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I'm building a wireless project using a RFM12B RF transceiver. As I understand it I have to make an antenna myself, and its length has to match the frequency (in this case 165mm).

BUT, can I use anything as an antenna? I have this hook-up wire, can I use it?

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Solid core wire of the correct length will work fine for your antenna. The hook-up wire from Sparkfun looks OK.

I have done exactly the same with an RFM12 before - I assume you are using the version with pins which has a hole on the PCB for the antenna wire. Here's a picture of my setup, on the left a PCB with rubberised antenna and on the right a breadboard with a small wire whip:

RFM12 setup

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Here's a picture of my setup, on the left a PCB with rubberised antenna and on the right a breadboard with a small wire whip: picture of breadboard and PCB RFM12 \$\endgroup\$ – David Oct 6 '13 at 9:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you want me to edit that image into your answer? It looks like a useful addition. \$\endgroup\$ – PeterJ Oct 6 '13 at 9:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Please - I am struggling to understand mini-Markdown it seems! \$\endgroup\$ – David Oct 6 '13 at 9:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Have done. Unless it's changed I think you need a reputation of 15 to post images, it's just to stop new users posting spam / junk. \$\endgroup\$ – PeterJ Oct 6 '13 at 10:04
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Pretty much anything conductive can be used as an antenna, so I don't see a problem using that hook-up wire. But from a practical point of view especially if your device is moving around the geometry of the antenna will change as the wire flops around.

If that's likely to be a problem you might want to consider something a bit more rigid like say coat hanger wire or a thicker piece of copper wire. Some of the larger sizes of mains flex have a solid core that can be used effectively to make antennas and it's also nice and easy to solder.

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