Lighting - Soldering Socapex
A year or more ago I bought a length of 19 core 2.5mm multicore for stage lighting use, this is ideal cable for a Socapex cable carrying six independent circuits and a common earth.
Looking around for the best (and at a good price) socapex connectors, I found Phase 3 Connectors in Scotland. Their products looked well made and weren't too expensive. I bought a cable socket and cable plug as well a panel mount socket for the back of the dimmer pack, and a panel plug for the remote lighting bar end.
I was very pleased with the manufacturing quality as well as the customer service and I would recommend P3 to anyone requiring such parts. Since buying these, I have also found an Italian company selling similar connectors, they look well made too, but I cannot comment further as I have not bought any ( www.syntaxconnectors.it ).
This just left making the cable up to do. After trying several electrical soldering irons of increasing power, I was nor having any success. None of them including a 100w soldering gun could supply the required heat to solder a 2.5mm cable to a solder bucket and make a reliable joint, the amount of heat was not enough to “wet” the joint, and they looked both electrically and mechanically poor.
The solution turned out to be a butane gas powered iron. With the catalyst attachment and a bevel tip end, I was able to make good soldered joints and as a bonus, I could use the hot gas exhaust vent on the iron to shrink the heat-shrink sleeving covering each pin. This needs to be pointed out, the hot gas escaping from the side of the iron is hot enough to damage the PVC insulation on the cable, and also to cause a burn to fingers in the way.
I found this out the hard way. It is best to check the position of the hot gas exit prior to any soldering.
The live and neutral pins are fully insulated with heat shrink sleeving, but the earth pins can only be partly covered due to the grounding ring fitted to the inside of the connector. The first picture below shows the back of the cable socket after the solder buckets have been filled, the next shows some of the wires soldered in and the sleeving shrunk in to place.
I found it easier to start at the bottom of the connector (ie locator notch at the bottom) and work up. Also, it was easier to shrink the sleeving on after a few pins were soldered rather than do all the soldering first and then all the shrinking.
Also, to avoid damaging the connector locking thread, I used the opposite mating half to hold it in the vise.