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Monthly Archives: September 2018

  1. Computer (Data) Cables

    Computer cables (data cables) are somewhat similar to audio and video cables. Instead of transmitting sound or images, they send data for your computer to use. This can be anything from sending over a Word document to streaming movies and TV shows. Technically ethernet cables fall under this category, but ethernet is such a broad topic it needed its own independent article. Common types of data cables include:

    • USB
    • FireWire
    • Serial
    • DIN
    • PS/2

    USB

    USB is the most common type of data cable today, being found on computers, printers, hard drives, cell phones, and more. Along with transmitting data, USB is commonly used to recharge batteries on cell phones and other devices like video game controllers. There are several types of USB cables in various shapes and sizes. The two primary groups are USB 2.0 and USB 3.0.

    USB 2.0 is capable of speeds up to 480 Mbps and comes in a few different varieties. When someone just says “USB”, they are generally referring to USB 2.0 Type A. These are the standard rectangle-shaped connections you can find on any computer. Next, there is Type B, which is also called a printer cable. Newer printers use this more square-shaped connection instead of older serial connections. Mini USB used to be used on cell phones but has mostly been replaced by Micro USB. You will still occasionally see it on other devices like digital cameras and GPS. Micro USB is still the standard on many Android phones but is starting to be replaced by USB 3.0 Type-C.

    Another ver

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  2. Ethernet Cables

    Ethernet is one of the most common types of cables, used to connect devices like computers and routers to the Internet. The end of an ethernet cable, an RJ45 connector, looks similar to the end of a phone cable, an RJ12, but bigger. While phone cables have four to six wires on the inside, ethernet cables use eight. Ethernet cables come in both solid and stranded variants.

    Ethernet Categories

    There are a few different variations of ethernet, the foremost being the cable category. This type of cable is abbreviated as “Cat#”, with higher numbers being newer versions of ethernet capable of faster signal speeds. These categories are defined by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE).

    Cat5e

    Cat5e is an upgraded version of the original Cat5 cable and the current standard version of ethernet. It is capable of data speeds up to 1 Gbps (gigabyte per second) with a bandwidth of 350 MHz (MegaHertz).

    Cat6

    Cat6 is the next step up and will become the new standard once Cat5e is inevitably phased out. These can support speeds up to 10 Gbps, ten times faster than Cat5e, with bandwidth of 550 MHz. Currently, this level of speed is overkill for at-home use. They are more common in facilities setting up basic networks, like small businesses or schools.

    Cat6a

    Cat6a (“a” meaning “augmented”) have the same 10 Gbps maximum speed as Cat6 but better overall performance, including a

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  3. HDMI Adapters

    HDMI: The New Standard

    HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cables are the new standard for audio/video cables on modern televisions, computers, video game consoles, and more. The majority of new electronics today are built with at least one HDMI port. HDMI is excellent at what does, being able to transmit digital audio and video through a single line.

    While HDMI is fantastic, many older devices that predate HDMI are still around and in use. Some newer devices are also built with only alternatives to HDMI, although this is much less common. When either of these scenarios come up, the easiest solution is to use an HDMI adapter. There are different types of adapters (as well as converters) that you may need depending on what you want to convert to HDMI.

    HDMI to RCA

    Converting HDMI to RCA is one of the more common problems that you can run into, with RCA being the old standard for televisions. Devices such as VCRs, older DVD players, and older video game consoles will only have RCA connections. RCA has mostly been phased out of modern devices. When using older electronics with a newer TV or vice versa, going between RCA to HDMI usually becomes an issue.

    Because RCA is analog and HDMI is digital, the device is called a converter instead of an adapter. Converters, unlike adapters, are one-way. If you convert RCA to HDMI, something like an old VCR to a new TV, you would need this converter. If you need to go

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  4. ShowMeCables Now Carrying Top-of-the-Line Coax Connectors and Adapters from Pasternack

    ShowMeCables is proud to announce a new addition to our inventory: coax connectors and adapters from Pasternack. Pasternack is an industry expert specializing in RF and Microwave components with a strong focus on quality above all else.

    Pasternack’s items are among the highest quality available, being RoHS and REACH Certified. Each connector is constructed using nickel-plated brass with gold-plated beryllium copper pins and built to withstand temperatures from -85°F to 329°F (-65°C to 165°C). Some units are also available in gold plating, with a temperature rating of -67°F to 311°F (-55°C to 155°C).

    SMA female
BNC male
coaxial
coax


    A full list of Pasternack parts available at the time of this publication is listed below.

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  5. iPhone Lightning Cable Adapter for Audio & Charging

    What are Lightning Cables?

    Lightning cables are a type of cable designed to be used specifically with iPhones. Functionally, they are very similar to the standard types of USB cables used with Android phones. Lightning cables are proprietary to Apple and the only type of connection that will work for charging most iPhones or connecting them to other devices.

