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copper vs. aluminum

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Old 03-09-2009, 12:38 PM
BOOTY MONSTER
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Default copper vs. aluminum


was at lowes yesterday looking at copper pipe for antenna use . a guy that does electrical work said not to use copper for an antenna because it attracts lighting much more than aluminum because its much more electrically conductive . he said thats why copper is used for ground rods and lightning rods and ground wires .

now i know most wire antenas are copper and folks dont complain about lightning hitting them . BUT . when i think about how folks always say the antron 99 and imax2k attract a lot of lightning what he said does make sense because they are copper antennas (copper wire inside the fiberglass rods) . ive also read of folks suggesting that the fiberglass collects a static charge and thats what causes static and lightning strikes .

so was this guy onto something ?


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Old 03-09-2009, 01:46 PM
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Lightning doesn't work that way. It will go after aluminum as fast as it will go after copper. Taller objects are more of an attraction than shorter ones. This is not where one should be looking to find fault...

But what really makes a difference - is the voltage potential in the ground/surface of the Earth. Some areas will be 'hotter' and attract lightning other than another spot will. You can have a car dealrship full of cars, but the bolt will strike behind the dealership in an open filed. Why? One must remember that there are both negative and positive charged ions in a storm cloud; often they will discharge within themselves and throw the accumulation down to a strong built-up electrical field near the surface of the ground. Which is random and hot spots can vary for numbers of different reasons.

If you are near/in a thunderstorm, and the hairs on your arms or head should raise up, a ground field is rising rapidly and you are now in great danger. This can also occur indoors as well; keep away from any appliance or plumbing. That is the only warning you may get.

As far as your system goes - make sure that you have a solid grounding rod(s) and your masting is well grounded if you live in a lightning-prone area. Even if it means digging up the soil and putting scrap lengths of long wires attached to your main ground rod. Grounding your radio gear to the same place is also recommended. It won't save your equipment; but it will help prevent a fire if most of the energy can be directed into your ground system. Hams are told to disconnect all of their equipment from the power source and disconnect all antenna/coax well before the storm arrives.
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Last edited by Robb; 03-09-2009 at 03:14 PM.

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Old 03-09-2009, 02:20 PM
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Believe it or not but at the same height a single verticle antenna is more likely to be struck by lightning than a huge multi element yagi. WHY?? Because the verticle has only one point to bleed of a static buildup whereas a multi element beam has many.each element tip will bleed of static before it builds to the point to flash over.Copper versus aluminum has NOTHING to do with it.
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Old 03-09-2009, 02:25 PM
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thanks guys . this must be my thing to learn today .

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Old 03-10-2009, 06:08 AM
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Yes, there is a difference between the conductivity of copper and other metals. Just like there is a difference in atmospheric density. That atmospheric density doesn't make a huge difference in how hard it is to breath until it gets to a real extreme. The conductivity of whatever an antenna is made of has about the same range, amounts to about the same thing, doesn't really make much difference until you get to an extreme. The 'extreme' in either of those two thingys isn't exactly all that common. I just don't think I (or you) am/are very likely to have a huge problem in either case, unless you deal in rarities. (I just don't have enough gold/silver/platinum wire to make an antenna. Wish I did! I'd sell it!! )
Conductivity just isn't a characteristic that's very important for antenna making if you consider it in relation to a metal's other characteristics, such as weight, strength, malleability, and cost(?), etc. In general, it ranks right up/down there with the color of socks you are wearing while doing that antenna making. Hmm. Then again, considering 'current' styles, paint colored dots on your bare feet with magic markers?
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Old 03-10-2009, 09:04 AM
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I wouldn't worry about making an antenna out of platinum wire. The top five elements in electrical conductivity are silver, copper, gold, aluminum and beryllium. Platinum is #23.
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Old 03-10-2009, 10:04 AM
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I've got about as much chance of making an antenna out of beryllium as I do platinum, all things considered. Then again, all donations greatfully accepted!
- 'Doc

especially the gold and silver. The silver may be in the form of coins, I don't care.

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Old 03-10-2009, 01:16 PM
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Lightning will strike cars also, an they are setting on 4 rubber tires....


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