Tag Archives: Cable Shielding

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.

‘Wi-Fi woes’ good news for cable manufacturers

Cable manufacturers are likely to be celebrating new research from Broadband Choices, a consumer site that compares broadband packages and works for improvements in internet access in the UK. That is because the site has uncovered evidence of significant “Wi-Fi woes” for many internet users – and suggests a return to direct cable connections as an alternative.

In 62% of cases, Wi-Fi broadband users have had problems with their connection, usually due to slow data speeds while streaming video or music, or even when on a social network.

The good news for cable manufacturers is that Broadband Choices’ first suggestion is to plug the computer directly into a wired network connection on the router. “You need to find out what broadband speed you’re getting first,” the company explains. “Do this by using a free speed tester using both wired (Ethernet) and wireless (Wi-Fi) connections to see if you really are losing speed by going wireless.” In some environments, cable shielding and braided cables can help to overcome any magnetic or electrical fields that might distort a wireless signal.

Cable shielding can help to cut down on the disturbances these fields can cause to the data signal, while braided cables can minimise electromagnetic interference – making sure any slowing in the data transfer is not caused by environmental factors.

Cable shielding can cut out interference

We all know cable shielding is important to ensure a good quality of signal reaches its destination, but it’s worth taking a fresh look at some of the potential sources of interference in a common home entertainment set-up. F

or instance, if you’ve ever held an unshielded speaker close to a CRT computer monitor, you’ll know how strong the magnetic field that they produce can be (and it’s not recommended to expose your monitor to that kind of abuse…!).

But when a magnetic field and an electrical cable intersect, you get an induced current – and this is where interference can come from. Likewise, an electrical current passing along a cable can create a magnetic field of its own, which can in turn cause interference in neighbouring wires.

Cable shielding thus protects the carried signals not only against any nearby physical magnets, but also against electromagnetic induction from power cables, data connections, and even the mains loop inside any nearby walls – not to mention wireless signals that might cause interference too. If you can’t predict the exact circumstances in which your cable will be used, it’s wise to invest in some shielding, to compensate for all of these environmental effects once it’s connected and transferring power or data.

New smartphones have varying needs for custom cable solutions

The recent announcements of new smartphones from Apple (the iPhone 5) and Nokia (the Lumia 820 and 920) each have different relevance for manufacturers of custom cable solutions – particularly when it comes to powering the handsets.

Apple have famously shunned wireless charging, meaning their new figurehead handset must still be tethered to a mains socket to recharge its battery.

Nokia, meanwhile, have given customers the choice over whether to use wired or wireless charging, with built-in wireless charging in the Nokia Lumia 920, and an optional backplate to enable it in the Nokia Lumia 820. Some reports say that Apple deliberately avoided wireless charging because the mat on which the phone is placed needs to be plugged in anyway – a short-sighted view, in light of the prospects for public charging points in airport lounges and coffee shops.

Either way, there’s a whole new generation of custom cables to be made, particularly for manufacturers of charging accessories for this new generation of smartphones. Whether that means cables to connect to the mains, adaptors to allow the iPhone 5 to work with existing iPhone accessories (in light of the altered design of the dock connector) or just funky cables to connect wireless charging pads, UK cable manufacturers will be ready to create designs as the new handsets hit the market.

Braided cables may help keep green data centres connected

Braided Cables

 

As the green data centre market grows, and new technologies like virtualisation continue to achieve greater uptake, custom braided cables may offer one way to support the need for more and more inter-connection between servers.

Virtualisation is a means of spreading a single application across several servers, effectively pooling the processing power of them all into a single, more powerful virtual machine. However, it requires fast and reliable connections to be in place between the servers, so that the different parts of the virtualised application can communicate with one another at the desired speed.

This is where custom braided cables can help, offering a robust and reliable direct cable connection between different pieces of hardware, and ensuring that bandwidth does not become the limiting factor in virtualised server environments.

According to Pike Research, virtualisation is just one of a number of green data centre trends driving the market for eco-conscious installations onwards. By 2016, the worldwide market for green data centres will be worth an estimated $45 billion (£28 billion), a compound annual growth rate of 28% between now and then.

With virtualisation named alongside cloud computing as the two “powerful trends” in IT at the moment, choosing the right cable solutions could become more important than ever over the course of the coming years.

How Custom Cables Power Commercial Aircraft

Commercial aviation is one of the great wonders of modern society, with thousands of us jetting off to far-flung corners of the globe every year. It’s a luxury that many of us take for granted and many people don’t really care how an aircraft works, so long as it gets them to their chosen holiday destination on time and in one piece!

