Tag Archives: Cable Manufacturers UK

What are Starquad cables?

Starquad cables explained

Starquad cables as the name suggest incorporate four individual conductors. These cables are twisted together with a short lay length (number of twists per metre) typically one full twist every 25mm and in most cases have an overall Aluminium foil tape screen which is overlapped onto the quad during the twist operation with an appropriate drain wire.

The conductors which are opposite to each other are then wired in parallel to form a single balanced pair. As there are more conductors, the capacitance between the cores and the cores and the screen is considerably higher than a conventional microphone cable which can mean a greater high frequency loss in longer cable runs whereas it shouldn’t be an issue in much smaller runs.

The benefits are the cables improved ability to withstand EMI from other surrounding power sources.

It works because all of the conductors are equally spaced from the outside interference whereas in a traditional microphone cable, one pair has a tendency to be slightly closer therefore one pair will be affected more and in essence unbalanced.

Do you need a new HDMI for your 4K TV?

With the gingerly but inevitable transition to Ultra HD 4K happening, it’s not surprising that cable manufacturers are eagerly promoting their very own (and more expensive) “4K” HDMI cables.

The question is….. Do you actually need a new HDMI cable to be able to experience the new 4K experience???

In most cases the answer is simple. NO. Seriously. Your current HDMI cable will more than likely be suffice.

If you search the web for “are all HDMI cables the same” you will find countless videos / vlogs / blogs with quite in depth tests about the difference between high end and cheaper branded HDMI cables. In all honesty the only real difference is that of the build quality around the actual connection itself. The wires that transfer the data are very similar!!

Here’s the short version. There are only four kinds of HDMI cables:

  • High-speed with Ethernet
  • High-speed without Ethernet
  • Standard-speed with Ethernet
  • Standard-speed without Ethernet

There’s no reason to get standard-speed cables any more, as the price difference is almost identical between those and the high-speed versions. As per the current HDMI 1.4 spec, in order for an HDMI cable to be considered high-speed, it must be able to pass 3,840 x 2,160 pixels at up to 30 frames per second (and 4,096 x 2,160 at 24 frames per second).

Ok, so that was the techy bit, but what does it mean? It means that even the cheapest high speed HDMI cable can handle the max resolution possible with the new 4K Ultra HD TV’s.

How do you know if your current HDMI cable is high speed and if it will work? Simple. Plug it in and give it a go! It will either work or it wont. With HDMI the cable will either show the image or not. There’s no middle ground with sub quality imagery. Our guess is that if you bought your HDMI cable within the last 3-4 years then you will be fine. If it doesn’t work then you know you can always just get a regular High Speed HDMI cable.

How Much Should You Spend on Cables?

An interesting article appeared in the Independent at the start of the month posing the age old question ‘is it worth splashing out on cables?’

The article explored the ongoing idea that the more you spend on a cable, the better audiovisual quality you’re going to get out of your television or speakers. After much deliberation and opinions from both audio experts and cable manufacturers, the article comes to the grand conclusion that…erm…we’re not sure.

Confusion has long been abound among the general public when it comes to cables, a confusion that’s becoming even more prevalent as more and more people splash out on home theatres. A common presumption among the general public is that the more you spend on a cable, the better quality it is going to provide you.

This is often helped along by clever marketing on the part of cable manufacturers with dazzling language combined with technical jargon to make their product sound absolutely essential. Although there is a lot of controversy surrounding the actual differences in performance these cables provide, a lot of consumers claim to notice a marked improvement after installing them. On the other side of the coin, there are the cheap cables you find on eBay for 99p.

Many swear by these cables, claiming they do a perfectly good job for a fraction of the cost. So who is right? The answer, unfortunately, is that it depends. The science behind digital cables would suggest the eBay camp is correct; the nature of a digital signal means that, in theory, it’s either ‘there’ or ‘not’. There can be interference in the ‘re-sending’ of data through the cable, but across the distances in the average home, this presents a minor issue.

For analog cables, it’s a little bit different as interference and resistance does play its part. In layman’s terms, the less resistance a signal experiences, the better quality that signal is going to be when it reaches the output device. One of the ways to overcome this is to use bigger wires. This still doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune on cables; it just means spending a little bit more time comparing specifications. So what advantages do expensive cables offer, then? A lot of the advantage lies in the build of the cable; expensive cables tend to be built to last, reducing the amount you spend replacing cables. Many cables also boast gold plated connectors, which are less prone to rusting. It’s important to note, however, that both copper and silver are better conductors on the whole.

