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Old 22-10-2010, 17:30   #1
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'KISS' SSB Ground

I am tracing down the problems recently with poor SSB reception. I am thinking it might be the ground. We have copper foil, but I'm not sure its working.

Has anyone tried this thing for a ground? I just got a Lats and Atts email and it says "Easy to install * Better than Copper Foil * Perfect length." I am skeptical of this kind of thing generally.. I guess it's possible to build a better mousetrap but this looks like a Garden House with a connector on it.
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Old 23-10-2010, 07:35   #2
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kiss ground

While I dont have any direct experence using this product I do know the cruiser who designed and builds them. Carl is a great guy, experenced cruiser and a very knowledgeable ham. If I hadnt already built my own 1/4 radial system I wouldnt hesitate purchasing his.

Mike
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Old 23-10-2010, 12:09   #3
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Copper foil can make an excellent ground plane, so I'd start there. With a good DMM on as low a resistance scale, I'd start from the ground of the radio and measure resistance, looking for any high readings (greater than 1 ohm) or open connections. Those can be fixed with some copper tape, a good soldering iron and a bit of patience.

If your copper foil's too far gone then you might consider either replacing it with a radial system of wires or new copper foil/tape or a dynaplate. The better the ground the better the reception, the lower the noise, and the better the performance.
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Old 23-10-2010, 12:14   #4
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Ditto ^^^^ SSB is high frequency RF, Short straight connections are best. Check all connections.
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Old 23-10-2010, 13:08   #5
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Ground doesn't affect reception, only transmission. Installed a KISS on an ICOM 802 for a customer this summer, customer has had nothing but problems transmitting, then again he didn,t want to take the time to read his radio instruction manual. Think you need to look at other potential problems with the system.
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Old 23-10-2010, 14:22   #6
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If your reception is poor, the first place to look is all the noise sources on your boat (or your marina). As cburger says, a poor ground will cause problems with transmision, but not usually reception. If you want a cheap test to eliminate RF ground issues, take a roll of aluminum foil, attach one end to the tuner ground, and throw 20 feet of foil in the water. If that doesn't improve things, you don't have a ground problem.
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Old 23-10-2010, 16:01   #7
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If the set is still transmitting it is not a ground issue. If the installation has been on the boat a while I would take a look at all conections for the unit including the antenna connection, good chance someing is loose or broken. If all connectons are correct, next thing is the radio itself.
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Old 28-10-2010, 07:30   #8
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I've been installing the KISS SSB counterpoise in more and more boats. I'm impressed and my customers are happy.

I don't have it on my boat (installation predates it and I don't fix what isn't broken) but will if something happens.
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Old 28-10-2010, 08:01   #9
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Like Auspicious, I've been installing the KISS-SSB ground on clients boats recently. They are very well made and take advantage of what experienced hams have known for a long time, i.e., that radials work very well. Especially tuned radials (usually, 1/4 wavelength long at the operating frequency).

This RF ground solution has a lot going for it, and works very well in my experience. Don't let the size and apparent simplicity fool you: there are hundreds of feet of wire of varying lengths stuffed inside that 10' long hose. I have found that Carl's claims are valid: the KISS-SSB ground allows easy tuneups on all the marine and ham bands, it is very easy to install, it is well constructed and robust, and IMHO a very good solution for many situations.

BTW, it is a MYTH....let me repeat that loudly....

I T I S A C O M P L E T E M Y T H ...

...that it is necessary to connect or couple an RF ground to seawater in order to be effective.

There are lots of other solutions which work equally well or better, including radials, tuned radials, aluminum toe rails, pushpit/pulpit/lifelines, s/s rub rails, hull-to-deck aluminum strips (some boats have 'em), etc. etc.

Any ham who's played much with radials knows that elevated radials are more effective than buried radials.

Any person who's studied the physics of seawater knows that RF is greatly attenuated in just a few inches of seawater. It ain't the direct connection or "capacitative connection" to seawater which boosts the signal. The role of seawater is to serve as an effective mirror medium help radiate and to bounce signals up to the ionosphere.

Bottom line: radials and other such solutions work very well. So, IMHO, does the KISS-SSB ground.

Bill
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Old 28-10-2010, 08:45   #10
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Bottom line: radials and other such solutions work very well. So, IMHO, does the KISS-SSB ground.

Bill[/QUOTE]

All other things being equal, I would be most interested in hearing your opinion on the transmitting distance of the KISS radial as well of the range of bands that are usable with this type of installation vs a good quality installed traditional ground??
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Old 28-10-2010, 10:07   #11
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I heard all the skeptics and gave it a try. I also read a few books, and hundreds of posts on ground planes. Much of this radio stuff seems rooted in 1950's voodoo-tech.

It works perfectly.

An outright bargain compared to the time needed to install copper foil.
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Old 28-10-2010, 10:44   #12
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It works perfectly.

