Connecting a PL259 plug to a VHF aerial cable - step by step

The PL259 plug – designed in the 1930s by the wonderfully-named E Clark Quackenbush – is the most common means of attaching your VHF cable to the back of a fixed VHF radio. Various barrel connectors are available, allowing you to install through-deck plugs and other types of connection, but soldering the PL259 is the same in all cases.

Here, David Evans of Hamble-based electronics specialists Hudson Marine Electronics demonstrates how to solder one on.

1 Use a proper cable. This one is rated RG-58, which is the bare minimum that should be used. You should not be using coaxial cable with a solid core.

2. Unscrew the threaded barrel and slide it up the cable first – if you forget this step you’ll have to do the whole job again!

3. Strip back the outer insulation so that the braid is exposed for a little longer than the length of the plug. Now roll the braid back over the outer insulation.

4. Trim off the braid so it overlaps the wire by around 5mm.

5. Trim off the plastic inner sheath so that the remainder reaches the bottom of the second ridge on the plug.

6. Twist the wire’s core together and tin around 10mm with solder before inserting the wire into the plug and screwing it down so that the thread makes contact with the shield.

7. Now solder the core into the plug. Here, David is holding the plug by the wire and touching it to the hot soldering iron. He then feeds solder into the hollow interior of the pin until it’s filled and flush with the end. Once this is done and the solder has cooled you can snip off the excess core flush with the end of the pin. Job done!