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How to distinguish between RG-59 and RG-6? (1 Viewer)

AndrewBD

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Hi ....

I have small length of coax poking out of a wall which needs a new F-connector. However, the cable is not labeled (or at least the part coming out of the wall isn't) so I don't know if I need a connector for RG-59 cable or RG-6.

Is there a way to tell by looking at it whether a cable is RG-59 or RG-6? Any characteristics of the cable itself that distinguishes it as one or the other?

Thanks in advance for your guidance.
 

Bob McElfresh

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I think the center wire for RG6 is 18 ga. The center for RG59 can be 20-23 ga. If you had a piece of RG6 to compare, this could help.

But... the thickness of the actual coax can vary greatly and this is what determines which "F" connector to attach.

My guess is your in-wall for CATV is RG59. But hedge your bets. Go buy 2 sizes of F connectors: RG59, RG6. Try to attach the RG59 connector first.

Big Hint: buy the one-piece F connectors with the built-in crimp ring. For indoor use you dont need the super-rugged outdoor ones, just dont buy the ones with a separate crimp ring.

Radio Shack has some nice, cheap tools like a "T" handle to push the connector on for $4, Stripper tools for $8-$12. For 1 connector I would not bother with the $20 hex-crimp tool, try pliers. But dont over-crimp to deform the actual coax. Just enough to dig into the outer surface.

Hope this helps.
 

Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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Bob and I seem to always go ‘round and ‘round on this. :)

Personally I don’t recommend any cheap coaxial crimpers. They just don’t do an acceptable job. And pliers are certainly not the way to go. With coaxial cable the important thing is to keep the center conductor and shield in proper aspect to each other. Good ratcheting crimpers do this by applying even and symmetrical tension on six sides. Pliers are going to flatten the cable; it's inevitable. Since you're only applying pressure in two places, it will have to be a lot of pressure in order for the connector to stay on.

If you only need to do a few F connectors, I prefer the screw-on type to jerry-rigged crimping. They are more expensive than the crimp-on connectors, but that doesn’t matter if you’re trying to avoid the price of a good crimper. Twist-ons are generally not as reliable as crimped connectors, but that usually is not an issue unless you take the cables on and off a lot. For hook-it-up-and-forget-it situations, twist-ons work fine. I used them in two sat installations I did 6-7 years ago for a couple of friends (before I had my Greenlee crimper), and there have not been any problems.

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
 

Bob McElfresh

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Wayne and I are not as far apart as he may think. :)

I do love my ratching hex crimp tool, and I'd buy one of those nice circle-compression tools if I could find one for a nice price.

I just could not recommend the week or two wait to buy $35 worth of tools for 1 connector.

I never had much luck with twist-on "F" connectors, but at sub $2 for some, it's well worth the try.

To my mind, the real secret to making good ends on cables ("F" or RCA or BNC) is to buy all the parts from the same manufacturer. The quality of the connection depends on 2 main things:

- The crimp tool is built with that connector in mind
- The connector is made for the dimensions of the coax

This is why we have a love/hate relationship with Canare. Each different size coax has a different size connector. And each connector has a different die to crimp it. Get all 3 to match and it's real easy to make perfect connections each time. Want a different connector? Takes a $65 die + $20 for a new crimp frame. (a bit pricey).

Use my generic hex crimp tool with Radio Shack "F" connectors on someones pre-installed coax - it works, but you have to be careful to not over-crimp and crack the connector body. (Yes, I've done this many times.)
 

AndrewBD

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Thanks for the guidance .... although I don't have a $65 crimper, I did get the $20 radio shack version, plus a $3 tool for screwing connectors onto the cable. This connection (once I get it right) will likely never be touched again until I move from my home, so as long as it is a clean connection, it won't have to withstand any physical abuse.

I was hoping that there was some more obvious physical differences between the two types of cable that would help me determine whether to use a RG-59 or RG-6 connector. Its not the cost of the connector (I bought a couple of each) but rather I don't want to damage the little bit of the wire that is sticking out of the wall (there is very little slack in the line).

