When I went to the market with my Sir Mr Sudhir Shah (VU2SVS) to buy materials for making an HF dipole antenna, this was my first question. “Sir, which is the best wire for making a Dipole Antenna.”

First thing Sudhir sir told me was, “NEVER USE A SINGLE STRAND WIRE FOR ANTENNA RADIALS (Shielded or Non-Shielded). It is highly advisable not to use a single core copper wire like which is used for earthing of home wiring (18 Gauge or thicker)”.

I still remember I had written down these notes standing at the footpath of Lohar Chawl Market in Mumbai, while he was giving the dictation.

Here is what he explained.

He says the core of a conductor offers greater resistance to an AC current flow compared to the resistance offered by the surface. In other words, the surface allows a greater amount of current flow compared to the core.

This effect is called “Skin Effect”.

Also, there is a circular current, which flows in the core which leads to heating of the conductor.

This current which flows in a circular pattern is called as “Eddy Current.”

The heating of the conductor leads to heat energy losses to the atmosphere surrounding the conductor. These heat losses also called as Eddy Current Losses, cannot be in any way acquired to do any useful work.

From the above notes, it will be observed that one should try and have a greater surface area to the conductor so that it facilitates a higher current flow along the surface.

Also read: Understanding Cables Used In Ham Radio Hobby

This can be easily achieved if a single core conductor is split into multiple strands whereby one generates a large amount of surface area, which leads to lower resistance and thus permits a greater current flow.

In other words, even after using the same quantity of copper you can achieve a greater surface area because of multiple strands and hence leading to a greater surface area, lowered resistance allowing more current flow.

Hence it is advisable to use a multi-stranded wire to form the two arms of a dipole.

Copper wires of various sizes
Copper wires of various sizes

Please Note: To understand the thickness (current carrying capacity) of the wire it is important to know the thickness of each strand & the No. of Strands.

The thickness of the individual strand should be measured with an accurate micrometre.

At a slightly increased cost, he recommends using the six sq. Mm wire with 83 strands.

The best company for wires he recommends is Finolex and Polycab.

Finolex wires are always sold per boxes (90 or 100 Mtrs), but if you go for Polycab, you can easily get loose wires in the market, of any length you want like 10 meters or 25 meters or whatever.

Also read: Why You Maintain A Sample Box

One of the best shops to buy wires in Mumbai is ‘Sun Moon Electricals’ located at Lohar Chawl Market.

Here are their prices as on September 2018.

1 Sq mm Polycab @ Rs. 10 Per Meter (Has 14 Strands)
1.5 Sq mm Polycab @ Rs. 15 Per Meter (Has 22 Strands)
2.5 Sq mm Polycab @ Rs. 22 Per Meter (Has 36 Strands)
4 Sq mm Polycab @ Rs. 31 Per Meter (Has 51 Strands)
6 Sq mm Polycab @ Rs. 46 per meter (Has 83 Strands)

For my HF Dipole antenna, I had used the 6 Sq. Mm Polycab wire that I had bought in October 2016 at the cost of Rs. 38 per meter.

Please Note: If you are buying any other brand or size then, the wire should at least handle more than 2 to 2.5 amp power. So while selecting the wire, check out the details or specifications, that how much gauge wire can accept and how much of amp power.

Also read: How to Anchor your HF Dipole Antenna

73 de VU2NFJ