What Does “Coax” Mean?
“Coax” is shorthand for coaxial cable.
What is Coax Cable?
Coax cables send and receive audio/video/data transmissions via electrical signals. They are most commonly used for television and Internet applications within the telecom/datacom industry.
What Does “RG” Stand For?
“RG” stands for Radio Guide, the most common type of coax cable. RG cables were originally developed for military use during WWII.
What Coax Cable is Used for TV?
Televisions typically use RG6 for short runs and RG11 for long runs. RG59 is sometimes used instead of RG6 when extra flexibility is needed. Likewise, RG8 can be used instead of RG11 for extra signal strength.
What Coax Cable is Used for Internet?
The same coax types used for TV cable can be used for the Internet.
Different types of cables have different functions and it is easy to view any cable as a single, working unit. But each cable is made of different layers, with each layer providing a different function. Learning how these pieces interact makes it easier to understand just how a cable works and what can be done to avoid damaging a cable.
Coax is one of the most common types of cable, having been in use for well over 100 years. While the technology has improved over time, the basic layout of coax cables is much the same today as it was at the time of its invention. Modern coax cables are most commonly used for television, radio, internet, and security camera connections.
The outermost layer of the cable is the jacket, designed to protect the more vulnerable inner components. Jackets are most commonly made from plastic and come in a few different varieties. Along with providing protection from outside elements, jackets also act as an outer insulator to contain any electrical or magnetic signals that leak past the other layers.
The next layer is the shield, which can be braided or foil. While the shield does help to keep the electrical cable of the signal in, it is more meant to keep other signals out. If a coax cable is near something else that puts out strong signals that can potentially cause interference, such as heavy power lines or a cell tower, the shield cuts down
Coax cables are capable of transmitting radio frequency (RF) signals and have served as the backbone of communications technology for decades. From radios to telephones to televisions to computers, coax cable has seen continued use even as the technology it supports continues to evolve. Stretching back over 100 years, the origins of coax cables begin towards the end of the 19th century.
Oliver Heaviside, the grandfather of modern coax cable
1880: The original coax cable was created by English inventor Oliver Heaviside. Heaviside studied telegraph lines and discovered wrapping the lines with insulation reduced signal loss and made cables more durable. With this discovery, he created and patented the world’s first coax cable.
1894: Nikola Tesla files the first American patent on electrical conductors, which later become a key component in the birth of the modern coax cable.
1916: Lloyd E
Coax cables are fairly simple to assemble, but there are a few different ways to go about doing so. Having a good coax signal is heavily dependant on installing a connector correctly. If you are unsure about how to install a coax connector, see our installation guide here.
Whether crimp, solder, compression, and twist-on is the best option will depend on the exact setting the cable will be used in. Consider questions such as:
- Is the cable low- or high-voltage?
- Will it be used for field-work or factory-work?
- How experienced are the individuals working with the cable?
- How long is the cable expected to last?
- What is the budget?
- Will the cable be in a hazardous environment (extreme temperatures, exposure to chemicals, vibrating machinery, etc.)?
The details below cover the different options with general, overall performance in mind. If other factors come into play, a type of connector not normally considered “the best” could be your best option.
Crimp connectors are the most popular option and the go-to for most professionals. Crimping has two large advantages over the other options: it is easy and it is fast. With good tools and enough know-how, a crimp connector can be attached in less than 30 seconds.
Crimping works by taking the metal sleeve of the connector and squeezing it tightly onto the cable, securing the connector into place. It sounds simple, but these connections are gas-tight and can hold up to any reasonable pull test when secured properly. The only special tool needed to install a crimp connector is a
Cable switches are used to connect multiple signal inputs (computers, DVD players, video game consoles, etc.) to a single output (televisions, computer monitors, etc.). Switches all work on the same general principle and most are purely mechanical. A switch only goes from multiple inputs to one output; if you need to go from one input to multiple outputs, you will need a splitter instead.
Switches are used when you have a screen, such as a TV or computer monitor, that does not have enough ports. For example, say you have a TV with one HDMI port but you want to connect a DVD player, a laptop, and a video game console. One option would be to constantly reach behind the TV and switch the cables, but that gets old fast. The simpler solution would be using a switch that connects all three devices to the TV and lets you change between them at the push of a button.
Most switches are mechanical and do not require a power cable to work. The inside of a switch works similar to switching the rails on train tracks. Say you have a 2-way switch, so the signal can come in from Input A or Input B. If the switch is set to Input A and you press the button to change it to Input B, parts inside the switch move from A to B to change the connection. This is why switches can only use one input at a time. If a switch was built to use multiple signals at once, the signals would interfere with each other and none of them would work.
