Wire antennas

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by W7GTG, Mar 20, 2010.

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  1. W7GTG

    W7GTG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Im just wondering what kind of wire are you guys using to make wire antennas, also where do you get the wire. Im wanting to try my hand at home brew antennas but dont want to order "antenna wire".
  2. NI3S

    NI3S Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is kind of a loaded question (although not intentionally).

    If you have a zero budget type thing, aluminum fence wire from a farm store will work.

    The next step up would be standard electrical wire, say THHN type insulation, from an electrical distributor, or even home improvement store.

    From there you get to copperclad steel wire. Real antenna wire. Most of this comes from online. My biggest gripe with this type wire.

    An old elmer of mine and electrician swears by standard old electical wire, 14 AWG or 12 AWG. I put up an antenna with it, worked fine until my cheap rope broke. Any electrical supply house will have 500' rolls of it in many colors.
  3. WA4BRL

    WA4BRL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Visit a local electrical contractor's office and ask if they will donate end-of-roll peices to your "cause". They use 500' (and longer) reels when wiring buildings and any reels with 0'-50' on them they don't use. I would expect they save those scraps to recycle the copper, but it never hurts to ask.

    Know in advance what you will need so you can ask for a specific total length. If I were putting up a 40-meter dipole, I'd ask for scraps to make up around 75 feet, 14 gauge preferable, but 12 ga. and 16 ga. pieces will also do.

    I'd guess most of their wire scraps would be hard drawn stranded copper with THHN insulation. This makes excellent antenna wire. Just splice the peices together to make the needed length. If you get multiple gauges of wire, use the thickest sections nearest the feedpoint and step down to the thinner as you near the end(s) of the antenna. Leave the insulation on, it makes a very slight difference in the tuned length but it is tough stuff and resists damage from rubbing tree branches, etc., protecting the wire.

    Oh, and make sure you do get stranded wire for any antennas. Solid wire will not stand up to repeated flexing and WILL BREAK. Don't turn any down if it's offered -- it is good for ground wiring.
  4. W6UX

    W6UX Ham Member QRZ Page

    14 gauge stranded. 500' at HomeDepot is about $40.
  5. WA4BRL

    WA4BRL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm not sure why you don't want to order "antenna wire". Copperweld is the absolute best choice for wire antennas. This is hard-drawn steel wire coated with copper. It has extremely high tensile strength, the copper skin is highly conductive, it's easy to solder to, it doesn't cost much, and it lasts darned near forever. The Wire Man sells 14ga. copper-clad steel wire for only 10-cents a foot for a 100' coil (10 bucks).

    A 500' coil is only 49 bucks. That will serve all your wire antenna needs for a long while. The larger 12ga. copperweld is but $71 for 500'. The stuff is virtually indestructible.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2010
  6. W7GTG

    W7GTG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am a very impatient person and just like the idea, if I can get it now why wait?:D On top of that Im in the middle of buying my first house so Im trying to keep spending down until I get settled in. Also, I just got my upgrade and really want to try my hand at home brew antennas but feel that this early in the game I dont want to worry about messing up with the higher price wiring. I do plan on going with the good stuff, but like to know my options. I would also like to say thanks to everyone for the help, this is THE best ham forum out there!
  7. W6ONV

    W6ONV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I second what W6UX said!
  8. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yes, I too endorse Home Depot 16 ga. stranded wire - works good and is cheap!
  9. AA4HA

    AA4HA Ham Member QRZ Page

    I hope you do not end up with a Homeowners Association that has covenants against antennas!

    With regular copper wire be aware that it will stretch over time and this will change the resonant length of the antenna. You may find the sweet spot on the antenna keeps moving lower in frequency as the antenna gets longer.

    <smile> some folks would say that is the spirits of hams past trying to push you into the CW portions of the band! (hi, hi)

    Tisha Hayes
  10. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    That's pretty much the only thing I ever use! I learned to despise copperweld 6 months into my ham "career." :)
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