Water + PL-259 = no radio for the day!

The waterlogged  PL-259
Well FINALLY I was able to get some radio time it has been so long and really there were no good reasons just what I call excuses!  On Saturday afternoon it was time to get some long over due radio time in. I ran my coax jumper  to the 1788 MFJ loop from my K3 radio, I settled into my radio chair and flipped the switch…..and……it was time for Murphy to visit me! With the MFJ loop you are supposed to tune the loop for peak noise and this was just not happening. I was getting numerous peaks but the SWR was all over the place! I thought about it for some time and after trying numerous ideas it finally hit me! I have a 6 foot coax tail on the loop and via a coupling I connect the coax from indoors. It was really raining the last few days and the balcony was very wet and "normally" my outdoor coax tail is in a plastic zip lock bag. This past rain storm was also accompanied with a strong wind and somehow the coax was removed from the bag and was in the water. I removed the coax and checked it with my ohm meter and it showed a high resistance between the centre conductor and shield. So it seems water has made it's way into the PL-259 connector and after installing a new piece of coax and doing some check with great results it was time for bed. My loop is supported by the MFJ tripod. I have a cover over the loop it to help disguise it and kinda makes it look like patio furniture. There is lots of wind being high up and on the lake so the cover has to be secured around the centre pole of the tripod. It's great that the antenna works perfect with a cover and with it secured as well I just want to come up with an easy way to connect and disconnect the coax from the antenna. I don't want to remove the cover or un-secure it from the centre pole. Any ideas from ham world would be approbated.
A shot of the balcony antenna open for suggestions. 
Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

9 Responses to “Water + PL-259 = no radio for the day!”

  • Fred VE3FAL:

    Yea Mike it gets bad that water. Up here the salt and glycol they use on the road actually will wick itself all the way to the radio. I just took the connector off of my D700 in the truck to find the beautiful green/blue powder from the salt at the connector, in fact it already started to eat at the connector itself…
    I used to go through at least one antenna and mag mount per year on the truck because of the salt.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good morning Fred, I have read lots about those who live close the the ocean and the troubles they have with antennas. I had never thought about road salt from our winters but salt is salt!

  • Jeremy KF5YKO:

    I heard that rust-oleum now makes a new clear “hydrophobic” spray paint product that repels water on any surface like metal, cloth , etc. I think it’s called something like not-wet or never-wet or something on that line. I believe that their are other brands out that do the same thing. I read somewhere that one guy used it to coat his tv satellite antenna dish mounting connections. I dont know how well it would work or how long it would last in your situation once the pl259 is disconnected but it may help to slow the water penetration down some on some of the parts that would be exposed and out in the weather. I could see it help those who have mobile mount antennas like mirror mounts etc that could leach moisture and salts down the cable to help slow it.

    I was thinking about getting some for my base antenna. And coat it by pulling back the thread cover of the PL-259 then mask off the vital contact points and threads with making tape and then spraying the rest of the pl-259 barrel and let it dry, reassemble it and then test it out.

    Another CHEAP idea that comes from the grocery store concept (my wife’s idea)- is to as she says “double bag it”. One small baggie with a sandwich tie around the pl-259. And then coil the coax up in another bag and tie it up as well. But that’s if you have the patience to take the extra time to get things unwrapped and then re-wrapped when you want to use it. If your patience is like mine I dont want to waste time fiddling with sandwich bag ties.

    I’m out here in west Texas where we are in sever drought so if you could send some of that rain down here we would appreciate it.

  • VE3MIC Mike:

    I would suggest a small weather proof junction box. I would run a short length of coax from the loop, Up inside the box thru the bottom. Loop it around inside the box and connect it to a feedthru/bulkhead connector – again, mounted thru the bottom of the box.Since its a loop, you’re not running a lot of power so maybe consider a BNC connector for convenience.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    good morning Jeremy, the spray would be a great idea but I would have to apply it each time the connection was made and not sure that would be the best solution. At the present time I do use a ziplock bag and to have 2 would be great added protection. Thanks very much for the ideas and I agree that for you to have the connections sprayed on a mobile antenna would be very wise.
    Thanks for stopping by and adding your input.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good morning Mark, thanks very much for the links and the coax seal would be great for a permanent connection but the Greenhouse device looks very promising! along with a BNC connection would be a to me a very reliable water resistant connection.
    Thanks for taking the time to put the links up.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good morning Mike, I have used this idea in the past and I have been on the hunt for a small box that I could use this idea again. I want to make it a simple and reliable connection.
    Thanks for the input.

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