[TowerTalk] Soldering outdoors [Summary: LONG]

Fred Hopengarten k1vr@juno.com
Tue, 17 Nov 1998 08:49:58 EST

Fred Hopengarten  K1VR               781/259-0088
Six Willarch Road
Lincoln, MA 01773-5105
permanent e-mail address:  fhopengarten@mba1972.hbs.edu

On Mon, 16 Nov 1998 21:23:58 -0600 Chuck Sudds <csudds@probe.net> writes:
>Does anyone have any tricks or tips when it comes to soldering PL-259
>connectors onto coax up on a tower?? Outdoor temps have been in the 
>low 50's and winds 5-15 mph.
>Chuck Sudds  K0TVD
>Missouri Valley, Iowa USA


Soldering PL-259 Connectors
While High in the Sky

Compiled by
Fred Hopengarten K1VR
as of November 17, 1998


> On Wed, 15 Apr 1998 Matt--K7BG <aa7bg@3rivers.net> writes:

I seem to have a flaky PL259 connection at the top of the tower.  What do
you use to solder up there?  One of those Radio Shack torches?  Any
tips/hints?  -- Matt K7BG

From: "Jonathan Starr" <kalepa@maui.net>
Date: Wed, 26 Mar 1997

Best gun I've ever used for connectors is my Weller GT with a single pin
powerhead. The removable powerhead says 7A 120 V.A.C. 150 W.  Don't
really understand how 7 amps could equate with 150 watts, but it gets
nice & hot quickly, and has more reserve heat than any "loop" type gun
I've used.--Jonathan KH6X
From: FXBEAMMEUP@aol.com
I use a hand held torch with small separate oxygen and propane bottles
(Radio Shack has 'em.)  The tiny flame is really hot and you can solder
the braid through the holes so fast the center wire insulation hardly
even gets warm!!  Scott  K3FXB
From: "Tom Wagner" <tomwagner@mindspring.com>
Date: Fri, 17 Apr 1998

I didn't see anyone mention the propane torch option...I purchased a
propane (not butane) torch kit many years ago that included a soldering
tip.  It's big and crude, but it's how I solder PL-259's indoors and out.
 -- Tom N1MM
Bill Turner wrote:
On the subject of soldering PL-259s, over the years I've tried many
different soldering irons, but the best one I've found is the good 'ol
Weller 250 watt soldering GUN (not iron).  The tip is exactly the right
size to solder the holes and the temperature is hot enough without being
too hot.  It goes from room temperature to soldering temperature in about
5 seconds.  Be sure you get the 250 watt model, not it's little brother
140 watter.
Bill W7TI wrt@eskimo.com
From: Tom Wagner <tomwagner@mindspring.com>
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 1997

Look for a standard propane torch "kit".  Mine came with a soldering tip.
 It looks like the tip of a big old soldering iron.  It's a little hard
to manage the heat on the tip, but it's much better than a straight flame
or *yuch* a soldering gun!

To clean the tip, you'll need a small wire brush and a cloth.  Wear
goggles if you use the wire brush. -- Tom N1MM
From: Landen Stoker <KC5QDZ@iamerica.net>
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998

Sorry to here about the PL259.  I had the same problem about 2 weeks ago
when I completely reworked and replaced most of my antennas. What I use
is a butane filled soldering iron by Weller, there are several models to
choose from ranging from 30 - 100 watts. I can typically solder 2-3
PL-259's on one fill up. I have 2 light duty and one heavy duty models,
and I would have to say they are a godsend when doing tower work.

From: Pete Smith <n4zr@contesting.com>
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998

At 10:12 PM 4/15/98, KENNETH KOCH wrote:
>this can all be avoided by purchasing a small butane solder pencil, all
of about $70-80, and they are much better than an electric gun or pencil.
besides, a 200' climb with anything besides myself is a "drag"!

Actually, the Radio shack job is under $40, though additional tips are
around $10 each, but I strongly second the point.  They make a decent
amount of heat, are easy to carry, light easily -- a nice product (made
in Ireland, FWIW).

