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6400/6600 - An Opportunity to Upgrade Connectors?

Steve K9ZWSteve K9ZW Member ✭✭✭
edited June 23 in New Ideas
With the New Flex-6400, Flex-6400M, Flex-6600 and Flex-6600M moving from Prototype to Production, is this an opportunity to upgrade the radio's connectors to higher performance connectors?
  • MICROPHONE The show models had 1/8 inch microphone jacks which seems to be a move downwards from the 1/4 inch and for some models XLR.  Should a combo 1/4/XLR be retained?
  • POWER PowerPoles are not the best power connectors, mostly because they will separate at any tug on the wires unless special precautions are taken.  Is it a time to upgrade to the CliffCon 4-pole (like what radios such as a the Hilberling use - see my article at http://k9zw.wordpress.com posting on May 30th)?
  • ANTENNA The ubiquity of the UHF connector is not the same things as best choice - could N-Connectors (or an option to have them factory installed) be the right choice?
  • ETHERNET As there are several strong reasons to isolate the radio electrically at the Ethernet port, could an Optical Ethernet port be provided?
  • GROUND The prototypes show a simple **** for grounding attachment - as nothing is more fun that chasing a dropped machine screen or nut, could a robust clamping (with all parts retained) clip be provided?
Seems a great window of opportunity to upgrade connectivity in the physical sense!

73

Steve
K9ZW
5 votes

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Comments

  • Michael CosloMichael Coslo Member
    edited November 2019
    This close to the rollout, 3-4 months -  I suspect they have all of the physical matters pretty well settled, parts ordered, I wouldn't be too surprised if the PC boards are ready to roll.

    I guess the solace is that no matter what is on it, someone will be upset. 

    Anyhow, a direct conversation with Flex might get a direct answer. A grounding **** might be addressed,  but the rest of the desired changes would almost certainly delay rollout pretty significantly, and just upset a different group of people.
  • Michael CosloMichael Coslo Member
    edited June 23
    I wonder. With the complaints about some of the easily fixable items that some are complaining about, do hams not build anything any more?


    I have microphones with 1/8", 1/4" and even XLR. Kind of hard for me to figure which type to consider the right one. The same with headphones. My Heil has the larger jack, but it is uncomfortable after a little while, so the more comfortable headset with the 1/8" plug is pressed into service.  If I get excited about it, I'll just put 1/4 inch on everything. 

    I know several hams who would be really peeved if the radio had no PowerPole, as their whole station is powerPoled.

    Also, An HF radio with N connectors is a real non starter. 

    But if for some reason Flex did adopt all of these requests, I'd make pigtails for the microphones (like I have already), and pigtail for  the new connector to my PowerPole connectors, and a UHF-N adapter, since my HF antennas and all my HF equipment uses UHF. 


  • Bill -VA3WTBBill -VA3WTB Member ✭✭✭
    edited May 2017
    Also, in order to add all this, the price of the radio will increase. This is not what Flex wants to happen. The radios were made for a very competitive price point. I think Tim addressed the mic plug and mentioned even the cost of the plug and the man hours to install is above budget. Everything has been carefully worked out.
  • AA0KMAA0KM Member ✭✭
    edited May 2017

    Not having xlr bummer. But fix can be made.

    I moved my radio a couple time's and the check internal fuse and radio shut down would happen.
    That had me scratching my head.
    Culprit=Powerpoles coming loose.

    I agree with the post but as said probably too late.

  • Martin AA6EMartin AA6E Member ✭✭
    edited January 20
    There are lots of connectors available.   I have a soft spot for the ancient Cinch Jones:
    image
    Rugged, human sized, simple to solder, rugged!  But not hermaphroditic.
  • Steve K9ZWSteve K9ZW Member ✭✭✭
    edited May 2017

    These are good connectors.  I've not been able to find shielded-pin varieties - are they made?  (So that if the plug is not fully seated it is protected from shorting out between pins, and protected if you hold an energized one in your hand.)

    73

    Steve K9ZW

  • Martin AA6EMartin AA6E Member ✭✭
    edited May 2017
    I think I have seen recessed panel mount connectors that help with this issue.  Somehow, the Jones types are historically appropriate to match the also-very-old UHF connectors!
  • RiaRia Member ✭✭
    edited October 2017
    My entire station is N apart from the radios and amp itself. But once coax leaves the shack it's N. image

    Also I don't see what all the fuss is about with the 3.5mm jacks since Apache labs has pretty much settled on them and everyone is fawning over those radios as a "flex killer."

    But I agree that the option (for added cost) of a foster connector and 1/4" connectors would be nice. One reason why I like my 6700.

    Ria
  • Steve K9ZWSteve K9ZW Member ✭✭✭
    edited May 2017

    Hi Bill - I missed Tim's discussion - can you point me to it?

    The incremental retail costs above the selected connectors are pretty light, and in cases like the UHF/N swap the components are physically compatible.

