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EurIng Keith Armstrong

Cherry Clough Consultants, U.K.,

The benefits of applying IEC 61000-5-2 © Cherry Clough Consultants Page 1 of 6

applications, require copper screened cables
INTRODUCTION  Never use ‘pigtails’ control of RF up to at their ZT falls above
for screen least 2GHz (2,000MHz) 1MHz.
It is sometimes said that termination because of the cellphone Connectors have a
EMC engineers divide into
two camps:  Terminating systems operating near similar problem – any
screens at one end that frequency. apertures in their
 Those concerned exposes electronics To realise the full RF screening causes their
with power, surges, to damaging screening potential of a ZT to rise above a
lightning, and overvoltages screened cable there certain frequency,
 Meshed earth must be no gaps in its which is why so-called
bonding is better screen along its entire ‘EMC D-types’ (see
 Those concerned than single-point length, including its Figure 2) have rows of
with radio
frequencies (RF)  The parallel earth Figure 1 360o screening from end to end

and electronic conductor (PEC)

products (prevents excessive
currents when cable Shielded Shielded
This paper will
screens are enclosure 1 enclosure 2
hopefully be valuable to
terminated at both Circuit 2
both camps. Circuit 1

Issues of cables screen 0V


bonding and earthing When screens

are becoming more cannot be between cable
screen and
important because… terminated at both connector
360o bond backshells 360o bond
ends between between
 The frequencies connector connector
 Copper backshell and backshell and
used in electronics enclosure
Cable 360o screened
communications along its entire length
are increasing
between buildings
 The environment is connectors at both ends. dimples all around their
becoming more TERMINATING This is often called bodies – to make
polluted with noise SCREENS AT BOTH ‘end-to-end 360o multiple screen
at mains harmonic ENDS TO CONTROL screening’, and Figure 1 connections when
and radio RF illustrates its general mated – to reduce the
frequencies principles. size of the gaps in their
 Electronic devices Developments in Achieving effective overall screening.
are becoming more electronic technologies, screening at RF is At a cable connection
complex and also including rather like plumbing – there are a number of
more vulnerable to microprocessors, any gaps or incomplete possibilities for large
interference wireless seals (including at all gaps to appear in the
communications, couplings and joints) screening – e.g. cable
 EMC regulations
switch-mode power that would leak if the screen to cable
are increasing
conversion and system was filled with connector backshell;
variable-speed motor water under pressure, backshell to mating
Screened cables only drives, plus would leak RF. connector; mating
provide their full developments in EMC The RF screening connector to its cable
performance at high regulations, mean that performance of cable screen or enclosure
frequencies when their we now have a general screens and their shield.
screens are correctly requirement to control
terminated to their connectors is
frequencies above characterised by their
equipment’s Faraday 150kHz, called radio
cage or local ‘earth’ surface transfer
frequencies (RF) here. impedance: ZT. A low
reference at both ends. This need is becoming value of ZT implies a
This paper discusses the more demanding as good screening
design and installation electronic technology performance. Section
issues involved in continues to progress 7.2.2 of Williams and
terminating screens at and as applications Armstrong [2] describes
both ends, with increase to include the ZT of different types
particular reference to areas not previously of cables, and shows
the excellent guidance under electronic that the tiny apertures
given by IEC 61000-5-2 control, including in the braid or foil of
[1]. The following safety-related functions. screened cables causes
topics are covered here: At the moment most ZT to rise at frequencies
 Terminating environments, other above 1MHz or so. But
screens at both ends than in some military since there are no
to control RF and scientific apertures in solid

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Figure 2 Terminating cable screens in connector backshells
Example of a D-type

"Dimpled" connector body makes

multiple bonds to mating connector body
all around its periphery (360o)

