Electronics > Beginners

Wires - A Guide

(1/5) > >>

Architect_1077:
After searching around for guides related to types of wiring used in electronics, I've found there doesn't seem to be much. For a beginner, going over to an online retailer such as Farnell and searching for wire brings back an enormous amount of products. There is bare copper wire, tinned copper wire, pvc insulated, silicone insulated, different stranding: single strand, 19/26, 26/30, etc. etc. etc.... As a beginner it becomes a daunting task trying to figure all this out and trying to find what he or she wants/needs.

SO, I ask the question: are there any guides, or could someone give us beginners some guidance as to wiring? Different types, uses, advantages/disadvantages for each, etc.

How about it folks?

EDIT:
Quoting fellow forum user mctaylor:


--- Quote ---I'll try to touch on some basics, and give you an idea of what direct to at least ask smart questions about any particulars. I remember being overwhelmed myself the first time I wanted to order some hookup wire from an electronics supplier, rather than use whatever scraps I could find in my parts collection (aka "junk box").

The first basic property of cooper wire (I'm going to exclude aluminum and high resistance wires) is the diameter or gauge. The two gauge standards that I am aware of are American Wire Gauge (AWG) and (British) Standard Wire Gauge (SWG).

From this you can use reference tables to determine the length per weight/mass (i.e. ft/lbs or m/kg), the maximum current carrying capacity (continuous or intermittent duty) for a given max temperature (say 100C / 212F) and maximum ambient temperature (say 57C / 134F). This may be specified by the National Electrical Code (NEC) or other local building / electrical standards depending on application or regional requirements.

The maximum safe voltage potential if determined by the insulation type and thickness. This may 300, 600, 1000V as common examples. Otherwise the insulation type is important for physical characteristics, such as fire/flame resistant, toxicity (directly and/or from being heated or burnt), and flexibility (tight bends).

Bare copper wire is uninsulated, and may be pre-tinned as copper easily oxidized when exposure to air and moisture. Bare wire may be used as a short jumper, where being inadvertently shorted is unlikely or impossible and not a safety hazard. The only other application I can think of bare wire is as a sensor (moisture) or electrode. Otherwise it is not worth the small cost savings of not being coated in insulation.

The pre-tinned is being coated in tin metal or alloy (e.g. tin/lead) which improves solderability and reduces oxidation when exposed to air. This oxidation acts as an thin layer of insulator or forms a very poor rectifier (diode) producing unreliable and possibly confusing results.

Cable means simply a bundle or more than a single wire.

Most wire is either a single solid strand of the specified gauge or a twisted bundle of smaller diameter wires, so as to be easier to bend, and if a couple strands break it doesn't imply the entire bundle will break creating a open in the wire.

Wires and cables can able be shielded (screened) with a outer conductive layer on top of the first layer of insulation of either fine braided mesh or foil (typically aluminum) and a second insulation layer.

For normal voltage and low to modest current and power requirements, most electronic projects use a reasonable fine gauge of insulated wire referred to as "hook-up wire" in multiple colours (red, black, green, yellow, blue, and white are probably most common due to colour coding conventions). I would first select four colours in 22 AWG of solid wire with whatever insulation. Next I would add 3 or 4 colours of stranded 24 AWG hook-up for connections that will be flexed more.
Then I would add 3 or 4 colours of solid 18 AWG hook-up wire, and possibly a red/black pair of "zip-wire" (two insulated conductors in parallel, also called lamp cord) for power hook-ups of solid or stranded 18 or 16 AWG.

Over time you will add wire & cables based on application needs, such as ribbon cable for parallel data or signal  connections, coax cable for radio frequency or very high speed serial usage, and magnet wire for winding your own transformers and inductors. For high-voltage applications (e.g telsa coils) you'll likely need to purchase wire with suitable high voltage insulation, and the same for power applications like power amplifiers and power supplies.
--- End quote ---

tsaavik:
Yeah, I'd like to toss 'irritated wire' onto this list. I have heard that the jacket has less of a tendency to shrink/peel back when soldering the conductor.
 

mctaylor:
I'll try to touch on some basics, and give you an idea of what direct to at least ask smart questions about any particulars. I remember being overwhelmed myself the first time I wanted to order some hookup wire from an electronics supplier, rather than use whatever scraps I could find in my parts collection (aka "junk box").

