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Cables and Connectors

There can be thousands of cables and connectors on even the smallest of shows.  Not only will you be required to know what they are called, but also what department typically uses them.  This test has no “Trick” questions or answers.  You will not need to know the exceptions to the rule.  

NameDescriptionDepartment
Speakon (NL2, NL4, NL8)2, 4 or 8 conductors. Used to connect Amplifiers to speakers. NL4/NL8 often have NL2 breakouts at one endSound
Ethernet8 conductors. There are several ethernet standards that use the same connector: Cat5e, and Cat6 are usually used in our industry. Sometimes found with a locking “Ethercon” connector that looks like a XLR barrel. Some applications required a shielded version of this type of cable.General, A/V, Data
Edison3 Conductor “normal” extension cord. Generally, non-grounded is not suitable for our use. Depending on wire gauge and jacket, suitable for up to 15-amp service.  Can also be referred to as a Parallel Bar Ground (PBG).Power
IEC PowerMany devices requiring standard 120V “wall power” use this IEC Plug, usually with an Edison plug on one end, and a IEC socket to attach to the device. Sometimes called a “Computer cable” or a D-Plug.Power
Stage-Pin3 conductors. Used for connecting conventional lighting instruments to dimmers.  Can also be referred to Grounded Stage Pin (GSP).Lighting, Power
L5-153 conductors with a twist lock connector. Suitable for 15-amp service. Sometimes found on moving lights, small dimmer packs, or other distribution.Lighting, Power
L15-304 Conductors with a twist lock connector, suitable for 30-amp service. Found on small generators, some chain motors, and power distribution.  There are many different variants of this type of connector with different configurations and electrical ratings.Power, Rigging
Coaxial Cable/BNC2 conductors. Depending on wire type, used for anything from wireless antennas to HD video transmission.  Different ratings of BNC are not interchangeable for all tasks, always check with your lead before using.Video, Sound, Data
Camlock (Feeder)/Bare EndsUsed for high amperage power distribution like providing generator power to an entire production. Never connect or disconnect Camlock/bare wire without explicit permission from the department head in charge of power.Power
Pin & Sleeve (CEPro)Depending on type, up to 8 conductors and 125-amp loads. Smaller ones are used for some moving lights or machinery (sometimes called CEPro), and larger versions used power distribution and as feeder cable instead of Camlock (sometimes called Hubbell cable).Power
7-pin SocapexUsed on some chain hoists and automation equipment where one cable supplies both control signal and power. Rigging
9-pin SocapexUsed for carrying multiple circuits of power, often broken out to individual lighting instrumentsLighting, Power
erial9 pins, usually using the RS-232 standard. Used for communication between automation devices, like a projector communicating with lighting control system in a theater.General, A/V
USBGeneral
DVIDepending on version, DVI can carry analog or digital video. DVI-I: AnalogDVI-D: Digital.
A Dual Link connector has more pins and can carry two video signals.
Video
HDMICarries digital video, sound, and sometimes networking. Make sure to find the right version of HDMI cable for the application. They all fit the same plug, but newer ones can carry more data and higher quality video.Video, Audio
Display PortUsed to carry a Digital Video signal. While still widely used, the DisplayPort standard is relatively old. The larger connector pictured is still used on some high-end consumer and PC equipment, but the smaller plug pictured lower is common on apple laptops and is very common to find in A/V.
Some of those smaller display ports are thunderbolt compatible, although that standard has been superseded by the adoption of the USB Type C plug.
When using an adapter to convert from display port to another video standard like HDMI, you may need to check if a thunderbolt compatible adapter is required.
Video
Thunderbolt/USB Type CThunderbolt is a cable standard for moving a high amount of data. Often, they are used to connect peripherals like video outputs, sound and video, interfaces, and fast data storage. While thunderbolt 3 uses a USB Type C plug, not every Type C cable is capable of Thunderbolt.General, A/V
3-Pin XLRStandard balanced audio cable. Used for sound sources to destinations, like microphones to a mixer.
*in some cases, specially made 3-pin XLR cables are used as DMX cables.
Audio

4-Pin XLR
Used for powering and controlling lighting accessories like gobo rotators and color scrollers.Lighting, Data
5-Pin XLR (DMX)Usually used for sending DMX-512 from a lighting console to daisy-chain of lighting instruments. 512 means that each 5-pin cable can control up to 512 parameters. For example, 512 conventional dimmers, or 32 LED fixtures that require 16 channels of control each.Lighting, Data
TS/TRS (1/4-inch plugs)Tip-Sleeve: 2 conductors. Standard un-balanced audio connector-like a normal guitar or instrument cable.
Tip-Ring-Sleeve: Same form factor, but with an extra conductor for either a balanced signal, or an unbalanced stereo pair. Scale it down to 1/8”, and you have a standard headphone plug.
Sound
Fiber OpticUsed for high-speed data signals like sound, video, or networking. There are many more types of fiber optic cable and connector than pictured. If you suspect you are handling a fiber optic cable, proceed with great care because the glass core of the cable is extremely fragile and can easily break if crushed or bent.General, A/V
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