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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Crimp On PL-259 Connectors

from Michael S. Higgins, K6AER on December 4, 2011
View comments about this article!

"Editor's Note: Due to the popularity of some of eHam's older articles, many of which you may not have read, the eHam.net team has decided to rerun some of the best articles that we have received since eHam's inception. These articles will be reprinted to add to the quality of eHam's content and in a show of appreciation to the authors of these articles." This article was originally published on: 5/26/2008






Many hams have varying degrees of success when attempting to install the revered PL-259 solder on connector. Often these attempts end with melted coax and connector and a poor connection that will fail over time. I have installed thousands of these connectors and I must admit that when things go right I consider myself lucky.

Recently a crop of crimp on connectors and crimp tools have become available that have made the process much easier. These connectors greatly ease connector assembly and the tools are readily available to the average ham. Pricing on the connectors is about the same as a Teflon PL-259 and the connection and finished product is far superior. Some previous crimp on connectors crimped a solder on PL-259 and those connectors were poor at best. That is not the case with the RF Industries connectors. These connectors were designed from the ground up to be a crimp on connector.

Prep tools are available to prep the coax to the specified length so all that needs to be done is slip the new connector over the RG-8, RG-213 or LMR-400 coax and then crimp the end piece (Center Conductor) and the ferrule over the outer shield. The end result is a coax and connector that is superior to any solder on product. I know there are the old timers who scoff at a crimp on connector but in the cell phone industry we have found that crimp on connectors have a much lower failure rate than any field solder on connector. In addition the pull strength is much higher because the coax crimp is a much stronger mechanical connection than soldering through four tiny holes found on the typical PL-259 connector body.

The end product looks like what you would expect from a commercial product. This is depicted in the photo below:




"N" Crimp Connector

PL-259 Crimp Connector

PL-259 Solder on Connector


In each case the crimp on product uses a ferrule that crimps to not only the outer conductor shield but also to the plastic jacket. -- This method makes a connection with superior pull and flex strength.

In tests I have found the pull strength of the "N" and PL-259 crimp on connectors to handle over 120 lbs of pull. I could not test to failure because I ran out of weights to put in the horse bucket attached to the connector via a female connector.

The next test was to sweep the lines via my HP network analyzer. Just to keep things constant all the connectors were attached to LMR-400. At 900 MHz the Crimp on PL-259 had .1 dB more loss than the crimp on "N" connector. Not bad. The solder on connector had .23 dB of loss at 900 MHz when compared to the crimp on "N" connector. The cable lengths in each case were 24 inches. I know the conventional wisdom is don't use PL-259's above 2 meters but I saw nothing on the analyzer that said this was true below 1 GHz. Now that doesn't preclude a bad connector design or poor female connectors on the radio unit but I saw no reason not to use the PL-259 crimp on at UHF.

The benchmark PL-259 solder in my connector assembly was a Teflon Amphenol unit. This is a $3.00 connector and comparable in cost with a crimp on connector.




"N" Crimp Connector

LMR-400 prepped for the crimp on "N"

LMR-400 prepped for the crimp PL-259

PL-259 Crimp Connector


Crimp tool cost is often what makes ham shy away from crimp on connectors. Some special crimp tools can cost well over $400. This is not the case with all crimp tools. RF Industries makes a very economical unit that I have been using for over 8 years and it is holding up well. The crimp tool come in a plastic case that has cut outs for die sets to crimp a variety of connector types from miniature coax up to LMR-400.


The RF industries crimpers with the .429 die set for LMR-400 size coax and the coax prep tool from Times Microwave.


A different prep tool is needed for the PL-259 connector due to the longer length needed for the center conductor. Although if you are handy with an exacto blade knife and have plenty of band-aids you may forgo the prep tool.

Typical time to assemble a connector is about one minute. This process is so simple that I stopped using solder on connectors for some time ago.

You can buy the tools from a number of distributors. Part numbers and pricing from Tessco distributors is shown below. The pricing shown is for small quantities.

Description Tessco # Price
Crimp on PL-259 - LMR-400, RG-8, RG-213 35985 $ 2.47
Crimp on "N" - LMR-400, RG-8, RG-213 14515 $ 3.35
Crimper set for large and small coax RG-8/RG-58 54250 $ 99.00
Prep tool for LMR-400, RG-8, RG-213 for "N" 59664 $ 71.00
Prep tool for LMR-400, RG-8, RG-213 for PL-259 68254 $ 101.00

Note the crimp on PL-259 from Tessco is an RF Industries Part Number RFU-507-ST and is available also from Talley, Hutton and Electro-Comm distributors. These distributors also sell the crimp and prep tools.

Typical quantity cable prices for LMR-400 equivalent coax can range from $214 for a 500 foot reel from JEFA Technology to $360 for a 500 foot reel of Time Mirror LMR-400 from Tessco.

Making your own cable assemblies can be a very cost effective alterative to buying pre built coax cables and jumpers. You can make up your own jumpers and feed assemblies in minutes. The cost of the tools is under $250 and you will make back your tool investment very quickly.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by AB0RE on December 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article! Crimp-on connectors are nice as long as the manufacturer's trimming dimensions are followed to the letter and a quality ratcheting crimp-tool is used.

