AC current (Alternating Current) - electrical current whose charge magnitude and flow direction follow a cyclic pattern.
Alloy - homogenous metallic mix consisting of 2 or more elements, at least one of which is metal.
Ampere (Amp) - a unit of electrical current measuring electric charge per second.
Annealing - heating and cooling treatment used to improve metalworking materials by softening, relieving internal stress(es) and refining the external structure of the metal to be shaped.
Anodizing - electrolytic process that adds thickness and density to the outer layer of natural oxide on a metal surface.
ARIB (Association of Radio Industry Broadcasters) - radio spectrum and frequency change standardization agency located in Japan.
ARINC (Aeronautical Radio, Incorporated) - private company which develops specifications, including connector specifications, for the aircraft industry
ASTM International (American Society for Testing Materials) - international organization responsible for testing and standardizing industry materials.
AWG (American Wire Gauge) - standardized measurement system for electrical conducting wire. Back Reflection - the percentage of power reflected back from a specific point on a path of light in fiber optics, expressed as a negative dB.
Bandwidth - the difference between frequencies along an electronic signal spectrum, expressed in hertz.
Base Metal - metal that makes up the base of a connector, contact or other metal accessory; additional metals or coatings may be added on top of the base.
Bend Radius (minimum safe bending radius) - maximum amount fiber or cable can be bent without incurring damage.
Beryllium copper (BeCu) - a metal alloy of copper and 0.5 to 3% beryllium (occasionally with other alloying elements) with spring and conductive properties which are applicable in electrical contacts as a spring component
Braid - protective textile cover used for plastic insulation to provide mechanical or thermal protections by separating cable segments and acting as a flame retardant.
Brass - a metal alloy of copper and zinc which is often used as the base material in electrical contacts
Breakdown Voltage - voltage required to breakdown the insulation between two conductors.
Bundle - grouping of rigid or flexible fiber optics that carries a common signal.
Back to Top
Cable - insulated conductor configured in a twisted or parallel structure.
Center Conductor - innermost center conductive contact in a coaxial structure.
Cladding - conduit layer of glass or similar material surrounding the core whose refractive index is lower than that of the core so that it may carry light through the fiber.
Clearance - (as it applies to voltage) - direct distance between two conductors (i.e. air gap) which electricity could bridge; greater clearances reduce the likelihood of arcing between conductors
Coaxial Line - transmission line made up of a hollow, outer conductor cylindrical tube in which a center conductor is suspended, with or without a dielectric support.
Concentric - center core surrounded by one or more layers of materials, all of which share a common central axis.
Conductor - wire(s) or other material(s) not insulated from one another that easily permit the flow of electric current.
Connector - all types of devices that provide rapid connect/disconnect service for wires, cables, and fibers.
Contacts - electrical conducting pieces within a connecting device that provide a steady connection that can be separated if needed.
Contact Engaging & Separating Force - force required to engage or separate pin and socket contacts whether they are in or out of connector inserts.
Contact Inspection Hole - hole placed in the rear portion of a contact that is used to measure the depth to which a wire has been inserted.
Contact Plating - metal coating that is plated onto the basic contact metal to meet the required contact and/or wear resistance.
Contact Resistance - maximum amount of electrical resistance pin and socket contacts are allowed to generate when assembled in a connector under standard use.
Contact Retention - minimum axial load that a contact must withstand in either direction while maintaining a firm, fixed position within an insert.
Continuity Check - test of finished wire or cable that determines if the electrical current can and will flow continuously through the material without interruption without any shorts.
Core - Cable Core: component or group of components over which other materials are applied, e.g. components, shield, sheath, or armor.
Corrosion - slow degradation of materials by chemical agents and/or electrochemical reactions; rust is the most common.
Coupler - intermediate device that can be used to attach accessories or mounting mechanisms, making two non-matching connectors intermatable.
Creepage Path - path that electricity must follow across a dielectric to bridge cross two conductors; longer creepage paths reduce the likelihood of arc damage or tracking.