This ignorance surrounding the workings of the average commercial aircraft betrays what is truly masterful engineering. cable-designIt is widely accepted that the development of the internal combustion engine accelerated the progress of commercial aircraft, along with the pioneering work of various engineers across the course of the 20th century.

One aspect of aircraft design that doesn’t get as much credit, yet is just as important as the engine itself – especially on modern aircraft – are custom cables. The modern commercial aeroplane is far more than just a bus with wings; it relies on stable data and communication connections with the world below, as well as featuring in-flight entertainment and lighting. It’s essentially a computer in the sky.

Why Custom Cables?

The highly varied functions and unique operating conditions of an aircraft make producing the cables to keep a plane working as it should a challenge. Reliability is one of the key aspects of aviation cable design, with a reliable connection between air traffic control and planes in the sky essential. Reliable custom cable design is also required to keep the cockpit ticking over.

Data cables are also required to provide in flight entertainment for passengers, as well for connections to the fuselage for cargo monitoring systems. Stable power connections for in-flight lighting and electronics are also imperative. With so many functions to cover, it’s easy to see how the amount of cables fitted in an aircraft could pile up. Unfortunately, the space afforded to cables in aircraft design is minimal, meaning all of the functions of the various cables need to be optimised into a small space. In addition to this, cables fitted on an aircraft need to be able to stand up to high operating temperatures and have fire resistant qualities in order to ensure passenger and crew safety.

The Solution

So how do cables manufacturers go about addressing all of these issues? Multicore cables are widely used on commercial aircraft as they can combine multiple coaxial cables into a single sheathed cable, saving on space without compromising on quality. Retractable cables offer a flexible and powerful data transmission solution for in-flight entertainment systems. In the past, Custom Designed Cables have worked with a local aircraft servicing company to provide retractable telephone cables for a major commercial airline. We have also provided cables for the refurbishment of in-flight systems.

Cable shielding is vital in aircraft cable design, providing protection against any potential interference and delivering the reliability and stability all aircraft manufacturers require. Cable shielding also negates potential environmental hazards, further solidifying the operational reliability of the cable as well as making the cable safe for use.

Of course, the very nature of custom cables means that no two aircraft designs will use exactly the same method of cabling. That’s why we work alongside aircraft servicing companies and airlines to design cables according to their exact specifications to ensure that all of our clients get the most out of their cabling solution.

For more information on aviation custom cables, get in touch with CDC Ltd on 01204 658 784 or via the Contact Us page.

Beware The Dangers Of Counterfeit Cables

All the custom cables we build here at CDC is subject to rigorous testing and quality checks; using only the finest materials, we build cables that designed to work efficiently and effectively with safety a paramount concern – as any good cable manufacturer should.

However, over the past decade or so, the UK cable market has been flooded by a wave of counterfeit cables – be they power, data or coaxial cables – retailing for a fraction of the cost of their authentic equivalents.

Not to be confused with non-OEM cables, which are clearly marked as not being made by the OEM, counterfeit cables are usually built overseas to resemble genuine cables, although it is often only in appearance that they share any similarity with the real deal.

What Are Counterfeit Cables?

Counterfeit cables are designed with one thing in mind – profit. Produced in factories overseas (predominantly China), any corner that can be cut in the production of a counterfeit cable usually is, with no regard for meeting the strict British and European standards of cable manufacture.

Although the savings from such processes are passed onto the consumer, this cutting of corners makes counterfeit cables extremely dangerous. In some cases, the expensive copper used in conductors will be replaced by copper-plated aluminium. This small change means that the resistance inside the cable in increased, raising the risk of the cable catching fire and causing severe damage.

Other areas of compromise include replacing materials used in vital cable jacketing with lower quality alternatives and no testing. It goes without saying that counterfeit cables don’t work as well as their genuine equivalents either – ultimately, you get what you pay for.

Whereas a reputable custom cable manufacturer would research the requirements of a client extensively and design a bespoke solution, counterfeiters will always put profit above performance, leading to poor data transmission and the faulty operation of electrical equipment. So why counterfeit cables represent such an issue?

Surely it’s down to the consumer to choose a higher quality cable rather than paying for cheaper alternatives? Well, not exactly. In most instances, counterfeit cables are impossible to tell apart from the cable they’re mimicking apart from in laboratory tests, meaning that well-meaning consumers thinking they’re getting a bargain are often duped into purchasing a low quality alternative. This has led to some estimating that up to 20% of cables for sale may not be safe.

Spotting A Counterfeit Cable

So how can you avoid purchasing a counterfeit cable? The first step is to be vigilant whenever you’re shopping for a new cable. Check that the retailer or cable manufacturer has proper accreditation, as well as keeping an eye out for testimonials. If you’ve never used the retailer before, then conduct on an online search for any warnings regarding that retailer.

