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A better PL-259?
#1
In the current ARRL National Contest Journal, there is yet another write-up on how to install solder-type PL-259s, with a wrinkle:

For those of you who still use the solder type, there is a better (but pricey) variation that is new to me.  The Amphenol Connex #182120, is mostly identical to any PL-259, but as you can see below, instead of 4 tiny holes where you solder the shield braid, it has 2 larger slots.  This makes soldering easier and more secure.

I found them at Digi-Key.ca for $13 each (ouch!). RF Connection down in Maryland has them for $8.00 CDN each, (still ouch!). 

A cheaper way to accomplish much the same thing might be to open up the holes in a standard PL-259 with a Dremel.

I'll stick to crimp connectors, but these are an interesting alternative.

73
Dave, VE3WI

[Image: PL259.jpg]
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#2
I'm curious why builders would still solder PL-259 connectors when crimp connectors are stronger and make a better connection?  A crimp connector is not much more cost wise and the price of a hex crimp tool is not a lot of money.

I have a few crimp tools with different dies for different cable sizes.  If anyone wants to borrow a set, let me know.

73 Rob
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#3
Couldn't agree more, Rob. 

The professional telecom industry hasn't used soldered connectors for years.  But there's a large fraction of the ham community still married to the good ol' PL-259.  And there's no shortage of novel ways to attach them, like this one from Tim Duffy K3LR:

http://www.k3lr.com/engineering/pl259/

For my money, the best UHF crimp connectors are the "crimp-solder" type from DX Engineering (Tim Duffy's company!).  I don't like the all-crimp ones, because crimping the center contact reduces the contact area more than I like.  Soldering the center contact & crimping the braid is better.  They only sell them for RG8 and RG8X, not RG59 or RG58.

I also have crimp tools, if anyone wants to borrow them.

73
Dave, VE3WI
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#4
I agree that crimping provides a better solution for cable connectors.  Rather than relying on opinion, there are also engineering studies to support crimp connectors (see below).  Each to their own and after seeing both soldered and crimped, but I prefer the durability of the crimped connections on the shield.  It is positively a more positive connection...


Engineering studies have confirmed that the absolute best RF connections for double-shielded cables like LMR-400 and DXE-400MAX are made by crimping the shield, not soldering. However, most PL-259 crimped center pins aren't large enough and don't have enough contact area, which affects reliability. DX Engineering has solved those issues with these custom-designed connectors that we introduced on DX Engineering DX Series Coaxial Cable Assemblies. These PL-259s have soldered center pins that are full length and full diameter, so they connect properly, even with worn SO-239s.
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#5
I couldn't agree more too.  I bought the DX Engineering kit and crimp all my RG-213 and LMR-400 connectors from DX but I still solder the centre pin.
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#6
My opinion IS an engineering study ;-)

73
Dave, VE3WI
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#7
(2022-03-19, 22:55:49)VE3WI Dave Wrote: My opinion IS an engineering study ;-)

73
Dave, VE3WI

Of course, I would not have thought otherwise  Big Grin
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#8
Another novel PL259 installation method I just read:   (I don't have a picture)

The author exposes a large portion of braid & trims the dielectric back.  He combs the braid back over the outer jacket, and screws the connector body over that.  He then solders the center pin.  He says it takes a couple pair of pliers to screw the connector on & he's never had a failure in 45 years. 

A commercial crimp connector is superior because it traps the braid between the knurled connector body and the ferrule.  This guy's method squeezes the braid against the coax itself, which is not nearly as rigid.   It does sound better than the 4 little dots of solder method though.

73
Dave, VE3WI
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#9
Although I've never tried it, I've watched the demo and have a solder pot if I ever try it.  You tin the braid first, then trim the dialectric back.  Instead of trying to flow the solder with flux through the four holes, the tinned braid will solder itself though the solder holes.

I had to make up 6 RG-213 patch cords this afternoon.  I use the DX engineering strip tool and their crimping kit.  Even after soldering the centre pin, I don't think I spent more than one hour for all 12 connectors.
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#10
I tried tinning the braid once, but I used too much solder & couldn't get the coax into the connector. 

