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Author Topic: Soldering Antenna Wire  (Read 5467 times)
W1RML
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Posts: 13




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« on: October 31, 2012, 06:01:44 PM »

After surviving Hurricane Irene and the Great Snowtober blizzard of 2011, my 40 meter dipole finally fell victim to Superstorm Sandy.  A falling tree branch hung up on it, dangled there for about 5 minutes, and then snapped the wire.  Since the antenna was a wee bit long too start with, I plan to solder it back together and get back on the air ASAP.  My question is this: Do I need a soldering gun for this task, or should my 40W soldering pencil be able to do the job?  I previously tried to solder antenna wire (14AWG) with my soldering iron, but I had a lot of trouble getting the solder to melt. I am not very experienced with soldering, so it could have been user error, a bad tip, etc., but I am wondering if I am simply using the wrong tool.  Any insight would be much appreciated.

73,
Rich, W1RML   
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WX7G
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« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2012, 06:04:10 PM »

The 40 watt iron will do the job if there is no wind blowing on it. Feed a bit of solder between the tip and the wires and let the wires heat. Then apply solder. I sometimes solder wires by wrapping them with solder and applying a butane cigarette lighter.

Oh and make sure the wires are clean and bright and the iron tip is clean and freshly tinned.
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K7AAT
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« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2012, 06:23:07 PM »



I want to concur with what WX7G said.  Heed his words.  The only additional comment I would make is that in my view your 40W iron is just a wee tad light on wattage for general good soldering like this.   To ensure a good solder flow,  once you see solder begin to melt..... cease adding solder for several seconds... just let the joint get hotter .... then begin to slowly add the solder again.  You want to ensure good hot connection so the solder melts fully and flows before it begins to cool off.   If you were working on a PC board I might offer different advice to protect overheat damage to the board and components,  but in this case you have nothing to damage from heat.... you just want good solder flow.
Good luck.

Ed   K7AAT
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K2OWK
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« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2012, 08:57:09 PM »

I agree with the above posts. One thing, make sure that you have a good mechanical connection (twisted wire together). Solder makes an excellent electrical connection, but a very poor mechanical one.

73s

K2OWK
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W6UV
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Posts: 538




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« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2012, 10:23:27 PM »

Paste flux helps a lot too. Twist the wires together, dip in paste flux, and solder.
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K8POS
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« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2012, 01:06:39 AM »

Look on Google for a " western union Bell Splice "
It is the strongest way to rejoin and solder the wires.
Almost willing to bet the wire will break again before the joint does.



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KCJ9091
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« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2012, 06:34:25 AM »

If the wire is stranded soft copper wire like THHN soldering it will make it more likely to break from flexing.  IF it was me I would do a field splice and not soldier it.

http://www.hardscrabblefarm.com/ww2/field_wire_splice.htm  gives one example.
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KC4MOP
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« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2012, 08:21:59 AM »

Silver solder and silver flux and a good hand operating a MAPP gas torch
Regular solder connections become bad connections in a couple of years.

Fred
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W1RML
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« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2012, 11:55:22 AM »

Look on Google for a " western union Bell Splice "
It is the strongest way to rejoin and solder the wires.
Almost willing to bet the wire will break again before the joint does.


If I do something like a WU splice, would the few inches of wire that are twisted to make the splice be factored in for purposes of calculating the length of each end of the dipole?

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WB6BYU
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« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2012, 12:15:13 PM »

 The resonant frequency would shift upwards a bit due to the splice shortening
the antenna by a couple of inches.  A rough guess would be 20 kHz or so.
Usually that isn't enough to worry about.
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KCJ9091
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Posts: 0




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« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2012, 03:11:45 PM »

Look on Google for a " western union Bell Splice "
It is the strongest way to rejoin and solder the wires.
Almost willing to bet the wire will break again before the joint does.


If I do something like a WU splice, would the few inches of wire that are twisted to make the splice be factored in for purposes of calculating the length of each end of the dipole?



No, measure from end to end like you would with an unspliced wire.
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KD0UN
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Posts: 58




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« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2012, 06:36:17 PM »

Always use my propane torch.   Except last time I stepped on the tip and ruined it.  Had to use the mapp torch. 
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W9GB
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Posts: 2626




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« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2012, 06:47:29 PM »

Common Wire Splice Types Used:
a. Lap Splice
b. Lash Splice
c. Solder Sleeve
d. Western Union (Lineman, Telegraph)
e. Solder Ferrule
f. Crimped Contact
g. Crimp Ferrule
h. Wire In-Line Junction Devices (Jiffy Junctions)

Photos of various splice types, including Western Union (Telegraph or Lineman's) Splice.
http://www.dr-fix-it.com/arc_western_union.html

http://constructionmanuals.tpub.com/14027/css/14027_122.htm

How-To: Splice Wire to NASA Standards -- MAKE Magazine
http://blog.makezine.com/2012/02/28/how-to-splice-wire-to-nasa-standards/

NASA Technical Standard
CRIMPING, INTERCONNECTING CABLES, HARNESSES, AND WIRING
Page 84 has specific information to your query (Splicing starts on page 80).
http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/codeq/doctree/87394.pdf
« Last Edit: November 01, 2012, 06:56:56 PM by W9GB » Logged
AC4RD
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Posts: 1235




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« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2012, 04:18:50 AM »

I spent years fiddling with soldering irons and outdoor wire antennas--it's a PITA, IMO.  Radio Shack has a tiny butane torch, $20, that produces a small cone of flame but PLENTY of heat for any wire sizes.  If you expect to do much outside soldering at all, save yourself some effort and get the tiny butane torch!  :-)
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G0VKT
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Posts: 64




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« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2012, 12:40:59 PM »

I agree on the gas torch. Trying to fix electrics on my Land Rover with a small electric iron was a pain. Not enough heat in the wind and not the best idea in the rain. Plus the power cable would get in the way. I bought a gas powered iron that also has a small torch nozzle. About £25 I think. I usually use it as a soldering iron, but the torch is used when I need a bit more heat.
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