Reliable performance of microwave/RF cable assemblies with longer service life and reduced equipment downtime results in lower costs for testing in laboratory, production and field test environments. A new white paper from W. L. Gore & Associates evaluates the durability and performance over time of several 18 GHz microwave/RF cable assemblies described as having a ruggedized construction with similar specifications.
Author and Gore application specialist Robert John cites a recent study showing that more than 75 percent of microwave/RF cables worldwide have to be frequently replaced, and that the direct cost of replacing cable assemblies on a single piece of equipment can reach $250,000 over the life of the system — not including indirect costs such as delayed production schedules, bad products, or retesting and calibration.
Gore evaluated the durability and performance over time of several microwave/RF cable assemblies typically used in the industry. Three new 18 GHz cable assemblies described as having a ruggedized construction with similar specifications were selected.
While many cable assemblies perform well when brand new, Gore wanted to determine whether their performance changed or remained stable during flexure and after repeated use. Phase and loss stability was measured to determine the amount of signal distortion and loss of measurement accuracy. This test showed that the other cable assemblies experienced significant changes in loss and phase stability with flexure, compromising their electrical performance, and would provide very inconsistent results – particularly as they reached their maximum frequency. However, GORE® PHASEFLEX® Microwave/RF Test Assemblies successfully maintained loss and phase stability with flexure and, as a result, provided consistent, repeatable electrical performance, even during movement.
These tests showed that the failure rate of cables varied when new and after accelerated life testing was done. The internal construction of the other cable assemblies physically changed (i.e., stretched and distorted) after repeated use. However, GORE® PHASEFLEX® Microwave/RF Test Assemblies performed significantly better over time without any physical changes, which means that these cable assemblies maintained electrical and mechanical integrity in environments where the other assemblies were compromised. Their unique dielectric and durable construction enabled them to withstand continuous movement, flexing, and exposure to harsh conditions while still maintaining excellent signal integrity.
The complete white paper is available for viewing at http://www.gore.com/MungoBlobs/411/365/POT-WhitePaper_Final_032614.pdf