Tag Archives: Cable Suppliers

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.

Cable Manufacturer win SBS competition


Custom Designed Cables ltd win Theo Paphitis’ #SBS competition

It’s official, CDC have joined the #SBS club! For those of you not familiar with SBS, it’s a twitter competition where each week Dragons Den star Theo Paphitis retweets his favourite 6 small businesses! Thousands of hopefuls every week send their tweets to Theo in the hope that they will get recognised…

Here is our winning tweet:

CDC Ltd winning tweet
Winning tweet
Theo's retweet
Announcement of win

Firstly, we would like to say a HUGE thank you to Theo for selecting Custom Designed Cables Ltd as one of his favourite small businesses this week! It is a fantastic achievement for us and we are delighted to be recognised as ‘one to watch’ in the future. We must also offer a massive thank you to all our Twitter followers and fellow users who have sent us lots of very kind messages congratulating us on our win!

Custom Designed Cables Ltd have over 20 years’ experience in designing, manufacturing and supplying custom cables; We are unrivalled in both service and quality and as such we are one of the UK’s leading manufacturers :

  • Any custom cable requirement is welcomed, in small and large production runs
  • An extensive range of manufacturing capability, based on decades of experience
  • Full traceability and supporting documentation of all the components we use
  • Prototype cables, allowing you to experiment with different configurations
  • Retractable cables also known as coiled cables are proven to perform and can be deployed for many different applications – particularly when versatility and flexibility are key considerations.
  • An open approach to costings; we provide all of your costs upfront so you know exactly what you’re paying for
  • High quality and cost-effective bespoke cables for a wide range of applications

Our cable manufacturing experts design cables for a broad range of industries, including the automotive, audio and video, instrumentation, medical and offshore sectors.

Our vast and varied exposure to a wide variety of industries and applications means that we can design and manufacture bespoke cables to meet any requirement. By applying our quality approach to cable manufacturing we guarantee a robust, high-quality and cost effective end product.

Keep an eye out for many new and exciting developments to come for CDC, you can follow us on TwitterFacebookGoogle + and Linked In

You can check out our SBS profile here: Custom Designed Cables Ltd SBS profile


New Website

At Custom Designed Cables Ltd, we are committed to getting better. A one stop shop for all of your cable supply needs. As part of that philosophy, we have launched a new website, with improved navigation, more information, and more ways for you to interact with us.

What’s New?

You’ll find comprehensive sections for all of our products and services, with everything you need to know—whether you’re an existing customer or you’re interested in learning more about us.

Our Product pages provide an overview of our cable solutions and our Service pages provide information regarding our value added services such as cable enhancements.

Information on our comprehensive extrusion compound portfolio is available within the datasheet pages where not only will you find material specific information, yet also relevant approvals for these specific materials within the datasheets.

See something that is of interest to you? Use our contact form to request a call back!

Our Latest news section, in addition to press releases, now includes company news articles from latest developments within the industry to news of our latest accreditations and commendations.

Our new site has also been optimised for use on mobile devices, so it’s easier to keep up with us when you’re on the go.

We Want to Hear From You!

Please take some time to explore everything our new site has to offer and let us know about your experience. You can use our new web feedback form to let us know what you think, give us ideas, or suggest something you’d like including in the future.

Happy Navigating!

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.  

Cable solutions revive the ailing TV

New cable solutions are breathing new life into the ‘first screen’ of home entertainment, according to industry analyst Nielsen. For decades, the television wasn’t just the ‘first screen’ – it was the only screen households saw on a daily basis.

Since the 1980s, home computers have introduced a second screen to the home entertainment mix, while mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones are now adding a third screen to the line-up. And while many critics have claimed this sounds the death knell for television as the dominant format, Nielsen disagrees – and cable solutions are the answer to the problem. This is thanks to Internet Protocol Television, or IPTV, which allows on-demand content to be streamed directly to a TV set via a broadband internet connection.

