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Author Topic: Wire to use for a 160 meter long wire  (Read 6636 times)
N7GCO
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Posts: 146




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« on: December 10, 2010, 04:54:31 PM »

I realize you can use about any wire, but I would rather not be replacing it often. What is a good wire to use for long wire and dipole antennas?
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KC0W
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Posts: 49




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« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2010, 05:34:26 PM »

You want to purchase some Copperweld wire..............Radioworks (and many others) sell it.   http://www.radioworks.com/cwire.html


Tom KC0W
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K5LXP
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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2010, 06:59:31 PM »

Flexweave is tough stuff and a lot easier to work with than copperweld.

<http://www.davisrf.com/flexweave.php>

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
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K0ZN
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Posts: 1553




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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2010, 11:06:46 PM »


How long is the maximum span on your antenna?....that is a big determinant.

Do you have icing problems in your area?...that is a BIG factor. An ice load can get very heavy.
I would guess that ice has broken more antennas than any other weather factor.

If you want "bullet proof", you want the copperweld. It is not really hard to work with, but it does have a strong
inclination to coil up. With two people it is pretty easy to work with. WEAR EYE PROTECTION with that stuff!!
It has a nasty tendency to spring back at you if it slips out of your hand.

Personally, after messing with a lot of wire types over the years, I have gone to bare, # 12, soft drawn wire. You can get
it for very reasonable prices in 500 ft. spools at electrical supply houses. Shop around; the price may vary. I get the bare,
but you could buy it insulated (which is fine, but will shorten the antenna length slightly and pick up a little more ice) at
any of the "Big Box" hardware stores for very competitive prices. Personally, if I did that, I would remove the insulation....but
insulation will NOT affect how the antenna radiates. The breaking strength of # 12 copper is really pretty decent, it is easy
to work with and relatively cheap. the only draw back is that you have to pre-stretch it by tying it off to a solid object and
pulling hard on it to make it "hard drawn". I have  seen a lot of ice on my 80 M dipole and it is still up. #14 is OK too
if you don't have any ice. The multi strand "antenna wire" is good stuff too, but a little more cantankerous to use.....tends to coil
and is a little more money.
 The #12 solid, after you pull it out doesn't coil at all which is nice and e. Just be careful to watch the wires and make sure they
don't coil back on themselves and get a "loop kink" which has to be straightened out and will be a weak spot.
I just put up a 160 M Inverted V with #12 solid; friendly stuff to work with.

Obviously, the Insulators must have the equivalent or more strength than the wire. Strong insulators are a must
with copperweld as it tends to bend less and can put smaller points of high pressure on an insulator. Strong wire is
a waste with weak or fragile insulators.

Hint:  small "split bolt" wire connectors (available in the electrical dept. at almost any decent hardware store)
 make EXCELLENT "wire fasteners" for antennas.  They are very easy to work with if you
are connecting to ladderline. I have used many of them over the years and had zero problems. They are also nice on the
ends of the antenna because you can leave some extra wire in a loop at the end that can be used to adjust antenna length
if needed. They certainly would be THE connector to use with copperweld.

Good luck.

73,  K0ZN
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K9IUQ
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Posts: 1957




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« Reply #4 on: December 11, 2010, 04:20:15 AM »

I realize you can use about any wire, but I would rather not be replacing it often. What is a good wire to use for long wire and dipole antennas?

Copperweld sucks, much too hard to work with. You will only use it once, the next time you will use an easier to use wire. I wouldn't use copperweld even if it was free.  Cheesy

14 or 12ga STRANDED insulated house wire is very strong, easy to use, cheap, and available everywhere. Available in many decor colors to match your landscape.  Cheesy

There will be purists here that will say house wire will stretch, insulation not for outdoors, less efficient, not suitable, etc. My own 50 year experience with it says otherwise. It works just fine and yes I have been thru many ice storms with house wire antennas.

Do not use solid house wire for antennas and do not use bare wire. Strip the insulation off?? You gotta be kidding.

