Tips

In this post I will tell you How to tell when your knife is sharp.  In the past I have been told that you should drag your thumb along the blade, that way is okay but you can cut your thumb very easily.  Other  people have suggested that I try to shave with the knife. That only works if your knife is razor sharp.The way I like is to get a hunk of wood and whittle on it if your knife is sharp the shavings should be long, thin, and curly.  Here is a pitchers of what it should look like.

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//Ewinslow

I decided to buy a role of Self Bonding Super Tape to keep in my toolbox specifically for waterproofing coaxial connections. This is the exact same thing as splicing tape which you will find at any hardware store, so I’m not sure why harbor freight calls it super tape. Anyway…..

I will now be using it any time I put an RF connector on or have a coax connection out of doors. It’s much waterproof than electrical tape because it stretches out and bonds to itself very tightly. It doesn’t break the bank either.  A 10ft roll costs about as much as a good roll of electrical tape, and it doesn’t take much. With electrical tape I end up wrapping over and over and sometimes still don’t get it watertight. I used about 3.5 inches of splicing tape in the picture below.

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This stuff is not sticky like you would think. In fact, it isn’t sticky at all. You have to stretch it way out to get it to stick to your connector, but once it sticks you just keep wrapping and it’s a breeze. I have not tried taking any off yet, but it seems like it would be easier than the standard tar.

 

 

 

Many radio hobbyists have a hard time soldering PL-259 connectors onto coax, and for a good reason. Thought I have done it, putting one on with a soldering iron is grueling. It’s next to impossible to get the whole connector hot enough to melt solder and flow down to make a good connection with the braid, so most hams I know don’t even bother trying to solder the braid. It usually works ok, but a connection like that is sketchy at best.

I’ve been using the hot air gun on our new soldering station, and have been amazed. I made a couple cables just for the fun of it!

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The examples above are with RG-8U, No reducers involved. Though it may be hard to see, the finished product has a pretty good connection. It took an impressive amount of solder to fill the connector up, as I got it hot enough to really flow. This is how I will be making cables from now on….

Recently I bought a pair of coaxial strippers at a hardware store on clearance for $7. This pair usually retails at $20/25.

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They have the basic coax strippers, plus regular wire cutters and strippers. A pretty versatile tool.

It is designed to strip 75 ohm coaxes such as RG-6u, but the sizes are so similar it ought to work for 50 ohm (ham radio) coax E.G. RG-8x.

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To strip your coax, insert the cable into the correct slot, then clamp down firmly on the handles. Spin the rest of the cable around a couple of times to cut the rubber coating, not being so aggressive as to cut the shielding.

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Pull the coax out of the tool, and you now have a nicely stripped cable.

Lately I have been doing quite a bit of drywall work in a single wide trailer. Due to the way trailers are transported (and the expense of paying someone to properly install drywall), they just staple on some cheap cardboard/trim over all the seams and call it done. This is okay, but after 20+ years of abuse the trim is coming out all over and it is almost easier to just rip it all out and do drywall the right way, this is what I’ve been doing.

I have used 3 kinds of mud.

around 18$ (includes bucket).

 

Mix your own low dust compound $18 or so and no bucket.

 

for about $6 (no bucket)

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Mixing drywall compound

This is pretty much the best way to get the non premixed stuff mixed. Make sure your bucket is clean, dump the mud in, add water, and mix. It is important to have a bucket with a good lid to keep the mud from drying out. The kind they sell premixed drywall compound with works good, but a food grade bucket is even better. Now, to my final conclusion.

The premixed regular dust compound is the easiest. The consistency if perfect, but it is pretty dusty.

The mix your own low dust compound is true low dust, it all goes straight down. That said, I don’t know if I contaminated my bucket with something or what, but it stunk, bad. And I kept having off color brown streaks show up as I was applying it. Not to mention a few certain spots did not dry white, but stayed gray. They are dry, but maybe not completely cured??? Also, after mixing it fills only about 2/3 if the bucket, paying the same price for less.

The regular dust mix your own compound is what I will use from now on. The dust doesn’t seem as bad as the premixed stuff, and I personally don’t even use a mask for it. It to only fills about 2/3 of my bucket, but for 1/3 the price it is not bad at all. FYI The product says it is ready for use, no mixing required. THEY LIE!!! This stuff is like clay, where mud should be about like pudding. Not a big deal, but it WILL need mixing.

 

If you have an antenna up in the air for months or years at a time, even protected as they are, the threads on your SO-239 will get corroded.  The tool below is essentially a tube with wire bristles sold for cleaning car battery terminals. In the center picture I demonstrate it’s use on a SO-239 barrel connector. It was also used to clean the back of the 2 meter amp.

IMG_5190 IMG_5199 IMG_5197  Nothing big, just an interesting tip.