Whether you are installing a new satellite TV system or expanding an existing one you will be installing many coax cables to distribute the signal from the dish to possibly multiple receivers. The standard for connecting these devices together is the F connector.

In the 1970s, coax cable replaced twin lead as cable networks expanded and required greater bandwidth. The F connector became the standard termination due to its simplicity and low attenuation.

Installing these connectors correctly is relatively simple and requires only a few tools. It is worth investing in the right coax crimping tools to avoid loose connectors that can cause ghosting or tiling of television signals. If signal quality is of particular concern then the use of Gold Plated Connectors should be considered.

The latest RG6 coaxial cables are available in various types: From Twin-Shielded up to Quad-Shielded. The cable has a black outer jacket for weather protection, two or three shield layers made of braided wire and foil, a white dielectric layer, and a solid center conductor made of copper.

Twin shielded cable has a braided wire shield over a layer of foil, while a Quad-Shield cable has two braided wire layers with foil sandwiched between them (Image Right).

F Connector Types

There are three common types of F connector to choose from for installation on cut and prepared coaxial cable: Twist-On, Crimp-On, and Compression Fittings.

Twist-On F Connector – These are the simplest to install. After the coaxial cable is prepared by stripping back the plastic insulation, the connector is installed by twisting it over the cut end of the cable. These connectors are the usual choice for the DIY installer and although very popular it should be noted that they have no weather protection and are recommended for temporary use. (See Details…) Crimp-On F Connector – Has a metal ferrule that is compressed over part of the connector. This requires a special tool with either a circular or hexagonal shaped jaw. Like the twist-on types, these connectors are not weatherproof. If they’re installed on an antenna, they should be protected inside a water tight box. (See Details…)
Compression F Connector – The standard for professional installations. Unlike the crimp-on connectors, compression units incorporate O-rings to prevent water entry. The connector is installed using a special tool that applies force to in line with the coaxial cable. They also have a deeper threaded end for more protection. (See Details…)

F Connector Tools

While it’s possible to install F connectors with only a knife, achieving a reliable, long-lasting connection is best done with the proper tools. Each manufacturer may have different specifications, so always check their installation guides.

coax cable stripper forms the end of the cable properly, cutting through the outer jacket, shield layer and dielectric in one operation. Done properly, this won’t nick the center conductor and each part of the coaxial cable with be the correct length.

Crimping and compression tools are designed for use with their proprietary connectors. The tools are costly, however, they’re the best choice for professional results.

Installing a Twist-On F Connector
With the coax stripped, fold the shield wires back over the black outer cover and twist the connector onto the end. Make sure that none of the wires or the foil is touching the center conductor.

Installing a Crimp-On F Connector
With the coax stripped, slide the crimp ring down over the black outer cover. Fold the shield wires back over the cover and remove the inner foil, if necessary. Push the connector down over the coax end. Slide the crimp ring back up over the shield wires and crimp it using a Coax Crimping Tool.

Installing a Compression Connector
Strip the coax and slide the compression connector onto it. Be careful to handle the connector only by the threaded end, not the compression fitting. Put the assembly into the Compression Crimping Tool and apply sufficient force to compress the assembly.

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