Stan K9IUQ

« Last Edit: December 11, 2010, 04:43:08 AM by Stan Shestokes » Logged
K8KAS
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Posts: 569




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« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2010, 06:47:28 AM »

Nothing beats Copperweld if you want to put it up and forget it. Flexweave is good for ONE attempt and then the suff can not be soldered too. It also is expensive wire. You don't mention just what a long wire is, is it a 1000 feet or 100 feet. Long wires? on 160 are cloud warmers and not much else unless your 150 or 200 feet in the air. A nice inverted L , up 60 and out 60 feet with a dozen radials
is very hard to beat for a simple effective antenna on 160. IMHO Denny K8KAS
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WB6BYU
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Posts: 13336




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« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2010, 09:42:19 AM »

Obviously there are different opinions.  It helps when folks explain the reasoning behind their choices.
The answer also depends on factors such as how much help you have to put it up, whether you have
to work around obstacles, and what you are tying it to at the ends.

I'd agree that genuine CopperWeld(c) is best for long term strength and durability.  (Do NOT get
copper-coated welding wire instead - it doesn't work well.)  It can be a pain to work with because
it likes to coil back up, but if you can tie one end off, unreel it, and tie the other end to stretch
it you can tame it a bit, then keep it under tension as much as possible while you install it.

There is a multi-strand CopperWeld(c) product available, but it probably isn't a good choice on
160m because the copper thickness on each individual strand is less than the skin depth on
the lower bands, so it will have higher losses.

Soft copper house wire, stranded or solid, bare or insulated, is a reasonable choice for less extreme
applications.  It will stretch somewhat, especially for a long unsupported span that has to hold the
weight of the coax.  Pre-stretching it will help somewhat.  Stranded wire will be more flexible and
less prone to kinks, while solid will be a bit stronger and have slightly better conductivity.  In most
applications, price is probably the important deciding factor.

Kink can be a problem with any type of wire, though they tend to be worse with solid wire.  But
even with stranded they can weaken the wire, so install it carefully and work out the kinks before
they get pulled flat.

Stranded copper wire will tend to corrode between the individual strands over time.  This takes longer
if it is insulated, but it will still wick moisture in from the ends.  As the strands become more
insulated from each other the losses increase due to skin effect.  Again this is more of a problem on
160m than on the other bands because the skin depth is greater.

What are you using for anchors at the ends?  Trees can be a real problem when they sway in the
wind, as 1 foot of movement at one end of the antenna can greatly increase the stress on the wire.
If you are using a tree at one or both ends, make sure you have a counterweight arrangement of some
sort.  For one of my wires I have a chunk of concrete sitting on the ground that the wire is tied off to -
when the wind blows the concrete will lift off the ground, limiting the stress on the wire to the weight
of the concrete (plus some friction in the pulley, etc.)  Nylon rope has more stretch to it than some
other types, which can come in handy in such situations as well, but I wouldn't count on it to provide
all of the stress relief if you are tied off to a good sized tree.

Ice storms can be a problem for either bare or stranded wire, and you have to assess how common
they are in your area.  We get one every two to three years, and they really haven't been a problem
as long as I use counterweights on the ropes.  (The wires sag down to ground level on occasion.)
Of course the pulleys might ice up to where they don't work...  I've heard that coating the wire with
automotive wax will help to shed the ice so it doesn't build up as much, but I haven't tried it.

You also have to consider how flat you expect the antenna to be when installed.  The only way you
can get a perfectly horizontal wire between two supports is to apply infinite tension, which isn't
practical.  The more sag, the less stress on the wire.  (Also, the further between supports, the
more stress for the same amount of sag.)  I tend to use light tension (and light wire - I just put
up a 160m antenna using #14 stranded house wire and it seemed unusually large and heavy.)
Others use more tension to make the wire straighter, and they probably couldn't get by with the
small wire I normally use.