Crimp Termination - type of connection that secures a metal sleeve to a conductor by mechanically crimping the sleeve with pliers or a similar tool.
CSA (Canadian Standards Association) - a non-profit standards organization which develops safety standards for various specialities, including electrical components.
Current - rate of electricity transfer, expressed in amperes (amps).
Current Rating - maximum recommended amount of continuous electrical current, expressed in amperes (amps).
Cycle - complete sequence of an alternating electric current, including the reverse flow process.
Back to Top
dB - abbreviation for decibel, a measurement of power. Conductor signal loss is expressed in decibels to show the ratio of the power input to output.
Delay Line - cable specifically designed to produce a long delay in electrical signal transmission by using a low velocity of propagation.
Derating Factor - a value that determines how much the power of a current-carrying wire must be reduced when used in environments other than that for which the material was intended.
Dielectric - an inert material used as a non-conductive insulator to intervene between two conductors and permit electrostatic attraction and repulsion to take place.
Dielectric Constant (K) - measure of the extent to which a material concentrates electrostatic lines of flux.
Dielectric Strength - maximum electric voltage an insulating material can withstand without breaking down, expressed as a voltage gradient.
Direct Current (D-C) - continuous electric current that flows in only one direction and is therefore constant in value.
Durometer - measurement of the hardness of a substance.
DWV (Dielectric Withstanding Voltage) - a voltage, higher than the operating voltage, below which the dielectric will prevent arcing between two conductors.
Back to Top
Eccentricity - measure taken at the center of a conductor's location with respect to the circular cross-section of the insulator around it.
Elastomer - elastic polymer that stretches to at least twice its length under low stress and snaps back to original length upon release of stress.
Electroplating - process of using electrical current to coat an electrically conductive object with a relatively thin layer of metal.
Engaging and Separating Force - amount of force needed to engage and/or separate contact elements in mating connectors.
Environmentally Sealed - connector that uses one or more devices to keep out environmental factors that might lower its performance.
Epoxy Resin - type of plastic that becomes hard and infusible once a hardening agent is applied; also has excellent adhesive action, high chemical, solvent, and thermal resistance, and low shrinkage on curing.
Extraction Tool - tool for extracting contacts from a connector.
Back to Top
Feed-Thru - connector that has double-ended terminals to facilitate simple distribution and bussing of electrical circuits.
Ferrule - metal circular tube clamp used to create connections without soldering.
Fiber - glass or plastic fiber that is used to guide light along its length.
Fiber Optics (F.O.) - engineering and applied science dealing with lightwave or optical communications systems where electrical information is converted to light energy, transmitted to another location through optical fibers and then converted back into electrical information.
Fiber Optic Core - highly refractive transparent glass or plastic through which light travels by internal reflections.
Flange - mechanical lip on the outside of a connector that enables it to attach to a panel or seal with a gasket or o-ring.
Flexible - cable trait that allows for bending under the influence of outside force.
Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) - FEP is similar to polytetrafluoroethylene (PTPE) but has a melting point of about 50° C lower and slightly different physical properties.
Frequency - number of times an alternating current repeats its cycle in one second, expressed in cycles per second, or Hertz (Hz).
Front Mounted - connector attached to the outside or mating side of a panel and can only be installed or removed from the outside of the equipment.
Back to Top
Gasket - also called a grommet; a component that forms an environmental seal by surrounding a connector interface with an elastic polymer.
Giga - numerical prefix denoting one billion (10^9)
Graded Index Fiber - also called a gradient index fiber; a multimode, optical fiber whose core refractive index increases as the radial distance from the fiber axis decreases and matches the cladding refractive index at the core - clad interface; has a greater bandwidth than step index fiber, but less bandwidth than single mode fiber.
Ground - electrical term for connecting to the earth or other large conducting body at zero voltage to make a complete electrical circuit.
Back to Top
Hard Clad Silica (HCS) - fiber optic structure with hard plastic cladding around the glass core.
Heat Shrinkable Sleeve - also called a shrink sleeve; plastic coating that protects against corrosion by shrinking to insulate connections, splices, terminations and other configurations.