Similarly, if the cost of a cable seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Although it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that a genuine retailer could be offering a bargain, most cables have a minimum cost designed to cover the cost of parts and manufacture.

The lower this cost, the higher the chance that the cable is of a poor quality. If the cable is for sale in multiple outlets, cross-reference the varying prices. When you actually receive the cable, there are a number of cable markings to look out for that can differentiate between a genuine cable and a counterfeit. Most cables will feature, from left to right:

  •  The name of the manufacturer
  • The British standard number the cable has been designed to conform to
  • BASEC marking, if the cable has been tested by the British Approvals Service For Cables; Harmonised cable mark
  • Conductor size.
  • A letter denoting the year the cable was built.
  • The country of origin.

If a cable lacks one or more of these markings, it should be considered cause for alarm. Of course, these markings can be – and often are – added without any testing taking place or standards being met so if you’re suspicious, request a testing certificate or contact the relevant accrediting body.

Although counterfeit cables are difficult to tell apart from authentic cables, making the distinction between the two is vital for good performance and your safety. For more information on the ongoing efforts to stop counterfeit cables, check out the BEAMA and Approved Cable Initiative websites.

How Custom Cables Are Used In Robotics

Once the preserve of speculative science fiction novels and movies, we now live in a world where robots are prevalent. Many industries that were once powered by human endeavour alone have now come to rely on robotics for day-to-day functions; car manufacturing, for example, has become an increasingly automated effort.

However, while the science behind these robots is fascinating – the process of writing algorithms that give these machines intelligence and so on – not much attention is given to the actual engineering of these robots. It’s often assumed that the machine is built and given intelligence, without any consideration for how that intelligence will affect the actual operation of the machine.

Custom cables play a key part in the successful operation of robots, whether it’s a welding robot on a production line or a robot designed to function in the same manner as a person. Cables are used to actually power the machine and to facilitate the essential transmission of data that ensures the machine can carry out the function for which it was designed.

What Issues?

Designing a cable to fulfil these functions is harder than it seems. Cables used in robotic machines are often subject in intense and prolonged flexing due to the continued operation of mechanical parts. This sustained flexing can lead to abrasion and cuts on the cable, significantly reducing its operational life. There is also the issue of electromagnetic interference from external sources. This is particularly an issue in industrial settings where many machines are working at once.

Electromagnetic interference can seriously hamper the operation of a robot, leading to reduced data transmission or even a total loss of data. Space can also present something of an issue. Cables are used in robotic machines to power them, control them and transmit data; this usually requires quite a lot of cabling to be housed inside a single machine, space that sometimes cannot be afforded.

The Solution

Cable manufacturers have long been working on finding a solution to these issues and there are a few standard procedures that can ensure a robot performs as well as it can. It’s important to note, however, that most machines are different and will require specific differences in cable design to function at their optimum level.

The issue of abrasion is relatively easy to overcome. Using highly flexible cables and low friction cable shielding, the effects of flexing are usually negated entirely and the cables enjoy a long operational life. In some instances, this shielding will also need to be resistant to oil and solvents too. Cable screening and cable braiding is commonly used to counter the effects of electromagnetic interference, with twisted conductors and copper screening ensuring that the robot works properly in it’s designated environment.

Finally, space can be saved by using a multicore cable combining data, power and control into a single cable. This cable will also be screened and shielded to ensure it performs as it should at all times. For more information on cables for use in robotics, get in touch with Custom Designed Cables.

Are Your Cables Protected From Theft?

Cables are frequently the target of theft, owing to the inclusion of valuable copper in their construction.

At one point it was estimated that cable theft cost the UK £1bn a year, with Network Rail reporting that copper theft cost them over £19m a year. Just this week, two high profile cases of cable theft have been reported in the news, despite the actual level of cable theft dropping by 67% from last year according to government statistics.

The theft of cables, especially custom cables, can be particularly damaging. For one, replacing a cable can be expensive, especially if you had the cable custom built.

The time it takes to construct, ship and install a replacement for a cable that has been stolen could also lead to costly downtime for a business, as evidenced by the hold-up of a bridge being constructed in Rhyl from which cables were stolen.

Protecting cables from theft is, on the face of it, difficult. Many cables, such as those installed on bridges or CCTV cameras are often left exposed.  This means that a thief can quite simply come along and cut the cable before taking it to a scrap metal dealer for cash. While cables installed in a shopping centre or a public place might benefit from having round-the-clock guards patrolling a site, cables installed on railways and in exchanges are also vulnerable to theft.

Thankfully, the Government and cable manufacturers are taking action against cable thieves, such as establishing new regulations for scrap metal dealers and increasing the penalties for cable theft.

