Author Topic: Wires - A Guide  (Read 12256 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Architect_1077Topic starter

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 150
Wires - A Guide
« on: May 24, 2012, 10:14:54 pm »
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.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2012, 06:16:46 pm by Architect_1077 »
 

Offline tsaavik

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 6
Re: Wires - Guidance?
« Reply #1 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.
 
 

Offline mctaylor

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 5
  • Country: ca
Re: Wires - Guidance?
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2012, 12:32:22 am »
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
« Last Edit: May 30, 2012, 10:26:24 pm by mctaylor »
 

Offline robrenz

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3035
  • Country: us
  • Real Machinist, Wannabe EE
Re: Wires - Guidance?
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2012, 12:52:11 am »
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).

Online Monkeh

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 8011
  • Country: gb
Re: Wires - Guidance?
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2012, 01:22:33 am »
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.

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

Offline robrenz

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3035
  • Country: us
  • Real Machinist, Wannabe EE
Re: Wires - Guidance?
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2012, 01:29:16 am »
The key to that is and always has been speed, not special insulation.

Unless its Teflon or FEP insulation :D

Online Monkeh

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 8011
  • Country: gb
Re: Wires - Guidance?
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2012, 01:44:30 am »
The key to that is and always has been speed, not special insulation.

Unless its Teflon or FEP insulation :D

Not an excuse to spend all day doing a simple joint :P
 

Offline Psi

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 10019
  • Country: nz
Re: Wires - Guidance?
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2012, 02:29:39 am »
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.

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

Yeah, If ya tin the wire first then you can cut it to the correct length after it has already shrunk, then you just need to apply heat for a very short time to join it to the conductor.
Greek letter 'Psi' (not Pounds per Square Inch)
 

Online ejeffrey

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3769
  • Country: us
Re: Wires - Guidance?
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2012, 02:49:57 am »
One type of wire frequently mistaken for bare copper is magnet wire.  This is solid copper wire with a thin transparent coating.  It is primarily used for winding inductors, transformers, and motors where thicker insulation would take up too much space.  Because the insulation is directly bonded to the copper you can't strip it like normal insulation, you have to scrape it, dissolve it, or burn it off.  You typically only use it where it will be fixed in place and protected because repeated bending can cause the insulation to crack, and it is easily damaged by abrasion or impact.
 

Offline Architect_1077Topic starter

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 150
Re: Wires - Guidance?
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2012, 10:54:39 am »
Ok.

Now, for the purpose of learning/exemplifying:

http://pt.farnell.com/alpha-wire/3057-rd005/wire-red-16awg-26-30awg-30-5m/dp/1742750

http://pt.farnell.com/carol-cable/c2065a-12-03/hook-up-wire-100ft-16awg-tin-copper/dp/1862314

The two links above show two reels of hookup wire. Both are 16awg, 300v rated, red PVC insulation, 26/30 stranding, same length reels. Pretty much both seem to be the same, except that one costs twice as much as the other. WHY?
 

Offline T4P

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3697
  • Country: sg
    • T4P
Re: Wires - Guidance?
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2012, 02:03:38 pm »
Ok.

Now, for the purpose of learning/exemplifying:

http://pt.farnell.com/alpha-wire/3057-rd005/wire-red-16awg-26-30awg-30-5m/dp/1742750

http://pt.farnell.com/carol-cable/c2065a-12-03/hook-up-wire-100ft-16awg-tin-copper/dp/1862314

The two links above show two reels of hookup wire. Both are 16awg, 300v rated, red PVC insulation, 26/30 stranding, same length reels. Pretty much both seem to be the same, except that one costs twice as much as the other. WHY?

I can't find any specification on the second link's datasheet so i assume i can't get any info
 

Offline dcel

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 179
  • Country: us
Re: Wires - Guidance?
« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2012, 07:25:04 pm »
First link is insluated copper and the second is TINNED Insulated copper. Tinned is always more expensive than not.

Chris
 

Online Monkeh

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 8011
  • Country: gb
Re: Wires - Guidance?
« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2012, 07:34:19 pm »
First link is insluated copper and the second is TINNED Insulated copper. Tinned is always more expensive than not.

Chris

They are both tinned.
 

Offline dcel

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 179
  • Country: us
Re: Wires - Guidance?
« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2012, 05:28:45 pm »
First link is insluated copper and the second is TINNED Insulated copper. Tinned is always more expensive than not.

Chris

They are both tinned.

I could not get into the data sheet at that time. I have looked it up in Newark, and strangely enough, the Alpha is $69.10usd and the Carol is $38.90usd, just the opposite. I also lookd at the data sheets and I cant find any dfferece either. So, I would suggest to the OP if he needs wire, buy one of each color of the Alpha wire at Eur17 a spool and be happy to get it so cheap. I think someone at Newark/Farnell/Element14 set the price incorrectly, take advantage at that price.

Chris
 

Offline Architect_1077Topic starter

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 150
Re: Wires - Guidance?
« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2012, 06:13:05 pm »
Cool  ;D

Thanks for the replies so far. I'm going to add mctaylor's reply to the original post as I meant this topic to become a guide on wiring.
 

