While looking at the antenna solutions, people often look at the physical size, dBi rating, antenna type, and build quality but ignore the tv antenna cable types they will use.
You must know that you will face performance issues if you use the wrong or low-quality cable with your antenna.
In the following blog post, let’s check out different TV antenna cable types and their use in various applications.
What is a TV coaxial cable?
Antenna-in port, RN-in port, cable-in port or coaxial cable connection offer audio and video input from the over-the-air antenna.
These are the same input ports that you must have noticed in the old TVs used for several devices.
Although the ports are no longer in use as HDMI has largely replaced them, they are a good option when you are looking for free OTA channels.
You can connect an antenna to a receiver through a coaxial cable, ensuring long-distance signal transmission and minimizing signal loss.
However, almost all antenna cables undergo signal loss depending on the cable type and length.
The basic rule says that a small length cable has less signal loss, and longer ones have a high signal loss.
Further, the impedance of the cable also plays a vital role in signal loss.
Ideally, the impedance (the resistance of a cable that carries an AC signal, like an RF signal, through a cell phone tower) should be less than 50 ohms for all cellular devices.
If you use a 75-ohm cable typical for satellite antennas and television, the mismatch in the impedance reduces the performance to a great degree.
What types of TV coaxial cable should you use?
You must always pick a suitable cable to handle the length and the impedance without introducing too much signal loss.
The following table will show the required cable type and signal loss specifications.
Note that if you target higher frequencies like 1800, 2100, 2300, and 2600 MHz, you must use a high gain antenna or LMR 400 cable type.
RG coax cable types
|Cable type||Signal loss||Diameter (mm)||Maximum recommended length||Resistance||Applications|
|RG 174||23.6dB/100ft at 750MHz;75dB/100ft at 2.4GHz;1db/1m at 900MHz||2.5||3m||50 ohms||You can find these cables on interior antennas and magnetic roof antennas|
|RG 58||0.46dB/m at 850 Mhz;0.76dB/m at 2100MHz;0.55db/m at 900MHz||5||10m||50 ohms||Found on marine antennas and truckers; for extensions of 20’ or less|
|RG 316||0.79dB/m at 850MHz;1.27dB/m at 2100MHz;1.25db/m at 900MHz||2.5||2m||50 ohms||This miniature coax cable has an FEP jacket. It can operate at a maximum temperature of 200 degrees Celsius. In the diameter range of 2.5mm, this cable is a better option than RG174 as it offers superior shielding and low signal loss due to its copper braid and CCS inner conductor (silver coated).|
LMR coax cable types
|Cable type||Signal loss||Diameter (mm)||Maximum recommended length||Resistance||Applications|
|LMR 195||0.36dB/m at 850MHz;0.53dB/m at 1800MHz;0.36db/m at 900MHz||5||16m||50 ohms||A weatherproof cable with high performance. You can use it as an alternative to RG58 cable in the 5mm diameter range. It also provides high electrical shielding along with reduced signal loss.|
|LMR 240||6.9dB/100ft at 750MHz;12.9dB/100ft at 2.4 GHz;0.32db/m at 900MHz||5||18m||50 ohms||Most suitable for extension runs up an antenna mast or inside an RV.|
|LMR 400||0.12dB/m at 850MHz;0.20dB/m at 2100MHz||10||100m||50 ohms||Suitable for small buildings. You can also find it in RV applications for tall masts or long cable lengths but in rare cases.|
Antenna cable assemblies
Connector types for tv antenna cables
Poor selection, application, or connection of the antenna connector can lead to reduced performance of the entire radio frequency system.
Do choose one of them wisely.
You can use this semi-precision and miniature threaded connector to terminate antennas of varying frequencies.
Here, SMA stands for sub-miniature Type A, as it was developed as a novel connector for military applications in the later 1960s.
These connectors have male and female versions manufactured with high accuracy.
You can use either male or female SMA, where the male part screws down into the female and can be tightened with a hex nut; this connection between the SMA connector and the cable results in a durable and stationary connection.
The physical characteristics of SMA connectors are specified in MIlitary standard MIL-STD-348 and available in modern generic versions.
There is a barrel of ¼ inch in diameter containing 36 threads/inch.
An SMA connector has two complementary parts:
- Male: the male part comprises a 5/16-inch hexagonal nut that tightens the inner threads. The mating interface comprises a connector pin.
- Female: the female part has external threads, and the mating interface is a receptacle for the male connector pin.
The coupling nut and SMA connector’s body comprise brass or stainless steel, while the inner contacts are made from copper or brass.
A PTFE or Teflon layer surrounds the internal contacts.
Silicone rubber in some SMA connectors is an additional waterproofing feature.
The connector is rated for 500 mating cycles if properly connected.
- Frequency range: An SMA connector can support a broadband range performance with low reflection. The frequency ranges from DC to up to 18 Gigahertz, depending on the connector fabrication.