Hermetic Seal - airtight seal created by fusing or soldering to prevent the entrance of air, moisture vapor, and other gases or environmental factors.
Hertz (Hz) - base unit of frequency equal to one cycle per second.
Hi - pot - test used to determine the highest potential level of voltage that can be applied to a conductor without allowing current to escape through the insulation.
High Voltage - electrical circuit, wire or cable whose voltage is a cause of safety concerns, usually operating at over 600 volts.
Holding Strength - connector’s ability to remain assembled to a cable under tension.
Housing - main component of a connector, to which other portions are attached or enclosed.
Hyperboloid - a three demensional geometric form defined by 2 parallel circles perpendicular to the same axis and a number of lines drawn, at an angle to that axis, from one circle to the other.
Hypertac® - an acronym for "hyperboloid contact" (a registered trademark of Smiths Group) that provides superior performance, exceptional contact reliability, high mating cycle life, low contact resistance, higher current ratings, immunity to high mechanical shock & vibration, and excellent wiping action.
Back to Top
Impedance (Z) - measure of opposition that a circuit offers to the flow of alternating current (AC).
Infrared - wave of light longer than that of visible light (felt as heat, rather than seen), with wavelengths 750 - 1000 nm.
Inner Conductor - central conductive structure in a coaxial structure, such as the center contact in a coaxial connector.
Insert - connector part that holds the contacts in the proper arrangement and insulates them from each other and from the outer shell.
Insert Retention - axial load in either direction that an insert must withstand without being dislocated from its normal position in the connector shell.
Insertion Loss - loss of load power due to cable or component insertion; expressed in decibels as the ratio of power received at the load before insertion to the power received at the load after insertion.
Insertion Tool - tool for inserting contacts into a connector.
Insulation - material(s) of high electrical resistance used to cover components and wires to prevent the flow of electric current and protect against short circuits.
Insulation Resistance - ratio of applied voltage to total current between two electrodes in contact with a specific insulator.
Interface - the shared boundary where two materials meet, or the two adjacent surfaces on the contact side of both halves of a multiple - contact connector that face each other when the connector is assembled.
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) - international organization responsible for setting industrial and commercial standards.
Back to Top
Jacket - outer layer of non - metallic protective covering applied over an insulated wire or cable.
Back to Top
Key - In a connector, a key is a device which prevents the plug from mating with a differently keyed receptacle. The key, which is insulated from the electrical contacts, is a slot, cutout or pin which slides into a mating slot, groove, or hole in the mating half to guide the two parts during assembly. If receptacle is keyed differently from the plug, the key will be prevented from mating, which in turn prevents the electrical contacts from mating.
Keyway - slot or groove in which a key (see above) slides.
Kilo - metric prefix denoting 1000 (10³)
Back to Top
Laser - "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation;" an electronic - optical device that generates narrow, intense beams of light with a well-defined wavelength; often a source of light in fiber optic systems.
LCP (liquid crystal polymer) - very stable, inert, and unreactive dielectric material used in electrical connectors.
Light - electromagnetic radiation in a wavelength range usually visible to the human eye.
Lightguide - fiber or flexible bundle of fibers used to transmit light.
Loose Buffer - protective tube loosely surrounding a cabled fiber, often filled with gel.
Loss - energy dissipated without accomplishing useful work, usually expressed in dB.
Lug - mechanical termination attached to a conductor by crimping or soldering that allows for threading on to a terminal.
Back to Top
Mate - to join two connector halves in a normal engaging mode.
Mega - metric prefix denoting one million (10^6).
Meter - fundamental metric unit of length, equal to 39.37 inches.
Micro - metric prefix denoting one-millionth (10^-6).
Micron - a micrometer; one millionth of a meter; most often used to express wavelength, it is equal to 1000 nanometers (nm).
Mil - 0.001"; measuring unit used to express the diameter of wire or thickness of insulation over a conductor.
MIL-DTL-55302 - US military specification governing printed circuit board connectors.
