Wednesday, November 29, 2006

L-com's Coaxial Connector Adapters and Couplers

Coax Adapters and Couplers from L-com Connectivity Products (

I saw the announcement in ECN magazine's website about Bomar Interconnect Products' new coaxial adapter, and I thought this might be a good opportunity to explain what coax adapters are.

L-com carries a wide range of coax adapters and couplers, as part of our main coaxial product line. We separate out within series coax couplers, which have the same type of connector on both sides, from interseries coax couplers, which have a different connector type on either side. We also separate out right angle and coax T adapters and bulkhead style within series adapters.

The bulkhead within series adapters are some of our most popular. The term "bulkhead" refers to the ability to mount these couplers on a panel or faceplate, so they are very useful when setting up installations in a building or making custom rack panels in a wiring closet.

The interseries coaxial adapters are also popular. They allow you to connect two dissimilar cables together. For instance, if you have an antenna with an SMA connector on it, and you're trying to extend it using a cable with TNC connectors, you'd need an SMA to TNC adapter to make the switch.

There are a lot of coax adapters available on our web page, and sometimes it gets tricky to find what you need. In that case, use our Adapter Wizard feature! It walks you through choosing the features on the adapter that you need and even has pictures for easy identification.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Shielded Category 6 Rated Ethernet Cables

Shielded Modular Cables (STP) with Cat 6 Rating (

For a long time we were getting requests for Category 6 rated cable assemblies that were shielded. The problem: we couldn't find anyone who carried the bulk cable we would need to make the assemblies. That changed last year, and we've been pleased to offer two varieties of shielded cat6 cables in multiple lengths since then.

The first variety, our TRD695SCR series, has a PVC jacket. They are fully shielded (100% foil) with 26 AWG twisted pairs that conform to Category 6 standards, capable of carrying speeds of up to 1000 Mbps (mega-bits per second). These cables are ideal for Gigabit speed transmission.

The second variety, our TRD695SZ series, is the same as above except it has an LSZH jacket. LSZH (Low Smoke Zero Halogen) is specially formulated to have very little smoke if the cable burns, and the smoke does not have toxic halogens that PVC releases. These are ideal in situations where people might not be able to easily get out in the case of a fire, like submarines, airplanes, elevators, and very tall buildings.

The shielding on these cables helps prevent electromagnetic interference (EMI) from riding along the conductors and causing "noise" at the end of the cable run. This is especially important in some environments where there is a lot of noise around, such as near high-frequency electrical equipment, antennas, and power lines. Excessive noise on a line can slow down transmission or completely drop connectivity in some situations.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! (

To all the Americans that read our blog, we want to wish a very Happy Thanksgiving! L-com Connectivity Products is going to be closed Thursday and Friday this week so we can go "connect" with our families! Then, bright and early on Monday we'll all be back, hard at work to bring you cables, connectors, adapters, and more!

Monday, November 20, 2006

How to Extend USB

Extending USB Signals Beyond 5 Meters (

The "U" in USB might stand for "ubiquitous serial bus", because USB seems to be everywhere. If you don't have at least six USB ports on your computer, its time for an upgrade, because cameras, printers, scanners, webcams, even snowman robots are using USB cables to get power and communicate with computers.

The big frustration with USB, though, is the infamous length limitation. If you want to put a printer or webcam more than 5 meters away from the computer that controls them, you run up against this technological block. Fortunately, the industry has evolved methods of overcoming this problem, so now all you need to ask yourself is "How far do I want USB to go?".

USB Extension Over Short Lengths

If you just need to go a little above 5 meters, up to 25 meters (about 50 feet) or so, then a very economic solution is a simple USB extender cable, like L-com's TL-U026-016. It couldn't be more simple: just plug up to five of these cables together, plug the male connector into the computer, and plug the peripheral device into the female side, and everything connects!

USB Over Category 5e Cable

Another trick is to convert USB to Category 5e copper cable format and use UTP cable to connect the two. These sorts of devices are usually a little more expensive, but can get the USB signal up to 50 to 100 meters away. When you are looking for this kind of a solution, make sure the converter you buy works at the USB speed you need (1.0, 1.1, or 2.0), and also make sure you have power available at both the computer and peripheral device locations.