Buying cables off eBay also means you run the risk of buying counterfeit cables. Although eBay do their best to limit counterfeit listings, there are still plenty that make it through the net and these cables can be extremely dangerous. Check out our previous post on counterfeit cables for more information. Application will also play a big part in how much you spend on a cable.

For home use and across short distances, buying a mid-range cable should suit your needs fine. For more demanding applications, you might need to invest in custom cables. If this is the case, the amount you spend will depend on the design of your cable and the materials used to manufacture it! So how much should you spend on a cable? In all honesty, it depends.

Most people swear that cheap cables are just as good as expensive alternatives, so it might be worth buying cheap and working your way up. If you’re happy with the performance of a cable, that’s really all that matters. For more information on custom cables, get in touch with the team at Custom Designed Cables.

Apprenticeship Opportunities

Work Based Training Scheme

Our apprenticeships are designed with two goals in mind.

1. Helping young people to train and develop whilst achieving a qualification

2. Adding to and further developing our ever expanding motivated team of people.

We offer the apprentice a structured programme of training to enable full development of their skills to enable them to become a key member of our team.

As CDC Ltd is continually growing, periodically, we need more people. Young people are the future and with the current economic climate, we are doing our bit to get Britain moving again. As an apprentice at CDC Ltd, you will be fully employed where you will spend the majority of your time on the job working closely with our experienced training operatives. One day a week will be spent at a local college or specialist training organisation were you will be working towards a qualification generally within the engineering and maintenance fields so that the skills that you learn can be further developed at CDC Ltd.

At the end of your apprenticeship, which usually spans a two year course, you will become a fully qualified cable design and cable manufacturing operative with a full qualification within your chosen subject to help you develop further.

We like to work together with apprentices because young people are enthusiastic, driven and highly motivated people. If this sounds like something you would be interested in. Get in contact with our careers department along with your CV for further information.

Are underground cables the future of British power?

Cables aren’t discussed that often in the British media, particularly when it comes to the kind of technical specifics we get into on this blog. For most people, the only thing that matters is that the cable works! However, there are two common topics that frequently come up when cables are discussed.

The first is the cost of cables in relation to their quality; this usually relates to home theatre set-ups. The second is the effect cables and pylons have on the beauty of the British countryside.
Pylons are generally considered a necessary evil. They provide us with constant power for our homes and the trade-off is a couple of pylons dotted around the local area.

Over time, these pylons gradually become part of the scenery and are practically ignored. The issue becomes more pertinent in areas of natural beauty, such as national parks and the rare untouched patch of countryside. Pylons in these areas stick out like a sore thumb and many consider them to be detrimental to Britain’s natural beauty.

There has been a relatively high profile case of this in the past month or so. There are currently plans to erect new pylons through the Lake District National Park in order to carry electricity from Sellafield power plant to the National Grid. Naturally, this has been met with much opposition and alternative solutions are now being proposed, including the environmentalist’s choice of power transmission: underground cables.

Underground cables vs. pylons

The arguments for underground cables in an area such as the Lake District National Park are compelling and would seem to offer the perfect compromise between transmitting power and retaining the natural beauty of the area. Underground cables essentially do the same job as pylons, with one fundamental difference; the cables are placed underground rather than above it.

As a result, most people won’t even know the cables are there. In terms of performance, there is relatively little difference between the two methods. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of labour and the cost of the custom designed cables required for underground power mean that the price far outweighs that of erecting pylons.

A study commissioned by the government suggests that underground cables cost ten times as much to install, a cost difference of between £10-24 million. Part of the reason for this huge cost difference is the labour required to lay the cables; the area needs to be excavated and cleared of any obstructions before an intensive laying process. Once covered again, maintenance of the cables becomes another issue.

While a lot of construction firms will create dedicated points where over ground maintenance can be carried out, some errors will require the ground to be dug up again. Being situated underground doesn’t mean that the cables are entirely safe from damage either. A badly-planned construction project can lead to cables being severed by careless workers, cutting off power to thousands of homes and requiring a large maintenance job to repair.

