Author Topic: Soldering PL259 Connector  (Read 2088 times)

Offline backpackman

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Soldering PL259 Connector
« on: June 24, 2018, 10:59:29 AM »
Hi There -

I am new around these parts and relatively inexperienced at ham radio. I appreciate any advice that can be given.

I recently moved into a new house. While it was being built, I had Mini 8/U wire routed from my office to the attic. Now that I am ready to make the connections, I am having a difficult time attaching PL259 connectors to the ends.

First, I do have the right connectors.

http://www.randl.com/shop/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=67223&osCsid=i791rljm55i84l84f79nh2pfa5

I have a wire stripping device and the depth appears to be correct such that I get this sort of result:

https://cloud.disroot.org/s/Aj2jJ5oKfkX69yq

The problem is when I screw the PL259 connector, the outer wire peels back and very little wire can be seen through the two holes. This picture is not great, but displays the problem.

https://cloud.disroot.org/s/Egkng32DyfdpntA
What am I doing wrong?


Offline Carl

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2018, 03:23:47 PM »
  You will find it better to tin the shield with solder BEFORE screwing the connector in place and I much prefer the PL259 and a reducer to the threaded connector shown.

Offline backpackman

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2018, 04:16:43 PM »
Thanks Carl.

I have very little soldering experience so this is just gaining experience for me.

The tinning worked if I did not melt the insulator. I screwed on the connector and the shield was visible.

I soldered in the holes. Since I have a beginner soldering set, it took a long time to heat up. Once again, I hope I did not melt the insulator. Once it cools down, I will check continuity.

Offline armymars

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2018, 05:02:43 PM »
47 to 60 watts works best for me for mini x. I like 80 watts for RG 8U.

Offline backpackman

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2018, 06:55:15 PM »
No one is as surprised as me that it actually worked. It is not pretty, but it worked. I soldered connectors on both ends, it passed continuity and I was able to receive.

I will have to do the wire in the wall next, but need some more connectors and adapters.

Offline Carl

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2018, 05:38:48 AM »
Pretty will come along with practice. After 35 years of soldering coax ,I still mess one up from time to time as I use a 100/140 watt Weller solder gun that heats up in seconds and does quick work of solder flow. I also suggest that you get some of the silver plated (real silver) PL259's and the reducers as the solder really flows and sticks well to the silver and provides better (in my opinion) connectivity. I also suggest a self fusing silicon tape to seal out moisture and help to keep moisture out of your coax to prevent metal degradation and oxidation.Extra care will save a lot of trouble later. I use the MINI 8 coax, called RG-8U as it is a good choice for lower loss and not so costly as hardline and larger RG-8 diameter coax ...the mini 8 is reasonably low loss,low cost and the stuff lasts over 25 years with only slight degradation of the foam core material.

Let me add that often GREAT 75 OHM coax from Cable TV service can be had and your radio will do just fine with the stuff though the SWR may indicate 1.5 to one ...I would not pass up good quality coax just because it is 75 OHM as your radio will work just fine with it and your wallet won't suffer either.

My files,on my Google Drive ,may be of interest as much info is there for FREE,so look and download all you want so this good info does not get lost in my passing.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5ZIZLZV4AwIMFlYMTI5OTNlUTA

Offline backpackman

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2018, 06:17:59 PM »
Great files! Thanks!

Offline Carl

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2018, 05:51:02 AM »
Great files! Thanks!

Download and save them as many are not available any place else on the internet and this is a good start to an information file...I don't want it to have been a waste of 25 years of my 'collecting' files and have it get lost to time and the time will come that cancer and age will eventually win the fight I am in....I hope someone finds some good in the files.

Offline backpackman

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2018, 07:28:31 PM »
Will do Carl.

Fight on brother!

I did three connectors yesterday and three today with one in the hot attic. I am getting faster, but it takes me longer that should.

I had a weird issue in the attack. The stripping tool was cutting through the outer shield no matter what I did. I used the tool on the other two connections so am surprised this was an issue. I finally had to use a utility knife to remove the outer insulator. All the while, I am sweating my butt off.

But, I got it done. As soon as I receive some connectors, I will be good to go on an attic antennae.

Offline Greekman

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2018, 01:50:58 AM »
I have a back up plan to the stripper tool. A scalpel blade. Cuts so nice that i can control the process with ease. It is slow though.

Offline backpackman

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2018, 07:07:19 PM »
I have a back up plan to the stripper tool. A scalpel blade. Cuts so nice that i can control the process with ease. It is slow though.

I could not find my x-acto blade so used a box cutter. It worked well.

*attic in my previous post. Not attack. ;-)

Offline Greekman

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2018, 11:41:26 PM »
No...I use a real scalpel blade.

also, i do not know if it is correct, but after the first all around pass I just slightly bend the coax to see where the blade did not cut down enough.

Offline Carl

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2018, 06:00:41 AM »
  The device that you use is of little importance as long as the finished product is correct and performs....I have used whatever was sharp and handy for so many years I don't know that I could use the tool made for the job without much practice. Most often now,I use a replaceable blade razor knife and YES,I still get a cut now and then to DNA seal the work.

Offline backpackman

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #13 on: July 07, 2018, 11:32:45 AM »
Well, this is disappointing. I finally got a chance to test the connections. None of the connections passes a continuity check. It seems like I melted the insulator created a short. Needless to say, now I have to start over.

Since I do, I need to order some more connectors and reducers this time.

