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Author Topic: Can I use speaker wire to wire all my projects? Is speaker wire same as regular  (Read 1708 times)
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Im looking to start playing around withe the Arduino...
and Im going to start buying stuff for a few projects.

Came across a great deal on 1000ft of speaker wire, and wonder if I can just use that for my wiring projects.
If not, does anyone know a good place to get a good price on about 1000 ft of wiring.

I have about 12 different projects Im prepping for and will need about 600 feet right off the bat.
Thanks
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Probably - find out the gauge of wire (or cross-section area), you can then look-up the
current carrying ability.  If its copper wire with insulation then its wire!

For breadboarding ordinary stranded wire isn't great, you want solid-core wire which is
stiff enough to poke into the breadboard without squashing up into a mess.  A good
choice of colours is always useful to avoid confusion.

[ A lot of high-end Hi-fi equipment firms try to convince people that the speaker wire
 has to be special, but with double-blind tests no-one can tell the difference between
hugely expensive oxygen-free monster sized wiring and a bit of flex from an old lamp ]
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Quote
Came across a great deal on 1000ft of speaker wire
It might be on the inflated price they charge for speaker wire but how does it compare with ordinary wire. My guess is that it will be too think to use on your projects. Not that that causes any electrical problems just physical ones.
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I bought some speaker wire from a surplus outfit, bundles still in their retail blister packs, for hanging on pegboards, stored it away for later use. 
A few years on I went looking for it and I found that it had all turned green, throughout, 20 foot lengths, all of it unusable. 
It had this attractive, clear flexible jacketing, the bees' knees I thought that, but maybe that's what caused or contributed to the rot. 
Terrible.
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The other problem with speaker wire is that you are likely going to be limited to one or two colors, mostly - if you're lucky. When you are breadboarding and prototyping circuits, you not only want to have multiple colors for the wires/jumpers, but you want to use and group them logically if you can (ie, use colors to represent what the circuit is connected to, etc - so you can trace functions by wire color).

For instance, say you were building an LED matrix display. You might use one color for the rows (drivers), and another color for columns; you could go further and connect up even rows with one color, and odd rows with another; do the same for the columns using two other different colors. If you do it right, it can make debugging a circuit less of a hassle.

The best source of wire for breadboarding and prototyping is 25 pair telecom cable; if you can find a long length of that stuff, you'll have the best set of jumpers and wires you'll ever want.
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I bought some speaker wire from a surplus outfit, bundles still in their retail blister packs, for hanging on pegboards, stored it away for later use. 
A few years on I went looking for it and I found that it had all turned green, throughout, 20 foot lengths, all of it unusable. 
It had this attractive, clear flexible jacketing, the bees' knees I thought that, but maybe that's what caused or contributed to the rot. 
Terrible.

If it turned green, that generally means a high humidity environment to cause the copper to oxidize...
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If it turned green, that generally means a high humidity environment to cause the copper to oxidize...

Nay. 
I have/had wire that's older, lots older, but that was a unique occurrence, nothing else like it.
I think it was that jacketing and/or some shizzle copper.
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So CAT5 cable is good or bad to use?
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So CAT5 cable is good or bad to use?

GREAT! They don't support lots of current, 'though, but for signal up to 100meters (300ft give or take), it is unbeatable. I use lots of CAT5 write for breadboarding, and in many projects as well.

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CAT cable is rearly bad for long runs of data because of its high capacitance unless you use the differential signaling it was designed to be used for.
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For breadboard type work, get the size solid wire that fits snuggly into the pin holes (22 AWG?). I've got a 1,000' spool of cat3 wire (24 AWG?) but its conductors are a little lose in pin holes and similar. Use stranded wire where ever there will be flexing in the wire.
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He says he needs 600 feet and people keep bringing up breadboarding?  I think we need to know what the projects are?
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He says he needs 600 feet and people keep bringing up breadboarding?  I think we need to know what the projects are?
Note, he said he had 12 different projects, so assuming each project needs the same amount of wire, that might be 50 feet per project instead of 600.  But even so, I would imagine at those differences, you have to be careful about the electronics side of things, and worry about errors, signal power levels, etc.

To the OP, it sounds like you are buying one big spool of wire.  While it might work if it is the right size, if all of your wires are the same color, and there is some distance between the Arduino and the sensor/servo/led/etc., you likely will have a lot of problems debugging the thing to make sure the right wire is plugged into the right socket.  My wife tells of her father, who was originally an electrician that  worked in Con Edison in New York for a period.  He got called to fix the wiring in a bar that evidently was one first places in the city to get power and still had original wiring.  According to my wife this original wiring was before they started color coding the wires, and all of the wires were brown and her father had to figure out all of the connections, while the bar was still running.  Now, maybe the story is true, and maybe it has been stretched in the retelling, but the point is if all of your wires are the same color, it may lead to problems down the road.

I should mention that some of the hookup wire I got from Radio Shack was too thick to be used in some breadboards.  As others have said, you want solid wire that is 22 gauge.

So what are these projects that involve long distance wires?
« Last Edit: March 23, 2013, 11:13:40 pm by MichaelMeissner » Logged

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The breadboarding wire I use extensively (I have reels of it here) is metric, and is "1/0.6" - meaning that it has one single core (solid core) and that core is 0.6mm in diameter.  It's perfect for breadboarding, and cheap too.

Also, if you want cheap scraps, "bell wire" is pretty good too.  Often a little thicker than 0.6, and commonly only available in white, but good for breadboarding at a pinch.

But yes, OP, please give us details of how you expect to use this speaker cable, then we can advise you if it's a good choice or not.  At the moment we're just all talking anecdotally without offering any solid yes/no advice - which we can't without more information.
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guys 600 feet right off the bat means about 60 different LED runs at less than 10 feet each - which is less than 600 feet

I just need to use it to light LED's in series, pretty much holiday lights that will blink to my liking.

Im getting people saying this that, when Im thinking the ampacity isnt going to be high for 5 5mm led's

I should be able to use fire alarm wire shouldnt I.  Doorbell wire would work as well wouldnt it?
I saw the speaker wire on ebay and thought it was a great price -- but Ive come across some other auctions and think I might go after them

But for future reference, can I use speaker wire?
Its copper.

I was just wondering if speaker wire would impede more than regular wire would?

But am I safe to assume that I could get away with doorbell wire, or alarm wire, so long as the ampacity requirements will cover the 5 led sets I want to use?
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