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HomeTips & GuidesWhat is the RF cable: 5 things to know.

What is the RF cable: 5 things to know.

What is the RF cable? RF cables are essential components for different sectors associated with aerospace, defense or communications. Wondering how they impact your everyday experiences? 

Let’s know more about them and understand their complex roles across different areas.

RF cable understanding:

RF cables carry audio/video signals between devices. Abbreviated for Radio Frequency, these cables are mainly coaxial cables designed meticulously using several layers to prevent signal interference.

Parts of a coaxial cable:

The design of the coaxial RF cables comprises four circular layers to prevent signal loss due to electromagnetic interference. Starting from the inner layer, there is a metal wire to carry the signal.

An insulating layer made of solid plastic covers this metal wire. The third and fourth layer comprises a metal shield and a plastic covering respectively.

Use of an RF cable:

RF coaxial cables are an essential component in applications transmitting high-frequency radio signals.

A large number of electronic devices and radio communication systems use these cables for signal transmission. Also, these cables are common in computers and instrumentation.

However, for every application, you must consider some factors before picking up the right cable. The use of RF cables in different systems includes

Wireless communications

To connect base systems

In antenna system distribution

Antenna feeds.

Wireless networks:

To connect routers, repeaters and access points

For structured cables in offices and residences

In data centers and server rooms

Broadcast TV and Radio

In-studio wiring and antenna feeds

For temporary setups outdoors

To establish portable device connections

Aerospace/defense

In shipboard and vehicle communication

In missile guidance systems

And in controlling robotic systems

Avionics and airborne radar systems

Medical systems:

In monitoring patients

To connect surgical devices

In imaging and MRI equipment

Test and measurement:

In the wiring of an anechoic chamber

To connect different test equipment such as oscilloscopes, signal generators and spectrum analyzers

Evaluation PCB board with connected cables ready for radio frequency testing

Evaluation of PCB board with connected cables ready for radio frequency testing

Types of RF cables:

Different types of RF cables are mainly based on the impedance levels (resistant to the flow of electric current). Out of the two types of RF cables, one is 50 ohms, used to transmit data and wireless signals, and another is 75 ohms used to transmit video signals.

Working of a coaxial cable:

As you know, there are four lawyers in a coaxial cable, and the innermost central wire carries the signals. This signal tends to come out of the cable, resulting in signal loss.

However, the metal shield layer forms a magnetic field with this inner metal wire to keep the signal intact and prevent bleeding. Further, the presence of metal shields also protects the signal from EMI or electromagnetic interference.

Protection from EMI makes it possible for coaxial cables to be placed near any electronic equipment without any signal disturbance.

The dielectric insulator layer in between the metal wire and the metal shield keeps a consistent distance between the two layers. As a result, you get the optimal performance, and also the two signals do not come in contact; instead, they both cancel each other.

All these components of the cable remain protected from dirt, dust, moisture and chemicals under the outermost plastic jacket.

The collective efforts of all these layers ensure that the signal reaches its destination with minimal or no interference. Once it reaches the destination, the Rf signals can be converted into audio, video, wi-fi or image signals.

Benefits of RF cables:

For all 50-ohm and microwave applications, it is essential to have RFI and EMI control along with tight impedance, and that’s what RF coaxial cables give.

In some RF cables, the outer conductor is made of copper braiding, which makes it flexible and durable; however, it is rare in most cases.

Apart from the standard RF coaxial cables, there are double and triple-screened cables. These additional layers help reduce pick-up signals and stray radiation. Such cables are suitable for applications like televisions and radios, which involve high-frequency signals.

Among the different types of RF cables, RG cables are the most common and RG-6 is the one used in home video cable in which RF connector plays a crucial role in transmitting signals from router to antenna.

Based on the applications requiring high-frequency or low-frequency signal transmission, you can pick RF cables of the right size and form to ensure smooth transmission.

Coaxial cable connector assembly accessories

Coaxial cable connector assembly accessories

Drawbacks of RF cables:

RF cables only carry sound in the form of mono instead of stereo. Due to its inability to create stereo signals, it cannot be used in surround sound signal broadcasts. Even if you use a decoding receiver, you cannot use an RF cable for surround-sound audio.

RF cables are designed to prevent signal interference, but in reality, it is not achieved completely. Some low-quality RF cables may face signal interference from power sources or any magnetic sources.

