Thicknet vs Thinnet – Types of Coaxial Cables in Networking

Initially designed for military uses, different types of coaxial cables have found their application in the government sector as well as in the commercial market. Thicknet and Thinnet for data transfer are obsolete Ethernet networking technologies, RG6 for tv connections are some of the popular cables today. Coaxial cables have been widely used for transmitting video and audio signals and data by cable tv and internet service providing companies. They are used for connecting antennas, and satellite signal receivers with TV sets. Cable TV and internet now available in the vast majority of homes that use coaxial cables.

These cables are also used to connect tv with other home appliances such as DVD. CCTV cameras used for surveillance also use coaxial cables for networking.

The key to the success of coaxial cables is their design, which offers shielding from external electromagnetic interference EMI and other environmental factors. Shielding of coaxial cables prevents the quality of signals from being compromised.

Different Types of Coaxial Cables

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Types of coaxial cables

With diverse applications of coaxial cables, they are designed differently to meet different requirements of a particular application. Havier shielding can significantly reduce signal leakage or EMI but that can also increase the cost of cable dramatically. Overall thickness of cable indicates the internal design and the application. 

There are several different types of coaxial cables that are most often used: RG -58 (thinnet), RG59, RG11, RG8 (thicknet) and RG6.

What is a Radio Guide or RG number?

Gauge is the measure of the thickness of the cable and is referred to as Radio Guide measurement or RG number. Higher RG count means thicker cable and a thinner central conductor cord. The three most commonly used coaxial cable sizes used for video signal transmission are RG6, RG11, and RG59, while R6-58 and RG8 are used for data transfer in ethernet connections.

The actual difference between these types of coaxial cables is the width, or gauge, of the copper conductor. Generally speaking, the larger the gauge of the copper conductor, the less degradation there is in signal quality over long distances. Larger the gauge measure, the thinner the conductor and the lower the bandwidth capacity.

Types of Coaxial Cables for Video Signal Transmission

RG59 with an outside diameter of 6.15mm has the thinnest central copper conductor of 0.85mm diameter and 3.85mm mesh of insulation. It is best suited for low bandwidth applications such as CCTV analog video feeds. It is not suitable for HD television broadcasts which require significantly more bandwidth.

RG6 with an outside diameter of 6.90mm, 1.12mm central conductor, and 4.50mm insulation is the most commonly coaxial cable used for domestic television setups. 

RG11 with an outside diameter of 10.30mm can be used for higher bandwidth applications such as HD TV connection. It is the thickest of the three, with minimum flexibility, and therefore difficult to bend or hardest to install.

Difference between RG6 and RG11

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RG6 and RG11 tow different types of coaxial cables

Basically, RG6 has a higher attenuation level when compared to RG11 while RG11 cables are more expensive and can take the signals roughly twice as far as RG6 cables without compromising the quality of signals. RG6 can transmit a signal up to 600 meters, whereas RG11 can transmit a signal up to 1,100 meters without degradation in the transmission. However, 1,100 meters is an extravagance for domestic needs. RG 59 can carry the signal up to only 25 meters without a significant loss.

Ethernet-based LANs connection

Ethernet-based Local Area Networks LANs are a set of computers and devices in close physical proximity networked together with the help of cables or wires. One example of it could be devices in one signal building using a shared cable internet data connection.

Types of Coaxial Cable in Networking

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Thicknet was the original Ethernet wiring, but Thinnet, which is cheaper and easier to install, was more commonly used Ethernet wire.

While Thicknet continues to be used for backbone wiring, the use of coaxial cable for LANs connection is obsolete practice and is now replaced by unshielded twisted-pair (UTP) cabling. Thinnet is still used in electrically noisy environments like shop floors in factories, (EMI) caused by motors, generators, and other heavy equipment that can disrupt communication if UTP is used. This heavy EMI and noise will not interfere with the signals in coaxial cabling, with its internal shielding to prevent disruption.

Difference and similarities between Thinnet and Thicknet

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Thicknet and Thinnet types of coaxial cables

Thicknet – Ethernet-based LANs using thick cable RG8/U cable that is 0.4 inch in diameter for internet-connection are referred to as Thicknet or10Base5 systems. Here 10 means 10Mbps speed that this cable can offer, Base means baseband, and 5 represents the maximum distance 500 meters recommended between nodes/repeaters.

Thinnet – Ethernet systems using thinner coaxial cable RG58/U that is 0.2 inch in diameter and has an impedance of 50 ohms are referred to as Thinnet or 10Base2. Here 2 represents the maximum distance of 200 meters recommended between nodes/repeaters. Thinnet cabling can become damaged if it is sharply bent or twisted, so handle it carefully. (It is not nearly as fragile as fiber-optic cabling, however.)

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