For RG-8 / RG-213 PL-259s I still prefer the standard solder-on PL259's as they actually *thread* onto the jacket and I think they have a much superior mechanical connection. For RG-8X and smaller I prefer crimp-on all the way as the smaller cables are especially vulnerable to over-heating from the solder iron.

A final note regarding the article.... Tessco will not sell to "end users", except at list price through a separate entity. If the common ham needs to purchase an RF-Industries crimp tool or connector, he'd be much better going through http://www.rfparts.com. (Tessco's website is still very good to determine the correct part number for the connectors needed for a particular job. the search engine and "Filter" feature are very nice!)

73,
Dan / ab0re
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K9MHZ on December 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>by AB0RE on December 4, 2011
A final note regarding the article.... Tessco will not sell to "end users", except at list price through a separate entity.<<<<


Yes they will sell to you directly, I've done so a number of times. But yes, it won't be cheap.

 
Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by AB9TA on December 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Agree with K9MHZ, they do sell to individuals from their website. They sell a few ham-specific antennas, 2M/440 mobile antennas plus the mounts.
The prices are about in line with most other suppliers of commercial equipment, i.e., they aren't "Ham Cheap".
Set up an online account with them to see their true pricing, their "retail" prices will give you sticker shock!

73!
Bill AB9TA
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K4QE on December 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Allied Electronics also sells the crimping tools and connectors.

I bought an Ideal crimping tool and dies for several different coax sizes several years ago.

I also purchase all of my Amphenol crimp connectors from them.

Quick service and decent prices.

73, Tony K4QE
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by AB0RE on December 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
"Agree with K9MHZ, they do sell to individuals from their website. They sell a few ham-specific antennas, 2M/440 mobile antennas plus the mounts.
The prices are about in line with most other suppliers of commercial equipment, i.e., they aren't "Ham Cheap".
Set up an online account with them to see their true pricing, their "retail" prices will give you sticker shock"

Last time I tried to order direct from Tessco (less than a month ago) via telephone, they directed me to yourwirelessource.com to take the order. After reading the last couple responses, I stand corrected - one can order directly from Tessco online if a web account is set up as an "individual user w/o installation or maintenance support".

The prices are full retail going this route. Using the items quoted in this article, p/n RFU-507-ST (crimp-on PL259 for .400" coax) are $4.35/each vs $3.25/each at rfparts.com..... p/n RFN-1006-3I (crimp on N-Connectors for .400" coax) are $5.90/each vs $4.80/each at rfparts.com..... p/n RFA-4005 (Coax connector crimp tool) is $172.45/each vs $109.95/each at rfparts.com. RFparts.com offers further discounts for quantities of 10 or more as well.

73,
Dan / ab0re
 
Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by WX4O on December 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I've had a few crimp-on connectors with purchased cable assemblies, but never tried one. This excellent article has inspired me to try a few.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by HAMMYGUY on December 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I avoid using any type of crimp-on connectors. I've troubleshooted many problems over the years that were traced to poor quality connectors and improper installation.

I'm sure they will work just fine if installed correctly. But looking at a good soldered center pin and a soldered braid typically means solid connections.

If you're doing a mobile radio install why put a potential intermittent connection in? Convenience? Having that vehicle come back for repairs a few years later with customer complaints isn't worth it.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by AA4PB on December 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I submit that it takes less skill to properly install a crimp connection (assuming a quality connector and quality crimp tool) than it does to properly install a solder connector. Properly installed, either type will be reliable.

Years ago when dealing with thousands of BNC connectors on RG59 for CCTV systems, the reliability improved quite a bit when we started using crimp connectors.

 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by MAGNUM257 on December 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
"I submit that it takes less skill to properly install a crimp connection (assuming a quality connector and quality crimp tool) than it does to properly install a solder connector. "

This may be true, but do we really want "less" skill in our hobby? Our we turning into appliance operators? I get more enjoyment out of something I build myself. That includes something as simple as soldering a connector, or building an antenna instead of buying one, putting together a Heathkit (well not lately). Just my two cents worth....
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K6AER on December 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
If you want to set up an account at Tessco just put Engineering behind you rlast name and tell them you are a cosultant. They will be fine.
 
Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by KK8ZZ on December 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I was somewhat surprised when the ARRL recently endorsed crimp-on PL-259 connectors (soldered center pin, of course) to be as good as soldered ones. I picked up a kit from quicksilver.com (John Bee) at Dayton in May and have been actually - really - been enjoying making jumper cables as I've needed them since then. Add this to the unique cable stripping devices from DX Engineering, and I've had a new lease on creating RF cables !

Cheers....Bob KK8ZZ
 
Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by KK8ZZ on December 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
OOPS !! Major goof ! The actual site for the cheap crimper and connectors is http://www.qsradio.com/ check out the optional dies for PowerPole connectors too !

