Crimping vs Soldering

For a couple of years now I’ve been somewhat suspicious of a coaxial connection at the base of the tower. My auto tuners often covered up any issues and SWR checks often didn’t spot anything amiss.images-2

And then in the middle of a contest usually in the midst of a winter blizzard around midnight I’d get wonky SWR readings. Dawning boots over pyjamas I’d trudge out to the tower with two vice grips in hand and give the coaxial fittings another crank and all would be well.

Knowing this was not a solution, I bought a crimping kit at Dayton this year. It’s sat in a drawer now for a month. Well last night I thought I was having issues with the connection to the beam again so I dragged out my antenna analyzer and sure enough there was a 4:1 SWR showing up.

Thinking I’d just checkout what was needed to do a crimp job I opened my crimping tool box, went online to get a page of instructions and marched out to the tower base.crimping_tool_kit.161134148

I won’t bore you with the details but folks crimping is the solution especially when you’re working on LMR-400 which has a mylar inner shield which melts under the heat of a soldering iron.

The whole crimping job took a 1/10th of the time it would have taken to solder the joint.

Normally I’d have to drag 75′ of heavy-duty extension cord out to the tower. I’ve got a massive roofing soldering iron which takes 20 minutes to heat and almost an hour to cool off. Using a knife to prepare the coax is both inefficient and dangerous as there’s a lot of force needed to cut some coax cables.images

The crimping kit I bought for $100 rips though coax like it was string. The cutters are very good and the crimper is easy to use.

Went back to the shack and the SWR is now 1:1.5 or so at 7030 dropping to a low point at 7080 or so. very cool.

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About Peter West

I am retired. I'm invested into bike riding, guitar playing, yoga and Ham Radio. I am a former photojournalist, newspaper and magazine editor and public relations practitioner with national, regional and local experience. A long-time member of Toastmasters International and an active Amateur Radio (Ham) operator here in Canada I am taking on new challenges.

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