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What is the Best Coax for Ham Radio?

cables wrapped around each other

The coaxial cable is our most commonly seen transmission line, but some are better for certain devices than others. You want an impedance of about 50 ohm to match seamlessly to your transceivers.

Let’s take a look at the different types and which is best.

Best Coax for Ham Radio Reviews

1. 100 ft RG8X Coax Cable for CB/Ham Radio

The RG8X coaxial cable or coax cable for ham radios are larger than other types and can account for a lower loss in transmission. They are one of the most popular choices and most easy to come by. 

We found this one to be very appealing due to the less than common greyish white color. This can match certain interiors (if yours is mostly light-colored), so you won’t see an unsightly black cable randomly running along the walls.

It features a 95% copper braid shield and 2 soldered PL-259 connectors on either end. Those who need a longer cable can benefit from the 100 ft length, but if it’s too long it’s very easy to shorten the length with twist ties. 

The braid quality is top-notch and the RG8X coaxial cable for ham and CB radios is great for high frequencies.

Pros

  • Low transmission loss
  • Grey color
  • A long length of 100 ft
  • Features 2 soldered PL-259 connectors
  • High-quality copper braid
  • Does well for high frequencies
  • Pretty weatherproof
  • 16 GA stranded center conductor
  • Great value

Cons

  • Connectors may not screw down well

2. RG58 15M Low Loss UHF PL-259 Male to Male Ham Radio Coaxial Cable

The RG58 coaxial cable for ham radios comes with 2 male connectors that can easily attach to antennas, radio transmitters, and more.

An RG58 is the smallest and slimmest of coaxial cables and is the standard cable used for mobile installations.

This one also features what we suggested, a 50-ohm low loss, and measuring at 15m, it’s great for many standard ham radio stations. They transmit quite well through all frequencies and come at a low cost too!

Pros

  • Minimal signal loss
  • Small diameter
  • 15 m long
  • Affordable cost
  • The standard for ham radios
  • PL-259 adapter on either side
  • Robust construction
  • Pretty lightweight

Cons

  • Tuning will matter with this coaxial cable

3. 3 Ft RG8U Coax CB Ham Radio Cable

Lastly, we have the RG8U cables, which are the largest of the bunch. They are the largest and have less loss than the other two options. As for the adapters, the RG8U cable offers 2 Amphenol PL-259s attached.

Being made in the USA, the construction of this RG8U coax cable is much more hardy than other designs. It possesses heat shrink tubing along the inner wall that seals the cable and protects it against elemental damage.

Your coaxial ham radio cable will be virtually impervious to moisture, water, dust, and other contaminants.

Pros

  • Made in the USA
  • Built to protect the inner cable
  • Heat shrink tubing
  • 2 adapters
  • Larger size
  • Features less signal loss

Cons

  • 3 feet long

Coax for Ham Radio Buying Guide

The main purpose of coaxial cables is to transfer signals from one device to another with no interference. How do you guarantee unhindered transference? By paying attention to some of the factors below.

Signal Loss

Unfortunately, all coaxial cables will weaken the signal as it travels further and further down the cable. However, you can minimize this by choosing the right cable. Basically, the larger the cable, the better. 

But before you go choosing the largest coaxial cable out there, there are still some other factors to consider, such as the ones below.

Design

The price of the cable will really tie into the design. For example, maybe for a little bit higher of a price tag, you can get 24k gold plates [1]

However, if you are not that fancy (most of us don’t really need 24k gold plates), then copper plating, which is also the most common material, will do.

There are also cables with aluminum shielding to make it even more solid and can weather different elements if needed. One thing to be sure of is the insulation. 

There is a myriad of safety concerns you should be aware of so purchasing the one with a safe design is imperative.

woman wearing headphones

Connectors

The best coaxial cable for your ham radio should come with good connectors. 

For ham and CB radios, you will most likely find PL-259 connectors. They are a rugged and low-cost option with a simple design and are able to handle higher powers.

Construction

We all want our purchases to last, and to guarantee longevity, the coax cable needs to have a durable construction. 

Even if the cable you choose ranks five stars in all categories but this one, it still won’t last as many years as a cable with high-quality construction.

Look at the materials used for insulation, the enclosure, etc. All of these small components can make all the difference for a long-lasting cable. 

It shouldn’t have a stiff build either. Because sharp bends and wrapping your cable is not advised, you would need one that could easily twist and wrap around obstacles.

Since the cable will most likely be running around table and chair legs, flexibility is more important than many people think.

Impedance

As we mentioned before, 50 ohm is low impedance and a lot of cables are at this standard. It’s worth it to note that cables with a 50-ohm impedance are also built for higher power transmission.

The other option is a cable that has a high impedance of 75 ohms. These cables are capable of the opposite and are meant for low power transmissions.

Length

The last consideration is, of course, the length of the cable. This depends on how far you need to connect devices. 

From 3 to 100 ft, the difference is quite astonishing in terms of length. To find the best coaxial cable, you would need to account for all the features above.

antennas on the roof of houses

FAQ

What is the best coax for ham radio?

The best coax for ham radio is the RG8U coaxial cable for general purposes. They also function the best for long cable runs.

Can RG6 be used for ham radio?

Yes, you can use the RG6 for ham radios, but since they result in high losses above 150 MHz. 

Is LMR 400 the same as RG8?

The LMR400 is not the same as the RG8 in terms of material. The LMR 400 has an aluminum center conductor, which doesn’t allow it to bend.

Does coax length matter?

No, the coax length doesn’t matter if the load and the matches. It also depends on your setup. You may need a longer cable when stacking devices.

Our Top Pick: 100 ft RG8X Coax Cable for CB/Ham Radio

This coaxial cable sits between the other two in terms of size, which is capable of high power transmission and low impedance. 

Not to mention the 100 ft of leeway for you to connect devices at a distance, but copper braid shield and the 16 GA stranded center conductor add to the robust build to ensure longevity.

Need to prepare for acquiring your license? Here are some of our recommended ham radio courses you can take online so you can begin your journey as a hammy.

William