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I understand that steel is not a good material for antenna wire, but let's consider that I'm using the wire for purely structural support, or I am cladding it with copper to address the RF conductivity issues.

Then, which material is more suited to being strung between two supports? It seems to me there is a balance between at least two main concerns:

  • the wire should be strong, so it doesn't break
  • the wire should be light, so it has to support less of its own weight

To a lesser extent, cost may be a factor, although both steel and aluminum are affordable enough that it may not be an issue.

What material properties are relevant to this application? (Remember: purely structural concerns, not electrical.) Can we put some numbers and proper engineering to it?

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  • $\begingroup$ Can you rewrite the question so it's more obvious that the answers would be different here than they would be on diy, or physics, or another site because you are asking in regards to antenna masts? As it is, I don't think that the answers would be any different since you're merely asking about structural support of guy and other support wires. As such, this sounds like a problem an amateur radio operator would have, but not a problem that they would be specially suited to solving through application of amateur radio techniques and principles. $\endgroup$ – Adam Davis Feb 20 '14 at 20:15
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    $\begingroup$ @AdamDavisKD8OAS I'm not sure that's what I want. But, if you want to have a discussion about whether this sort of thing is on topic, I think that would be a good discussion to have. $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Feb 20 '14 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ Does wind or ice matter? $\endgroup$ – Paul Mar 1 '14 at 10:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Paul I suppose it does. $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Mar 1 '14 at 12:03
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Power cables typically have Aluminium conductors enclosing a steel core. 'nuf said? The Aluminium stretches with time, thus changing the tuning, work hardens and can crack, as does steel but at a greater rate, expands more with change in temperature, and although I have no experience with this, becomes brittle at higher temperatures (Read that as 'less cold') than steel. Copper antenna wires need to be pre-stretched to harden the copper, but I don't believe that works for Aluminium.

Another concern is the cross-section, or outer diameter of the conductor as this effects the band-width of the tuning. Thicker conductors have a greater bandwidth.

Light Aluminium power conductors with a steel core be good if a suitable size is available.

Check your local electrical cable supplier for catenary rated cables.

I have known of hams using discarded coax used in television stations for the copper plated steel core, but mostly for the outer sheath as a thick conductor, and low weight. (NB: the impedance doesn't matter, we're using the sheath.)

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  • $\begingroup$ The question states: Remember: purely structural concerns, not electrical. $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Jul 20 '14 at 11:46
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This might help : Type M® Guy Wire - Alumoweld Aluminum-Clad Steel

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