Here is a guide to some of your cable protection options, whether you’re planning on installing a single multicore cable or an entire network of fibre optics.

DNA Tracking

One of the most technically impressive ways to protect your cables is DNA tracking, which involves establishing a link between you and your cable.

This can be done via imprinting a unique series of microdots onto a cable, which can then be traced back to your company in the event of a theft. The forensic evidence can also be used in court to increase the likelihood of a conviction.

The inclusion of DNA tracking can also deter a thief from attempting to steal your cable in the first place. Remote Monitoring Hiring someone to stand and look at your cables all day to make sure they won’t be stolen would be useful but cost-ineffective. Remote monitoring, however, does much the same job without the need for someone to be near the cables.

There are various different kinds of remote cable monitoring systems on the market, and most do involve quite a lot of financial outlay. If you’re willing to meet the costs, though, this is a good security option; one of the best we’ve seen actually transmits a signal to the cable owner at the slightest hint of unusual activity, such as disconnection or attempts to break the cable.

Physical Deterrents

BT, who own one of the largest cable networks in the world, have recently invested in SmartWater, a technology that sprays a thief with a solution should they try to tamper with equipment.

Physical deterrents can be extremely effective at deterring criminals, although there is a line at which a deterrent can be deemed too ‘physical’. In general, investing in a technology that marks a thief and helps the police to identify them rather than actually hurting them is the best option.

Guard Boxes

Housing your cables in a metal guard box can make life difficult for a thief, especially as time is usually of the essence to a cable thief. Guard boxes are relatively inexpensive, but it’s worth investing in a highly durable and tough metal to ensure your cables are completely secure.

Cable Printing

Cable marking is probably the least technical security measure in this post, but one of the most effective. Quite simply, this involves printing your company name on the cable so that any potential thieves can’t scrap the cable at a legitimate scrap dealer. Another method that also works is printing words to the effect of ‘stolen, do not scrap’ on your cables. For more information on cable security, get in touch with Custom Designed Cables.

Cables made easy:our products explained

If you don’t work in the industry, it can be difficult to tell your braided cables from your multicore or your coaxial from your coiled, but choosing the right kind of cable for your purpose is essential. So, we’ve put together this brief guide in an attempt to bring some light to the uses and properties of our products. Below we cover braided cables, multicore cables, cable jackets and coiled cables.

Braided cables

Where electromagnetic interference and pulses have an impact on the performance of a cable, braided cables provide the solution. They are designed to eliminate influences from internal and external electromagnetic sources, which can affect the signals and functionality of electrical products such as laptops and computers- an inconvenience if your job requires you to work with these.

There is strict legislation surrounding electromagnetic interference levels, and so it is essential that a good product should be designed to reduce the output of these. There are a range of braiding and screening options available. Aluminium or copper foil tape is usually the cheapest form of screening as there is no extra manufacturing process associated with this solution. Alternatively, copper screening is the better choice for cables where flexibility and conformability are required.

Where there is high risk of electromagnetic interference, the most suitable option is a cable made up of both multiple layers of braiding and a metalised foil. The amount of layers used here can be dictated by the risk level of the interference and be purposefully designed to counteract this.

Multicore

As the name suggests, a multicore is any cable that has more cores than the amount you’d expect, for example a coaxial cable with four cores in a single sheath would be considered to be multicore.

Multicore cables are a strong and flexible solution that are more frequently used in electronic and audio visual equipment due to their versatility. Using multiple cores gives you the added benefit of being able to achieve various functions through a single cable.

As well as this, the range of jacket materials used can be adapted to suit various operating requirements, making the multicore cable a useful solution that can be customised for a vast range of uses.

Retractable/ coiled cables

These are a great solution if you need a cable to be both durable and flexible, as well as versatile and of high quality. Coiled cables can be designed to suit the length and finish you desire, taking into consideration the environment the cable will be used in and the extension range you’ll need.

We can design a full range of retractable or coiled cables- from standard to the more bespoke and customised solutions.

Cable Jackets

The jacket is an essential part of the cable’s construction, used for providing a protective layer against damage and wear to the inner cable, as well as for health and safety purposes to prevent any hazards to the user.

The cable is insulated with a jacket so that the conductor at the core is able to perform to its fullest capability, detracting the risk of external influences. The intended use of the cable plays an essential part in deciding on the material used for the jacket, from considering the strength that would be required of the cable to the operating voltage and the environment it would be used in.

At Custom Designed Cables, we can offer a range of cable jackets in varying colours and compounds, adding these to existing cables or designing new.

We can also design completely custom cables based around your specific needs and provide prototypes of any cable we make so that you can try before you buy.

Feel free to browse through all of our services or contact us for advice or to discuss your particular requirements. We’re happy to help!