Coaxial CCTV Cable used for a CCTV system consists of many componentsCoaxial CCTV Cable used for a CCTV system consists of many components, and each is critical to the quality of the video picture that is reproduced. Many system designers specify very specific criteria for the hardware; however, when it comes to the transmission media, only general information is given.


Coaxial CCTV Cable used for a CCTV system consists of many components SelectionSelecting the correct transmission media for CCTV is one of the most vital aspects of designing a quality system, and yet it is the least understood topic in system design. You can have the highest quality hardware components in a system, but if the video signal is not transmitted by the proper media, your whole system will suffer. Many of the common video problems with picture quality can be avoided by selecting the proper transmission media and following proper installation techniques and procedures.


CCTV Selection Guide
RGP59A RG59 Plenum CMP/FT6
RG59E RG59 Stranded CMH/FT1
RG6D RG6 Burial
RGP6F RG6 Plenum CMP/FT6
RG6K RG6 Stranded CMG/FT4

Coaxial CCTV Cable

CCTV video signals are commonly transmitted using coaxial cable. Coaxial cable is designed to transmit the complete video frequency range with minimum distortion or attenuation, making it an excellent choice for CCTV. However, choosing the incorrect coaxial cable can degrade the overall signal transmission and/or allow outside EMI/RFI interference to be introduced into the signal, causing high noise levels. This in turn can result in poor picture quality.

There are various construction types for coaxial cable. Understanding the various parameters of coaxial cable and selecting the proper cable for a CCTV system will eliminate wasted time, money, and aggravation. A CCTV video signal is composed of both low frequency components (horizontal and vertical sync pulse information), and high frequency components (video information). To transmit this full spectrum of frequencies with little distortion or attenuation, it is important to select the correct cable that meets the specifications for CCTV transmission.

The parameters to consider are mechanical characteristics such as the center conductor material, dielectric material, shield type and material, and jacket material. The electrical characteristics such as resistance, capacitance, impedance, and attenuation are critical for proper transmission. The following explains each component:

Center Conductor

Coaxial CCTV Cable used for a CCTV system consists of many components Selection Center ConductorCenter Conductor material made of bare cooper is recommended for optimum performance in CCTV signal transmission. Because a CCTV video signal is a baseband composite video with low frequency components compared to a CATV video signal, the low D.C. resistance that copper provides will greatly improve the video signal transmission. if the cable is going to be used on a CCTV camera that will be in a fixed position, then a solid conductor is acceptable. However, if the cable will be used in a pan and tilt application, then you should choose a stranded conductor because a solid conductor construction will break with continuous flexing.

Coaxial cable is also available with a copper-covered steel center conductor. The steel core of a copper covered steel center conductor provides extra cable strength, while its copper coating provides a path for the RF signal. This construction technique is used because the higher the frequency of an electronic signal transmission, the more the signal travels on the outer surface of a conductor. This phenomenon is known as “skin effect”.

A copper-covered steel center conductor has a much higher D.C. resistance than bare copper and greatly attenuates the lower frequency components of a CCTV video signal (refer to table). Although it may be less expensive than pure copper, it is not suitable for CCTV and is not recommended. Coaxial cable that utilizes a copper-covered steel center conductor is usually designed for, and more suitable for, use in CATV and other RF applications because of the skin effect transmission characteristic at higher frequencies.

The attenuation chart clearly shows the difference between copper and copper covered steel. Especially take note of the lower frequency range where the sync pulse information is transmitted.

Notice the big difference in attenuation between the two materials. If a cable chosen with copper covered steel, the sync pulse information will be attenuated, causing distortion in the video signal. Another guideline used in the selection of center conductor construction is the cable’s installation as to fixed or pan and tilt applications. If the cable is going to be used on a CCTV camera that will be in a fixed position, then a solid conductor is acceptable. However, if the cable will be used in a pan and tilt application, then you should select a stranded conductor because a solid conductor construction will eventually break; under the constant strain being placed on the cable at the same point.

Dielectric Material

Coaxial CCTV Cable used for a CCTV system consists of many components Selection Dielectric MaterialDielectric Material of a coax cable is also another key area that should be addressed. The dielectric material and its composition are critical as it sets up the electrical characteristics such as capacitance, velocity of propagation, impedance, and attenuation of the cable. These parameters will determine signal strength and transmission distance. It is recommended to choose a dielectric with excellent electrical properties, such as polyethylene or FEP. Such material will give you lower capacitance and a higher velocity of propagation. This results in a cable with low-loss characteristics and reduced attenuation of the signal. To improve the electrical properties even further, a foamed or cellular composition of these materials is recommended.

Braided Shield

Coaxial CCTV Cable used for a CCTV system consists of many components Selection Braided ShieldA braided shield is the proper type of shield for CCTV and has two key purposes. One is to provide a low D.C. resistance ground path, and the second is to provide shielding of outside interference from distorting the video signal. The shielding should be constructed of bare copper to provide a low D.C.R. return path. It should have a 95% or better braid coverage to provide adequate shielding from outside electrical interferences. Anything less is usually not acceptable for CCTV. To provide increased shielding in the RFI range, a construction with an aluminum foil is acceptable if a high percentage copper braid is used to provide the low D.C.R. return path. A cable with a combination aluminum foil shield and low coverage aluminum braid (see diagram) commonly used for CATV is not acceptable! Because aluminum shields have a much higher D.C. resistance return path and the braided portion of these type of cables provide only a low percentage of coverage; They do not provide the type of shielding required for CCTV video transmission.


Coaxial CCTV Cable used for a CCTV system consists of many components Selection JacketJacket choice is mainly determined by the environment where the cable will be installed. The cable jacket provides two major functions. One is to provide protection from the elements a cable may be subjected to, and the second is to provide solid termination. PVC is a good choice for most applications located inside a building. Plenum rated cables are required for use in ducts, plenums and other space used for environmental air without conduit as per NEC or CEC. Polyethylene is recommended for outdoor applications where the cable subjected to the elements and a high degree of moisture, sunlight, and abrasion resistance is required. Do not install indoor rated cable in aerial, direct burial, or underground pipe. An indoor-rated cable is not designed for these harsh environments, and the electrical and mechanical characteristics will degrade over a period and will need to be replaced. Always follow the applicable code for the proper cable type for your installation.

Coaxial Cable Parameters

Coaxial Cable Parameters vary depending on the type of cable construction. All coaxial cables have a characteristic impedance. The impedance of CCTV equipment is 75 ohms; therefore, to have minimum losses, it is important to choose a cable with a matching impedance of 75 ohms. If a cable of another impedance (50 ohms or 93 ohm) is selected, then you will experience signal loss and reflection, resulting in short distance transmission and poor picture quality. Coaxial cables are also available in different RG types. RG stands for Radio Guide and is a term used when sending Radio Frequency (RF) signals down a coaxial cable. 75-ohm coaxial cable comes in several sizes, with the most common types being RG59, RG6, and RG11. An RG59 cable is the most used because it is smaller in diameter and easy to work with. The RG11 cable is the largest in diameter and harder to work with. The RG6 size is between the two. The difference between the RG types is not just size, but also the attenuation characteristics and therefore the transmission distance. Typically, the cable transmission limitations for CCTV will be as follows:


The RG59 has the highest attenuation of the three types, and you can expect to get about 750 ft (228.6 m). — 1,000 ft (304.8 m).


The RG6 has lower attenuation characteristics than RG59 and you can expect distances of about 1,000 ft (304.8 m) – 1,500 ft (457.2 m).


The RG11 type has the lowest attenuation characteristics, and you can expect distances of up to 2,000 ft (609.6 m).

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