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Steel wire?

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When shopping for electrical wire and cable, the tool I take along with me is a strong neo magnet.

But I now find that most coax cables are unabashedly using copper-clad steel center conductors.

Two questions:
1. Does steel cu-clad have any impact on signals of any type? Is steel contraindicated for any application?

2. What’s the reason for going to steel from copper? Last I looked the USA isn’t sucking up all copper for use as bullet cladding (a la Vietnam war era, resulting in the introduction of aluminum mains wiring). Is it to simply keep shareholders happy (A.K.A. greed)?


Copper-clad steel (“Copperweld” TM) has been common in coaxial cable with solid conductor since at least WW II.  The copper is sufficiently thick for skin depth at the radio frequencies for which the coax was intended.  Of course, the Copperweld is mechanically stronger than copper.

Conrad Hoffman:
Many resistor leads are steel. Audio people are against it but I've never found any difference nor any measurement that suggests it's a problem. Ever wonder what they use for scope probes? Hint- it's not copper or steel!

The main problem with different materials is thermal voltages that can impair sensitive measurements.

During my days with MRI work at RF frequencies, we had to choose our cables carefully to avoid ferromagnetic material.  For thermoelectric problems, the surface material should dominate, but pure copper is a better choice.


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