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Re: [TowerTalk] soldering radials (or any outdoor connection)

Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] soldering radials (or any outdoor connection)
From: K8RI on TT <>
Date: Sun, 27 Mar 2011 19:53:28 -0400
List-post: <">>
On 3/27/2011 11:05 AM, Michael Goins wrote:
> Ideal, quite possibly. Practical and/or necessary for most hams, not
> really.
> And how many new hams will see this and think "Wow. There's no way I could
> put up a vertical. I don't know how to braze (or have the money to spend to
> do so)."

Generally speaking, I think most hams probably have a propane torch 
around the house. Probably most non hams as well.  Map gas tanks that 
fit these are readily available. The only problem is the non 
standardization of the fittings and threads.  You have to pretty much 
find tanks to fit the make and possibly model torch you have.  Per 
volume it's an expensive way to purchase MapGas, but IIRC the last tanks 
I saw for the little torches were around $14 to $16 dollars.  I'll have 
to check next time I make it to the hardware store.

As a comparison I can have my "large" Acetylene tanks refilled for less 
than $50 and the full size O2 tank is only $20, or was. It's been a year 
since I had both filled. I think the last tank of "cover gas" was only $24.

Now if you have a neighbor with a TIG welder and either a 220 outlet 
close enough to use, or a big generator, you could do 50 or 60 radials 
to a copper ring in less than 5 minutes...IF the wind isn't blowing.  
Using a MIG or TIG welder on a windy day is an exercise in frustration 
and maybe excitement. <:-)) No, you are unlikely to be able to use a MIG 
welder for this in the first place.
For those who wonder MIG stands for Metal, Inert Gas which is usually an 
Argon/CO2 mix.   TIG stands for Tungsten, Inert Gas which is usually 
Helium and is what we used to call "Heliarc". You can use the arc to 
heat the base metal and melt the brazing stick although the learning 
curve is a bit steeper than using a torch. With TIG you can even weld 
fairly thin Aluminum sheets together.

The sticks of the less expensive silver solder are available at most 
welding supply stores.

BTW if you want a BAD case of sticker shock, purchase a full roll of 
Kestler multi-core (rosin) solder.

There are literally thousands of hams worldwide with regular soldered
> radials and not all the connections "immediately dissolved into a white
> powder." Radials soldered with silver solder and with regular solder and
> some just clamped and bolted. Depends considerably on whether the radials
> are buried, pinned to the grass, the type of wire and gauge, location of the
> station, acidity/alkalinity of the soil, potential weather, etc.


Here solder seems to slowly evaporate from outdoor connections. It 
disintegrates within a year when in the soil.  Liquid tape and roofing 
tar are very long lived preventives.  Even in the ground roofing tar 
should last for many years even around here.

OTOH I have never used an intermediate metal between copper, aluminum, 
or the galvanizing on the tower legs and have never had a dissimilar 
metal problem which seems strange as fast as solder disintegrates.


Roger (K8RI)

> Heaven only knows how many hams use commercial or some version of homemade
> radial plates and have never have any issue with them. Me included, and for
> many, many years. When checked with a ratchet and socket occasionally, they
> were all as tight as when I did them initially. And not all of us have
> freeze-thaw-freeze cycles that would ever loosen a connection, or one
> antenna that we put up 30 years ago that we would continue to use (part of
> the fun is using different antennas - at least for some of us).
> Do what works for you. If the soldered connections do seem to deteriorate,
> then do something else, if the antenna is a permanent one. Silver solder,
> use a plate, or possible braze next time. Or elevate the vertical and use a
> counterpoise - often works much better anyway.
> One opinion. Mine.
> mike, k5wmg


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