A new cable for Gibabit Ethernet in harsh environments

Author : M Babb

10 December 2009

At the SPS show in Nürnberg, Molex announced it taken the next step in terms of speed in the M12 form factor with the introduction of the new Brad® Micro-Change® M12 Cat 6 connector. Not only does the connector handle Gigabit Ethernet speeds, it is IP68-rated and designed to provide secure and safe electrical connections in harsh or hostile conditions.

Andreas Vogt, VP engineering
Andreas Vogt, VP engineering

Andreas Vogt, vice president of engineering, was at the fair to show visitors the advantages and special protection of the cable.

Most industrial applications are still in the “fast Ethernet” realm, 100 Mbits/sec, and do not need Gigabit Ethernet. But it will eventually come, and cables like this one will be ready to carry the data.

The M12 connector is the most reliable one for this type of Ethernet connection. RJ45 connectors “are a nightmare” he said.

Gigabit Ethernet, running on copper conductors, requires eight conductors.

“Instead of 0s and 1s, there are four levels of signal voltage,” he explained.

“That’s why eight conductors are needed. But the channels have to be well separated at the connectors because the danger of cross talk is much greater,” he said.

The fibre optic version of Gigabit Ethernet uses a completely different algorithm. “But remember,” said Mr. Vogt, “you have to have conversion to copper at both ends.”

Connector construction

The two shielding crosses inside the cable connector (see photo) and receptacle overlap when mated – this prevents system noise from interfering with the signal integrity.

The Micro-Change M12 Cat 6 connector’s 4 pair mating interface is standardised to IEC 61076-2-10x.

Each individual conductor pair is cross-shielded throughout the connector; ensuring superior signal integrity is maintained in comparison to conventional RJ-45 Cat 6 systems.

For rugged applications and high-vibration environments, the cable features two points of contact per male and female conductor pair, ensuring a robust and reliable contact interface.

The range of environmentally sealed, waterproof connectors meets the needs of traditional areas in process and automation Control, but also the rigours of other applications that require high speed data in harsh environments.

The initial system layout of the Molex M12 Cat 6 is a male-to-male, overmoulded patch cord cable system available in predetermined lengths and either AWG 24 or AWG 26 sizes, together with backmount female receptacles.

The receptacles can be mounted using THR (through hole reflow) technology. This allows for automated assembly, providing significant reductions in installation costs for the OEM.

The initial set-up will use the standard threaded coupling, which provides IP67 protection. An Ultra-Lock® version of the Molex M12 Cat 6 connector is in development that will provide IP69K rating. 

Readers can get more information about the Molex M12 Cat 6 connectors at  www.molex.com/link/m12.html

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