Metal (or metallised)

backshell makes 360o
equipment are often During transient
bond to connector body
around 100mmm in electromagnetic
length, but are disturbances – such as
cable Cable screen exposed
and 360o clamped to backshell
sometimes found to be those caused by
(must be a tight fit) over 300mm. In lightning, earth faults,
installations, pigtails of the switching of large
several metres length inductive loads, and HV
Other 360o bonding methods
and 360o shielded connectors are sometimes seen. circuit breaker
are equally acceptable
The inductance of a operation – large
Cable screens are often  No screening is pigtail is very potential differences can
bonded at one end to provided against significant at high exist between the
preserve single-point magnetic fields frequencies. A 100mm protective earth
earthing schemes and with certain long wire has an conductors in different
prevent ‘hum loops’ orientations inductance of around parts of the same
from affecting signals. The best RF screening 100nH (0.1µH), which structure. These
But single-point performance of potential differences are
earthing is an old connectors or glands is Figure 3 ‘Earth lift’ in single-point earthing systems
technique that cannot only achieved if their
control screen currents assembly does not ‘Earth lift’ voltage is applied directly to
electronic circuits by signal and data cables
at RF and is now no require the cable screen
longer preferred, as to be disturbed. Screen E.g. a data cable

discussed below. A termination Surge on a mains

or signal conductor,
paper by Armstrong and arrangements that do
e.g. due to lightning
Waldron [3] explains not disturb the lie of the kA kV
why using circuit and screen are preferred,
equipment design and an example of a D-
practices known before type connector is shown
µs µs

1995 mean that in Figure 2. Route taken by

multiple earth bonds are the surge current

a real benefit for signal The military have a lot VE Inductances in the “single-point”
protective earthing system
quality. of experience with RF ‘Earth lift voltage arises

control, and the need has a reactive caused by the flow of

When a cable screen is for 360o bonding of
only terminated at one impedance of 19 ohms transient currents
cable screens at both at 30MHz and 190 through the inevitable
end, a large gap in the ends is clearly
screen exists at its other ohms at 300MHz. impedances of the
expressed in two common bonding
end. This creates a military EMC But resonance of a
number of problems: pigtail’s inductance network (CBN,
installation guides from sometimes called the
with the cable screen’s
 The gap ‘leaks’ a the US Department of protective earthing
the Navy [4] and the capacitance causes a
great deal at RF, network).
UK’s Ministry of much greater reduction
compromising the
Defence [5]. in performance. Pigtails Cable screens are
Commercial and just 25mm long have traditionally only
performance of the
industrial EMC best been seen to completely terminated at one end
whole cable
practices in bonding ruin any shielding effect so as to preserve the
 When the length of in a 3 metre long cable single-point earthing
a cable exceeds screens at both ends are
described in detail in at frequencies above 30 scheme and prevent
one-sixth of a MHz. ‘hum loops’, but Figure
wavelength the [1], IEC 61000-5-6 [6]
and by Armstrong [7]. Respected EMC guides 3 shows how single-
screen will begin to point earthing exposes
[1] [2] [4] [5] [6] and
act as a resonant electronic input and
Never use pigtails [7] all warn against the
antenna – worse output devices to the
for screen use of pigtails for screen
than having no transient overvoltages
termination termination. Their bad
screen at all caused by (for example)
effects on RF control
 High-speed data Traditionally, have been well-known a lightning-induced
communications terminating a cable in EMC circles since at current surge.
use transmission screen was done by least 1985. When a lightning surge
line techniques, and connecting it with a (for example) is
breaking their wire to an appropriate TERMINATING experienced by one item
screen anywhere terminal. These wires SCREENS AT ONE of equipment, the
creates impedance are often called END EXPOSES inductance in its earth
discontinuities ‘pigtails’ and they ruin ELECTRONICS TO connection causes it to
which harm signal the cable’s screening DAMAGING experience a local
integrity and data performance at RF. OVERVOLTAGES ‘earth-lift’ potential.
rates Pigtails inside But the other item of

