- Que es un pigtail?
- Using a Pigtail
- Buying Pigtails
- Pigtail Questions and Answers section
1. Que es un pigtail?
Pigtail - what you need to connect an external AntennaCable to a WirelessCard (e.g. LucentWirelessCard). Most antennas come with a connector. For standardization, most people select an "N" connector so that the antenna is usable or loanable to many people who can also make use of an "N" connector. Because an "N" connector is large, an adapter is needed to connect the antenna to the wireless card. Because wireless cards have "MC-Card", "MMCX", "RP-MMCX", or other types of tiny connectors, you will select a pigtail that has an "N" connector on one end, and the corresponding connector on the other to connect to the wireless card. Of course, some people don't get antennas with "N" connectors (small whip antennas commonly use RP-TNC or Reverse SMA), so there are many varieties of pigtails.
2.1. MMCX by N Male
2.2. MC-Card (right angle) by N Male
2.3. U.FL (also known as MHF) by N Female Bulkhead
3. Using a Pigtail
Q: on a LucentWirelessCard ?
A: At the end of the built-in antenna is a little cap that can be removed with a needle or pushpin thumbtack. It is very loosely attached, so you won't break it Usually you will need a pigtail for external antennas. This is jargon for a short piece of coax that consists of a (small) RMC-6010-B [.pdf*] connector and a (larger) N connector on the other end.
NOTE: Be aware that this connector is delicate; it's a good idea to avoid too many connect-disconnect cycles lest you ruin the pigtail's connector. The tiny connector is hard to solder, so if you break it, you won't find it easy to repair. You might want to buy a dedicated card and leave it permanently connected to the pigtail. The jack on the card is more durable than the pigtail connector.
* RFIndustries has .pdf catalogs of connectors and cable assembly with how to specify, and Search has spec drawings in .pdf as above. 2006/03/14
4. Buying Pigtails
Q: Where can you find them?
JEFA Tech has stock and custom pigtails. They are very high quality. They also have low shipping rates and ship very fast. Highly recommended. 888-467-2258
Metrix Communication has uf.l to N and RP-TNC manufactured with authentic high quality hirose connectors, as well as other assorted cable assemblies. They are here in Seattle too.
Antenna Systems & Supplies has a wide variety of pigtails, jumper cables, and custom cable assembly. Just call or e-mail email@example.com, toll free (877) 288-6139. Good prices, ship world wide.
Moonblink Wireless has a large selection of varying lengths of pigtails and jumper cables.
You can buy them from Michael Codanti (firstname.lastname@example.org) (MichaelCodanti) for $20 US plus very reasonable shipping (even to Canada). Notice that the ALL METAL Lucent connector still "snaps" in place even after more than 20 plugs and unplugs (and still counting as testing goes on). [Cf. Connectors on the ConnectorsAndCable page.]
--Just a note to let you know I now have some 14" Lucent pigtails for $15. They don't have the shrink tube for strain relief, so they are best for more permanent installs.
(They're excellent quality and arrived promptly. Thanks, Michael! -- Myself)
For longer cables HD Communications has 24 inch pigtails in stock for $28.50, Part # HD20108-2, shipping $5 to most USA. Toll free (888) 588-3800, ext. 15. They also have a deal where you get a pigtail and an antenna for $43.99, pringle. 2006/03/14 NLA. The Pringles cantenna is panned but other cantennas are not mentioned ; )
WLANmall.com - High quality 3' pigtails with MC-CARD, SMA, Alprox connectors and more...Oh and sweet pictures too!
4.1. "Where can you find them" answers, alphabetical by supplier
NB: If you build your own, be aware of the caveats. Cf. Alan Applegate on the importance of using proper procedures and good tools in installing coax connectors, and Connector Mating Tips (though you may not require the Wi-Fi patent medicines ; )`
Acon A5: Build your own HomemadePigTail. A6: If you need connectors for RP-MMCX, I just found a new source: these people have both the right angle style and even have a straight through one! As well, they have RP-MMCX-to-SMA single piece adapters (sadly enough, no RP-MMCX-to-RP-SMA, but oh well). The company is Acon, they can be found at Acon, and their catalog for connectors is RF.pdf. Their USA distributor is very easy to work with and does not mind small-to-medium orders. Ethics. 2006/03/14 Taiwan manufacturer; above catalog not found.
Advanced Cable Systems, 425-556-1721, 1807 132nd NE #4, located around the corner from Active Electronics in Bellevue. (SR 520, 124th NE exit, .5 mi. E on Northup Way to 132nd.) They also sell USB repeaters. When I visited the store, they even offered to make a one-off pigtail on the spot. Their weakness is in MMCX connectors though. [From pigtails on the WirelessHardwareLinks page.]
