How to Check the Antenna Cable Connection in 3 Steps

18 Sep 2023

When the TV signal is excellent, it’s heavenly, offering nice pictures and flawless live content. The experience is the complete opposite if the antenna cable has an issue that is degrading or weakening the signal. You can’t rest until you find the exact source of this problem. Every part of the antenna now looks like a possible cause of the failure.


Many times we must look beyond the antenna itself and check the condition of the cable. If you are trying to figure out how to check the antenna cable connection, rest easy. There are simple steps to check and diagnose the issue. Indeed, you can sort out the problem in three easy steps, which we discuss here.


What is an antenna cable?


Before we explain how to check the antenna cable connection, it is important to know the design and role of the aerial coaxial cable. The coaxial cable is part of the antenna. It is the medium that links the television to the antenna.


The typical coaxial cable by Televes comprises these layers: inner copper conductor, insulating dielectric, outer conductor, anti-migratory sheet, and external insulation.


The inner copper conductor and the outer mesh conductor share a common axis, hence the name coaxial. While some cables have only one conductor for the inner core, others will feature several strands.


The insulating dielectric separates the inner copper conductor and the outer mesh conductor. This insulation is essential for minimizing energy loss and preventing cable damage. Coaxial cables emit electromagnetic radiation and heat energy, so the insulation prevents the likely damage from these emissions. The waves in the antenna cable could also cause substantial interference. With this dielectric insulation, leakage of signals to and from the cable is kept in check.


Three common materials are used for antenna cable insulation: PVC, LSFH and PE. Polyethylene (PE) is popular for RF and data transmission in outdoor projects for its excellent sun (UV radiation) and water resistance. The insulation is available in different densities to suit a wide variety of applications.


Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Low-Smoke Free-Halogen (LSFH) insulation for coaxial cables have characteristics that suit indoor applications, including high-rise buildings. For instance, they have superb mechanical properties.


As for the outer conductor, the copper mesh design ensures flexibility, which would not be possible if this conductor was solid like the inner one. Also worth noting is the essence of grounding for this part. If this mesh is poorly grounded or not grounded at all, it acts like a live antenna and picks unwanted signals. Essentially, the mesh doesn’t work effectively in that case.


Televes antenna cables also feature the anti-migratory film, which prevents the migration of additives from the cover and moisture into the cable. This helps keep the superior characteristics of the cable intact.


Like any other component, the antenna cable can still malfunction, a reason why it is important to know how to check the antenna cable connection. Below are three steps for this process.


Step 1: Check the Tightness of Coaxial Cable Connections


Freezing or pixeled TV images can point to several things. It could be bad weather, a poor signal, electromagnetic interference, or simply, a problem with the cable connections. Assuming the first three are out of question, you want to check first for any looseness in the connectors.


Are the coaxial-cable connectors too loose or did you do it so tightly and damaged them? Ensure that these nuts are finger-tight; not much more force than that is needed.


As temperature changes prompt expansion and contraction to components, tighten the connectors carefully but make sure you have sealed the internal rubber. To achieve the most balanced tightness of the F connectors, we recommend using the special tightening tool from Televes.


Step 2: Inspect for Damages on Cable – Scratches or Cuts


One of the reasons an antenna cable connection can become ineffective is physical damage. The outer cover is delicate, so it could fail from improper use or accident. Cables have a maximum bend radius, beyond which the cable’s coax gets damaged. Sometimes you can’t tell if there is damage from a simple check. You can use a multimeter or even better, a signal analyzer, to determine if the TV signal integrity throughout the antenna cable is intact.


When the antenna cable is exposed to external elements and cracks, water damage may ensue and render the cable useless in signal transfer. Check for even the smallest cracks as these could still allow the penetration of water to the coaxial cable and down by gravity to the lower connector. At the connector, the water can cause a short circuit. But even before short-circuit happens, the copper component can get oxidized and increase attenuation, a process that may prompt signal loss.


Step 3: Check the Condition of the Connectors


After taking care of connector tightness and the physical integrity of the cable cover, you want to inspect the condition of the connectors. There are two types – male and female. The one with a protruding metal pin is the a male connector. Female connectors are characterized by a recessed hole that accommodates the metal pin. BNC and N connectors are the most popular for antenna cables. Check out some of the options of connectors available at Televes here.


If the connector is covered in rust or broken, it can fail to transmit signals effectively. The most prevalent damage to the connector is the breakage of the metal pin in the male connector owing to its delicate design. Take care when removing the connector for inspection because this action alone could damage the metal pin.


