This week, I had a couple of interactions with a company called DX Engineering They're a big ham radio dealer in Ohio that I sometimes buy stuff from.
You see, I got laid off recently and there was a severance, and so after finding new employment, I decided to spend some of the money on some new gear. I've wanted a Yaesu FT-847 for a while now and, while that particular radio is long out of production, it's pretty readily available on the used market. So, I bought one. That's when the trouble began.
One problem, though, the 440 MHz antenna connector is of type "N" and I don't have an other gear that uses that connector. That means that I've never had the chance to put a N connector on a cable and so I didn't know how. My dad had the perfect advice for that situation, to wit: You'll never learn any younger. So, I bought some connectors on ebay. I've decided that crimping is the way to go with coax connectors, and I've got the crimping tools and stripping tools and all manner of accessories to help, and since I have both RG-58 and LMR-400 cable here, I bought crimp-type connectors for both RG-58 and LMR-400 cable.
One problem with buying discount connectors on ebay is that they don't come with instructions. Actually, none of the connectors I've bought in the last decade or more have come with instructions. I don't need much. I just need to know what size crimping dies to use and where to trim the bits off the coaxial cable. Google to the rescue? Well, no actually. Internet search gets less and less useful every year and it certainly wasn't helpful in this case.
After thinking about it for a couple of days, I recalled DX Engineering's claim that they have experienced hams on staff to answer questions like that so, and the crimping tool and dies I have were bought there even if the connectors themselves weren't. So, I logged on to the site with the intent of asking for the info, but when I got there, I thought that maybe that question would have been asked and answered already, so before I asked my question, I decided to use their site search function to see if they had any documentation.
And....jackpot! The documentation is not only there, but it's in PDF form so I can print it and stick it in the case with the crimping tool. So, shout out to DX Engineering for having what I needed before I even knew I needed it. We'll just deemphasize the fact that later on I found out that I'd already downloaded the documents that I needed. A bit of time with a sharp knife and the crimping tool, and I'd put a new male N connector on the RG-58 that feeds my 440 MHz quadrifilar helix. Then, I took one of the RG-58 stripping tools that I have and adjusted it to work with the N connectors I have. You know, I may have done those two steps in the wrong order. Oh, well. Too late now.
As it happens, I did wind up contacting their support for help. Last week, and yes it was during the Hamvention, I bought a 6m "squalo" antenna from DX Engineering because I despair of ever finishing any of the antennas I'm trying to build. This will give me something to use while I figure out where the various parts have disappeared to. I've never done any 6m operating, except for this one Field Day and that doesn't count because the radio we were using was in MARS mode and so we weren't actually on 6m. (It's a long and mostly uninteresting story that involves me operating RS-12/13 because I was going to be at the VHF/Satellite station all night. I may have to tell the story some day. Today is not that day.)
Anyway, when I tried to put the thing together, one the tubes had a burr that prevented the other tube from sliding inside it. So, I asked them what to do about it. For some reason, asking for help seems to free me to be more creative in my own solutions and, when I discovered that the inner diameter of the larger tube is basically three eighth's of an inch, I just chucked a drill bit in my drill and held the tube with a pair of locking pliers. That got it put together just fine. A little while after that, they got back to me with a suggestion to try deburring it and an offer to replace if I couldn't make that work. So, second shout out to DX Engineering for being there to ask when I needed help and even telling me to do what worked even though I'd gotten creative on my own.