And, of course, make sure that you don't put mechanical stress on your electrical connections:
secure the wire to the center insulator mechanically, then add a flexible jumper to make the
electrical connection.  This is particularly important with stranded wire, where a solder joint
can greatly weaken the wire - secure the wire to the insulator first, then attach the free end
to the electrical connection so there is no strain on it.


So if you want your antenna to stay up for a while there is a lot more to consider than just the
type of wire.  Even the strongest wire may come down in circumstances that a lighter wire would
withstand if it is installed properly.
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K0ZN
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Posts: 1553




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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2010, 02:00:28 PM »


Comment to K9IUQ:

 < K9IUQ: "Do not use solid house wire for antennas and do not use bare wire. Strip the insulation off?? You gotta be kidding." >
 
 You are certainly welcome to your opinion..... everybody's got one.

 I have seen a lot more wire failures with stranded house wire (in both antennas and other wiring applications) in my 55 years of
hamming than solid mainly because the small wires tend to break at stress and brasion points.  If you terminate it properly my
experience is that solid is more reliable,  especially at feed points. Reality probably is that both, if done right, will work just fine.
Bronze wire cable is often used in shipboard installations and that is a different ball game.

 The reason for removing insulation:  Insulation in small wires just adds to the span load, wind loading and ice loading; doesn't hurt
anything, but no significant advantage.   I can tell you from professional experience that there has never been a pernanent commercial,
marine or military HF or LF antenna installed that used insulated wire.....and money was not an issue in these installations; if insulation
was necessary, it would have been there.

Like you, I have never had a "house wire" antenna come down, even in some pretty nasty ice. I have even seen # 14 survive some
surprising ice loads.

To me the worst part of "CopperWeld" is that if you need to trim or lengthen the antenna it is more of a pain than copper wire
and is a hassle to work with, especially if you are working alone......but, man, it is strong.


73,  K0ZN
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K9IUQ
Member

Posts: 1957




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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2010, 02:51:38 PM »

Comment to K9IUQ:

 < K9IUQ: "Do not use solid house wire for antennas and do not use bare wire. Strip the insulation off?? You gotta be kidding." >
 
 You are certainly welcome to your opinion..... everybody's got one.

Not opinion, real life world experiences with solid wire, you see I was an electrician most of my adult working life and worked with solid and stranded wire..

Soft drawn house Solid wire will after a certain amount of flexing, break. Not opinion, a fact of life. Stranded wire is very difficult to break by flexing and with insulation near impossible.

Many years ago I was using SOLID open wire feedline going to my 130ft antenna. It was windy that night and the antenna had only been up a few months. I was having a great time telling lies at legal limit on 75 mtrs when I smelled smoke in the shack. Lots of smoke, the go get the fire department kinda smoke.

I shut everything off. The smoke was emanating from my Dentron legal limit plus tuner.

Inspection the next day found the balun had fried. Further inspection found one conductor of the open wire feedline had broke, due to the swaying in the wind. That was the last time I ever used solid wire in an antenna system..

I can not tell you how many times I have seen solid wire break at a electrical outlet or switch in a house.

There are advantages to using insulated wire, in spite of your thinking otherwise. Insulating the antenna wires from contact with tree branches comes to mind immediately.

Stan K9IUQ
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W0BTU
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« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2010, 04:26:08 PM »

I realize you can use about any wire, but I would rather not be replacing it often. What is a good wire to use for long wire and dipole antennas?


I'm not sure I would do this myself (for that antenna at least), but there's always galvanized electric fence wire. Can't beat the strength and price combo.

Copperweld is OK, as is about any kind of copper. Everything has its good and bad points.

You say "160 meter long wire". Every new ham (I take it you're not that new) probably thinks of an end fed as the easiest. If, though, you want something effective on 160, put up an inverted-L and lay down some radials to make it work. http://www.w0btu.com/files/antenna/Optimum_no_of_radials_vs_radial_length.html
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WB6BYU
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Posts: 13336




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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2010, 08:42:55 AM »

Quote from: K9IUQ
...Further inspection found one conductor of the open wire feedline had broke, due to the swaying in the wind. That was the last time I ever used solid wire in an antenna system..