Types of coaxial cable


The research and development of TV coaxial cable have both brought about a world of possibilities since the end of the 19th century. A great number of types of coaxial cable have been launched ever since.


Despite that, the industry is now prioritizing quality and stable signal reception over more traditional options by turning to modern coaxial cables able to make the most of the current’s progresses.


Coaxial cables used these days are limited to 3 standards, which are as follows:


RG59 coaxial cables


RG59 TV coaxial cables are the thinnest option available, which also makes them the most malleable.


The use of RG59 coaxial cables is highly recommended for closed circuit television – also known as CCTV.


Today, this kind of coaxial cable has a main drawback, though: its bandwidth won’t transmit high-definition video. Plus, signal degrades after a few meters.


RG6 coaxial cables


Nowadays, the widely-known RG6 model is the most common coaxial cable in projects featuring TV antennas.


Their main asset is that they do convey high-definition TV signal, that’s why using this kind of coaxial cable in our installations can offer the best possible quality of image.


It can bear quite long distances: up to 600 meters without experiencing any signal losses.


RG11 coaxial cables


Among the three coaxial cables that are now available, the one that was last launched is RG11. As you can expect from a new-generation cable, it outdoes the two previous generations.


This coaxial cable knows no limits when transmitting signals of the best possible quality. In addition, it reaches 1 100 meters without losses, which is twice as long compared to the previous models.


Internet coaxial cables


In addition to the different types of available coaxial cables, it is worth noting that this model can also transmit data.


Some Internet operators use this kind of cables instead of fiber optics – which is the most common support.


However, its features do not match those of fiber when applied to this field. Internet coaxial cables only reach 10 Mbps. But still, this LAN connection is more than enough for browsing and is also more inexpensive than fiber optics.


RG6 coaxial cables have managed to increase this capacity by up to several GHz in an effective way. Yet, bandwidth is still lower compared to fiber-optic solutions or to state-of-the-art Ethernet technology, which does not make it the most common option in this field.


Types of connectors for coaxial cables


Even if there are dozens of coaxial cable models, only 3 are actually used in household and professional installations. Unlike these, we can find countless coaxial-cable connectors and still many types are actually used.


Based on the experience of Televes in the TV-installation industry, we can easily break down these typologies and identify the most common models in projects:


Connectors for PRO EasyF coaxial cables


This kind of connector designed for coaxial cable is equipped with EasyF mounting system and class A+ shielding. It is touted as the best solution for protection against interference across the coaxial networks.


You will find two different models: IEC (which can be male or female) and non-threaded F (which is always male).


Connectors to be mounted on coaxial cables


These are high-shielded connectors that can be disassembled for easier connection.


Televes is now commercializing connectors especially designed for IEC, F and Quick-F coaxial cables.


Connectors for compression coaxial cables


Here, the connector is compressed against the coaxial cable and can be deformed for a highly effective grip. Specialized tools are required in this kind of installations.


F or Quick-F type coaxial cables can be installed. For most cases, however, it is advisable to use a professional kit including all the necessary accessories.


Threaded connectors for coaxial cables


This is a universal F-type connector that can be easily installed by threading around the coaxial cable for a good grip.


Even if it is compatible with the whole TV band, in practice it is normally linked to satellite.


Connectors for Coaxial cables: adapters


These adapters allow to join two different connections. This alternative can be applied to sort out compatibility problems when different connections are affected.


Connectors for load coaxial cables


These elements are used to connect an output load across a distribution network that is left unconnected. Thanks to them, noise and interference affecting the quality of signal may be avoided.


Connection accessories for coaxial cables


Along with all these coaxial-cable connectors, Televes makes available different multi-purpose accessories to be combined with these products – depending on the needs of each installation.


You now have an idea how to check the antenna cable connection in three simple steps. In case the coaxial cable looks normal and doesn’t work, it could have been affected by Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) or water ingress. A live wire that has darkened/blackened is an indication of an ESD effect, so the wire has lost its integrity. Age may also have caught up with the antenna cable.


Perhaps it’s time you replaced the aerial cable. Technology has advanced a lot in recent years and there are newer options at good prices. Televes offers a wide range of coaxial cables and connectors for TV distribution, including these terrestrial antennas of the highest quality. In case you are replacing the cable, we recommend doing so for the whole set if your antenna is overtaken by excessive effects of aging.


Call us now for a wide range of Televes’ antenna cables and components.