What is a coaxial cable?
Coaxial cables can be used to transmit high-frequency radio waves (RF) from one place to another without causing signal loss.
Coax cables are used for many things, including cable TV, phone lines, cell boosters, and internet. Coax cable comes in a variety of sizes and lengths, each designed for specialized uses.
Coaxial cables are made up of a single steel or copper wire, which transmits the RF signal. The wire is surrounded by dielectric insulation made of plastic, maintaining a constant distance from the central conductor to the next layer.
Wrapped around the insulator is a metal shield made from woven copper or aluminum, canceling out electromagnetic interference from the outside. Some coaxial cables have multiple shields for extra protection. The final layer of the configuration is a jacket. The cable’s installation location can be determined by its rating (more about this below).
For outdoor-rated cables, additional insulation is required to protect against moisture and sunlight.
How do coaxial cables work? The center wire transmits signals in coaxial cables, and a metal shield ensures the signal travels along the entire length of the cable. Both components simultaneously receive a current, creating a magnetic field. The shield prevents the signal from bleeding off, as it would without the shield.
The shielding metal also protects the signal against electromagnetic interference, allowing coax to be used near electronic equipment without causing problems.
Maintaining a constant distance between the core of the shield and the shield itself is crucial for optimal performance, achieved by the dielectric insulator. The insulator also prevents signals from contacting each other and canceling one another.
The outer jacket protects all components from damage and further insulates them.
Therefore, the RF signal can be transmitted over long distances with minimal interference and converted to images, audio, or WiFi, depending on the application.
What is the use and application of coaxial cables? Cable operators, phone companies, and internet providers use coaxial cables, which are essential for applications requiring radio frequency transmissions, such as:
- Cable TV: Coaxial cables transmit video and data from cable companies to your television. They also connect digital converter boxes or televisions to a personal aerial.
- Signal Boosters: Wilson Amplifiers, the leading providers of cell boosters, use coaxial cables to connect outdoor antennas, amplifiers, and blocking material. This technology boosts weak signals outside your cell phone, providing a stronger signal in your vehicle, home, or office.
- Cable Internet (Copper Based): Coax cable delivers internet service at home, with cable providers piping copper-based cables into your home. Routers or cable modems connect to an Ethernet or coax outlet to receive the signal. Devices can then connect via WiFi or wired connections for fast internet access.
- Ham Radio: Coaxial cables enhance signal strength for ham radios, facilitating communication via airwaves. Portable and independent of the internet or cell phones, ham radios can be installed anywhere.
- Basic RF Systems: Coax cables carry radio frequency signals for any RF system, where alternating voltage produces RF waves when passed through a conductor.
This post was written by Justin Tidd, Director at Becker Mining Communications! For over 15 years, Becker Communications has been the industry’s leader in underground radio communication systems and electrical mining communication systems. As they expanded into surface mining, railroads, and tunneling they added wireless communication systems, handheld radios, tagging, and tracking systems, as well as gas monitoring.