USB Over Fiber Optic Cable

If you want a lot of distance between computer and peripheral, a final choice is to convert the USB signal to fiber optic light signals. This is the most expensive option, but some converters can let you connect up to 500 meters away from a computer! Like the Category 5e converters, your fiber converter may require power and may not work at USB 2.0 speed. Check before you buy!

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Waterproof, IP67, Indoor/Outdoor Electrical Components

Weatherproof cables, connectors, and couplers that can resist the elements (

Connectivity products aren't just for the office any more! More and more companies are developing products for use outdoors, including transportation products, GPS systems, outdoor computers, and ports on the outside of buildings for connecting laptops or peripheral devices. The problem is that electronics don't mix well with the elements, and outdoor-rated connectors and components are more and more in demand.

L-com carries a significant waterproof and IP67 rated product offering. Most of these are IP67 rated connectors, but there are also some completed cables (including Ethernet cables and USB cables). In addition, there are waterproofing grommets that can fit on a cable (before it is terminated), connector covers, and even an outdoor rated enclosure.

These kind of products are affordable and stocked domestically, so they're relatively easy to obtain and use.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Custom Fiber Optic Cables in as little as 2 Days

L-com can manufacture fiber optic cable assemblies domestic in as little as 2 days (

That's right. Where a lot of other companies outsource their fiber cable assembly production (sometimes to us!), we manufacture our own right here in North Andover, Massachusetts. That means that if you need a cable at a length that we don't stock, we can usually make it pretty quickly for you at no extra charge. Better yet, we don't even require a minimum order quantity for doing it! So long as it uses components we stock here, we can put it together for you.

Cables like MTP ribbon fibers, however, are not done domestically, so the lead time takes a little longer. Usually, in those cases, its about 1 to 2 weeks, and we still try to keep the minimum order quantity as low as possible, usually 1 piece.

The advantage of getting a fiber made to your specific length is that you could save money by planning ahead. If you have a few days to wait, we could build the fiber cable assembly so that you don't have it any longer than you need. That way, you don't pay for extra bulk cable that isn't being used. In addition, you won't have to worry about coiling up and tucking away the slack on a fiber line once it is run.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

L-com CAD models and Engineering Drawings

Free 3D CAD models and 2D Engineering Drawings on L-com's Web Site (

It's only been about 3 months now since L-com started offering free 3D CAD models on But the response has been enormous. Design engineers like that they can download the CAD models to integrate right into their designs. Electrical engineers and installers like that they can turn and rotate the product to see it from other angels before they buy.

L-com offers the free engineering support in 3 ways on its web site. First, you can go to any product that has a CAD model available, the bulkhead DB9 F/F gender changer (DGB9F) for instance. Make sure the "3D" radio button beneath the picture is clicked, which may cause an automatic download for the first time you click it. Then you can rotate, pan, and zoom on the image without needing to log in!

Second, you can download a .step version of the model to integrate into your own designs. To do this, you will need a log in email and password, but registration for that is free and quick. Once registered, click the link at the bottom of the page that says 3D CAD Model and your download will start.

The third free engineering perk that L-com offers on its web site is the 2D engineering drawing that you can download (also with free registration). This has a lot more detail on the product's construction and recommended panel mounting dimensions.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Panel-mount RJ45 couplers - L-com's ECF504-SC5E

Flange-style bulkhead Ethernet adapter (

One of L-com's Top 10 Adapter products is a popular flange-mount Ethernet coupler that is both shielded and Category 5e rated. It uses screws to hold it in place, and is therefore a little more secure than other panel-mount adapter styles.

It has the same connector on the front as it does on the back: female RJ45 8x8 connector. However, L-com also carries an RJ45 female to 110 Punch Down IDC adapter with the flange as well. Both of these items are tremendously popular, so L-com stocks them in the thousands to keep ahead of demand.

The shielding on the flange makes contact to ground through the screws, so make sure you install this in a metallic chassis or panel if you plan to use shielded Ethernet cables.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Plenum SVGA cables prices dropped

L-com drops the list prices for Plenum rated SVGA cables (

Most of the cabling industry right now is raising prices due to the increase in the price of raw materials like copper, gold, and petroleum. But recently, L-com announced a major decrease in price for one particularly expensive type of cables: Plenum rated SVGA cables.

