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Bend Radius

Designers, installers, and system integrators, have many rules and guidelines to follow. Most of these are intended to maximize cable and equipment performance. Many of these are ‘rules-of-thumb’, simple guidelines, easy to remember, and often just as easily broken. One of these is the ‘rule-of-thumb’ regarding the bending of cable, especially coaxial cable. Many may have heard the term “No tighter than ten times the diameter.” While this can be helpful, in a general way, there is a deeper and more complex question. What happens when you do bend cable? What if you have no choice? Often a specific choice of rack or configuration of equipment requires that cables be bent tighter than that recommendation. And what happens if you ‘unbend’ a cable that has been damaged? Does it stay damaged or can it be restored? This paper outlines a series of laboratory tests to determine exactly what happens when cable is bent and what the reaction is. Further, we will analyze the effect of bending on cable performance, specifically looking at impedance variations and return loss (signal reflection). For high-definition video signals (HD-SDI) return loss is the key to maximum cable length, bit errors, and open eye patterns. So analyzing the effecting of bending will allow us to determine signal quality based on the bending of an individual cable. But does this apply to digital audio cables? Does the relatively low frequencies of AES digital signals make a difference? Can these cables be bent with less effect on performance? These tests were repeated on both coaxial cable of different sizes, and twisted pairs. Flexible coax cables were tested, as well as the standard solid-core installation versions. Paired cables consisted of AES digital audio shielded cables, both install and flexible versions, were also tested.

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