What does “pin and sleeve” mean?

When you’ve been working and playing around home theater long enough, you run into some interesting terms. One of those terms is “pin and sleeve.” Actually, it’s two terms. You hear someone say “pin” and then you might also hear them say “sleeve.”

It’s actually really simple.

Both terms refer to a coaxial connector like the one at the top of this article. The “pin” is the center conductor. In the picture, it’s that piece of copper wire in the middle. The “sleeve” is the outer connector part.

Generally you’ll hear this term used less with regular F connectors like the one you see at the top of this article. Partially that’s because the center isn’t really a “pin.”

Here’a picture of a typical BNC connector used for industrial coaxial cables. The center isn’t really bare wire like an F connector. It’s a separate brass pin that fits over the copper wire. This keeps the copper from becoming corroded and also makes the center “pin” the right size for the standard. You see this also with N connectors such as the ones used for industrial cell boosters. The wire is a different thickness than the center pin.

The “sleeve” refers to the way a coaxial connector fits over the outside of the cable for a nice, secure, water-resistant fit.

Why does anyone bother to use these terms?

When you hear someone talking about a pin or a sleeve, it’s generally due to a specific need. It usually involves finding the right connection point for industrial coaxial cables. I don’t think that there’s anyone out there using these terms without a real need. Let’s be honest, they’re not going to win you points at parties.

It’s more like, you’re researching the specifics of a connector and you need to know the diameter of the pin or the makeup of the sleeve. So, for the most part people really only use these terms if they know what they’re talking about. You can eavesdrop on these secret conversations by knowing the special terms that they use.

When you know what you want…

When you’re ready to shop for coaxial cables or any sort of cable for your latest project, check out the awesome selection at Solid Signal. We have thousands and thousands of hard-to-find cables for every need, whether it’s coaxial cable, computer cable, power cables, or something completely different. Chances are we have what you need. If you need help finding the right cable for your project, call us at 877-312-4547 during East Coast business hours, or use our Live Chat to talk to someone online!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.