- Impedance: 50 ohms
- Voltage rating: Though the voltage bearing capacity depends on the antenna and the cable, an SMA connector can tolerate a peak voltage of up to 500 volts.
- Voltage standing wave ratio or VSWR: It is around 1.15-0.1f. Here f stands for the frequency on which the connector is being used.
- Radiofrequency leakage: -90dB/minute between 2 and 3 Gigahertz frequencies.
Most wireless devices and GPS systems primarily use SMA connectors for some decades.
You can use them with flexible or semi-rigid coaxial antenna cables.
There are PCB mountable jacks to mount the SMA antennas to their circuit boards.
Most cellular antennas used in cellular networking use SMA connectors due to their consistent performance at high frequencies, small size, and robust nature.
On torquing with a wrench, the connection becomes weatherproof and is suitable for several outdoor conditions.
Due to the growing wireless networking, SMA connectors are also common in Wi-Fi antennas.
The -Reverse Polarity-SMA connector is a form of the normal SMA connector.
It is similar to the standard version in its physical, electrical, and mechanical performance.
However, the only difference lies in the inner mating interfaces, reversed in RP-SMA.
It means the internal male pin found in the standard male SMA connector is located in the female RP-SMA connector, and the female counterpart is found in the male RP-SMA connector.
As the gender polarity changes in the RP-SMA connector, it is named the Reverse polarity-SMA connector.
In the 1990s, as consumer wireless devices grew, the US Federal Communications Commission developed this connector to prevent illegally connecting consumer devices to high-gain antennas.
The connector may look like an SMA connector with reverse polarity but cannot form an electrical connection with an SMA connector.
As a result, it became easy to classify professional grade and consumer products.
Like an SMA connector, it is also a threaded connector that connects through screw coupling.
Like a standard SMA connector, it has 36 threads/inch, which tightens through a hex nut.
The same materials and fabrication procedures are used in manufacturing as in standard SMA connectors.
It has two complementary parts:
- MALE RP-SMA has internal threads and a hex nut but a female mating interface, as described above.
- Female RP-SMA has a barrel with external threads and a male central pin.
- Frequencies: can support frequencies up to 18 Gigahertz, mostly in wireless applications.
- Impedance: 50 ohms
- The electrical performance of the RP-SMA connector is the same as that of a standard SMA connector.
Reverse polarity-SMA connectors are standard in Wi-Fi antennas and their related hardware, and you can commonly find them in consumer wireless networking devices.
An electrical engineer, Paul Neill, developed this N-type connector in 1940.
It is a sizable hard-wearing connector effective in microwave radio frequency transmission in different external conditions.
Contemporarily, it is termed type-N and is interchangeable with the original one.
This threaded connector’s performance and design are consistent in antennas and RF circuits working at 50 and 75 ohms.
This connector’s capability to accommodate different coax cable diameters is useful.
You can find the specifications of the Type N connector in Military Standard 348.
The connector has an inner pin/socket working as a central conductor, and the outer conductors separate the inner conductors through an air gap.
The conductors are made of gold/silver plating.
Some connectors also have rubber gaskets for extra waterproofing.
Its two complementary components are:
- Male: the N-male has a central pin with internal threads.
- Female: the N-female has an inner socket with external threads, and the male pin inserts into the female socket to set up an electrical connection.
The hand tightening works for the barrel of the N-male type; however, some may have hex nuts too.
The connector is rated for 500 mating cycles when properly mated through its ⅝-24 threaded coupling.
Do not mismatch the 50 and 75-ohm variants, as it may damage the connector.
- Frequency range: these connectors can work at a frequency range from DC to 11 Gigahertz.
- Impedance: two variants available, 50 ohms and 75 ohms, with slight differences.
- Voltage rating: maximum voltage bearing capacity is 1500 volts
- Voltage standing wave ratio or VSWR: 1.3
- Radiofrequency leakage: -90dB/minute
Antennas used in different settings like satellite systems or base stations use Type-N connectors.
Additionally, they are also common in industries in testing and measurement applications.
Antenna connections that demand ruggedness, capacity to bear vibrations, and repeated connection and disconnection use these connectors.
Recently, the connector is also finding its use in wireless networking applications as some variants of Type N can also support corresponding frequencies of up to 18 Gigahertz.
MMCX stands for micro-miniature coax connectors.
These are snap-on connectors that allow 360-degree rotation and the antenna connection.
These are a smaller version (35% smaller) of the MCX connectors and were developed in the 1990s.
These robust connectors follow CECC22220 specifications.
Despite being so small, these connectors have maximum rating cycles of up to 500.
These connectors are specifically designed to embed in PCBs, and thus the force is calibrated carefully so that the connector embeds into the boards without damaging soldering and other connections.
The inner contacts are made from bars or copper, and the body is brass.
A PTFE dielectric layer surrounds the internal mating interfaces; male center pin and female socket.
