Connecting various antennas in your home -- whether for over-the-air television, wireless Internet or AM/FM radio -- is relatively easy. However, if one of the various types of connectors becomes damaged, you will need to know what to look for as you seek a replacement. You can generally use the connector to associate an antenna with its intended function.
Probably the most common antenna connector type, this ubiquitous item is found on the end of many coaxial cables connected from a rooftop or attic antenna. The connector consists of two primary pieces: the female end affixed to the end of the cable itself, and the jack mounted to a television, tuner or wallplate. The fittings are identified by a knurled, threaded connector with a thin copper wire at the center. The female component is threaded on the outside with a hole at the center to receive the copper conductor on the male half.
Similar at first glance to a conventional coaxial fitting, these connectors are primarily used on Wi-Fi antennas, routers and cards. Their distinguishing feature is the presence of an additional ring inside the connector shell. Confusingly, the connectors' gender is flipped as compared to coaxial cables, with the male end denoted by the small hole at the center and the female connector possessing the thin center conductor. These connectors are often found at a right angle to keep the antenna vertical when mounted to the router or wireless card. These are also known as "SMA," "TNC" or "MC," which you select based on what is on your wireless hardware.
The Bayonet Neill-Concelmann, or BNC, connector is a favorite with HAM radio operators. These connectors lock to one another via a mating post-and-groove configuration, making insertion and removal quick and easy. BNC connectors are found on professional-level radio and tuner gear, and are not as common in the consumer electronics realm. BNC connectors used to be common on Wi-Fi equipment, but have been largely replaced by N-connectors of varying types.
Typically used with radio tuners and older televisions, these adapters convert the coaxial connector leading from your antenna to a two-spade lug pigtail which, in turn, slides under two screws on the back of the tuner. With some older antennas, you will encounter a two-wire setup leading from the mast, terminating into the dual-spade configuration. In this case, you use an adapter that incorporates the dual screws and a push-on F or coaxial connector to accommodate modern tuners.
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