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equipment does not single-point grounding electronics had environment cause
experience the earth- and its consequent expected. significant currents to
lift, so the differences requirement to only When one of the other flow regardless of its
between the ‘earths’ of terminate cable screens conductors in the 23 earthing or other type of
the two items is applied at one end is poor for metre cable was bonded end termination.
in common-mode to the EMC, poor for surge to the CBN at both of its ‘Stray’ capacitances and
electronic circuits at protection and ends (the HV ‘stray’ mutual
their interconnected reliability, and poor for transformer and inductances, sometimes
input and output (I/O) safety. temperature electronics between conductors that
ports. equipment frame), the are some distance apart,
A typical simulated A practical example overvoltage was reduced dominates the flow of
lightning surge, used of earth-lift to 600V. Bonding the high-frequency current
for compliance testing cable armour at both in a system or
to the EMC directive, In [8] van der Laan and ends then reduced the installation.
would result in between van Duerson gave an over-voltage to 20V, and So we now see that
±500V and ±2kV of example of how the when the steel duct was single-point earthing
earth-lift for a single- overvoltage exposure of also bonded at both and terminating cable
point earthed equipment an instrumentation unit ends the overvoltage screens at one end are a
with a 10 metre long varied with the bonding during the opening of method that evolved in
protective earth of its cable screen and the HV breaker was the days when high
conductor. In real life related metalwork. A reduced to under 1V. levels of RF were rarely
most single-phase temperature sensor
equipment is subjected monitored a HV Figure 4 ‘Earth lift’ case study by van der Laan and van Duerson

to lightning-related (150kV) transformer,

HV transformer
surges of up to three and was connected by a Temperature
Control room
times higher than this, 23 metre cable to the HV circuit
so for the above temperature indicating causes
23 metre cable
500kHz Ihf
equipment we should electronics in a control transients VCM

expect earth-lift room. Icm

voltages somewhere When the HV circuit
between ±1.5kV and breaker which Effects of four different terminations at both ends of the 23 metre cable

±6kV. Some three-phase connected the

and other equipment transformer to the
could be exposed to 150kV busbar opened, 2.3kV 600V 20V 1V
even higher levels of its flash-over created an a b c d
lightning-related surge intense ringing wave of
and consequent earth- around 250A at MESHED EARTH encountered, and is
lift. 400kHz. This induced BONDING IS quite unsuited to the
Such common-mode significant voltages into PREFERRED TO modern world.
transient voltages can the temperature SINGLE-POINT When cable screens are
cause signal and electronics in the EARTHING directly terminated to
communication errors, control room, via the 23 the chassis, frame, or
but can also cause the metre multiconductor The traditional enclosure shield of the
electronic circuits to cable carrying the technique of single- equipment at both ends,
fail. Actual physical sensor signal. The point earthing a meshed common
damage can occur, results of their (sometimes called star bonding network
increasing the risks of investigations into the earthing) is clearly a (MESH-CBN) is
electric shock and other effects of bonding at problem – it prevents us created. Where the
safety hazards such as both ends are shown in from directly equipment is also
toxic fumes, smoke, and Figure 4. terminating cable connected to the
fire. With the sensor signal screens at both ends to protective earth for
conductor and its get the best EMC safety reason we could
A lighting protection performance, and it
expert has described associated armour and also describe this as a
steel duct connected at does nothing to protect meshed protective
seeing the unterminated electronic devices to
screens at the ends of the HV transformer end earthing system.
only, opening the HV overvoltages.
long cables arc to the Mesh bonding has its
equipment frame during breaker exposed the At the frequencies for drawbacks, but they can
a thunderstorm – hardly temperature electronics which a conductor be dealt with whereas
a recommendation for in the control room to (including steelwork, the drawbacks of single-
safety, never mind 2.3kV. This was metal pipes and ducts, point earthing in the
equipment reliability. probably a great deal and other conductors) is modern world cannot be
more than the designer longer than half of the dealt with in any
So we can see that the of the temperature wavelength, RF
age-old practice of practical manner.
disturbances in the

