Identifying Coaxial Connector Types

There is a vast and diverse range of connector types available today. As such, it can be difficult to differentiate each kind. While most people can tell the standard connector types, many, even experts, can have trouble identifying the gender of reverse polarity connectors. This blog will explain the difference between male and female polarity connectors, whether standard or reverse.

When trying to identify male and female connectors, you should keep the following in mind. For one, when mating a plug and jack, it is critical to be sure that both connectors have the same polarity. Both must be standard polarity or both must be reverse polarity. Second, standard RF plugs are male, and feature threads on the inside of the shell, while standard RF jacks are female, and the threads are on the outside of the shell. Finally, the shell of the plug (male component) typically covers the shell of the jack (female component).

In a standard polarity female jack, there are threads on the outside and a socket in the middle designed to receive the pin from the male plug. In a standard polarity male plug, there is a center pin protruding from the middle and the plug’s shell has threads on the inside. Reverse polarity female jacks feature a pin protruding from the middle and have the shell threads on the outer portion. In a reverse polarity male plug, there is a socket in the middle designed to receive the pin from the female connector, and the plug’s threads are located on the inside of the shell. The easiest way to differentiate the two is to remember that a standard polarity jack has a socket, while a reverse polarity jack has a pin. Adversely, a standard polarity plug has a pin, while a reverse polarity plug has a socket.

The most common types of connectors are N-Type, UHF, BNC, Standard & Reverse Polarity TNC, and Standard & Reverse Polarity SMA. Let’s take a look at each one.


The N-type connector, also known simply as the N connector, is a threaded, weatherproof, medium-size RF connector used to join coaxial cables. Invented in the 1940s, N-type connectors were one of the first to be capable of carrying microwave frequency signals.


UHF connectors are a type of threaded RF connector. It was invented in the 1930s for use in the radio industry, and is a shielded version of the ‘banana plug.’ UHF connectors are widely used for high frequency transmission lines on full-sized radio equipment.


The BNC (Bayonet Neill-Concelman) connector is a small quick connect/disconnect radio frequency connector used with coaxial cable. BNC connectors feature two bayonet lugs on the female connector with mating fully achieved through a quarter turn of the coupling nut.

Standard & Reverse Polarity TNC

The standard and reverse polarity TNC (Threaded Neill-Concelman) connectors are threaded versions of the BNC connector. Invented in the 1950s, the standard TNC offers better performance than the BNC at microwave frequencies and is most commonly used in radio and wired applications. The reverse polarity TNC is the same connector, but the interface is switched by incorporating the female contacts normally found in jacks into the plug, and the male contacts normally found in plugs into the jack.

Standard & Reverse Polarity SMA

SubMiniature version A connectors, or SMA connectors, are semi-precision coaxial RF connectors developed for use with coaxial cable and a screw-type coupling mechanism. Like TNC connectors, the reverse polarity version is simply a connector that reverses the gender of the interface.


December 16, 2021
October 8, 2021

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