The construction of underground cables

Underground cables operate in unique conditions, meaning that extra care has to be paid to the cable construction. Most underground cables will be multicore cables. The obvious danger to underground cables is the effects of ground water. To reduce these effects, a cable should be waterproof, utilising water proof conductors and cable jacketing.

The cable jacket doesn’t just need to be waterproof either; it also needs to be damage proof. A sturdy cable jacket made from highly resistant materials should do the trick, although metal is occasionally used to further protect the cable from damage. For more information on underground cables and their uses, get in touch with the team at Custom Designed Cables.  

Broadband demand good news for UK cable manufacturers

Continued growth in broadband demand may be good news for UK cable manufacturers and their continental European counterparts during the recent turbulent economic period.

A recent presentation from market insight provider Integer Research looks at the different factors currently affecting cable manufacturing across the EU-27 group of countries. On a national scale, some countries are seeing greater levels of turbulence than others, due to economic factors. But across the continent, it is broadband that offers a bright spot – something UK cable manufacturers have already seen in recent years.

Integer’s director of research Philip Radbourne presented the analysis at the recent Europacable 2012 General Assembly in Brussels. His presentation notes “sustained growth in broadband demand – FTTH (Fibre to the Home), wireless, coaxial”. The demand for cables capable of supporting streaming media at high-definition resolutions is a further growth area for Europe as a whole, it adds.

Overall, this leads Mr Radbourne to predict further investment in several types of cable solutions through until 2015, including high-bandwidth broadband, FTTH, cable solutions for electric vehicles and RF coaxial cables.

The Undersea Cables Which Power The Internet

In a Wi-Fi world, the internet is a fleeting, invisible force which links together all of our devices. Smartphones to desktops, futuristic fridges to television sets, everything is connected together without wires. But on a global scale, this is simply not true.

When it comes to communicating between London and Hong Kong, the information sent to your router might be wireless but from then on in, a series of interconnected cables transports everything across the world. The internet, in reality, is made possible thanks to the huge volume of underwater cables. While most assume that satellites are doing the heavy lifting, the bulk of information is sent along wired connections.

This is far cheaper and simpler than beaming data to space, a tool usually reserved for broadcasting. The fibre-optics which make our internet a reality are buried deep in the sea bed. They serve each and every continent, spread out like a submarine spider’s web. While the current crop of cables can carry a huge amount of data, our appetite is growing, as is a need for a fall back option should anything break.

The layout is designed to avoid fault zones which exist underwater and to deliver internet with the minimum amount of interference. There are issues, however, three quarters of which are down to external aggression (fishing, anchors from ships). Geological issues also pose a threat, with landslides, earthquakes and the moving tectonic plates all destabilising connections.

The 2011 Tsunami which struck Japan, for example, required quick work and rerouting in order to keep the country online. The more cables which route into the country, the better protected they are in such circumstances. Not all cables are created equal, with those found in the Atlantic capable of transmitting more data than those which run down the coast of East Africa.

Demand dictates performance and smaller markets lead to lower capacities in certain areas. The cables which cross the largest oceans can cost hundreds of millions of dollars. With the majority of landmasses connected, island nations and remote communities are still waiting for integration.

The main challenge now is maintenance. For those in western countries, the amount of connections provides almost seamless service. For locations such as Bangladesh, one cable going down can have a big impact. Additional connections, such as the large cable nearing completion between the USA and Mexico, will add further capacity in certain areas.

As internet traffic increases and bandwidth is ever more important, scaling the solutions already in place will be essential.

Cable manufacturers face growing long-distance broadband demand

Cable manufacturers producing custom wire and cable for broadband infrastructure applications are facing an ever-growing demand for bandwidth across national borders.

Figures from Telegeography, which specialises in looking at the long-distance and submarine broadband infrastructure of the world, reveal that international broadband traffic grew rapidly in the past five years. Between 2007 and 2011, Europe’s transmission of data across borders rose by a compounded annual rate of over 55%. Only Oceania and North America saw demand rise by less, while the Middle East’s internet users neared 100% compound annual growth in international bandwidth demand over the same period.

Analyst Jon Hjembo adds that the slower growth in developed regions should not be taken as an indication that their demand for international data transfers is any lower. He explains: “Although international bandwidth usage growth is slower in these mature markets, their capacity requirements are far larger than those of emerging markets.”

