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Old 17-05-2009, 15:16   #1
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Dead Short - Soldering Connector to Coax - Help!

I am new to soldering / terminating coax. I think I may have done one or more of the following mistakes, as I have shorted out the center conductor to the outside of the connector(s). (And Yes, it is now up the mast, and No I didn't have the brains to meter it before stepping the mast!!) Just noticed my VHF doesn't work well at all.

- may not have screwed the PL259 connector tightly enough onto the RG8X cable (with proper adapter). Would that let solder in the tip flow past the insulator to join with solder in the holes / wire braid?

- may not have left enough insulator (ie 1/8") from the center conductor to the leading edge of the folded back braided wire.

I do know that it is shorted out when I metered it for resistance, without a radio or antenna on it.

Does this sound like typical newbie mistakes?? Any other possibilities??
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Old 17-05-2009, 15:30   #2
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You only need a small amount of solder on the tip of the plug, so unless you applied a large amount, with a very high tip temperature and had the plug vertical when you did this, it is unlikely that the solder has moved through the tip to the braid or the body.

In my experience, the two most common causes of shorts on a PL259 plug are:

1. too much heat being applied to the braid. This results in the insulating material around the core wire melting and exposing it to the braid; and

2. stripping too much of the core wire insulation and having a stray braid thread touch it when you push it into the plug.

As a final note, make absolutely sure that the antenna is not connected when you are testing for a short as some antennas will show as a short on a multimeter because they have a matching coil.
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Old 17-05-2009, 16:39   #3
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John,

Im my novice incompetence, I did hold the tip vertcially, and pour lots of solder down it, as I thought that was what you were supposed to do.

I hadn't thought about shorting anything out, and thought that you just filled the whole voids (tip and in the solder holes) with as much solder as you could squeeze in there! I thought this would prevent corrosion.

I did read that some antennas show a short.

I now have to cut off, and redo all 4 connections, and see if the readings are better!
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Old 17-05-2009, 16:49   #4
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Did you consider using the solderless connectors?
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Old 17-05-2009, 18:00   #5
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Didn't really consider them, just went with the solder ones that the communications shop recommended. I believe the guys may have beend trying to save me a bit of cash as well - perhaps the solderless are a few more bucks. He did say that mine could be used without solder, but that, in the marine environment, it was a good idea to solder them.

Now that I have them, I just plan on cutting them off, melting out the solder, and redoing / testing the ones on the ground 1st.
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Old 17-05-2009, 19:40   #6
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So the problem is to apply enough heat to solder the connection without melting something else and making a connection you dont want.
Consider just soldering the centre wire with just a small blob at the tip.Dont solder the sheild.Bend some of it back and get it involved with the threads where you screw the plug together.
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Old 18-05-2009, 03:45   #7
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Soldering Instructions for PL-259 Co-Axial Connectors:
Soldering PL-259 Coax Plugs
Soldering PL-259 Coax Connecters
http://www.shakespeare-marine.com/pdf/pl-259-8x.pdf

Shakespeare Centerpin Solderless Connectors:

Shakespeare Electronic Products Group : Marine Connectors and Adapters
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Old 12-06-2009, 04:33   #8
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Just finished troubleshooting a flakey VHF in a used boat we bought. The radio would receive fine when the antenna connector was partially plugged in, but I lost all signal (dead air) when I brought the coupling ring into contact with the receptacle threads on the radio. I took the connector apart and discovered that someone had allowed solder to flow down from the tip and form an electrical connection between the center wire and the outer casing of the connector. Fixed with a new solderless 259 connector.
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Old 14-06-2009, 15:39   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clearsea View Post
Just finished troubleshooting a flakey VHF in a used boat we bought. The radio would receive fine when the antenna connector was partially plugged in, but I lost all signal (dead air) when I brought the coupling ring into contact with the receptacle threads on the radio. I took the connector apart and discovered that someone had allowed solder to flow down from the tip and form an electrical connection between the center wire and the outer casing of the connector. Fixed with a new solderless 259 connector.
I take that back. It isn't fixed. The new connector is doing the same thing. Based on Radio antenna connector wired wrong?? - SailNet Community I guess my options are:
1. Take the radio to someone else's boat to try it on their antenna, or buy a small emergency antenna and try it (then have an emergency antenna on hand anyway).
2. Try a new piece of VHF coax.
3. Try a third connector: maybe I pushed the pins too far into the cable, piercing the centre wire and creating a short that way? (If that's possible?)
4. Check for a short in that coax using the multimeter. It should read open. Then short the far end of the coax and should get tiny resistance, about an ohm. Hard to do this test, since need good connections at both ends.
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