2006/03/14 http://www.advanced-cable.com NF but phone okay. Ethernet and video but not wireless, per Dave, one of the owners.
Aerialix A10: Aerialix has a unique cable "configurator" that allows one to build a custom cable easily. They only carry Times Microwave cable, but for custom cables, the prices are competitive. They put double shrink tubing on the LMR100A cable I ordered from them which seems to make a big difference from the crap I've ordered elsewhere. 2006/03/13, /15, timed out, host not found (NF).
Antenna Systems & Supplies Cf. topmost answer A, above.
Cantenna Wireless Garden A12: Cantenna has high-quality pigtails for most wireless devices ($19.95 for 18"). MC-Card; RPSMA, RP-TNC, MMCX, and MCX-Plug Male (for Mac). They sell in bulk and have decent shipping prices.
Don Davis in Asheville, NC (email@example.com) stocks MMCX to type-N and Lucent (MC) to type-N pigtails for $10 each and ships daily. - Don Davis (added 2003 April 23) 2006/03/13, /15, domain NF. [From Sources on the ConnectorsAndCable page.]
Electro-Comm Distributing A7: Electro-Comm sells connectors (RMC-6010-B.pdf) which may allow you to build your own pigtail. This is one of the connectors listed for the LucentWirelessCard on the HardwareComparison page, but I don't know if they really are the correct ones, $5.64 each. RossFleming. 2006/03/13, /15, domain NF.
FAB-Corp A8: Fleeman Anderson & Bird sells good quality pigtails at reasonable prices, $17-$24; $22 for 19", solid click [snap-on MCX and MMCX] Orinoco connector, LMR-100A cable, and $5 Priority Mail shipping.
HD Communications Cf. topmost answer A, above. 2006/03/14 Looks like high quality but pricier.
HyperlinkTech A2: Hyperlink Tech cable_adapter has them for $35 or $39 (they list web prices of $16 to $30), depending on the length of the cable. Their shipping prices are decent. Link has easy access to clear, sharp views of connector types. Note: The minimum sale amount for domestic shipments within the United States is $100 cart_add].
Invictus Networks A: You can purchase the pigtails in stock for about $9.50 - $18.00 from Invictus Networks in Portland, Oregon. We have hundreds in stock to fit virtually every popular radio. We also can supply custom cabling, amplifiers, radios, antennas, etc. RickLindahl is the person to contact. Rick is on the Board of Advisers of Personal Telco and has worked with community wireless groups for years. 2006/03/14 1', 18", 5' N pigtails, cable 10'-up, N connectors.
ITMM Premade cables for most Access Points and Antennas.
JefaTech Cf. topmost answer A, above.
MetrixCommunication A14: MetrixCommunication has pigtails, Hirose U.FL to N Female pigtails for Mini PCI cards. Local to Seattle, (206) 984-WIFI, firstname.lastname@example.org. [From Sources on the ConnectorsAndCable page.]
Moonblink Wireless Cf. topmost answer A, above.
Vetco Electronics Vetco Surplus 12718 Northup Way, Bellevue 98005. SR 520 exit 124th NE, one block E, 0.3 mi. from the exit. (425) 641-7275. M-F 9a-6p, Sa 10a-5p, Su usually (call). They have a wide stock of connectors, pigtails, lots of surplus anything 'tronic, and slightly more on their floor than on their website, 2006/03/14. Cf. from Vetco at Sources on the ConnectorsAndCable page.]
WLANmall Pigtails - Wide selection of high quality pigtails and RF antenna cables.
WLANParts A16: Pasadena Networks, LLC has LMR-195 2' pigtails for $9 each: MC-Card, MMCX, RP-MMCX, RP-TNC, RP-SMA, U.fl, N-Male and N-Female. Many antennas, lots of WLAN gear, custom cables and many other items. 2006/03/14.
5. Pigtail Questions and Answers section
5.1. About Pigtails Q and A
Q: How much SignalLoss penalty is there with a typical pigtail?
A: According to MichaelCodanti the typical loss seems to be about 0.4dB per foot on the smaller cables from empirical testing. Hopefully the loss remains linear with longer (like my 1.5m) cable. Cf. Attenuation & Power Handling Calculator at Cable Performance Calculators, thanks to Times Microwave.
