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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool

from Joseph Lawrence, K9RFZ on November 30, 2009
View comments about this article!

Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool
By Joseph Lawrence, K9RFZ

I use a lot of PL-259 connectors to build feedline cables for friends and recent Technician hams that need some help getting on the air. I have streamlined the process by using a coax prep tool similar to the DX Engineering DXE-UT-8213 and the K4AVU crimp tool mounted in a bench vise. The slowest step in the process is attaching the connector to the prepared coax. Aside from aligning the connector and making certain the center conductor wires all fit into the center pin, I still use a pair of vise grips to grab the connector and thread it onto the coax outer covering. I take special precautions to assure the vise grip is snug enough so the jaws donít grind the connector and yet not too snug that it deforms the connector. With a little creativity and time, Iíve replaced the vise grips with a simple and inexpensive tool that protects the connector and requires minimal effort to get the connector all the way onto the coax.

I reused a PL-259 barrel and glued it inside a PVC T-connector with the threads pointed outward. I found the ĺĒ with threaded ĹĒ PVC connector gives a modest fit to the PL-259 barrel. I used Gorilla Glue and coated the PVC threads before inserting the barrel. This glue expands as it dries and some glue wicked up the connector along the knurled edge.

Prep the coax as usual, but then thread the PL-259 connector into the new tool.

Line up the connector on the coax and twist away.

The T-connector side openings allow you to see when the center conductor has reached the tip of the connector. Just unthread the tool from the installed connector and Iím ready to crimp the connector and solder the tip for another flawless installation. For the price of a PVC connector, a leftover PL-259 barrel, and some glue, I have a tool that does the job quickly every time.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by KE7FD on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Crimp?
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by N7KFD on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the great idea!
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by AD5X on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Now this is a great idea!
Phil - AD5X
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by NE4W on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Yeah, I'm not sure how crimping found its way into the article.
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by K3AN on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Another example of ham ingenuity adapting an existing product for a totally new use. Elegantly simple!
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by NA5Q on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
That is a fantastic suggestion. I will give it a try. Thanks for passing it on.
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by K9RFZ on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks to the Eham moderator(s) for helping to format this article.

Before the crimp vs. solder war begins, please refer to;
http://www.eham.net/articles/19257
This battle was already fought in another article and doesn't need repeating here. Enjoy the handy little tool, but don't hijack this simple article with your pet peeves about crimping the shield of a PL-259 connector.

Joseph, K9RFZ
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by KG6WLS on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
This is neat. Something to have in the tool box for "on the go", Field Day, camping, etc.

Thanks for posting.

73
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by K7AAT on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
" Before the crimp vs. solder war begins, please refer to; http://www.eham.net/articles/19257 "

No, I don't think anyone was trying to start a crimp vs solder war. The problem is that the author referred to "crimping" the connector after it was prepared, but the picture showed a solder type connector. Some were probably wondering how one can crimp a solder connector.

Ed K7AAT
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by PULLRAFTT on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Leave it alone...it was a great article and it looks like a handy tool to have in the box.

-zw
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by W4VR on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the idea on the tool. I've been using pliers to get the connector to twist over the sheath and that is a job and a half when working with LMR400.
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by K9RFZ on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
K7AAT,

I am the author and I meant exactly what is written. As noted in the article, I use the K4AVU PL-259 crimper which is designed to crimp the section of the connector near the four solder holes. Decent quality standard silver=plated connectors work well with this crimper.
So, yes, you can crimp a connector with solder holes.

see http://www.hamstation.com/coaxcrimper2.htm
for reference.
73,
Joseph, K9RFZ
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by K7AAT on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Joseph, Thanks for that response. I was wondering if you meant using the word "crimp" or not. Despite the possible appearance of any negativity in my previous comment, I had only meant to elicit a response on your reference to "crimp". I did not know that standard Amphenol connectors could be crimped. In my 35 year career in public safety radio I have always been a fan of crimp UHF connectors, but we always used a designated crimp type connector. I was not aware of the K4AVU crimp tool, but now I am. Sorry I missed your reference to that tool early in your original post. TNX

Ed K7AAT
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by ALCO141 on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
So do i crimp befor or after i solder?