Pete Smith N4ZR       n4zr@contesting.com 
From: Jack Schuster <jsschuster@snet.net>
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998

For what it's worth, I found the Radio Shack torch useless. I run an
extension cord and use a soldering gun. -- JACK W1WEF
From: w5hvv@aeneas.net (Roderick M. Fitz-Randolph)
Date: Fri, 17 Apr 1998

I seem to swim upstream an awful lot:  I watched Mike Gibson, KH6ND, use
a Radio Shack soldering iron (changed the tip out for one of the heavier
ones so that the amount of heat sinking ability was greater) at the 120
foot level on a day when the wind chill was 6 (that's six) degrees.  He
was soldering the spade lugs on my rotor cable.

It was so cold that he climbed down at one point, found a large cardboard
box, cut it so that it made a large flat surface that could be bent to a
desired configuration, took it back up and used that as a personal wind
protector.  Doubtless it also served to keep the wind off the butane
soldering iron tip, as well.

I am not denigrating the other soldering irons/pencils that some of the
towertalk reflectees are boosting.  I am simply saying that I have had
good experience with the Radio Shack model.  Of course, if you insist on
trying to use the original tip (linear tapered to a very fine, small tip
designed for small printed circuit board construction) then I could
certainly understand your comments.  The one I use has successfully
transferred enough heat to be able to properly install coax connectors on
coax in cold weather.  I really like mine.  The Radio Shack butane
soldering iron has performed yeoman service for me.

So there!  Take that!  In your face! <<Grin>>

Flame suit on.

Rod, N5HV         w5hvv@aeneas.net
From: Al Samson <N0NQX@worldnet.att.net>
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998

Yes it is the easiest and handiest tool you can buy.  Check out this web
page for more.


Press W Jones wrote:

Best thing I've seen in years is the "SOLDER IT" butane gear - not only
the best pencil by far, but the little "Pistol" style is the handiest
thing you could carry on a tower top. Their solder works great, too, and
if you ever see their man Fred Doob, at a hamfest, don't miss his demo.
Press Jones, N8UG, The Wireman, Inc., Landrum, SC 29356
use n8ug@juno.com or (864) 895-4195 for tech help
orders only use 800-727-WIRE(9473) or cqwire@juno.com
www.thewireman.com      Bargains + Hamfest schedule at
THE WIRE LINE(http://thewireman.com/wireline.html)
From: Chuck <dietz@texas.net>
Date: Fri, 17 Apr 1998
Subject:  solder jobs up the tower

Best thing I've seen in years is the "SOLDER IT" butane gear - It also
works good with regular solder.  I find this combination the most
convenient for repairing beverage breaks.  (Along with liquid tape.)

Chuck, KZ5MM
From: k1am@ids.net (Jeff Bouvier)
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998

	[Solder It] is definitely the way to go. I've been using the
"pencil" for a few years and it works great. Much better than Radio Shack
butane setup.

	Check out http://www.solder-it.com/ .

Jeff Bouvier K1AM
From: "M.G. Brafford" <brad4@bellatlantic.net>
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998

Check out the Solder it web site at
Mick  W4YV
From: FSWF37A@prodigy.com (JAMES T BRANNIGAN)
Subject: [TowerTalk] Bill Orr on PL-259's

The key to any job is having the right tools. I use good PL-259's, good
quality cable, thin 60-40 solder and a large 100 watt soldering IRON. A
75 - 100 watt soldering IRON has enough mass so when applied to a
connector the tip temperature will drop only slightly.  A soldering gun
has a relatively small mass. When the soldering gun tip is applied to a
PL-259, the temperature drops and  the gun must heat up again. This is
what causes the coax to overheat.

>From Bill Orr's "Wire Antennas for Radio Amateurs" 1972   for RG/8 type

Practice on a scrap piece of cable.  Slide the coupling on with the ring
threads towards the open end of the cable. (Don't laugh, I've done it
backwards).  With a sharp utility knife circumscribe a cut, at right
angles to the cable, and remove 1 1/2 inches of the outside jacket.  Use
a vice to hold the cable.

Without disturbing the braid, quickly and smoothly tin the exposed shield
braid making it a solid entity. Don't overheat the braid or the
insulation will squirt out.  Let the tinned shield braid cool completely.

