Thanks to advances in both design and manufacturing, an almost perfect coaxial interface is now available with some connectors. For optimum performance, however, the care of these "precision" or "high-precision" connectors is critical. Even a tiny particle of any substance can destroy the near-perfect performance of a high-precision connector. Maury Microwave Corp. offers concise advice on how to guarantee optimal connector performance in the technical note titled, "Coaxial Connector Care."

The single-page document consolidates precision-connector care into six simple steps. Prior to use, for example, all connectors should be visually inspected. The mating surfaces should be inspected under magnification and cleaned on a regular basis. To clean them, one should use dry, compressed air at a low velocity followed by a cleaning solvent, such as isopropyl alcohol. A lint-free swab should be used to clean the contact surfaces, alignment parts, and threads. The engineer must then check to make sure that no fibers were left inside. The connector interface should be inspected with a connector gage. A connector must be set aside if it is damaged or defective, as it could damage other mating connectors or render test equipment useless.

When mating connectors, it is key to avoid rocking and bending. Coupling nuts should be tightened finger tight. A proper torque wrench can then be used to complete the connection. Most importantly, one must not allow the interface to rotate. The opposite connector body should be held with an open-end wrench while tightening the mating connector nut with a torque wrench.

Lastly, the document notes that one can avoid placing mated connectors under undue stress by supporting the devices under test (DUTs) as needed. When connectors are not in use, protective caps should be used for them. If possible, they also should be stored in an instrument case. By following these steps, engineers can maintain the high performance of their precision connectors while optimizing their lifetimes. This technical brief can be accessed online at: www.maurymw.com/datasheets/5A-035.pdf.