Author Topic: High quality PL-259 recommendations  (Read 7482 times)

Offline FreeLancer

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High quality PL-259 recommendations
« on: April 06, 2015, 04:56:44 AM »
I'd appreciate some suggestions on which makes of connectors (and where to purchase them) have performed well for the seasoned hams out there.  Solder or crimp, doesn't matter to me, I just would like a short list of brands to shop for, and I don't mind spending a little more for performance and reliability.

Offline SCWolverine

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2015, 06:18:11 AM »
I buy mine (and the RG-8X sleeves) from the Wireman here in SC.  Good Peeps! (solder)

Offline Carl

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2015, 06:54:21 AM »
AMPHENOL is about the best for my money. Silver plated will solder easier and oxidize less in weather. I use self vulcanizing tape and cover with PVC tape to keep junctions clean for many years ...don't forget adapter sleeves for RG58 or Mini 8 coax as they are different sizes.

http://www.randl.com/shop/catalog/index.php?cPath=4000

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2015, 03:29:17 PM »
How feasible is it to reuse the solder connectors when the cable is damaged, or I screw up? 

Offline Carl

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2015, 05:37:08 AM »
How feasible is it to reuse the solder connectors when the cable is damaged, or I screw up?

You start by heating the center pin and flicking out the melted solder,(wife might prefer it not molten metal in the carpet)
then you heat the body and pull the PL259 from the coax...it helps to use a 140 watt solder gun or something bigger
than a solder pencil as heat can and will damage any connector with a non-ceramic insulator...
for the $3 cost I just cut the connector off and start with a new one.

  From K0BG :

The PL259

Without doubt, the single most prevalent problem amateurs face is caused by the ubiquitous PL259! They typically are poorly or incorrectly soldered (if at all), and the coax preparation is almost never done properly. Adding insult to an already terse situation, the material making up cheap PL259s seemingly cannot be soldered. Some of them easily corrode or rust, and their sleeve threads are pressed, not cut. As a result, far too many amateurs end up blaming all matter of station equipment and antennas for their problems, rather than the real culprit—a cheaply made, and incorrectly installed PL259. Therefore, this is an attempt to address the situation by making a few pertinent suggestions.

So called teflon (note lower case T) insulated ones can be easily damaged by too much soldering heat. The reason is, most of them are polypropylene, not real, honest-to-john, Teflon®! So when you try to solder them, the insulator melts. Depending on the quantity purchased, real Teflon® (note the capital T) insulated PL259s, cost about $9 each (the latter with silver plated shells). Few amateurs will pay this much for a PL259. By the way, the Amphenol®part number for the silver plated, Teflon® insulated ones, is 83-822 (Mouser number 523-83-822), and cost about $5 each in quantity. They come in both silver plated and nickel plated shells (that's the ferrule you screw on to the SO239 chassis connector). The silver plated ones are preferred if you can find them. Mouser does not carry them, but they will special order them.

Slotted PL259While a lot of different companies make PL259s, genuine Amphenols® have always been your best bet. However, the RF Connection now has a proprietary PL259 made by Amphenol® that is silver plated including the shell. It's unique, in that it has two slots instead of four holes. This makes soldering a snap! Remember, in order to make a good RF connection, it is necessary to get the solder to flow into the shield of the coax, as well as wet the inside of the barrel and/or the surface of the reducer if used. Their part number is: UHF-182120.

Reducing sleeves are a requirement for both RG58 (.192" OD), and RG8X (.242" OD) coax. For RG58, the correct Amphenol® part number is 83-185 (Mouser part number 523-83-185). You can also buy 83-168-RFX sleeves for RG8X. Unfortunately, they have a Japanned finish, and are very difficult to solder! If you're faced with this issue, there are two solutions.

You can buff the reducing sleeve with a wire brush, and pre-tin them. Just be careful not to put too much solder on the surface, you you will not be able to screw them into the PL259 body. Or, if you have a drill press and/or vice, buy the 83-185, silver-plated sleeves, and drill them out to .25 inches. Care must be taken, as brass tends to snatch badly.