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Since the cable screens Meshing creates a lower Many older buildings bonded to the SPC or
create a MESH-CBN, impedance CBN that have single-point are fitted with surge
there is now no reason reduces earth-lift earthing systems, and protection devices
not to carry on in this voltages and so helps to these ‘legacy’ systems (SPDs) and/or filters
vein and gain protect equipment from can make it costly to which are bonded to the
significant advantages overvoltages. For install new technology SPC.
by meshing the example, to help that require MESH- This locally meshed
protective earthing provide protection from CBNs. technique is often called
network too. lightning induced One common technique a MESH-IBN (meshed
Figure 5 shows the surges it is generally is merely to run every isolated bonding
scheme recommended recommended to use a new cable, whether network. Its biggest
by [1] for the MESH- CBN with a mesh size screened or not, with its problem is that it is
CBN of a building. This no larger than 4 metres own dedicated parallel easily compromised by
achieves a very low in any dimension (e.g. earth conductor (see craftsmen and engineers
impedance at 50/60Hz, the mesh diagonals). later), but this can cause and so requires absolute
and also achieves a low So-called ‘natural’ problems for sensitive control of all wiring,
impedance at higher metalwork, such as re- existing equipment equipment, and services
frequencies – depending bars, girders, structural when its carefully- by a skilled person
on its mesh size. A metalwork, and any honed single-point employed by the site.
greater number of MESH-CBNs and
smaller meshes means a Figure 6 Mesh CBNs: bonding ‘natural’ metalwork MESH-IBNs are
lower inductance, and Plumbing and pipes described in detail in
means a higher (non- metallic sections
bridged by bonding straps)
Structural steelwork
(including re-bars) Safety earth bars [1], and also in Chapter
frequency of control of 5 of [2] and Part 2 of
systematic RF currents [7].
and voltages.
Figure 5 Example of a meshed common bonding network (MESH-CBN)
Cable ducts, trays,
and conduits EARTH
E.g. computer room CONDUCTOR (PEC)
oth Since we can’t generally
Air ducts, vents, flues,
chimneys, etc. now avoid the need to
Gratings, walkways, terminate cable screens
ladders, railings, etc.
at both ends, a way
earthing system is must be found to
degraded to a poor prevent cable screen
mesh (e.g. one or two currents from causing
E.g. instrumentation large earth loops). overheating. (Note that,
flo room as mentioned above, [3]
E.g. power
distribution room
Where a computer or shows that cable screen
Fro telecommunications currents do not cause
Heavy current other metalwork can be room or other area of noise problems when
equipment requires a pressed into service to modern high-tech equipment is designed
closer mesh to prevent help achieve a MESH- equipment is to be so that screen currents
high voltage drops in CBN, as shown by installed in an old do not flow in internal
the case of leakage or Figure 6. building, sometimes a circuits.)
fault currents. High- locally meshed bonding
The ideal MESH-CBN Where a MESH-CBN as
frequency equipment can be thought of as a network is used just for
its area (sometimes recommended by [1] is
(such as computer or large number of small
called a bonding mat or fully implemented, it
telecommunications earth loops. A lot more
system reference will reduce the potential
systems) requires a on the construction of
potential plane, SRPP). differences between
small mesh size (often MESH-CBNs, including
This local mesh is items of equipment to
600mm or less) to help the use of bonding ring
isolated from the such low levels that
control the high conductors (BRCs) and
building’s earthing connecting cable
frequencies their the advantages of
system except at a screens at both ends
interconnections use. multiple bonds to the
single point of does not result in
Sensitive lightning protection
connection (called its significant levels of
instrumentation often system (LPS) can be
SPC). All the cables and screen currents at
requires a smaller mesh found in the references.
services entering or powerline frequencies,
size to help prevent
leaving this isolated even during earth faults.
interference with its Isolated meshed
signals over a wider mesh-bonded area enter But where an adequate
bonding networks / leave near to the SPC MESH-CBN cannot be
range of frequencies.
and are either directly fully implemented and

