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Old 18-04-2006, 19:20   #1
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RG-213 COAX and PL259 Connector

Am replacing the rotted out small diameter coax to my vhf masthead antenna and need decent detailed instructions for soldering the PL259 to the RG-213.

I've done the smaller stuff before that uses a reducer but with the big stuff I can't figure out the best method.

Anyone have a detailed procedure?

Thanks,

Curtis
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Old 19-04-2006, 03:24   #2
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The PL259, a Tale of Woe
http://www.eham.net/articles/5071

Love Thy Coax, Love Thy Connectors! (Go towards the end):
http://www.scanningtasmania.org/coax.htm
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Old 19-04-2006, 08:12   #3
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Hey Gord,
Thanks for the links...the first one I had read but the second was new to me.

I'm still looking for definitive, specific, step-by-step directions with pictures...harder to find than you might imagine...

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Old 19-04-2006, 13:09   #4
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VHF coax multiple part problem

Use good quality Belden 9913, CableXperts CXP1318FX, Davis BuryFlex cable which is tantamount to "marine grade" like you would use for your electrical wires. In addition, the Davis Buryflex 50 Ohm cable resists dieletric contamination from moisture over time.

Consider using Amphenol crimp-on PL-250 connectors covering the final assembly with coax self-amalgamating tape (3-M, for example, there are others which also work well yet not all proclaimed self-amalgamating tapes truly self adhere) to cover the entire assembly and there will be NO corrosion.

Most cruisers continue to remain uninformed regarding the admonition to use only crimp-on connectors throught their vessel and NOT solder them. The reasons are the same as to why the aerospace, aircraft, and USCG inspected vessels are not allowed to use soldered connections. Soldered connections belong only on printed circuit boards which totally immobilize soldered parts. Do not confuse soldering with waterproofing.
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Old 19-04-2006, 13:53   #5
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interesting.

I just assumed that the solder connectors were the way to go.

I already purchased a 100 ft length of cable from Shakespeare antenna...don't know who manufactured it.

i'll order some of the connectors and tape you specified along with a crimping tool..

thanks,

Curtis
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Old 19-04-2006, 14:16   #6
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Crimping PL 259 connectors

Reference the website Gord listed on eham.net and scroll way down to the following entry by K8YK on Apil 21, 2003 where he sites where to get the crimp tools and their advantages, etc.

BTW: could anyone imagine "soldering" or welding or brazing their rigging cables to their end pieces? NO, in essence they are ALL terminated by a form of crimping (called rotary swaging or specialty terminals which "crimp" in the individual wires of a cable) allowing relative movement between the cable and the connector without breaking.
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Old 20-04-2006, 02:37   #7
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Actually Rick, I do have to take a slight alegence to solder. I have worked in proffesional audio for a great deal of my life. I used by the tons, multi terminal connectors like Mass and Cmil and so on. Most in the range of 140 plus pins, each taking a very small gauge wire.
There are two very strong arguments in our industry on how to do the connections. The solder or crimp method and each have a good argument for and against. Well in just about every application I have had better longevity with a soldered terminal connection than crimped. Now OK, I know the argument on both fors and against on both techniques. But I have always gone down the solder track because of what I had found from experiance. Maybe I just solder better than I crimp, I dunno. But the really important issue for what ever way, is to minimise movement of cable and wire strands. Movement no matter what connection, will cause them to break connection. the biggest issue with solder is that if done incorrectly, it can flow down the wire strand and harden the wire in an area where movement will cause it to fracture.
The other issue for most, is going to be the cost of the crimp tool if they want to do this task right. Price wise, it is rediculouse to contemplate buying one for just one crimp. Plus, use it wrong or reconnecting in the future, means a whole new connector.
Oh and actually, there is a technigue for soldering rigging cable into terminal fittings. It is a very good technigue and considered supperior to swage in some circumstance. Sorry, don't mean to be ............ fill in the word you want to use.
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Old 20-04-2006, 15:49   #8
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Its O.K. Wheels!

The real problem with soldering, in general, is that when done manually one does not necessarily know the quality of the job. Even though I sent my technicians to soldering school they often did not follow the technical disciplines taught there, like setting the correct tip temperature for the job, etc. Because of that only the automatic reflow equipment has the quality and reliability results.

I believe that even though there are soldered rigging cables no reputable rigger will do that on the gear for a modern boat using stainless rigging. Yes, on some of those old wooden boats with steel cables.

Anyway, using the correct crimper designed for the specific brand of terminals/connectors anyone can make a reliable and repeatable crimp.

BTW: Tell me if you can find ONE soldered connection on any of the millions of modern automobile or production motorcycle wiring harnesses that exist around the world including the ones made for mud/offroad work.
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Old 20-04-2006, 17:23   #9
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Yeah OK OK, I'll give ya that one.



mutter mutter, people that are always right mutter mutter Oooops, did I say that out loud?
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Old 29-04-2006, 08:28   #10
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Well, I got the tool and connectors. Did the first end. If this method is as durable as the solder, and everything I've read indicates it is, then I'm sold.

