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Coaxial Cable Glossary

Coaxial cables consist of two cylindrical copper conductors, one surrounding the other; separated by a plastic dielectric spacer, these conductors share a common axis. Also known as coax cables, these cables are frequently used for audio and visual signal transmission, including frequent use with radio, Internet, and cable television.

Below are some of the most common terms you will find when researching coaxial cables and their applications.

Glossary Terms

  • Coaxial-CableAir Spaced PE – A coaxial cable that uses air injected into plastic– as the dielectric spacer between conductors. This is also known as a foam dielectric.
  • Bend Radius –The radius of curvature that determines how tightly a coax cable can bend without damaging its electrical performance.
  • Braid – A group of small wire strands interwoven to form a cylinder surrounding the dielectric.
  • Braid Coverage – The amount that the braided filaments shield the inner dielectric. Tighter mesh materials offer a higher percentage of coverage.
  • Cable Attenuation – Loss or reduction in signal strength, expressed in decibels (dBs). Attenuation is a naturally occurring effect when transmitting signals over distance.
  • Capacitance – The ability of a conductor to store an electrical charge. This is measured based on the ratio between a conductor’s electrostatic charge and the difference between conductors required to maintain the charge.
  • Center Conductor – The wire in the middle of the coaxial cable, the diameter of which is based on the American Wire Gauge (AWG), a standardized gauge system.
  • Coaxial Adapter – A connector used to join connectors of unlike type or the same gender.
  • Coaxial Cable – A cable with two conductors on a shared axis, separated by a dielectric.
  • Coaxial Connector – A connector with coaxial construction, used with a coax cable.
  • Dielectric – The insulating or non-conducting material between outer and inner conductors in a coaxial cable.
  • Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) – Electrical circuit disturbance caused by external electromagnetic induction. Also known as radio-frequency interference (RFI).
  • Frequency – The measurement of how often a wave completes one cycle in one second, expressed in Hertz (Hz).
  • Insertion Loss – Signal power loss resulting from the insertion of a component, such as a cable, connector or adapter.
  • Jacket – An insulating layer of plastic or rubber covering a cable or bundle of wires.
  • Microwave Frequencies – 300 MHz to 300 GHz.
  • MIL-C -17 – A specification for military radio frequency cables.
  • Ohms – The unit used to measure and describe electrical resistance.
  • PE – Abbreviation for Polyethylene, a thermoplastic insulator with electrical properties.
  • PTFE – Abbreviation for Polytetrafluoroethylene, also known as Teflon®. PTFE is a fluoropolymer insulation or jacketing material.
  • RF (Radio Frequency) – The band of frequencies suitable for telecommunications, satellite and radar.
  • RG/U – The military designation for general utility-grade coaxial cable for use in military applications.
  • Shielding – A metallic layer surrounding the conductors to prevent electromagnetic interference within the cable and to devices outside the cable.
  • Twinaxial – A shielded coaxial cable comprised of two central conductors. Often used for short-range, high-speed signaling, twinaxial is also known as a twinax.
  • Velocity of Propagation (VP) – The length of time is takes for an electrical signal to travel down a cable versus traveling in air, measured in a percentage.
  • VSWR (Voltage Standing Wave Ratio) – The ratio of transmitted voltage to reflected voltage on a mismatched radio frequency transmission line.

Consolidated Electronic Wire & Cable offers an extensive line of standard coaxial cables for a wide range of industries, as well as custom services to develop solutions for unique applications. For more information about our standard coaxial cable solutions, please visit our product catalog.