I had trouble using the DXE crimp tool on the large coax - couldn't squeeze it hard enough.  I got a Times Microwave crimp tool which has better mechanical advantage. The DXE one works great on RG8X.  There is an adjustment on the tool, one of those days I'll play with it & see if I can get it working better on RG8.

I put some connectors on LDF4 Heliax, you just need a couple of wrenches for those!

73
Dave, VE3WI
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#11
(2022-03-23, 20:51:11)VE3WI Dave Wrote: I tried tinning the braid once, but I used too much solder & couldn't get the coax into the connector. 

I had trouble using the DXE crimp tool on the large coax - couldn't squeeze it hard enough.  I got a Times Microwave crimp tool which has better mechanical advantage. The DXE one works great on RG8X.  There is an adjustment on the tool, one of those days I'll play with it & see if I can get it working better on RG8.

I put some connectors on LDF4 Heliax, you just need a couple of wrenches for those!

73
Dave, VE3WI

Dave I have only used my DX crimps on LMR-400 and RG-213.  I can't say I have ever had a problem but the Kings are definitely better quality.  I have a couple of sets of Kings Electronics KTH-1000 Hand Ratcheting Crimpers with different dies. 

I have two 100' runs of 1/2" Heliax FSJ4-50b out to my yard.  This is the older style superflex.  I have a supply of N-connectors but by the time I put a PL-259 adapter on that, it took up too much room in my entrance panel.  I found a supplier in Britain for FSJ4-50b PL259 connectors.  If you ever need Times Microwave stripping / flaring tools, let me know.


I have a 40m beam going up in my backyard this summer and have Heliax for that too.  A buddy of mine has some good Bell connections and they are replacing the Heliax with fibre so there's lots turning up.
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#12
Thanks, might take you up on that.

RF Parts has connectors for various sizes of Heliax.  They're pricy, UHF connector for LDF4 is $35 US.
https://www.rfparts.com/connectors-helia...eliax.html

BTW, do you still want that Panavise?  I think you bid on it before John shut down the online auction.

73
Dave, VE3WI
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#13
(2022-03-24, 17:16:07)VE3WI Dave Wrote: Thanks, might take you up on that.

RF Parts has connectors for various sizes of Heliax.  They're pricy, UHF connector for LDF4 is $35 US.
https://www.rfparts.com/connectors-helia...eliax.html

BTW, do you still want that Panavise?  I think you bid on it before John shut down the online auction.

73
Dave, VE3WI

I thought about the vise and when I didn't see it, I didn't want to ask.  I just bought one from Mouser and it arrived yesterday.  Go figure, eh?  Thanks anyway Dave.

I have a younger brother in Albert just starting out in the hobby.  I've gifted him my TS-2000X rig.  I'm looking for an inexpensive tuner (Versa maybe) for him and maybe an SWR meter if anything comes up your way.  I know we have the proceeds from the donation coming up but not sure what's on the list.

Cheers!

73 Rob
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#14
I have an MFJ-941D that has been on various shelves for a long time.  Worked well when I was using it.  It has the old-style SWR meter where you set forward power to 100% then switch to reflected to read SWR (newer version 941E has the crossed-needle meter).  The paint on the case is messed up a bit but I think it's clean inside.

If you want, you can try it out for him and see if it would meet his needs.  Price would be whatever you think is fair, if it helps him get on the air.  Money can be donated to GBARC.

Let me know.

73
Dave, VE3WI
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#15
(2022-03-24, 21:52:14)VE3WI Dave Wrote: I have an MFJ-941D that has been on various shelves for a long time.  Worked well when I was using it.  It has the old-style SWR meter where you set forward power to 100% then switch to reflected to read SWR (newer version 941E has the crossed-needle meter).  The paint on the case is messed up a bit but I think it's clean inside.

If you want, you can try it out for him and see if it would meet his needs.  Price would be whatever you think is fair, if it helps him get on the air.  Money can be donated to GBARC.

Let me know.

73
Dave, VE3WI

He beat me to it and found something.  Thanks for your offer Dave
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#16
OK  Hope he gets on the air & enjoys it
73
Dave, VE3WI
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#17
Dave, do you know anyone with some 1/2" Heliax for sale?  I have about 60' but need 170'.  I don't mind splicing 2 or 3 pieces.

Thanks,

73 Rob
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