Cable splitters are used to connect multiple TVs, computer monitors, or other devices to a single signal source. There are differences between the various types of splitters, but a few general rules apply to them all. Splitters only go from one input to multiple outputs; if you need to go from multiple inputs to one output, you need a switch instead.
When a signal goes through a splitter, it is divided and becomes weaker. Imagine an HDMI splitter as an example. Modern HDMI cables are capable of a 4k signal, which works fine if you are using a single HDMI cable by itself. However, say you use a 4-way HDMI splitter to run four cables to four TVs. Each signal would only have half the normal strength so none of the TVs will have 4k quality.
Because the signal is evenly divided, the signal will become weaker for bigger splitters. A 2-way splitter will have signals with ½ the normal strength, a 3-way splitter will have ⅓ the normal strength, etc. This is true even if you are not using every port on the splitter. When a cable splitter is powered on, the signal is split between every port on the unit even if not all of them are in use. For example, if you have a 3-way splitter and are only using two of the ports, each of those two lines will still only have ⅓ the normal signal strength.
Coax Cable Splitters
Coax cable splitters are used to connect multiple TVs to a single coax line. These splitters are made with F-type female ports, the same type of screw-on connection seen on the backs of most TVs.
Coax splitters can be rated for different Radio Frequency (RF) ratings, measured in MegaHertz (MHz). The MHz range on the splitter determines whether it can be used for antenna, satellite, or both
Coax is one of the oldest types of cables and has withstood the test of time, still being used over 100 years after its invention. While many stores today have pre-made coax cables available, sometimes another option is needed. Users may need a cable in an unusual size or just need to replace a broken connector. This guide will show users how to put coax connectors onto the end of bare coax cable.
The installation process can vary a little depending on whether a crimp, solder, compression, or twist-on connector is used. In this guide, the first few steps will apply to all coax installations and then branch off into specific steps taken for the different coax connectors.
Example video guides detailing the below steps can be found at the bottom of the article.
Step 1: Gathering the Supplies
There are a few simple supplies that will be needed for an installation or repair. The key components are the bare coax cable and the coax connectors. Coax connectors come in different types, but the front end of the cable will always be the same size for each type. For example, an F-type male will always connect to an F-type female. There are not different versions of the two.
The back of the coax connector
Along with the many types of coax cables there are to pick from, there is also an assortment of different coax connectors. When selecting a connector, you need to make sure you select one rated for the cable you are assembling. The back end of the connector that attaches to the coax cable needs to be the right size for installation. If the connector is too small, it will not fit. If it is too big, the connector will not secure properly and can be pulled off or even just fall off.
The type of connector you need will be determined by the equipment used with the coax cable. A television coax connection, for example, uses an F-type connector as the industry standard. Not every connector can be used with every type of coax cable, but all types of coax cables do support multiple types of connectors.
Every connector comes in two versions, male and female. A male connector will have a pin in the center while a female connector has a hole. If you are using an RP (Reverse Polarity) connector, this is switched. Male RP will have the hole while female RP has the pin. The term “reverse polarity” refers to the fact that the hole and pin are switched. They do not change the polarity of the signal going through the cable.
RP connectors were originally implemented by the FCC to try to stop members of the public from using antennas and other equipment to boost their Wi-Fi signals, in violation of federal law. This worked for a few years but now RP connectors are just as available on the open market as their conventional counterparts.
Coax (coaxial) cable is one of the oldest types of cables, having been in use for over 100 years. Like ethernet, coax cables come in both solid and stranded versions, although they are usually solid. Only a few types of coax, namely RG58 and RG8, are available as stranded.
Most coax cables fall into one of two categories, RG (Radio Guide) and LMR. No one is 100% sure what LMR actually stands for. It could stand for a term, someone’s name, or just be random letters. There are many rumors and theories for what LMR may mean but nobody really knows for sure.
RG cables are labeled “RG#” with the number formerly standing for the diameter of the cable. For example, RG59 cable originally had a diameter of .059”. While these measurements have changed over the years, the names of the cables have stuck. There are many types of RG cables and this article will only review the most common variants. Typically, RG cables have a 50 or 75 ohm impedance. Some off-shoot cables have different impedance, but all the standard RG cables covered here will be one of those two.
LMR cable is owned by the company Times Microwave. While the cables and name LMR are their property, other companies will frequently make equivalent cable, such as ShowMeCables EMR cables. These cables are labeled “LMR-#”, with the number being a rough estimate of the cable thickness. For example, LMR-400 has a 0.405” OD (outer diameter). LMR, like RG, has a few main types that this article will cover but off-shoot versions are also available.