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if screen currents could flowing in a cable’s area may be used recommendations made
be so large as to damage screen, its PEC needs to instead. Figure 7 shows by IEC 61000-5-2 [1]
the cables or cause have a much lower a number of common are referenced, or else
emissions of fumes, the partial inductance than types of PEC, ranking duplicated to some
technique recommended the screen, and also them in order of degree, by most of the
by [1] is the ‘parallel must have a high decreasing partial latest standards
earth conductor’, or mutual inductance to inductance and concerned with the
PEC (although it would the screen (achieved by increasing mutual installation of
have been better to have the PEC following the inductance, hence their electronics in buildings
called it a parallel cable’s route very ability to control RF. and other structures, for
bonding conductor). As closely). PECs with A lot more information example [9] [10] [11]
its name implies, a PEC lower partial on PECs is given in [1], [12] [13] [14] and [15].
is a conductor inductances also for example what types
connected in parallel provide better control of of cable trays perform WHEN CABLE
with the cable screen. the RF common-mode best and how they SCREENS CANNOT
The largest currents currents associated with should be bonded BE TERMINATED AT
flowing in an earthing the wanted signals together. Cable armour BOTH ENDS
system are at power carried by the cables, can also be used as a
frequency. Given a thereby improving cable PEC, and can have a In general, cable
choice of paths they will crosstalk and signal good response at screens should be
prefer to flow in the integrity and also frequencies above 50Hz terminated at both ends
path of least impedance, improving the radiated (depending on the unless there is a good
and at these low emissions and immunity construction of the technical reason not to
frequencies it is usually of the equipment. armour and the quality do so. In the vast
only the resistance that Where a number of of its 360o bonding at its majority of cases,
matters. So PECs need cable screens are joints and both ends). including professional
to have a much lower bonded at both ends to But ordinary cable audio [3] and other
resistance (hence a the same items of armour (e.g. steel wire applications involving
much higher cross- equipment, they may act armour) should not be low signal levels and
sectional area, CSA) as their own PEC. relied upon alone, to high signal/noise
than a cable’s screen to Although each has quite provide any benefits specifications, bonding
reduce the power- a high resistance and above 1MHz. screens at both ends and
frequency currents in high partial inductance, using MESH-CBNs is
One of the problems well-proven to be far
that screen to acceptable a number connected in with using ‘natural’
amounts. parallel will share the superior to more
metalwork and armour traditional methods.
Transient events screen currents between as PECs is that it may
generally involve themselves and there be vulnerable to However, sometimes
considerably higher may be no need for a craftsmen and future there is a real practical
frequencies than the separate PEC. modifications. If they problem with bonding
typical continuous cable screens at both
currents which flow in
Figure 7 Examples of parallel earth conductors (PECs)
1 = best control of high frequencies, 7 = worst
CBNs. Lightning surges In these cases – if
A paralleled
have their peak energies bonding conductor signals and data are
with large CSA
at around 10kHz, but only communicated at
can involve frequencies 7 6 5 4 low frequencies – all
of up to 500kHz. The unwanted high
operation of high- DC-60Hz
control only
Lightning tape is better
than a round wire
Corner position in tray controls high
frequencies better
frequencies should be
voltage circuit breakers filtered out. It may still
can create currents of be necessary to use a
250kA at 500kHz [8]. All PECs need 360°
electrical bonds at
screened cable to help
Earth faults have almost every joint and gland
prevent noise and
all their energy at the 3 2 1 crosstalk within the
power frequency, but Narrow Narrow duct with lid Solid metal conduit or tube is best
frequency band of the
any arcing during the duct (bonded along its length) at controlling all frequencies
signals, but this screen
fault or in the fault- Where a building has a are only thought to will be bonded at one
clearance devices can MESH-CBN it is often provide mechanical end. Surge protection
create frequencies up to most convenient to use support or protection, devices may also be
thousands of MHz. At parts of its CBN as their continuity may be required to protect from
these frequencies the PECs, especially cable compromised in the transient overvoltages.
path of least impedance trays, ducts, and future by people However, the best
is usually the path of conduits. Where unfamiliar with their approach is to avoid the
least partial inductance. suitable metalwork is rôle as PECs. use of copper cables
So to reduce the levels not handy, wires with a The cabling and altogether. Galvanically
of transient currents large cross-sectional earthing isolated fibre-optics

