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Author Topic: Coax and connectors reference?  (Read 1763 times)
KF5UQJ
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« on: April 01, 2013, 05:33:03 PM »

Got my ticket in the mail today!  Smiley Now the learning curve begins. Can anyone point me to a chart or resource to tell me a best practices approach to which coax to use with which connectors for which applications? I hardly know where to start.
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2013, 06:33:57 PM »

The ARRL Handbook, and Antenna Manual cover this topic and many!

I strongly encourage every beginning ham to buy a copy.  You will use them as references for years to come.

Welcome aboard.  Bill
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K9YLI
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« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2013, 07:13:53 AM »

get a catalog from   marlin p jones..   MPJA.COM
 or  mcm electroinics  or  all electronics..    they have all the   connectors and all the  conversion connectors  , usuall  in  two plages.

a good picture reference. 
catalongs are agreat  learning  tool  also..

and  buy  handbooks at   ham fests.  get the older ones also..

never obsolete info  in them.

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N0IU
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« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2013, 08:41:04 AM »

Congratulations on getting your ticket! Now the fun really starts!

As far as the type of coax and connectors... Your choice of coax should ideally be based on your particular application, but as you will soon find out, if you haven't already, coax can be expensive so the final choice will be to get the best cable you can afford.

As far as what type of connector, you really don't have much choice in the matter. You will want to avoid adapters that mate one type of connector to another so it is best to put on the connector that matches the type of coax you are using and what it will be attached to. And just like coax, buy the best quality connector you can afford. There isn't a huge difference in price between good connectors and ones that are "acceptable", so don't skimp here. The most common connector used in amateur radio is the PL259 which is also referred to as a UHF connector. Don't let the name fool you! These connectors are used on almost every type of radio from HF to UHF. Look for ones that are silver plated.

As far as catalogs, you can't have too many! While most of the popular amateur radio suppliers have very comprehensive web sites, I also like print catalogs. (I keep most of mine in the "throne room", but you really didn't need to know that!) The easiest way to get a catalog is to go to the company's website and they will most likely have some sort of contact information where you can request a catalog.

The two biggest general line suppliers are AES (http://www.aesham.com/) and Ham Radio Outlet (http://www.hamradio.com/), but there are others.

Now I know I am likely to get a lot of flack over this, but the company that sells more accessory items than anyone else is MFJ (http://www.mfjenterprises.com/). The thing to be aware of about MFJ is that they are known for making accessories for the "buget-minded" ham. Translation: you will undoubtedly run into those who have had issues with the quality of their products. Personally, I have been using the same MFJ manual tuner for over 20 years with no issues.

The best thing to do before you make any major purchase, is to check the reviews for that item right here on eHam. (Look on the left side of the page for the link) These are reviews from your fellow hams who actually own the stuff, not advertising propaganda!

Because prices can change rapidly, many companies do not print their prices in their printed catalogs so it is best to check their website for current prices.

As far as coax, I have had very good prices and service from DX Engineering (http://www.dxengineering.com/)

If you are unsure about what to buy, you can (and should!) call them and ask. Yes, they are in the business of selling things, but these companies have a reputation to uphold and it is in their best interest to sell you what will best suit your application and budget, which in most cases will probably not be the most expensive.

Clear as mud, huh?

« Last Edit: April 02, 2013, 09:20:42 AM by N0IU » Logged
SWMAN
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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2013, 08:53:16 AM »

 Texas Towers has a good supply of them at a pretty good price also. www.texastowers.com
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KF5UQJ
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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2013, 10:07:08 AM »

Thanks guys! I have the ARRL License Manual but not their Antenna Book so I'll look into it. I'll request some catalogs today. I did find this chart which helps show signal loss for various cables at various frequencies. http://www.bcar.us/cablespec.htm

My first project is to complete a home brew external slim jim antenna to connect to my HT (Yeasu FT-60R). It has an SMA connector on board, so I'll most likely have to use an adapter of some sort to connect to my feed line. I'm trying to decide which feed line and connector type to order for this and get a better understanding of it all in the process.
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N6AJR
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2013, 01:42:40 PM »

buxcom has a bunch of stuff and  some ideas too
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AD4U
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2013, 02:26:16 PM »

Typically you will use coax with a 50 ohm impedance.  You can use other impedances but lets keep it simple. 

In the old days it used to be simple with RG8, RG8X, and RG58.  Today most every manufacturer uses his own nominclature for the same coax.  Basically the difference is in the diameter of the three types.  GENERALLY the larger diameter the more power it will handle and the lower the loss.

The connector used in 99% of HAM applications below 150 MHz is the old standard PL-259 connector.  This male connector mates up with the female SO-239 connector on 99% of all HAM rigs and it fits directly on the large 50 ohm coax.  You will use the PL-259 connector on the smaller coax but you must use adapters.

This is an overly simplistic explanation, but this is a start.

As previously mentioned.  Get the ARRL Handbook.

Dick  AD4U 
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KF5UQJ
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« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2013, 03:43:37 PM »

N6AJR, I'll check out buxcom.

Dick  AD4U, Thanks! That breaks it down and simplifies it for me some.

It looks like I need 50 ft. of RG8/U with PL259 connectors for a feed line (which I can reuse for other Antennas later if need be), a pigtail to attach from the feed line and solder to my antenna, and an SMA pigtail to go to my HT from the other end of the feed line. The slim jim antenna I'm working on is for 2 meter by the way, I'm planning on hiding it in a fake 2" PVC rooftop vent pipe to avoid HOA hassles.
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W4AMP
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« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2013, 08:57:03 PM »

This company sells coax with connectors already installed. pretty reasonable, will get you on the air right away while you learn how to install the connectors. Since the cost of copper has gone up, used coax is better price wise. You can also buy it new off the reel and get the connectors and install them. Coax loss comes into play on VHF/UHF frequencies. You can get away with a lot on HF, not much loss there. If you are running an amp you need better coax to handle it.

This company has always done a good job for years:

http://www.cablexperts.com/cfdocs/cat.cfm?ItemGroup=6&itmsub=0&bskt=0&USA_ship=1&c=0

Here is a good loss calculator:

http://www.arrg.us/pages/Loss-Calc.htm

Congratulations on getting your license! Smiley
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KF5UQJ
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« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2013, 09:57:59 PM »

Thanks W4AMP!
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