The Wiring Selection

If you’ve seen the “stuff in my drawers” thread, you know that I like wires, probably more than I should:

However, it always seems like regardless of how many wires you have, you never quite have the right kind, size or color that you need. I’m not going to list all the different kinds of wire I have, but here are some recommendations:

Standard wire

Regular plastic-coated wires aren’t particularly helpful for building sabers, or anything else that requires soldering. When you solder these wires, the coating tends to shrink or melt and cause “goose-neck” soldering joints that can cause shorts. These wires are fine for crimping though.

Silicone wire

Silicone doesn’t melt, and it’s much more flexible than regular plastic, which makes for nice and easily workable wires. Unfortunately the silicone is not quite as resilient as the plastic, so they make the silicone coat a little thicker. This can be a big problem in a saber where space is tight.

PTFE Wire

PTFE also doesn’t melt, and it’s quite durable, which means that the coating can be thinner than plastic wire, especially if you can find wire that is rated for less than 600V. (The higher the voltage rating, the thicker the coating, but we don’t need 600 volts for making sabers) Most PTFE wire is also mil-standard with tin- or silver-coated strands which makes it really easy to solder. The wires tends to be somewhat stiff, so bending them into shape can be a little extra work. Generally, these are the right wires for making sabers.

Uncoated wire

I use this stuff when making string blades. Granted, it’s been a while since i made one of those.

Magnet wire

If 30 AWG ptfe wire is still too thick, consider magnet wire. Magnet wire has a super-thin coating, and come in seriously thing wires. I haven’t actually used this particular wire yet, and it can only carry enough power for buttons or single LEDs, but it’s about the thickness of human hair. That spool is actually a sewing bobbin!

Ribbon cable

Ribbon cable is unfortunately regular plastic cable, but it’s great for keeping your wires organized. It can be super convenient to peel of 3 or for 4 wires to use for buttons + gnd.

Then there is the whole issue of connectors, but that’s a story for another time…

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Unfortunately, it seems hard to find PTFE wire in the UK… I end up having to buy small amounts from KR.

I have definitely been using “PTFE” wire that’s as loose as spaghetti and think I’ve been duped. It must be the silicone type.

Thanks, prof.

You’ll know it’s silicone because it feels soft. PTFE is fairly rigid.

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I’m actually not entirely sure what very thin PTFE wire is like. My thinnest PTFE wire is awg 24 i think. It’s too expensive to buy every size unfortunately. It’s possible that thin PTFE wire is quite flexible…

Part of what makes PTFE appear stiffer is that i tend to use thicker wires with PTFE. Basically, instead using the thinner coating to save space, i use it to be able to fit more copper instead.

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I get all my PTFE wire from a guy on eBay…Best wire by far I have ever used.

Anything below 26 AWG is pretty flexible. The silver plating makes soldering really easy too.

I like buying small quantities, because how much do you really need for a saber. 25 feet lasts forever.

I like buying things in bulk, because for many things it’s much cheaper that way. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to apply to PTFE wire.