Proper VHF ends are easier than you think

My soldering skills are marginal at best, and as a result I have used crimp-on VHF ends for the last 10+ years. While not wanting to admit this, I finally was chatting with some radio-savvy friends of mine, and they were aghast that I had even considered using one of these abominations. So I set out to learn a better alternative without having to be a world-class solderer, or have someone do it for me.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Don’t you just hate it when folks comment on a 5 year-old post? :slight_smile:

It’s still a good article, though - those abominable “solderless” PL-259 connectors make my hair stand up just thinking about them. I spent a lot of years in the 2-way radio business, and putting on connectors properly was a necessary skill - no matter what kind of cable or connector. Nothing makes a mega-buck radio perform worse than a lousy cable and/or antenna (and its usually the cable/connectors).

One comment - though the subject is long gone, the connector pictured at the base of your masthead halfwave vertical is also suspect - it isn’t weather sealed at all, the exterior has turned black, and the PL-259 isn’t weather sealed anyway. If I found such a connector on my boat, it would be cut away and replaced immediately. I would also check the cable for water intrusion, and replace it if there was any sign (generally any visible corrosion on the shield braid or center conductor). I just replaced an 80’ run of RG-8X from my masthead to the nav station antenna demarcation panel. The tape seal at the masthead had failed, allowing water into the shield braid - to my amazement, water had penetrated the entire length of the cable (including a 6’ rise from the mast base to the panel)! Needless to say, I spent a LOT more time sealing the replacement (1/4" Superflex hardline).

A device that makes it easy to diagnose such issues is called a Vector Network Analyzer - and while “pro” versions cost mega-bux, there are very inexpensive (and small!) versions out now that work very well for sniffing out problems with simple networks like a cable/antenna setup. These “NanoVNA” devices like This One on Amazon can tell you if the problem is at the bottom, middle or top of your coax run, or if the antenna just isn’t getting it done. A more user-friendly version is an MFJ-225, but the cost is about 8X!

S/V Atsa

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