Author Topic: Technical Portion of our Club Meeting Crimp vs. Solder connectors  (Read 168 times)

Offline DonC

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It's been quite some time since I've been on TSP! I've missed some of y'all! I've had a very crazy year with lots of ups and downs! But I've been reading a lot! So I'm not too far out of the loop. I pray everyone had a Merry Christmas and a great start to your New Year!

Well, we just had our 1st club meeting of the year! It was a business/technical meeting. However, it's the technical portion I am writing about this morning!

We had a demo regarding crimp vs. solder connectors. I'm almost certain this isn't the only article on here regarding the topic. But it may have been awhile. Now, I'm not going to debate which is better. That could be a debate for the ages. I will however share my opinion on the subject. I have made both. I have tested both. I have used both.

I was annoyed with the recent demo. So much so, that I went to my truck and got out a scrap piece of coax and a solder connector and etc. I was annoyed for a couple factors. 1st, the person's conducting the demo swore this is the way to go. It was "easier, stronger and faster!" I called B.S. on at least 2 of the 3. The 3rd, "faster" was debatable. Easier: not really except that you could add the connector with just 1 multi-tool. Stronger: Not even. I asked them to do a pull test on the connector. (Worry not, I replaced their connector). Their came apart after 15lbs of pull. The solder connector never came apart even after 25lbs of pull. Faster: well, if you add the time it took me to heat the iron, then yes, they beat me. Had I started the same time as them, it would've, at the least, been a tie. I used a cheap wire stripper, a soldering iron, solder, and some heat shrink. They used a couple of expensive DX Engineering wire cutting kits, a DX Engineering crimp tool, and some heat shrink. The one person ordered the crimp tool just for the demo, (more moeny than he knows what to do with). It took the both of them to put on 2 connectors on a 30' roll of RG8 coax. Seriously, it took them near 50 minutes to finish. Anyway, I thought I'd share as I was taught to use solder connectors. Again, I'm not against crimp connectors. In a pinch, (no pun intended), they can get you on the air and relatively quickly. But given my preference, I think y'all know where I stand. What's your preference?

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Technical Portion of our Club Meeting Crimp vs. Solder connectors
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2019, 12:52:25 PM »
I've always used solder, and my gut feeling has always been that it's better.  I've seen too many non-solder connections go bad in salt water environments, even on simple things like 12v boat running light wiring.  So it gives me a little bit of gratification to see that your soldered connector held on past 25 lbs in the pull test.  I'd use either one, though I know that without any special tools beyond a sharp pocket knife and a soldering iron I can get by in the field.

But I'm a total hypocrite on this wrt PowerPole connectors.  I just crimp and go, and so far everything has worked out fine.

As a side note, I remember when SC Wolverine interviewed this couple who have a cable manufacturing business (MPD Digital?  I may mis-remember) a few years back.  They do custom work, as well as bulk orders to government agencies.  According to them, hams vastly prefer to have their cables soldered, while the DoD always specifies crimping.  They didn't know any reasons for this, and said they worked equally well.  Presumably the DoD has done field testing, but if so I've never heard anything about it.  It does make me re-think my "solder only" ways though.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Technical Portion of our Club Meeting Crimp vs. Solder connectors
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2019, 09:14:22 AM »
I've always used solder, and my gut feeling has always been that it's better.  I've seen too many non-solder connections go bad in salt water environments, even on simple things like 12v boat running light wiring.  So it gives me a little bit of gratification to see that your soldered connector held on past 25 lbs in the pull test.  I'd use either one, though I know that without any special tools beyond a sharp pocket knife and a soldering iron I can get by in the field.

But I'm a total hypocrite on this wrt PowerPole connectors.  I just crimp and go, and so far everything has worked out fine.

As a side note, I remember when SC Wolverine interviewed this couple who have a cable manufacturing business (MPD Digital?  I may mis-remember) a few years back.  They do custom work, as well as bulk orders to government agencies.  According to them, hams vastly prefer to have their cables soldered, while the DoD always specifies crimping.  They didn't know any reasons for this, and said they worked equally well.  Presumably the DoD has done field testing, but if so I've never heard anything about it.  It does make me re-think my "solder only" ways though.

For powerpoles and crimping in general, the medium being crimp matters a lot.  If you have quality silicon 12awg wires, that crimps amazingly better than stiffer or thinner wires/insulation.
Often I attach powerpoles to DC pole connectors for various accessories, and I frequently end up adding solder to thicken up the wire gauge.  After crimping I heat up and again and let the solder flow a bit.

For coax, more than a few times I've come into cheap or free runs of cable that were missing an end or had severe corrosion.  Once I'd cut off the corroded portion, and found shiny copper shielding, I figure it's worth trying.  If you are working with various types of coax that vary in thickness and insulation material, I think you're better off soldering.  On the other hand, if you also use a given coax and connector type, are frequently building cables, there's likely a reliable crimping process that can be developed.