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Author Topic: Soldering radial lugs  (Read 3943 times)
WB5PGX
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Posts: 13




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« on: December 11, 2012, 11:21:10 AM »

I have a radial plate at the base of my vertical antenna installation that I am attaching 64 radials to. I am using the DX engineering plate with the ring terminals which crimp on the radial wires. How important is it to solder these ring terminals after I crimp them?
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K3GM
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Posts: 1754




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« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2012, 12:11:44 PM »

Here's at least what I found.  Si/Pb solder rapidly degrades when exposed to the acidic rain that we experience here in the east.  The once gleaming fillet of solder quickly develops a white crust, and the entire joint continues to "rot" away.  I use a DX Engineering stainless steel radial plate with my vertical's large radial field, and what I've chosen to do is to make a loop in the copper wire and connect it directly under the bolt head foregoing a lug at all.  I suppose a more noble solder alloy may work better than the 60/40 that I had on hand.

Curious as to the integrity of the joint, I have on occasion measured the resistance in any given radial wire by clipping one lead of my VOM to the plate, then successively piercing a number of wires with the other lead connected to a hat pin.  The joints appear to have not degraded in the least, but there could be a minute amount of resistence that my meter cannot measure.  I also have a number of high tensile aluminum radials that I installed as a longevity experiment, and these too are connected to the plate in a similar manner.
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KK2DOG
Member

Posts: 25




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« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2012, 04:07:27 PM »

I didn't solder mine...I simply crimped them. I have sixteen 32' radials buried below my Hustler 6-BTV and it works quite well here in Northern New York.


               Mike KK2DOG
          www.hamwave.com
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K2OWK
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Posts: 1030




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« Reply #3 on: December 11, 2012, 04:23:58 PM »

I have 20 radials of wiring lengths up to 32 feet with my S9 antenna and aluminum radial plate. I soldered the copper radials to the lugs and then coated them with clear lacquer to keep them from deteriorating. So far they look the same as the day I installed them. I have always believed in a good electrical as well as a good mechanical connection.

73s

K2OWK
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K7KBN
Member

Posts: 2753




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« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2012, 05:57:32 PM »

Here's at least what I found.  Si/Pb solder rapidly degrades when exposed to the acidic rain that we experience here in the east.  The once gleaming fillet of solder quickly develops a white crust, and the entire joint continues to "rot" away.  I use a DX Engineering stainless steel radial plate with my vertical's large radial field, and what I've chosen to do is to make a loop in the copper wire and connect it directly under the bolt head foregoing a lug at all.  I suppose a more noble solder alloy may work better than the 60/40 that I had on hand.

Curious as to the integrity of the joint, I have on occasion measured the resistance in any given radial wire by clipping one lead of my VOM to the plate, then successively piercing a number of wires with the other lead connected to a hat pin.  The joints appear to have not degraded in the least, but there could be a minute amount of resistence that my meter cannot measure.  I also have a number of high tensile aluminum radials that I installed as a longevity experiment, and these too are connected to the plate in a similar manner.

Just curious - what's the melting point of that silicon/lead solder?  Grin
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
KK5J
Member

Posts: 76




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« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2012, 09:44:35 PM »

Im not a big fan of just crimping the radials. While this works fine in other environments, these radials are on the ground and over time they will tend to collect dust, dirt, and water. I dont see that working out well at RF especially long term. If you use stranded wire, crimping will also encourage a bit more wicking of water due to capillary action.

I agree with K3GM. I originally used SnPb 63/37 solder and it chalked badly. While it wasnt rotting away at the time-it was well on its way. Im now trying SAC305 to see how that works.
After four months, no problems, but a longer time is needed to evaluate. I do not attach copper directly to stainless steel as I found it tended to create a corrosion point (dissimilar metals).

I have always believed in a good electrical as well as a good mechanical connection.

That is an excellent point that sums it up.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck.
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