Fortraflex FAQ (even though nobody knew about it and therefore we haven’t had a single question to date.)
I’m about to hate myself for writing a brand name over and over like a regular corporate shill.
What is Fortraflex?
Individually shielded flexible cabling!
It’s our answer to cheaper cabling offered as an alternative to coax. We mainly took inspiration from official Scart and component cabling, (we used Nintendo and Microsoft cables to run comparisons) which actually use the same method of individual shielded lines with almost as much shielding as coax: but are not coax.
The one problem with coax is it cannot be made as flexible as the consumer solutions provided by Nintendo, Microsoft etc. The internal wires are made of polyethylene vs pvc. If you need total flexibility, Fortraflex is the solution. This cabling line has as much shielding as an official cable, but is actually more flexible - we tested this against official console scarts.
It is easier to wire and cheaper to source vs coax, therefore can be sold at a lower price. We wanted to counteract the recent criticism that we are expensive - anyone can make a cheaper grade at a cheaper price.
What’s the difference between fortraflex and 75 ohm mini coax?
Fortraflex is very flexible! Each line is individually shielded to protect against internal coupling (jailbars, audio buzz) and ESD infiltration from outside sources via the individual, wrapped copper shield.
Mini coax does all that (albeit is not very flexible), and:
Coax lines are individually insulated against each other, with special attention paid to the chemical properties of dielectrics (the plastic surrounding the conductor) as well as the distance of the shielding from the central conductor. The internal impedance of the entire run is kept to as near as possible 75 ohms. What this means is a form of insurance against signal degradation via reflections. Only coax and impedance correct equipment (extron, professional monitors, BNC connectors) provide this. To put it simply: at any point in the line, or in your equipment itself, wherever there is an impedance mismatch a signal reflection can occur. You see this as ghosting or colour degradation. Impedance correct setups insure against this. Cabling is the point that the signal travels for the longest distance, therefore in setups with lots of cabling going into and out of devices, we still recommend coax. In non impedance rated cable like consumer scarts, official cabling from games companies, fortraflex, and scarts offered by our competitors, the signal degrades incrementally as soon as it leaves the console, and continues to degrade the longer the signal travels. We see a lot of “can you see this with your eyes” - in many cases and at the length that console manufacturers offer (usually 6 foot maximum) - the answer is mostly no. Coax, and impedance correct equipment however allow you to send the signal over much longer distances sans degradation: at the point that mini coax is rated to (between 30-60ft depending on resolution) you shouldn’t see issues: a 10 foot coax cable going into an extron and another 10 foot at the other side gives you fundamentally the same results as a 2 foot direct from source to destination cable.
We actually introduced proper 75 ohm coax because we were hearing reports of issues that could only have come from an impedance mismatch from our customers. These were colour artifacts that we found it difficult to pin down, difficult to replicate without buying a lot of equipment, and difficult to troubleshoot what appeared to be perfectly working returned cables. These reports were not too common but caused a lot of time in customer service: and our customer service email time went WAY down after we introduced 75 ohm coax.
We’re pretty confident that if people understand the best case scenarios for coax and Fortraflex, that we won’t be hearing about these issues again, nevertheless.
Why are you effectively bashing your own product?
I’m not. I’m just giving the facts. People wanted cheaper individually shielded cable and they wanted flexible cable, so we are providing it. It’s not a bad solution, nor is it a wrong solution, and it’s perfectly fine for shorter runs (we’ve even stated this about the competition on previous coax articles), it just doesn’t have the protection of being impedance correct. No cabling that fails to insulate individual shields against each other is impedance correct, because maintaining impedance is a fine balancing of distance of a signal from its individual radial shield: jam your shielding all together and you lose this property. You similarly lose this property based on the chemical construct of the dielectric. Real impedance rated coax is not made with pvc dielectrics.
The way that non coax individual shield protects your signal is to defend it from outer interference (ESD) and from internal signal coupling (the buzz you hear when the rgb couples into audio on bright screens, the jailbars you see when composite video chroma couples into rgb.) Non coax, individually shielded cable does this perfectly well. Coax does this as well as being impedance correct. Coax also offers more protection against internal coupling merely from the fact of having more shielding than non coax individual shield typically offers.
Is Fortraflex cabling better or worse than the type used in another seller’s equivalent?