Are these the right reducers for Mini 8/U?

http://www.randl.com/shop/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=67123&osCsid=e8uth0p6fc3hdsfq7pi3du9eh6

Is this the referenced Silver Plated connector?

http://www.randl.com/shop/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=4000&products_id=26889&osCsid=e8uth0p6fc3hdsfq7pi3du9eh6

Offline Carl

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2018, 11:58:33 AM »
YES,those are what I use though if you are making a short jumper of 2 ,3 6 feet...the ready made jumpers from RandL are well done and soldered at the same cost as the components so I often order 'ready made lengths to save on my labor...the cable I also get is foam core from Rand L and the JETSTREAM brand,with the GREY jacket and I am not sure the GREY has anything to do with it ,but why change when you have a sure thing. ...I have had some in the air for over 25 years now and it still tests well on my analyzer...I always use silicon ,self vulcanizing,tape (AMAZON) to seal out the elements and it works well at the task for the last 15 years or so.

Offline backpackman

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #15 on: July 07, 2018, 05:47:11 PM »
My house was wired with Mini 8/U while building. I am putting connections on the ends between the office to junction box and junction box to the attic.  I did practice on some spare cable and thought I had it down so I tried on the cable ends sticking out of the wall junction boxes. When I went to test continuity, all the ends failed. The outer shields are shorted to the inner wire. 


Offline backpackman

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #16 on: July 07, 2018, 06:22:48 PM »
This appears to be a good training video on using the reducer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InBNyWI1-Ys

Offline Greekman

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #17 on: July 08, 2018, 12:52:29 AM »
NOW i know what you are talking about (I do not recall if I ever messed up with such a connector).

but i see no harm in pre-tining (covering with solder before the assembly) to the 3 holes' rims and at the tip. This should make soldering the coax much easier.

Offline backpackman

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #18 on: July 08, 2018, 06:22:51 PM »
I cut off one of the connectors just below the body and it was definitely shorted right there. What I cannot figure out is if the act of screwing down the connector on the wire did the damage or the heat from the soldering. If I have time, I will try and remove the solder from the holes and remove the wire from inside the connector. But, I probably won't have the time....

Offline Carl

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #19 on: July 08, 2018, 06:36:07 PM »
  The braid on the coax I use is very flexible and the tinning will stiffen and control it better...video is a good method to follow.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InBNyWI1-Ys

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #20 on: July 08, 2018, 08:18:33 PM »
Thanks for posting that how-to video Carl.  I liked the guy's on the fly measurements, "mark it with your thumbnail."  Fast and practical.

Offline backpackman

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2018, 05:53:18 PM »
OK. Stupid question time. When soldering into the holes, it looks like the guy sticks the solder tip into the hole and touches the braid and inner connector rather than heating up the body and melting the solder there. It also looks like (it is hard to see) that he is melting the solder against the tip. I thought that was not the correct method.

   

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #22 on: July 09, 2018, 06:36:28 PM »
I think he's heating the connector and melting the solder against the hot connector, but it's awfully hard to see in the video.  There was one comment that got me thinking however:
Quote
Nice video but the soldering iron (tip) that you're using is way too small. Looks like you've edited the time it takes to flow solder into the holes. The dielectric is melting while the connector gets hot enough to flow solder, and although your resistance test is good, it is only good for the low voltage of your multi-tester and not real rf voltages when you're running 100 watts or more. Arcing is a real possibility. Solder flow should occur within a few seconds or melting will occur.
Hm, maybe not as bad as the commenter says, but I'd still want to use a hotter iron and zap the solder in there faster.  Heats the coax dielectric less that way.

Offline Carl

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #23 on: July 09, 2018, 09:12:55 PM »
  You melt some solder on the tip of the iron to allow better contact and heat transfer to the work...the iron in use is very likely a 60 to 75 watt iron and it will work though I have always used a 100/140 watt Weller solder gun that I have had since I was in High School ...over 40 years ago. The object is to get the work hot and solder to flow as fast as possible , then get the connector to cool as quickly as you can so as to not melt the FOAM CORE INSULATION though the foam core is a bit more stable than the plastic used in lesser quality cables. I have also soldered PL-259's with a 40 watt equivalent butane powered torch/iron though much rather use the Weller 100/140 watt solder gun. AND you don't need to put solder in all four holes of the PL-259 as one or two holes is plenty.

Offline backpackman

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #24 on: August 19, 2018, 07:23:58 PM »
I have been quite busy lately (OK, busy, but also lazy) so I've been taking my time redoing all these connections between my office and the attic. I am cursing the guy who wired the new house to route wires from office to office junction box, to upstairs junction box, and upstairs box to attic. That means for each run, I need to do six connections (office wall, two in office, two upstairs and one in attic). At least he labeled the wires with numbers.

Recall that the first time around, the connections with built-in reducers all failed due to my soldering skills.

I got new connectors with Mini 8/u reducers, learned that a razor blade knife makes a better stripping tool and gotten better at soldering. And yet, one of the six connectors failed the continuity check. I learned that while trying to transmit and then went back to check every connection. I will have to redo it this week.

I am left wondering if cable runs are merely an exercise in frustration or I am just really bad at soldering. Probably the latter. **sigh**


Offline Carl

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Re: Soldering PL259 Connector
« Reply #25 on: August 20, 2018, 06:07:00 AM »


I am left wondering if cable runs are merely an exercise in frustration or I am just really bad at soldering. Probably the latter. **sigh**

I have been soldering PL 259 connectors for very nearly 50 years, I still check them after....and do still,on occasion,have to re-do one.