Pat McDonough, Nielsen’s senior vice-president of insights, analysis and policy, says: “IPTV has grown dramatically over the course of the last year. “People talk about ‘the TV is dead’, or that it’s dying, but it doesn’t look like it yet.” As technologies such as IPTV emerge, UK cable manufacturers will be on hand to produce the custom cable solutions required to enable connectivity, and to ensure home entertainment is able to develop throughout the 21st century.

Why should you be worried about copper theft?

Copper theft is an increasingly common crime; a quick browse of copper theft on Google News will unveil a spate of cases across the globe, with the value of copper stolen by the perpetrators often in the thousands.

The reason copper theft has become so common is because the value of copper in recent years has skyrocketed. This is because of the increasing demand for the material in nations such as India, where construction rates have similarly increased in recent years.
Copper is a mined material, making it quite difficult to source if you don’t have access to the proper equipment or indeed a location to mine the material. Therefore, the easiest way for someone to make their fortunes with copper is to steal it – often from custom cables, which utilise the material for grounding.

No-one thinks that a crime is going to be committed against them, despite us all hearing about such cases on the news every day. However, copper theft is a genuine threat to anyone using cables, especially those in open areas such as train yards. There are plenty of reasons to take precautions against the crime too, as copper theft can have a series of devastating effects.

It’s costly to replace

Copper has a high market value, which makes it attractive to thieves. On the opposite side of the coin, it means that replacing stolen copper can be extremely expensive. Network Rail, one of the biggest victims of cable theft, suggests that the crime costs them well over £19m a year. While your cable collection will undoubtedly be smaller than that of Network Rail, the costs incurred in replacing cables damaged in removing copper can be extremely high.

It poses a massive risk to your workers

Copper is commonly used as the grounding element in multi-core cables, the part of the cable that protects anyone handling the cable from electrocution and even death. Without this element, your cables present a massive danger to anyone potentially handling them.

You’ll need to deactivate the cables to ensure the safety of your staff, which means downtime and costly replacements. You might have also heard horror stories regarding the people who steal cables receiving an array of injuries and even being killed in the process of trying to steal copper.

What can you do about cable theft?

We’ve discussed cable theft and the actions you can take against it before, but there are a couple of other things to consider when protecting your cables.

Hide or disguise your cables

Most cable thefts occur at sites where cables are left exposed in the open air, meaning that a thief can walk in, cut the cable and take what they need with the minimal of effort. Hiding your cables in a place they can’t be seen (consider hiding them from aerial view too if possible, as thieves can use a tool like Google Maps to locate cables) or even burying them underground can make your site a lot less vulnerable to theft.

Log who has access to your site

It’s sad to think it possible, but quite a few copper thefts are ‘inside jobs’, i.e. carried out by people who work for an organisation. The best way to negate this threat is to make everyone accessing the site sign-in and sign-out. Also keep a register of who has keys to the site, and determine who gets key holder privileges carefully.

Consider changing to a copper alternative

This isn’t a cost-effective option for those who already have cables with copper in them unfortunately, but switching the build of your cable so that it includes a lower value material such as tinned copper can reduce your risk of theft. Some technology also weaves nylon into the copper wiring, which contaminates and spoils the copper when melted down. If you’re concerned about cable theft and want a high-quality, secure cable solution, get in touch with CDC today.  

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.

Untwisting the Jargon: What is Abrasion Resistance?

Unless you’ve had the kind of experience that only comes from running a custom cable business, getting your head around the plethora of cable-based jargon can be extremely difficult. Most people will just plug in a cable and hope that it works. However, those jargon terms are actually extremely important and often describe key features of a cable’s construction.

If you’re planning to have custom cables built, it really does help to know your cable braiding from your multicore cables. That’s where we come in. You’ve probably already come across our jargon-busting dictionary, but over the next couple of months, we’re going to be further explaining some of the cable industry’s most confusing jargon terms. Today’s topic? Abrasion resistance.

What is abrasion resistance?

