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Old 27-07-2012, 04:21   #1
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solder

what is the best solder for soldering pl259's.also what's the best soldering gun. i would think the thickness of the solder would matter also.
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Old 27-07-2012, 05:24   #2
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Re: solder

You want lots of heat & therrmal mass, so the soldering iron doesn’t cool off, and a thin 60/40 Solder.

I used a 60/40 solder (Kester 0.081 or 0.105 - 60/40 multicore) with with a rosin-core to flux (not acid-core), and a large 100 -150 watts Soldering Iron, or a 240/260 watt soldering Gun (Weller D550 ), or a butane mini-torch.
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Old 27-07-2012, 07:50   #3
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Re: solder

The trick to a good solder job is speed. The longer you have to hold the soldering tool against the PL259, the more damage you can cause to the coaxial cable. To get it done quickly, you need an iron with a lot of mass so that the heat isn't initially drawn down by the mass of the connector. I use a Weller SP120 with the tip filed down to fit into the groove of the connector. A gun is never sufficient as the tip has very little mass.

When soldering the shield, the solder should wick down into the braid of the coax creating a concave dimple appearance in the hole of the connector. If it's just a ball of solder on top of the hole, it isn't done properly. Here's a pic of the iron and properly soldered connector.

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Old 27-07-2012, 09:24   #4
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Re: solder

I'd add use "Solder-It" paste solder instead of the usual "wire" type. On a PL-259 you can apply some of the paste to the braid before putting the cable into the fitting, so the solder does not need to wick around to make a good connection. It just needs to heat and set, and that means less time and less chance of burning the insulation. It also gives you a very nice "signal" as the flux turns water-white and runs out as it is heating up.

The only drawbacks are that it costs a bit more, and it turns solid in a year or two once the tube has been opening. Two years even if the tube is unopened.
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Old 27-07-2012, 15:02   #5
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Re: solder

thanks for the advise. i don't think home depot will have a big enough soldering gun or iron. i'll have to look on line and see what's out there.
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Old 27-07-2012, 15:46   #6
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Re: solder

The larger (120W? 150W?) Weller soldering guns that Home Depot, Ace, Lowes all carry should do the job very nicely. Also available online, they're the standard.
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Old 27-07-2012, 15:52   #7
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Re: solder

I use whatever soldering iron I can get a hold of but make sure you get one that stays HOT. For solder, I like 60/40 and sometimes, I use the kind with 2% silver. Either works pretty good. You want to heat your solder not the rest of the cable so like mentioned above, work quick but have a clean job when you're done.
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Old 27-07-2012, 16:01   #8
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Re: solder

Not knowing how to solder and having just gone through an epic experience with soldering four PL-259s I was *very* interested in your post's replies.

Here is what I learned from my experience:

DO NOT buy a cheap soldering iron. Since I only had four connections to solder I went to Home Depot and purchased a $19.95 Weller soldering kit. It was such an IMPRESSIVELY worthless POS soldering iron I will never buy another Weller product in my life, even if the SP120 is the best iron on the planet.

After several hours of research I purchased the Hakko FX-888 Soldering Station from Amazon. That little bit of kit is so nifty I WANT to solder! Tips are extra, and expensive, and Hakko doesn't have one with a lot of mass like fairbank56 suggests. I got the largest tip Hakko offers and it was ok.

Not ok, and I mean NOT in mile-high letters, was the ANCOR RG-213 coax cable. PL-259 connectors do NOT fit over the ANCOR RG-213 cable housing. I trimmed down the cable housing to get the connector to fit over it, but the hassles of doing so were so many and so bad that if my mast was not already stepped I would have pulled out the ANCOR cable and found another brand cable. (Between the Weller soldering iron and the ANCOR cable it took seven hours to make four PL-259 connections.)

Be sure to check out the PL-259 soldering videos on U-Tube. Mess around with a scrap piece of cable and you will see exactly what fairbank56 means about the cable core melting. Definitely consider the Solder-It paste that hellosailor mentioned, when I replace the &#!% ANCOR cable and re-do my connections I will try that paste.

