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Author Topic: Soldering PL-259 connectors to coax  (Read 1523 times)
WD6S
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Posts: 19




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« on: December 01, 2008, 12:57:48 PM »

I am sure this is a topic covered may times, but my ineptness forces me to raise it again. How do you solder coax to the connectors? First, no electric soldering I have ever gets a connector hot enough to melt solder. I have used the butane models and with direct flame you can heat it hot enough to melt solder, but you run the risk of melting the plastic insulation of both the connector and the cable. I have been able to successfully solder the center conductor, but have not had much success with the braid. I'm doing all right stripping the coax in preparation, but the last step is frustrating.

What are the tricks you have learned?

Solder type?

Soldering iron type/heat output?

Heat sinks?

Flux?

Incantations (so far the four letter ones have not worked)?

Thanks in advance.
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AD4U
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Posts: 2164




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« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2008, 01:05:04 PM »

No offense but you are correct.  This subject has been discussed many many times on the ELMERs forum.  

When you bring up the main ELMERS page there is a search block on the top right.  I typed in

                  SOLDERING PL259

and I came up with more info than anyone could ever want to know on this subject.  You might try searching it.

Dick  AD4U
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N6NKN
Member

Posts: 425




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« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2008, 01:10:30 PM »

Also:

See the eHam article "Crimp On PL-259 Connectors".

Rick N6NKN
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W7ETA
Member

Posts: 2527




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« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2008, 01:17:37 PM »

I found 200 and 300 watt soldering irons on ebay, a few years ago, cheap (from China).

I plug one in, on a stand, wait many minutes for it to heat up, and then it does a great job heating the shield on PL259s.

I've found that once solder flows on the shield, it is easy to move the iron onto the copper braid underneath it to get the solder to flow on the copper and the shield.

73
Bob
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KB9CRY
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Posts: 4283


WWW

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« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2008, 01:20:48 PM »

Pay particular attention to the mention of the type of soldering iron that is recommended in the posts.  That has been your main problem I'm sure.
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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20595




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« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2008, 01:52:15 PM »

>Soldering PL-259 connectors to coax       Reply
by WD6S on December 1, 2008    Mail this to a friend!
I am sure this is a topic covered may times, but my ineptness forces me to raise it again. How do you solder coax to the connectors? First, no electric soldering I have ever gets a connector hot enough to melt solder. I have used the butane models and with direct flame you can heat it hot enough to melt solder, but you run the risk of melting the plastic insulation of both the connector and the cable. I have been able to successfully solder the center conductor, but have not had much success with the braid. I'm doing all right stripping the coax in preparation, but the last step is frustrating.

What are the tricks you have learned?

Solder type?<

::60/40 "radio" solder works great.  Larger diameter stuff than you'd normally use on circuit boards.  I prefer .062" diameter rosin-core Kester or Multicore, 60/40 alloy.  Second choice is 63/37, everything else the same.

>Soldering iron type/heat output?<

::Weller SP-120 does the job very well.  It's a 120 W chisel-tip *IRON* (not pencil, not gun).  Takes a few mins to heat up.  That's good, because it also takes a few mins to cool down, which is perfect.  Once it's hot, I can solder on a PL-259 after the iron's unplugged!


>Heat sinks?<

::Nah

>Flux?<

::It's in the solder.

>Incantations (so far the four letter ones have not worked)?<

::These work.  Repeat after me: OWA TIGOO SIAM.  OWA TIGOO SIAM.  OWA TIGOO SIAM.

WB2WIK/6
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KA1MDA
Member

Posts: 543




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« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2008, 01:58:05 PM »

You need to use a BIG soldering iron, like around 200W. The problem with PL-259's is the connector barrel has a lot of thermal mass, which will suck the heat away faster than your soldering iron is capable of applying. If you use an undersized iron, it will take so long to get enough heat into the PL-259 that you will melt the coax center insulator before the solder will flow into the braid. Avoid soldering guns also, no matter what the wattage. The small tip does not have enough thermal mass to build up a good heat reserve. This is one of those counter intuitive applications. Lots of heat from a BIG iron for a short time is much better than less heat from a smaller iron for a long time. The idea is to get the connector and braid hot enough to flow solder in a minimum amount of time.