Sorry... Bob KK8ZZ

(not affiliated with any of the companies or web links I've ever mentioned)
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by AK4E on December 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Ham City sells quality crimpers DL-801k as well as silver plated UHF-03T Crimp 9913/LMR400/213. The crimper is $24.95, fittings $2.20 ea. I find them in comparison to others just as good. All my co-ax is 9913 and I couldn't ask for anything to beat them.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by AK4E on December 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Ham City sells quality crimpers DL-801k as well as silver plated UHF-03T Crimp 9913/LMR400/213. The crimper is $24.95, fittings $2.20 ea. I find them in comparison to others just as good. All my co-ax is 9913 and I couldn't ask for anything to beat them.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by W3LK on December 4, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Joel at RF Connections (therfc.com) sells top quality crimp connectors and crimp dies.

Properly installed, crimped connectors are at least as good, If not better, than soldered connectors. Considering that virtually the whole communications industry, except amateurs, use them should be sufficient proof.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by KB9ERU on December 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
[quote]Properly installed, crimped connectors are at least as good, If not better, than soldered connectors. Considering that virtually the whole communications industry, except amateurs, use them should be sufficient proof. [/quote]

Correct. I've used them at two different two-way radio companies, and loved using them. When I moved on, I bought a nice set of crimpers and crimp connectors for myself. I never looked back!

Soldered connectors aren't the "be all, end all" either. I've seen quite a few of the soldered ones improperly installed (melted inner dielectric insulator), that caused issues when using the line for duplex operation and/or with a decent amount of power.

I (we) never had that issue with crimped connectors, and its WAY faster to install them.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K9MHZ on December 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Someone mentioned a mobile installation. Comparing it to what's done on aircraft....and crimping rules. Crimping technology has advanced so much that the connections are far stronger than soldering, and anything other than a crimp wouldn't pass an inspection.

That's assuming a quality connector, wire, tooling, and competent user...who's hardly a mere "appliance operator" as implied by someone above.



 
Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by VE6TL on December 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Seems like nobody stated the obvious. In the old days, when money was scarce (like when I was a kid), we couldn't afford new PL-259s or even the cable. Often, we had to make do with some used stuff from a friend or a silent key's estate. Soldered PL-259s are reuseable, whereas crimped ones are not. While purists or those into UHF may find this unacceptable, I've reused numerous PL-259s in the past for HF use and not had any problems. The actual task of removing PL-259s that came from someone else has shown me many different ways people have come up with to attach them. Its no wonder engineers came up with a better method (crimping). One of the biggest problems I've seen with the solder-on type is the use of nickel plate instead of silver plate. I found it almost impossible to get my solder gun hot enough to make a good solder joint with the shield on the nickel plated ones. This is another argument in favor of the crimp-on style. So the bottom line for me is that if you are just doing HF and are proficient at solder-on connectors, there's no real reason to change. But if you're doing VHF/UHF, doing a lot of connections, or just starting out, the crimp-on style is the way to go. Nice article.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by M6GOM on December 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
$200 to buy the tools to put connectors on?

Seriously, just learn to solder.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by N3QE on December 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I've seen lots of newbies consistently fail to solder PL-259's effectively. I mean, they can try 20 times, and fail 20 times in a row.

These are not dumb guys. But they are not all that mechanically "handy" and their soldering tools are pretty much limited to what you can buy at Radio Shack.

They typically either: (1) Fail to get the barrel hot enough that it actually wets the solder or (2) Take so long to heat it up, that coax dielectric and/or PL-259 insulator melts.

Or (3) both 1&2! Really, these guys make cables where the ground is not well connected to the barrel, but with so much melting going on that it's connected to the center conductor.

Maybe 30 or 50 years ago a valid "rite of passage" for a ham was to solder on a PL-259. But today, in 2011, when we know that crimped connections are so much superior? I see no need for a new ham to put up with such a crappy connector as a PL-259, much less something he's going to fail repeatedly with soldering on.

Getting rid of the soldered on PL-259 is not dumbing down ham radio. It's about catching up with the times.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K9MHZ on December 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>I see no need for a new ham to put up with such a crappy connector as a PL-259<<<<


Absolutely dead-on, you nailed it, a "shack" (not a ham shack....a bomb on target shack). The N connector should have been standard from the moment it was invented. Nothing "UHF" about a PL-259 at all.

(Sorry about veering off from the crimping discussion.)

Tailwinds,
Brad, K9MHZ
 
Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by NK7J on December 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Being a radio tech for 20 years now I can assure you of one thing when it comes to connectors. I have seen FAR many more failures with solder connectors than I have with the crimp. Both can be installed incorrectly but it seems there is much more probability for failure when applying heat and solder. The biggest thing I have seen is applying heat for way too long on pl-259s. I can take 100 Solder PL connectors put on by a bunch of people and I will bet 9/10 times when you sweep the cable you will see a pretty good bump at the connectors.
Anyway my $.02 I use crimps only and have for at least 10 years.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by AA4PB on December 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
90% or more of our present day radios are assembled by a pick and place machine and yet we worry that using a crimp tool on a PL259 is "dumbing down" ham radio. :-)

 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by W0FM on December 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
An earlier poster suggested that the "mobile radio" environment would take a noteable toll on a crimped connection. It should be noted that the aviation industry has insisted on crimp-on cable connectors in aircraft electronics for years. In fact, I'm told that most will not accept a soldered cable connector.

