Importance of the Basics or “Why Don’t Microwave Connectors Last?”

Blog Post created by benz on Oct 31, 2016

  Are lifetime and performance ratings wrong, or is it measurement practice?

A guest post to the RF Test Blog from Keysight’s Michael Lux

A while back, Ben discussed the potential for one type of connector damage and supplied a pretty good example:

Millimeter frequency 2.92 mm K connectors with damaged center connector collets

Damage to the collet or female center conductors of two 2.92 mm K connectors has rendered them useless.

Although the long-term performance and durability of these 2.92 mm and other microwave connectors has been verified in controlled conditions with good measurement practice, real-world experience doesn’t always correlate. Keysight’s long experience in calibration and repair offers some insight, and also helps ensure that you get the performance and durability you’ve paid for.

As the amount of work going on at higher frequencies continues to increase—and as inexperienced engineers and technicians are being asked to make measurements—strong foundational skills and good practices are essential for effective high-frequency measurements. Poor practices produce inferior and less-reliable measurements, wasting resources and risking damage to instruments, accessories, and the devices under test.

Details that can be ignored at lower frequencies really begin to matter at microwave, and especially in the millimeter bands. For these more sensitive tasks, investing in some low-cost, online training for your team members can go a long way toward avoiding costly errors. Even a modest amount of training can save substantial amounts of time and resources.

In an effort to solve these problems, Keysight has launched the first in a series of self-paced eLearning courses. Beginning with an RF/µW Fundamentals package, and continuing throughout the next 12 months with additional courses, Keysight will be rolling out an eLearning curriculum and live training sessions focused on areas that will benefit most from a small investment in training.

A good example is proper cable and connector use and care. We’ve found that problems in this area are a major factor in the need for equipment repair and accessory replacement. Believing an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, Keysight has released an online module focused solely on the fundamentals of cable and connector care. For less than the cost of some individual cables or connectors, this course provides “voice of experience” guidance that can reliably change behavior and improve results.

Untrained users can unintentionally misuse or under-utilize new technology, and can take up to five times longer to achieve the same results as a trained user. When you combine these issues with the added cost of unnecessary help desk calls and lost productivity, a modest investment in training is definitely worth a look. For more information about Keysight’s eLearning training courses see RF/µW Measurement Fundamentals Program.

A note from Ben:

From the beginning we intended to include posts from others here, and this is the first. Blogs are a good way to handle news, personal experience, and nuggets of wisdom. However, they aren’t so good at comprehensive coverage or changing behavior, and Michael describes training that can help in this area.