alex
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by K1DA on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I will not allow vice grips, aka "nut rounders" anywhere near my gear or vehicles so this is a good idea. Doesn't hurt to put a little "Armour All" or
some other plastic lube on the jacket. In a "pinch, even DeOxit will do.
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by NX8J on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
It can be difficult to twist the body of a PL-259 onto coaxial cable. My hard-learned advice; using vise grips to force-twist the body onto cable usually causes the vinyl jacket to rotate, which disturbs the braid's weave, causing more problems getting the shield to rest under the solder holes. Instead, using a very thin layer of silicone lubricant on the cable jacket will allow you to twist on the body with two fingers. I use the same clear water-displacing lube that is often applied to mating RF connectors before you tape them up with mastic and number 88.
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by KE7FD on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Hey guys, I brought "crimp" up in the first post so I'll put it away now. I was unaware of the nifty K4AVU Crimping tool the author disclosed to us folks who don't get out much. I suppose if I were to add up the cost of all the PL259's I've ruined over the years, the cost of the tool would pay for itself. It just makes more sense to put that money into a good tool and fewer connectors.

Very well documented article and equally good photos.

Glen - KE7FD
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by K0RGR on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Neat! I bet it beats the heck out of the ginormous gas pliers I use to screw those things on!
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by WA1WLA on November 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
PL-259?? why use them ? first it is a mechanical poor design, this is so because the ring has been designed up side down.
The part that you place your fingers for a grip to turn it is at the side where you can't reach and close to the chassis, just imaging it up side down to see what I'm talking about.
If the designer had such a poor idea in the mechanical part of it how can I trust him to design the electrical part of the connector.
As a matter of fact I heard they present an impedance bump.
I use N type they are easier to put them on very hard to reuse them because of the rubber ring
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by K2WH on December 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I use "N" connectors myself but an impedance bump only becomes a factor as you go up to about 400 mhz. You should also get the new "N" connectors that are very similar to the 259 in that the center pin is an integral part of the connector body. Only 2 parts just like the 259.

K2WH
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by AD5X on December 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
QST did a review on the K4AVU crimping tool. You can find this in the ARRL Members Only review section. They had problems with cracking the body of the PL-259. Also, they worried that the contact from the crimped body to the coax shield would not last over time - less worry when reducers for smaller cable were involved as this gave a metal backing to the crimp. Maybe the tool has evolved to solve these problems?

Phil - AD5X
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by W4VR on December 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
what I do with the braid is I double up on it...in other words fold it back on itself...and overlay some of it on the coax jacket...than I twist the barrel right over the assembly. I've been doing it this way for years and never had a problem. Of course you can only do this with RG-8 type coax.
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by K9RFZ on December 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I have no pecuniary interest in the K4AVU crimper and this is not intended as an advertisement for the device, but in my experience, a quality PL-259 connector such as the Amphenol does not have a problem being crimped at the four solder holes. I picked up some bargain connectors at a hamfest and found that they did collapse and break-out at the holes. I have never performed a pull test on a K4AVU crimped connector so I can't speak to the other concern raised by the ARRL lab. If the coax is going outdoors, then I use some plumbers epoxy putty to fill and seal the ring around the 4 solder holes to avoid moisture leak. The little tool described in this article will work for either solder or crimp style PL-259 connectors.

Joseph, K9RFZ
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by KG8JF on December 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I guess I am a bit of a purest, but I just do not like the idea of crimping PL-258s. It is a little more difficult doing it the old way, but I just feel better going the solder route.
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by KW4N on December 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Here's another option for attaching PL259's/ Been using it for years and never had a single failure.
No ruler required; nothing to memorize; no crimping tool to buy: $44 or $150; no fixtures required. Go to this page>

http://www.K3LR.com/engineering/pl259/

Good luck, Dave
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by G6NJR on December 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
A 90 degree PL259 connector works just as well leave the connector you are fitting complete connect it to the elbow insert coax and twist ( no glue to break loose) works every time .
One other point if you leave the outer braid as it is pictured above the fit in the PL259 is bad to say the least loose as youy like on the other hand if you fold the braid back over the outer PVC the fit is tight very tight you dont got any problems and no melted inner insulation due to the heat required to solder the braid to the body of the connector
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by WA1WLA on December 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I was using the technic described by W4VR when I was using pl-259 30 years ago and I screwed it in far enough to bury the braid, I had sliped in a piece of heat shrinking tubin over the coax that was placed over the ring (I read it barrel) and the coax, it works good but I can't stomach the bad design of the pl-259
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by KB1NXE on December 1, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks. Beats paying $29.95 plus shipping and handling when I got the PVC T for 59 cents.

