Solderless or solder more?

Yesterday I was putting plugs on an Ecoflex10 coax cable. I’ve been doing this for years, and I know how to solder. From tiny SMD IC’s to beefy copper rain guttersĀ  šŸ™‚Ā  For PL-style connectors on serious cable like Aircom+ or Ecoflex10 I prefer the ‘high end’ PL’s with rubber sealing and a real nut (picture). The other end of the cable has to be a N-plug. Normally I do my RF shopping online but I picked up one of these a few months ago while I was in a local store (local = 70km away). I didn’t see it there or I wouldn’t have bought it but the label said ‘solderless’. No soldering needed. I wanted to give it a shot since the cable will be on the ground. I would NEVER use this thing way up in the tower or other hard to reach places.

Preparing the cable and mounting it is the same procedure as the normal soldering type (I found that here). But you just squeeze the pin over the inner conductor. It went wrong already there. I had to cut a few millimeters off. This made the strands of the inner conductor shift places, making the effective overall diameter a bit larger. That phenomenon also makes mounting soldered pins hard, but this time it was a PITA. I tightened the strands back together with a small plier. When the pin finally slid over the inner conductor, I could mount the outer shell. But I had pushed too hard (the infamous crushing ON5ZO-muscles) to try to get the pin over the inner conductor. Result: the bottom side of the pin had split open. I tried to close it with the pliers and ended up giving it just a lick of solder.

The cable passed the ‘beep test’ for a short circuit. Testing the cable with the antenna analyzer and a dummy load did not reveal a problem either. Now I only need to see if the pin holds at 1kW RF. I really prefer soldered plugs! Talking about my antenna analyzer:

I’ve been a happy user of a CIA HF for years. I did a long time with a set of 8 batteries. The next set of batteries was exhausted very fast. I blamed the presumably mediocre quality and replaced it with a high quality brand of batteries. Same story. I discovered that for some reason, the CIA HF powers itself on. Then after the idling time, it switches off (“battery saving”), only to switch itself on right away. This cycle goes on and on while the device is stored away in between usage, until the batteries are worn out.
Other than this, the device functions just fine. Only it switches itself on when you switch it off. The ‘feel’ of the button is still the same when you press it. Is this a known phenomenon, and if so: is there a cure for it?

Here’s the answer I got from AEA Tech Support only 90 minutes later:

Yes, we have seen this problem with ageing units that have been out in the field for long periods of time. There are different problems that can cause the symptoms you describe such as a damaged pass transistor or more likely an ageing keypad.

Aging unit? I think I bought it in 2002, maybe late 2001. Out in the field for a long time? Boy it has done a lot of measuring here, in freezing snow storms to heat waves! I’ve been using the unit with a small power supply adapter in the garage where the coax enters the house and where there’s 230V available. But this makes field testing impossible. And an antenna needs to be analyzed at its feedpoint, not 30-50m away. Now what?

I finally found an online source for stainless steel hex key bolts where I can order in small quantities. No need to buy a box of 200 or 500 pieces. Today they delivered, but one out of four sizes I ordered was missing. The shipping bill says they’re in the box but they arent. Yet another mail out the door…

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