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eHam Forums => Elmers => Topic started by: WB4RA on December 02, 2017, 05:36:21 AM



Title: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: WB4RA on December 02, 2017, 05:36:21 AM
For years I have been installing my PL-259 connectors by folding back the braid then screwing the connector down over the braid and outer layer of the connector. This usually requires using pliers because it is so tight. Then carefully soldering the center connector.

Some people say this is OK some say no.

What say you?


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: WB6BYU on December 02, 2017, 06:58:53 AM
I've picked up a lot of coax and patch cords at hamfests, and the most common
problem is a poor shield connection at one or both ends.  Often the connector can
be rotated by hand, secured only by the center conductor.  Usually for such a cable
(at least for RG-8 \ RG-213) the shield was not soldered when the connector was
installed, though there are some cases of inadequate soldering.

While I can't always tell how the connector was installed originally, they often
have the braid broken off by fatigue at the end of the barrel.  My theory is that
screwing the connector over a doubled braid may damage enough individual
strands that eventually they all fail at that point due to repeated flexing,
possibly in applications where the cable hangs from one connector.  But I
don't know for sure whether that is the actual problem.


Perhaps the best way for you to answer the question for your particular
method of assembling connectors is to take one that has seen a lot of flexing
over the years and disassemble it.   How many strands of the folded braid
are still intact?  Are the strands still bright copper at the connections, or are
they dull brown, indicating a poor connection?  (If they are green you have
other problems.)

I'm a pragmatist - if it works for you, then there is no reason to change.
And I've certainly been known to do a lot of things "good enough for now"
over the years.  But when I put connectors on RG-8 / RG-213 that I want
to last through hard use, like frequent portable use or repeated flexing,
I tin the braid with a big iron, trim it to length with a tubing cutter, and
heat the whole connector body to get a solid solder joint.  Not that it can't
go bad if mistreated, but I've never found a bad shield connection that was
installed this way.


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: WB4SPT on December 02, 2017, 07:09:06 AM
If you can fold back a RG8 type braid and still screw on the shell, seems like lower than optimum shield coverage?   In any case, I prefer to tin all the exposed shield, single layer, cut shield to lenght with a tubing cutter, then dimension the center conductor, then screw on the shell, and heat the shell with a high capacity iron.  Tinning the entire exposed shield reduces the threat of loose wire shorts. 
Doesn't work this way with the RG58, 59 adapters though.  :(


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: K5LXP on December 02, 2017, 08:12:35 AM
folding back the braid then screwing the connector down over the braid

I will do that depending on where it will be used.  For a cable assembly going on the tower or for a permanent install, I do them by the book.  But for a quick test, temporary installation or in the field this is a way to get a connector on the end and only requiring a light duty iron to solder the center conductor.  It's easy to recover the connector and reuse it by just unsoldering the center pin.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: K6BRN on December 02, 2017, 08:35:21 AM
Hi Burt:

This is almost a political argument amonst some hams... here is my 2 cents....

I've attached PL-259 connectors to RG-8 type coax three different ways over the years...

1.  Fold back the braid (after trimming), screw on the connector body over the shield, solder on the center conductor, then screw on the connector shell.  I usually put two layers of heat shrink over the junction between the base of the connector body and coax - just an extra touch.  I've never had one fail.  Mechanically, the coax is secured to the connector by the threads and very little stress is placed on the center conductor once it is soldered.  The coax shield is compressed between the threads of the connector body and coax jacket forming a very good compression fitting.  This approach works fine on ANY type of RG-8 style coax.

2.  Insert the coax into the connector body, with jacket stripped back and braid exposed for about 1/2 inch, solder the braid to the connector shell through the connector body holes, solder the center conductor, screw on the connector shell.  This approach works fine with RG-8, RG-213 and RG-214 but can easily damage the foam based dielectric of LMR-400 type coax.  I've noticed ZERO performance improvement/mismatch improvement with this method.  But I've used it quite a bit with RG-213/214.  In using it with LMR-400/UF, I usually succeed, but do check the cable with a Megaohmmeter afterwards just to be sure.  Several pre-made cables I've purchased that were made this way have been defective - damaged dielectric.  VERDICT:  Can work well on solid dielectric coax - risky on foam dielectric coax.

3.  Crimp connectors... every brand has different measurements for stripping, but once you have these down (and have the proper crimp tool), they go on very quickly with few defects.  This is by far the preferred approach of industrial, connectorized coax providers.  The only downside I've seen is that the retention strength of the coax in the connector is usually lower than 1 or 2 above.

