There is nothing worse than fitting up a new UHF and then heading bush and finding that your reception keeps dropping in and out. This happened to me on one of my camping trips with a big group of mates. My mate Rhett had fitted up a new UHF and was devastated when his system kept dropping in and out.
Around the campfire he let me know of his trouble and we discussed what he had done when installing the system. He then asked if the aerial connection needed to be soldered. I had a look to see what the problem seemed to be and I was able to fix the UHF on the spot. For some reason, I always carry a butane soldering iron with me in my tool kit.
You see, when you buy a UHF or a new aerial you need to fit the aerial cable and the connection for the cable into the UHF separately. This needs to be done as it is much easier to feed the cable through the firewall and dash. You are therefore able to run the cable without the big connection on the end. Once everything proves to be running and is checked, then you can actually fit the connector to the end of the cable. This does require a bit of finesse, and a dab of solder, but once you have done it once it’s easy.
An aerial cable is a coaxial cable, which means it looks like one wire but it actually has two wires inside it. There is one wire that is a very fine internal wire and the other wire is a braided shield that runs around the outside and is more like a sheath. Both are insulated from each other so they cannot touch.
Once you have your cable in the position that you require, you can start by carefully trimming the outer black sheath away to expose the braided shield. This shield goes completely around itself, so the easiest way I find to do this is just very carefully with a razor blade. Cut it back at twice the distance from the end as you require because you will need some extra length on the cable to push the centre wire through the connector once exposed. Once you have exposed the shield then pull it back upon itself.
Next you will need to cut away the inner white insulation, which will expose a very fine internal wire. Again do this very carefully with a razor blade trying not to cut right through the internal wire, but don’t worry if you do, just cut the cable down and start again.
Once you have cut the centre insulation off, remove the insulation to expose the wire.
Now most importantly, the connector for the wire screws apart and this will need to be done for assembly. So undo the connector, and put the back section onto the cable first. If you forget to put the back part of the connector on, then you will have to undo the solder and redo it again. So remember to put the back part of the connector on the cable before you go any further.
Once the back part of the connector has been put on then fit the front part onto the cable with the inner cable protruding through the centre. You are best to leave it longer as it can be cut down after you have soldered the centre wire in place.
Warm up the soldering iron and when using it inside a car be careful not to burn a hole in your seat or the carpet, trust me it’s easy to do! Solder the inner wire onto the connector and once done trim the wire down to the edge of the connector. Then feed the back part of the connector onto the end and screw it together.
Once you have wired the plug you can now screw it onto the UHF and test that it is working.
Clockwise from top left: 1. Take your aerial cable; 2. Trim back the black outer sheaf to expose the braided shield; 3. Pull the shield back over itself, exposing the inner wire; 4. Trim away the white insulation on the inner wire; 5. The exposed inner wire; 6. Unscrew the wire connector and put the back section onto the wire first; 7. Fit the front part of the connector onto the wire; 8. The inner cable should protrode through the centre of the connector; 9. Solder the centre wire in place; 10. Once soldered you can trim down the centre wire: 11. Ready to screw onto the UHF.
Next time you’re out and about, make sure you do a quick channel scan and if you find me give me a shout. Over and Out!
Qualified motor mechanic Adam Adler has spent half his life under the bonnet of a 4WD and has worked for some of the top accessory companies and workshops. He knows what it takes to get your vehicle out there and back home in one piece. He runs the online aftermarket store www.nutsabout4wd.com.au.