Attempting My First Antenna

August 7, 2009 at 8:38 am Leave a comment

So I went to Home Depot and bought a number of items:

  • A length of bare 8 gauge copper wire ($0.48/ft)
  • A length of insulated 12 gauge copper wire ($0.25/ft)
  • Some metallic connectors to connect two ends of the bare wire
  • Some “butt splices” which are basically connectors for the smaller 12 gauge wire
  • Some wire cutters/crimpers/strippers

Wire Choices

The reason I went with those two wires is because I wanted to deal with wire rather than a tube for ease of use to bend it by hand. I also needed something stiff enough to maintain its shape once its been shaped the way I want.

You can go larger than 8 gauge bare copper wire, and the 6 gauge is definitely stiffer than the 8 gauge I got. I may consider getting some if the 8 gauge doesn’t hold well enough. That said, Bashar talked about using insulated wire so I’ll probably be going that route first anyways.

You can go fatter than 12 gauge insulated copper wire, but you had to switch to a whole bunch of smaller copper wires bunched together in a larger insulated container. I found this to be much more flexible than a single piece of copper. It doesn’t maintain its shape nearly as well as a single piece. That said, the 12 gauge insulated wire seems to hold its shape pretty well.

Building the first antenna

For the first antenna I took the long length of bare 8 gauge copper wire and started coiling one end of it freehand.

First Single CoilThis seemed to work alright at first. It wasn’t pretty, but it was starting to make the coil shape. There were a few main problems I ran into using one long length of cable like this:

  • The coil was made of a bunch of little angled bends rather than a smooth circular shape. Not sure how much this’ll matter in the end.
  • When it was time to start making the second coil back down, it was tough to make the turns with the heavyish coil already hanging down, plus the loooong length of cable I was working with on the other end. It was getting a little cumbersome.

Seeing this, I gave up on this coil and decided to start anew, using two precut lengths of copper cable and joining them together in the end.


Entry filed under: Construction. Tags: , .

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