Cables and connectors are critical parts of an RF system, ignore their care and feeding at your peril
Many years ago, I was at a design review where a team member responded to a design issue by saying "that's no big deal, it's just a cable between the two units." A senior member of the team responded sharply, "don't ever forget, a cable and its connectors are another source of potential trouble between two other potential sources of trouble."
I was reminded of this when I came across a valuable set of suggestions on the care and treatment of RF cables while looking through the April issue of the excellent magazine High Frequency Electronics. You can click here to read "Handling procedures for IW cable assemblies"; it was taken from the web site of its source IW Microwave Products Division with full attribution. (Note: be sure to scroll down the web page, since it appears as just a summary list of the guidelines at the top, but with useful, fuller discussions below that list.)
While some of the guidelines are fairly obvious and common sense, many are less so. And one thing really stood out to me, as something all RF engineers must always be aware of: even slight imperfections, such as a result of careless strain relief or even modest bending, and which would have little or no effect at DC or low frequencies, can be a problem for RF cables. It's not just the longer-term reliability here, it's that the RF characteristics and performance may be immediately affected, as critical internal dimensions change, dielectrics are stressed, and similar hard-to-envision problems occur.
Misapplying or mishandling that modest RF cable can cause serious immediate and long-term performance problems. The life of an RF system designer has many traps, that's for sure. ♦