Conductors for antennas, lighning rods...

Thread Starter

Externet

Joined Nov 29, 2005
1,937
Greetings.
Being all geometrically identical, is a brass, a copper, an aluminiun, a titanium, an iron, a bronze, a magnesium, a stainless steel antenna better for reception than other ?
Same with lightning rods. Will one conductor material perform better than another for sure with no doubt ?
Try not to consider the historic part/cost of materials used...
 

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
10,427
Greetings.
Being all geometrically identical, is a brass, a copper, an aluminiun, a titanium, an iron, a bronze, a magnesium, a stainless steel antenna better for reception than other ?
Same with lightning rods. Will one conductor material perform better than another for sure with no doubt ?
Try not to consider the historic part/cost of materials used...
In general a high conductance layer on a durable substrate metal due to skin effect is better for an antenna but stainless steel works fine with little extra loss on most cases. Magnesium as a lightning rod would be cool, once. ;)

 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
13,207
Copper is the most effective material, as mentioned in post #3 the copper only needs to be on the surface.
For lightning rods, steel is OK, aluminum for the leads because at 100,000 amps any conductor will evaporate.
 

Papabravo

Joined Feb 24, 2006
19,346
Copper coated steel wire makes the most durable antennas for HF work 3.5 - 30 MHz. At VHF and higher frequencies directional antennas made of aluminum tube predominate.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
4,409
Copper coated steel wire makes the most durable antennas for HF work
Not down here on the coast. One little nick from a branch scrub or when trying to twist the copper clad wire around an insulator to terminate it and the steel rusts not to mention shorting the antenna. I now use (and have for over 40 years) green #12 THHN/THWN stranded (solid just as good) and insulated wire for all of my wire antennas. The insulation gives some brush protection when the wind starts howling and shaking all the trees. All of my multiband verticals and multi element Yagis were all aluminum tubing with stainless steel hardware.

All of our "lightning rods" at the plant were simply a copper clad steel 10' x 5/8" ground rod and all were grounded with uninsulated stranded copper in the upper gauges. Can't remember precisely but not MCM sized I don't think. Aluminum tends to corrode in coastal sea air especially in a chemical plant causing bad connections even with the noncorrosive antioxidation gel treatment.

The TS did say not to worry about cost... Be the first ham on yer block with a Gold Yagi!
 
Last edited:

Papabravo

Joined Feb 24, 2006
19,346
Not down here on the coast. One little nick from a branch scrub or when trying to twist the copper clad wire around an insulator to terminate it and the steel rusts not to mention shorting the antenna. I now use (and have for over 40 years) green #12 THHN/THWN stranded (solid just as good) and insulated wire for all of my wire antennas. The insulation gives some brush protection when the wind starts howling and shaking all the trees. All of my multiband verticals and multi element Yagis were all aluminum tubing with stainless steel hardware.

All of our "lightning rods" at the plant were simply a copper clad steel 10' x 5/8" ground rod and all were grounded with uninsulated stranded copper in the upper gauges. Can't remember precisely but not MCM sized I don't think. Aluminum tends to corrode in coastal sea air especially in a chemical plant causing bad connections even with the noncorrosive antioxidation gel treatment.

The TS did say not to worry about cost... Be the first ham on yer block with a Gold Yagi!
The copper coated steel wire also has an insulation layer over it and my particular setup survived 15 Michigan winters without any significant degradation.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
4,409
Nope, no insulation on mine (unless it was a lacquer coat) and the copper coat was verrrry thin. It was probably a cheapo dipole kit that I bought as a new young ham way back when. The only good thing I could find is the steel wire stretches less, not that I can tell a heck of a lot of difference in a dipole and mine get jerked around pretty good from the wind whipping the tree limbs they are strung from. I used to run inverted Vees but now just a sagging off-center dipole with the balun hanging from a strut on my 30' pipe "tower" for my 28' 10M vertical and each end tied off a high as I could find a limb to throw a line over. That and a sloper and longwire for the all-bander Rxvr.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
13,207
I have seen that there are several different grades of copper over steel wire, and at least two different grades of steel. One extreme is old "railroad telegraph ' wire, which has a heavy copper coating, like it is an extrusion of copper over steel. That steel core is tough steel, and it is a pain to work with, but "it lasts forever." Next best is the good "electric fence" wire that has a reasonable copper plating that is fairly durable. And then there is some really cheaper stuff with a limp steel center and a copper colored plating that will rust through with even just handling a bit. I found the railroad telegraph wire at a building materials resale store, no clues where it came from. It was weathered but it still has no rust at all.
 
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