    Apple
Lightning
iPhone
iPod
iPad


    Apple introduced Lightning cables in September 2012 to replace older, bulkier connectors. Any iPhone, iPad, or other Apple device made after late 2012 likely uses a lightning connection. Lightning cables are not compatible with older Apple devices that use the wider, 30-pin style connectors.

    There are some MacBooks that use a USB-C connection instead of lightning cables. Be sure to check a MacBook to see what it uses before purchasing a cable. Being proprietary, it can be a bit tricky to find lightning cables and accessories without purchasing expensive items from Apple directly. Thankfully, Apple does allow a certain degree of freedom to third parties and that is where our new adapter comes in.

    Charge Your Phone and Listen to Music at the Same Time

    On an iPhone, the lightning port has two main uses. The first is to charge the phone, keeping the

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  6. Portable Cords

    What are Portable Cords?

    A portable cord is a type of power cable designed for temporary use. Portable cords are multi-conductor cables that come in a variety of AWGs. Depending on the specifications of the cord, they can power anything from handheld tools to heavy machinery.

    Aside from different AWGs, there are a number of classifications that can be applied to portable cords. Each portable cord has associated letter codes indicating exactly what it is built for. Since portable cords can be used in residential, commercial, and industrial areas, the exact specs of the cord will depend on its application.

    Letter Codes

    The letter codes used for portable cords are defined by Underwriters Labs:

    • S = Severe Service Cord
    • SJ = Junior Severe Service
    • SVT = Vacuum Cleaner Cord
    • T = Tinsel Cord (only if “T” is the first letter)
    • T = Thermoplastic (if “T” is not the first letter)
    • H = Heat Resistant
    • HH = High Heat Resistant
    • N = Nylon Outer Jacket
    • E = Elastomer
    • O = Oil-Resistant Outer Jacket
    • OO = Oil-Resistant Outer Jacket and Oil-Resistant Insulation
    • P = Parallel Cord
    • V = Vacuum Cord
    • W-A = Weather Resistant
    • W = Weather and Water Resistant

    Each portable cord designation uses a combination of the above letter codes. For example, one of the most common portable cords is SOOW. That means it will be rated S (Severe Service Cord), OO (Oil-Resistant Outer Jacket and Oil-Resistant Insulation), and W (Weather and Water Resistant). Knowing the various codes and what they stand for is esse

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  7. Cable Jackets

    There are a few key terms that apply to all cables, one of the main ones being the type of jacket a cable uses. The jacket is the exterior of the cable and can be made from a variety of materials. It is important to ensure that any cable has the appropriate jacket for the location it will be installed.

    PVC

    PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride), also called CMR (Communications Multipurpose, Riser), cable is the most common cable jacket. This is the type of jacket on a standard cable that you could find off-the-shelf at a store. They are designed with a degree of fire resistance to stop flames from traveling along the cables and spreading through buildings in the event of an emergency. Beyond that, PVC has no special features.

    Plenum

    Plenum cables adhere to more strict fire codes than PVC. Commonly used inside walls, ceilings, and floors, plenum cables let off non-toxic smoke when they burn. Fire safety codes often require plenum cables for commercial buildings. If you are unsure whether you need plenum cables, check with your local fire marshall.

    Outdoor

    Outdoor-rated cables are designed to be used outside, as the name implies. Used in areas such as rooftops and the sides of buildings, these cables are built to hold up against conditions that indoor cables cannot withstand, such as UV radiation (sunlight) and rainwater. If you are putting any type of cable outside, you must use a cable

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  8. Solid vs. Stranded Cables

    Some types of cables can be either solid or stranded. These terms both refer to the metal core at the center of the cable and are options for ethernet cables as well as some coax cables. Solid cables are made from solid metal while stranded cables are made of many hair-thin strands that are woven together. Each version has a number of advantages and disadvantages over the other.

    Solid

    Solid cables have a core made from a single metal line, typically copper or copper-clad steel. It is the more common of than stranded, being less costly. The single, thick strand of metal is more resistant to damage such as corrosion and makes the cables easy to manufacture. This also renders them more compact, allowing solid cables to be thinner than their stranded counterparts. Despite being thinner, the solid core makes solid cables less flexible than stranded equivalents. If the cable is bent or moved frequently the wear and tear will eventually cause damage. While solid cables are great for applications like in-wall wiring, this limitation makes them the weaker choice for areas that require tight turns.

    Stranded

    Stranded cables are made using a collection of thin wires that are bound together to function as a single line. While more expensive to make, stranded cables are ideal for cramped spaces and places where the cable is moved frequently, such as on vibrating machinery. Stranded cables also having higher attenuation, making them better for short distance runs. Having

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