It didn't take 10 minutes to do an end that looks and tests clean.

I haven't found any tape, yet.

What do y'all thing about heat shrink stuff around the connector?

c
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Old 29-04-2006, 16:40   #11
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Heat shrink vs self-amalgamating tape

Heat shrink COULD work with two provisos: First, most heat shrink will only reduce its diameter to 50% of the original diameter so if the coax is less than 50% of the largest diameter found on the connector it will not work. Second, use only the kind of heat shrik which contains a water tight sealant, not so easy to find, yet they do exist.

In general, however, a connector properly sealed with heat shrink having appropriate sealant is a bear to remove, if ever necessary. Overall, I believe that a good quality self-amalgamating tape is better and certainly has a successful track record over the years.
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Old 30-04-2006, 03:38   #12
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Pacer Marine*, and others, carry Adhesive Lined Heat Shrink Tubing in nominal 3:1 shrink ratio.
ie: 1.0" dia. expanded shrinks to 0.40" dia, which should just fit RG8-U cables, and 0.75" (which may not fit over the PL259) dia shrinks to 0.313" dia.

Their Heavy-Wall Tubing has a smaller “recovered” diameter, but requires that you apply your own adhesive (Silicone).
Ie: 1.10" dia shrinks to 0.350, and 0.75" dia. shrinks to 0.240".

Self-Fusing (self-amalgamating) Splicing Tapes** also make an excellent, infinitely adjustable, sealant. Apply at least two layers of ˝ lap tape, stretched slightly for a tight fit. Then continue with another un-stretched lap (to prevent 'roll-back'). Apply a protective overcoat of PVC tape (3M #33 or 88).

* Pacer Marine: http://www.pacermarine.com
1555 Apex Rd.
Sarasota, FL 34240
Toll Free: 1-800-424-9549
Phone: 941-378-5774
Fax: 941-379-9015
Also in: Bradenton, FL, and Ft. Lauderdale, FL

** 3-M Scotch 130C Linerless Rubber Splicing Tape (EPR)
3M Scotch 70 Self-Fusing Silicone (/w Liner)
Scotch 23 Rubber Splicing Tape (EPR)
“Tommy” Tape (Silicone)
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Old 03-05-2006, 10:25   #13
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Rick-
"BTW: Tell me if you can find ONE soldered connection on any of the millions of modern automobile or production motorcycle wiring harnesses that exist around the world including the ones made for mud/offroad work." Well, those vehicles are built by the million by folks who are mainly concerned with "What's the cheapest way to do this and have it last till the end of the warranty?" rather than ultimate quality.<G>
I must say that in recent years I've become more of a crimping fan but the need for special dies and matching parts for each different crimp type I work with sometimes make me think soldering is the way to go. 3M even makes some nifty solder connectors that are adhesive-lined heat shrink tubes with solder rings inside them. You insert wires (including coax) from each end, heat with an IR gun not just a lighter, and you get a waterproof, gas-tight, special connection designed for NASA. Who are fairly critical customers.
So...it can work either way. Soldering a PL-259 neatly without melting too much of anything can be a good trick. And I've seen some nifty new "patent" self-crimping PL-259's recently that look real nice, at $3-4 retail versus 50c for the soldering kind.
Given the choice? I still prefer solder for these, unless I'm someplace where soldering is going to be a Real Hard Job. I think making a proper connection, and whether proofing it well, is more important than how you make it. Like Gord says, butyl or silicone tape is a very nice way to finish. I got turned onto that by a friend who started years ago as a telco cable splicer. Down in the tunnels under the streets? The telcos use a similar product to finish their cable splices and keep water out--even when they're submerged. I got to appreciate that concept.<G>
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Old 03-05-2006, 11:23   #14
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Please don't misunderstand...

I am not against soldering rf connectors. I merely point out (as others have done on HAM sites) the difficulty in being able to guarantee a good job, especially regarding the integrity of the dielectric material which is not visible after the job is done. The crimp technique IS a guaranteed job if one uses the correct tools.

BTW: It is a myth that the automotive industry uses the least expensive materials and assembly techniques. BECAUSE of the huge numbers involved no manufacturer can afford to have to correct bad designs or implementations of assembly, the loss would be terrible. It also is a myth that any automotive engineer purposefully designs in a potential lifetime failure to occur after warranty expires.

