Coaxial cables, often referred to as coax, are a staple in our modern, interconnected world. These cables are used for transmitting television signals, internet data, and are even used in many professional and amateur radio setups. One of the most important aspects of working with coaxial cables is knowing how to crimp coaxial cable. Crimping is the process of joining the cable with connectors using a special tool. This guide will walk you through the process in a detailed and easy-to-understand manner.
Understanding Coaxial Cables
Before we dive into the crimping process, it’s important to understand what a coaxial cable is. A coaxial cable is an electronic signal wire used for signals that are sensitive to interference by outside noise sources. For example, lightning, clear air static, motors, and high-frequency electronic signals could impose themselves on the wire and corrupt the signal. Coax guards against this by wrapping a single conductor with a tube of metal foil and mesh. This tube runs coaxially over the signal conductor.
The Importance of Crimping
Crimping is a crucial step in setting up a coaxial cable. It’s the process of attaching connectors to the ends of the cable to allow it to transmit signals. Without properly crimped connectors, your coaxial cable won’t be able to do its job effectively. Moreover, poorly crimped connectors can lead to signal loss, interference, and can even damage your equipment.
Tools You’ll Need
Before you start, make sure you have the following tools:
- Wire cutters
- Coax cable stripping tool
- F connector
- F connector compression tool
These tools are available at most hardware and electrical stores. You can also order them online.
Step-by-Step Guide to Crimping Coaxial Cable
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of how to crimp a coaxial cable.
Step 1: Create a Termination Point
The first step in the crimping process is to create a termination point. This is done by cutting off the end of the coax. Use small, sharp wire cutters to do this. The cut should create a squared-off surface, not a beveled one. After cutting, mold the end of the coax into a cylindrical shape using your fingers. The cylindrical cable will be distorted by the pressure of making the square cut. Mold the end of the cable back into a cylinder.
Step 2: Insert the Coax into a Coax Stripper Tool
Next, insert the coax into a coax stripper tool. These tools are available at hardware and electrical stores. Make sure that the end of the coax is flush against the wall or guide on the stripping tool. This will ensure proper strip length.
Step 3: Clamp the Stripper Tool Closed Around the Coax
Clamp the stripper tool closed around the coax. Smoothly spin the tool around the coax 4 or 5 times, or until you no longer hear the sound of metal being scored. Keep the rotation in one place on the cable. Do not apply any force that would pull on the cable insulation coating.
Step 4: Remove the Coax Stripper Tool
After spinning the stripper tool, remove it. This action strips the insulation to expose the wire. The tool will have made 2 cuts. Use your fingers to gently pull off the material nearest the end of the cable. This will expose the bare center conductor. Use your fingers to gently pull off the outer insulation that has been cut free. This will expose a layer of foil.
Step 5: Tear Off the Exposed Foil
Once the outer insulation is removed, you’ll see a layer of foil. Tear off this exposed foil. This will expose a layer of metal mesh.
Step 6: Bend Back the Exposed Metal Mesh
With the foil removed, bend back the exposed metal mesh with your fingers. Do not tear the layer of foil that is under the metal mesh. The foil must be left in place around the inner insulation. Bend the mesh all the way back so that it is molded over the end of the outer insulation.
Step 7: Press the End of the Coax into the Back of an F Connector
Now, press the end of the coax into the back of an F connector. F connectors are available at hardware and electrical stores. Make sure that the white inner insulation can be seen pressing against the front flange of the connector. If you can’t see the insulation, jiggle and continue to push the coax and the connector together. Use straight pressure only. Do not twist the coax in the body of the connector.
Step 8: Crimp the Connection with a Crimper
The final step is to crimp the connection with a crimper. Place the F connector into a coax crimping tool. Coax crimping tools are available at hardware and electrical stores. Fully squeeze the tool handle and release. Remove the finished crimp connection from the tool. Gently pull on the wire to make sure it holds within the connector.
Crimping a coaxial cable may seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and a bit of patience, it’s something that anyone can do. The process is straightforward and can be completed in a few simple steps. By crimping your own cables, you can save money, ensure a high-quality connection, and gain a better understanding of how your electronic devices work.
Remember, the key to a successful crimp is to take your time and pay attention to detail. Make sure your cuts are clean, your strips are the correct length, and your crimp is secure. With these tips in mind, you’ll be crimping coaxial cables like a pro in no time.