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Common coaxial cable impedances and their main uses

Form :  Author:  Time:2008-11-6 9:07:41

Here is a quick overview of common coaxial cable impedances and their main uses:

50 ohms: 50 ohms coaxial cable is very widely used with radio transmitter applications. It is used here because it matches nicely to many common transmitter antenna types, can quite easily handle high transmitter power and is traditionally used in this type of applications (transmitters are generally matched to 50 ohms impedance). In addition to this 50 ohm coaxial cable can be found on coaxial Ethernet networks, electronics laboratory interconnection (foe example high frequency oscilloscope probe cables) and high frequency digital applications (fe example ECL and PECL logic matches nicely to 50 ohms cable). Commonly used 50 Ohm constructions include RG-8 and RG-58.
60 Ohms: Europe chose 60 ohms for radio applications around 1950s. It was used in both transmitting applications and antenna networks. The use of this cable has been pretty much phased out, and nowdays RF system in Europe use either 50 ohms or 75 ohms cable depending on the application.
75 ohms: The characteristic impedance 75 ohms is an international standard, based on optimizing the design of long distance coaxial cables. 75 ohms video cable is the coaxial cable type widely used in video, audio and telecommunications applications. Generally all baseband video applications that use coaxial cable (both analogue and digital) are matched for 75 ohm impedance cable. Also RF video signal systems like antenna signal distribution networks in houses and cable TV systems are built from 75 ohms coaxial cable (those applications use very low loss cable types). In audio world digital audio (S/PDIF and coaxial AES/EBU) uses 75 ohms coaxial cable, as well as radio receiver connections at home and in car. In addition to this some telecom applications (for example some E1 links) use 75 ohms coaxial cable. 75 Ohms is the telecommunications standard, because in a dielectric filled line, somewhere around 77 Ohms gives the lowest loss. For 75 Ohm use common cables are RG-6, RG-11 and RG-59.
93 Ohms: This is not much used nowadays. 93 ohms was once used for short runs such as the connection between computers and their monitors because of low capacitance per foot which would reduce the loading on circuits and allow longer cable runs. In addition thsi was used in some digital commication systems (IBM 3270 terminal networks) and some early LAN systems.
The characteristic impedance of a coaxial cable is determined by the relation of outer conductor diameter to inner conductor diameter and by the dielectric constant of the insulation. The impednage of the coaxial cable chanes soemwhat with the frequency. Impedance changes with frequency until resitance is a minor effect and until dielectric dielectric constant is table. Where it levels out is the "characteristic impedance". The freqnency where the impedance matches to the characteristic impedance varies somwehat between different cables, but this generally happens at frequency range of around 100 kHz (can vary).

Essential properties of coaxial cables are their characteristic impedance and its regularity, their attenuation as well as their behaviour concerning the electrical separation of cable and environment, i.e. their screening efficiency. In applications where the cable is used to supply voltage for active components in the cabling system, the DC resistance has significance. Also the cable velocity information is needed on some applications. The coaxial cable velocity of propagation is defined by the velocity of the dielectric. It is expressed in percents of speed of light. Here is some data of come common coaxial cable insulation materials and their velocities:

Polyethylene (PE)   66%
Teflon              70%
Foam                78..86%

Return loss is one number which shows cable performance meaning how well it matches the nominal impedance. Poor cable return loss can show cable manufacturing defects and installation defects (cable damaged on installation). With a good quality coaxial cable in good condition you generally get better than -30 dB return loss, and you should generally not got much worse than -20 dB. Return loss is same thing as VSWR term used in radio world, only expressed differently (15 dB return loss = 1.43:1 VSWR, 23 dB return loss = 1.15:1 VSWR etc.).

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