In order to simplify the selection process, microwave cables are divided into four families: Semi-Rigid Coaxial Cable, UTiFORM Conformable Coaxial Cable, M-FLEX Flexible Coaxial Cable, and UTiFLEX High Performance Flexible Coaxial Cable. Within each family, frequency range, insertion loss, and diameter typically will drive the final decision on which part number to choose. Each cable family has unique properties that may make them better or worse for any given application.
Manufacturing a high performance microwave cable assembly requires special skills and processes that are not easily transferrable. To guarantee the highest performance available in a flexible cable, a decision was made early on to make UTiFLEX only available as a finished cable assembly.
In addition, UTiFLEX cable assemblies only utilize Micro-Coax designed and approved connectors. Each UTiFLEX connector uses a mechanically captivated center contact and is designed to fit a specific UTiFLEX cable in order to achieve the lowest possible VSWR and reliability. All UTiFLEX connectors are assembled and soldered on to the cable by trained and certified operators in our factory. Each finished cable assembly is shipped with a test certificate showing insertion loss and VSWR performance to the maximum operating frequency.
Micro-Coax manufactures finished cable assemblies utilizing semi-rigid, UTiFORM, and M-FLEX cable. The same skills and knowledge required to build UTiFLEX cable assemblies are applied to these other cables, resulting in unprecedented performance and reliability.
Many different jacket types and colors are available for both semi-rigid and flexible cable by special order. Standard flexible cable colors are teal for FEP, darker aqua for PE, and black for TEFZEL® jackets.
In general, most of the connectors designed and manufactured by Micro-Coax are for its own cable assemblies. However, connectors are made available when a high performance tailored connector or adapter is required as part of a larger application involving cable assemblies.
Maximum length depends on the cable type. Most often, semi-rigid cable is purchased in 5 foot straight length to take advantage of handling and shipping cost. In general, manufactured cable lengths are as follows:
MIL-DTL-17 QPL semi-rigid cables are only available to a maximum length of 20 feet.
All standard UTiFLEX cables have undergone a complete qualification program to insure that our published specifications are valid. The complete Micro-Coax cable specifications are available upon request. Additionally, we have performed many rigorous qualification tests to meet individual customer requirements. Please contact us directly to review your individual requirements.
All precision microwave test components require regular cleaning as well as careful handling. Please reference our UTiFLEX Care & Handling Guide for more detailed information.
Almost all Micro-Coax manufactured cables are based on some form of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) dielectric. There are 4 classes of PTFE dielectric available:
Stainless steel outer and inner conductors are only available un-plated.
The RG402 and RG405 designators are from the MIL-DTL-17 Qualified Products List of cables for the UT-085 and UT-141 size semi-rigid cables. It has become accepted practice to use these designators when referring to the equivalent size conformable or flexible cable, which has caused some confusion. Micro-Coax does not recommend using these designators unless specifically requesting the MIL-DTL-17 semi-rigid cables.
First, unless specified on the order, cable assemblies will not be phase matched. If phase matching is required, one of the following options must be detailed on the order.
Relative Phase Match
Consists of matching two or more assemblies relative to each other, not to an absolute length. Each assembly in a particular set will meet the matching criteria, however, it is unlikely that succeeding sets will match each other. As a result, assemblies that are ordered with relative phase matching should be ordered as sets. If one assembly within a set needs to be replaced, an entire new set must be ordered. Although tighter tolerances can be achieved, the default phase matching tolerance shall be ±0.5°/GHz, e.g. an 8Ghz cable can be phase matched to ±4°.
Absolute Phase Match
Consists of matching one or more assemblies to an absolute electrical length plus a tolerance. Generally, the absolute length is specified as an equivalent air-line length in inches or centimeters derived from actual measurements. Specifying the absolute length in this manner simplifies the measurement on modern vector network analyzers. In addition, it is often easier to specify the equivalent airline length after the first lot of cable assemblies has been manufactured, resulting in tighter mechanical length tolerances. Although tighter tolerances can be achieved, the default phase matching tolerance shall be ±0.5°/GHz, e.g. an 8Ghz cable can be phase matched to ±4°.
SPC represents a silver plated copper wire per ASTM B-298. SPCW represents a silver plated copper-weld (also referred to as silver plated copper clad-steel) wire per ASTM B-501. SPCW is typically used on smaller semi-rigid cables where the added strength is needed. SPCW is also advantageous when the cable center conductor is used as the center contact of the connector. The steel core of the SPCW wire does not lower electrical performance at microwave frequencies due to the skin effect. SPC is typically used for all other applications. SPC has a longer flex life, is more pliable, and is non-magnetic, and suitable for PIM (Passive Intermodulation) applications.
At one time, the MIL-DTL-17 cables underwent a more extensive qualification and acceptance testing when compared to the commercial equivalent. Today, all Micro-Coax MIL-DTL-17 QPL semi-rigid cables and their commercial equivalents see the same qualification and acceptance testing. Micro-Coax still makes the distinction and continues to offer both the MIL-DTL-17 and commercial part numbers out of convenience to our customers with legacy programs.
Micro-Coax can comply with the RoHS requirements, however compliance must be requested at the time of request for quote and order. Individual cable compliance can be found by part number in the catalog.
Minimum order quantity varies by method of order. Web based orders of bulk cable and UTiFLEX assemblies have lower dollar thresholds. For popular standard bulk cable such as semi-rigid, UTiFORM, and M-FLEX, the typical minimum value from the factory is $500 and can be ordered on our web store. In almost all cases, smaller quantities are available through our distributor network. For finished cable assemblies, as little as one piece can also be purchased through our UTiFLEX web store.
Most standard products are quoted the same day via e-mail. Additionally, real time quotes for test cable assemblies can be obtained from the web store. Quotes for highly engineered products to a detailed specification may require several days or longer to complete. For this type of request, our goal is to get it right and make sure we have captured every requirement. In many cases, there will be a constant dialogue between our engineers and you to both keep you informed on progress and answer additional questions.