Wednesday, February 27, 2019

What coaxial feedline should I use?

It's no good having a zillion element beam atop a mast that pokes through the clouds if hardly any of the power from the transceiver makes its way all the way up to the antenna.  That can happen with bad coaxial feedline. Either because it's inherently lossy or due to damage such as water ingress.

Generally speaking, the higher the operating frequency and the thinner the feed line the greater the loss. Loss is expressed as a number of decibels for a given length at a particular frequency. 

Unless you're willing to compromise station performance you should do what you can to keep total feedline loss to 1dB or under. This means that at least 80% of your power will reach your antenna.

Ardent VHF and UHF operators, particularly those who operate weak signal moonbounce, will want to be even stricter. This is because they are operating so close to the noise level that every decibel counts.

Conversely those who operate low power mobile and portable installations may be more concerned about feedline size and weight than the ultimate performance.  And the lower power means that the power handling limitations of thin feedline do not arise. Still, you still want people to hear you so you can't be too cavalier about losses.

For the fill-in on feedline, here's some great items to read:

* Feedlines from the ARRL
* Which cable to use from
* Feeding the beast by N4KC
* 2014 Tech Study Guide - feedline and connectors

PS: Want to read more about antennas? Consider this selection of antenna books. They are affiliate links meaning that I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you decide to purchase.


  1. Hello Peter, sorry I post a link to my blog again. That's because over the years I wrote and experimented with several antenna topics you publish here. I think 1 or 2 dB is not such a big thing as people might think. Although you have people that want to have full power at the antenna. You can always use open line instead! However open line to feed a beam is complicated. Here my thoughts about coax and their losses:

    To get below 1dB coax loss for a 50MHz beam with 50m coax is possible but you need a considerable amount of money to realize it! For many, and for me, it's just a hobby and we can spend limited resources.

    73, Bas

  2. Peter, perhaps consider writing a post reminding folks that balanced feedline, when usable, results in almost no loss or at least, no loss due to SWR issues. Braden Glett kd8zm


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