Sunday, January 05, 2020

The only good use for a co-ax plug

As is traditional, I bought the special double-issue of the Radio Times. The one that covers Christmas and New Year. While not a massive TV watcher, it's useful to see if there is anything worth a look. This year we were treated to Love Actually pretty much every day (saw it for the first time, not impressed) and Rogue One about as often (finally saw the ending I missed when I had to leave the cinema early, and now I wish I hadn't.

To be honest, it was a waste of money. Not because the contents weren't any good, but because most of the TVs in our house lost signal.

Our aerial drops down from the roof and follows a convoluted path to three different sets. Along the way there is a splitter/booster box, a couple of other splitters and a through connector.

The main booster box which had worked fine for year was disturbed. Suddenly, no signal.

I reseated the connectors (that's IT Helpdesk speak for unplugging and plugging in again) which helped a bit, but then it didn't. Christmas has been a round of fiddling with the aerial cables, mostly to no effect. The splitter/booster has been replaced and that sorted a couple of sets for about a day.

The problem is that digital TV signals are weak, and the standard connectors are co-ax which are, to put it bluntly, rubbish. They don't hold securely, are a pain to assemble and generally are useless. Quite why we can't have something involving screws I don't know. It's not like anyone needs to plug and unplug the things regularly.

Anyway, the only good use for a co-ax plug is the microphone in FAB1. Even Thunderbirds kept changing it as I'm sure it was a co-ax in the series and certainly when I saw the large scale model. Other shots show slightly different plugs in use, maybe someone nicked it to try to make their telly work.

Update: The excellent Andy Fearnley came and replaced the TV aerial which had been rotted by exposure to the soot from our coal fire. He also brought his mega tester to the job and checked the signal at each TV, resulting in the removal of a couple of connections and the booster which seemed to amplify the noise as well as signal. All is now working. 

He also mentioned F-type connections which do screw in, and feels the same as I do about standard co-ax. 


Huw Griffiths said...

I don't know if you had any co-ax cables left after all this stuff was sorted.

If the stuff's got a braided copper screen, this often comes in very useful for electronics desoldering.

OK - you need to separate the screen from the cable (pull off the outer plastic insulation - then loosen and pull away the braided screen - what you do with the inner layers is up to you).

Now flatten the braid (using a vice or pliers) and dip the stuff in a suitable flux (Carr's orange label works well - but there are also a number of non-acidic rosin pastes available).

Finally, press the stuff onto a solder joint and apply a hot soldering iron - you should notice some solder being mopped up by the braid.

I' know this stuff works - mainly because I've used it myself for more than 30 years.

Phil Parker said...

Homemade desoldering braid. Brilliant idea!