Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How well are you wired?

Airsoft Guns, KWA Airsoft AEG, Silver-Plated Wiring
If the wiring that comes with your Airsoft AEG either sucks or simply needs replacement for whatever reason, here are some helpful pieces of info to help guide you with selecting the optimal wiring for your Airsoft AEG.

Let us discuss some of the important characteristics or attributes that you need to know about when it comes to selecting wiring for your AEG.

Wire Gauge

The gauge (pronounced "gage") of a wire refers to its thickness or diameter.  The two most common gauges for Airsoft AEG wiring are 16 awg and 18 awg.  "AWG" is the unit of measurement for wire gauge and it stands for "American Wire Gauge."  An important item to note is that on the scale of different wire gauges, the larger the awg number means the smaller the wire's thickness or diameter.  So of the two I just mentioned, 16 awg is the thicker wire, and generally the gauge that you'll want to use in your AEG.  I have yet to see the inside of an AEG gearbox that will fit anything larger than 16 awg, but that doesn't mean it's not possible.  Bear in mind though, that I have seen inside a respectable number of gearboxes though.  The reason you'll want to go with the larger, 16 awg wiring is to allow more signal flow from the AEG's battery to the Airsoft AEG, itself.  Think of gauge like the thickness of a water hose.  The larger the diameter (or gauge) of the hose, the more volume of water (or power) will be allowed to pass through without resistance.  Minimizing resistance is usually recommended. 

Recommended Attributes for High-Quality Airsoft AEG Wiring

  The Conductor (and no, I'm not talking about orchestras, you band geeks).

For those that don't do their homework, the precious metal we all know as Silver is generally regarded as being an excellent, if not one of the best, conductors of electricity.  Copper is also respected in the electrician's community, though not as much as Silver.  So naturally, if you can get your hands on some Silver-plated copper wiring for your Airsoft AEG (which is actually very easy to do), I'd say you're not making a bad move whatsoever.  Now, before you cheapskates freak out.  Yes, Silver is expensive, however, buying a couple feet of Silver-plated wiring will NOT break your bank account, unless you either don't have a bank account at all or if you do have a bank account but it's already over-drafted and you get hit with a $35 dollar overdraft fee for making a $6 purchase.  In fact, the stuff I use is not only Silver-plated, Mil-Spec-rated copper wiring but it goes for $.90 a foot.  If you're only rewiring one Airsoft AEG, you'll generally need no more than 2 or 3 feet of red and 2 or 3 fee of black unless you're doing some kinda of crazy MOSFET wiring configuration.  So that'll cost you that 6 bucks I just mentioned, plus maybe a little tax and shipping for premium grade wiring that you will then install in your AEG and enjoy the advantages of having excellent electrical flow in your weapon. You can also say that you use Mil-Spec parts on your AEG, which automatically adds length and girth to your "cylinder shaft."

  The Insulation (and I'm not talking about asbestos here).

So, if you've been reading any of my recent blogs about the Airsoft AEG upgrades and tuning I did, you'll most certainly have heard me rave about Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), or better known as Dupont's Teflon material.  PTFE is so versatile, it just tickles me.  I really love it!  Sometimes, when I've had a rough day, I like to put a little in my hair (what little is left of it).  It seals, lubricates and insulates different things extremely well.  One of the items it acts as an excellent insulation for is wiring.  According to NASA's Parts Selection List (NPSL), wherein the well-known space agency details a list of approved materials for use on spacecraft equipment.  PTFE insulation not only makes NASA's cut, but is at the top of their list of recommendations for exhibiting the following advantages:

  • Excellent high temperature properties.  PTFE Teflon is preferred for solder applications
    (e.g. solder applications like maybe installing in an Airsoft AEG?!  BOOM.  Nuff said, NASA.  I'm sold).   
  • Non-flammable (Always Nice)
  • Good outgassing characteristics
    (My 5-Month-Old Baby Boy has already learned to "outgas" his father, which is quite a feat!)
  • Most flexible of all insulations (Ideal for weaving through one's AEG gearbox)
  • Good weatherability, resists moisture absorption and atomic oxygen erosion (Cool).  
Now, in order to be fair and unbiased, not unlike Fox News (*wink*), NASA does list a few disadvantages, but none of which are bad enough to deter me from saying that PTFE rocks face.  Here they are: 
  • Susceptible to cold flow when stressed (bent) over tight radius or when laced too tightly
    (This will probably be the biggest item to watch out for when installing your new PTFE-insulated, Silver-plated Mil-Spec wiring in your Airsoft AEG.  Don't bend it too much!)
  • Degraded by solar radiation above 5 x 105 RADS
    (Not quite sure that's gonna be an issue for our Airsoft AEGs, but I've been wrong before).
  • Heaviest insulation (Not an issue for us Airsofters).

Basically, if it's good enough for NASA, it's good enough for your TOY Airsoft Gun.

One last item before I pop smoke.  I've seen various Airsoft manufacturers selling Silicon wire replacement sets for Airsoft AEGs.  Don't go there.  For two reasons: (1) It's over priced.  I've seen it as high as $40. (2) NASA pretty much says it sucks (in more or less words)...
  • Excellent flexibility at low temperatures (who cares)
  • Excellent high voltage corona resistance (Corona isn't that great of a beer anyway)
  • Good radiation resistance (to 108 RADS) (Not relevant to AEGs)
  • Good cold flow resistance (Only useful if trying to conduct electricity while the wire is pretty much bent in half.  If you have to bend your wire in half to operate the AEG, for whatever reason, you might want to rethink who is tuning your guns).
  • Poor cut through resistance, mechanical toughness, and fluid resistance (Yea, I don't even need to see the rest of the list.  Item #1 kills it right out of the gate). 
  • Must be processed for outgassing control (Don't care.  See Disadvantage #1)
  • Flammable (Don't care.  See Disadvantage #1)
  • No standard silicon rubber insulated wire or cable (Don't care.  See Disadvantage #1)
So in short: 

- Use Silver-Plated Copper Wiring with PTFE insulation in your Airsoft AEG, especially if it's a Classic Army M14 EBR (Extra Beautiful Rifle) from Pyramyd Air.

Airsoft Guns, Classic Army M14 EBR Scout AEG, Custom M14 Airsoft Gun, Pyramyd Air 
- Do NOT spend a ton of money on Silicone Poop Wiring for use in your Airsoft AEG.  Remember, NASA says it smells like rotten beef and moldy cheese.  

Don't thank me for the info.  Thank the astronauts.  But on their behalf, "You're welcome."


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