There are many mil-specs which do not meet automotive specs and that has been a surprise to engineers outside of the automotive industry. One great example of that is the temperature requirements for electronic components which must operate under the "hood". The automotive specs are higher than mil-spec. The wire crimping and connectivity requirements are VERY rigorous in the automotive industry which takes a very serious position regarding the safety and reliability especially of those harnesses related to anti-lock brakes and many other safety items (air bags, etc.). So, don't be too swift to denigrate automotive techniques compared with those used aboard any vessel.
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Old 03-05-2006, 15:01   #15
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Rick-
"BTW: It is a myth that the automotive industry uses the least expensive materials and assembly techniques." I didn't say they did. I said they used the cheapest that would GET THEM PAST THE WARRANTY DATE. Case in point, they don't use tinned wires. After 20 years many cars have wires that are punked out. But, cars are sold for the first (and maybe second) buyer, not for "the best" wiring. I've had a fuse *socket* punk out in my car, apparently from moisture entering the fuse box under the hood. And my OEM muffler routinely has to be replaced because it was welded after galvanizing, neatly blowing the galvanizing off at the welds, and not retreated. In a quirk of fate, after replacing it more than once, I've got one that has a "lifetime replacement" policy on it which will cost them dearly for me--but how many other people keep a car past four years? Or multiples of that?
"BECAUSE of the huge numbers involved no manufacturer can afford to have to correct bad designs or implementations of assembly, the loss would be terrible. " There are no costs after the warranty runs out, unless there is safety recall, and that's a whole different issue. "It also is a myth that any automotive engineer purposefully designs in a potential lifetime failure to occur after warranty expires." No one said they did. But the point is not that they design failures--only that they, like many companies, "design to a price" and that means the cheapest possible product, which the market demands, that will live to the warranty point, as the market demands.
I have a friend who used to do financial prediction as an executive for a major corporation, for warranty analysis. Literally every penny of every procedure is analyzed to see if they MUST spend it, or allocate it in reserve for warranty work. And, how corners can be cut to produce the best profit. That's all business as usual these days.
How many makers do you know (used to be Volvo, and one top-end Cadillac model) that build stainless steel exhaust systems, which last 10-20+ years instead of 4-6? Few or none, because the average buyer doesn't care if the pipes fall out 6-10 years down the line. They only keep the car for 2-3 years, sometimes 4-5 now, and after that? Right, it is out of warranty. Hyundai is famous for having a ten-year warranty, which is very clever (exemptions aside!) because they started offering it because buyers were and are afraid of repair costs. (They also have one of the best records for "improvements" per year and at the same time, worst reliability, warranty or not.)
That's all a reality of free/mass-market economics, it is very hard not to play the game that way and still stay in business.

"So, don't be too swift to denigrate automotive techniques compared with those used aboard any vessel." Horses for courses and all that good stuff. I don't denigrate them because they are built to a price, I just point out that that is the reason for many of their decisions--PRICE and price alone. The only reason they have air bags is because they were required. As options, folks wouldn't buy them. (Now, some do, sometimes.) Ditto for the quality of the air bag connectors. There have been recalls, and suits over failures, because even now the air bag and other critical safety systems are sometimes built to a price--incorrectly. Hell, you even see this in the commercial aviation industry and the practice is ENDORSED by the FAA and the courts. Literally, one passenger death is worth about $3 million. One average plane crash, perhaps $300 million in such deaths. If a safety improvement will cost more than $300 million (whatever the actual number) per year and it won't save that much in death payments--it doesn't get made. That's industry policy AND law.
Consider the case of TWA800, an exploding cener fuel tank. 24 other planes exploded in the two years prior to that. Nothing was done because most were overseas carriers, but the problem was well known. Now, in 2005, the FAA only *just* passed a ruling calling for a retrofit program to make modifications to prevent this, by inerting fuel tanks. That program calls for completion by...Guess when? Something like 2011. Safety? Nope. Economics.
On the other hand, the military doesn't have that problem. They've been inerting their fuel tanks for decades, because they are equally concerned with costs--but MORE concerned about the cost of lost combat aircraft. They can't tolerate it, even though the military never pays out that kind of money for KIA air crews.

I agree with you that it is not possible to inspect the dieletric after a soldering job, but that's what, Schrodinger's Cat? You can't inspect anything after it is done without undoing it. On the other hand, with some practice you can learn what will be a good soldering job, and even cut some apart to inspect them and confirm the procedure will be good. And the SWR meter says my soldering jobs are doing just fine, that's all that really matters. (Well, MFJ will sell you a better analyzer if things are critical, but that's still more money.<G>)
What I like about soldering PL-259's is that I *know* the center conductor will have a good electrical and mechanical connection, not subject to any motion or pulling apart when I'm done. I also cheat now, I use solder paste (Solder-It) applied before I seat the coax, so I know it has fully penetrated and it will flow and seal nicely with lower heat. (I don't like having to do the same job twice.<G>) Will the dielectric be perfect? Maybe not, but have you looked at some of the crud you find in crimped antenna connections five years down the line? UGH.
Horses for courses. Doesn't make any of them wrong, but they are all sold (and often built<G>) to a price. Price of a car breakdown: A call to AAA. Price of a boat breakdown: Don't AAA wish they could charge TowBoat prices.<G>
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