Mil-Spec - military specification governing the design and manufacture of various components and systems.
Milli - metric prefix denoting one thousandth (10^-3).
Mode - a component of a general configuration of a propagating wave front, characterized by a particular geometrical pattern and propagation constant.
Moisture Resistance - ability of a material to resist absorbing atmospheric moisture.
Multimode Fiber - fiber that transmits many modes.
Back to Top
Nano - metric prefix denoting one-billionth (10^-9).
Near Infrared - part of the infrared electromagnetic spectrum near visible wavelengths, in the range of 700 to 1500/2000 nm.
Nylon - a generic designation for a family of plastics, known as polyamides, which are used as insulators in electrical connectors.
Back to Top
O-Ring - elastic polymer gasket that allows a moisture seal to have a circular cross section.
Ohm (Ω)- metric unit of electrical impedance or resistance.
Outer Conductor - external conductive component in a coaxial structure, such as the housing in a coaxial connector.
Oxidation - the addition of atmospheric oxygen to metal, resulting in the form of rust; a type of corrosion.
Back to Top
PTFE - common abbreviation for polytetrafluoroethylene, or the non-stick coating known under the Teflon brand name.
Phosphor Bronze - strong, hard alloy that is resistant to corrosion and is therefore used in metal parts and springs.
Photon - particle that acts as the carrier of electromagnetic radiation of all wavelengths; light can be viewed as a series of photons.
Physical Contact - design feature of fiber optic connectors where the mating contacts' faces are in contact and under pressure provided by springs, resulting in lower loss.
Pico - metric prefix denoting one-millionth of one-millionth (10^-12).
Pin Contact - male contact usually connected to the "dead" side of a circuit and designed to mate with a socket (female contact).
Plastic Clad Silica (PCS) - optical fiber with a silica core and soft plastic cladding surrounding it.
Plastic Fiber - optical fiber made of just plastic.
Plating - process of coating metallic components with a thin outer layer of noble metal to improve conductivity, provide for easy soldering or prevent corrosion.
Plug - part of the two mating halves of a connector that is free to move when not fastened to the other mating half.
Polarization - orientation of mating connectors so that the connectors can only mate in one direction.
Polarizing Pin, Key, or Keyway - device used within a connector to accomplish polarization.
Polishing - act of smoothing ends of fibers to an "optically smooth" finish to allow for maximum transmission of light between fibers at connections and minimize coupling loss.
Polycarbonate - a thermoplastic polymer which is used as a dielectric in electrical connectors.
Polyetherimide - an amorphous thermoplastic with excellent properties for use as a dielectric in electrical connectors.
Polyethylene - thermoplastic heavily used in consume products for its toughness, flexibility at low temperatures, resistance to chemicals and moisture and relatively low price.
Potting - act of sealing a cable termination or other part by applying a liquid composition that will harden into an elastic polymer or solid plastic material.
Press-fit Contact - electrical contact that can be pressed into a hole in an insulator, printed board or metal plate.
Printed Circuit - generic term used to describe a printed board produced by any number of fabrication techniques used with electrical interconnect systems; circuit obtained by printing and comprising printed components.
Back to Top
Quadrax - quadraxial; a concentric cable consisting of 4 major components: a center conductor, two intermediate conductors, and an outer shield, all separated by insulation.
Quick Disconnect - connector shell that permits rapid locking and unlocking of two connector halves.
Back to Top
Radio Frequency (RF) - frequency range within 3 Hz to 300 GHz used to produce and detect radio waves.
Rear Mounted - connector installed from the inside of a box onto a panel that can only be removed from inside the equipment.
Receptacle - fixed or stationary half of a two-piece multiple contact connector, usually the mounting half that contains the socket contacts.
Reflection Loss - energy reflected back toward a cable source when the signal meets some type of impedance on the transmission line.
Resistance - measure of difficulty moving electrical current through a medium when voltage is applied, expressed in ohms.
Return Loss - measurement of the percentage of incident power that is reflected back along the transmission line upon striking an impedance.
Back to Top
Sheath - outer covering of a multi-conductor cable.