    In my case charge me the little bit more for a better product if they have to!

    Would be worth it to me.

    73

    Steve K9ZW

  • Steve K9ZWSteve K9ZW Member ✭✭✭
    edited May 2017

    You do point out the conundrum a manufacturer faces - so do they use legacy connectors knowing the shortcomings because the installed base is wide, or do they use the best they can find at the risk of some folk needing adapters and pigtails?

    On 4o3a's gear antenna connectors are a user (or who ever is ordering the unit) choice to make. 

    Since some FRS radios arguably are built to fulfill an order with deposit, perhaps the choice could be offered?

    I hear you on adapters, as I have to use N-to-UHF adapters to hook in UHF-connector equipped gear as I've used N-Connectors wherever possible.

    73

    Steve K9ZW

  • George KF2TGeorge KF2T Member ✭✭✭
    edited June 23
    Seems like a small bud box with four chassis-mounted mini plugs matching the 6400/6600 socket pattern would provide a mechanically stable platform and allow the industrious ham the option of making a break out box with any connector, including Molex, Jones, Cinch, Foster, RCA, XLR, binding posts, etc. The shielded box would be "full time" plugged to the back, would be low-cost, and completely open to whatever you like for connections. Hmmm.... business opportunity?
  • k0eook0eoo Member ✭✭
    edited May 2017
    if any or all of those connectors are a part of a board assembly, then it would require a new PCB layout at this late date....  In one of my past lifes I designed high end audio equipment and virtually all of our I/O connectors were a part of PCB's assemblies making them very hard to change types....
  • Steve K9ZWSteve K9ZW Member ✭✭✭
    edited May 2017

    Certainly would work, especially if you could design it to "clamp" to the radio providing positive-interface.

    I should explain that when one's remote station is 120 miles away, with enough water to require a ferry or boat ride across a straight that was named "Death's Door" for a reason, that having 100% positive locking connectors is desirable. 

    In an interface box for the antennas, would it be possible to avoid the mismatch UHF connectors cause?  N-Connectors are pretty hard to "see" with a TDR, but UHF stand right out. 

    Wondering if the PowerGeniusXL and TunerGeniusS will have N-connectors as an option like other 4o3a gear does?

    Hmm...

    73

    Steve K9ZW

  • Steve K9ZWSteve K9ZW Member ✭✭✭
    edited May 2017
  • RiaRia Member ✭✭
    edited May 2017
    Most hams think the almighty PL259/SO239 is "better" at HF and they see no reason to change. Even well respected people like W8JI say that it's better.

    My reason for using Ns was the availability of NOS Andrew connectors on hardline. However when working with them I found them to have numerous other mechanical and electrical advantages. 

    Ria

  • Steve K9ZWSteve K9ZW Member ✭✭✭
    edited May 2017

    I needed no additional reason other than how an N-connector maintains electrical continuity for both shield and core when the barrel is not tightened down, something that is hit & miss with the UHF PL259/SO239 pair to prefer N-Connectors.

    The lesser impedance bump is most likely not going to be heard, but anything that can "smooth" things out makes later TDR work more accurate.

    We shouldn't forget that there are a lot of different grades of PL259/SO239 connectors, many not made very well.  Some are quite easy to smoke at QRO. 

    I've had minimal feedline problems and tower/remote connector problems since standardizing my shacks on N-Connectors.

    I also have all N-Connectors on all the hardline.  Antenna Switches, Baluns and the like have all been ordered or retrofitted with N-Connectors. 

    73

    Steve K9ZW

  • RiaRia Member ✭✭
    edited May 2017
    When you have W3LPL and K3LR saying that PL259 connectors are great, the whole ham crowd shouts, "amen!" What's more is that they don't even solder it the way the mfg intended. They use a whole different method that adds to the impedance bump but they claim is more mechanically sound. 

    In my contest club I was pretty much chastised for using N connectors. 

    So I wouldn't even try. Most hams would just stick an adapter on it, and complain. 

    For HF it makes almost no difference. Even up to 70cm you can live with it. 

    Ria
  • Ken - NM9PKen - NM9P Member ✭✭
    edited May 2017
    George, I plan to build a similar patch box for the mic & headphone input.  Probably will incorporate XLR, 1/4 TRS, 3.5mm unbalanced mic, 3.5mm mic/headphone combo, and separate 1/4 and 3.5mm mic & headphone connectors.

    I might also incorporate 8-pin Foster and 8-pin RJ-45 as well and bring ptt lines in with jacks for footswitch and thumb switch, and tie ptt into the Foster and RJ-45.  It all depends upon how much work I want to put into it.

