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Re: [TowerTalk] Fwd: Re: Most Connectors sold to Hams are JUNK

To: Jim Brown <>
Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Fwd: Re: Most Connectors sold to Hams are JUNK
From: "Roger (K8RI)" <>
Date: Tue, 20 May 2008 00:22:51 -0400
List-post: <">>
Jim Brown wrote:
> On Mon, 19 May 2008 15:03:11 -0500, Dale Martin wrote:
>> Don't you mean "Most connectors bought by hams are JUNK" ?? 
>> There's a difference. 
> I chose my words carefully, and I meant exactly what I said. What I 
> see sold by vendors catering and advertising to hams is JUNK. 
And there is a very good, valid reason for SOME vendors doing that, but 
your sentence is all inclusive.  The way it's phrased indicates "to me" 
there are no exceptions and that is wrong unless you are *emphasizing* 
the only ones "you have seen" are junk. I have been to some swaps where 
that was the case.  The same is true for those stacks of Yaesu, Icom, 
and Kenwood power cables.  Some are cheap and some are very well 
constructed.  Which reminds me:  When installing mobile rigs in modern 
cars and particularly hybrids, be careful.  They have a battery about 
large enough to start a lawnmower.  If you run the power leads directly 
to the battery install a relay that requires the key to be on for there 
to be power to the radio.  Forget and leave the radio on and one of 
these without the disconnect the battery will go dead in just a couple 
of hours and that may have dire side effects. Also there are accessory 
outlets in these cars.  These things are often constructed of that 
"cheap" easily softened plastic.  Running a 50 watt output mobile that 
draws about 115 watts (IOW about 10 amps) plugged into one of these is 
almost a guaranteed trip to the dealer.  Better to run the power leads 
back to the fuse block which should have heavy enough leads from the 
battery, or set the rig to run on low power.

There are well known vendors out there who sell quality connectors.  
However  I think you will find that even those vendors have to carry the 
inexpensive/cheap stuff if they want to keep selling to hams.  Its been 
my experience the country of origin seems to have little to do with 
product quality over all.  Even those known for junk also produce 
quality items. OTOH if you want good connectors and are dealing with 
reputable dealers, you almost have to specify what you want if you 
expect to get what you want. That means materials used in construction 
and how well constructed the connectors are.  I've had some well known, 
name brand connectors that turned out to be poorly constructed and yes, 
one was Amphenol, but that is not representative of their entire line. 
In general they make "good stuff".   I want silver plated brass among 
other specifications, but I have to ask specifically.   They are so used 
to dealing with individuals who are more interested in price than 
quality they just don't expect a ham who is looking for quality with 
price being secondary.  That's why we see *some* of the dealers 
frequenting swaps and hamfests with nothing but cheap *stuff*. 

However I have to hasten to add, that cheap does not necessarily mean 
inexpensive.  When you get into computer, TV, and AVI cables (or even 
radio station) you can find some very expensive cables and connectors 
that *appear* to be well constructed.  Just don't overheat one or you 
find the pins can "move around" a bit. <:-))  This is particularly true 
for DIN and mini DIN connectors. Machine constructed cable assemblies 
don't have to be near as forgiving of a ham handed solder gun/iron as do 
those designed to be assembled by hand.   I've found it easier to 
purchase cables made for Apple and others and then cut them to fit.  
Often you can find such cables on-line at clearance prices from well 
known stores where the price of the assembled cable is far less than one 
quality connector.  Still you have to know what you are purchasing.  
BTW, the Apple Computer printer cables that use the mini DIN connectors 
work great on the FT897D, but if you have to modify one make sure the 
connector you attach is of a good grade.  Soldering in amongst 8 tiny, 
close spaced pins can be more than a little trying and that plastic will 
soften quickly.  Generally the $20 HDMI cables are a good and rugged as 
the $200 cables. Here you have to inspect the connector as well as the 
flexibility of the cable.

It may be a bit OT but I think this is a good place for it. Most new 
computers do not have serial ports (Com1, Com2) and adapting USB to 
Serial (which should be safe and easy) isn't always so and a mistake can 
be expensive (been there and done that)  Purchasing an add in serial 
card instead of a USB to serial adapter is good insurance for one  of 
these new computers as most ham equipment is still using serial instead 
of USB.  Many of those adapters are *cheap* just like the connectors 
we've been talking about.

We have to remember that if there wasn't a good, viable market for that 
quality of connector (IE Cheap), no one would be carrying them.

Me? I make the rounds of the swap or hamfest looking for connectors. If 
I find what I want I may purchase enough to last me a couple years. If 
not, I just call either The RFConnection or RF Parts when I get home.  
Of course the Mouser catalog is on the shelf right next to me. However 
you darn near need to spend a lot of time studying connectors to find 
what you want in *pages* of similar, but  not equal connectors.

Those that are selling junk are doing so because that is what their 
customer base is willing to pay.
I, like most others like to find a bargain, but there's a big difference 
between a bargain and cheap.


Roger (K8RI)


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