Abrasion resistance wouldn’t be such a confusing term if resistance didn’t have so many meanings in the electrical field. There is, of course, electrical resistance but more or less anything that ‘resists’ something else can be described as having ‘resistance’. Abrasion resistance is most commonly used when describing cable jacketing. It describes a property of cable jacketing, specifically the ability of that cable jacketing to stand up to the effects of (you guessed it) abrasion.

Cables are subject to all kinds of wear and tear; it could be from people walking over them or during the operation of the machinery housing the cables. While most cables will be designed to stand up to this wear and tear for a while, the abrasion resistance of the jacket housing the cable will ultimately determine the operation life of the cable.

The abrasion resistance of particular materials can be tested in a number of ways, but the main crux of any test is usually quite primitive; simply keep rubbing against the material until it starts to degrade. There are two main aspects of any abrasion test; the abrasion rate and median abrasion rate. The abrasion rate is determined by the amount of mass lost every 1000 cycles of whatever it is that might be rubbing against the material.

This is then measured against a similar material’s results to provide the median abrasion rate. The test can be carried out in a number of ways but one of the preferred methods is to use an automated ‘arm’ to draw a brush along the material in a repetitive motion for a set period of brushes. Of course, abrasion resistance isn’t an exact science as it doesn’t always account for increased periods of abrasion (if you use a particular machine intensively for a week after weeks of inactivity, for example) or certain environmental factors, and so can’t provide a definitive operational time.

However, it does provide cable manufacturers with the knowledge to source only the best materials for their cable jacketing. When you order a cable from Custom Designed Cables, you can be sure it’s housed in a cable jacket with a high abrasion resistance. For more information on our custom cable solutions, get in touch today.  

How Are Custom Cables For Solar Panels Designed?

With the environment at a tipping point and the reduction of carbon emissions essential, more and more buildings are employing solar panels as a power source.

Although one might suspect that the British weather doesn’t lend itself to a source of power that comes solely from sunlight, solar panels can provide clean energy to power most commercial and household tasks. However, the deployment of solar panels on a wide range of different buildings has presented something of a problem for the manufacturers of photovoltaic systems – namely, finding a way to ensure that the panels provide as much energy as possible regardless of the size or shape of the building.

One of the main issues in achieving this comes with the power cables that transmit energy. As most buildings are different sizes, the length of a solar cable needs to be long enough to connect between two points without suffering from too much voltage drop.

The power demands of whoever is using the solar panels also needs to come into play as the cable needs to be able to meet the requirements of the user. As these requirements will vary widely between different users, designing a ‘one size fits all’ solar cable is nigh-on impossible, which is where custom cables come in.

Custom-built photovoltaic cables can address all of the issues outlined above and more, providing a cost-effective way of harnessing the full power of solar energy. Having a cable built bespoke also negates any potential performance or safety issues associated with using the wrong cable.

A key task in the designing of a solar cable is calculating how much voltage drop may be suffered due to the distance between the panels and the end power point. This is done by working out the distance between the cables and the end point along with the overall amp rating of the combined panels.

Going through this process allows the cable designer to determine what gauge of cable to use when producing the final product. As a general rule, the thicker the gauge of the cable, the more high-demand energy tasks it can power. Thicker gauge cables also tend to be used when the distance from the panels is quite significant. At the core of a solar cable tends to be a stranded copper core, which can be increased in size according to the demands of an application.

Equally important, however, is what lies on the outside of the cable.  Solar cables are exposed to a lot of heat, making heat-resistant cable extrusion an important addition. As the cable will be located outside, the cable jacket also needs to be sufficient enough to protect the cable from the elements.

The connectors at the end of the cable will largely depend on your particular type of solar panel and whatever it is you’ll be using the panels to power.

This is something that your cable manufacturer will advise you on. Custom Designed Cables have extensive experience in designing photovoltaic cables and developing cables for commercial and domestic use for a large renewable energy company.

For more information on solar cables, and custom cables in general, contact Custom Designed Cables on 01204 658 784.