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Author Topic: Is Soldering Required for Crimp On PL-259 Connectors on RG-8X?  (Read 7071 times)
AK4SK
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« on: February 23, 2012, 09:40:07 AM »

There is a nice eham article about crimp only PL-259 connectors (http://www.eham.net/articles/27017). However, everywhere else I read about these crimp on connectors also mentions soldering the center pin. Is soldering the center pin required or not, the above article makes no mention of it?
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2012, 10:49:06 AM »

What brand of connector are you using?   Have you checked the manufacturers' installation data sheet?

There are connectors that the center pin is soldered and some that are crimped and may require a proprietary crimper. 

FYI: High end applications that require ultimate reliability like aerospace and military connectors use crimp pins and the crimpers and dies cost hundreds of dollars.  The beauty of this is that the connections are quick, reliable, and repeatable.  Once you have used them, they make soldered feel like caveman technology.  Smiley
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AK4SK
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« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2012, 10:55:57 AM »

Thanks for the reply. I have not purchased any connectors yet or determined exactly what I will purchase, that is part of the purpose of my question. Before I decided what to buy I need to know what must be done with it (and how involved the doing part will be). I would like to use crimp only connectors (and not the $10 version made by Shakespeare). That said, I'm open to suggestions.
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KA5N
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2012, 11:08:24 AM »

1.  As mentioned every brand of crimp-on connectors require a crimper and die for THAT
     connector.
2.  While solder on connectors can be removed and reused, crimp-ons cannot.  You get one
     shot at doing it correctly.
3.  Crimp-ons are designed for production work, so the cost of the crimper and dies are spread
     over hundreds or thousands of connectors.  It is usually not cost effective if you are
     doing just a few connectors.
4.   The best deal for using a crimp type connector is to borrow somebody's crimper and dies.

Allen
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WB6BYU
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2012, 12:29:36 PM »

A good crimper will have multiple sized dies.  I got one with 4 interchangeable sets, but so
far have never needed to change dies even though I've crimped RG-174, RG-58, RG-59,
RG-6 and RG-8X with no particular attention to the brand of connector.

So, yes, you have to use the right size for each connector, but there aren't so many options
that you can't get by with just one crimper for most of them.

Sure, I've wasted a few connectors by not slipping the shell over the coax first, and other
sorts of problems.  Many of the intermittent crimps turned out to be the fault of my old
SWR meter, where the inner contact was sprung:  standard solder plugs with a longer center
pin made contact OK, but the crimp connector pins aren't full diameter the whole length,
and they didn't make reliable contact.

But there are times when the crimper is much more convenient than soldering - for example,
when the end of the coax is under the front seat of the car.

I still have a supply of both types, but find myself using the crimp style more often because
it is easier and faster.

Aircraft connectors are required to be crimped - solder won't hold up under the vibration.  I've
heard similar stories about marine wiring.


Solder the center pin?  It depends:  if the center pin is crimped around the center conductor
then you don't need it.  If not (and I've seen some commercial cables that should have been
but weren't) then I'll solder or crimp it to make reliable contact.
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N4KC
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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2012, 02:08:26 PM »

After being a "soldered-connector" guy for over four decades of ham radio (and some broadcast engineering, too), I have come over to the "crimp" side.  I bought a crimp tool and a couple of die sizes that cover everything I'm likely to encounter from QSRadio (http://www.qsradio.com/).  I also sprang for a couple of trimming tools that work great, and I'll see how long they hold up.  And I also ordered a supply of connectors--silver/teflon--despite the cost.  Remember, those connectors are an important element in the feedline, and especially if they are outside in the weather or way up yonder in the air.  Don't skimp.

