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Short Takes #26: Cables, Coax, Connectors and Kooks

Discussion in 'Trials and Errors - Ham Life with an Amateur' started by W7DGJ, May 29, 2024.

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  1. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Join us for discussion on any topic here, regarding the current Short Takes issue on cables, or another of your choice. What experiences have you had with coax and connectors? Are top brands like M&P worth the extra expense? If you haven't seen the article, it is linked here. Thanks, Dave W7DGJ
     
  2. KL7KN

    KL7KN Ham Member QRZ Page

    What connectors do I use?
    Amphenol.
    Period.
    All the RF cables used in my portable set up use the UG-88()/U improved BNC connectors. Co$t - about $6, shop around as prices vary wildly by vendor.

    PL-259 w/reducer, ditto. Again, vendor drive end price. This for my fixed station gear.

    Adapters -- PL-259 to BNC-F - ditto. BTW- have your heart medicine at hand when buying adapters, Amphenol brand adapters are not the least bit inexpensive. For most ARS ops, this is a onsey-twossy buy for a single radio. Most QRP rigs are BNC or RCA already.

    Why Amphenol? Consistent quality. Bonus - they publish how to correctly build the connector documents for new radio techs. (amphenolrf.com/library/download/link/link_id/591606/parent/083-822/)
    ****

    I've found that the BNC improved connectors are easily repaired in the field if the cable gets pulled out of the connector. I guess you can say - buy once, cry once. Paying for quality is almost always the best choice.

    BTW, Dave, none of my RF cables are "oxygen free", just RG8X,
     
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  3. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Great comments Don. Agree that when it comes to these adaptors and connectors, spending a few extra bucks for the best is well worth it. Thanks for the update and helpful info, Dave W7DGJ
     
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  4. AA7FR

    AA7FR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Dave,

    I have to agree with the post above, it is hard to beat Amphenol. You do get what you pay for...sometimes.

    There is a lot of, oh, I believe the term is "snake oil" out there. Oxygen free cables are one of them. I really see it in the tube arena as I work on a lot of tube equipment. We call the peeps that fall for these things "audiophools". Things like cryogenically frozen tubes being better, um, they are not except for the wallet of the seller. Do these peeps have cryo tanks in their house before selling them? Or one of my favourites, "damper rings" to put around your tubes to prevent microphonics from vibration. They are an o-ring and do nothing to prevent that issue, except they charge 13 USD for a pair. In fact, they can interfere with cooling.

    I just use normal cables for audio and AR, never had an issue, everything works fine. Speaker cables? I go to a local thrift store, get long two conductor extension cords for cheap and use those, they are copper and work fine. RF coax? I have to admit I have a preference for LMR-400, I just spend a little extra to get a good brand as I like having copper braid. It is kind of interesting as a few I know that have tried some of the cheaper connectors or other "snake oil" remedies actually damaged their equipment in the end. Yeah, you saved a pound or two, but having to send whatever you have off for repair just negated that savings, yes? I honestly think Ebay is the worst offender in selling the garbage that many try.

    This is a topic I could really go on about, the rubbish I have seen, but I made my opinion known I suppose. My condition to anyone before I work on their equipment is that I will not cut corners. The garbage you got off of Ebay or whatever made at the People's glorious electronics factory #5 in China that you got for me to install or repair your item with; it is not going to be used. I will research your proposal it and if it is viable I will get the part(s) from a company I trust. Sure, that puts some in their feels, but most appreciate that approach.

    Whew...I feel better now. Have a great day, Dave. 73

    Tony AA7FR
     
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  5. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Tony, happy to have your comments to add here . . . we've both seen the weird side of "upgraded" cables and connectors. I hope others will join us so that new hams know to stay away from the eBay (and Amazon sometimes) junk products. Dave, W7DGJ.
     