From my experience, my #1 suggestion is to get an extra PL-259 connector and practice soldering it onto a piece of cable. My #2 suggestion is to leave an extra foot or more of cable to your VHF (or whatever) so you can re-do the connection(s) if you f-up.

*

Raphsody posted while I was typing this - YES, the iron must stay hot, and the cheapo ones sold at Big Box Stores, like the Weller I purchased, do not.
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Old 27-07-2012, 17:33   #9
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Re: solder

Ive had the best luck with a Mini torch when doing coax useing PL-259 connectors, instant high heat smooth job and quick !! just my 2 cents, and I think we all use pretty much the same solder with rosin core!!
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Old 27-07-2012, 18:16   #10
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Re: solder

Shipshape, i don't know what you got but I suspect the fact that you've just started soldering has more to do with this than you think.

RG-213 and PL-259s should fit perfectly, RG-213 is widely spec'd as having the same diameter as the classic RG-8 and fitting perfectly. If you didn't get something defective, there was still something not quite right.

Ditto for the Weller guns. While a fancy temperature controlled soldering station may be easier to work with, the Wellers are in use by tens of thousands of folks who have made many many PL-259 connections with them--and they work.

"You want to heat your solder not the rest of the cable" Rhapsody contradicts every known reference on soldering. You NEVER want to heat the solder. You heat the working surfaces to the point where touching the solder to them, will cause the solder to melt and flow. You never, ever, use the soldering iron to heat the solder directly, that will result in cold solder joints or overheating the underlying material or pushing out the flux. All bad things that will wok, often, for many, but you'll never be taught to do it that way by anyone in the business.
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Old 27-07-2012, 19:06   #11
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Re: solder

It could be done with as low as 50 watts, but a 75 or 100 will be plenty. I build Vacuum tube guitar amps as a hobby, chassis grounds to the large steel chassis are done with a 75 watter, creating a nickel sized pool. a weller gun will do it easily and may be handy to have on a boat as it heats up fast drawing lower amp hours. probably just 1/32 wire is fine.
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Old 27-07-2012, 19:19   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako
It could be done with as low as 50 watts, but a 75 or 100 will be plenty. I build Vacuum tube guitar amps as a hobby, chassis grounds to the large steel chassis are done with a 75 watter, creating a nickel sized pool. a weller gun will do it easily and may be handy to have on a boat as it heats up fast drawing lower amp hours. probably just 1/32 wire is fine.
A significant difference is that chassis grounds can afford to heat up slowly over time, whereas the Pl-259 needs to heat up fast and begin cooling before the dielectric is damaged.
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Old 27-07-2012, 20:22   #13
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Re: solder

yeah, you definitely dont want to start melting the insulator. OTOH, the above mentioned ground takes 1-2 seconds, no preheat! FLUX
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Old 27-07-2012, 20:27   #14
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Re: solder

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
RG-213 and PL-259s should fit perfectly, RG-213 is widely spec'd as having the same diameter as the classic RG-8 and fitting perfectly. If you didn't get something defective, there was still something not quite right.
Just a clarification ... A Pl-259 is sized to RG8, but there are at least two sizes of "inserts" or "reducers" to reduce the diameter to fit smaller cables. In the old days, they would size it down for the RG58 50 ohm cables, and the RG59 75 ohm cables. Maybe the OP had the incorrect "insert" for the cable he was trying to use.

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Old 27-07-2012, 20:36   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako
eah, you definitely dont want to start melting teh insulator. OTOH, the above mentioned ground takes 1-2 seconds, no preheat! FLUX
Hmmm. 25-30 years ago, I used to buy and restore vintage tube amps in my spare time. I still have the 80-watt iron I used. I remember more than a few times being worried about damaging the cloth insulation while waiting for the chassis to heat up.

Looking back, the beer in my system may have contributed to my failing to let the iron fully heat up. I have more patience now.
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