Coaxial Cables

Coaxial cable is an electrical cable consisting of a round conducting wire, surrounded by an insulating spacer, surrounded by a cylindrical conducting sheath, usually surrounded by a final insulating layer. It is used as a high-frequency transmission line to carry a high-frequency or broadband signal. Because the electromagnetic field carrying the signal exists (ideally) only in the space between the inner and outer conductors, it cannot interfere with or suffer interference from external electromagnetic fields.


Coaxial cables may be rigid or flexible. Rigid types have a solid sheath, while flexible types have a braided sheath, both usually of thin copper wire. The inner insulator, also called the dielectric, has a significant effect on the cable's properties, such as its characteristic impedance and its attenuation. The dielectric may be solid or perforated with air spaces. Connections to the ends of coaxial cables are usually made with RF connectors

Important parameters

The characteristic impedance in ohms (Ω) is calculated from the ratio of the inner and outer diameters and the dielectric constant. Assuming the dielectric properties of the material inside the cable do not vary appreciably over the operating range of the cable, this impedance is frequency independent.
Capacitance, in farads per metre.
Resistance, in ohms per metre.
Attenuation or loss, in decibels per metre. This is dependent on the loss in the dielectric material filling the cable, and resistive losses in the center conductor and shield. These losses are frequency dependent, the losses becoming higher as the frequency increases. In designing a system, engineers must consider not only the loss in the actual cable itself, but also the insertion loss in the connectors.
Outside diameter, which dictates which connectors must be used to terminate the cable.
Velocity of propagation, which depends on the type of dielectric.
Cutoff frequency


Most coaxial cables have a characteristic impedance of either 50, 52, 75, or 93 Ω. The RF industry uses standard type-names for coaxial cables. Thanks to television, RG-6 is the majority of coaxial cable, and the majority of connections are by F connectors. A series of standard types of coaxial cable were specified for military uses, in the form "RG-#" or "RG-#/U" (RG from Radio Guide or Radio Grade, /U indicates multiple uses). They go back to World War II and were listed in MIL-HDBK-216 published in 1962. These designations are now obsolete. The current military standard is MIL-SPEC MIL-C-17. MIL-C-17 numbers, such as "M17/75-RG214," are given for military cables and manufacturer's catalog numbers for civilian applications. However, the RG-series designations were so common for generations that they are still used, although critical users should be aware that since the handbook is withdrawn there is no standard to guarantee the electrical and physical characteristics of a cable described as "RG-# type". The RG designators are mostly used to identify compatible connectors that fit the inner conductor, dielectric, and jacket dimensions of the old RG-series cables.

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