Coaxial cables are electrical cables that transmit RF (radio frequency) signals from one point to another with low signal loss. Around the early 20th century, coaxial cables have been used in a wide range of applications, from phone lines and cable TV to internet and cell boosters. Due to their versatility, they are available in many sizes and lengths, each of which is designed for varying uses.
What Is a Coaxial Cable Made of?
A coaxial cable is generally composed of four core elements: a core, dielectric insulator, shield, and jacket. The core consists of a single copper or copper-coated steel wire that carries the high-frequency signals. Often made of plastic, the dielectric insulator encapsulates the wire, keeping ample clearance between the center conductor and the next layer.
The shield, on the other hand, is made of woven copper, aluminum, or another metal, and it wraps around the dielectric insulator to eliminate outside electromagnetic interference (EMI). Lastly, the jacket is made of rubber and insulates the whole assembly. Please note that coaxial cables used in outdoor settings necessite extra insulation and special jackets to protect them from sun and moisture.
How Do Coaxial Cables Work?
Coaxial cables are able to transmit signals through the center wire and metal shield simultaneously to generate a magnetic field. Meanwhile, The insulator keeps the signals coming in contact with one another and canceling each other out. Additionally, it protects the signal from outside EMI; thus, the signal can be carried over long distances with little to no interference or loss. Based on the application in question, the signal can then be converted into images, audio, WiFi, or amplified cell reception.
Coaxial Cable Types
There are an array of coaxial cable types on the market, all of which have varying characteristics. Typically, they differ by gauge and impedance values, where gauge refers to the cable’s thickness and is measured by the RG (Radio Guide) number. The higher the RG number, the thinner the conductive core is. Coaxial cables are subdivided into two main types, those of which have impedance values over 75 Ohm (Ω) or an impedance of 50 Ohm.
RF Coaxial Cables
For radio frequency signals, RF coaxial cables are standard options, and they are recognized for being the standard input cable on TVs. They feature a single pin that plugs into the RF input on a particular device.
RG-6 cables are another common type of coaxial cable, all of which are equipped with large conductors to provide improved signal quality. They have thicker dielectric insulation and are made with a specialized shielding that enables them to handle GHz level signals more effectively. Due to its thin nature, RG-6 cables can be installed in walls or ceilings.
RG-59 cables are popular in domestic settings, and they have the thinnest core when compared to their counterparts. Additionally, they are ideal for short runs and low-frequency transmissions.
RG-11 cables are easy to identify because they are thicker than the aforementioned types, making them incredibly difficult to work with. Despite the issues associated with installation, they have low attenuation levels, allowing them to carry data for longer distances.
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