Coax Loss Calculator

RF Feedline (Coax and Ladder-Line) Loss and ERP Calculators

About

This page is Copyright © 2015 by KV5R. The Javascript that runs the loss calculator was written in 2001 by Dan Maguire, AC6LA, based on ARRL's "Additional Loss Due to SWR" formula. He later withdrew the code in favor of more accurate formulae. For more info, please see this AC6LA page.

This program is provided “AS-IS.” It is the responsibility of the user to verify the accuracy of the calculations when using this program. Always look up the cable manufacturers’ specifications and installation guides for any RF cable prior to purchase and use.

Please don’t ask me to add another coax! I don’t know where or how the K1 and K2 constants used in the arrays were obtained or derived.

Coax and Ladder-Line Info

Basic Feedline Facts for Hams

  • RG-174 (50 ohms) is very small (~0.11") and lossy. Suitable only for short pigtails and jumpers at very low power, as in receivers, scanners, etc.
  • RG-58 (50 ohm) is about 0.195", quite lossy, suitable only for mobile installations (typically < 20 feet, < 150 watts).
  • RG-6 (75 ohms) is about 0.332", typically used for cable/satellite TV.
  • RG-8X (50 ohm); and and RG-59 (75 ohm) are about 0.24 inch. Suitable for medium power (~350 watts), HF and Lo-VHF.
  • RG-8 and RG-213 (50 ohm); and RG-11 (75 ohm) are about 0.405 inch. Suitable for higher power (~1800 watts) at HF.
  • 9913 and LMR-400 are popular “low-loss” RG-8 types. Suitable for VHF (~1.5dB loss per 100 feet at 146 MHz). The flexible types (9913F and LMR-400UF) are preferred, particularly for rotatable antennas. However, stranded center conductors have a little higher loss than solid ones.
  • There are at least four commonly-used types of coax dielectric: (1) semi-solid polyethylene (PE) for temps up to 80°C (Vp 66%); (2) gas-injected PE (foam PE) for temps up to 100°C (Vp ~85%); (3) air-core: a thinner PE with a PE strand spiraled around the inner conductor (Vp ~85%); and (4) PTFE (Teflon) for temps up to 250°C.
  • All foam-type coax cables should be taped—not attached with plastic cable ties or wire—to tower legs, etc., to prevent deforming of the foam dielectric.
  • Windowed ladder-line (WLL) should be (1) kept at least a few inches from metal (to prevent magnetic induction losses); (2) twisted 1/2 turn per foot (to prevent wind flap); and (3) turned at a large radius (12 inches or more). It has a VF of 91-95%. See also KV5R’s Ladder-Line pages.
  • Though frequently ignored, all RF transmission lines have maximum RMS voltage, and maximum power (wattage), which varies with type, brand, and frequency.
  • How much attenuation is acceptable? Well, a mere 3dB will waste 50% of your wattage!

Coax and Ladder-Line Data

Click the links below for manufacturers’ data-sheets.
Note: the RG numbers given are not actual labels, but are given merely for familiarity.

Belden:
8215 RG-6A
8237 RG-8A
9913 RG-8A (low-loss)
9258 RG-8X
8213 RG-11
8261 RG-11A
8240 RG-58
9201 RG-58
8219 RG-58A
8259 RG-58C
8212 RG-59
8263 RG-59B
9269 RG-62A
8216 RG-174
8267 RG-213
Davis RF:
Bury-Flex
Times Microwave (all LMR PDFs):
LMR-100A RG-174
LMR-200 RG-58
LMR-240 RG-8X
LMR-400 RG-8
LMR-600 0.59"
LMR-900 0.87"
Wireman (coax data table):
CQ102 RG-8
CQ106 RG-8
CQ125 RG-58
CQ127 RG-58C
CQ110 RG-213
CommScope (Andrew):
Heliax LDF4-50A 1/2 in.
Heliax LDF5-50A 7/8 in.(obsolete)
Heliax LDF6-50 1-1/4 in. (obsolete)
Wireman (1" WLL):
551 (#18 solid)
552 (#16 stranded)
553 (#18 stranded)
554 (#14 stranded)
551 (wet*)
552 (wet*)
553 (wet*)
554 (wet*)
Miscellaneous
Generic 300 ohm Tubular
Generic 450 ohm Window
Generic 600 ohm Open
Ideal (lossless) 50 ohm
Ideal (lossless) 75 ohm
*"Wet" numbers are worst case
for lines with ice or snow.

Line Loss Calculator:

Note: Set Line Length 100 here to use the ERP Calc. Put actual line length in the ERP Calc.

  Parameters:   Results:
Line Type: Matched Loss: dB
Line Length: Feet Meters SWR Loss: dB
Frequency: MHz Total Loss: dB
Load SWR: :1 Power Out: Watts
Power In: Watts Power Loss: %
  before using ERP Calc.    