Shield - metallic layer placed around a conductor or group of conductors to prevent electrostatic or electromagnetic interference between the enclosed wire and external fields.
Shield Effectiveness - ability of a shield to screen out undesirable signals and prevent leakage.
SI - Le Système International d'unités or the International System of Units; the modern measurement equivalent of the metric system.
Silica Glass - glass made mostly from silica for use in fiber optic fibers.
Silicone - a rubber-like material containing silicon, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, which has excellent properties for sealing, insulation, and chemical resistance.
Simplex Cable - single fiber, fiber optic cable.
Single Mode Fiber (SMF) - fiber with a very small core diameter and a cladding whose refractive index is very close to that of the core; transmits light at a narrow angle but over very wide bandwidths.
Socket Contact - female contact designed to mate with a male contact.
Solder - fusible metal alloy with a low melting point used to join other metals, usually those with higher melting points than the solder.
Solid Conductor - conductor consisting of a single wire.
Spring Finger Action - contact design used in a printed circuit connector or a socket contact to permit easy, stress-free spring action for contact pressure and/or retention.
Spring Probe - spring contact probes are telescopic, electromechanical interconnects. They typically consist of one or more contact members (often referred to as the plunger(s) and a helical coil spring, housed within a conductive tube (normally termed a barrel). The plunger is retained within the barrel by a crimp. This crimp stops the plunger from coming out of the barrel, and the location of this crimp determines the degree to which the plunger extends from the barrel in the probe's normal condition.
Step Index Fiber - multimode fiber consisting of a core with a uniform refractive index surrounded by cladding of a slightly lower refractive index; accepts light rays at a wider angle, but has smaller bandwidth than single mode fibers.
Stranded Conductor - a group of wires twisted together to form a conductor.
Surface Mounting - act of electrically connecting components directly on the surface of a conductive pattern without utilizing holes in a circuit board.
Back to Top
Temperature Rating - maximum temperature at which a material may be used in continuous operation safely.
Temper - measurement of the degree of hardness or strength of a metal.
Threaded Coupling - method for coupling mating connectors that engages threads in a coupling ring with threads on a receptacle shell.
Tight Buffer - material used to secure a fiber in place within a fiber optic cable.
Tinning - process used to coat iron or steel terminals with tin to improve solderability and protect against rust.
Total Internal Reflection - light rays reflected at the core-clad boundary of an optical fiber, allowing transmission along the length of the fiber.
Transceiver - combination device that acts as both a transmitter and a receiver.
Transmission - transfer of electric energy by use of conductors, radiation or induction fields.
Triaxial - cable with 3 concentric conductors.
Tubing - extruded non-supported material.
Twisted Pair - pair of wires twisted together, most often used for low-speed communication wire cables.
Back to Top
UG - standard abbreviation for Universal Government; precedes the number on coaxial cable connectors.
UL - Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. safety standards mark.
Ultraviolet - range of electromagnetic waves in the non-visible spectrum, with wavelengths from 10 to 400 nm (shorter than visible light).
Back to Top
Volt (V) - Unit of electromotive force. It is the difference of potential required to make a current of one ampere flow through a resistance of one ohm.
Voltage - difference between electric pressure/potential of two points and what causes current; expressed as volts.
Voltage Breakdown - maximum voltage that can travel across an insulated wire before electrical current will leak through the insulation.
Voltage Rating - highest continuous voltage a wire or cord can withstand and still meet required standards or specifications.
Voltage Standing Wave Ratio (VSWR) - ratio of the maximum effective voltage to the minimum effective voltage, measured along a mismatched radio frequency transmission line.
Back to Top
Watt (W) - metric unit of power, equal to one joule of energy per second, or work done at rate of one joule per second, or rate of work represented by current of one ampere under a pressure of one volt (volt-ampere).
Wavelength - distance between repeating units of a propagating wave on a given frequency.
Wiping Action - action used to mate contacts with a sliding motion to remove small amounts of contamination from the contact surfaces and establish better conductivity.
Back to Top