  6. K7JQ

    K7JQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Your article brings back memories of my semi-serious audiophile days back in the 1970's. I took a job as manager at a regional audio store chain back in Philadelphia called Wall to Wall Sound. We sold audio equipment of various price levels. The Japanese brands you mentioned plus Sansui, a BSR turntable, and high-profit 'house brand' speakers were the best sellers for those just wanting to hear good bass and 'OK' midrange and treble;). At home, I had a Marantz 2270, Dual turntable, and JBL speakers.

    Ahh yes, Monster Cables came out I believe in the late 70's, and proceeded to suck people's wallets dry. They certainly looked good, but a minimum of actual better performance to the untrained ears of the general public. Whatever the market would bear.

    Regarding ham radio when dealing with RF, especially high power, decent quality coax and connectors (preferably Amphenol) for outside runs are a must to minimize problems down the road. It doesn't pay to cheapen out there. For indoor patch cables at low power between switches and xcvr to amp, I haven't had any problems using RG8X with pre-attached connectors from various sources.

    73, Bob K7JQ
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2024
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  7. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hey Bob, good post, thanks! I remember Wall to Wall Sound very well -- went to Japan with one of the owners. Same trip, Crazy Eddie from New York. When I worked retail, it was with Tokyo Shapiro, the "Wall to Wall" type retailer out of Ohio. Our big sellers were Sherwood receivers, EPI speakers (which started as our house brand and then went national), Technics turntables and AT cartridges. Regards, Dave
     
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  8. K7JQ

    K7JQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Dave,
    Yeah, the owner of WTW was last name Dion. Eddie Antar ran into legal problems. Both out of business in the early 80's. The whole retail landscape has radically changed with the evolution of internet ordering and the rise of Amazon in particular. And COVID really cemented things.

    When I moved to AZ in 1992, I worked for Circuit City, a major national entertainment retailer. They went under when they stopped commission sales people and dropped major appliances. And out here Ultimate Electronics dropped out from some shady financial business. Surprised Best Buy is still around.

    You heard of the term "Showrooming"? Going to a brick-and-mortar store to physically see a product and talk to a salesperson. Then buy it online somewhere else cheaper:rolleyes:.

    73, Bob K7JQ
     
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  9. KE8QEP

    KE8QEP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Crazy Eddie His Prices Are INSANE!
     
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  10. WB4LAL

    WB4LAL XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Wow. Working retail AV in the 70s an 80s, saw all those Claims to performance cables. Never could prove it to myself. Now I get catalogs with $600 AC cables...from wall to ur equip, make difference? LOL
    Good article Dave. TY 73
    Ike WB4LAL
     
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  11. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks for the nice comment Ike. So many of us had similar ways that we grew up . . . Dave
     
  12. K8PG

    K8PG QRZ Lifetime Member #333 Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    I only use Amphenol RF connectors .

    I worked for Radio Shack when I first
    got out of the Navy- Distract Manager
    for Detroit Area.
    Their PL259 connectors WHERE JUNK.
    RG 8 / 58/59
    Coax was Trash too.

    K8PG Paul Morse Music
     
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  13. W7DGJ

    W7DGJ Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    In that era, they were heavily importing Chinese stuff. Probably the cause, but you would know more than me Paul, Dave
     
  14. KB0TTL

    KB0TTL XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've been doing this for a while, and have purchased some good connectors and some not so good connectors over the years. I'm not loyal to any brand name as of yet, but those Amphenol connectors look good. While I typically won't stretch a dollar until it screams, I will admit to doing my share of bargain hunting at hamfests. Most of the connectors and jumpers that I got from QickSilver and Tower Electronics seem to withstand the test of time. A lot of the stuff I have purchased off of Amazon and AliExpress has turned out to be sub-standard, however, a good many of my online purchases from these outfits have proven to be worthwhile. If nothing else, this article gives even experienced HAMs something to shoot for. Thanks for raising the bar.
     
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  15. K0TWA

    K0TWA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

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