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Old 06-09-2020, 10:29 AM   #1
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VHF cable connector

I purchased two new commander tech antennas - they came with the pl259 connector attached. I need to pull the cable through the boat so will need to cut off and attach new.

Recommendations on attaching new? Is soldering required and or recommendations on the crimp style?

Pardon the ignorance on this one. Thx.
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Old 06-09-2020, 10:43 AM   #2
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The vids all seem to show soldering. I have a new antenna also. Guess I have to learn to solder. I also have to figure out why there's an L in "solder".
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Old 06-09-2020, 12:34 PM   #3
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These do fine with no soldering skills needed. Not as good as a solder type IMO but they're fine. Just don't get too rambunctious with the pliers.
https://www.amazon.com/Shakespeare-P.../dp/B00KOEPTM6
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Old 06-09-2020, 12:46 PM   #4
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I just installed two new antennas using the Shakespeare solderless connectors. Easy to install and I get great signal on both VHF and AIS. If you’re an experienced solderer with a good, high power solder gun, the soldered connectors are probably theoretically better. If you’re a regular guy with the typical underpowered solder gun, I’m thinking you’ll probably get better actual results with the solderless. Installation hint, splay out the cut end of the center conductor a little before inserting the pin; if you don’t do that, the pin pushes the conductor bundle off to one side, and you get less contact area.
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Old 06-09-2020, 01:10 PM   #5
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That's one of many the reasons I greatly prefer the antennas from Digital Antenna. They terminate with a mini-UHF connector, making it easy to run the cable, then screw into a normal PL259. Very slick.
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Old 06-09-2020, 02:00 PM   #6
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Hi Helgerso,

In my strictly personal opinion, albeit one nurtured by 45 working years amongst professional marine communications engineers and technicians, all advantages of high-quality VHF communications equipment are obviated by poor interconnections. If you cannot provide a true low-loss connection via high-quality coax and low-loss connectors, and protect them from the weather, you will most likely be disappointed with the results. Signal loss through bad terminations are evil!

Screw-on connections to coax cable simply cannot match the signal loss provided by PROPERLY soldered connectors, and then properly environmentally protected upon completion. If you lack the expertise to make such solder joints, I suggest you engage a competent marine electrician who can not only make such joints, but measure and confirm his work.

Not expensive, but well worth the effort in the long run.

Regards,

Pete
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Old 06-09-2020, 02:48 PM   #7
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I attempted to install a solderless connector last year. The process pierces the insulation layer of the coaxial cable and the vampire spike sits beside the solid copper core of the coaxial. It worked great....as long as the cable was oriented one way. IF moved just slightly, the weight of the cable pulled the core away from the vampire spike and connectivity was lost. I sat there having to hold the cable in my hand to keep a steady signal.

I replaced with a traditional and soldered it and never had another issue.
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Old 06-09-2020, 03:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shrew View Post
I attempted to install a solderless connector last year. The process pierces the insulation layer of the coaxial cable and the vampire spike sits beside the solid copper core of the coaxial. It worked great....as long as the cable was oriented one way. IF moved just slightly, the weight of the cable pulled the core away from the vampire spike and connectivity was lost. I sat there having to hold the cable in my hand to keep a steady signal.

I replaced with a traditional and soldered it and never had another issue.
Thatís an unfortunate result, one that I kind of half expected. Living in lightning central, I disconnect all my instrument cables when theyíre not in use, so theyíve seen lots of handling, and so far, so good. At the first sign of trouble, Iíll snip them off, buy a new high power solder gun (loaner never came back), and put on soldered connectors.
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Old 06-09-2020, 04:08 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jungpeter View Post
Hi Helgerso,

In my strictly personal opinion, albeit one nurtured by 45 working years amongst professional marine communications engineers and technicians, all advantages of high-quality VHF communications equipment are obviated by poor interconnections. If you cannot provide a true low-loss connection via high-quality coax and low-loss connectors, and protect them from the weather, you will most likely be disappointed with the results. Signal loss through bad terminations are evil!

Screw-on connections to coax cable simply cannot match the signal loss provided by PROPERLY soldered connectors, and then properly environmentally protected upon completion. If you lack the expertise to make such solder joints, I suggest you engage a competent marine electrician who can not only make such joints, but measure and confirm his work.

