First let’s start with explaining what an RF cable is, before getting to what it is used for.
What is an RF Cable?
An RF cable is a classic type of coaxial cable which is used primarily for carrying audio-visual signals. The name is coined from an abbreviation of “radio frequencies”. This coaxial cable type involves a series of casings to protect the signal from interference.
The coaxial design in an RF cable is to prevent potential interference. In order to counteract this, the coaxial cable makes use of four circular layers. From the inside to the outside they are – the wire carrying the signal – an insulating material which is usually solid plastic – a metal shield – and a plastic casing that protects the materials inside.
But how does RF cables really work?
How do RF Cables Work?
RF cables are a popular choice. This is because their shielded design enables the center conductor to transmit data quickly while being protected from damage and interference.
Coaxial cables are mainly built up of these four different layers:
- A dielectric plastic insulator surrounds the copper wire.
- A center conductor which is usually a copper wire is where data and video travel.
- The external layer which is a plastic coating helps protects the internal layers from damage.
- Comes with a braided mesh made from copper which helps to shield the cable from electromagnetic interference (EMI).
RF cable works by carrying data in the center conductor. It does this while surrounding layers of shielding stop any signal loss (also known as attenuation loss) and help reduce EMI.
The first layer which is known as the dielectric offers distance between the core conductor and the outer layers and some insulation. The next layers which are collectively referred to as the shield, keep electrical impulses and radio transmissions out.
Advantages of RF Cable
- An RF cable offers good resistance to EMI
- Is quite durable
- Offers up to 10Mbps capacity
- It is inexpensive
- It is quite easy to wire and install
- RF cable is easy to expand
- Another benefit of the RF cable is the electromagnetic field. These carry the signal that exists only in the space between the inner and outer conductors. This implies that a coaxial cable can be installed next to metal objects without losing power. As opposed to other types of transmission lines.
Disadvantages of RF Cable
There are important drawbacks that come with the RF cable. They are:
- It can only carry sound between two devices in mono rather than stereo.
- It is unable to produce a stereo signal.
- While the design of the cable does block interference in theory, in practice that is often not achieved.
- Most RF cables will just slide into a socket and can be pulled out easily. Some versions on the other hand involve tightening a cap, rather like a screw. Now, these connections are more secure and less likely to work loose and lose picture quality. However, it is not as convenient as the standard RF connection.
The only real reason to use an RF cable is that there is no alternative. This is because the TV set or VCR does not have suitable inputs. Note however that this guideline does not apply to the lead between a TV aerial, be it a rooftop or indoor, and the TV equipment.