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Encoder Cables: How To Specify The Right Signal Cable

May 08, 2017

An encoder cable transmits encoder output, which may include multiple channels, to a control device. Encoder cable signal transmission can be degraded by a number of factors including, long transmission runs, high cable capacitance and extreme EMI. Properly specified, your encoder cabling can compensate for all three of these issues.

The choice of encoder cable depends upon the conditions of the application but there are a few rules of thumb:

  • Twisted-pair wiring minimizes inductance and capacitance in the cable. Installing this type of encoder wiring is particularly important over long distances.

  • Use a minimum of 24-gauge wire.

  • Shielding is essential for noise immunity. A cable that is shielded overall is the bare minimum but in a high-noise environment, individually-shielded wires should be considered.

  • To minimize voltage drop over long reaches, choose cable with low resistance and low capacitance

  • For very high-noise environments, differential encoders with differential wiring provide an effective way to filter out noise.

  • For very long distances, consider strengthening the signal with a repeater or encoder splitter.

  • Choose a connector that provides the environmental protection you require along with a balance of ease-of-use, cost, size, and availability.