Table of Contents
Cables advantages
Attenuation and dB loss per cable type
RF Frequencies & wireless sytems
Connectors needed for each application
Product table: compatible connector, for each cable type

Introduction to antenna coaxial cabling

A coax cable consists of two conductors separated by a dielectric material. The center conductor carries the signal. The outer conductor acts as an electrical shield. The two conductors are insulated from each other by the dielectric. The dielectric can be solid or foam. On the outside layer, the cable is protected by a jacket.

The center conductor is either solid or stranded. Solid conductors are used in permanent, infrequently handled, or low flex applications; stranded conductors are used in flexible cable applications.

The outer conductor is typically made from a number of smaller aluminum or copper conductors combined together. These conductors are woven together to form a braid around the dielectric core. For higher frequency applications, a second braid or aluminum foil are added to improve attenuation and shield effectiveness.

The longer a cable, the more the signal is lost. The loss is called attenuation, which can be measured in dB per 100 ft. Part of the loss depends on the coax's shield and dielectric. The shield is the outer wire braid that surrounds the inside of the cable. A thick, tight braid will result in less loss. The dielectric (the plastic type material that separates the inside wire from the outside braid) also has an effect on cable loss. Foam dielectric has low loss, solid dielectric has relatively greater loss.

Impedance refers to the cable's opposition to current flow. Radio and wireless computer networking use 50 ohm cable. Video and broadcast applications use 75 ohm cable. RCA, BNC, and TV RF cables are 75 ohm.

Various cable types can be used for connecting the device (or the device circuit board) to the antenna.

Cable types and applications
Cable Advantage Uses
  • .81mm
  • .98mm
  • 1.13mm
  • 1.32mm
  • 1.37mm
  • 1.48mm
  • These thin cables allow for flexibliity and less bulk. They are suitable for tight spaces, such as inside cell phones and GPS devices.
    Wireless networking, GPS, bluetooth, cellular
    RG-174 A thin cable that allows flexibliity and less bulk. Good for tight spaces.
    Low-power and portable radio.
    Cellular, GSM
    RG-178 A thin cable that allows flexibliity and less bulk. Good for tight spaces.
    Low-power and portable radio.
    Cellular, GSM
    RG-179 Thin cable allows flexibliity and less bulk. Suitable for video up to 500 ft.
    75 ohm: Video
    75 ohm: Audio
    Television broadcast
    Digital audio RF
    RG-316 Compact size, designed for short runs. Radio.
    Cellular, GSM
    RG-400 Better insulation, flexibility, low loss Avionics, aircraft radio
    LMR-400 Flexible, Very low loss
    Superior performance especially at higher frequencies

    Applications and their connector types
    Application Typical Connector
    Cell phones SMA
    Network - indoors SMA-RP
    Network - outdoors TNC
    Bluetooth MMCX, N, RP-SMA, RP-TNC
    ATSC (North America) F, MCX
    DVB-T (Europe, Asia) F, MCX, PAL

    The longer the cable length, the greater the signal loss. Each cable will loose different amounts of signal at each transmission frequency. This table shows sample values for signal loss across the broadcast frequencies.

    Cable types and dB loss at each frequency
    Cable type 50MHz signal
    120MHz signal
    450MHz signal
    900MHz signal
    1500MHz signal
    1800MHz signal
    2000MHz signal
    2400MHz signal
    RG-58 3.3 5.2 11.4 20.1
    RG-6 1.4 2.2 4.5 6.0
    RG-8 2.5 3.8 8.1 12.6
    RG-11 1.0 1.8 3.7 5.4
    RG-174 6.6 10.5 20.1 27.2 34.7 38.4 39.46 45.7
    RG-178 10.5 15 31.1 42.3 61.9 80
    RG-179 8.5 10.2 16.8 22.3 38
    RG-213 1.6 2.4 5.0 7.7
    RG-316 9.6 13.5 18.1 27 36.7 40 44.8 51
    RG-400 2.1 3.6 7.4 13.4 20.7 22.7
    LMR-400 0.9 1.3 2.7 3.9 5.1 5.7 5.98 6.5
    HPF-195 2.5 4.1 7.6 11.7 14.9 17.1 18.41

    Frequencies used by the major wireless systems are listed below.

    Types of Wireless Communication and Antennas
    Wireless System Frequnecy Range Application Impedance Typical Connector
    VHF (radio) 30-300 MHz Radio 50 ohm varies
    VHF (tv) 55.25-215.75 MHz TV channels 75 ohm F-type
    UHF (radio) 300-2450 MHz Radio 50 ohm varies
    UHF (tv) or ATSC 470-863 MHz TV channels 75 ohm F-type
    DVB-H 470-870 MHz Digital video broadcasting for handhelds 75 ohm PAL/F-type
    CDMA-800 824-894 MHz Cell phone 50 ohm SMA/SMB/MCX/MMCX
    GSM/GPRS-900 880-960 MHz Cell phone 50 ohm SMA/SMB/MCX/MMCX
    GPS 1573-1577 MHz GPS devices 50 ohm SMA/SMB/MCX/MMCX
    GSM/GPRS-1800 1710-1880 MHz Cell phone 50 ohm SMA/SMB/MCX/MMCX
    GSM/GPRS-1900 1850-1990 MHz Cell phone 50 ohm SMA/SMB/MCX/MMCX
    CDMA-1900 1850-1990 MHz Cell phone 50 ohm SMA/SMB/MCX/MMCX
    PHS-1900 1880-1930 MHz Cell phone 50 ohm SMA/SMB/MCX/MMCX
    W-CDMA (3G) 1920-2170 MHz Cell phone 50 ohm SMA/SMB/MCX/MMCX
    Bluetooth 2400-2500 MHz Cell phone
    Computer peripherals
    50 ohm SMA/SMB/MCX/MMCX
    WLAN-IEEE 802.11 b/g 2400-2500 MHz Wi-fi 50 ohm SMA/SMB/MCX/MMCX
    WLAN-IEEE 802.11a 4900-5900 MHz Wi-fi 50 ohm SMA/SMB/MCX/MMCX

    PI Manufacturing carries N, TNC, SMA, BNC, MCX, MMCX, FME, and mini-UHF connectors of all types. These connectors can be used with RG58, RG142, RG174, RG178, RG213, RG316, RG400, HPF195, LMR200, LMR400, 1.13, and 1.37 cables. Feel free to use our cable finder, which allows you to search for cable parts based on the connectors used.