Be advised that Amphenol's PL259 part number, 83-1SP-1050, has an Astroplate® body, and shell. Astroplate® is extremely difficult to solder, and it takes an iron with a lot of latent heat (no gun here folks!). Further, the 83-1SP-RFX has what is commonly referred to as a Japanned finish, but it is actually a nickel-based alloy. They're actually worse than the 83-1sp-1050 (!), and all but impossible to solder! You can file the finish off down to the brass, but that doesn't help much as the inside is also Japanned. The point to be made here is simply this; buying cheap connectors will cost you much more in the long run, than good quality ones ever will.


http://www.k0bg.com/coax.html


Offline FreeLancer

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2015, 07:23:33 PM »
How about DX Engineering's connectors?  http://www.dxengineering.com/parts/dxe-pl259/requiredparts

I see that their cable assemblies averaged 5.0 over 51 reviews, as good as it gets.  http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/7582

Actually, after reading the reviews and Carl's K0BG post, I'm thinking the peace of mind may be worth paying a bit more for their completed (and tested) cable assemblies.

Offline Carl

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2015, 07:30:01 AM »
I also tend to buy pre-made cables for patch cables,I buy the ones from R&L Electronics.
The connectors linked at DX Engineering look good and appear to be Amphenol though
the PTFE insulator is not my choice ,it will take a good bit of heat without problems.  Always
pre - test cables with an ohm meter to insure continuity and non-shorted as even the highest
standard of production is not without possible problems. I like the mini8 coax for a good
choice in flexible jumpers within the operating area.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2015, 10:28:18 AM »
I also tend to buy pre-made cables for patch cables,I buy the ones from R&L Electronics.

Would that be the Jetstream or the Astatic?

Offline Carl

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2015, 11:31:26 AM »
Would that be the Jetstream or the Astatic?

I have had great success with JETSTREAM , I just have not used astatic....
I have also had the Jetstream mini 8 coax up for 20 plus years with NO tested degradation or measurable change of characteristics. BUT the foam core is showing slight brittleness ( I use it for a VHF beam with up to 1400 watts which is a bit beyond spec for VHF on that cable) Link to pre-made cables:

http://www.randl.com/shop/catalog/index.php?cPath=11030

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2015, 01:50:55 PM »
I am still very much a rookie regarding making my own cables, but I have bought numerous RG8x (mini) jumper/patch cables both new and used.  I have a combination of Jetstream and astatic with good success - though as I've been a ham less than a year take that for what it's worth.

Also, for homemade cables I've got second hand, I usually look for genuine amphenol PL259 end pieces.  At a recent hamfest jumpers were 3 for $5. There was a massive bin and I made my selection based on the make of the end pieces.  Worst case these are fine donors to make antennas from.  Unless there's a deal, I personally avoid the molded cables for the simple reason that I can't easily salvage from them.  (kind of like buying steel cased ammo).

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2015, 03:06:03 PM »
Can't find eham reviews on either the Jetstream or Astatic....

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2015, 03:28:08 PM »
Can't find eham reviews on either the Jetstream or Astatic....

For jumpers, the vast majority of the time they are either used in a temporary manner (hooking up a meter/analyzer) or otherwise remain indoors near your transceiver.
While I am not advocating using substandard coax or connectors, you can probably get away with less than perfect for these.

For mid-length pre-made cables,  I have also bought a couple of these, which I have found to work very well.  I cannot buy the parts or coax cheaper than this:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Astatic-18-foot-RG8X-mini8-Coax-CB-Radio-Antenna-Coaxial-Cable-Soldered-PLs-18ft-/221412810446?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item338d3b5ece

Now, if you are willing to buy hundreds of feet of coax on spools, don't ask me - there are probably cheaper sources. 

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2015, 06:06:52 PM »
I also tend to buy pre-made cables for patch cables,
I am glad you said that.  I was feeling a little bit yuppie-fied about ordering a few yesterday until just now.  Face it, I can solder, but not quickly and not as reliably as if I did it all the time.