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: K0UA on December 02, 2017, 08:56:34 AM
I used to do these type of quick "work arounds", but gave up on it. I used to fold the braid under the rg58 and rg59 adaptors, but no more.  I had too much trouble with this method.  I put them on now as the manufacture suggests in their instructions.  Sure it takes a bit longer, but I believe it makes a stronger installation. 


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: AC5UP on December 02, 2017, 09:18:01 AM
3.  Crimp connectors... every brand has different measurements for stripping, but once you have these down (and have the proper crimp tool), they go on very quickly with few defects.  This is by far the preferred approach of industrial, connectorized coax providers.  The only downside I've seen is that the retention strength of the coax in the connector is usually lower than 1 or 2 above.

+1


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: K5LXP on December 02, 2017, 11:37:06 AM
the retention strength of the coax in the connector is usually lower than 1 or 2 above.

Not if you crimp it right.  The conductor should break before it pulls out.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM



Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: K6BRN on December 02, 2017, 02:43:12 PM
Mark (K5LXP):

Send me a jumper you've crimped and we'll do a pull test.  I could use a nice 3-footer.

BTW: 

Quote
Not if you crimp it right.  The conductor should break before it pulls out.

Of course the center conductor will break on a crimped connector, before it pulls out - it pretty much has to.  Same as on a soldered connector.  It's the jacket connection that is generally weaker.

Don't bother arguing - I'm ALWAYS right.  (well, usually.)  (umm... most of the time) (normally)

So... when are you sending out the jumper?

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: WB4SPT on December 02, 2017, 03:06:59 PM
Is there a crimp PL259 with the shield crimped on a LMR400 or even a RG8?  That would be a pull test.  And, I don't expect much of that.  I've seen lots of RG58 crimped OK, though.


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: AC5UP on December 02, 2017, 03:18:03 PM
Gents:

We do realize the 'pull test' concept is a straw man argument...  Because, in the world of real professionals, the word is:  " You don't pull a cable by the connector! "

Connectors are invariably the most fragile part of a cable assembly whether crimped, clamped, soldered or stir fried.  You're pulling a cable?  Grab the cable a foot or so from the connector and pull.  If a connector fails post-install due to stress or vibration that's considered an installation error.  Properly dressed wiring has enough slack, mechanical support and strain relief to live long and prosper despite its environment.

Given the ubiquity of crimped connectors in high-value aeronautics I'd say the pull test argument is moot.   :P


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: WB6BYU on December 02, 2017, 04:19:54 PM
Quote from: AC5UP

Because, in the world of real professionals, the word is:  " You don't pull a cable by the connector! "



Which, of course, includes hanging the cable off a dipole without proper strain relief.


I do remember one ham relating the story about the moment he recognized why connector
installation could be important.  A couple teen-age hams were installing an antenna on the
roof of an apartment building when they accidentally locked themselves out.  "Not a problem",
one says, since the coax drops down to the balcony several stories below.  They secured the
top end of the RG-8 and he proceeded to rappel down the coax to the balcony.

The moment of realization came when he got about 2/3 of the way down and felt the splice
in the cable (two PL-259s and a barrel) against his leg.  A bit late to wonder about how well
he had soldered the connectors...


Anyway, he survived to tell the story, though the last part of his descent was a bit more
expeditious than the first in an effort to minimize the stress on the splice (or to get closer
to his target before it let go.)  But he said that he always made sure his connectors were
installed carefully after that.


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: K6REA on December 02, 2017, 05:38:12 PM
I never solder the braid on any size coax.

Works fine for the last 50 years.

kevin rea
lancaster, calif.
K6REA


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: K6BRN on December 02, 2017, 07:11:42 PM
Nelson (AC5UP):

I forgive your profound innocence.  (waves hands in an impressive arc....)

Because those with actual experience know that unplanned and unexpected stress happens frequently on coax connectors (and coax), during installation and sometimes in use, making pull strength very important.

Quote
Which, of course, includes hanging the cable off a dipole without proper strain relief

Lots of hams do this.

So, listen to WB6BYU, grasshopper.  For in his words are truth and wisdom.  (except for the rappelling down the coax part, later in his post - don't do that  :))

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: K6BRN on December 02, 2017, 07:16:58 PM
David (WB4SPT):

Yes, there are PL-259 crimp connectors for RG-8 (RG-213, 214, LMR-400, etc.)

