Monday, September 1, 2008

How to install a PL-259 (UHF) Connector with common tools

We took some raw footage in an attempt to put together a video to be used in conjunction with the hamcram and to put on youtube. Till that's done being edited, this is some stills and notes.

There are a few decently edited video's on youtube on how to install the common PL-259 connector. What seems notably absent is the explanation of tools to get a good heat transfer and to get a good looking solder job on the braid holes.

The best documentation I've see is the article on eham, but he uses a non-common 80 watt Weller, but also note his modified tip! If your read the comments from other, some use the two iron method that I will attempt to further describe.

It is rare to find a soldered one done decently. I think most hams simply do not put the time or money in the biggest part of the performance equation, which is the feedline and antenna. This explains why most installs are not grounded, which does far more than provide lightening protection. The performance of an antenna system and it's ability to radiate an efficient signal is directly related to RF grounding. A shoddy soldered braid is mistake number one.

Note: If you cannot solder the connectors correctly, I do believe you are better off with a decent crimp connector, such as RF industries. Larger diameter cable, especially LMR-400 with the aluminum foil is increasingly more difficult to solder properly. Consider buying crimping tools if you do more than a few connectors a year, it will be well worth it.

Start off with two Radio Shack 40 watt irons (64-2071). The solder should he 60/40 rosin core, .062 diameter. You'll also need a pliers and course file.

For most people, soldering the center conductor is not an issue. The trick to obtain proper heat transfer so that the braid holes is to clip the point off the soldering iron using a pliers, and file it a bit so that the iron fits in the braid hole.

The reason for two 40 watt irons is because honestly 40 watts isn't enough. But it's pretty hard to do these with a gun. The iron will go cold when soldering the connector neck's braid holes. This is due to the heat sinking action of all the metal.

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