Effective Radiated Power Calculator:

  Parameters:   Results:
Loss Per 100' at Op Freq: dB Calculated Loss: dB
Actual Line Length: Feet Power Out: Watts
Power In: Watts Power Loss: %
Antenna Gain: dBd (λ/2 dipole=0dB) ERP: Watts
     

External Links

Transmission Line Loss technical tutorial from microwaves101.com

Online Calculator from Times Microwave

Enjoy!
—73, KV5R

19 thoughts on “Coax Loss Calculator
  1. Hello,

    I have a vertical dipole very much like the one in your Big Vertical Antenna Project blog. I used 450 ohm LL and trimmed the feed line length to 145ft to get an SWR on 40M of 2.2 without a tuner. However, my SWR for 20M is a whopping 16.4. Fortunately, I have a Palstar AT2KD tuner (awesome piece of gear) and I can tune 20M down to 1.7 SWR. Here is my question… does the 16.4 SWR still exist over the 145ft of my feed line and my tuner is just masking it to my radio or did my tuner really “fix” the mis-match and an SWR of 1.7 truly exists now between radio and antenna? Thanks!

    • The 16.4 exists on the line at the point where it attached to the tuner. Any transmission line that is not load terminated into its characteristic impedance has a variable impedance all along the line. And in the case of ladder line, SWR on the line doesn’t hurt a thing.
      A tuner doesn’t “fix” anything on the line, it just transforms the impedance that exists at the point where it’s connected, to 50 ohms on the radio side.
      Also, keep in mind that your SWR reading is referenced to 50 ohms, not 450, so the actual SWR on the line, referenced to 450, is 9 times less than indicated by a 50-ohm SWR meter. But all that matters is what the radio sees, so SWR meters are calibrated 1:1 at 50 ohms.
      The bottom line is that SWR on ladder line just doesn’t matter, as long as it’s within the range of the tuner to match it. Coax, oh the other hand, is very lossy at high SWR.
      73, –kv5r

  2. Great tool, but please don’t cheat yourself. This calculator will just show you a part of your loss – the cable. If your antenna is not an exact load of 50 ohms (do you know such an antenna?), the world looks completely different.

    TransmissionLineDetails: https://ac6la.com/tldetails1.html

    73’s de OE1MWW
    Wolfgang

    • Antenna efficiency is not related to 50 ohms, or resonance. 50 ohms is just a design point to match to 50-ohm coax. If the antenna is not 50 ohms, the coax gets lossier, but the antenna does not. For example, a folded dipole is 300 ohms at resonance, and it’s just as efficient as a 50-75 ohm dipole. Ladder-line-fed non-resonant dipoles may, at various frequencies, have a feed-point impedance anywhere between 50 and 5,000 ohms, with the same efficiency.

      Regardless of feed-point impedance, an antenna’s efficiency is mostly determined by its aperture (physical size), and losses in the near-field (mostly ground). Antenna losses are resistive and ground heating. Feed-line losses are resistive and dielectric heating.

      Software like TLD usually model everything on 50 ohms, but you can model on any other impedance just as well.

      The tool on this page calculates feed-line losses (dielectric heating) as a result of voltage standing waves, those high-voltage anti-nodes that increase dielectric stress and therefore, heating. Antenna efficiency is a separate matter.

      73, –KV5R

  3. This is the best way to figure out what kind of performance I wanted from my installation. I’m glad I saw this first, what I had in mind would have been a waste of time had I not seen this.
    I decided on LMR600 (30ft) and a Tram 1481 dual band antenna with a 8.3/11.7 dBd gain which almost doubled the budget but it was well worth it, and the setup even exceeds the predictions my RF mapping software program showed my coverage would be. You saved me a ton of disappointment and trouble. THANK YOU!

  4. Very informative usefull tool when setting up a gateway calculating losses to get NOV will recomend to anyone doing same.

  5. very informative and useful site all the information you need on one webpage the calculator is brilliant .

    I teach the uk amateur radio exam courses and this will be a great asset.

    many thanks

    RUSS G0OKD

  6. This was a Godsend. I have a inverted L 117ft beta matched on 1905KHZ.
    I am feeding it with rg-6 tv foam coax. I was thinking of using Rg-11
    foam. This antenna is 140 ohms or so both on 14mhz and 18 mhz. The
    75 ohm coax is 216 ft long, VF .82 guesstimated and is a perfect
    1/4 multible for 17 and 20 meters. The feed Z xmitter end is 40-45
    ohms j-0. The calculator says I would gain 1db or less by changing
    coax. My next change would to be to add short radials. I have 30
    100 footers now. I have put down a 1/4 wave radial for 20 meters
    and not enough current to light a flashlight bulb connected to
    main ground at 100w. Thanks Tim Wa9eeh@yahoo.com

    • The width of the line needs to be <1% of the wavelength. For 1" line, 2-meters is about the limit.
      Parallel line for 23cm would need to be under 2.3mm wide.
      But Wait! You can use G-line for 23cm; very low loss, but straight runs only. G-line is a single conductor with cones on each end; look it up.
      73, –kv5r

  7. This calculator helped me make my mind up to build a balanced feed line. Thanks for putting all of this together in one convenient place.

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