On a related note, am I to assume that when the connector is attached correctly, the solid inner core of the cable (the part containing the thin wire in the center) ends up inside the inner sleeve of the connector, while the braided shielding is outside the inner sleeve? Is it imperative that both the braiding and the foil covering the inner core are outside the inner sleeve. I apologize if I'm not describing this perfectly, but I want to make sure I'm not mangling something that would lead to a bad connection.

Thanks!
 

Bob McElfresh

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The big trick is:

- The shielding (foil or braid) should make good contact with the connector, usually on the inner sleeve. Inner/outer does not matter. Just DONT let parts of the shield stick through the center (looking end-on) with the white foam insulation and center conductor.

- The center conductor wire should not make any contact with the connector.

It's easy to tell if this happens: you suddenly get no signal because you have created a direct-short on the CATV feed.

Also, use a wrench to tighten the F connector onto your TV. Loose connectors are the number one cause of poor CATV signal quality and service calls.

Hope this helps.
 

Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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To my mind, the real secret to making good ends on cables ("F" or RCA or BNC) is to buy all the parts from the same manufacturer. The quality of the connection depends on 2 main things:

- The crimp tool is built with that connector in mind
- The connector is made for the dimensions of the coax

This is why we have a love/hate relationship with Canare.
Amazing our experiences with F connectors are so different! You’ve had bad luck with twist-ons, I haven’t. Here again, I’ve had good luck with my Greenlee crimpers on a number of connectors and cable.

Technically speaking, coaxial cable has to be constructed a certain way in order to function correctly at the bandwidth it’s designed for –primarily the gauge of the center conductor and the distance of the shield from the center conductor (which is determined by the diameter of the foam insulation around it). That’s probably why I’ve had good luck with a variety of combinations of connectors and cables.

I haven’t used the Canare stuff, but I’m going to hazard a guess that they use a non-standard outer jacket that gives their coax a different overall diameter – smaller or larger than the industry standard. This is why they require special tools. Of course, there may be other factors requiring the tools.

See Bob, we’re still going ’round and ‘round! :D

Regards,
Wayne A. Pflughaupt
 

Bob McElfresh

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which is determined by the diameter of the foam insulation around it
This is why I recommend buying coax & plugs from the same manufacture.

An ideal F Connector has the inner sleeve diameter having the exact same dimension as the foam insulation.

Too small, and it compresses the foam and changes the impedence. Too large, and it is a loose fit. The perfect size - it becomes the 'shield' and maintains the spacing & impedence.

The coax shield and outer sheath should ride up over the inner sleeve and nearly exactly fill the space between this and the outer crimp ring. This gives a snug fit even before crimping. Crimping simply squishes things between the outer ring and inner sheath. This is why even Pliers can be used so long as you dont over-crimp and deform the inner sleeve.

A quick glance at the Belden website shows the foam insulation being about 0.17 or 0.18 inches - fairly uniform.

But the outer diameter of all these RG6 coax cables are:

Belden 1152A: .273
Belden 1694A: .275
Belden 1695A: .234
Belden 3092: .298 (quad shielded)
Canare L5CFB: .303 (yes, very different)

So yes, I have gone down and bought/installed hardware store/Radio Shack F connectors. But when I bought a spool of 500 feet of RG6 and re-wired my house, I ordered a box of 50 connectors made for that coax.

Yes, Canare is different. But this is an ordinary F connector:



This is the Canare F connector:



Can you see why I love Canare? :)
 

AndrewBD

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Thanks to all for your help .... this weekend I will perform the surgery on my cable, more confident than I would have been without your kind and thorough assistance!
 

Bob McElfresh

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Andrew, sorry we got a little off-topic. :b Wayne and I like to one-upmanship each other on occasion. Please understand that's it's done with great respect for each others ability and knowledge.

Your coax is likely RG59 unless your house/apartment is fairly new.

For about $12, Radio Shack sells a Coax Stripper with an adjustment to change from RG6 to RG59. In your case, start with the RG6 setting and try and strip the coax. If the cuts are not deep enough - this tells you it's RG59.

The twist-on connectors are a nice, tool-less way to go. Just make sure to give it a really strong twist at the end to make sure it's grabbed onto the coax.

Good luck and let us know what you tried & how it worked.
 

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