The next step is to trim the soldered braid to the correct length.  Use a
miniature tubing cutter to cut the tined braid so that 7/16 inch is left
on the cable end. Tighten the tubing cutter slightly and rotate it around
the cable. After one turn, tighten the wheel again.  After 5 or 6 turns
the cutter will neatly slice through the tinned braid.  Remove the
unwanted braid with diagonal cutters.

With a sharp utility knife cut away the inner insulation so that 1/16
inch of insulation extends beyond the soldered braid. Tin the exposed
center conductor.  Let the center conductor cool completely.

Put a little silicon grease on the outer insulation and screw on the
PL-259 until it seats and the shield is visible through all holes.  Place
the soldering iron on the connector by the solder holes and heat until
the solder begins to flow. Flow solder into the holes as quickly as
possible. Turn the cable as necessary.  Let the connector cool

Solder the center conductor.  Let the connector cool completely.  File
the tip of the center conductor pin smooth.  Check your work.

This was harder to describe than it is to actually do.  I've done
hundreds of connectors this way and after a little practice it never
fails. Tinning the shield braid and using a heavy soldering iron is the
key to the process.

A tip for BNC and N connectors. Use curved toe nail scissors to trim the
braid.  --  Jim, WB2TPS
From: John Brosnahan <broz@csn.net>
Date: Fri, 28 Mar 1997

After posting my technique on installing PL-259s I received a number of
off-line replies about making sure to tell everyone to tin the braid

That is precisely what I DO NOT DO and for good reasons.  The W6SAI, Bill
Orr, technique is one I used for a period of time and it wants the braid
to be tinned first as well.  And it also cuts the braid with a tubing
cutter as I also did for a period of time.

Here is a brief set of comments about why I recommend NOT to tin the
braid first.

John  W0UN


Addendum to the Post -- Details On Installing PL-259s

One reason PL-259s are not well liked is that many of the procedures to
install them take so much time.  If the proper procedure is used the
installation can be done very quickly.  This is not a big issue if you
are just putting on a single connector--but if you are putting on many
connectors the wasted time on tinning and trimming with a tubing cutter
can really add up.  I actually ENJOY installing PL-259s now that I can do
it very quickly and now that the results are so good!  Plus I enjoy the
ego trip of being the only one on my block who can put on a PL-259 and
have it look like it was done professionally.  Of course with 160 acres,

Here are a list of reasons why not to tin the braid--but if you insist on
trimming the braid then follow my procedure on cutting the jacket and
braid before tinning the braid--this way there will be no need for the
tubing cutter part  (which I don't like because it tends to smash the
braid down into the dielectric).

Why I don't tin the braid on RG-11 and RG-213 before installing PL-259s.

1)  It takes time and that is why PL-259s are hated!
2)  It subjects the dielectric to unnecessary heat.
3)  It leaves a residue of flux (which can be cleaned--but takes even
more time) and the flux may be hygroscopic.
4)  Solder can wick under the jacket causing it to bulge and making it
more difficult to insert into the connector

Why I no longer drill out the holes.

Drilling out the holes to a larger size has also been suggested and it
was something I used to do on a regular basis.  I'd buy 20 PL-259s and
drill them all out and then throw them into the storage bin for later
use--at least this way the drilling was done in mass production style.

There is nothing wrong with drilling out the holes a bit, except that it
takes time.  It does make it easier to solder to the (UNTINNED) braid. 
Again the secret is to have a small enough tip so that the tip can touch
the braid without heating the body of the connector until after some
solder has been wicked into the braid--then just continue the heating of
the body and flow the solder into the hole until the hole is nicely
filled.  You just have to find a soldering iron with a small enough tip
while having enough heat capacity and a high enough temperature so that
the body can be heated up very quickly.
From: force12@interserv.com

Oh boy -- difficult to put into words; however, it is in ARRAY OF LIGHT,
so if you have a FAX, I can FAX those pages to you.
			Tom, N6BT
			Force 12 Antennas and Systems
			(Home Page   http://www.QTH.com/force12)
From: FXBEAMMEUP@aol.com
Regarding my method for 259 soldering using small torch -- first I gently
scrape braid and connector (around holes) with a razor -- then when
assembly is ready to solder I heat connector just a little around hole
and then I "go for it" by applying THIN regular solder while applying
flame at same time. (guess u just have to practice a little--seems to
work for me and results are nice and shiny and, I believe, effective. 
Solder is just regular stuff----never heard of eutectic before my
subscription to TowerTalk -- Scott  K3FXB
From: N6ZZ@aol.com
Subject: [TowerTalk] Installing Coax Connectors - Summary