Already have one made. Used JB Weld instead of Gorilla Glue. I'm going to borrow the idea and make one out of an old N Female Cable Clamp for the new style N connectors that go on more like a PL-259. Might need a 3/4" Thread - 1" T for that. Off the Home Despot - with old N connector in hand.
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by W4VR on December 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
WA1WLA: That method works on all RG-type coax; however, on LMR400 it's very tight when you twist over the sheath and braid..it can be done but you have to use two pair of pliers, one to hold the coax gently while you twist the barrel on with the other pair. The cross section of LMR400 is a apparently a little larger than 213. Ron, W4VR
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by K5END on December 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
This is a very fine article in all ways.

Thanks to the author.
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by KE7FD on December 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Built one last night with a Home Depot PVC "T" for 76 cents. I used epoxy and today it's reay to use. Thanks again Joseph.

Glen - KE7FD
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by K9CTB on December 2, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I guess I'm like others here ... I prefer to use standard PL-259s. I will use crimp-type if I have to. This tool will make it a lot easier. Great idea, Joseph!!

73
Neil
K9CTB
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by N4ZAW on December 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Realy kewel tewel!! I'll be building one tonight. :)
But at $44,I don't think I'll be buying one of those crimp tools any time soon.
(ref; http://www.hamstation.com/coaxcrimper2.htm )

Still, it's nice to know it is there in case i change my mind someday.
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by N4ZAW on December 3, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Realy kewel tewel!! I'll be building one tonight. :)
But at $44,I don't think I'll be buying one of those crimp tools any time soon.
(ref; http://www.hamstation.com/coaxcrimper2.htm )

Still, it's nice to know it is there in case i change my mind someday.
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by VE9VIC on December 9, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
great ,keep the good work ,73
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by N2GZ on December 10, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
"PL-259?? why use them ? first it is a mechanical poor design, this is so because the ring has been designed up side down.
The part that you place your fingers for a grip to turn it is at the side where you can't reach and close to the chassis, just imaging it up side down to see what I'm talking about.
If the designer had such a poor idea in the mechanical part of it how can I trust him to design the electrical part of the connector.
As a matter of fact I heard they present an impedance bump.
I use N type they are easier to put them on very hard to reuse them because of the rubber ring "


While it is true that Type-N connectors offer 50 ohm impedance, and are a better connector mechanically, they are only rated for about 600 watts, due to their small diameter center pin. Its true that Type-N connectors are often used up to 1kW, doing so is using them beyond their rating. Anywhere a legal limit amplifier is used, Type-N connectors should not be used. However, if you only run 100 or 200 watts, then a Type-N is fine. If you are looking for a robust connector that doesnt create an impedance 'bump', can handle legal limit powers, and offers a good mechanical connection, consider the 7/16 connector. Cost is prohibitive, though they can often be found on surplus cables at hamfests for great prices.
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by W5RMZ on December 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Great idea, but explain a 7/16 connector? I have probably seen them but wasn't aware of the name .73's!
Perhaps "I'm" un-connected!!
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by N6TZ on December 12, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with the comments by N2GZ about PL vs N connectors.

My guide for 46 years in commercial radio has been that I will use PL connectors for anything up to 30 mHz or even 144 mHz if it is just a ham's station. If it is a ham repeater or commercial installation, then N connectors should be considered for anything above 30 mHz., and generally the power at those frequencies and using RG 8 cable will be below 600 watts.

As for the PL connector, I will only solder them. I have seen too many problems with crimp.

I once had a new ham insist on ordering his coax with the connectors already on the RG 8 cable. He said "nobody can do as good of a job of putting on the connectors as the dealer or factory". My reply was only "Oh Yeah? ".