You'll have a hard time finding an undustry with more dire consequences of vibration-failed ectronic connectors than the aircraft industry.

I'll use what they use.


73 de Terry, WFM
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by W9AC on December 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
It's good to see a re-print of Mike's excellent article. As he suggests, setting up a Tessco account isn't complicated. For the past several years, I've been ordering most of my connectors from Tessco (RF Industries and Amphenol brands).

I'm a big advocate of using crimp connectors indoors. I've standardized on RG-400 for all short indoor inter-connect cabling, including 1.5KW HF amps. However, in outdoor installations where there's any type of contact to the weather, I'll use soldered PL-259 connectors. For me, I've found it best to solder the PL-259 and mount it up and into a small UV-resistant plastic enclosure (e.g., deep PVC electrical box) and allow if to breath from under the box, keeping the connector away from any direct water contact. Here in Florida, I've never found a good solution using the Coax-Seal or 3M Skotch-kote (w/ heat shrink tubing) sealants on a PL-259.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by WB0MCO on December 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
An "eHam Classic" by K6AER, Are You joking??
Recommending crimp on PL259 connectors. I can't
believe they even make them,a failure waiting to
happen.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by N1FOY on December 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
There are some good arguments for both applications. It may very well be a time and materials vs. volume issue in some cases. As a lifelong builder and tinkerer with an addiction to 'smoke and solder', I receive a little more feeling of self accomplishment and connection (pun intended on this occasion) with days gone by every time I have the opportunity to 'metal melt'. Surprisingly, with the wave soldering, hot dip soldering, crimping, etc.; soldering skills may not be as prevalent as they once were in the past.

The new DXE coax stripping tools work extremely well and even screw on the solder type connectors....the part I used to hate before the threaded tools came along. They keep me from making a trip to the ER for stitching up a finger from a razor knife; should I have violated the cardinal rule of being in a hurry and not watching the direction of the blade. Not that I would have any firsthand experience of that or anything. I then purchased the whole kit with cut off tool and dies for most common cables.

Just some ole school left over where the thought used to be that anything approaching legal limit ++ is soldered and then made water resistant. But to each their own. That is the beauty of the hobby; experiment and go with what works for you.

It would be interesting however to see a crimp vs. solder side by side comparison for corrosion, changes in resistance, current handling or diminished handling capacity, heating, etc., say 5 or 10 years after installation.

Thanks for publishing the article.

 
Crimping your own is not for everybody  
by W2TKW on December 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Making it sound like anyone can crimp their own cable connections is being a bit disingenuous. I have tried using crimp on connectors and for me one of the biggest difficulties is the amount of hand strength required to manipulate the crimping tool. I just do not have the oomph! needed to make a crimping tool close properly. I end up wasting 5 or 6 connectors just to get one that will seem to hold. Most of the time that connector will fail continuity checks. I was lucky enough to borrow a set of crimpers from a friend, otherwise I would have been very upset spending $200+ for tools I difficulty using.

I saw where many had commented on not liking to solder connectors because they had poor solder joints or melted the coax. There is a simple solution to that: hemostats. AKA "roach clips", they can be found at many flea markets and at many hamfests. They make great heat sinks. Placed on the center pin close to the coax they will wick away damaging heat before it reaches the coax, while the solder can get hot enough to properly flow in the the center pin.

BTW, I learned to assemble soldered connectors while in the USAF as dirt radio tech. It does not take long to become proficient at assembling soldered connectors. As one poster mentioned, soldered connectors are reusable. If you screwed up a connector disassemble it, figure out what went wrong and re-assemble it. Again, with a crimp on connector a bad connector is a trashed connector.
 
RE: Crimping your own is not for everybody  
by W3LK on December 5, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I'm not sure where the $200 for a crimper comes from. My ratcheting crimper was $45 and the dies another $20.
 
RE: Crimping your own is not for everybody  
by K9MHZ on December 6, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>by W2TKW on December 5, 2011 Making it sound like anyone can crimp their own cable connections is being a bit disingenuous. I have tried using crimp on connectors and for me one of the biggest difficulties is the amount of hand strength required to manipulate the crimping tool. I just do not have the oomph! needed to make a crimping tool close properly.<<<<


Then you aren't using a quality crimping system, or you're using it improperly. Modern systems apply the compressive force to the jaws in a succession of easy ratchet steps all the way through the entire range of the squeeze.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K9MHZ on December 6, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I think what's at play here is some old paradigm thinking from the past, when any "solderless" connector, especially PL-259 connectors, were absolutely trash. Personally, I remember it well....and the memory of the CB craze in the 70's sticks right out. It took wiring my plane to make me a believer, even though I saw the crimping electrical work done on both the military and civilian planes that I flew.

Much has developed over the years, and the QUALITY systems today are very, very good and produce consistent results.

