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On this page of our web-site we have included some useful tips on how to do things that may seem obvious but maybe not so once we get to do them!

Wiring a PL259 co-axial connector for RG213 cable (same procedure for other co-axial cables of a different size).

Preparing the cable:

Ideally you should use a coaxial cutter tool to do this but if you haven't got one here is a method:

Estimate roughly the length of insulation you need to remove.

Cut the outer insulation back the required length being really careful not to cut into the braiding underneath - if you do damage the braiding significantly you will have to start again. Try bending the cable at the point where you want the cut and gently rock your blade across the insulation - insulation should split. This works better with some insulations than others depending upon its stiffness.

After making the cut

Remove the insulation

Fold back the insulation and estimate how much inner insulation you need to expose.You want to aim to leave a stub of insulation inside the connector as per the image.

Remove the inner insulation. 

On very thick RG213 cable cut along the length of the inner insulation and peel the insulation off. On thinner RG58 this is best done with a cable stripper. If you don't have a stripper be careful of breaking the thin inner conductor. 

Before fitting the connector take a small file and clean the tip of the connector where the inner cable will emerge when the connector is fitted. This is important as many connectors are plated and do not solder readily, also any oxidation of the tip will make soldering prolonged with the possibility of melting the inner insulation by conduction along the copper inner.

Ensuring that you have the base of the connector already on the cable, screw the connector onto the insulation trapping the exposed braid under the screw threads. Tighten this until finger tight. You should now have a some inner conductor protruding from the connector end and some braiding from the base.

Remove the excess braid at the base of the connector and clip off any excess inner conductor flush with the tip of the connector. Solder the tip using an iron hot enough to readily melt the solder and using the type of solder that has the flux built in (most do). DO NOT use plumber's solder with additional acidic flux as this will cause corrosion of the connector. The secret of soldering efficiently is to use a hot iron, apply the heat to the cleaned tip and offer the solder up to it. If the tip is clean and hot enough the solder will neatly flow around the tip. Don't leave a blob there as it will not fit into a socket! 

Ideally you should solder the inner cable to the connector via the small hole in the body of the connector plug, however, the possibility that too much heat for too long will result in melting the inner insulation and creating a short between the outer braid and inner conductor is very possible so I consider this is best left to experts. The outer braid to connector connection created by trapping the outer braid as you screw on the connector should be fine although you won't want water, particularly salt water, getting in to cause corrosion between the braid and the connector (see below). 

Screw on the base. 

If the connector is to be exposed to water, particularly salt water, wrap a couple of turns of self amalgamating tape around the base of the inner part of the connector. If you haven't used this tape before it is an excellent item to add to your boat tool box. It's a rubber tape that bonds to itself when stretched to make a waterproof seal - it is also a good electrical insulator.

Self amalgamating tape - note that it comes as the tape itself and a plastic backing that has to be removed and discarded. Stretch the tape as you fit it and it forms an instant bond to itself. Without being stretched it doesn't do this.

Job done!

If you do this more than just very occasionally you should invest in a co-axial cable cutter - it's a very much quicker process and once you have set-up the cutter you get a perfectly cut and trimmed cable to go straight onto the connector.