Offline Carl

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2015, 06:14:00 PM »
I am glad you said that.  I was feeling a little bit yuppie-fied about ordering a few yesterday until just now.  Face it, I can solder, but not quickly and not as reliably as if I did it all the time.

And the pre-made cables were within pennies of the cost of the parts to make them...the easy button concept,I'd rather operate a radio than operate on one.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2015, 07:58:12 PM »
I was feeling a little bit yuppie-fied about ordering a few yesterday until just now.  Face it, I can solder, but not quickly and not as reliably as if I did it all the time.

That's kind of what I was thinking, too, when I started this thread.  I've been working on my soldering and some basic electronics projects recently and thought maybe making up my own coax assemblies would be a good learning experience.  However, you all have convinced me otherwise.  I'll buy a few connectors and some RG-8x at some point and fool around with it, but for now I'm going to get a few of the pre-made assemblies mentioned here so I don't have to factor in a bad soldering job as the reason I can't get on the air.  I've got enough stupid to deal with.....

The DXE stuff is on the way, I'll put in an order for the Jetstream and Astatic ones from R&L, too.

Thanks everyone, I'll let you know how it goes.

Offline Carl

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2015, 06:51:07 AM »
That's kind of what I was thinking, too, when I started this thread.  I've been working on my soldering and some basic electronics projects recently and thought maybe making up my own coax assemblies would be a good learning experience.  However, you all have convinced me otherwise.  I'll buy a few connectors and some RG-8x at some point and fool around with it, but for now I'm going to get a few of the pre-made assemblies mentioned here so I don't have to factor in a bad soldering job as the reason I can't get on the air.  I've got enough stupid to deal with.....

The DXE stuff is on the way, I'll put in an order for the Jetstream and Astatic ones from R&L, too.

Thanks everyone, I'll let you know how it goes.

Knowing how to do things adds confidence,knowing when to do things shows intelligence.
Your skills will develop,but you are correct with what little it costs to remove a variable from station setup.

Offline Greekman

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2015, 12:36:20 PM »
How feasible is it to reuse the solder connectors when the cable is damaged, or I screw up?

quite soem tiem ago I posted a video of a guy that ahs his won method of soldering these connectors to be reusable.
he basically used a Quality connector and soldered the coax shiled at the Back of the connector

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #17 on: April 22, 2015, 05:35:23 AM »
Well, all the assemblies have arrived and I've done just a basic physical inspection and continuity testing.

Both the Jetstream and Astatic units have Amphenol connectors, but the Jetstream looks like it has more silver plating. The soldering job on the Jetstream is excellent, with complete solder flow around the body of the connector, while the Astatic has these blobs poking out of each of the four ports that make me wonder if it's a cold solder situation.  Both them appear to have similar quality solder jobs on the center conductor. The Jetstream cable "feels" better than the Astatic, which has a bit too much of that cheap China thing going on with the translucent outer jacket, but that could be totally subjective bias on my part.

The DX Engineering assemblies are identical to the Cable Xpert unit I got from AES a few years ago, making me think they're manufactured at the same place. The connectors are soldered in the center and crimped at the base, with a nice watertight heat shrink job at both ends. The cable on these two "feels" better, but that might be because I know I paid more for them.

The shipping packaging must be where a lot of the money goes at DX Engineering. The heavy duty box, individual bagging of every single item, and six sided bubble wrapping is probably overkill for cables and connectors, but it is kind of impressive. J&L got everything to me in one piece, barely.

Does anybody know how to test cable performance with an antenna analyzer, specifically a Rig Expert?  I can't find any specific instructions on the best procedures for doing this.

Offline Carl

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2015, 05:53:11 AM »
Great cable report...A cold solder joint will have a frosty look to it rather than smooth shiney metal.
I have always just done a continuity check while flexing the cable to basically check for cold/loose solder joints.

Offline NR5P

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Re: High quality PL-259 recommendations
« Reply #19 on: April 23, 2015, 01:26:30 PM »
Just a tip that works great is to after soldering the tip trim back the braid and actually solder to the outside of the pl259 sleeve, all the way around. It makes for a very strong connection. Not that it's a major problem but it will not be damaged by any twisting or anything doing it like this