Nobody's suggesting that crimping's a super-duper bandwagon that everyone needs to get on. Soldering is fine, especially in a home QTH setting. Personally, I do a lot of both. It's not worth a mudsling on here like the antenna and antenna tuner wars of the (hopefully) past.

 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by W0FM on December 6, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
WB0MCO wrote: An "eHam Classic" by K6AER, Are You joking??
Recommending crimp on PL259 connectors. I can't
believe they even make them,a failure waiting to
happen."

A soldered connector and a crimped connector can BOTH be a potential "failure waiting to happen" if done incorrectly or without the correct tools.

My ratcheting crimping tool was just $45, takes little effort and makes a strong, consistent installation every time. That doesn't mean that I am anti-solder connections. Been melting solder for over fifty years and will continue to.

To paraphrase Robin Williams: "I love the smell of solder in the morning". (...and afternoon, and evening)

I think the point of Mike's article is that, while crimped connectors have a reputation from years back, they certainly have come a long way and are a viable option in today's world.

73,

Terry, WFM
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K8QV on December 6, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I think only hams still solder RF connectors. Commercial and military applications have moved on to the more reliable crimp. Of course, if you don't have the tools or know how to crimp properly, you might have better luck with a solder connection.

That said, I think soldering ANYTHING is fun, whether it's the best solution or not!
 
Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by NY4I on December 7, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Wow, so many things to comment on today. First, crimping is the way to go. Yes, crimping tools cost money but that rig you are using was not free. If you cannot afford it, ask a club to consider buying a crimper for all members to share.

The chap that mentioned he uses crimp connectors inside but soldered pl-259s outside should consider crimped N connectors outside. N is a far better connector for outside. They are waterproof. Balun designs will add N connectors for you as will Alpha on their amps if you ask I use crimped N connectors in as much as I can. I even replace so239 panels with N connectors if possible.

The advice about Tessco accounts is right. Just open it as a company or club and you get gold pricing. I pay $0.78 a foot for real LMR400. No reason to pay high ham markups.

Great test of a good crimp is to make a soldered connection and a crimp one ( with good tools), put them in a vice and pull. The soldered one will fail first.

Life is too short to solder connections that are inferior. It amazes me that hams let their "cheap bias" laugh in the face of the entire commercial RF industry which crimps everything and it works well.

Regards

Tom
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by AB0RE on December 7, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
A couple pieces of advice regarding crimping.

First, Times Microwave brand crimp connectors include a piece of heavy duty adhesive-lined heatshrink tubing that goes from the back of the connector to the cable. It makes for a more weather proof connection and makes it look extra professional, too. This makes Times Microwave connectors worth the extra $, in my opinion. If you want to go a bit cheaper I've had great luck with RF-Industries connectors, too, but I still use a piece of adhesive-lined heatshrink tubing going over the rear/outer crimp ferrule of the connector and onto the cable. http://www.parts-express.com sells adhesive-lined heatshrink tubing in a variety of sizes for a very reasonable price.

Second, many of us hams "eyeball it" when trimming our cable to the correct dimensions before crimping on the connector. I've had much better results when I started to trim the cable exactly to the manufacturer's recommendations (well, +/- .5mm anyway). When properly trimmed the connector fits like a glove and there will be no wires visible afterwards (poking out of the front of the outer crimp ferrule or shield exposed out of the back of the crimp ferrule). Detailed trimming dimensions for the popular RF-Industries brand of connectors can be found at: http://www.davisrf.com/articles/RFI-assembly.pdf Times Microwave brand crimp-on connectors include the trimming dimensions on the back of the package. They are the only manufacturer I've run into so far that I've seen do that. Terrawave connectors appear to be Tessco's "house brand" and their trimming dimensions can be found by searching for a bit on their website.

73,
Dan / ab0re
 
Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K5FM on December 7, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
MRI systems in the medical imaging industry have used crimp on type N, BNC, SMA connectors for the last 25 years, failures are virtually zero. The same can be said for the space shuttle, there were very few applications where a soldered cable connector was used because of inability to meet specifications for vibration, corrision resistance, G loading etc.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by KX2S on December 7, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
$200 to buy the tools to put connectors on?

Seriously, just learn to solder.


You got it.
Real men don't crimp!
 
Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K6YE on December 7, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Mike,

As usual, this was a fine article. I make my inside jumpers and so I solder. But for outside runs using LMR-400, I prefer the crimped connections.

I have had mixed reactions on both but feel that either method will work satisfactorily depending on the skill of the person performing the crimping/soldering operation(s).

Semper Fi,

Tommy - K6YE
DX IS and CW RULES
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by AB0RE on December 7, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
"$200 to buy the tools to put connectors on?

Seriously, just learn to solder.


You got it.
Real men don't crimp!"

Great - maybe one of the real men out there can show me how to solder on an SMA connector (found on nearly every VHF/UHF handheld ham radio today), mini-UHF connector (found a lot on Motorola VHF/UHF equipment), or F-connector (used exclusively on CATV cabling and also on M2 antenna baluns).

