Why Can't I Solder a PL 259?

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by K7EHT, Oct 12, 2009.

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  1. AC0FP

    AC0FP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Crimp connectors are very good if you use quality connectors like Amphenol. I have seen RG58 cables with BNC connectors last for over twenty years. This is what is used in commercial settings.

    I have a $20 crimping tool I got at the local ham store which does RG58 & RG59/RG-8X cables. Another $20 will get you a crimper with "dies" that does RG-8 size cable.

    73,
     
  2. NA0AA

    NA0AA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Several tips that seem to work for ME:

    Always pre-tin the braid on RG-8/213 size cable. If I cannot get the braid to lie flat, I tin, then use a flat bar and edge of table to 'roll' the thing down so it fits inside the connecter.

    I use a spritz of WD-40 on the threads to make them easier to screw on the coax. [large coax]

    I use a 140 watt weller gun successfully, but you do have to heat the heck out of the connecter - I used to worry a lot about this and had bad connections....but since I now test every connection with the VOM, I've never melted one into a short. I strongly recommend you do this - if you test after putting on BOTH connectors, then you will guess wrong on which one is shorted 90% of the time, doubling your connector waste.

    Somtimes I will slip the center pin of the connector into a socket to try and keep it straight if the center insulator gets 'soft'....

    Ideally, I use a rag soaked in denatured alcohol to cool the fittings down after soldering, but do it w/out moving the wire lest the insulation be in a semi-liquid condition. This also takes off any residual flux and cleans the pin as well. You will only pick up a freshly soldered, hot connector ONCE.

    I try to buy silver plated connectors, but if you have to use cheaper ones, you need to at least take a file to the margins of the braid holes to give you a fighting chance of getting it to take solder. You could also use a drill bit to ream out the holes if necessary.

    Practice! Honestly, I did not get good until the day I did 20 of them right after another.

    I admit to being tempted by crimp-on connectors, but since I usually do them in the comfort of the shack and not standing 100' up a tower in minus 30 degree F. weather....

    Frankly, the PL connector does not phase me...surface mount components DO.
     
  3. K7EHT

    K7EHT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks again for the good advice. First of all, I returned my soldering gun to Sears. I'm going to order a Weller soon, as they seem to be the industry standard. I'm also looking to order a bunch of Ampherol connectors. :cool:

    I haven't dabbled too much into surface mount components but I'm sure I'll be back with more problems when I do.;)
     
  4. AB6DA

    AB6DA Ham Member QRZ Page

    I threw away the soldering iron a long time ago and switched to a small butane torch. It's about the size of a cigarette lighter. It works great.
     
  5. K7MH

    K7MH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Nope...not true...not true at all!! :eek::D
     
  6. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Don't feel too bad. I'm an old geezer and I pretty much resort to a blow torch to get those soldered.....or forego the soldering altogether...just cram the braid into the thing in a wad and screw it down....usually works. :)
     
  7. VK2TIL

    VK2TIL Ham Member QRZ Page

    EHT; you mentioned a soldering "iron" in your original post but a "gun" in your later post.

    Guns are not the best tool for soldering '259s (or any heavy soldering).

    You need a large lump of copper for a tip/bit; it's surprising how much heat a large copper tip can hold. I used to use a plumber's iron heated over a gas flame many years ago; it worked very well.

    The modern equivalent is a 200-watt or so electric iron; not a gun.

    Get it to full temperature and it will transfer heat to the job very quickly. If you work quickly the connector doesn't have time to overheat; if you are slow, if the tip is not large or if it's not hot enough you will damage the connector and/or the cable.
     
  8. K7EHT

    K7EHT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've heard this numerous times, so I guess I ought to start paying attention :p

    Also, I had never paid attention to the difference between and soldering iron and a soldering gun. Okay, here's a question: which model iron/gun should I order? Link me to an iron and I will drop the cash right now :)
     
  9. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page


    From the Opus. :D


    ".......
    Now, back in the olden days, soldering irons were frightful beasts. They resembled medieval maces as much as anything. They had a huge five-pound blob of copper you heated over your wood stove (or gas stove, if you were really high-falutin’), which held the heat long enough for you to march across the floor, down the stairs, and across the basement to your work bench. You could probably do about thirty solder connections before they cooled off enough to need reheating, whereupon you’d have to march back across the basement, up the stairs, into the kitchen, and repeat the process all over again. In the olden days, hams got their exercise by marching all over creation with red hot, five-pound soldering irons. You weren’t as likely to die of hardening of the arteries, but you had a better chance of burning your foot off....."


    Eric
     
  10. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    You should NOT buy a gun for connector assembly. Check out Weller's line of irons designed for use by stained glass hobbyists. They make an 80-watt iron that has a massive tip that's perfect for PL-259s. They also make a 100 watt in the same basic size, and one larger than that.

    I still like my old American Beauty, though. It's a beast, but I've never made a bad connector with it.

    Don't just "drop the cash". Go to a hardware / electrical supply store and hold the various irons. See what feels right, or at least "best". If you get the one that's right for you, you'll be using it for a LONG time. I bought my American Beauty fifty years ago. The Weller is a great smaller iron, though.
     
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