I use an FT-817 for my activations complete with the Yaesu softcase. Now working in the electronics field I know that connectors are one of the items almost guaranteed to give problems especially when you start using consumer grade connectors and plug/unplug regularly. I decided that if I was carrying a radio up a hill, I should try as hard as possible to minimise connector wear and make sure any cables had suitable strain relief so that intermittent connections were less likely.
I only had one DC lead which came with right angle plug. I leave the plug in place and run the cable between the radio and the softcase. On the right front bottom of my case there is a loop of material and pop fastener. I keep the extra power cable loosely coiled and held in place by this material and fastener. If you pull hard on the cable (because you stood up to push the aerial back up and caught the cable with your size 18 boots) the pop fastener opens and the cable is released giving some slack. The other end of my power cable terminates in a 5 pin DIN socket. A similar lead from the SLAB terminates in a 5 pin DIN plug. There’s enough slack that I haven’t been able to break the cable yet. I could have used Powerpoles but I had lots of 5pin DIN connectors and no Powerpoles! I have another similar power lead connected to a shack PSU when the 817 is used at home.
I didn’t want to make anymore holes in the softcase nor did I want to have to remove the radio from the case to plug in the key. I made another extension cable, a 3.5mm stereo jack to cable socket. My kids go through earphones for their MP3 players like mad so I used a cable from a duff pair of earphones. This had a rightangle low profile plug on it and about 1m of thin screened stereo cable. This is left plugfed in permanently and the cable runs between the case and radio like the power cable. I soldered a cable end socket to this thin cable. When not in use, the socket gets stuffed into the strange pocket on the left side of the softcase. The extension cable will coil and fit in there too to keep it safe. This means I don’t have to leave the PalmPaddle cable in place and find some means of protecting the fragile 3pin Molex plug that connects to the paddle proper.
Rear antenna connector:
I only use the front BNC connector so the hole in the case for this has been covered with a piece of sticky tape. It means if you place the radio on the ground then you aren’t going to get bits of soil or sheep’s doings stuffed into the SO239.
Front antenna connector:
I always use the front BNC. I’ve owned a few Yaesu radios over the last 17 years. I’ve found that the two lugs on the BNC socket that hold the plug in place have worn badly. I’ve only seen this on Yaesu gear though. I think they use lead for these lugs! On all the BNC plugs I use with FT-817 I have filed the slots in the plugs to have a less severe profile. Normally the final ‘click’ when you twist the plug on is when the plug is forced into the rubber gasket and rides over these lugs and then is released slightly. This overcentre action is what causes the wear, especially if you use good plugs like Greenpar or Amphenol. Filing the profile of the slot in the plug will reduce the wear on the lugs. This isn’t a problem as the connection is more than secure wihtout being held super-rigidly in place and anyway, we aren’t pushing kilowatts at tens of GHz up the cable.
Finally, when using plugs designed for RG-58 with thin RG-174, there is no effective cable clamping. I soldered up the coax and then using a combination of heatshrink tubing and hotmelt glue, filled in the back of the plug with glue. The heat causes the heatshrink to shrink around the glue. Excess glue is squeezed out and can be removed with sidecutters. The end is a tight water proof connection between the coax and plug body and acts a strain relief.
Hopefully, these ideas will be useful to someone. They’re not super clever, just the result of trying to ensure as cheaply as possible that I end up minimising wear and strain on the radio. Perhaps you have some handy hints or even super clever ideas you’d like to share?