With these tools, the center conductor should be soldered, but that was always the easy part for me.  Just get the connector pin and coax center conductor hot enough that solder easily flows down into the connector.  Be sure you smooth off the end of the center pin so you don't damage the SO239.  Do all this BEFORE crimping the ferrule.  After the connector cools, pull on it.  Pull on it hard.  Is it holding?  Check continuity with a volt-ohm meter...again BEFORE crimping.  Wiggle the connector around and try to make it fail. Better having it happen there than outside in a blinding rainstorm with a kilowatt pumping through it. If you still have continuity on the shield and center conductor and no shorts, then go ahead and crimp according to instructions.  Then check it again with the VOM.  If there is a problem, un-solder, pull of the connector, re-trim the coax, and start over.

I know it calls my manhood (and my Amateur Extra-class license) into question when I admit this, but I have never been able to do a solder job on the shield of a PL259 connector in which I was fully satisfied.  Especially outside in 35-degree weather with a soldering iron at the end of a 100-foot extension cord.  Now, I don't have to.  And my experience with the crimp connectors has been very good so far.  And almost fun...something I never thought I would say about the old PL259.

Don Keith N4KC
www.n4kc.com
www.donkeith.com
http://n4kc.blogspot.com
 
 
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W7ETA
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« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2012, 07:16:22 PM »

I like soldering.  For me it has a meditative value along with enjoying the challenge.  And, I get immediate feed back when the challenge is over.

It is a skill that I've enjoyed and used outside of ham radio many times. 

An up coming project is to install an aux fuse box on my motorcycle for additional lights, fog lights with my low beams and driving lights for my high beam.  I.m also going to add bright red leds as running lights to my rear mud flap; bright white LEDs inside my side cases and top case.

While I could do this with crimp on connectors, since i can solder pretty good, every thing will be soldered.

Recently I got in one of the soft rock kits so that I can play around with SDR.

73
Bob
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AK4SK
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Posts: 150




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« Reply #7 on: February 24, 2012, 11:11:37 AM »

Thank you to all. What are good brands of connectors and brands to stay away from?I guess I can look on the manufactures web site to see if the center pin should be crimped or soldered.

Thanks again.
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W9GB
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Posts: 2626




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« Reply #8 on: February 24, 2012, 04:04:00 PM »

Quote from: kk4gdx
What are good brands of connectors and brands to stay away from?
I guess I can look on the manufactures web site to see if the center pin should be crimped or soldered.

Chris -

I use coaxial crimp connectors (UHF style/PL-259) from RF Industries (San Diego, CA).
I use the RFI crimp tool kit and extra dies, which I picked up used from eBay at about 10 cents on the $$.
No one (seller or other buyers that looked at them) seemed to know what they were!!!!

http://www.rfindustries.com/

While you can shop around for "best price" for the connectors you need (style and coax type),
I have generally found that RF Parts (who are just down the road from RFI) had the best price.

I order mine in qty. of at least 10, which provides a further price break, and with other
radio items that I would be ordering from RF Parts.
For the adhesive lined heat shrink (used around the crimp ferrule, after crimping) --
I purchase those from McMaster-Carr (HQ and "Will Call" door is near QTH).

IF you are a "one or two" at a time buyer,
then check your local amateur radio stores; retail/distributor outlets; or known dealers at larger hamfests.

73, greg
« Last Edit: February 24, 2012, 04:10:35 PM by W9GB » Logged
KJ4YAC
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Posts: 8




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« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2012, 07:50:28 AM »

Shakespeare has a no-solder PL-259, PL-259-CP-G; a while back it had a very good review in QST.  You can check it out here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ecfu7s8rPw

The no-solder part is near the end of the video. All you need is a sharp knife (single edge razor blade?) and a pair or pliers

The run about 10 bucks each, I picked up a couple for the next time I run coax.  I found that the best place to buy them on-line is Gander Mountain.  No, really.  Their shipping is free while other websites that carry them may have cheaper prices but they nail you on "shipping and handling".

good luck and 73...