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(with metal-free cables), installation instructions installations, in these
infra-red, or wireless required), whilst the days of rapidly [6] IEC TR 61000-5-
communications are all outer screen is 360o increasing electronic 6:2002,
very effective bonded at both ends as sophistication and “Electromagnetic
alternatives. These are shown in Figure 1 to rapidly worsening compatibility
often dismissed at an provide RF control. electromagnetic (EMC) – Part 5-6:
early stage in a design environment. Installation and
on grounds of material COPPER mitigation
cost, but often turn out COMMUNICATIONS REFERENCES guidelines –
to have the lowest cost BETWEEN Mitigation of
when the overall project BUILDINGS [1] IEC 61000-5- external EM
is costed taking into 2:1997, influences”.
account its regulatory Generally speaking, the “Electromagnetic
compliance, warranty most reliable and safe Compatibility [7] Keith Armstrong,
costs, and customer way to interconnect (EMC) – Part 5: “EMC for Systems
satisfaction. signals or data between Installation and and Installations”,
Unfortunately, many two different buildings, Mitigation EMC Compliance
designers only begin to ships, vehicles, or Guidelines - Journal, Jan-Dec
appreciate their cost whatever, is to use Section 2: Earthing 2000,
benefits when galvanic isolation which and cabling” www.compliance-
struggling to solve the can cope with at least [2] Tim Williams and rongPortfolio
reliability problems, 2MV. Metal-free fibre- Keith Armstrong,
interference, or damage optic cables, wireless [8] P C T van der Laan
created by the use of (radio) links, free-space and A P J van
“EMC for Systems
copper conductors, by lasers or microwave Duerson, 1998,
and Installations”,
which time it is too late links are all suitable “Reliable
to save cost. candidates and are now protection of
ISBN: 0 7506 4167
Opto-isolator devices on provided by a large electronics against
printed circuit boards number of companies. lightning: some
[3] Keith Armstrong practical
(PCBs) within However, copper cable and Tony Waldron,
equipment are often interconnections may be examples”, IEEE
2003, “AES-X13 Transactions on
used for galvanic able to be used, where and interference
isolation, but typically the functions of or in Electromagnetic
free pro-audio Compatibility Vol.
are often rated for only the buildings (or ships, systems”,
500V. When used on etc.) will accept an EMC-40 No 4,
IEE Seminar November 1998, pp
long cables run inside a element of risk. This “EMC - it’s nearly
building covered by a would require each 513-520. Also:
all about the “Reliable
single protective earth- structure has a complete cabling”, London,
bonding network they MESH-CBN which protection of
22 January 2003 electronics against
need to be able to extends to the cables
withstand at least 6kV between them. The [4] NAVAIR AD 115, lightning”, 23rd
to protect against MESH-CBN should be “Electromagnetic ICLP International
transient events. designed to handle the Compatibility Conference on
greatest transient events design guide for Lightning
Sometimes one is faced Protection,
thought to be possible, avionics and
with an item of Firenze, Italy,
such as an earth-fault in related ground
equipment which has September 23-27,
a nearby HV substation support equipment,
been designed to permit 1996, pp 370 –
or a direct lightning 3rd Edition June
screen currents to flow 373.
strike to one of the 1988”, Department
in its internal circuitry.
buildings (or ships, of the Navy,
If it cannot be modified
etc.). Chapter 9 of [2] Washington D.C.
to a more sensible
design that confines and Part 5 of [7] have [5] Defence Standard
potentially interfering more on this issue. 59-41 Part 7 Issue
screen currents to its 1,
chassis, frame, or CONCLUSIONS “Electromagnetic
enclosure shield it is Compatibility, Part
often possible to use a The recommendations 7: Code of practice
‘double insulated for cable screen for HM ships –
screen’ cable. termination and Installation
earthing in IEC 61000- guidelines”,
The inner screen would 5-2 are of very great
be connected at the Ministry of
benefit in helping to Defence, 10th
specified end (even control RF as required
using a pigtail if that is November 1995,
by systems and http://www.dstan.m
what the supplier’s

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[9] IEC 364-4- principles”
Installations of
Buildings – Part 4:
Protection for
safety – Chapter
44: Protection
Section 444:
Protection against
interference (EMI)
in installations of
[10] EN 50310:2000,
“Application of
bonding and
earthing in
buildings with
[11] ETS 300 253:1995,
“Earthing and
bonding of
equipment in
[12] ITU
K.27, 1996,
configurations and
earthing within a
s building”
[13] ITU
K.35, 1996,
configurations and
earthing at remote
electronic sites”
[14] EN 50174-2:2001,
Technology –
Installation – Part
2: Installation
planning and
practice inside
[15] IEC 61312-1:1995,
“Protection against
impulse – Part 1:

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