To the best of my knowledge none of these are offered in a solder-on variety. If they are, I haven't stumbled upon them yet.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K9MHZ on December 7, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>Great - maybe one of the real men out there....<<<<

LOL!!

Best,
Brad, K9MHZ



 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by KX2S on December 8, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Real men don't use SMA connectors.
SMA connectors won't handle a KW on 20M
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K9MHZ on December 8, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>by KX2S on December 8, 2011 Real men don't use SMA connectors. SMA connectors won't handle a KW on 20M<<<<


<Yawn> Whatever blows your skirt up.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by N5AX on December 11, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with K9MHZ.
I use type N connectors.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by N5AX on December 11, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with K9MHZ.
I use type N connectors.
 
Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K1LI on December 11, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
RF Industries sells a stripping tool to be used with the RFU-507 crimp-on connector and RG-8/213, etc. The stripping tool is RF Industries p/n RFA-4087, sold by Tessco as item # 25123.

I prefer crimp-on over solder-on connectors because in my experience solder degrades when exposed to outdoor conditions. To prevent moisture ingress to crimp-on connectors, I apply one inch of shrink tubing over the ferrule and coax jacket. When used outdoors, this must be further protected as you would for any other outdoor application of PL-type connectors, namely a thin coating of metal-loaded grease on the threads, rubber tape and topcoat of good-quality vinyl tape over the entire assembly.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K9MHZ on December 12, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Excellent tips, K1LI....thanks!
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K6AER on December 13, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I have noticed there is a general mindset that a soldered connection is better than a crimp connection. In what respect does that apply when the male connector going into the female connector, is at best, a lose mechanical connection.

Soldering the center conductor end of a PL-259 with a sloppy blob of solder will spread the SO-239 female center receptacle and set up a lose center connection from there on out. Solder on PL-259s do not take to re-soldering as the center insulator generally melts before you can do anything with the center connector. Most cheap PL-259s have very low temp plastic for a center insulator.

Also it was mentioned that because the plastic sheathing of the coax cable screws into the PL-259 that you have a good mechanical bond with the coax. This is true right up to the moment you solder the shield to the coax connector. The plastic melts and you have a poor mechanical bond at best. Most hams overheat the connector in the process of soldering the shield by not using a hot enough fixture (Solder Iron or Gun) to get in and get out before the connector housing become part of the soldering fixture.

I still work in the communications industry (45 years) and it is a rare day when I find someone with the skill set to solder a PL-259. With a stripper prep tool, the proper crimp pliers, the right cable and a bit of instruction you can have a nubie making solid cable jumpers in a matter of minutes.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by AA4HA on December 18, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Lol,

<Real men don't crimp>

-- Real women do crimp, because we do not want to go chasing down an intermittent connection --

Over the years I have had many RF techs working for me. As part of their training I would have them hand assemble coaxial cables; N, BNC, etc.. on everything from Heliax, LMR-400, LMR-240, etc. Then I would turn them loose with a crimper tool (and the appropriate connector) for the braid type coaxes or a rotary prep tool on Heliax. After a few hours of this I would come in and sadistically try to pull the connector ends off. Usually if they did things right with the crimper tool the soldered connectors would fail first. Then we would put the short hunks of cable on a TDR (time domain reflectometer) to teach them how to identify connectors, crushed or crimped cable, etc...

I have never had anyone tell me that they preferred to solder connectors after the training program (usually it would take 4-6 weeks of training before we let a tech loose on a customer).

BTW, you "can" hand prep even Heliax cable for ring flare connectors with a razor blade and a fine pair of side cutters.

We used Talley, Tessco and Primus as suppliers and our discounts were significant with about $5K to $20K a month of purchasing. When I needed things for my own personal tools the company allowed us to purchase through their system as long as we paid the company at no mark-up.

Soldering is an art and like all art it takes practice to get it right. I have seen some beautiful soldered work, including shielded enclosures with soldered seams. Crimping is repetition and consistency.

Yes, some crimper tools and dies are pretty awful. Just as some coax cables and connectors are not suited for crimping (or soldering). You get what you pay for. If the cable is going to be a few hundred feet up in the air and you are paying $1500 for someone to climb the tower (commercial work) you do not want to pay for a re-visit to replace a connector that you got on a bargain basement sale at $1.99 each.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by N4KC on December 18, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
OK, I'm convinced! I just bought QSRadio's crimp tool package (nice case, three sets of dies, good-looking crimp tool, and a couple of coax trimmers that look interesting...we'll see, because I do not enjoy trimming the insulation and dielectric) and a bag of good PL259 connectors. I've soldered many, many connectors of all types and I still hate it with a red hot passion. I especially hate it when I have to re-install one outside instead of pulling the whole cable inside. Outside in January. My best iron won't do it well, and tends to melt everything in the first six inches of coax and connector. Everything but the solder in the little holes where the shield is showing.

Maybe somebody can tell me why:

-- The prettiest solder job will inevitably be the one that fails.

-- If one single strand of shield escapes, it will find its way to form a short between the rest of the shield and the center conductor of the cable. Every time. Without fail.

