A coaxial cable also known as coax is a type of electrical wire that is used for the transmission of radio, TV, and internet signal. It is made up of a core central copper cable and insulators that protect it from electromagnetic interference (EMI) and other environmental factors.
Coax cable’s main advantages are it has high data transmission speed and is more resistant to EMI compared to twisted pair. However, they are bulky to work with and they are easy to tap hence susceptible to security breaches.
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Uses of coaxial cable
Coaxial cables have been used for a long time in different application areas where data need to be communicated. The main areas where the cable is mostly used include the following.
- Television aerial. When connecting your TV to a satellite connection or even a normal TV signal a coaxial cable is used to link the TV and the aerial receiver. Most TVs come with a coaxial port where the cable connector will fit.
- Radio transmitters and receivers. This was the very first application of coaxial cable where they were used to connect the radio to the transmitter and receivers of the signal. They are mostly used for radio transmission since they have low attenuation and loss of signal.
- Internet connection. Coaxial can support the transmission of all formats of data from text, video audio, and other multimedia. This makes them ideal for internet connection. Coaxal also has high transfer speed. They can be used in the BUS topology networks where they act as the main BUS cable.
- CCTV cameras: since they support video transmission these cables are used for CCTV connection. They can cover a long distance before signals are distorted and they support HD video images.
Parts of coaxial cable and their functions
The coax cable is made up of 4 main components that are used to ensure data is transferred with minimal loss and interference. The main parts include the following
- Central copper core: this is a solid or stranded copper wire that is used for data transmission. This is the part that carries the data.
- Dielectric insulator: after the copper wire we have the dielectric material that insulates the cable from interference and keeps a constant distance between the inner and outer conductor. The material separates the inner conductor from the outer conductor. It is mostly made of polyethylene or Teflon material.
- Braided metal shield. It is also known as an outer conductor. It is made up of many stranded wires that are braided together to create a coating over the dielectric material. It acts as a shield against external electromagnetic interference in or out of the cable.
- Outer jacket cover. It is made of PVC and is used to protect the other parts of the cable from environmental factors.
Advantages of coaxial cable
- More resistance to Electromagnetic interference (EMI). With the presence of both the dielectric and braided metal shield, the cable is more tolerant to interference compared to twisted pair cables.
- High data transmission speed. The cable can more data at high transfer speed for long distances without requiring a signal booster.
- Durable and resistant to environmental factors. The cable can withstand more harsh conditions than the twisted cable and still transmit data.
- The cable is simple to work with and configure.
- They are inexpensive when compared with fiber optic cables.
- Coaxial cables are versatile and can be used in a variety of applications from TVs, internet connections, and CCTV among other areas.
- They are more resistant to damage and harsh environment and hence preferred for outdoor connections.
- Bulky. When compared to twisted pairs or fiber optic cable they are bulkier due to the material used. This makes it hard to work with and move around.
- They are relatively expensive when compared with others like twisted pairs.
- Coaxial cables are easy to tap on hence security concerns.
- They still suffer from electromagnetic interference since they still move data as electrical signals.
- They have high attenuation when data is moved for a long distance.
- When the cable is under heavy use the speed fluctuations are very high.