It looks like this thread is gradually thinning out----thanks for some
very interesting comments from a multitude of folks.  We've covered the
Bill Orr procedure, the use of butane torches, "Old Yeller" the beloved
ancient Weller, professional crimping tools, the alternative of feeding
your antennas with twinlead, and spawned a whole new series of corny
limericks containing the word "eutectic".  This productivity truly
boggles the mind.  And I think it was KE3Q who suggested a videotape of
W0UN installing a PL259 for presentation at the Dayton antenna
forum....actually, one could have a contest of all these respondent in
action, using their favorite methods....oops, Contesting is another

Here are a few additional responses to the query that were sent to me
directly that I wanted to pass on to the reflector:

---From K6NA:

The method mentioned to you by N4SI is pretty close, but I don't much
like the torch unless you are on a 100-ft tower and there is no other

The key is proper pre-tinning of the undisturbed braid.  Let it cool, and
then make the cut with a miniature tubing cutter. Buy one, they are not

Another key is use only teflon connectors if you don't have perfect
technique.  That way you do not melt the connector dielectric if you are
a bit slow.

Another hint:  The common generic "USA made" teflon PL-259's available
everywhere these days (i.e. non-Amphenol) have a design flaw which if not
addressed will lead to problems every time.  These have a body which has
too large an interior diameter in the area where the tinned braid is to
be inserted.  If the braid is smoothly pretinned, and then the connector
is screwed on over the outer jacket as it should be, you can look closely
at the holes and see that THERE IS A GAP ALL AROUND, between the tinned
braid and the body!  I really think the designer thought he was doing us
a favor, thinking that we needed "help" stuffing all that braid in there.
 (Some people actually fan the braid back on itself and jam it all in
there, and never solder it... maybe the designer was one of these guys.)

Anyway, the gap is a killer.  As we all learned on page one of our
PHYSICAL CONTACT.  So after I insert the plug body onto the tinned braid,
I lay the connector on a piece of soft wood (this keeps the exposed male
thread from being damaged), and with a hammer and dull punch I make four
between the four holes, in the body so that the body touches the braid in
at least four places.  Now you have excellent conductivity and heat
transfer to both surfaces, and a finished connector which is also much
stronger and won't pull apart with a load on it.  Believe me, I have seen
or heard of many PL-259 failures using these generic teflon connectors
and I will bet that most are due to this design flaw and a failure to
correct for it.  Since I developed my hammer-and-punch method years ago,
I have never seen a failure.  I use the method on Amphenol, too, even
though the gap is smaller (I have not measured it).  Last tip:  Use a
minimum 140-watt gun for soldering the body.  Bigger is even better
(which means faster heat transfer).
---From KL7HF:

The secret is in proper tinning of the shield and center conductor after
cutting the insulation to the proper dimensions.  The connector should
screw on tightly. (If you don't have to use pliers, then it isn't
correct!) And then, a good solder job on the shield without melting the
insulation. It is tough, but can be done. Don't use a torch.  I take the
tip off the soldering gun and use the connector as the tip.

Also - a lot of coax is not designed to have PL-259 connectors.  RG-213
is an example. It is a tad smaller OD than the connector requires.  It
can be done, but is not recommended. RG-213 is supposed to use Type 'N'
connectors. To use PL-259s, you have to increase the diameter of the
shield in some fashion. (Real thick solder will do it, but again, you're
on your own that way. Not a good process.

---From W7NI:

There are couple of things I find are very helpful:

1.  Use the best quality connector you can find.  I use Amphenol, silver
plated, teflon insulation.  They cost a couple of bucks each but they are
worth it (and they will take the power of two 4-1000As!)

2.  Make sure the coax braid is bright and shiny copper.  If it is
oxidized or black, it won't take solder very well.  Try stripping a foot
or so further back to see if the braid looks better there.  If not, toss
the coax and get new stuff.