-- Bend, twist, tug, test continuity and all is well in the shack, but the dang connector falls apart when you start weatherproofing it outside...in rotten weather.

-- If you do a good job of installing a soldered connector on one end and a bad job on the other, the bad one will inevitably be the one at the top of the tower.

-- The ones who most decry the crimp connector probably have plenty of them in use right now but just won't admit it. Or don't know it because they bought the cable assembled already.

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com
http://n4kc.blogspot.com


 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by N1GNV on December 20, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
>> If one single strand of shield escapes, it will find its way to form a short between the rest of the shield and the center conductor of the cable. Every time. Without fail.

Here's a way to fix that. Not for the faint of heart, be sure you understand what you're doing, I bear no responsibility, try only with adult supervision, etc.

Using a 12V battery, momentarily (VERY MOMENTARILY) connect the shield to one battery terminal and the center pin to the other. If it's just a whisker of braid causing the short, it will vaporize just like a fuse. Note that most power supplies have an overcurrent protection circuit that may well trigger before the stray wire can melt. Again, be EXTREMELY careful if you try this.

Best to all for the holiday Season

73, John Bee, N1GNV
Quicksilver Radio
http://www.qsradio.com
 
Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K8AI on December 20, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Crimp-on connectors (with NO solder) are the industry standard nowadays - especially in high reliability applications such as avionics.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by N4KC on December 20, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Well, K8AI, I agree, except I think I will continue to solder the center conductor to the pin in the PL-259.

And John, thanks for the quick service on the crimp kit. You may want to start including a print-out of the one-sheet crimping instructions that you have on your site. It is very well done, nicely concise, and showed me a couple of things I thought I knew but didn't.

Now, when it quits raining, I'm going to replace some of those questionable soldered connectors...before I have to!

73,

Don N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com
http://n4kc.blogspot.com
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K6AER on December 20, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
The problem in using a high current source to burn a shield wisker away from the center conductor is you leave a carbon path.

Not much a problem with 100 watts on 7 MHz but run 1500 watts on 6 meters and you will have a connector fire after about 6 seconds.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by W4PC on December 21, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
A much better and cheaper option. I know the guy that created this and it is better than soldering and better than the crimps.

http://www.amazon.com/Shakespeare-PL-259-CP-G-Marine-Center-Connector/dp/B000K2IGPE
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by N1GNV on December 21, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Don:

Thanks, good idea. I always enjoy your articles.

73, John Bee, N1GNV
Quicksilver Radio
http://www.qsradio.com
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by N1GNV on December 21, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
K6AER:

Thanks, I hadn't considered the carbon track issue

73, John Bee, N1GNV
Quicksilver Radio
http://www.qsradio.com
 
Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K0TF on January 1, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Very nice advertisement, I wonder who paid for that? Two - three benjamins for mechanically and electrically unfit, non-weatherproofed connections? When compression connector will do the same and much more for the fraction of the cost, with NO special tools required? Oh... and they can be reused too... I wonder why TELCO companies dumping crimp-on's.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by AB0RE on January 1, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
K0TF,

Huh? Your post makes no sense. Telco = telephone company. Last I heard they don't make compression RG45 telephone connectors - they're ALL crimp-on.

Compression connectors ALWAYS cost more than the same connector in a crimp variety. The only savings that would be there are if one only needs to do a handful of connector over his ham career.

And what's with the conspiracy theory? We're talking about RF connectors. Relax!
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K0TF on January 1, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
If you don't see any sense its your problem. filled dozen of BOM's right before x-mas. Compression connectors for Andrew hardline, roughly the same size as lmr400 was $1.23 a piece on orders <10. In bulk it drops down below buck a piece, gold-plated, teflon, graded up to 5.6GHz. tools required - two wrenches. Its it. And Yes Telco companies do use RF connectors. If you wanna be a smart4$$ do your homework first.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by AB0RE on January 2, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Andrews cable and run-of-the-mill ham radio cable (RG-174, RG-58, RG-8x, etc) are two different breeds. You're comparing two different products with vastly different applications.

Careful - the government helicopters hovering outside your warehouse are there to get you. Clearly they've already gotten to eHam if this article was published.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K0TF on January 2, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Not much on a technical side... oh, I'm sorry what I'm expecting from insurance adjuster... Why don't you stick to what you do best?- pencil-pushing and people-ripping off? Google, lets say LDF2-50 before demonstrating, that x-mas tree-lights were the brightest things in your house
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by AB0RE on January 2, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Congratulations! You can look up my profile on QRZ.com and use it to wage a personal attack on me. Your mother must be very proud. I'd love to hear why your profile isn't listed on QRZ. Did your foul attitude get you in trouble and you got banned? Or did the conspiracy theorist in you ask to have your profile removed as you didn't want the government to gather any more information off your profile? I do LOVE your zero callsign, though. Good choice there. I can tell beneath your gruff attitude you really want to be a midwesterner at heart.

