wire antenna gauge?

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by VE3KNT, May 4, 2012.

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  1. VE3KNT

    VE3KNT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I need to replace my 20m antenna, which is a end fed 1/4 wave wire on my apartment balcony, made of speaker wire (the antenna, not the balcony), it's 22 AWG, just the basic stranded wire with clear jacket that you use to hook up stereo speakers.

    Before I do that, I'm wondering if I should go buy something heavier, 18 AWG or maybe even bigger? My thinking is bigger wire may give better performance. I have lots of the speaker wire around, but if it'd make a difference, I may go get something thicker.

    thanks for any suggestion on this..
  2. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I use nothing smaller than 14 ga and sometime 12 depending on the weight it has to support.
  3. KA9UCN

    KA9UCN Ham Member QRZ Page

    If it is mechanically strong enough to stay up then it is good enough. Save your money the difference in performance in a thicker wire will be so minuscule that you could never notice it.

  4. VE3KNT

    VE3KNT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ok, thanks, I think for now, considering my limited budget, I'll just redo it as it was before. Then maybe put heavier wire up before next, oh do I dare say it, winter...
  5. KO6WB

    KO6WB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Wow, you guys in Canada sure plan ahead a lot. Winter won't be here till next November, if then.
    On some antennas the larger the diameter the better. Have seen some folks use 4" irrigation pipe. It's light because it's made from aluminum.
    My antenna uses 1" copper pipe but it is supposed to be larger to reduce losses. It has 40 feet of pipe in a square shape. Ever price bigger copper pipe? This stuff is expensive and by reducing the diameter from 2" to 1" reduced cost by 75%. The performance is a bit lower but it is only down 1 db. I can live with that.
    With a dipole just about any wire will do well. The larger wire will hold up better and #12 AWG is probably the largest you would need. You can make an antenna from #4 AWG but the performance of it won't be improved by much. As for power handling capability, the larger wire sizes will do better.
  6. AB2T

    AB2T Ham Member QRZ Page

    Anything other than magnet wire will work well and stay strong. Heck, hams have used magnet wire before. It works, but it's fragile.

    Black insulated wire or twinlead works well in areas with plenty of trees and foilage (oak, elm). This is especially true if you have nosy neighbors. As KA9UCN points out, anything that's durable will work fine. Insulated 18 gauge wire is particularly nice. Also, the insulation will prevent the wire from snapping due to chafing against an insulator.

    73, Jordan
  7. N0AZZ

    N0AZZ Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yes the key word is "IF" I hate replacing wire antennas every month or 2 because of wind or a small tree limb falls on it. Antenna wire is cheap do it right the first time and don't worry about it for a while. I buy 14 ga Flex weave by the 1000' spool used to buy the 5000' but not building as many wire antennas anymore. I do still lay some radials more of those than anything else use 16 ga insulated for those.
  8. VE3FMC

    VE3FMC XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Winter? Hell summer had not arrived yet.

    Speaker wire is ok for what you are doing Kent. Sure if it gets coated with ice when winter does get it here it may not survive. But since you have lots of it laying around then you might as well use it now.

    Plus it is not like we get ice storms here on a weekly basis when winter is here.
  9. WA9SVD

    WA9SVD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Winter? What's that supposed to mean? Here in So. Cal. we have Spring, which lasts 1-2 days, not necessarily on consecutive days. Then follows Summer, then Fire season, and a brief period of rain (IF we are lucky about the rain) erroneously deemed "Winter."

    Here in the U.S., our NEC specifies 14 AWG wire for wire antennas. Many Amateurs get by with less (smaller wire) but #14 Copperweld (and similar construction, such as flex weave, etc.) is a good compromise for strength, cost, and "stealth." Speaker wire usually has the disadvantage(s) that the resonance of an antenna will change as the insulation disintegrates, and won't be nearly as strong as "Copperweld" or other antenna wire. In addition, speaker wire will also stretch over time, changing the resonant frequency of an antenna.
  10. VE3KNT

    VE3KNT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I got the wire changed now. I went with the 'what's on hand' method for now, but made on change, instead of soldering the wire directly to the SO239 connector like it use to be, I used a short piece of 12 AWG wire with a loop crimp connecter soldered on, and soldered a similar connector to the antenna element wire to make changing it in the future faster and easier. All i have to do now it take one nut off and change wires. It works pretty good, but being so close to all the metal of the apartment building, the best SWR I get is around 2.5, so the auto tuner does the rest..
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