Offline robrenz

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3035
  • Country: us
  • Real Machinist, Wannabe EE
Re: Wires - A Guide
« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2012, 02:24:15 am »
Jameco electronics in the US sells the same spec in thier brand for $17.95

Offline TriodeTiger

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 199
  • Country: ca
Re: Wires - A Guide
« Reply #16 on: May 27, 2012, 02:37:11 am »
From glance I do not believe it was covered. People getting started in electronics often do not know which wire guage to get for breadboard use. Some books or tutorials may cover it, many not. 22 guage seems to be the appropriate size for general use. Jumper cables that are braided for flexibility and also having a solid male headers on each end is something to go for.
"Yes, I have deliberately traded off robustness for the sake of having knobs." - Dave Jones.
 

Offline dcel

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 179
  • Country: us
Re: Wires - A Guide
« Reply #17 on: May 27, 2012, 11:22:21 pm »
From glance I do not believe it was covered. People getting started in electronics often do not know which wire gauge to get for breadboard use. Some books or tutorials may cover it, many not. 22 gauge seems to be the appropriate size for general use. Jumper cables that are braided for flexibility and also having a solid male headers on each end is something to go for.

Great info for youngsters! ^^^

Another tip for breadboard wire which I have used since grade school is 25 pair phone wire, its cheap, easy to find and it works well. I find most of it in the junk bin, still with the 50 cond centronics connectors on it, for free. It is usually 24 awg, the same size as 1/4w resistor leads, and doesn't stretch out the breadboard connections. I will say that its a bit weak strength wise for inserting into the breadboard sometimes, but nothing a pair of small needle-nose pliers cant handle. I prefer the white w/tracers as opposed to the rainbow colored stuff, but that is just personal pref. Buy a ten pack of Sharpie markers and stripe them to your needs.

I also use that for chassis wiring, say I need forteen conductors and have only ten wire colors, just use the same colors and put a black tracer on it, simple. I buy twice as much white wire than red and black because its just so handy.

For example, I have three power sources, +-5vdc,+-15vdc, and +-48vdc. I will use red (+5) and white\red stripe (-5) with black ground for +-5vdc, orange and white\orange stripe for +-15vcd with black ground, and yellow and white\yellow stripe with black ground for +-48vdc. The possibilities are limitless!
Use white w/black and orange or yellow for high voltages, white w/green and yellow for chassis\earth ground, or say, for a buss, blue -- white\blue -- blue\black -- green -- white\green -- green\black......etc, or all white wires with tracers that follow the resistor color code blk, brn, red, orn, yel.....etc.

Hope someone finds this as useful as I have...

Chris
 

Offline TriodeTiger

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 199
  • Country: ca
Re: Wires - A Guide
« Reply #18 on: May 27, 2012, 11:28:25 pm »
Another tip for breadboard wire which I have used since grade school is 25 pair phone wire,

One can gather by everyone selling jumper wires boasting "No more stripping phone lines apart!"

This reminds me, I am very tempted to buy a good length (actually I've got some near my desk) and make some wires. I've a spool of white tinned solid wire that serves me well, but would rather make my own than buy many $20 spools just for different colours.
"Yes, I have deliberately traded off robustness for the sake of having knobs." - Dave Jones.
 

Offline dcel

  • Regular Contributor
  • *
  • Posts: 179
  • Country: us
Re: Wires - A Guide
« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2012, 11:50:10 pm »
Another tip for breadboard wire which I have used since grade school is 25 pair phone wire,

One can gather by everyone selling jumper wires boasting "No more stripping phone lines apart!"

This reminds me, I am very tempted to buy a good length (actually I've got some near my desk) and make some wires. I've a spool of white tinned solid wire that serves me well, but would rather make my own than buy many $20 spools just for different colours.

Yup, some of us dont/didnt have any money growing up and had to use what we could find.
Those pre-cut/stripped wire kits were not that cheap until recently, and still cost money.
You cant beat free.

The Sharpie marker idea works great, it takes half a second to stripe a short wire. I use that alot at work building and repairing wiring harnesses. Later on it takes the guess work out of servicing it.

Chris
 

Offline T4P

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 3697
  • Country: sg
    • T4P
Re: Wires - A Guide
« Reply #20 on: May 28, 2012, 02:44:32 am »
I would do free but unfortunately it's not like i can easily find telephone wire here ... for free  :-\
But yeah for wires i actually cut dead lan wires ...
 

Offline free_electron

  • Super Contributor
  • ***
  • Posts: 8518
  • Country: us
    • SiliconValleyGarage
Re: Wires - A Guide
« Reply #21 on: May 28, 2012, 06:34:48 am »
Here's a tip if yqou want lots of colors wires for cabling you electronics projects: go to the local junkshop and buy old printercables with db25 and centronix connectors. Theres a whole bunch of individual multistrand wires in there, each with its own color or color cobination. Printer cables are three to 4 feet long and you easily get 20 colors of wire out of it ... And most junkshops sell these for 0.5$ to 1$.. Cant beat that !
Professional Electron Wrangler.
Any comments, or points of view expressed, are my own and not endorsed , induced or compensated by my employer(s).
 


Share me

Digg  Facebook  SlashDot  Delicious  Technorati  Twitter  Google  Yahoo
Smf