best or acceptable wire size for dipole

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by W2SAM, Jul 29, 2008.

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  1. W2SAM

    W2SAM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am building a dipole and while pricing wire , I start wondering which is better for a dipole solid copper wire or stranded....14AWG or 12AWG or 10AWG ???

    my thoughts are that solid wire would be better , because the RF signal runs on the outside of the wire.....???
    the larger the wire the more braod banded the antenna will be ???

    thanks for any guidance
  2. WA9SVD

    WA9SVD Ham Member QRZ Page

    NEC specifies 14 AWG. for antennas. Most applications use 14AWG (or larger, such as 12 AWG) stranded copperweld wire, which will have the added strength of steel wire, as well as the conductivity of copper due to skin effect. there will be little (or noticable) difference in bandwidth of solid vs stranded wire of the same AWG.

    Niow, if you were comparing 14 AWG wire vs. 1/2" copper pipe, the bandwidth might be noticable, especially if you are comparing conductors at 2 Meters and above...;)
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2008
  3. AG3Y

    AG3Y Guest

    The difference in conductivity for solid vs. stranded copper wire is so small as to be un-measureable, at least by any methods a ham radio operator is likely to have in their possession.

    However, solid wire is more likely to become brittle due to flexing in the wind, and more prone to break sooner than equivalent stranded wire would.

    There are several types of copper wire available, in many different gauges. If you want to have the wire rather hidden, you obviously would need to go for some smaller stuff such as 16 or 18 gauge. But if you have no problem with that, you will want to go toward 14 or 12 gauge. Remember, the lighter stuff can stretch, twist and break, and the heavier stuff can cause problems just because of its size and weight.

    There is a type of wire that is very strong, and still conducts very well. I am referring to copper-clad steel cored wire. However this stuff is quite difficult to work with, as it tends to coil and kink unless you have a means to keep it stretched out as you work with it.

    For general all around use, I would probably stick with something like 14 ga stranded wire.

    SVD got his post published first. It is good to see that we agree!

    Hope this helps! 73, and welcome to the avocation. Jim
  4. WA9SVD

    WA9SVD Ham Member QRZ Page

    That's because we are GOOD! And we actually learned a lot over the years.:D:D:D

    Thanks for the added information .
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2008
    W5BUY likes this.
  5. K3WRV

    K3WRV Guest

    I use 14, 16 or whatever guage I have available (or whatever's on sale). While diameter does have an effect on broadmanding the antenna, for HF, the difference between 18 and 10 will be pretty negligible. I've even used 17 ga Electric Fence wire ($8 /1/4 mi). But it's icky to work with / solder to.
    KM6KJI likes this.
  6. VE6RA

    VE6RA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Antenna Wire

    Some years ago I was fortunate enough to acquire some Down Rigger
    Stainless Steel Fishing line --approximately 2/16 Inch thick -it is not easy to work with but makes a perfect antenna --strong-won't break-won't rust-
    I am still using it for a G5RV Ant and have had several dipoles .Never any problems and it radiates excellently.

    If you have access to any sea going commercial fishing boats -their lines are changed frequently and the used line scrapped-Normally !!


    W9LLD likes this.
  7. VE6RA

    VE6RA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Antenna Wire

    Should have added --this wire is not solid --it is braided--Sorry !!


  8. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    ::Glad it worked for you! But if it had been copper, depending on its length, it could be as much as 3 dB more efficient. Stainless steel is not a good conductor, and its skin resistance (for RF) at 10 MHz is about 4x copper. If it's a very short antenna, like a 2m dipole, probably not much difference. If it's a long antenna, like a 160m dipole, the difference is very measurable.

    KD2BDA likes this.
  9. WD5ABC

    WD5ABC Ham Member QRZ Page

    The electric fence wire is hard to work with if you get the galvanized steel but you can get aluminum electric fence wire and it's much easier to deal with. Not as easy to kink, etc. If all you can get is the steel wire, give it a shot, I've used it for years. If you experiment with antennas a lot, it's nice to have a cheap source! Don't worry about the guys who tell you the steel wire won't work, the skin effect is "thicker" on less conductive wire so it's almost a wash at HF for a normal dipole.

    The aluminum is probably a better choice if you can find it. I get it at Tractor Supply, I got some for FD and the 80m dipole I used fed with twin lead worked great.

  10. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    ::Kerry, where did that theory come from? Skin effect can't know what the conductor material is, unless you just invented something the scientific community never knew before...;)
    AG6UK likes this.
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