Not expensive, but well worth the effort in the long run.

Regards,

Pete
The Digitals have a justifiably long reputation for reliability and quality of performance. A cellular company I ran in Texas for a few years had a distribution division that among other industries served the offshore oil and gas companies. We once participated in a beauty show bidding process for various antennas, both VHF and cellular for both boats and fixed locations like rigs and onshore offices. They literally did a physical autopsy and rigorous electrical and RF performance evaluations on a wide selection of antennas. The Digitals passed with flying colors. 15 years later the ones deployed are still in service, according to the sales rep involved. The other company that passed muster, by the way, was Morad, which I am also a big fan of, but have not personally owned.

I certainly agree that a professionally soldered PL259 is much preferred over either an amateur job or a "push on" solution.
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Old 06-09-2020, 05:40 PM   #10
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Hi George,

Roger, roger to your reply. Although I'm not familiar with Digital antennas, I share your regard for the Morad line, which has a big following in the fishing fleets here in Seattle.

My main point, which I believe you seconded, was that properly soldered connections surpass solderless ones, particularly DIY assemblies that may, or may not allow the communications string (radio-coax-antenna) to "work" to their fullest extent. Those stupid pesky path losses certainly gang up on the actual ability of our VHF comms systems to communicate as far as we'd like!

Regards,

Pete
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Old 07-07-2020, 10:06 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by boomerang View Post
These do fine with no soldering skills needed. Not as good as a solder type IMO but they're fine. Just don't get too rambunctious with the pliers.
https://www.amazon.com/Shakespeare-P.../dp/B00KOEPTM6
I stuck out with this type. Couldnt get it to work.
Compass also strongly discourages their use. So I'm learning soldering. unbelievable headache just to connect your damn radio.
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Old 07-07-2020, 10:24 AM   #12
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I use the Shakespeare solderless connectors and they work just as well as soldering.

I tested both a solderless connector and a soldered connector on the same antenna with a Shakespeare ART 3 tester.

The VSWR (antenna efficiency) and output power was exactly the same with both soldered and solderless connectors.

One thing I noted was the difference in performance with an improperly soldered connection. Using a gas torch to solder produced a better solder connection than using a 300 watt soldering gun. The ART 3 comes in handy for checking the quality of the soldering.

And yes, a Digital Antenna VHF with the screw on connector is the best way to go. But for shorter runs it's still best to shorten the coax to reduce signal loss.
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Old 07-07-2020, 02:48 PM   #13
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I am not an electronics pro but I have ALWAYS soldered the connections.

I have FIXED enough goofy, poor connections for other people to never use a push on type connector.

Sure they will work in the short term, couple years, but long term they will cause trouble.

Get a decent iron, it won't be cheap and learn to do it.
The iron will be, mine is anyway, 60watts.. A weak kneeded, low wattage iron, will not heat the connector very quickly with a lot of heat bleeding to other areas which may damage the insulation.
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Old 07-07-2020, 04:22 PM   #14
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Another vote for soldering. I suspect the "solderless" type are recommended by some manufacturers because their customers get up and running with fewer problems and less need for tech / warranty support. And the real problem with solderless -- corrosion -- won't happen for a few months, and then only graudually, and by then it is less likely to be the manufacturer's problem.
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Old 07-07-2020, 04:53 PM   #15
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I've been using the Shakespeare solderless connectors since they came out 25 some years ago with absolutely no issues. My VHF is in the pilothouse so corrosion is not a factor.

I've encountered more issues with improperly soldered PL 259 on clients boats. Lots of "cold joints" from low wattage irons or hurried soldering and even the wrong solder.

Whether installing solder or solderless PL259, testing the power and antenna efficiency (VSWR) after completion with an antenna tester is always a good idea to verify a good connection. I test my antennas at the beginning of the season and a couple times during the summer. It has pointed out broken internal antenna leads, cable breaks and other problems on clients boats.

Every boater needs one in their tool box.
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Old 07-07-2020, 11:40 PM   #16
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Another vote for the Shakespeare crimp on connector. I test my installations with a meter like the one mentioned above, and have only had one that I had to redo. Iím guessing Iíve installed well over 500 of those connectors over the years.
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