January 28, 2019

MPD-400PVC – ONE coax cable providing the following:

  • High Quality, inexpensive coaxial cable with the ultra-low loss and power handling of LMR-400*
  • Ultra Low Loss from DC to 6 GHz matching Times Microwaves famous LMR-400UF*
  • The Extreme Flexibility of LMR-400UF* (Ultra Flex) from -15 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit, but at a low cost
  • A White jacket for Marine use and a Black jacket for standard applications
  • Meets the Ultra Low Loss requirement set by Iridium for external antenna installations
  • Provides excellent service for HF, UHF, VHF, Cellular (up to 6 GHz 5G), SatPhone, and WiFi installations

How do you design a cable as good as LMR-400UF and charge less for it?

What we came up with in fielding MPD-400 is a Hybrid. We have the flexible, non-contaminating jacket of a US Made RG-213 cable. Inside the jacket are Dual Shields of tinned copper braid and metal foil, bonded to a PE Foam Dielectric to maintain high efficiency, VF, and low loss. The center conductor is flexible aluminum clad in pure copper. This is the same construction Times Microwave uses that allows flexibility and excellent signal retention due to the skin effect. Did we end up with a cheaper version of LMR-400 UltraFlex * No – we did not. Keep reading – we found that there was NO WAY to get a cable as good as UltraFlex by building it cheaper.

We had to make trade-offs. When we got to 85% of the flexibility of LMR-400UF* we hit the wall. We could achieve 90% – but only at a substantial cost increase. We were looking for coax to retail for around $1 per foot. This would demonstrate significant cost savings to LMR-400UF*. To add 5% more flexibility to our MPD-400 would raise the retail price to $1.35 per foot. A 35% price increase for a 5% gain in flexibility. The engineering change would also cost us some of our formable characteristics. We decided in favor of the price point. If we could give folks 85% of the flexibility and equal RF performance for half the cost – we felt like we had something.

What is MPD-400PVC?

To get here, we experimented. We had some Marine customers, a couple of Cruise Lines, NOAA, and a ton of sailboat owners who wanted a cable with the power handling and Ultra Low Loss of Times Microwave’s LMR-400* without the stiffness, and the ability to form the cable around curved bulkheads and not have it try to spring back straight. We also had a customer up in Canada that wanted the same qualities, but the ability to use this flexible cable year round up in Yellowknife. Outdoors. These customers needed a flexible low loss cable that would meet the rigid standards for Iridium Satellite Phone installs on their vessels, as well as the ability to use the same cable for WiFi, Cellular, VHF, UHF, and other RF requirements.

Just as important for MPD-400, was providing this at a lower price point than Time’s famous LMR-400 Ultra Flex. Times Micro designed and builds LMR-400UF* to be excellent coax. The construction and engineering are superb, but the price is high. The quality is second to none, but the rubberized jacket and braided center add additional costs. We approached a long-time partner, Consolidated Wire, to design a custom coax cable. Conwire has been building wire and cable in their factory just outside Chicago since 1919 – their 100th Anniversary in business is later this year! Consolidated is the manufacturer of our RG-213, RG-8x, and RG-58 cable. They also build some LMR-type cables for other companies, and so have experience with the construction. Working with them we produced our first run of MPD-400 Marine coax.

When we began offering the White MPD400 we were immediately asked if we could provide it in Black. We held off doing this to see how the cable would perform in the field and if it would fully meet customer expectations. After two years of installations and no returns for cable failure, we moved into designing a formable, super flexible coax in both Black and White. We wanted a cable that would hold a two to three inch coil, be fully flexible, and easy to install – when you bent it around a corner, it needed to hug the wall and stay put. At the same time, the cable had to fill the same role as a standard 400 series coax with all the bells and whistles.

When to use MPD-400-PVC

We were extremely successful in MPD-400, fielding a coax that can be used for around 85% of RF requirements. Non-contaminating, UV protected, and ready for 20 years of outdoor use. Bottom line – our MPD-400PVC is not as good as LMR-400UF* – it’s Different. For a great many applications, it can act as a direct drop-in, for some things such as holding its shape during installs, it’s much better. For other applications such as a jumper from the pole to a rotor mast where constant twisting takes place, it is totally unsuited. But for the vast majority of RF installations, it will work, and work well – At a great price!

When should you NOT USE MPD-400PVC

  • When the cable could be in standing water. (NO PVC Jacketed coax should be directly buried)
  • Connecting a jumper from your rotor to your antenna. -Repeated flexing in the same spot will cause failure before 5 years of use.
  • Where the cable will be constantly rubbing up against concrete or other abrasive surfaces. -This is where PE jacketed cables really shine
  • When used will cause repetitive 75-degree or greater bends in the same spot. In this case, always use LMR-400UF*
  • When you need a cable that has the ultimate flexibility for its size. That is LMR-400UF!

* LMR is a Trade Mark of Times Microwave Systems. MPD-400 series PVC jacketed coax is NOT LMR. We are proud to offer LMR-400 and all other Times Microwave cables to our customers. ALL LMR coax sold by MPD Digital is made by Times Microwave Systems in their factory located in Wallingford, CT.

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