Cable assemblies come in a bewildering range of cable/connector combinations. Designers typically know what they need for their application. Yet finding the right parts on vendor web sites and getting a quote can sometimes be a daunting task. Fortunately, some vendors have simplified this task by building online tools that make getting a quote for cable assemblies a matter of a few simple clicks.

For example, L-com's web site features a well-thought-out online tool for configuring coaxial, fiber-optic, and telecom/modular cables. Using the tool, engineers can quickly order custom cable assemblies with the exact requirements for a specific application. The tool is very easy to use. Simply choose a type (coaxial, fiber, or telecom/modular), choose the desired connectors and cable, and then pick a length and quantity. The tool automatically generates pricing and lead time for the configuration as specified. Users can then add the custom cable assembly to an online shopping cart.

Choosing coaxial cable, for example, brings up a list of 13 different cable types. Once the user chooses a cable type, the next screen brings up a selection of connector types to be specified for each end. Options include N-type female, male, and male right angle; RP N-plug, SMA-plug, and TNC-plug connectors; shrouded and non-shrouded SMA male right-angle connectors; and TNC male connectors. The user also must select a unit of measure for the custom assembly (feet or inches), length, and quantity. The results include availability and list price per unit. To try this tool, visit www.lcom.com/ProductConfigurator.aspx.

Another example of an online configuration tool can be found at the Electronic Assembly Manufacturing, Inc. (EAM) web site. This easy-to-use product selector breaks cables down by type. The seven cable types include flexible, handformable, LMR, semi-rigid, low loss, RG, and corrugated. Each cable type is available in a wide range of standard and custom lengths with a variety of connector choices. All connector/ cable combinations can be reviewed using EAM's Fast Quote tool, which also appears on each product page. This tool allows users to virtually design their own cable assemblies. They can specify cable type, length, connectors on both ends, and test requirements. Once complete, users can then submit their design for a fast quote.

Electronic Assembly Manufacturing, 126 Merrimack St., Methuen, MA 01844; (978) 374-6840, FAX: (978) 374-6375, e-mail: sales@eamcableassemblies.com, Internet: www.eamcableassemblies.com.

L-com, 45 Beechwood Dr., North Andover, MA 01845; (800) 341-5266, FAX: (978) 689-9484, e-mail: sales@L-com.com, Internet: www.l-com.com.

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