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Coaxial Cable Shielding Effectiveness

Updated February 21, 2017

Coaxial cables carry electronic signals over a single conductor surrounded by a shield. The shield keeps the signal from "leaking" out of the cable, and prevents unwanted signals from entering and interfering with the main signal.

Frequency

The effectiveness of coaxial cable shielding depends on the frequency of the signal. The higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength of the signal, and the more likely the signal will "leak."

Shield Construction

The most common type of shield is made of braided copper, but higher frequencies can leak through the spaces in the braids. Some cables use foil, but the most effective shield is the solid corrugated copper used in industrial cables.

Grounding

To be effective, the shield of a coaxial cable must be grounded at each end. In most cases, the connector completes the connection to ground, but if for any reason that connection breaks, the shield will not be as effective.

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About the Author

Richard Asmus was a writer and producer of television commercials in Phoenix, Arizona, and now is retired in Peru. After founding a small telecommunications engineering corporation and visiting 37 countries, Asmus studied broadcasting at Arizona State University and earned his Master of Fine Arts at Brooklyn College in New York.