Exactly. As Pop said, it shouldn't work at all.
But it does.
We pissed around in the lab once with bits of cable and a VSWR and a
scope and a pulse generator as young graduates in our first job.
Plugs aren't as percfect as cable, and solder is very little different -
even if not 'done correctly'. - i.e. bringing the tails out side by
side, making the joint and insulating with tape.
Splitting is immediately noticeable tho.
Nearly all connections in the equipment were not done onto circuit board
with a coaxial connection: Normally you have a solder tag to the chassis
by the socket, and wire to that with a tail from a bit of coax. and the
barid then goes to a pin on teh ground plane. Hardly ideal, but in
practice very little different from 'ideal'.
The difference between a theoretical and a practical engineer is the
theoretician knows what makkes a difference, the practical knows how
much difference. And ignores if less than a dB.
Agreed. (The wording of the original post did suggest a 3-way "tap"
rather than a simple join, but I think that was an oopsie of phrasing).
A *neat* solder joint, as taught to radio hammer-chewers, is indeed more
likely to perform well at RF than introducing a plug-n-socket; although
a crappy soldered joint would be worse than competently-attached plug and
So, to repeat in Stefek-speak the "how to solder coax" instructions: the
goal is to create as neat and just-like-the-rest-of-the-cable join as possible,
definetely including using the same inner insulation ('dielectric' if you
like the fancy words) and resulting cable dimensions, not great gobs of
insulating tape, stupidly sharp turns, wierd lumps, odd transition
materials, or whatever. So you strip back both ends, carefully: strip
outer insulation for say 2 cm, slitting it neatly up to the stripping point
and not chucking it away. Push back the outer braiding into a nice bell
shape. Cut off the inner insulation/dielectric for say 1cm on both cables;
slit one of those slugs down its length. Now lay the inner 1cms side by
side, and holding in place using your third and fourth hands solder
quickly together (don't melt the insulation higher up) - practice this
step on scrap bits. If you don't have a third and fourth hand, you can
wrap the two inners firmly together with some thin wire before you solder.
Now put the slit slug of dielectric back over the soldered-together inners;
a single turn of thin insulating tape can help hold it in place, but don't
overdo it with lots of turns. Now it's time to join the outer braids together.
As others have written, if it's copper it's eminently solderable: tease
the end of the braid apart a bit, weave the two ends together to create
a nice not-noticeably-thicker interlacing of the two braids, spot-solder
(don't overdo the soldering - again, the idea is not to melt the inner
dielectric). If aliminium or copper foil, soldering won't work: smooth
into place, maybe add the bit of ali foil another poster suggested.
Cover with the previously slit slug, or a scrap bit of the outer
insulation, holding down with insulating tape or the previously-
mentioned heatshrink (which you didn't forget to slip on first ;-). For
a joint to be subjected to sun and rain, it's worth hunting down the
adhesive-lined heatshrink, which will make a much more waterproof joint.
If you think you're too cackhanded to do this neatly, then a plug-n-socket
might give better results. BUT how are you going to attach those? If
soldering, it's somewhat easier than a cable join, but still susceptible
to oopsies; if you get crimp-on fittings, you'd better know someone who
will lend you the 100-quid-plus proper crimping tool - you're unlikely to
get a quality joint with your second-best pair of slipjoint plumber's
pliers ;-) If you really want to louse up the RF properties of the coax,
separate out the inner and outer conductors for a good few inches, join
inner-to-inner, outer-to-outer in a bit of oversize (30 amp) choccie block,
wrap with gobs of self-amalgamating tape, bang a masonry nail through
it all to 'secure' it to the wall, and call yourself a registered $ky
Oh, I forgot one more crucial tip for the budding install monkey: wrap up
the joint in self-am tape, *but* make sure you leave the braid exposed futher
away from the joint itself, so rain can make its way up the cable by
capillary action ;-)
Thank you for your words of appreciation. Do have a practise in a more
comfortable place on some scraps of coax first - and be warned that
soldering with the wind blowing can be a pain in the bum, as you lose heat
quite a lot faster than indoors. Fine if you have a 40W temp-controlled
iron, as it'll simply keep up with the added loss; less fine if you are
waving that 15W little yellow Antex about ;-)
It's done. And it works. Radio 3 reception is wonderful.
But I made one stupid mistake which made me burst out laughing.
I joined the cable neatly - and tested it - and then started fixing it
to the wall - and found I hadn't taken the cable behind drain pipes
So maybe I'll do it again - but not today!
Did you actually pass your HNC because you seem to be talking cobblers
As a former BBC transmitter engineer with 25 years experience of RF
issues I offer the following advice.....
The aim of the exercise is not to introduce discontinuities of
impedance along the cable. You can get pretty close to this using the
method someone suggested earlier with exposing the inner, soldering
it, covering the joint with a slit piece of the insulator (same
dielectric constant you see), then covering the now insulated middle
bit with the two bits of braid that should be dangling etc etc.
It's a load of arsing about. Get two connectors and a back to back
socket and wrap in in self amalgamating tape.
Couple of points...its unlikely the terminations an either end of the
cable are very close to the characterisitc impedance of the cable
anyway cos TVs are built on the cheap and so are aerials. Secondly,
most TV wall sockets are appalling from a design point of view but
Finally, if your TV signal is weak enough that using connectors and a
piece of tape makes a difference then your picture is probable
borderline to shite anyway.
I certainly did. However, admittedly I went the digital electronics
route rather than the analogue :)
Which is exactly what I have been suggesting all along. The
suggestions relating to soldering etc weren't mine - are you sure you
aren't confusing me with someone else?
As I commented earlier, the acid test is to make the modification and
feed the signal into the back of the TV (or radio). If it works then
great, if it doesn't then maybe the signal was not helped with the
modifications to the aerial feed.
I have just done some measurements, and it hardly makes a gnat's cock of
Compare signal losses due to various types of join in coax cable.
Coax cable (unknown type, about 2-ft length, 50 Ohm, terminated in SMA
Network analyser (HP 8753E)
1. Measure insertion loss and return loss (or VSWR) of unbroken cable. Use these
results as reference.
2. Cut cable near the middle.
3. Re-connect the ends as crudely as possible (inner soldered, braid just
twisted) and re-measure IL and RL at 650MHz and 750MHz.
4. Re-connect ends as well as possible and re-measure.
Original return loss: >27dB (Very good)
Original insertion loss 0dB (relative, not absolute)
Crude join: IL = 0.3dB at 650MHz, 0.31dB at 750MHz.
Better join: IL = <0.1dB over 650 to 750MHz.
Note: Yes, this is high-quality 50-Ohm coax, not 75-Ohm TV stuff, but the
principal's the same.
Conclusion: Yes, there's a measurable difference, but it's damn small. As
someone else said, you'd have a very marginal reception to notice any
Ah yes, but think of the pride in workmanship ;-) But thanks for injecting
real data into the speculation. RF folklore doesn't travel all that well
from its original context; so for radio-hams and wannabes pushing 100W of
ERP up coax, and needing to be sure it's going only where it's supposed to, a
degree of paranoia about cable/joint integrity creeps in which isn't
necessarily relevant to broadcast signal reception in non-marginal areas.
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