Wire Performance

From:  Malcolm Watts [SMTP:MALCOLM-at-directorate.wnp.ac.nz]
Sent:  Wednesday, April 08, 1998 7:08 PM
To:  tesla-at-pupman-dot-com
Subject:  Wire Performance

Hi all,
        FWIW, here is a piece I sent to the list several years ago 
after checking a range of wires out. I've shortened the conclusions.
Currently, my coil here has a couple of paralleled *thick* stranded 
PVC covered wires connecting the primary piping and gap to my dry-
fired extended foil cap. It is convenient but... guess what gets 
hottest in the primary circuit apart from the gap?  If you really 
want to know how good a particular type of wire is, stick a piece in 
the primary, making sure copper cross-sectional area is comparable 
with the main tank conductor. The results are unequivocal and 
sometimes stunning. A thirty second run makes braid of any length too 
hot to touch.


------- Forwarded Message Follows -------

     The following is a summary of a brief investigation into wire
performance at low radio frequencies.
     Six wires of various types were tested. Copper strap was not
available for the experiments. The wire coming closest to strap in
terms of RF compatability was an 80 strand LITZ wire, each strand
being 0.2mm in diameter.
     Test frequency was about 195kHz. Skin depth at this frequency
is about 0.15mm.
     The experiment consisted of using a 17 foot (+-1 inch) sample
of each wire connecting a secondary coil (aspect 2, close-wound with
0.56mm diameter wire) to earth.
     An untuned primary was used to couple a signal into the secondary
and coupling was greatly reduced (k approx 0.01) to minimize shunting
of secondary impedances by the signal generator. The oscilloscope was
loosely capacitively coupled to the top of the secondary.
     Estimated accuracy for Q is +-2%. If the wire under test changed
signal level at resonance from the previous wire, the signal generator
level was adjusted to compensate before bandwidth was measured to keep
scope readings constant. As tests progressed, wire previously tested
was remeasured to check for change in experimental conditions.
     The wires were :
(1) Two lengths of coax cable (braid only) connected in parallel
(2) 1.2mm enamelled solid section copper wire (~twice the diameter of
    the coil winding)
(3) 0.3mm enamelled copper (about 1/2 diameter of windings)
(4) 0.063mm enamelled copper (about 1/9 the diameter of the windings)
(5) plastic coated stranded hookup wire (conductor diameter = 0.44mm)
(6) 80 strand LITZ (as above)
In a latter part of the experiment, the polyethylene wrapped inner solid
conductor of a piece of coax was measured as Wire(7) (diameter 0.59mm).

WIRE   (1)     (2)     (3)     (4)    (5)    (6)     (7)
Q =    172     189     189     177    172    193     185

    Within the margins of experimental error, wires 2 and 3 behaved
identically. A marginal improvement in performance was noted for (6)
as compared with 2 and 3 (about 0.5% greater Q). 
    Reduction in skin effect became quite noticeable for wire 4, causing
about 4% attenuation over wires 2,3 and a drop in Q of around 5%.

**** This wire is getting to a thickness where copper utlization is 
creeping towards 100% but resistance has climbed markedly.

     Wire 5 caused signal attenuation of around 10% on 2,3 and a drop 
in Q of about 8%.
    The performance of the twin braid was bizarre and for me unexpected.
It showed attenuation of around 7% and a drop in Q comparable with wire 5.
This prompted further investigation using a single length of coax. With
the outer covering on it performed worse than the twin coax, showing a
decline in Q of about 11.5% and attenuation of around 10%. With the outer
sheath removed, Q improved marginally (to a decline of around 10%). Remov-
ing the polyethylene covered central conductor and using the braid alone
showed a drop in Q of about 5% and attenuation of around the 5% despite
having overall copper thickness comparable with the LITZ wire. This res-
ult shows poor skin performance - the central core interfered substan-
tially with the outer braid.

    The thinnest solid enamelled wire outperformed both braid and stranded
    Leaving aside considerations of wire heating with high currents, the
solid section wires performed well in small diameters. Departure from
this was noted as significant for a thickness of 0.063mm (c.f. skin depth
of 0.15mm at the test frequency).
    Personally, I'll never use braid again in an RF application!! Imagine
how a few feet of this detracts from primary performance if it is included
within the tank circuit. And it measurably does!!