As a result, you may face issues like ghost videos.

It’s easy to slide an RF cable into the socket and pull it out easily, making it right and secure. However, unlike standard RF connections, they are not convenient.

Do you need RF cables?

For ages, televisions have had RF antenna inputs, and thus, it is the standard to transmit video signals for your TV.

As the technology advanced, input options like DVI and HDMI came into the market; however, some TV sets still have RF antenna inputs.

As compared to HDMI and DVI, RF cables transmit low-quality video signals. Thus, if you use modern devices like console gaming systems, it is best to use an HDMI cable to enjoy better-quality graphics.

If you have a standard cable TV service, you may need a coaxial cable to connect the cable outlet of the set-top box to the TV.

RF cables can also transmit HDTV signals, but your TV must be capable of transmitting HDTV signals over RF cables.

Though RF cables are cheap, several other better options are available at affordable prices.

However, you still have to use RF cables because your VCR and TV sets do not have inputs for other cables. But for cables between TV aerial (rooftop and indoor) and TV equipment, you can use other cables also.

Thus, it is best to use RF cables to connect the aerial and the first device; after that, to connect a set-top box to your TV, you must look for better options like component video and composite cables.

Back view of cable TV box

Back view of cable TV box

RF cable assembly at Cloom:

RF cable assemblies refer to the unique combination of RF cables and RF connectors. 

At Cloom, you can find such RF cable assemblies. We use tools and techniques such as soldering, compression and crimping to fix the RF connectors to the cables. Also, our team ensures that the material and design of the RF cables are chosen to meet the specific frequency range requirements and to suit the intended use.

Some RF cable assembly options at Cloom include

RF cable options

Coaxial cables:

Comprising an outer conductor that works as a shield

Innermost layer is the main conductor, surrounded by a layer of dielectric.

Used up to 6GHz.

The different types include

RG-174- which is a flexible and thin cable that can transmit signals up to 3 GHz

Rg-58- with lesser signal loss of up to 1 Gigahertz

RG-8 and RG-213- which are thick cables meant for high power transmission.

Semi-rigid- made up of solid conductor, transmission up to 18 GHz

Twinaxial cables:

As the name clears, instead of one conductor, these cables have two inner conductors.

The conductors are twisted to ensure balanced characteristics.

These can be used for data transmission up to 10 Gbps.

Triaxial cables:

These are similar to coaxial cables but have one extra shielding.

The extra shielding protects against noise interference in the signals.

Waveguides:

These are hollow pipes made of metal for guiding RF waves. Suitable for use over 18 GHz, where one can witness maximum signal loss. With waveguides, you will experience a minimal signal loss, even up to 100 GHz.

Leaky feeder cables

These are also similar to coaxial cables but have periodic shots in their outer shield

These cables radiate signals along the cable length. You can use it with wireless systems for distributing signals in indoor applications.

RF connector options

Here, you can get a wide range of coaxial connectors, including SMA, N-type, DIN, SSMA, TNC, etc. The connector contacts are precisely designed using machines. You can ask for any variety that is compatible with your cable.

Different connectors for coaxial cables

RF cable feature options

To avoid interference:

  • Proper shielded cables must be used
  • Use crossover patterns to minimize coupling
  • Secure shield terminations
  • Proper grounding

To make a cable weatherproof:

  • Use RF cables with special jacket material 
  • Installed rip loops for shedding moisture
  • Seal all the connections to prevent ingress of moisture

RF cable testing:

At Cloom, we perform several RF cable tests to ensure that our customers get only the BEST cables to meet their requirements.

  • Effectiveness of shield
  • Delay in propagation
  • Verifying power handling
  • VSWR and signal reflections
  • Impedance
  • Signal loss measurement with VNA

Conclusion:

Out of this huge RF cable industry, you have to choose one with the right specifications to ensure proper signal transmission without any distortion.

It is obvious to get confused with so many options, and that’s exactly where the Cloom helps you. Come to us with your requirements, and we will not only guide you to the most suitable product but will also help you provide one at affordable prices.

Hi I am Christa, sales manager of Cloom.

I have extensive expertise and experience in wiring harnesses and I believe I can help you.

And we have a very professional technical team who can clearly understand the customer’s needs and give professional suggestions and solutions after receiving the drawings.

If you also have wiring harness needs, please send me the drawing so that we can give you our quote and start our business.

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