They look like this (and I have a few):

https://www.showmecables.com/uhf-male-crimp-connector-lmr-400-crimp-pin?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIqbf6ifDs1wIViop-Ch1YfgyxEAQYASABEgJ7qPD_BwE

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: G3RZP on December 03, 2017, 02:24:11 AM
I use the WB6BYU method. Use ONLY silver plated Teflon insulated connectors, and use a 1800 watt hot air paint stripping gun to heat the body of the connector - faster than an iron or soldering gun. When the solder melts, use a 40 watt Weller iron to keep it hot while soldering the braid through the holes.

Tubing cutter and paint stripping hot air gun are the magic tools!


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: WA3SKN on December 03, 2017, 06:16:52 AM
I have seen a lot of both good and bad installations of PL259 connectors.  And it does relate to frequency.  At VHF and above you care more about this.  Your installation is OK from an impedance point of view.  I would be concerned about water ingress and also stress related movements, but electrically it would be OK below 300 MHz or so.  Duration could also be a concern.
You can get away with a lot at HF!
73s.

-Mike.


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: WB6BYU on December 03, 2017, 07:47:09 AM
Quote from: WA3SKN

I have seen a lot of both good and bad installations of PL259 connectors...




And this is the key part:  getting a good, reliable connection for your application.

If the cable only gets moved every few years, a lot of connection methods will
work.  If it regularly gets flexed back and forth (either as a patch cable, for a
portable antenna, or due to the antenna blowing in the wind) then it may not
last as long.

But most important is to use the method that allows you to make the best
connection.


If you don't have a big soldering iron or hot air gun available to use, then you might
not be able to get a good connection to the shell, and twisting the connector onto
the folded braid might be your best bet.  Use a method that you are competent at
and capable of making a good connection in preference to one that might be better
when done by a trained technician, but that you don't have the skills or tools to
do correctly.


I have a lot of PL-259 connectors on hand.  Mostly I use smaller cables (often RG-58,
sometimes RG-59 or RG-8X) with crimp connectors if I have the right size in stock. 
I don't have to make up new RG-213 cables very often, so they are generally soldered
because I don't think I have crimp connectors for them. 

Then I get something quirky, like RG-14, and have to improvise something...

This is what I have found works best for me over the years, but you may have other
methods that work better for you.  What's important is to check your connectors to see
that they are still working properly.  I've seen a lot of "antenna" problems that were due
to a poor shield connection, and it isn't always immediately obvious what is wrong.


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: K5LXP on December 03, 2017, 08:00:07 AM

Of course the center conductor will break on a crimped connector, before it pulls out - it pretty much has to.  Same as on a soldered connector.  It's the jacket connection that is generally weaker.

Correct.  So what difference does it make if it's crimped or soldered?  The answer is it doesn't.  The variability is in the prep and the crimper.  In production the prep is automated and crimp dies and pressures are calibrated and certified.  Enter Joe Ham.  Cable prep is whatever is sharp and handy, strips are by eye, and the crimp tool is whatever was cheapest on ebay.  So it's not that crimp is inherently less reliable, the procedure drives reliability.  No different than improper soldering, just different failure modes.   

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: G4AON on December 03, 2017, 10:50:59 AM
For several years I’ve only used compression fitting PL259 plugs for both RG58 and RG213 cables. These fit the same way as BNC and N connectors, they can be reused if necessary too.

The plugs are more expensive, but hassle free to fit (or refit).

73 Dave


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: K6BRN on December 04, 2017, 01:06:26 PM
Mark (K5LXP):

You are barking up the wrong tree.  I never said tbat crimped connectors are less reliable.  You drew that conclusion yourself from my pull test comments.  Get over it.  This is NOT a political issue. 

I' ve used all three methods and all can work fine... If you have tbe knowledge and skills to use them.

Pick one.

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: N7EKU on December 04, 2017, 01:22:03 PM
For several years I’ve only used compression fitting PL259 plugs for both RG58 and RG213 cables. These fit the same way as BNC and N connectors, they can be reused if necessary too.

The plugs are more expensive, but hassle free to fit (or refit).

73 Dave

Hi Dave,

Do you have a part number, and/or source, for these?  I bet they would save headaches for many hams.  Currently I use the BNC ones like this for just the same reason: you can easily detach and re-attach them as needed.  Also they are quite reliable and easy to check too, if you suspect a problem.  I have never seen 259 ones like that though.

73,


Mark.


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: N9AOP on December 04, 2017, 02:04:11 PM
 I used to solder them, now I use crimps.  But I never recycled old connectors.  The old guy who taught me to solder 259's told me not to be a cheap ass and use new ones.
Art


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: KA5ROW on December 04, 2017, 06:30:00 PM
I would use only Amphenol connectors. Why they are much better, and saw reviews stating with copy PL-259 the center will fall out due to the melting of the connector, Amphenol does not have that problem.   


