Don't Put Off Your Cable Decision: Part 1

Posted on Monday, June 16, 2014 by Alpha Wire

There are many things engineers must consider when designing systems.  Interfacing requirements, government regulations, power needed, safety issues, industry standards, environmental conditions, and many more.  Unfortunately, cables are often one of the last elements considered, sometimes even overlooked completely!  However, cables are one of the most important parts of a system—if one fails, a whole system can go down with it.  As a result, debugging and searching for the problem can be even more troublesome.


Just like other components of a system, such as transistors, wires must be carefully considered and thought out.  For example, if one was designing an electrical system that may be placed in a radioactive environment, Galium Arsenide transistors are most often used.  Although they cost a little more than the average transistors, they’re less prone to radiation damage and actually draw current faster resulting in a faster switching transistor.  Likewise, wires can be vulnerable to outside electromagnetic interference (EMI).  Weak signals passing through wires can be corrupted by outside noise, while outside noise can also create a false signal.


To overcome this problem, some designers may decide to keep the wires out of environments with lots of noise.  However, there are situations when this just isn’t a practical solution.  Therefore, a special “shielding” or foil is used to isolate the wire and prevent noise.  Companies such as Alpha Wire provide these different types of cables with different options for shielding effectiveness.  The company’s Foil Shield and Supra-Shield are just two of the types they offer.  The foil shielding provides a lightweight solution which can be used with small cables and provide modest protection from noise.  The Supra shielding is an option for environments more prone to excessive EMI.  It offers a triple shield foil (aluminum/polyester/aluminum) along with a copper braid shield.  As a result, users can expect high quality performance along with protection, which may be needed for sensitive systems or environments.

Stay tuned for part 2...


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