    One think I do know:  Even if I just use the short 1/4 TRS to right angle 3.5mm TRS I already purchased to adapt my 1/4 keyer paddle to my Flex 1500, I will certainly be looking for an appropriate tie-down spot to secure the adapter pigtail to the chassis so that it will relieve the strain on the rig's jack if the cord gets yanked by something.  (my own klutzy feet, my 10 year-old son, or my pets escaping into the shack...)
  • Norm - W7CKNorm - W7CK Member ✭✭
    edited November 2019
    I never did like Power Pole connectors.  Down East Microwave uses NEUTRIK connectors on all of their equipment.   Nice connector, push in then twist to lock.  Keeps dust and dirt out of the connector as well.  Powerpole connectors get dirty and after a while you can have a bit of voltage drop due to tarnished connectors and or weak contact.

    Norm W7CK
  • Michael CosloMichael Coslo Member
    edited May 2017
    Well, If I had to re-do my entire system I would think very long and hard about buying a Flex Radio.


    And the best power connector is a strong mechanical connection of a threaded rod and bolt. 
  • RiaRia Member ✭✭
    edited May 2017
    Who was it that started putting powerpole connectors in transceivers? Elecraft? I think it's a bad trend. I never liked it. Seemed too easy to break.
  • George KF2TGeorge KF2T Member ✭✭✭
    edited May 2017
    Sounds like a plan, Ken!
  • David OrmanDavid Orman Member ✭✭
    edited May 2017
    Your contest club sounds "fun". It does make a difference (even ignoring the impedance consistency and advantages outdoors with weatherproofing and other such things that won't matter much at HF for indoor connectors), you get a reliable connection every time. A well attached Amphenol pl259 mated properly to a respective high quality so239 isn't going to differ significantly in performance on HF from a type n setup, but a type n setup will always be consistent with less attention paid to mating. Also, I really dislike pl259 connectors with braided cable like bury flex or lmr400 uf. Type n is so much easier to work with. If nobody tries, nothing will change. I don't want everything to be using pl259 twenty years from now; there are plenty of better alternatives.
  • RiaRia Member ✭✭
    edited May 2017
    Contesters don't really like change. The mindset is that if it works, it works, leave it alone. I don't really care what someone else uses but N has worked so far for me, and reading with the TDR it is easier to see an actual fault down the line vs a PL259. But where I use PL259 I use the amphenol 83-1SP and heat shrink the joint. The PL259 is very poor at strain relief, one of my main complaints. I could use the K3LR method but it produces a nasty impedance bump, worse than a regular PL259 connection. The idea is to have some choice, rather than being stuck with the PL. Ria
  • Steve K9ZWSteve K9ZW Member ✭✭✭
    edited May 2017
    That electrical continuity is unaffected by barrel tightness makes N-connectors appeal to me.  

    Again if the consequence of a loose connector is a two-day trip with boat schedule to work around, the advantage is huge.

    Curious on your contest club, why would they espouse Ludditism to favor good over better?  Seems daft bluntly.

    Either antenna connector choice going for the best quality components pays more dividends than about any connector choice you can otherwise make.

    Station standardization is useful, and if your station has several hundred UHF connector pairs in place you are very unlikely to change. We looked a retrofitting the W9EVT station, and best guess it would have taken a month or so - just not worth it.

    That doesn't preclude while in the process of building up a new station from making a better choice though.  In my stations the incremental cost between types of quality (not economy) connectors was minimal, and other than a handful of adapter for items that it simply wasn't possible to change to N-connectors that was it.

    Of course I no longer needed to buy adapters the other way to use the Collins S-Line setup at each QTH.

    73

    Steve
    K9ZW


  • Ross - K9COXRoss - K9COX Member ✭✭
    edited June 2017
    I use these connectors extensively throughout my home...very effective Image result for wire nuts
  • RiaRia Member ✭✭
    edited May 2017
    It's hardly unique to my club, some contesters were using DOS up to a few years ago. Either way I still use N and I'm happy with it.
  • Mike W8MMMike W8MM Member ✭✭
    edited November 2019
    I spent a lot of my life as an N-connector fan boy.  If everything goes well, they are OK through microwave frequencies.  Constant impedance and all that.  But, I find them kind of fragile if not professionally attached to the cable.  Center pin alignment and depth of attachment are quite critical and can cause all sorts of problems if too loose (arcing) or too close (splayed female segments).  If used outside, even with a weather wrap, I have seen the cable pull loose from the braid clamp and the whole cable "un-plugs" from the connector housing.  I actually began to avoid N-connectors unless professionally attached using professional tools from a reputable shop.

    UHF connectors can be soldered (PL-259) to braided coax or can be clamped on to Heliax quite securely.  I think they are a must for reliable field service up through at least 6 meters and quite possibly through 222 MHz.  I draw the line at 432.

    However, 7/16 DIN is the absolute best connector for high power and good impedance way past 1296.  It has a very robust center pin arrangement that can carry lots of current and it is rarely the victim of tiny misalignments to which type N is so vulnerable.  I use 7/16 DIN wherever I can.
  • Brian Bedoe WD9HSYBrian Bedoe WD9HSY Member ✭✭
    edited May 2017

    What's the big fuss? -- Everything is fine here!  hi hi de wd9hsy

    image

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