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enamel coated magnet wire = hook-up wire?

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Benji026

New Member
Can hook-up wire be used in place of enamel coated magnet wire / vinyl coated wire? I'm building a crystal radio out of household materials (mostly) and I have to loop wire around a plastic bottle to take the place of a ferrite coil. I was wondering if any wire would do or if magnet wire has some special purpose for this kind of thing.

THANKS FOR YOUR HELP
 

Gene

New Member
Of course any wire will do. But, you will be glad you used the specified wire. It has nothing to do, per se, with the enamel. . . it has to do with the design of the coil. The physical size of the wire, their relative closeness to each other, the size of the coil's core, the number of turns, the pattern of the winding, etc. are all factors in the design. If you follow the instructions, you will have a much better radio. When you are working with no power, you need every advantage to be successful.
 

Klaus

New Member
Er, not quite *any* wire, it must be INSULATED wire. If you use bare wire to wind a coil you will need a grooved former.
Enamel coating provides a very thin insulation, allowing the turns to touch each other without creating shorted turns.
The thicker the insulation the less turns will fit on a given space.

Klaus ( just nit picking :wink: )
 

Dean Huster

Well-Known Member
Another advantage

A handy characteristic of magnet wire is that it's made of soft copper and as such, will have less "spring" when winding coils. In other words, if you let go of a coil you're winding with "regular" copper wire, it'll likely spring open for most of the turns and you'll have to start all over while the magnet wire may loosen up for only a few turns if released.

Never, ever let a parts list stop you from experimenting! As long as you're in the ballpark, you can often substitute with a pretty good latitude as long as the circuit isn't frequency-sensitive. You can find good wire for winding your own coils in the deflection yoke of an old TV, although those are often difficult to unwind since they dip them in shellac after construction. Another source is from audio and power transformers, from old TVs and radios -- but don't scrap an old radio that's older than about 1950 or 1955 or you'll be ruining a wonderful antique. Another source is from the transformers and inductors in computer power supplies, although those usually yield the larger gauges of wire.

Dean
 

Dean Huster

Well-Known Member
As for the "P.S.": Not necessarily.

Hookup Wire covers a lot of territory and can range from BARE (uninsulated) wire used in point-to-point wiring that was very common in old radios, aka, antique radios. Or it can be insulated, ranging from various types of plastics or older cloth/cambric insulations, to bare wire that has had "spaghetti" (insulating sleeving) slipped over it.

Tinned wire is the most common, but it doesn't have to be tinned. Tinned wire doesn't corrode and is therefore easier to solder, but don't limit yourself to that. Untinned wire is quite useable, and if you find a bunch of it for free, it's that much better. But for breadboarding purposes, I recommend using only tinned wire, as most solderless breadboards don't connect well to untinned wire that has a thick layer of copper oxide on the surface.

If you're using untinned wire as hookup wire, simply scrape the last 1/4" or so around the complete circumference using a knife (or sandpaper, or an emery board, etc.) to make soldering easier.

Dean
 

Klaus

New Member
re P.S.: Hookup wire is also often multi strand wire while 'magnet wire', coil winding wire - call it what you like, is single strand enamel coated wire.
Multi strand wire is more flexible and there is less chance for it to break if repeatedly bent. Its insulation depends on what its used for, eg. what voltage and for what temperature rating.
Hookup wire would do for making coils with few turns if you have nothing better but it soon gets a pain to wind a coil with hundreds of turns with that stuff.
If you recycle magnet wire from old transformer coils etc, do inspect it carefully to check if the enamel insulation has flaked off in places. This sometimes happens if the coil was laquered and baked in an oven to securely bind the windings together. If the wire unwinds freely without effort you have good stuff for recycling, if it sticks and is hard to unwind better check it carefully with a magnifying glass.
Klaus
 
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