Owen

KJ4YAC
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K1CJS
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« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2012, 08:10:15 AM »

Like has been said, if you get the crimper made for that connector, there is no need for solder.  If you crimp with a general purpose crimping tool, soldering the center connector is just added insurance.  If I were to use crimp connectors, I would also get the proper tool to do the crimping, but since that would be overkill for me (I don't put many connectors on cables) I go the soldering route--with the best quality cable and connectors I can buy.  I will not buy the mass produces (a buck a piece) foreign made 259 connectors at all.
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AK4SK
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Posts: 150




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« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2012, 05:50:10 PM »

Thanks all. The RF Industries stuff looks nice, but I'm afraid that the crimp tools are a bit out of my price range.

Owen,
Those are very nice looking connectors but for what I'm doing I need about 16 of them. I could buy ready made cables at the custom lengths I want for less than the price of the connectors alone.

I have found plenty of connectors that crimp but that require the center pin to be soldered. I have not been able to find connectors that crimp on the body and the center pin. I'm sure I'm just not looking at the right places. Any suggestions here would be appreciated. I'm not against soldering the center pin but I'd like to look at all my options before I decide. Do ALL PL-259 connectors need UG-176 adapters when used with RG-8X or are some made for RG-8X and do not need an adapter?

Thanks again for all of the help.
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KJ4YAC
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« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2012, 04:15:26 AM »

You need 16 of 'em? Yikes.

You might try Radio Shack's "Twist On Coax PL-259 Connector (278-0191).  Try a couple and see how they work for you before buying all 16.  I'd guess that the insertion loss will be more than a properly soldered PL-259 but then again, maybe not.

I'm using them - they seem to be OK but when I relocate my antenna I'm replacing them with the Shakespeare ones on general principles.  If QST says they're good, that's good enough for me.

And soldering PL-259s?  I learned how to solder back in 1958 at the USN ET "A" school at Great Lakes. Got pretty good at it too as I spent a week repairing volt-ohm meters that other students had fried (set to ohms, place leads across 110 VAC) but I'll be darned if I can properly solder a PL-259.  I either melt the coax insulation, end up with cold solder joints at those little holes, drip solder into the threads of the connector, and/or burn my fingers. A man needs to know his limitations, that's one of mine.

Good luck & 73...
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AK4SK
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Posts: 150




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« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2012, 02:50:28 PM »

Yeah, 16 (7 cables and 2 spares). I think I'll give the soldered center pin type a try if I can't figure out which brands have a crimped center pin.

Has anybody ever used anything from CZ Labs (http://www.czlabs.com/). They sell crimp only PL-259 RG-8X connectors and a tool to do it with but looking at the prices (they are cheap) I'm a little wary.

http://www.czlabs.com/connectors-uhf-connectors-c-28_51/male-crimp-type-micro-8-u-rg-8x-p-1148
http://www.czlabs.com/uhf-3-piece-crimp-assembly-instructions-page-8

http://www.czlabs.com/tools-ratchet-crimp-tools-c-126_129/ratchet-crimp-tools-p-284
« Last Edit: February 26, 2012, 02:57:44 PM by KK4GDX » Logged
N4KC
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« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2012, 03:17:10 PM »

Hey, I'm the world's biggest tightwad, and I usually shop for the cheapest, but I'm really leery of connectors this cheap.  And those things are a key component of your station.  The crimp tool the company whose link you posted sells is in the general neighborhood pricewise of the ones I have seen on web sites for RF Parts and other vendors, as well as the tool I bought from QSRadio.  At least by the time you add in the dies for various size cable.  I could not tell if the CZLabs tool had interchangeable dies.  I guess if you never anticipate using any other size cable it's okay.

Again, I bought the whole kit from Quicksilver Radio in a nice case that included the criimp tool, dies for all size coax, two really neat trimming tools, and a set of cable cutters.  I'm not knocked out by the cutters but everything else in the kit works beautifully. 

I also bought connectors for 9913/LMR400.  They were $2.50 each in packs of 4 and are silver/teflon.  I replaced the connector on my hexbeam feedline yesterday and even though the cable is 9913 (difficult to work with), it went on beautifully.

73,

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