.FL/IPEX/IPX when the connection needs to be disconnected and re-connected regularly.
Ease of Use
Generally, U.FL/IPEX/IPX will work best when space is at a premium in the design, but MMCX will be easier to use from an end-user point of view. Take these details into consideration:
- Mating profile: U.FL/IPEX/IPX will have a smaller profile than MMCX – the difference being a 2.5mm maximum height when mated versus 6.0mm minimum height with MMCX.
- Deployability: MMCX offers more configuration options for plug and receptacle, with straight and right-angle options, while U.FL/IPEX/IPX is available only in a straight vertical receptacle and right-angle plug.
- Serviceability: When deployed in the field, U.FL/IPEX/IPX connections require a special tool for extraction, to avoid damage to the connectors. Servicing MMCX connections does not require any special tools.
- Footprint: U.FL/IPEX/IPX and MMCX all have similar footprints of 3 – 4 square mm. Beyond the connector, designers should consider the spacing for the right-angle inserted cables and cable management.
Suntsu has cultivated a select group of suppliers for RF Connector products:
- For common coaxial RF connectors such as BNC, TNC, F-Type, SMA, and SMB, Suntsu offers products from Amtek Technology.
- For standard miniature RF connectors and antennas (SMA, RP-SMA, MMCX, IPX), Suntsu offers products from Master Wave Technology.
- For customers who need customized miniature RF connectors and cable assemblies designed for wireless applications, we offer Suntsu products.
With this knowledge, you can select a small coaxial RF connector that will supply excellent system performance, robustness, and ease of use while saving you time and money.