Traditional coaxial cables were once the standard means of connecting a television to an antenna or cable TV access point. But they are less common now that high-definition and ultra-high-definition televisions make prevalent use of HDMI, fiber optical, and ethernet cables for many of their connections. Still, coaxial cables have their purposes, and your video system may still use them.
A coaxial cable used to bring electronic signals to a television or other electronic device terminates in an F connector. Despite the name, F connectors are round metal barrel-like bits that attach to the end of the coaxial cable.
There are several ways these F connectors can be attached to coaxial cable. Professional installers use a coaxial cable stripper, which strips all three layers of the cable at once. Then, they slip on the F connector and secure it with a coaxial cable tool, which presses the connector onto the cable and crimps it at the same time.
What Is an F Connector?
An F connector is a fitting that connects a coaxial cable to an electronic device or a wall jack. It contains threads that allow you to screw the cable onto a TV, cable wall outlet, or other electronic devices.
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If you're not a pro, you probably don't have these special tools. But you might own (or can borrow) a basic cable crimper that will allow you to install a crimp-type F connector. Don't have a crimper? No problem—simply buy a twist-on F connector, which you can install by hand.
As for stripping the cable before adding the connector, an ordinary utility knife will do the trick. It helps to have standard electrical wire strippers for one of the steps, but you can also get by with the utility knife. Just be sure to work cautiously to protect the inner copper cable—and your fingers.
Equipment / Tools
- Utility knife
- Wire strippers (optional)
- Cable crimper (for crimp-style connectors)
- Crimp-type or twist-on F connector
Strip the Wire
First, you'll strip 3/4 inch of the black or white outer jacket from the end of the coaxial cable, using a utility knife.
Carefully make a shallow cut all the way around the cable, cutting through the outer jacket only. Use your fingernails to peel away the jacket from the cable. This exposes the layer of fine metal shielding wires and foil just inside the jacket.
Trim the Shielding Foil
Fold back the shielding wires onto the cable jacket, and trim them with wire strippers or scissors so they are about 1/8 inch long. Now, use the utility knife to cut through the metal shielding foil so it extends only about 1/4 inch from the cut in the cable jacket.
The metal shielding wires inside the outer sheath of a coaxial cable are very fine and have pointy tips. This means they can easily stab a finger, so be extra cautious working with them. Using gloves will make the job much harder to complete, so go for an ounce of prevention here.
Trim the Plastic Layer
Strip 1/4 inch of the white plastic insulating layer from around the copper wire core of the cable, using wire strippers or a utility knife. Be very careful not to cut or nick the copper wire itself, as this can affect the cable's performance. There should now be 1/4 inch of the bare copper wire extending from the end of the white plastic layer.
Install the Connector
This stage depends on which type of connector you are using:
Crimp-type F connector: Fit the crimp ring of the F connector over the end of the cable and slide it down over the outer jacket and shielding wires. Slide it until the white plastic layer makes contact with the hole inside the connector. You should see about 1/4 inch of copper wire inside the end of the F connector. Continue to the final step.
Twist-on F connector: Fit the F connector onto the end of the cable and twist it clockwise until the white plastic layer contacts the hole inside the connector, and the copper wire extends about 1/16 inch beyond the front end of the connector. For twist-on connectors, your work is done.
Completing a Crimp-Type Installation
On a crimp-type F connector, place the crimping tool jaws over the crimp ring of the F connector, and squeeze the tool handles to secure the connector to the cable. You are now finished.