- Frequency range: these connectors support a maximum range from DC to 6 Gigahertz, thus suitable for broadband applications.
- Impedance: 50 ohms
- Voltage rating: up to a maximum of 170 volts
- Voltage Standing Wave Ratio or VSWR: 1.25
- Radiofrequency leakage: -60dB/minute
The small size and easy mating procedure make these connectors suitable for wireless communications across many devices, such as PCS, Wi-Fi, GPS etc.
Due to their small size, they are also ideal for size and weight-restricted applications.
Further, their capacity to fit in dense circuit boards and robust nature make them fit for internal antenna use.
TNC or threaded Neill Concelman is similar to the BNC connector but with threads.
Due to their threaded nature, these medium-sized connectors ensure secure coupling, making them suitable for microwave frequencies.
The fabrication of the TNC connector follows MIL-C-39012 specifications. Its diameter is around ½ an inch.
The body is made from brass, and the inner female receptacle is made from beryl copper, while the male center pin with brass.
The insulator around the mating interfaces is PTFE.
The male version has 7/16-28 threads internally, while females have the same number of threads but on external surfaces.
These connectors form a robust connection after proper mating and tightening with the hex nut.
A silicone rubber gasket may be present for extra waterproofing.
They are designed for a maximum of 500 mating cycles.
- Frequency range: supports a maximum frequency range of up to 11 gigahertz.
- Impedance: two variants available for 50 ohms and 75 ohms; however, they are mostly 50 ohms.
- Voltage rating: maximum of 500 volts
- Voltage Standing wave ratio or VSWR: 1.35
- Radiofrequency leakage: -55dB to -65dB/minute (variable with impedance)
Due to the secure mating feature, they are perfect for wireless networking communications and instrumentation.
You can also use them to terminate various coaxial cable types.
The RP-TNC is a variant of the TNC connector with the same functionality but with reverse gender polarity.
Due to reverse polarity, an RP-TNC connector looks similar to a TNC connector but cannot form an electrical connection.
Thus, it is also necessary that while using TNC and RP-TNC connectors, you must examine them carefully for correct pairing.
RP-TNC is also a 7/16-28 threaded mating connector with PTFE surrounding the central conductors.
The male RP-TNC has internal threads with a female receptacle instead of a male central pin, while the female RP-TNC has externalized threads with a male center pin instead of a female receptacle.
The mating is through screw coupling with a maximum rating of 500 cycles.
RP-TNC connectors also have the same electrical performance as TNC connectors.
The RP-TNC connectors are suitable for consumer wireless devices and systems, and the reverse polarity prevents the illegal connection of professional-grade equipment to consumer devices.
They are commonly used in cellular networking, base stations, Wi-Fi testing, radar, and testing & measurement.
U. FL connector:
U. FL is a miniature RF conductor in PCI cards and internal antennas.
Its low profile and small mounting surface make it suitable for applications with small spaces.
During connection, it gives a click sensation.
It is also capable of supporting microwave frequencies.
These connectors have a phosphor bronze shell with liquid polymer as an insulator.
The central conductor is bronze or brass.
The male version often works as a PCB-mounted jack with a central pin, while the female version presses onto the male pin and has a central receptacle.
These connectors only have 30 mating cycles, so they are unsuitable for frequent connection-disconnection.
- Frequency range: can support a maximum frequency range from DC to 6 Gigahertz.
- Impedance: 50 ohms
- Voltage rating: max 200 volts
- Voltage Standing Wave Ratio or VSWR: 1.35
These are used on printed circuit boards for providing wireless connections to a wide range of devices.
The female version of U. FL is mainly attached to the coaxial pigtail and used as an antenna adapter to connect the antenna to any large connector like SMA or RP-SMA.
FME refers to “for mobile equipment” and is a thread RF connector used in mobility applications.
It can attach to any small-diameter coaxial cable requiring complex routing.
The threaded connector comprises a brass body with gold/nickel plating.
The central conductor is also made from gold-plated brass and is surrounded by Teflon as a dielectric insulator.
The length of the connector is 33.91mm, and the diameter is 8.99mm.
It is designed for 300 mating cycles maximum and mates through a screw coupling mechanism.
Frequency range: supports a frequency range from DC to 3 Gigahertz.
Impedance: 50 ohms
Voltage rating: 500 volts
Voltage Standing Wave Ratio or VSWR: 1.3
As the name also clears, the connector found its use mainly in mobile data and cellular applications.
You can use these FME antennas in mobile broadband applications and vehicles, and you can use an FME jack for antenna termination.
Due to the screw coupling connection, it can withstand force and vibrations in moving vehicles.
There are so many varieties of cables and connectors that it may be confusing for you to pick the correct product.
However, if you understand what you have and what connection you need, you can choose the right things.
You can also get custom-designed cables from us.
At Cloom, we offer customized cable assemblies for various applications.