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Author Topic: Opinion on Solder-less Crimp on PL259  (Read 41436 times)

Posts: 369

« on: September 12, 2013, 06:29:43 AM »

Im going to be doing some cabling work and was wondering what you guys think of Solderless Crimp ons?  The type where not only is the braid crimped but so is the center pin.  One of the guys I work with (also an Ham) worked as an electronics engineer in the Air Force on bombers and told me that they NEVER soldering ANYTHING.  Everything was crimp thus I would change to crimp if I have the opportunity.  Since I am lazy like the next guy and have the crimp tools I figured - Sounds good to me!  But I would like to get another opinion.

PS - I use Amphenol connectors if that is a factor.




Posts: 2926

« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2013, 06:55:43 AM »

Mike -

Your Air Force engineer friend is correct.  Wiring and cabling haresses are largely crimped in the aeropace and automotive industries.  Soldering UHF connectors has decreased over past decade.
CRIMPS can be improperly installed, Operator Error and BAD Tools are the reasons.

Crimping for coaxial connectors (CATV/satellite TV, mobile antenna installs) have the advatage of being able to be performed virtually anywhere, without a heat source (soldering).
"F" connectors used on RG-6/U and RG-59/U for video/TV 75 ohm coax cable have also advanced to weatherproof Snap-N-Seal connectors used around the world.

I switched to largely crimp UHF and N connectors for RG-213/U, RG-8X type, RG-58/U about 7 years ago.
Ironically, I got started when an RF Industries complete toolkit was for sale on eBay over 2005 Christmas holidays.  
This kit had been listed for several weeks earlier, with NO bidders.  
I bought it for about 10 cents on the dollar.  The Kit was IMMACULATE (hardly used).

I have replaced the conectors on many "problem coax cable" at Field Day, Ham club inventories, etc. that were installed improperly (Good hand/technical skills are disappearing -- as we now have Extra class licensees who can't build a simple antenna). TUTORIAL : Crimp On PL-259 (UHF) Connectors
by Mike Higgins, K6AER (circa 2008)

Amphenol makes crimp connectors, but I purchase mine from RF Parts (California),
they sell the RF Industries connectors to radio amateurs (just down the road).

RF Industries - Connectors

RF Indutries - Tools

Jim Heath, W6LG at High Sierra sells tools and connectors
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 07:25:04 AM by W9GB » Logged

Posts: 286

« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2013, 07:04:26 AM »

Most commercially made cables are crimped on connectors.

IF you use a good quality connector and a good quality ratcheting crimping tool, they are much nicer than soldering.

I believe most hams make a worse connection using solder style because the heat does damage to the insulator etc...  Look at this cross section of a soldered coax connector:  That is a GOOD job of soldering, and you can still see damage from the heat, that causes the shield braid to migrate into the cable closer to the center conductor (changing the impedance), because pretty much any heat will cause this. 

Personally I prefer the kind of connectors that have crimp barrels, but the center pin is hollow and all you have to do is drop a bit of solder into the end like this Amphenol ones: but there are lots of different crimp connectors to choose from different prices and manufacturer.  I have had good luck with pretty much everyone I have purchased, even cheap ones at hamfests.

Get a good quality crimping tool with replaceable dies so you can crimp lots of different types of connectors on lots of different types of cables..  There are also dies available out there for other things like crimping powerpole connectors etc.

I got one from High Sierra that I use and I like it:

ALSO, I would give a big recommendation for the COAX prep tools from DXEngineering.  They are fantastic, and make perfectly prepared coax in just seconds.

So, get yourself a good crimping tool and some connectors, give it a shot, and I bet you will never go back.  Frankly I have no idea why so many are resistant to crimp connectors.  Using a modern crimping tool they are fantastic and I think even better, faster and more consistent than soldering.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 07:17:32 AM by WS4E » Logged

Posts: 2409

« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2013, 07:21:31 AM »

I can confirm, crimping, if done correctly, is the way to go. Like always, good tooling is mandatory.

Posts: 374

« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2013, 07:37:15 AM »

I looked at this exact question some time ago.
I have been soldering for over 50 years and done lots of bench work.
I will agree that poor soldering techniques are as bad as poor tools for crimping.
For me I cannot justify the costs of setting up for decent crimping tools today as I am getting older and don't make much anymore.
If I were younger I would certainly look into it however.

Posts: 990

« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2013, 07:49:31 AM »

 I vote against crimping.   just for the cost..   you can't re-use a crimpt connector.
I remember  customers having some off the wll operation  crimping  connectors on 
twin-ax cables. land they usually  didnt measure the wire correctly and that would cause  'push-backs' of the pins and intermittants.
and  $26 for a new connector when I fixed it.