3.  Use a big enough iron.  I use about a 200 watter.  This may be
overkill, but it heats the shell of the connector up real fast and you
are done with the job before you can melt the dielectric of the coax.

4.  Use a little soldering paste where the shield is visible through the
holes in the connector.

- Phil, N6ZZ
From: Jan & Del Seay <seay@Alaska.NET>

Try taking the tip off, and put the connector between the two metal legs,
making the connector the new tip.  It's the easiest to get even heat, and
with practice make the best looking solder joints you've seen on a
PL-259.   de KL7HF
From: n4si@pobox.com

For RG8 type coax, I strip approximately (I never measure it) 1 1/4" of
jacket. With my nifty soldering station (if I'm inside; I'll use my torch
if I'm outside) I tin the braid for about 1/2" centered about 5/8" from
the edge of the jacket. When all is cool, I use a tubing cutter to trim
the tinned braid approximately 1/2" from the edge of I now have about
3/4" of center conductor, and about 1/2" of tinned shield with a nice,
slight taper at the end of the cable.

Rod N4SI         (c) 5 November, 1996
From: "Dick Green"<dick.green@valley.net>
Date: Fri, 8 Aug 1997
Subject: [TowerTalk] Soldering PL-259 Connectors

I've been soldering a lot of connectors lately, so, for what it's worth,
here's my method. I think I got most of it off the HamCall CD-ROM:

 First, I prefer to use the silver plated connectors. I've always found
it to be very difficult to solder the chrome plated connectors, no matter
how hot the iron gets. However, the following method should work for
either type.

Enlarge the four holes in the connector shell. You can use a drill, but I
prefer a reaming tool. Making the holes a little larger makes it easier
to get the tip of your iron into the holes. Don't enlarge them too much
or the connector will deform when you screw it on the cable.

Strip off enough of the outer jacket so that when the connector is
screwed on, about 1/4" of the center conductor will stick out the end of
the center pin.

Lightly tin the shield braid from where it exits the end of the jacket to
about 1/2 inch or so. Avoid thick lumps of solder on the braid and use
care not to melt the dielectric.

 Use a tubing cutter to cut the soldered shield braid 3/8 inch from the
jacket, then pull the remaining shield braid off. If the tubing cutter
isn't real sharp, it will compress the soldered shield braid, making it
hard to just pull off the unused braid. In this case, just cut it down
the middle with some snippers and peel it off.

Strip the dielectric to bare the center conductor, leaving about 1/8 inch
of it intact after the shield braid (this buffer helps to keep the two
conductors from shorting, which can happen if molten solder drips down
the center pin tube). Tin the exposed center conductor.

Slip the screw ring on the cable (actually, always do this at the
beginning so you don't forget), and screw the connector onto the cable.
On most cables, I prefer to do this by hand. Often I have to wrap the
connector with some cloth to get a good tight grip on it. Sometimes I've
had to use pliers to grip the connector, but care must be used to avoid
crushing or deforming it. Some people use a second pair of pliers to hold
the cable, but I've always has trouble with damaging the cable this way.
The important thing is to avoid twisting the cable. This sometimes
happens when there's a tight fit between the shield braid and the inside
of the connector, so be sure to tin the braid lightly (that also helps to
avoid melting the dielectric.) Some people recommend greasing the cable
jacket with a little soap to make it easier to screw the connector on. I
think I tried it once and it helped.

Solder the shield braid to the connector through the four holes. Be sure
to sure to use an iron that's hot enough. I've always gotten the best
results with a Weller temperature controlled iron with a fairly large
tip. Keep the tip of the iron well tinned. I usually heat the edges of
the hole first, to get the connector hot enough to melt the solder, then
push the iron through the hole to heat the braid. When both are hot
enough, the solder will flow freely into the hole and sag downward into
concave shape. If it's balling up or is convex, the iron is not hot
enough or needs to be tinned.  If you move quickly from hole to hole, the
connector will retain most of the heat and you won't have to reheat it
much to solder through the next hole. That avoids overheating the

Solder the center conductor to the center pin. Be careful not to drip too
much solder down the center pin tube -- it can slip past the center
conductor and short the sheild braid.

