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Planning to set up a HF antenna for RX-only.

However, I can't decide what kind of wire to use. I want to buy something new.

My first thought is to buy a spool of 16 Gauge copper wire, but am hoping to not destroy my wallet.

Will that work well, or are there other design characteristics I should consider?

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    $\begingroup$ Sorry, but shopping questions are off-topic. If you can edit your question to be asking about the properties you should be looking for in wire, please do. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Apr 6 '18 at 4:32
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    $\begingroup$ You could rephrase the question to ask the advantages and disadvantages of different gauges of wire. We can't really post on where to buy it - remember that we're an international community, so the best place to buy it in Tulsa is likely very different from where to buy it in Halifax, Nova Scotia or Bishkek, Kyrgysztan. $\endgroup$ – Jim MacKenzie VE5EV Apr 6 '18 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ Excellent idea, Kevin and Jim. With the rewrite I nominate this question for reopening - with a username like tech2025 I can only presume that this user has been a tech for a short time so want the Ham SE experience to be positive so the OPer will come back. $\endgroup$ – SDsolar Apr 6 '18 at 17:23
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I believe plain copper (presumably non-insulated) will be a non-optimal choice - particularly because it will stretch. Plus, since it is coming from a spool it is very easy to kink it which can cause it to break - constant worry.

In the old days we would use the Alaska Way to take care of the stretching problem by hard-drawing it: We'd take plain copper wire and tie it off to the bumper of a truck, with an intentional kink in it right before the bumper. Then we would slowly drive forward to stretch it until it broke at the kink.

You would be amazed how far it would stretch until it was strong enough to break at the kink. During the process it is important to watch out for unintentional kinks, of course.

But that was then and this is now.


Now I use Hard-drawn 7-strand 14 Gauge Copper antenna wire.

http://www.amateurradiosupplies.com/product-p/10173.htm

(This is a listing for 200 feet on a spool for $32.99 + shipping.)

I bought two spools recently and it is great stuff.

enter image description here

(This example photo shows 50 feet from an eBay listing)


And of course, an antenna is not simply made of a piece of wire. To make the total skyhook you'll want to mount it.


I also use small egg insulators at the end of the wire, with the antenna wire folded back and secured with a small hose clamp:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/152565482141

enter image description here

https://www.ebay.com/itm/131441937300

enter image description here


To string it up I use 3mm Mastrant-P for a particular run where it is used for tensioning - can't have the long 80-meter wires drooping down over the yard

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Mastrant-3mm-Diameter-Mastrant-P-Braided-Rope-w-Twisted-Core-100-Foot-Length/112827110869

enter image description here

I'm building a multi-band fan-shaped dipole that will be up for years to come, so decided the price was worth it.

Dipole antennas: Will paracord hold up well enough in the sun? Is there a better alternative?


Paracord works but stretches more. So it is fine for shorter runs and a lot more affordable.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Paracord-100-Feet-Mil-Spec-7-Strand-Type-III-Nylon-Parachute-Cord/262931740204

enter image description here This is Mil-Spec 7-strand Type III Nylon at a very affordable price


You can decide whether the wallet trumps quality.

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    $\begingroup$ Good answer -- as an alternative though, regular #12 house wiring, copper wire with PVC insulation, works great. I have been using it for decades. The insulation gives it strength and I have only had it break once in a huge wind storm with 75 mph wind gusts. I use it for 80-meter and a 40-meter TX/RX antenna. Used to have a delta loop but lost one of the trees used as a corner anchor. $\endgroup$ – K7PEH Apr 7 '18 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ Excellent concept. I have wondered about using regular Romex for antenna wire. I always came up with two questions: How much wind resistance will it present (which directly translates into the kind of tie-downs I'd need) then whether or not it works well to short it at both ends to get more surface area. With Romex you have 3 wires, so it seems shorting them would work. Sorry you lost your tree. What band was your Delta built for? $\endgroup$ – SDsolar Apr 23 '18 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ I am not using Romex. I am using a single insulated (PVC insulation) copper stranded wire, #12. It is sold by the 500 foot spool at my local Home Depot. I get black insulation but it comes in blue, green, and I think brown. Over the years, some high winds, on the order of 60 mph gusts and more have brought the antenna down because the tall fir trees (Douglas fir and Western Red Cedar) that I use as my anchor points for dipoles about 60 to 75 feet up sway in the wind so much that the antenna whiplashes and breaks usually at the center insulator attachment. $\endgroup$ – K7PEH Apr 23 '18 at 5:02
  • $\begingroup$ I operated my horizontal delta on 80 thru 10 and it was the best wire antenna I owned. I actually have lots of trees to use in the back for anchors for antennas but they are not spread out enough to have a delta anymore unless I cross over some neighboring properties. $\endgroup$ – K7PEH Apr 23 '18 at 5:05
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I'd use copper clad (30%) steel wire. It's stronger, less stretchy, and less costly, and the current only flows on the outside of the wire so the steel is irrelevant to the resistance of the conductor. You can also get a plastic covered version of this wire. This wire with a dark green plastic coating is very stealthy.

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  • $\begingroup$ Upvote for doing it the Army Way. And for the good technical reasons all around. $\endgroup$ – SDsolar Apr 23 '18 at 0:40
  • $\begingroup$ Copperweld® is available with a green coating? Where can we get some? $\endgroup$ – Mike Waters Apr 23 '18 at 17:55

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