Okay, I'll t-y-p-e s-l-o-w-e-r so you can understand what I'm saying. LDF2-50 is a HARDLINE, a completely different type of cable than flexible RG-variety coax. Everybody uses compression fittings on hardline. Tell me something a little less obvious next time.

p.s. - No pencils here... only top of the line fountain pens for me. I leave the pencils are for uneducated warehouse workers with poor "engrish".
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K0TF on January 2, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
well, for very slow :
I_T H_A_S T_H_E S_A_M_E D_I_M_E_N_T_I_O_N_S.
Keep lighting up the neighborhood. As for the rest, I did some reviewing for QST, and conclusion wasn't very favorable for manufacturer, editor refused to publish actual test results and substituted, or omitted anything damaging to the advertiser. Paranoia strictly american disease http://www.cvfma.org/index.php/component/content/article/62-balloon-recovery?tmpl=component&print=1&page= Thus get a taste of the real world sonny...
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by AB0RE on January 2, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Although some varieties of hardline may have the same "dimentions" as normal coaxial cable, the construction is very different. Specifically, the outer shield of hardline is typically solid copper (or equivalent), whereas coaxial cable has individual strands of wire. These strands are particularly well-suited to crimp-on connectors whereas a solid outer shield is not. The strands give outer crimp ferrule something to "sink into" for a good mechanical connection.

But let's stop beating the dead horse all ready. I'll be the bigger man here and bow out of this discussion for the sake of not irritating the rest of the online community.

And all kidding (and ribbing) aside, Oleg, if you have done research and written a technical article regarding the properties (and potential short comings) of crimp-on connectors, please do share. I'm sure I speak for the rest of eHam subscribers when I say your work would be a welcome addition to the eHam.net Articles section. Just because QST didn't publish the article doesn't mean it's not worthy of posting elsewhere.
 
Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K4CTV on January 3, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Having done a complete search on the TESSCO webiste, I could not find the cable prep tools mentioned in the article, TESSCO No. 59664 and No. 68524. The only applicable TESSCO cable prep tools listed were No. 389444 for LMR-240 and No. 315538 for LMR-400. Mike, K6AER, do you know or have any idea of what happened?
Have they been replaced? Please advise. Thanks for you prompt response. 73, Dave K4CTV
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K0TF on January 12, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Well, sorry for the late response, was out in the field. Anyways, do you really think people willing to hear what they don't want to hear? I believe you reaction was clear indication of what to expect, don't you think so?
TO: K4CTV
http://www.rfparts.com/coax_accessories.html
http://www.tessco.com/products/displayProductInfo.do?sku=419556
I believe its what you've been looking for?
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K4CTV on January 12, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
Thank you very much for the response. While on the subject I have a cable stripping tool I picked up from DX Engineering. When using it to make the first cut, the inner conductor was twisted all up and then cutoff by the tool. I found the following on the net @ "http//:www.bcdxc.org/pl259_crimp_on_connectors.htm".
The description of the problem with the tool on Pg. 2 was exactly what happened every time I used the tool;. And even though the tool referred to on the web site was manufactured by Cablematic, I called DX and they said and I quote " We've sold thousands of those units and never had a complaint - your's is the first." unquote. So much for quality control, engineering, etc. Just another anecdote to add to your expanding collection. 73, Dave K4CTV
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by AB0RE on January 12, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
"Well, sorry for the late response, was out in the field. Anyways, do you really think people willing to hear what they don't want to hear? I believe you reaction was clear indication of what to expect, don't you think so?"

I'd love to see your report, assuming it's got *objective* data showing that compression fittings are superior to crimp-on connectors, rather than broad blanket statements saying crimp-on connectors are garbage without any data to back that up.

I'm not claiming to be an expert by any means, but I can tell you that based on my experience, particularly in dealing with other people's failed installations, the connector problems always come back to the soldered-on connectors. Typically they didn't have enough heat for an adequate solder bond between the connector and the cable shield/conductor, or too much heat turned everything inside the connector to a molten glob. Crimping takes that potential problem out of the equation, unless one decides to solder the center pin and crimp the braid.

I've used compression connectors for .400" cable before and they have worked fine, but seemed to be more work than the crimp-on variety and there are many more parts that can be lost. Additionally the center pins still needed to be soldered, which can sometimes be difficult outside in the elements or on a tower. And many hams don't tighten the rear nut tight enough and the connector can be pulled off by hand. Or they turn the main connector body with the wrench instead of the rear nut, which can get the braid all twisted up on the inside. Even the QST article on compression-type N-connectors that came out a couple years ago had this incorrect. They had to come out with a correction a couple issues later.

There's really no mystery to the crimp-on variety.... trim the cable to the manufacturer's recommended dimensions, the connector fits the cable like a glove, then crimp the outer crimp ferrule and center pin with the exact die size recommended by the manufacturer.
 
RE: Crimp On PL-259 Connectors  
by K4CTV on January 12, 2012 Mail this to a friend!
I don't know what thread you were resaponding to but I never mentioned compression fittings either in my first post on this subject or in my reply thanking you for the response. You must have me mixed up with someone else. Again, thank you for the response. 73, Dave K4CTV
 
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