Use an ohmmeter to check for proper continuity and shorts between the
shield and center conductor. If you're making a cable with connectors at
both ends, hook up a dummy load and make sure the SWR is flat.

Dick , WC1M
From: Greville Balzarini <sandy.balzarini@iis.varian.com>
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 1997
Subject: [TowerTalk] Soldering PL259

I did not see anyone mention pre-tinning the PL259 ground braid
connection slot.  I do this to reduce the amount of heat applied to the
coax while waiting for the connector to heat enough to accept the solder.
 This method works well on the nickel plated connectors where solder,
sometimes, seems not to stick properly.

sandy, n1mau
Greville (Sandy) Balzarini, Parts Quality
IIS Varian, Gloucester, MA
tel: 508-282-2563  fax: 508-283-4542
From: n8ug@juno.com (Press W Jones)
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 1997
Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Soldering PL259

Pre-tinning the PL259 body should not be necessary with a clean PL and a
hot, heavy enough iron. If fact, a loose drop of solder inside during
such a tinning may be knocked of by the coax insertion and then could
land, unseen, in the wrong place, causing trouble. ::Press Jones, N8UG
From: wrt@eskimo.com (Bill Turner)
Date: Mon, 11 Aug 1997
Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Soldering PL259

Personally, I would not pre-tin because of the possibility of getting a
solder blob inside the connector.  I'd just be sure the connector was
clean and bright where I was going to put the solder.  A little scraping
with an X-acto knife (carefully removing the scrapings) should do the
trick.  A drop of liquid flux would be good too. -- Bill W7TI
=================================================================UP THE

From: K7LXC <K7LXC@aol.com>
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998
Subject: solder jobs up the tower
In a message dated 98-04-15,  k4oj@ij.net writes:

> [speaking of a homemade extension cord, made of Romex,]...this is also
very nice to have if you have to use an electric drill up in the air, to
drill out a stripped bolt, or somesuch - the battery drills just don't
cut it unless you have very deep pockets for the really good ones!  A
very handy tower item. Please use a GFI so that you don't wind up as a
Silent Key.

     An electrician and the National Electrical Code would have apoplexy
over a couple of the solutions offered here. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK! They
are not endorsed by me, TowerTalk or anyone else. 

     Soldering a coax connector on a tower is a real challenging
proposition.  If you can haul a temporary extension cord up there, use a
200-250 watt gun.  Two guys on the tower are real handy. The other guy
can help to shield the wind and use one of those little butane guns to
contribute heat to the connector. If you're by yourself, you may not be
able to do it. -- Steve K7LXC
From: "Dick Green" <dick.green@valley.net>
Date: Wed, 15 Apr 1998
Well, I can tell you how a friend of mine does it, but first: DISCLAIMER

(of course, when you compare it to the potential danger of using a
propane torch at the top of a tower, it might not look so bad.)

My friend unplugs the coax at the antenna, attaches (via a homemade
SO239-to-AC-outlet-box adapter) a temperature-regulated soldering station
with a big tip, returns to the shack and attaches the other end of the
coax to a 110VAC outlet (via a homemade two-prong-plug-to-SO239 adapter),
returns to the antenna, solders away, turns off the iron, returns to the
shack, unplugs the coax from the AC, returns to the antenna, disconnects
the soldering iron, and reattaches the coax. Only three trips up and down
the tower! This can be reduced to one trip by utilizing a friend in the
shack and a pair of handy-talkies, but you really have to trust that your
friend will do exactly what you tell him/her (it could be too tempting
for a spouse, especially if you carry life insurance ;-).

I did this once in desperation during a contest (raining, in the dark)
when critters chewed through the coax where it attached to my lone
ground-mounted vertical 250 feet from the house. You have to be EXTREMELY
careful in fabricating your adapters not to connect the hot side of the
AC to the ground portion of the SO239 connectors (use a non-reversible
two-pronged AC plug), and, just in case, NEVER TOUCH THE CONNECTORS WHEN


I just thought you might like to know how it has been done by foolish

Dick, WC1M
From: "Barry Kutner" <w2up@itw.com>
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998

On 15 Apr 98, Dick Green <dick.green@valley.net> wrote:

My friend unplugs the coax at the antenna, attaches (via a homemade
SO239-to-AC-outlet-box adapter)

W2UP replies:  Yes, that is nuts!