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: WB6BYU on December 04, 2017, 07:40:00 PM
I certainly have some of the cheap ones where the center plastic is intended
to look like Teflon, but melts easily during soldering.  The nickel plating on
some connectors can be hard to solder to, too, especially for those lacking
a suitably big iron or heat source.

While the phenolic insulation of the traditional Amphenol plugs usually survives
the soldering process, the Teflon / silver plated plugs tend to be easier to
solder and work very well.


Reusing plugs?  Sure, if you have new ones available, go ahead and use them.
But some of us couldn't afford them when we started, and I've certainly been in
situations where they weren't available when I needed then, like in a logging
camp in Alaska, or late at night when I need a cable for the next day.  The
PL-259 plugs assembled with reducers for RG-58 or RG-59 are generally pretty
easy to disassemble and reuse.  Those where the whole shell is well soldered
much less so.


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: SWMAN on December 04, 2017, 08:32:19 PM
I first started soldering PL 259 when I was 13 years old, never really had a problem in doing it correctly. Now about 50 years later I can almost do it with my eyes closed. I can't speak for crimp on or solderless types as I have never used them. I don't like them, that's just me though.


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: WA1RNE on December 05, 2017, 09:21:59 AM
Quote
For years I have been installing my PL-259 connectors by folding back the braid then screwing the connector down over the braid and outer layer of the connector.

  I would not recommend this assembly technique .

Although designed by Amphenol in the 30's, the threads were to my knowledge not meant to screw onto the outer jacket with braid in between.

The mechanics of that are poor, both from the standpoint of relying on shield to connector thread contact that will vary as the outer jacket contracts and expands with temperature AND in terms of connection mechanical strength and support.

 


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: NK7Z on December 05, 2017, 09:49:52 AM
Reusing plugs?  Sure, if you have new ones available, go ahead and use them.
But some of us couldn't afford them when we started, and I've certainly been in
situations where they weren't available when I needed then, like in a logging
camp in Alaska, or late at night when I need a cable for the next day.
I'm with you...  If I can, I use new, if not, then I clean up a connector.  I detest using old connectors in general though.


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: G4AON on December 06, 2017, 01:18:12 AM
Hi Dave,

Do you have a part number, and/or source, for these?  I bet they would save headaches for many hams.  Currently I use the BNC ones like this for just the same reason: you can easily detach and re-attach them as needed.  Also they are quite reliable and easy to check too, if you suspect a problem.  I have never seen 259 ones like that though.

73,

Mark.
Mark, they are made by Multicomp. Newark (http://www.newark.com) sell them. Part number 27AC8527 and 27AC8528

73 Dave


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: N2SR on December 06, 2017, 03:27:16 AM
Suggest "installing a PL-259" be the topic of the next radio club meeting.  Advertise in the newsletter to make sure that everyone is aware of this meeting.   Invite the public, and also advertise in QST that your local radio club will be having a meeting on an extremely important topic that could change the world of Amateur Radio as we know it.

Advise that everyone should have a full meal before arriving. 

At the meeting, set up a podium so that everyone gets a chance to speak.   As people file in, they are given a card with a number on it.  Provide comfortable chairs.  Reclining chairs would  be best.   Suggest that everyone also bring a pillow for napping and when there is a break in the speaking.   Also suggest that this meeting be on Saturday morning, and suggest to everyone that their tell their wives that they might stay overnight, because this is such an important topic for their amateur radio career, that they must clear their schedule for this meeting. 

Be sure that the business portion of the meeting is as extremely short as possible, under 5 minutes.

After the business portion of the meeting is complete, open the floor to: "How do you install a PL-259?" 

Call out Card #1.   Let that person give his/her version of installing a PL-259.   There is no limit as to how long each person may take to speak about this extremely important topic. 

After Speaker #1 is finished, open the floor to rebuttals.   

After all of the rebuttals are complete, invite Speaker #2 to come up to the podium.   

After Speaker #2 is finished, open the floor to rebuttals. 

......

Depending upon how many radio club members show up, you may have to consider changing the "meeting" to a "conference."  Consider inviting guest speakers to give their thoughts on the subject.   







Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: K6BRN on December 06, 2017, 08:53:26 AM
Tom (N2SR):

I had to chuckle when I read your post.  Last year, before Field Day, one of the ham clubs I belong to had a "Coax Party" to test and repair lines that we would be using during the event.  In the meeting before the party, everybody was an expert and KNEW the BEST way to attach new connectors.  But at the Coax Party, only TWO people felt comfortable putting them on.  The rest, now silent, shuffled around and did their best to stay away from the repair stations until the  work was done and they could re-coil the coax and do some rag chewing.  Most seemed intimidated by wire cutters and soldering irons.  Funny now, frustrating at the time.

