PL-259 connectors.

K4EET

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Mainly because manufacturers put SO-239 connectors on ham equipment since from 1.6 MHz to 30 MHz, those connectors exhibit good characteristics and mate nicely with various sizes of coax (RG-8. RG-8X, RG-58, RG-213, etc.) given the correct barrel (if one is needed).
 

Tech21

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What would you replace it with?
I'm just curious more than anything. In my current job, I come across the occasional old work that was run with rg-8 and terminated with pl-259's. Just about every time, the original cable run was garbage. Cable runs that are entirely too long for the cable type, cable running directly on ceiling tiles with a rats nest thrown in for good measure. Cable just being tossed across a roof to be blown around and what not. It's almost guaranteed that the connector wasn't even put on correctly. Just complete crap work. When you get curious and ask who did the work, it tends to be the "Oh, had my buddy do it a few years ago, he's a "ham guy" and knows a lot about this stuff."

I know the connector has it's uses, but now I just associate with somebodies garbage work.
 

KC4YIN

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QUOTE: . It's almost guaranteed that the connector wasn't even put on correctly. Just complete crap work. When you get curious and ask who did the work, it tends to be the "Oh, had my buddy do it a few years ago, he's a "ham guy" and knows a lot about this stuff."

So you're saying hams don't know how to do proper work?
 

fxdscon

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I know the connector has it's uses, but now I just associate with somebodies garbage work.
Any type of coax, with any type of connectors that is installed with those sub-standard methods/practices/workmanship/planning would be considered "garbage work". Believe me when I tell you, when you've been doing it long enough... you see it all throughout the industry. Nothing at all specific to "ham guys".... Not in the LEAST!

.
 

ko6jw_2

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Many hams that I know have never attached an N connector and can't solder a PL-259 to save their lives. N connectors are much easier to attach, somewhat weather resistant and constant impedance. They are more expensive. I think the ham radio community needs to pressure radio manufacturers to switch.
 

Tech21

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Many hams that I know have never attached an N connector and can't solder a PL-259 to save their lives. N connectors are much easier to attach, somewhat weather resistant and constant impedance. They are more expensive. I think the ham radio community needs to pressure radio manufacturers to switch.
I am glad the part of the industry I deal with is all n-type, with the occasional 7/16 DIN connector depending on the cable size going up the tower. When you're dealing with public safety or commercial customers, skimping on the cable or connector is absolutely not an option.
 

mmckenna

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PL-259 = Shielded banana plug.

Yeah, PL-259's are cheap and easy to install. For HF, 2 meter and even 70cm, they are 'good enough' for most hobbyists. Used to see them more frequently in the commercial world, but it's becoming rare. Passive InterModulation (PIM), higher frequencies, etc. have all lead to the need for higher spec connectors on the commercial side. The only UHF connectors I install at work are for mobile VHF/UHF radios. All our 800MHz mobiles have N connectors. 7-16 is pretty common on the 800MHz gear for combiners and antennas.

I don't think anyone is necessarily bad mouthing hams, most of us are hams originally. But, there is a certain level of work you see in 90% of the ham community, and it's pretty easy to recognize. Then there's the 10% or so that do higher quality work. Nothing wrong with that. For hobby use, if it's works, it works. On the commercial side, crappy installs lead to call backs, usually late at night, in the rain, and when you'd much rather be sleeping. Never seen a ham out repairing a radio at 3am….
 

iMONITOR

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Back in the CB hay day I hated PL-259 coax connectors. I thought I was fairly good at soldering but I was never proud of my work on PL-259's. The ones I saw suposedly done my professionals either got too hot and ended up melting insulation or were cold joints that looked like Hell!
 

mmckenna

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Back in the CB hay day I hated PL-259 coax connectors. I thought I was fairly good at soldering but I was never proud of my work on PL-259's. The ones I saw suposedly done my professionals either got too hot and ended up melting insulation or were cold joints that looked like Hell!
Yeah, it takes a high wattage iron to do it right. Usually what I've seen looks like someone had a 30 watt Radio Shack iron and just dribbled solder all over everything.
 