I've never had the need to solder up there, but after foolishly thinking
a battery powered drill could drill a 1/4 inch hole thru a 1/4 wall, hi
carbon steel mast, I bought 2 - 100 ft extension cords (the orange, 3
cond ones made for outdoors) and brought it up the tower with me, tied to
my belt. Should work for a heavy duty soldering gun too, on a non-windy

Barry Kutner, W2UP              Internet: w2up@itw.com
From: Larry Babb <babblarr@cwis.isu.edu>
Date: Wed, 15 Apr 1998
Grover Yarbrough wrote:

	I had replied privately to the original question of what to use,
before reading about people concocting ways to get 110v up the tower. 
wow!!  I do field engineering work and some time ago, I acquired a butane
powered soldering iron.  It has a large barrel handle for the butane and
is filled as one would a cigarette lighter.  It has variable heat control
and gets very hot if turned up.  It has been my best solution for a
soldering iron where 110 is not available.  Please don't take the chance
of putting 110 on coax and alligator clips to get to the plug!  I find it
hard to believe people do these things.

	The $30.00 to $40.00 an iron would cost is pretty cheap compared
to the alternative.  The one I use also has a self contained igniter. 
Maybe it wouldn't be a bad idea to bring the coax down to ground level
and do it safely?  As opposed to doing things that have a high risk
factor?  73
> That is the most ridiculous method ever published in any form, in any
HAM related topic.  The probability of electrocution is immense and you
stand to be in the path searched for least resistance while attached to
the grounded tower.     Do that again and likely you will be the next
silent key!
> Grover KM5HB
From: jfeustle <jfeustle@uoft02.utoledo.edu>
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998
The 110v through the coax looks like a great way to reposition the dummy
load to the top of your tower. Why, for a while it will probably scare
the birds off your beam too. If you raise and lower other antennas via a
pulley system, the same dummy might double as a counterpoise. Has anyone
worked out the takeoff and arrival angles for a cadaver? Can we send a
second person up and work out phased cadavers? Do these work better with
elevated radials? I believe that centuries-long traditions require direct
burial.  The research possibilities here are eternal. Man, I've seen and
done some dumb stuff in my life, but this is something else.

With reference to battery powered drills, try the Dewalt with the 18v
battery pack. It's a little pricey, but will drill forever. 
Joe, N8JF
From: Tom Rauch W8JI
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998
I used to do something similar.

I have two boxes with 48 volt 2 amp transformers with SO-239's and F
connectors on the 48 volt side. I step the line voltage down (and most
importantly isolate it from ground) at the shack, and step it up on the
outdoor box with a pigtail. The 120 VAC secondary is floated, of course,
with NO ground reference. 

This works very well if I have to change a small component on a receive
antenna control box over 1000 ft from the house, even if the Weller
solder station heats a tad slow at that distance.

Now I use a little ni-cad battery powered iron, but still have the backup
system.  Tom W8JI       w8ji.tom@MCIONE.com
From: "Jim White, K4OJ" <k4oj@ij.net>
Date: Wed, 15 Apr 1998

Keep your eyes open at Flea Markets, not necessarily the Ham type - for
boxes of house wiring - usually 250 feet long rolls of say 14/3.  Usually
you can offer someone five or ten bucks for these.  Buy a male and female
plug from the home center/hswe store, tape it to the tower and voila, you
can have 110V (a little voltage drop) at the top of the tower whenever
you plug the male end in down on the ground.  Since house wiring is soft
copper it is easy to pull up the female end of the "extension cord" on
your work rope and then wrap the malleable copper wire around the leg of
the tower, it will stay there until you unwind it when done.

This is also very nice to have if you have to use an electric drill up in
the air, to drill out a stripped bolt, or somesuch - the battery drills
just don't cut it unless you have very deep pockets for the really good

Jim, K4OJ
From: "Dick Green" <dick.green@valley.net>
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998 21:04:56 -0500
Subject: [TowerTalk] Solder-It Portable Iron

Just a note to recommend the Solder-It BT-50 portable butane soldering
iron.  There have just been too many outdoor projects this fall requiring
a soldering iron and I got tired of dragging extension cords around.