Hal, N6TZ
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by KR6N on December 14, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
cool little tool. Theres one in my tool bag already..
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by KL7IPV on December 15, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I used RG-8 ONCE!! After that I wondered why. I use RG-8X most times and the ratings of the two coax cables are not that different. So my question is, why use RG-8 at all if RG-8X is as it is described? Is the difference enough for the grief of trying to wrestle the RG-8 into a threaded fitting? I also have NEVER used anything over 100 watts. Is that the reason others use RG-8?
Frank
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by K9EEE on December 16, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I made something similar for cable TV connectors (RG6, RG59) after hearing about a tool but not finding it. Mine is just a double threaded (female to female) connector jammed into a rubber T-handle from the pull rope on a lawn mower. Same idea.

I was about to drill a hole in an old golf ball to accept the connector when I ran across the T-handle.

Phil
K9EEE
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by N4ZAW on December 24, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I couldn't get mine to work. It just screws-in all the way until it "freewheels" (like they do normally). Did i do something wrong? Is there something i am supposed to glue-in inside the barrel?
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by KI5IO on December 25, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Joe,

Very good article. Clear text and images.

73s,

KI5IO - Nolan K.
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by W6EM on December 26, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I guess I'm getting old, or it's just the "junkie" in me. While the tool concept is fine to give you a little leverage, the crimping of the barrell ruins the reuseability of the PL-259 solder-type connector. Of course, assuming that the connector uses a decent insulating material that won't melt like teflon or micarta.

And, as someone has already said, if the barrel base material is hardened, it may crack when squeezed, since it's not designed to be squeezed.

A good many of my PL-259s are very old and have been recycled from old coax. I can't do that if the solder area has been crimped against the underlying shield. Part of the reason is, they're plated with a good thick silver overlay.

Also, to be a good, robust crimp connection, metal should be soft so that it can be extruded around strands tightly to prevent oxidation or corrosion.
Only squeezing the inside diameter of a barrel so it rests on top of the braid shield doesn't accomplish that. Compression connector pins and ferrules are made from soft metal that is designed to be forced against either much harder metal underneath or as I noted above, extruded about hardened center conductor stranding.

While the tool's a good concept for applying a PL-259 barrel, a tool to squeeze in over the braid solder point isn't, IMO.

Lee
 
Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by N8CMQ on December 27, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
WOW!
52 years old and still learning! That is what I like about ham radio!
Cool tool, I have been looking for something like it for a long time, but for another reason, arthritis.

When I put a PL259 onto RG-8, I comb out the braid and fold it back over the jacket, then screw on the connector. No crimp, no solder.

But, if I solder the braid, I tin it before I assemble the coax, that way I don't over heat the coax.

At my age, I don't care to climb a tower to replace a bad connector. But that depends on keeping water out more than whether it is crimped or soldered. So I always put a generous amount of DC-4 grease in the connector when I install it, then put shrink tube on it too.
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by K9RFZ on December 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
Author's response:

N4ZAW - The shoulder at the bottom of the connector barrel should stop the connector before you run out of engaged threads. I suppose it's possible to find a PL-259 barrel with too few threads so the connector begins to spin before it bottoms out. Sorry if that happened in your tool. I didn't foresee that potential design flaw since every PL-259 I have in my drawer seemed to work okay.

Thanks to the respondents who have accepted the idea in the spirit it was offered and who have found the tool useful.

Joseph, K9RFZ
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by N4ZAW on December 30, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
From Joseph, K9RFZ -- "The shoulder at the bottom of the connector barrel should stop the connector before you run out of engaged threads. I suppose it's possible to find a PL-259 barrel with too few threads so the connector begins to spin before it bottoms out."

Joseph, Thank you for the response. And now that I know I didn't make it wrong or something, I went out in the garage and looked it over. All I can tell is the connector threads-in past the barrel's threads. Then I found a spacer that fit inside the barrel in my "washer" bin. I just placed it inside and tried it. It keeps the connector from running out of the threads in the barrerl. I think I'll glue it inside (mnake it perminent). It DOES work! And it is easy to use! Thanks for the great tool!
 
RE: Simple, Inexpensive Coax Connector Tool  
by KC9AXZ on January 1, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
I like to use a little bit of chapstick to grease up the coax jacket a bit. It's cheap simple and not too messy. Usually after you heat up the connector to solder the holes the chapstick seems to melt out of the threads. I havent had to clamp or use any type of tool to twist on the connector since I started using chapstick.
 
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