A2: Not sure what counts as 'typical', but when I went from a generic no-label 6" pigtail to the same no-label cable 40" pigtail, the Orinoco client software 'bar meter' dropped 1-2 bars. Replacing the longer cable with a high quality cable (such as one from FAB-Corp, see supplier and A8 above), raised the signal above what it was with the 6" generic pigtail.
A3: Keep in mind that each connector you have will be lossy. N connector manufacturers specify losses from 0.05dB to 0.15dB depending on signal frequency. Also the quality of the cable makes a HUGE difference. But it's hard to make pigtails out of LMR-400!
Cf. Connectors on the ConnectorsAndCable page and the caveats at "NB" on this page.
Q: How do I add a pigtail to a PCMCIA card? That is, if it is not possible to add a connector, then how do I solder a cable to the output of the card and bring out that cable to a pigtail?
A: Someone has already done that for DWL-650+ type cards (+ USR2210, Pheenet WL0022) at ivor.it pigtail. Some other card connector hacks are described at this website, where a connector jack was soldered to the pcboard inside the card (after removal of the plastic cover at the end of the card); cf. HomemadePigTail. However, some cards are next to impossible to hack, such as the Senao ones, because removal of the plastic covering is a fairly destructive action. Because 802.11b cards have come way down in price, it is often better to just buy a new card that already has the external connector(s) built in.
Q: Is there any place that I can purchase pigtails in bulk?
A: Try Cantenna (http://www.cantenna.com/pigtailfinder.html). They sell them in bulk and have them for most devices out there. Cf. Where can you find them?, above. Commercial suppliers sell bulk and fill small orders out of courtesy, for good PR.
Q: Does the length of the pigtail coax affect the antenna?
A: The antenna? No. The signal? Yes. Any cable used to carry microwave transmissions will be high loss. This is simply the nature of the cable: With a longer pigtail, you will get more loss. This is also true for the number of connectors you have installed. Always try and have the shortest pigtail possible. See the first question, "How much SignalLoss penalty is there", posted above.
Q: What is the best type of coax to use for short runs? (preferably flexible).
A: You would generally want a high frequency cable with low damping and a cutoff frequency above 2462 MHz.
Q: What kind of cable is best for long runs (50-120) feet? What's the difference between LMR-400 and LMR-1700?
A: Cf. above A and Cable Performance Calculators, thanks to Times Microwave. Run your favorite search engine. Times Microwave has .pdf of cable types specs. Approximately, the higher the LMR number, the higher the performance, diameter, often weight, the higher the cost, and the less flexibility. WBC has similar products, with .pdf of specs at Hyperlinktech Products and Cable Assemblies. Consider moving your AP close to the antenna, and cabling longer runs with Ethernet or USB.
5.2. Which Pigtail Would I Need
Q: What kind of pigtail would one need for an Actiontec MiniPCI 802.11b card?
A: Pasadena Networks (wlanparts) has R-SMA and most other cable assemblies. Most PCI card adapters use R-SMA connectors. Verify with the manufacturers' specs.
A2: The question was about miniPCI, and these use MHF (aka U.FL) connectors. Netgate stocks pigtails that adapt from MHF to RP-TNC.
Q: What kind of pigtail do you use with a Senao 802.11b card?
A: Older and newer cards varied, but all of the newer cards seem to be standardized on using female MMCX connectors. Thus, you would need a pigtail that has a male MMCX connector on one end. This MMCX connector would plug into the female MMCX connector that is on the card. Some antennae don't need pigtails because you can order them with the appropriate connector attached to the antenna cable. One such type of antenna is the "range extender" line from Hyperlink.
See SenaoCard for more information on Senao and Engenius cards as well as source for range extender type antennae.
Q: What kind of pigtail would one need for a D-Link 614+ 802.11a/b router?
A: The connector on the router is RP-SMA.
Q: What sort of pigtail would I need for the connector on a 3Com 3CRWE777A-E1?
Q: What type of pigtail do I need for a Cisco Aironet 4800?
A: You could run your favorite search engine. Many suppliers have tables or even finders.
Q: What type of pigtail do I need for a Proxim Orinoco 8470 Gold wireless card (8470-WD, 8470-FC)?
A: MC-Card connector pigtail. You can find these pigtails and cards at WLANmall.com at a great price!
Q: What type of connector is used for the Microsoft MN-720
A: I believe it is an MHF.
Q: What type of pigtail would one use for an Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 2200BG Network Connection inside a Dell Latitude X1 or would this card even accomodate a connector? A: this mini-pci card has main & aux aerial connectors. Both are U.fl (Ipx) connections on the card. So any pigtail which has this type of connector at one end.