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Click for the BBB Business Review of this Antennas in Ithaca MITV ANTENNA TRANSMISSION LINE - Coax Cable

This guide was written long ago but much of the information is useful today.

Chapter Four - TV ANTENNA INSTALLATION - Install coax cable


Selecting and Installing TV Antenna Transmission Line

Transmission line or down lead, is the wire that carries the signal from the TV antenna output terminals to the receiver input terminals. Even the best antenna and the most expensive receiver will not produce an acceptable picture if the transmission line has not been carefully selected and correctly installed. The transmission line is more important than most people realize. Television reception is sensitive and highly susceptible to interference from many different sources. Transmission line that is carefully chosen and neatly run by an installer who knows what he is doing will reward the customer with clear, distortion free color TV reception.

The Two Basic Types

There are two basic types of transmission line: 300 ohm twin lead and 75 ohm coaxial cable. Most TV antennas are 300 ohm balanced output. Therefore, an outdoor balun is required at the TV antenna in order to use 75 ohm coaxial cable. If a preamplifier with 300 ohm in put is used, a short length of 300 twin lead will be required between the TV antenna and preamplifier. 300 ohm twin lead comes in various colors and thicknesses, is the least expensive, but requires more careful installation, and picks up interference signals if they are present. In modern installations, it is only used to connect between an TV antenna and a preamplifier. Although more expensive, 75 ohm coaxial cable is easier to correctly install, has a longer life, and does not pick up interference. Coaxial cable is round with a central conductor wire surrounded by plastic insulating material, a braided wire or aluminum foil sheathing, and a water-resistant outer covering jacket. Most modern TV sets have a single 75 ohm VHF/UHF input. Older TVs frequently have a 75 ohm VHF input and a 300 ohm UHF output. In this case, a band separator will be required. Coaxial cable has many advantages over twin lead and is preferred by most installers. Update:Nearly all installations today consist of coax cable and the use of twin lead is rare.

Installing Twin lead

Start the twin lead installation at the TV antenna and work toward the receiver. First, assemble the TV antenna according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Carefully "snap-out" the elements and then mount the TV antenna on the mast. Attach the twin lead wire conductors to the TV antenna terminals with lugs. Never twist bare wire around the TV antenna terminals. It is a poor connection that will deteriorate even more as rust and corrosion set in.

Update: Twin lead wire is rarely used in today's installations

Next, pass the twin lead through a standout or standoff.  Install the standout on either the mast or the TV antenna boom as recommended by the TV antenna manufacturer. Leave just enough slack to relieve tension on the TV antenna connections. Crimp the standout firmly enough to securely hold the twin lead but not so firmly that it deforms the twin lead. Thoroughly spray the antenna connections with an acrylic insulator such as Krylon. This will retard corrosion and rust. Also, seal the end of the twin lead if foam is used as part of the twin lead insulating material. This will prevent moisture absorption. Twin lead must not be run close to metal. Metal interacts with the twin lead conductors. This causes signal mismatch, resulting in inefficient signal transmission through the line. Horizontal runs of twin lead also act as an  TV antenna. This causes two or more sets of identical signals to reach the receiver at different times producing ghosts on the TV screen. It may also cause "suck out," or loss of signal. Some types of twin lead also develop high attenuation (increased impedance) in wet or humid weather. This causes severe signal loss. If an TV  antenna rotor is used, never run the twin lead and rotor wire through the same standout. The wires and signals will interact, and the quality of the TV picture will be decreased. Use two evenly spaced mast standouts for the top 5 feet of mast or in-line double standouts designed to carry both rotor and transmission line. Use additional standouts as necessary to keep the twin lead away from the mast. Standouts should be at least three inches long. Twistthe twin lead once every three feet to prevent wind lashing. Use additional standouts at ends and turns to keep the twin lead away from eaves, gutters, drainpipes and any other metal surfaces. When running twin lead indoors, drive staples or tacks only in the center portion of the insulation between the conductors. Do not use any staples or tacks large enough to "bridge" the conductors. This will short the conductors. Run twin lead directly to the back of the set from the wall, floor, or baseboard. Don’t leave more twin lead than absolutely needed. Extra twin lead will coil up and act as additional TV antennas. This causes ghosting and signal loss.

Install Coaxial Cable

Because 75 ohm coaxial cable is shielded it is completely unaffected by contact with metal structures, and it will not pick up unwanted signals as twin lead does. Also, its performance is not affected by moisture, and it generally has a much longer life span than 300 ohm twin lead. Aluminum/mylar-equipped coaxial TV cable provides superior low-loss performance. (Examples are Channel Master coaxial cable model numbers 9533, 9539, 9540, and 9544.) Begin installing coaxial cable by first connecting the TV antenna end" to a balun. (The balun is not necessary if the TV antenna is one of the few with a 75 ohm output.) Attach the input lugs of the balun to the TV antenna terminals. Apply acrylic insulator or silicone grease to the connections. A weather boot (Figure 5-7) should also be installed over the connections. Next, run the coax through a standout mounted on the boom or the mast. This will prevent the weight of the transmission line from creating stress on the TV antenna connections. From this point on however, the coax may be taped to the mast at appropriate intervals. Use plenty of good-quality vinyl tape to secure it. (If you also are installing a rotor, sufficient slack must be left in the transmission line between the mast and the antenna to permit rotation of the TV antenna. Also, coax and rotor wire can be run together without interaction or signal distortion.

These are precautions that must be observed when you install coax cable

1. Do not bend coax too sharply. This may collapse
the dielectric and ruin the necessary spacing
between the center conductor and shield.

2. Do not crush or deform the coax. Ghosting and
smears may result.

Digital Update:  Pixellation may occur (signal hesitation or drop) Ghosting does not appear in the picture of today's digital reception.

3. When attaching connectors to coax, do not nick
the center conductor. This will cause a stress point
that will probably break the next time the wire is flexed.

4. Remember that in almost all cases baluns are
required to match the 75 ohm coax impedance to
the 300 ohm impedances of the antenna output
and the TV input. 
Update: Today's Television all have coax cable antenna input connections 


Both coax and twin lead should be run as directly as possible to the receiver. Avoid excessively sharp bends or turns. You should also try to use one continuous transmission line without splices. (However, if necessary, two lengths of coax can be joined with a splicing connector. Also, keep the line away from anything with sharp or jagged edges. Run the transmission line into the house through an attic or basement section if possible. Never run the line through a window or door. This invites damage to the line and is the mark of a careless installer. If your entry is through shingles or shakes, remove one of the shingles and drill a hole for the line through the wall. Use a brace with an extension bit to drill through the insulation, plaster, and/or drywall. After you run the line through the hole, replace the shingle, and you’ll have a neat, waterproof entry.

Chapter Five Grounding Procedures > 

Installation Guide Index >

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