SteveSimpkin

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Why is it that ham guys love PL-259 connectors?
As has been mentioned above, almost all amateur base and mobile radios have mating SO-239 connectors on them, even recent models like the 2015 Icom IC-7300. This includes models that span the HF/6M/2M/440 frequency range. The relatively low power (10W) Icom IC-705 is bucking this trend however. Introduced in 2019, it uses a “New Technology” BNC connector.
 

WA8ZTZ

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Two subjects guaranteed to generate lots of replies: grounding and PL-259s.

The PL-259 has been around forever and properly installed is simple, rugged, and reliable.
The key is "properly installed". The problem is usually the soldering of the shield.
Either too much heat and melted insulation or too little heat and cold solder joints.
The solution is the crimp-on style connector where the center pin is soldered and the shield is crimped.
Makes for a nice, nearly foolproof connection. However, many hams are too cheap to make the initial investment in a crimping tool.
So, for want of a relatively inexpensive crimp tool, they will spend thousands on the rig, tower, and antenna and
connect it all together with crappy, no-name PL-259s with a crappy soldering job to match.
 
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AK9R

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...and connect it all together with crappy, no-name PL-259s...
I haven't noticed it so much in recent years, but I can remember seeing hamfest vendors with signs advertising their cheap PL-259 connectors. As I recall, they were usually priced at $1 each, or less, with discounts for buying in bulk (usually poly bags of 5, 10, or 25 connectors). I remember looking at these connectors and thinking "these are pretty low quality". The connector bodies and shells were usually un-plated aluminum which seems like it would have long-term corrosion issues. The center pins might be gold or silver plated. The insulators appeared to be nylon or teflon. What struck me most was the poor quality of the machining. The solder holes drilled through the body often had burrs on them. The threads on the bodies and the shells were rough so the two parts would not screw together smoothly. Just not a quality product, in my opinion.

I agree with previous statements that if you are going to spend thousands of dollars on radios, towers, antennas, etc., why cut corners on the coax connectors?
 
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UHF connectors are popular by hams for many reasons. They've been easy to obtain since WWII, adequately cover HF without an issue and cover 2m and 70cm, handle well over 1500W and they typically don't require anything other than a soldering iron and some basic tools to work with. N connectors on the other hand, typically require specialized tools (crimpers, preptools), only handle about 500W (which is why 7/16 DIN are commonplace on the outputs of channel combiners) and are typically more complex to install.

That being said, I prefer N connectors to UHF (and have even converted my CBs over to N). I don't like to solder in the field and UHF crimp connectors can be somewhat finicky and short out if you aren't careful when assembling the crimp only versions (same goes for Mini UHF). All of my test equipment is N or BNC so in my case for the two radios I have that use UHF...easier just to convert to N.
 

wa8pyr

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I haven't noticed it so much in recent years, but I can remember seeing hamfest vendors with signs advertising their cheap PL-259 connectors. As I recall, they were usually priced at $1 each, or less, with discounts for buying in bulk (usually poly bags of 5, 10, or 25 connectors). I remember looking at these connectors and thinking "these are pretty low quality". The connector bodies and shells were usually un-plated aluminum which seems like it would have long-term corrosion issues. The center pins might be gold or silver plated. The insulators appeared to be nylon or teflon. What struck me most was the poor quality of the machining. The solder holes drilled through the body often had burrs on them. The threads on the bodies and the shells were rough so the two parts would not screw together smoothly. Just not a quality product, in my opinion.
The last couple batches of PL259 connectors I bought were decently priced (although not $1 each), sliver plated body and shell, teflon insulated with gold-plated center pins, and good quality machining. This was before the massive influx of cheap Chinese connectors; I used several of the first batch I bought, had great success, and bought a bunch more from the same vendor. Glad I did, the cheap Chinese connectors suck.

The cable runs I put up back then are still in good shape, and I still have a couple dozen of the connectors for when I need them.
 

WB9YBM

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Why is it that ham guys love PL-259 connectors?
easy to hook up (relative to other connectors) and fairly standard type of connector. As a side-note, at Motorola we used them up to & including the cell 'phone range so I guess good frequency range can be added to the list...
 
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