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. KR2D

    KR2D Ham Member QRZ Page

    That is good advice. The massive tip is the key to soldering PL-259s.

    High watt soldering guns get hot fast, but the tip is very small and doesn't hold a lot of heat energy. The PL-259 has much more mass than the tip, so it sucks the heat out, and the tip goes cold before you can get any work done.

    An iron with a massive tip holds a lot of heat energy. If the tip has more mass than the PL-259, it will not cool quickly and you will be able to solder the braid in a few seconds. The iron will take longer to heat up, but it stays hot, and that's the important thing.

    My big iron is a 75 watt Lenk. It has an enormous copper tip. It takes a good 15 minutes to get to soldering temperature. Once hot, it will solder the first PL-259 hole in less than 5 seconds, and each subsequent hole takes 2 seconds. The job is done before I have time to ruin the connector or coax.
  2. KB5PN

    KB5PN Ham Member QRZ Page

    LOL, I love that one!!!!:D:D
  3. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Notwithstanding some very good tips, there's a good alternative to soldered PL259s for RG58 cable. Amphenol has been making pn 83-58FCP-RFX plugs for many years. They call these "field crimp plugs", and are the plugs are installed with ordinary hand tools (no special crimping tool is required). Mouser sells them as stock number 523-83-58FCP-RFX. Price = $2.34 ea, qty = 1 to 9. The cost is very close to that of an 83-1SP plug + UG175 adapter.

    How well do they work? For grins, I assembled one, hooked the plug in the jaws of my bench vise, and pulled on the coax until something let go. The cable broke outside of the connector. That's the only failure Ive had in 20+ years. Save the soldering for the larger cables! :D

    Bryan WA7PRC
  4. KC9FSH

    KC9FSH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I highly recommend not doing this. When I was first licensed I picked up a bunch of second hand coax from another ham and this was the way that they did the connectors. After a year or two of using the coax I started noticing some issues with my station and figured out that it was the bad connection between the braid and connector. After removing the old connectors and redoing them the proper way the issues went away.

    Here's how I put on PL-259's. Everyone has their own way.
    I use liquid flux on the braid then tin all of the braid that is exposed. This doesn't take long. After letting it cool off I will put the connector on and add a little more flux around the holes in the connector, after touching my iron to it for a few seconds the shield heats up and if you just add a little more solder it will flow very nicely between the shield and the connector. After you solder the braid and center pin to the connector use a ohm meter to make sure that you didn't short anything out. Believe me it's much easier to do this after doing each connector rather than just doing it once at the end and then having to figure out which connector is bad. Not that I've ever done that or anything...
  5. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well, I'm also in the "don't solder the braid" school. Occasionally, if I feel like a perfectionist, I'll put a few drops of solder in the holes, but I don't really think it does much good.

    In fact, when I'm being really lazy, sometimes I just run all of the braid through one of the holes, and then tighten down the reducer. That's right, it's non-symetrical inside there, and the purists would explain that I've totally messed up the impedance of the coax, etc. More importantly, it's probably a mechanical weak spot.

    But it works fine on HF.

    For the center conductor, I always cut it longer than necessary, so that there's a nice long piece sticking out before I start soldering. That seems to make it a lot easier to wick the solder inside, and when I'm finished I cut it flush with the end of the connector. Occasionally, there's a little blob that needs to be filed away, but the wire cutters usually take care of it.

    I have no idea if this is the "right" way to do it, but it's more than adequate for HF.
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