An outright bargain compared to the time needed to install copper foil.[/QUOTE]

There is no question the install is much less involved with the Kiss, however If the signal bounce is typically half that of the traditional setup and the usable frequencies are limited due to the KISS being a tuned radial optimized for specific band widths I would stay with the tried and true. When I installed a KISS at the customers request this summer no where in the ICOM manual was there any mention of this product as a reccomended ground system. When I spoke with ICOM direct they had never heard of it. One would think if the KISS allowed ICOM's equipment to realize their "Full" potential. i.e. range and usable band width it would be a no brainer that this would be the method of choice.
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Old 28-10-2010, 11:47   #13
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Radial counterpoises work

The KISS-SSB is not anything new, and actually has been around long before the copper foil and bronze ground plate. Go through their web page and study it. It is a "radial counterpoise" not a "ground system" All ham operators and true radio technicians know the difference. It is about time that someone took a proven system and bundled it into a package that is easy to install, inexpensive and works very well. I installed a KISS last year on my boat and have enjoyed many thousand mile contacts and use it daily with winlink/sailmail. Once we were in the Marquesas and the Hawaii station was so busy I connected up to a winlink station in New Zealand with a fast baud rate, that was with an Icom 802 and an AT-140 tuner. I recall seeing the use of radials drawn and mentioned in the Icom manual in the first couple of pages of the tuners manual. The nice thing that did happen when I changed from the copper foil that my boat came with was that once I installed the KISS the auto-pilot never went haywire when we keyed the mike. In basic terms the KISS in relationship to the radiating antenna are simply a tuned dipole antenna, being center-fed and using a tuner makes the radiating antenna "radiate your signal. I have friends that have changed and have seen signal strength increase, and there is not any maintenance with the KISS either. I just read through there webpage of www.kiss-ssb.com and enjoyed the last testimonial, that is very REAL. Check it out. It was on the winning boat of the Victoria to Maui race this past summer, they have some nice video footage.
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Old 28-10-2010, 12:02   #14
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I forgot to mention that the KISS works perfectly on all the SSB, Winlink/Sailmail, and ham frequnices from 2.0mhz through 28mhz. When I received mine I tested it with both a field strength meter and an external SWR/Power meter and all I can say is WOW, full radiated power and extremely low SWR across the board. Read the last testimonial on their web page, it is real, I know of them. It is a radial counterpoise, not a power draining "ground plane" system. I am glad that I don't have to clean that bronze ground plate anymore now that I am in colder water regions.
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Old 28-10-2010, 12:13   #15
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cburger,

I understand your hesitance based on your (one?) experience with a customer's boat. I would urge you not to take this experience as representative; there could be LOTS of reasons your client is having difficulty, none related to the KISS-SSB ground system.

At the heart of your question is ERP....effective radiated power. There is no technical reason why ERP with the KISS-SSB (or any other effective radial system) would be on average less than with a "traditional" RF ground system. Actual measurements of ERP would be a non-trivial task due to the complexities involved. Some years ago now Gordon West attempted some rudimentary ERP trials with another boater and, basically, the results tended to de-bunk the ubiquitous "100 square feet of copper" myth which has been repeated in most texts and instruction manuals for decades. Gordon found that a simple copper strip from the tuner to the nearest bronze thru-hull works fine.

While we don't have empirical ERP data, we do have the following knowledge to draw upon:

1. Boats with SSB ground installations based on radials of some type tend to have signals just as strong and often stronger than those with the more traditional ground systems...copper, plates on the bottom of the hull, etc. I observe this daily on the maritime nets. For the past several weeks I've been hearing/talking to a client with a KISS-SSB ground system as he moves down the ICW to Florida. His signal is quite strong and doesn't lack anything compared to other boats.

2. One of the most effective long-distance antennas you can mount on a sailboat is a vertical dipole, i.e., a plain old dipole mounted vertically with the lower end tied off near the deck. This antenna doesn't require ANY type of external RF ground system. The lower half of the dipole serves as a very effective complement to the upper half, and generates a very good low-angle signal all around the boat. When you have a traditional backstay system, what you're effectively trying to do is created the lower half of the dipole....at varying frequencies. Radials tuned to 1/4 wave work very well in this regard.

3. Elevated radials work better than buried radials. Those at deck level or somewhat below should and do work very, very well.

4. The KISS-SSB radial ground system works on virtually all commonly used marine and amateur HF bands. One nice thing about radials is that their electrical length (different from their physical length) isn't really critical, i.e., they work across a pretty wide part of the band.

5. In several recorded instances, the KISS-SSB radial system has actually worked better than traditional ground systems, helping to eliminate troublesome RFI. One well-known builder in the Far East of high-quality long-range trawlers has adopted the system after finding that it virtually eliminated the interference problems they were having with their autopilot installations.

I'm not going to say that the KISS-SSB radial system will work better on your boat than any other radial or RF ground system, but I can say based on the six units I've handled and tested that it WILL work very well, is very easy to install, and is certainly worth the price when compared to any real costs of trying to build one yourself.

RE: range potential, that's a loaded and unanswerable question since range depends on a whole host of variables, some of which change from minute to minute. What I can say is that I talk to boats every day with this system installed...sometimes over distances more than 1,000 miles on the 40-meter amateur band...and they have signals every bit as good as others.

Bill
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