It has more shielding. It’s thicker. 7mm diameter to be precise: we were inspired by official Nintendo and Microsoft cabling, hence we used the same amount of shielding and roughly the same outer diameter of those cables. Therefore the ESD and internal coupling protection should be better. If you want still thinner cabling, other options still exist. We think however, that people will be pleased with the flexibility of our cable.
Isn’t it fine to use this cheaper individually shielded cable in a direct run?
Sure. We’ve never said otherwise: we used the official cabling we based this on in fact for years.
Isn’t Fortraflex great for things like patch cables and adaptors?
Yep, in fact that’s pretty much best case scenario for using it, and somebody asking about this caused us to bring the release date for the mini DIN models forward.
Will you be making other cabling aside from mini din out of Fortraflex?
Absolutely. We need to redesign a lot of hoods however.
Do other manufacturers’ cables use 75 ohm coax?
For rgb: No. People have wondered about this, but you can tell it’s not from the construction of it (no individual insulations.)
For YPbPr: Only HD Retrovision cables do to our knowledge. Yes we own their cabling, and use it as an option for 480p PS2 output. We believe that Insurrection Industries forthcoming Gamecube cables will also be, but as those have not yet come to market we cannot say that as a fact yet.
For vga type cabling: This is available, but tends to be a bit of a scam, we’ve found cabling labelled as 75 ohms that can’t possibly be given the physical properties of the cable.
Can you make BNC cabling out of Fortraflex?
No. It’s doing a disservice to what people expect from more professional setups for one, and for two, the individual BNC breakouts have to be insulated, ie they need that plastic outer coating to preserve the internal lines. Making BNCs or component cables out of non insulated individually shielded lines requires adding a plastic sheath, like heatshrink to each line at the breakout, or splicing coax lines to the breakout - which frankly is silly.
Why doesn’t your Fortraflex cable have Fortraflex printed all over it? Isn’t this some generic cable?
No. It was custom made.
I’ve had it sitting in stock in copious volume and undergoing testing for 4 months. I didn’t come up with the name til recently.
Also I don’t really see the point of branding beyond “this is good, people swear by it, here is a name you can remember it by.” I’m not a fan of buzzwords, or even the usual debunkable cabling claims like “O.F.C. copper is better” or “you need gold plated connectors.”* We designed the coax cabling, it’s custom and the lines are strategically placed. It’s still mini coax, so calling it something other than “75 ohm mini coax” is a bit daft. We designed the *concept* of Fortraflex to use individual shields, be as thick as official cabling *and* be flexible, but we based it on the fact that Tasker of Italy can already produce cabling similar to this, ergo what’s printed all down it is “Tasker” and “made in Italy” and “individually shielded cable.” It’s still custom, we gave them the specs and asked them to make it, but as yet we don’t have branding on it.
*gold plated connectors solder more easily so actually it’d be pretty cool if this lie had stuck.
Aren’t you just copying ****apunch? (Censored because I don’t want to be dishonest and make his search results point to my website.)
You mean the version of it released in late 2017? Well, when we were trying to come up with a replacement for our older coax, we actually considered using this type of cabling. There’s no patent on it. It’s a thing that’s existed for years. Because official cables use it, we’d seen it in X-box cabling that we deconstructed first of all, then found it in other manufacturer’s cables. But people kept asking for better coax, plus you can’t (shouldn’t) make BNCs out of non coax, so we opted for simply improving our coax at no increased cost. After a while (discounts offered from the competitor after the launch of our 75 ohm coax) people started to call us expensive, because of the belief that coax was a direct equivalent to the alternative. So to counteract that and make a point, I’m offering both options.
So if anyone wants to criticize on this point: note this. It’s to counteract the fact that we are now described as “expensive.” That implies we are charging too much for the work: we aren’t. I’m not reducing the price of coax, because I literally can’t.
We needed a replacement for our regular shielded anyway. We apologize for the increase in price, but the extra shielding requires it.
What does Fortraflex mean anyway?
It means “every combination of shield and flex was annoyingly taken by some other brand name so I used the word fortress instead.” I’m trying to be descriptive in the naming in other words.
Can I exchange my coax cables for Fortraflex, Fortraflex is cheaper?
Only if they’re recently bought (past two months) and look visibly like they did when you got them. We’ll sell the returns at a small discount if this occurs.