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[TowerTalk] Coax Connectors

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Subject: [TowerTalk] Coax Connectors
From: "Phil Clements" <>
Date: Thu, 4 Jan 2007 14:03:40 -0600
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An excellent write up Dick, by a obviously experienced ham...
  Now, having noted that; let me comment that by the time you wait on the
solder gun to get hot enough to tin the braid on the first end I will have
both connectors crimped on and the tools put back away, the coax hooked up
to the gear, and be sitting around heckling you...
  Like many I have resisted crimped connectors in my ham shack for decades
while using them on my airplanes...  I finally woke up and smelled the
coffee (tea in my case)... I bought a good crimper tool, a set of dies, coax
stripper and some connectors... Started redoing the very old, hodgepodge,
cabling on my station in preparation for the new Orion, etc., - in the old
days it would have taken me most of the afternoon to make up the jumpers,
with the crimper setup in less than an hour I had installed 20 connectors,
recabled the radios into the new configuration, and was done... I just
ordered another batch of connectors in preparation for a new set of antenna
arrays with remote switching...
  If you do more than 3 PL259's a year you need a crimper...
  denny / k8do

Amen, Denny,
As a New Year's resolution, I have sworn off soldering coax connectors for
good. My new crimpers and a supply of fittings have arrived. I call my
crimper a "converter." It converts construction time into operating time!

In case you haven't noticed, only crimped connectors are allowed for many
government contracts, virtually all aviation related construction, and the
military. It is time we old Codgers join the 21st Century and give in to
better ways of skinning a cat, as soldering is already unacceptable in many
areas in commercial construction.

I must include the caveat that your crimping results will only be as good as
the quality of your crimper and connectors. Do not try to save a few bucks
by settling for cheapie stuff in this area. A properly designed and adjusted
crimper will give uniform results with a mechanical and electrical bond on
the center conductor and shield of many many pounds per square inch. 

Some observations made recently on this thread have lead me to make a few
comments. If you are not going to solder through the holes in a PL-259, at
least seal the holes over with solder. This keeps water out and RF in. You
folks that strip the jacket way back and solder the shield to the outside of
the connector are allowing the shield to support 100% of the strain on the
cable instead of sharing it with the jacket. This becomes important when the
connector is hanging 100 feet up in the air on a dipole.

For those of you that wish to continue soldering, I like, and have always
used the recently described method of tinning the braid and center conductor
first, using a pipe cutter on the shield then screwing the fitting on to the
cable until it bottoms out. For foam coax, I have always used the method
also mentioned today of pulling the shield back over the jacket and
threading both into the connector until it bottoms out. I then close the 4
solder holes to, again, keep the water out and the RF in. I used a big
Weller 100P iron for this; does the job quick without melting the foam.

Just a few ramblings from one who has seen the light!

Phil Clements, K5PC


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