The first basic property of cooper wire (I'm going to exclude aluminum and high resistance wires) is the diameter or gauge. The two gauge standards that I am aware of are American Wire Gauge (AWG) and (British) Standard Wire Gauge (SWG).

From this you can use reference tables to determine the length per weight/mass (i.e. ft/lbs or m/kg), the maximum current carrying capacity (continuous or intermittent duty) for a given max temperature (say 100C / 212F) and maximum ambient temperature (say 57C / 134F). This may be specified by the National Electrical Code (NEC) or other local building / electrical standards depending on application or regional requirements.

The maximum safe voltage potential if determined by the insulation type and thickness. This may 300, 600, 1000V as common examples. Otherwise the insulation type is important for physical characteristics, such as fire/flame resistant, toxicity (directly and/or from being heated or burnt), and flexibility (tight bends).

Bare copper wire is uninsulated, and may be pre-tinned as copper easily oxidized when exposure to air and moisture. Bare wire may be used as a short jumper, where being inadvertently shorted is unlikely or impossible and not a safety hazard. The only other application I can think of bare wire is as a sensor (moisture) or electrode. Otherwise it is not worth the small cost savings of not being coated in insulation.

The pre-tinned is being coated in tin metal or alloy (e.g. tin/lead) which improves solderability and reduces oxidation when exposed to air. This oxidation acts as an thin layer of insulator or forms a very poor rectifier (diode) producing unreliable and possibly confusing results.

Cable means simply a bundle or more than a single wire.

Most wire is either a single solid strand of the specified gauge or a twisted bundle of smaller diameter wires, so as to be easier to bend, and if a couple strands break it doesn't imply the entire bundle will break creating a open in the wire.

Wires and cables can able be shielded (screened) with a outer conductive layer on top of the first layer of insulation of either fine braided mesh or foil (typically aluminum) and a second insulation layer.

For normal voltage and low to modest current and power requirements, most electronic projects use a reasonable fine gauge of insulated wire referred to as "hook-up wire" in multiple colours (red, black, green, yellow, blue, and white are probably most common due to colour coding conventions). I would first select four colours in 22 AWG of solid wire with whatever insulation. Next I would add 3 or 4 colours of stranded 24 AWG hook-up for connections that will be flexed more.
Then I would add 3 or 4 colours of solid 18 AWG hook-up wire, and possibly a red/black pair of "zip-wire" (two insulated conductors in parallel, also called lamp cord) for power hook-ups of solid or stranded 18 or 16 AWG.

Over time you will add wire & cables based on application needs, such as ribbon cable for parallel data or signal  connections, coax cable for radio frequency or very high speed serial usage, and magnet wire for winding your own transformers and inductors. For high-voltage applications (e.g telsa coils) you'll likely need to purchase wire with suitable high voltage insulation, and the same for power applications like power amplifiers and power supplies.

Note: robrenz and ejeffrey make some very good points regarding flexibility and magnet wire

Important note about wire/cables pricing: Since approximately 2004 [1] wire and cable prices have been quite unstable as the commodity pricing of copper (metal) was quite volatile due to (real or perceived) supply shortages. Thus pricing can appear to be nonsensical, and old catalogs are useless as a price guide.


[1] I picked this year at random, but it's based on a random possibly factual graph from Wikipedia I found on the Internet. :) Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Copper_Price_History_USD.png as of 30 May 2012

robrenz:
As to flexibility:  Solid wire is the least flexible and will break from repeated flexing very quickly.  the higher the stranding for the same AWG the more flexible and longer flex life. As example 22 AWG 7/30 (7 strands of 30) is the coarsest. 19/35 is common but for high repetition flexibility 168/44 might be used.  Insulation affects flexibility also with silicone or rubber being the most flexible and silicone also having a high heat tolerance. That is why quality probe leads are very high stranding silicone insulated.  hookup wire does not need high strand count because it is intended for infrequent flexing (assembly/repair only).

Monkeh:

--- Quote from: tsaavik on May 24, 2012, 11:56:50 pm ---Yeah, I'd like to toss 'irritated wire' onto this list. I have heard that the jacket has less of a tendency to shrink/peel back when soldering the conductor.

--- End quote ---

The key to that is and always has been speed, not special insulation.

Navigation

[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

There was an error while thanking
Thanking...
Go to full version