It’s a crucial question because the coaxial cable you choose can significantly impact your antenna system. Each type of coaxial cable serves a specific purpose. This article describes the most popular types of coaxial cables and which ones are best suited for VHF/UHF operation.
Signal loss is a common issue in all coaxial cables, dependent on three factors: cable construction, signal frequency, and feedline length. It is important to balance these variables to obtain a strong signal from your antenna system. For example, RG-58 cable is a common choice found at Radio Shack or CB shops. However, RG-58 has high loss in both VHF and UHF frequencies. It is only suitable for runs of less than 50 feet in frequencies above 100 MHz and distances up to 20 feet in frequencies above 400 MHz.
The lower loss cable RG-8U works well for VHF/UHF runs of 50-75 feet. It’s user-friendly and reasonably priced. Most ham-radio stores and online retailers.
If you plan to run your cable longer than 100 feet or are installing a 70cm UHF antenna, I recommend a shielded, low-loss cable such as Belden 9913 or LMR 400. These cables are designed with a thicker center conductor and an extra layer of shielding for maximum performance at high frequencies.
What about RG-59 and RG-6 cables? Coax cables of this type are widely available and primarily used for cable television installations. They are designed for 75-ohm TV systems but will lose more power when used with 50-ohm radio systems. Using RG-6, for example, will instantly consume 50% of your radio signal, effectively turning a 50-watt radio into a 25-watt radio before even considering feedline loss. It’s possible but not recommended.
This post was written by Justin Tidd, Director at Becker Mining Communications! For over 15 years, Becker Communications has been the industry’s leader in increasingly more sophisticated electrical mining communication systems. As they expanded into surface mining, railroads, and tunneling they added wireless communication systems, handheld radios, tagging, and tracking systems, as well as gas monitoring. Click here to learn more!