Conversely, you can learn to install N connectors and use those instead. Unlike PL-259's, you only need to solder the center conductor to the pin on an N connector. The sheild connection is purely mechanical. And N connectors are gasketed and much more moisture proof than PL-259's.

Tom, KA1MDA
www.ka1mda.org
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N8EKT
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Posts: 371




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« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2008, 02:10:55 PM »

I use a weller 330 watt gun and have no problems.
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KZ1X
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Posts: 3228




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« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2008, 02:35:27 PM »

Alas, here's another art that cannot be taught well by showing pictures or reading on-line instructions.  I butchered dozens of these fittings 30 years ago, going by the Handbook drawings, until I was *taught* how to install them by someone who knew how, and ever since, I can put them on in a jiffy - with zero swearing or melted anything.  When I am done, it looks like you should take a picture of it, and many have now been in service for decades.  I have and use a variety of tools, since, once you know how to do it you find that while some tools are better than others, many options are possible when the tools are in skilled hands.  Find a local and experienced ham and have him (and it's nearly always a 'him') show you.  It IS worth the time.

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WB2WIK
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Posts: 20595




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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2008, 03:42:31 PM »

>RE: Soldering PL-259 connectors to coax       Reply
by KA1MDA on December 1, 2008    Mail this to a friend!
You need to use a BIG soldering iron, like around 200W. The problem with PL-259's is the connector barrel has a lot of thermal mass, which will suck the heat away faster than your soldering iron is capable of applying. If you use an undersized iron, it will take so long to get enough heat into the PL-259 that you will melt the coax center insulator before the solder will flow into the braid.<

::I agree with all of this except the "200W" part.  Everything else is true.  But, it doesn't really take a 200W iron to make it all happen.  A 60W or 100W or 120W iron will do the job exactly as well, if the tip has enough thermal mass.  The only difference is a lower Wattage iron will take longer to heat up, and a higher Wattage iron will heat up much faster.

I use the SP-120 Weller (120W) all the time for PL-259s and it's fine.  It does take about 5 mins to heat up.  I'm in no particular hurry, since once it's hot I'll leave it plugged in all day and do lots of connectors.  A 200W equivalent would probably get hot in 2-3 minutes instead of 5.

WB2WIK/6
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W5FYI
Member

Posts: 1045




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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2008, 04:26:26 PM »

Start with quality connectors; silver-plated if possible. The cheaper nickel-plated connectors are harder to solder to. It might help to ream each solder hole out with a drill bit or reamer to expose the bare copper beneath, and solder to that. If you have a soldering gun, you might try removing the heating element and putting the gun electrodes right against the connector near the solder holes. The low-voltage high-amperage current will heat the connector evenly and quickly, and the solder will stick!

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AA4PB
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Posts: 12832




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« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2008, 06:30:38 PM »

I have no problems using a Weller 240/325W gun. Use good quality connectors.
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W6VPS
Member

Posts: 369




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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2008, 08:58:06 PM »

Doing a search right here on eHam resulted in this

http://www.eham.net/articles/15935
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G3RZP
Member

Posts: 4539




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« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2008, 03:00:57 AM »

Rather than a soldering iron, a hot air paint stripping gun does the job very quickly. Then use normal cored solder, and a small 40 watt Weller will keep it hot enough to run the solder round quickly. As someone else said, use silver plated connectors, with teflon insulation. They're cheap enough - I got 11 for $10 at Dayton.

The hot air gun is fine for heatshrink tubing, too.
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G3TXQ
Member

Posts: 1511




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« Reply #14 on: December 02, 2008, 06:59:30 AM »

My ineptness led me to avoid soldering braid to PL259s altogether. I now only use the compression fitting PL259s - the same mechanism used on BNCs and "N" types. They're a little more expensive, but worth every penny for the aggravation they save me. I presume they are available in the USA ?

Steve
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