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: N2SR on December 06, 2017, 09:14:38 AM
Tom (N2SR):

I had to chuckle when I read your post.  Last year, before Field Day, one of the ham clubs I belong to had a "Coax Party" to test and repair lines that we would be using during the event.  In the meeting before the party, everybody was an expert and KNEW the BEST way to attach new connectors.  But at the Coax Party, only TWO people felt comfortable putting them on.  The rest, now silent, shuffled around and did their best to stay away from the repair stations until the  work was done and they could re-coil the coax and do some rag chewing.  Most seemed intimidated by wire cutters and soldering irons.  Funny now, frustrating at the time.

Brian - K6BRN

Hi Brian,

I always get a chuckle when threads like this start.   The only correct way is the way the manufacturer's instructions say to install the connector.   But everyone seems to have their own "methods," some of which are basically the same as the manufacturer's, but many that are not. 

Ask a similar question: "How do you seal your coax connections?"   And you'll get a myriad of responses.   

My suggestion is to sticky this thread, and anytime someone needs to ask the question (which is usually every few months), they don't have to start a new thread.  Just look at the top of the forums and read the myriad of ways to install a PL-259.   Pick the way you think it should be done, and go for it. 

The same should be done for "How do you seal your coax connectors?"   



Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: WB6BYU on December 06, 2017, 10:40:37 AM
I think threads on "how do you ......" can be very useful, as many of us may use different methods.

Threads titled "What is the best way to ..." aren't as productive, as they assume that there is only
one "best" way to do it under all circumstances.


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: K6BRN on December 06, 2017, 04:55:08 PM
WB6BYU said:

Quote
I think threads on "how do you ......" can be very useful, as many of us may use different methods.

Threads titled "What is the best way to ..." aren't as productive, as they assume that there is only
one "best" way to do it under all circumstances.

+1  (No doubt about it)

"What is the BEST..."  threads always seem to blow up.

Brian - K6BRN


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: N6YFM on December 07, 2017, 03:49:28 PM
How to Install PL-259 Connectors:

For Commercial:    All Silver and Teflon Crimp, with proper connector specific tool kit.

For Ham:   Varying soldering pencils, stations, guns, torches, ranging from 10 to 800 watts.
                 Endless variations of "the art".  Even more opinions.  Even a wider range of "results".

For CB:    Prep the cable with a garden shear, jam into the connector shell, dip the entire
               PL-259 and the first 1 inch of cable into a soldering pot.   Hold under the surface
               for at least 30 seconds.     Plug into your 16-pill non-linear non-filtered 3KW "amplifier" (sic) to test/destroy.
               [Duck for cover as all the lights in the town dim....]


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: AC5UP on December 07, 2017, 05:24:13 PM
Your CB radio instructions are misguided...   Professional big signal operators rely on

(http://cdn-write.demandstudios.com/upload/7000/000/20/2/117022.jpg)

Go loud or go home.    :P


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: DRBEN on December 08, 2017, 11:22:08 AM
For years I have been installing my PL-259 connectors by folding back the braid then screwing the connector down over the braid and outer layer of the connector. This usually requires using pliers because it is so tight. Then carefully soldering the center connector.

Some people say this is OK some say no.

What say you?

I often do this with RG-213 and have never had any problems. Occasionally, I have shaved just a very little bit off the cable insulation with an Exacto knife to make it easier to screw on the connector.

If it ain't broke don't fix it.


Title: RE: Installing PL-259 Connectors
Post by: K1VCT on December 09, 2017, 08:40:43 PM
Let me put my 2c worth in for the Times EZ connectors, which are not cheep, and require their tools, but are a pleasure to install, in seconds, with zero defects.

Previous to my migration to the EZ connector, I used screw-on, then solder PL-259's on RG-8 cable (LMR-400).  They work.  If you take the care to get things right, tin the braid, make sure there are no excess solder globs, keep things cool... all those little "technique" items, then they come out fine.

The EZ's... cut cable.  Slide on heat shrink and sleeve.  Make Cut #1 with the tool, which strips about 3/8" off the end cleanly to the core.  Make Cut #2 with the tool, which removes the proper amount of outer jacket.  Deburr end of core if needed.  Splay out the braid a little.  Push connector on until it "clicks" in place.  The "click" is the spring fingers inside the connector snapping onto the core conductor.  Slide sleeve up, crimp.  Slide heat shrink up, heat.  Done.  Takes longer to describe than do.