In developed and emerging markets alike, cable manufacturers are working hard to make sure these long lengths of custom wire and cable are available to support the necessary broadband needed by the 21st century’s global village.

Five amazing places that you would never expect to find cables

The frozen continent of Antarctica is the only significant land mass in the world yet to be connected by submarine cables. Telecommunication cables criss-cross the world’s ocean beds everywhere else, forming vital international links but so far the challenge of laying fibre-optic cable that could withstand extreme temperatures of up to -80C would be too expensive.

Ice flow, which can be as much as 10 metres per year, is another technical hurdle that would have to be overcome so, for the time being anyway, researchers on bases there will have to rely on the comparatively unreliable satellite to communicate with the rest of the world.

It may come as a surprise to many people but some 90% of the world’s internet traffic is via cable, much of which is across ocean floors. If the idea of finding a cable connecting Antarctica to the rest of the world sounds a bit extreme, here are five other places you might, and might not, expect to find cables.

Atlantic cables

Submarine cables have connected Britain and the USA since the late 19th century but up until 1956 communication was still by Morse code. The first fibre optic cables were laid in 1988 which meant that overnight, a single cable was able to handle 2,500 trans-Atlantic calls at the same time.

By the mid 90s, optical amplifiers were introduced and, as a result, a huge leap forward in capacity meant that the equivalent of 60 million calls could be handled at once. Today, with the latest cable, Apollo, the capacity is over 200 million and counting. Nine cables link New York and London, travelling 3,800 miles on the seabed from a spot on the coast near New York to another one on a north Cornish beach.

The exact location of the cables is kept secret for fear of sabotage but next time you dig on a beach in Cornwall with your bucket and spade, be careful not to go much deeper than six feet in case you disrupt everyone’s internet connection!

Across the Channel

The first telegraph cable laid across the English Channel was in 1850 and consisted of a copper wire covered in gutta percha, 1/4 of an inch thick. Although the wire remained intact, the covering was destroyed within hours due to the sea rolling it against rocks on the sea bed.

The following year, another telegraph cable was laid, four copper wires covered in gutta percha and then encased in galvanised iron. The cable measured 24 miles, weighed in at 180 tons and was towed across the Channel by tug. The cost of the cable was estimated to be around £20,000 and the entire operation cost the company £75,000. Despite a number of setbacks the cable was successful and in 1853 more cables were laid between the UK and Ireland, Holland, Belgium and Denmark.

Amazon

England’s football fans may have found the heat of Manaus as trying as watching their team take on Italy in the sweltering Amazonian city at the 2014 World Cup, but spare a thought for the men who faced all kinds of hardship, including stifling heat, to lay the first submarine cables connecting the port of Belem and the river city of Manaus in the late 1890s.

At that time, Manaus was a boom town because of the rubber trade and as usual, it was commerce that was the driver behind the project which involved laying cable along the bed of the mighty Amazon river. Siemens Bros laid the cable for the Amazon Telegraph Company, using the CS Faraday. Despite an epic struggle, which included frequent breaks and faults in the line, being stranded on a sandbank for nine days, fighting currents and whirlpools, insects and the heat, the cable was eventually laid and Manaus was connected.

A holiday beach near you?

Next time you are sitting on one of these beaches along the west coast of Africa, you won’t notice it, but beneath your feet, fibre optic cables are pulsing with life. The Africa coast to Europe submarine cable follows the west coast for 17,000 km, with landing points that include, Cape Town, Swakopmund in Namibia, Accra in Ghana, Banjul in Gambia, Lagos in Nigeria, Tenerife in the Canary Islands and on to Penmarch in France.

Horse-drawn cable

Not everywhere in the world has superfast broadband connections, including some parts of the UK, and the feasibility of laying cable is still an issue in many places which are remote or inaccessible or where there is little existing infrastructure. The small community of Greensboro Bend in a mountainous part of Vermont in the US, has a Belgian draft horse to thank for being able to get a broadband connection.

Fred and his handler have been helping telecommunication companies lay cable for over thirty years and can tow cable over ground where even the sturdiest all-terrain vehicles struggle. If you are ever in this part of Vermont and are browsing the internet, remember who to thank – Fred the ‘telephone horse’! For more information on our custom cable solutions, get in touch today.