The BT-50 is inexpensive and works extremely well. It comes with a
soldering head, pencil tip and a flame head. I bought three additional
chisel-point tips, in sizes up to 7mm(!) and a hot air blower (good for
heat shrink tubing.) At full blast, I measured the pencil tip temperature
at 450F within a few seconds of turn on. It got up to 735F within a
minute or so. The 7mm chisel tip made it to 800F. Design, construction
and workmanship are excellent.

The best part of my experience was the fine customer service provided by
the company. My flame head fit a little too tightly over the nozzle (it
could have been widened with a screwdriver  but I didn't realize that),
and the nozzle pulled out of the tool when I tried to pull off the flame
head. This permanently disabled the tool. I sent an e-mail reporting this
to Fred Doob that night and decided to leave a message on his answering
machine. He actually answered at 10 PM EST and I was able to describe the
problem to him. He shipped a replacement BT-50 and flame head Priority
mail the next day, with a prepaid return envelope for the old parts. All
at Solder-It's expense. Two days later I'm in business. Now that's prompt
and convenient service. Other manufacturers take note!

Check it out at http://www.solder-it.com/ (I'm not affiliated in any way
with Solder-It.)

Dick, WC1M

From: Scott Bullock <sales@advantagecomm.net>
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 07:48:58 +0000
Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Solder-It Portable Iron

Dick, Like you, I bought one of Fred's products, except I went for the
BT100 (much larger) err err err and have been extremely satisfied with
it's operation. Neat tool, has saved me mucho time in the field doing
connectors, etc.  Not something that will work on a windy day at the top
of the tower, but suffices nonetheless. His silver solder and aluminum
solder pastes are excellent too! -- Scott KA1CLX
From: CQK8DO@aol.com
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998
Subject: Re: [TowerTalk] Solder-It Portable Iron

I just purchased the newest Solder-It iron, the #120.... This is some
kinda soldering machine... (Beats the heck out of the Weller PyroPen that
I can't keep working....) It has a built in striker with no more hunting
for a matchbook, and lights with one hand which is real handy (as they
say) when clutching the tower with the other hand... it has plenty of
heat reserve and works as advertised.... You all should get one...


Disclaimers:  Well, you should know that Fred sends me 500 bucks for each
one sold if you mention my name...

Notes from your friendly compiler:

1.  I do not like to climb the tower with an extension cord attached to
my climbing belt.  A child could come along and pull a climber off the
tower.  The cable could become ensnared.  Any number of bad things could
happen.  I carry up a light line and drop it down, and then pull up
whatever I want by asking someone on the ground to attach it to the line.

2.  Some of the opinions on small butane powered irons or torches seem to
divide along geographic lines.  No 15 watt equivalent iron is going to
solder anything at a height of 90' in the open air here in New England on
the Friday morning before CQ WW CW (the last full weekend in November,
and one of the official days for PL-259 soldering).  Obviously
Northerners favor a "real man's" heat source, which seems to be the basis
for the "real man's" Solder-It tool mentioned by the boys in Fall 1998

3.  It is hard to keep a flame lighted in the open air, way up in the
sky, with a wind present.  For this reason, I personally favor extension
cords and a 240 watt Weller gun.

4.  If there is even a hint of wind, I will try to bring along a human
shield, or a five gallon bucket, so that I can do the soldering out of
the wind.  I was, however, intrigued by the idea of simply bringing up
some discarded cardboard and wrapping it around two sides of the tower to
make your own wind shield.  That was a neat idea, and you can't beat the
price.  Around here, the prevailing wind comes from the NW, so remember
to wet your finger and stick it up in the air.  Else you'll have to learn
how to find true North . . .

-- Fred K1VR (fhopengarten@mba1972.hbs.edu)

You don't need to buy Internet access to use free Internet e-mail.
Get completely free e-mail from Juno at http://www.juno.com/getjuno.html
or call Juno at (800) 654-JUNO [654-5866]

FAQ on WWW:               http://www.contesting.com/towertalkfaq.html
Submissions:              towertalk@contesting.com
Administrative requests:  towertalk-REQUEST@contesting.com
Problems:                 owner-towertalk@contesting.com
Search:                   http://www.contesting.com/km9p/search.htm