How hard should I tighten the antenna connector?

When joining two antenna cables or mounting an antenna onto a connector, the most common problem is over-tightening the connector. Tightening the connector too much can cause issues.

How to tighten the antennaconnector

Over-tightening the connector can cause the centre pin and sleeve to grip onto each other and start rotating. When they begin to rotate, collateral damage can occur, such as the centre conductor of the connector rotating, which in turn can result in the antenna cable’s centre conductor rotating. If the conductor starts spinning, the cable’s conductors will increase its tension or completely lose contact with the pin or sleeve, resulting in a poor or non-existent connection.

Variations in materials

Most connectors have a brass core plated with gold or nickel, materials that are similar in electrical conductivity but not the strongest in durability. That is why they can be tightened with only a limited amount of torque. Regardless of the material, the connectors are usually plated for better electrical conductivity and to prevent oxidation.

Some types of N and TNC connectors may have a slotted female end, while others have a fixed design. The slotted connectors are used when dealing with lower frequencies and are more forgiving than a non-slotted connector as they can handle a greater tightening torque.

In some military standards, higher-strength materials such as stainless steel are used instead, which is one of the worst materials in electrical conductivity. However, the connectors are nickel or gold-plated to maintain conductivity.

Torque wrench or hand tightening

For connectors made of brass and nickel, it is recommended to use hand tightening. Hand tightening is sufficient for most common antenna connector types, such as N connectors, SMA connectors, or TNC connectors. However, to be completely safe, a torque wrench can be used. The recommended torque for each connector type and material can be found in the manufacturer’s specifications.

In conclusion, tightening antenna connectors to the correct level is essential to avoid any connection issues. Over-tightening can cause the connector’s centre conductor to rotate and lead to a poor or non-existent connection. The connector’s material and the frequency used can affect the tightening torque required, so it is important to consult the manufacturer’s specifications for the correct torque value.