To give you an idea of the scope of the price change, L-com's CTL3VGAMM-50TP Plenum rated 50 foot SVGA cable retailed at about $680.00. With the new price decrease, that same cable sells at L-com at $335.00, a significant boon to installers and integrators who need Plenum rated cables to install in buildings.

Plenum rating has to do with the flammability of the material used in the jacket of the cable. It doesn't affect how well the cable performs, but some buildings have fire codes that demand only Plenum rated cables be used in certain situations. Because the cables are so expensive normally, installers would have to raise their prices and lower their margins. L-com's change helps them out a lot.

The name "plenum" refers to an airspace, usually a duct-way, between floors in a building. When installers are pulling cables between floors, often the easiest place to pull them through is the plenum. However, normal PVC jackets burn quite easily, and in the event of a fire on one floor, the flames can climb the cables and "jump" from floor to floor. This makes it very difficult to fight the fire and necessitates a special type of jacket that is more flame retardant. L-com posted a really neat video showing the different types of cables burning on its web site.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Custom Cables and Equipment Manufacturing

Customized cabling products manufacturing services (

L-com is in a unique position in terms of manufacturing custom products. We're both small enough to give custom product requests individual attention, and yet big enough to accomplish most jobs despite size and complexity. We also have both a domestic factory and overseas facilities so we can offer solutions for various needs.

What is your MOQ?

MOQ stands for Minimum Order Quantity, and we know it's the bane of most buyers' and design engineers' lives. Fortunately, L-com can work to keep MOQs low in most situations. For instance, fiber optic custom length cables have no minimum order requirements because we make them domestic all day long. Assembled
d-subminiature cables have low MOQs (usually under 50 pieces) because we can set up product lines here in the United States. For more complicated jobs, the MOQs go up, but since we have so many contacts overseas, we can usually keep the MOQs to a reasonable level for those as well.

How to get a custom

The easiest way to request a custom part is to download the custom product form or copy it from the back of our catalog. Then, fill it out and fax it to us at 978-689-9484, or email a scanned in version of it to We also offer a custom product assistant form to help you articulate what you want. Within a day or two, we will respond to your request. If we quote you a good price and you place an order, we'll custom design an engineering drawing draft for you to review and approve before we build anything. Once you've approved that, we'll build it to our ISO 9001:2000 standards and your specifications.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

L-com Connectivity Products' Master Catalogs

L-com Connectivity Products Catalog (
L-com 2006 Master Catalog 2.0
Many customers have told us that our catalog is one of the best reasons to do business with L-com. Not only does it contain high-resolution, full color photographs of our products for easy identification, but it also contains over 90 tips, tutorials, diagrams, a helpful connector chart, and general connectivity information. The best part: its free!

Tip: How to Panel Mount a Gender ChangerIf you are an electrical engineer, IT professional, or otherwise involved in electrical connections, you should get this catalog just to have it. It makes a fine reference book and helps you to explain complicated connectivity subjects to people outside your department.

You can request a print catalog from L-com Connectivity Products, or you can also download .pdf file versions of the catalog. In October, L-com came out with it's second master catalog of 2006, which included quick RoHS compliant symbols to help isolate compliant parts. We're not stopping there, and hope to have another updated catalog out early in 2007.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Coiled Cable Assemblies: Fiber Optic and USB

Coiled USB CableUSB and Fiber Optic Coiled Cable Assemblies (

One thing about cables: they are messy. They're often either too long, meaning you have to find a way to hide the slack or get it out of the way, or they're too short and you have to move things around to accommodate.

That's why coiled cables are so useful, especially in cases where they may be plugged in and out frequently or moved from location to location. For both USB cables and Fiber Optic cables, this can be a problem but for different reasons.

For instance, USB has a maximum length of 5 meters (about 16.4 feet). But, since you tend to move things plugged into a USB port (like cameras, mice, keyboards, etc), the flexibility to extend and contract the cable is very useful. L-com's coiled USB cables also have latching Type A connectors, so they won't fall out when the cable is pulled.
Coiled Fiber Optic Cable
Fiber optics, on the other hand, have almost no length restriction (you can run a single fiber cable several kilometers and still have connectivity). For that reason, most off-the-shelf fiber optic cables are pretty long. But when you're in a wiring closet and you need to patch fiber cords onto networking equipment, the ability to stretch a smaller cable and not have too much slack getting in the way is important.

L-com offers a selection of coiled cables available off-the-shelf, and we can custom build them.