Installing the PL259 Connector

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As a amateur radio operator, sooner or later the time will come when you need to install a PL259 connector on some coaxial cable. This need not be a daunting task. Assuming by this point, you have some basic soldering skills, let me show you some of the hints I have acquired over the years.

Use a good quality 60/40 .062 dia resin core solder. Some wish to use additional solder paste. If you do, make sure it is non-corrosive. Personally, I have found the resin core flux sufficient. I use a Weller model 8200 100/140 watt solder gun. Some prefer an iron. If you do as well, make sure it is no lower than 80 watts. When working with 100′ or so of cable, you will need that kind of heat.

Preparing the Cable

There are several sites where you can obtain physical details for this connector. Just do a Google search for “PL259 Dimensions”. You can also use a toothpick to slide in the connector in order to determine the various depths required.

First thing (this is important) remember to slide the outer shell piece onto the cable. After doing a lovely installation, you do not want to find this lonely shell sitting on the work bench. Using a sharp knife (at this point, it is a good idea to be wearing safety gloves) slice around the cable jacket, being careful not to knick the shield underneath. Then slice the jacket from the cut to the end of the cable. This way you won’t be disturbing the shield wires by twisting off the cut piece of jacket.

Remember I said not to disturb the shield wire? Well here is where you are going to save a lot of headache. You are now going to heat your soldering gun/iron and tin the entire exposed shield. Do not put an excessive amount of solder on the shield. You should be able to still see the braid pattern when finished. If you don’t, too much solder has been applied and the cable may not slide into the connector. Don’t overwork this step as you do not want to melt the jacket or the sleeve. If need be, take a break and let the applied solder cool. Once you are satisfied and the solder has cooled, it is time to cut the section out. Refer to your dimensions and mark the spot. Put on your work gloves and cut around the tinned braid, being careful not to knick the center conductor. Remove the cut piece. Avoid twisting. You do not want to disturb the center conductor either. Once you complete this step, you will see the advantage of this preparation. There will be no loose braid to short out the connection and you have a pre-tinned work surface.

The next step is to physically install the connector onto the cable. Check again for the outer shell. Is it correctly placed on the cable? You will see by the above image, I have allowed for the outer jacket to be threaded onto the connector. Too often I have seen braid showing at the end of an installed connector. This is incorrect. You want a strong physical assembly before we begin soldering. Now some cable jackets make twisting the connector by hand very difficult, especially LMR-400. To make this easier, take some electrical tape and wrap 6 – 8 turns around the connector as shown in the next image. You will now use a pair of vise-grip pliers to twist the connector onto the jacket. Just be sure to adjust the visegrips to just enough pressure to prevent slippage. The reason for the tape, is to prevent the jaws damaging the connector shell.

As you proceed with this step, you will see the center conductor appear at the tip and the shield will now be visible through the holes of the connector shell. Remove the vise grips and the tape. Your connector should now look like this.

I believe, following these steps will not only make the final soldering task much easier, but the connection will be sound.

I hope you find these hints helpful. If you have, please let me know by commenting. Good luck.

73,
Paul, VE3EBY

 

Where to Begin with Powerpole Connectors

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Powerpole® connectors have become very popular in recent years because of their adaptability to so many applications. They also allow an interchangeable option when faced with so many different manufactured products. The most notable use of these connectors has been with ARES activities. When time is of the essence and an item goes down, you want to be able to make a quick switch and be back on the air.

Another useful application is Field Day. If you have ever experienced this activity, you know the saying, “what can go wrong, will go wrong”. With all the stations operating with common interconnect ability, down time will be minimized.

What about your own station? I recently purchased some bags of connectors and a crimp tool in order make life easier at my humble station.

You can definitely solder these pins (as seen in the video I reference at the bottom of the article) but this tool makes a very clean install, since it is specifically designed for this product. I took a look at what I should approach first and here is the outcome.

Be sure to follow the standard alignment of the red and black casing, in order to be compatible with others. You never know when you might want to share equipment for fun or testing etc. Here are some reference materials to make sure you get things right.

ARES/RACES Standard DC Power Connector
ARRL Installation Tips 

I made a short harness for the 12 VDC, 7 Amp/HR SLAB. Then a fuse harness and connector for the FT-817ND. The advantage of the fuse harness is its quick interchangeability for other applications.

The last step in this project was to attach the Powerpole® connectors to the battery charger harness. This allows quick connect/disconnect.

This is a simple example of how you can make life easier around your station. I am sure if you take a look around your shack, you can come up with a myriad of uses for this product. If you do, be sure to let me know.

Finally, I suggest you watch this fine video on the Powerpole® product by Randy, K7AGE. I have placed it in a post here. It covers a lot more than I have in this short post.

73,
Paul, VE3EBY