Posts: 4811


« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2013, 07:57:54 AM »

I think a lot of it depends on where the job is done, and how many you have to do.

You're not going to (conveniently) haul a big ol' iron up a tower and put connectors on up there.  You can readily do crimps up there though.

If you put on a dozen connectors a year in the comfort of your shack or workshop, soldering is just as good as anything.  If time is important, and when you're out in the field, crimp wins hands down.  The tools are usually a lifetime investment so you buy them once and you're set.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM


Posts: 1363

« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2013, 09:16:01 AM »

I always used to solder the connectors, until I got an "AndyCrimp" tool from High Sierra.  It works great, it's much faster and easier than soldering, and I've had zero problems with the connections.   The Andy-Crimp has dies for various coax connectors, powerpoles, ring terminals, etc.  Fast and easy, every time!

Posts: 1833

« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2013, 09:42:05 AM »

I vote for crimping. I have done many hundreds of coaxial connectors of nearly every type and nearly every different type of feedline. The only problem I have ever seen was when it was a cheap crimp tool that was not a ratcheting and release type or the ratchet mechanism was incorrectly set.

I have no worries about salvaging the connector to reuse it because when they are done right they do not fail.

A good coax connector is one of the most inexpensive parts of a station. I do not understand how someone can drive for a half a day to go to a ham fest, pay the parking fee, entry fee and overpriced food... only to buy a $0.83 cent coax connector instead of the $4.00 teflon and silver one.

Get a good stripper (I like the DX engineering ones, I even send my commercial clients there to buy coax prep tools), get a ratcheting crimper (even off of ebay) and a few dies so you can do the types of coax cables and connectors you work with. You will spend more money on a desk mic than you would on tooling that will last a lifetime.

Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama

Posts: 433

« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2013, 11:33:14 AM »

Having just received my Andy Crimp from High Sierra (haven't used it yet, but it seems nicely made), I find this thread very helpful.  I bought some hybrid PL-259s with the crimper (crimp the braid, solder the center conductor), but I think that after I use those up, I'll transition to the completely solderless parts.

Posts: 1833

« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2013, 12:04:33 PM »

This applies for the crimp, compression nut, solder in or thread-on type connectors. Pay attention to the material the connector body is made of. The really inexpensive connectors are usually made of tin, nickel flashed bronze/brass or some other sort of pot metal. They will fracture on you if you over tighten the connector or bump the cable.

Good connectors are made of nickel plated steel, silver plated or even stainless steel. (stainless is more common on N connectors). They are very robust, heavier and will last a long time.

Another thing is to look at the insulator part that surrounds the center pin. Good ones are made of teflon or even ceramic. Cheap ones are a regular plastic that will melt if you get a soldering iron on the center pin or you end up running high power and the connector gets hot. The center pin should not wobble around in the connector body.

A few years ago I bought a bag of connectors that seemed like such a deal, it was sort of an impulse buy at a hamfest. I will claim that I was suffering from ketchup intoxication from the overpriced food. The too good to be true deal really was. I only looked at the connectors when I got home. Now I save those for the neighbor who wants to borrow tools and forgets to return them for six months. If they need a connector I will "gift" them one of those but I do not use them on my own stuff.

Ms. Tisha Hayes, AA4HA
Lookout Mountain, Alabama

Posts: 349

« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2013, 02:10:22 PM »

I have used both and will say that it does depend on the environment in which the connector will be used. Crimps created problems in the Pacific Islands where you have an 80 to 90 percent humidity factor.  In an air conditioned environment or otherwise dry  environment, I have no problem with crimps done properly.
Dick KH2G

Posts: 6542

« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2013, 03:22:15 PM »

Especially if you're over 60, K5LXP's comment pretty well covers the situation.

Posts: 618

« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2013, 02:28:42 AM »

Get a good stripper...

And you're complaining about the cost of crimp tools?

Posts: 177

« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2013, 06:07:42 AM »

I vote against crimping.   just for the cost..   you can't re-use a crimpt connector.

It's not the connector you can't re-use. Not in all cases, anyway. I bought some patch cables with Huber-Suhner right angle N-type connectors. I was able to pry off the crimp ring and unsolder the coax in the connector pretty easily. My problem was finding new crimp rings. I ended up taking rings from some other connectors and re-used the high quality right angle connectors.

But I wonder if anyone knows if or where just crimp rings are sold?

Vy 73,
Dave N4KD
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