App Note: Testing an RF Coaxial Cable Using a VNA

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An ideal cable transfers maximum RF energy while incurring as little loss as possible. To choose the best cable for a test solution, one has to consider several factors such as: operating frequency, characteristic impedance, insertion loss, return loss/VSWR, power handling capacity, operating temperature, flexibility, size, weight, shielding and ruggedness, with cost as a primary trade-off.

Copper Mountain Technologies presents a simple and practical “do-it-yourself” cable test procedure, along with test results derived from the procedure. The results shown correspond to a 50 Ohm 26” N-type male to SMA male FleXus cable, using one of CMT’s high precision two-port Vector Network Analyzers, the Cobalt 1220. C1220 is a state-of-the-art instrument developed using modern design and production technologies. The same tests can also be performed using other 2-port and 4-port VNAs.

The test procedure demonstrated in this app note is broken into three stages: connector verification, electrical test, and stability test.