Failures at the feedline connections are probably the most common problem when using parallel-conductor
line.  While an antenna is usually under a certain amount of strain that tends to dampen vibrations,
the feedline often flaps in the breeze.  If the joints don't have proper strain relief at the ends the wire
often breaks there.  If you look at the commercial insulators for ladder line they often have 4 to 6
inches of plastic to secure to the feedline so it doesn't flex right at the connections - this is part
of making the joint mechanically secure before making the electrical connection.  If anything this
would argue against using solid wire for parallel-conductor feedlines rather than for antennas.  On
the other hand, if stranded wire isn't installed properly the stress can be distributed unevenly
across the strands, allowing them to break one by one.  It all goes to show the importance of
good mechanical design, especially at joints.



Quote from: W0BTU
I'm not sure I would do this myself (for that antenna at least), but there's always galvanized electric fence wire. Can't beat the strength and price combo.

Iron and/or steel wire has higher losses than copper due to hysteresis - the energy required to
remagnetize the iron in the opposite direction for each half cycle of the RF waveform.  I haven't
been able to find any reliable numbers on just how much more lossy it is, though.  I've used
steel and galvanized wire for temporary antennas and it still radiates, but if I'm looking at
electric fence wire I'd consider the aluminum type instead.  Not as strong, perhaps, but lighter
(so it doesn't require as much tension) and less loss.  I've had a 130' length of one of the
smaller gauges of aluminum electric fence wire up for about 10 years through a couple of ice
storms without any problems (with a counterweight in the tree at the far end), though I'd
probably recommend a larger size for a more permanent installation.  The main problem is getting
a good connection to it, generally best done using stainless steel bolts and washers.
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K0ZN
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Posts: 1553




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« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2010, 04:14:06 PM »


  WB6BYU hit the nail exactly on the head. He is dead on:

 >>  "It all goes to show the importance of good mechanical design, especially at joints."  <<

 I live in a VERY windy area and have found that you simply must come up with a method to reduce
wind whip and "fly" if you expect the system to last very long. I have had good luck with light, secondary
"guy" lines on ladder line and/or have some other methods to dampen wind whip and reduce "flying". I have used
2 oz. fishing weights suspended with small dacron/nylon "antenna rope" about 24" below the ladderline to dampen
wind movement. I have also had good luck with short lengths of moderately heavy chain ( laying on the ground) that 
are connected to the ladder line run with nylon or dacron rope as it rises to the antenna. The chain is heavy, but
light enough that it will lift and "give" in extreme gusts, yet have no load in light or no wind. 
I suppose one advantage of 600 ohm open wire line would be greatly  reduced wind effects.
Ladderline is good stuff, but it really goes crazy in high winds if you don't make some
serious efforts to reduce wind effects on it and especially where it is terminated at the antenna or at ground end.

My experience is that the ladderline with the #18 solid conductor very quickly kinked and bent in high winds.
"NOT recommended".  The best stuff is the ladderline with the stranded # 14, it is tough stuff and seems to
handle a lot of flexing without failing.

73,  K0ZN
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N7GCO
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Posts: 146




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« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2010, 09:16:08 PM »

Thanks for all the input. I hope to buy the wire tomorrow, so your thoughts were very helpful.
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KB9CRY
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« Reply #13 on: December 14, 2010, 09:47:36 AM »

I realize you can use about any wire, but I would rather not be replacing it often. What is a good wire to use for long wire and dipole antennas?


Hard drawn copper, 14 ga min.  CableXperts
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K5ACO
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« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2010, 07:03:38 AM »

17 ga aluminum electric fence wire.  it is very light and easy to wrk with.  will last a few yrs unless you get heavy ice loading.  cost is $20 for a 1320 ft spool

i am currently using it for 160m inv. vee and it is working great with 130 ft spans.

strength to weight ratio is much better than copper.  requires only small amount.of tension.  ( i have hazer so not a problem to reach top of antenna if it fails.)
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