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Old 22-12-2010, 13:32   #1
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SSB Grounding Plate Suggestions?

I am getting close to finalizing my list of items for my boat, and have heard a lot of conversation about the importance of the grounding plate, types of grounding plates, etc.

I would like some suggestions on recommended grounding plates for my iCOM SSB. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks.

Mark
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Old 22-12-2010, 13:47   #2
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Don't believe everything you hear!

A grounding plate is:

- expensive
- of marginal utility when new
- of less utility as it ages
- not superior to several other RF grounding options

On your PDQ Antares 44i, I'd suggest either a ground strap from the tuner to the nearest bronze thru-hull (if you have one near the tuner) or some sort of radial system. An easy one which works very well is the KISS-SSB radial ground system. I've installed several of these on customer boats, including 36-44' cats, and they work extremely well.

Contrary to common belief, there's absolutely no need to make contact with the water. The water is there to REFLECT the electro-magnetic waves from your antenna, not to ABSORB them as it will in just a few inches underwater.

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Old 22-12-2010, 13:54   #3
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As Bill mentioned we have had as much success with SSB installs using a single bronze thru-hull as we have with installations with grounding plates, maybe even better. Chuck
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Old 22-12-2010, 14:29   #4
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Thanks for the quick reply. I was under the impression that if you did not use a Dynaplate, you would need to run LOTs of strap, need foil or similar, etc for the boat to get a good ground. I am no expert in this area. From what you are saying, the other method may be simpler. Question, does this less expensive method provide a better ground or similar to dynaplates?
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Old 22-12-2010, 14:35   #5
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I have found the thru-hull to be at least as good and in some cases better than the Dynaplate. Running all of that foil everywhere also almost guarantees RF getting into your other systems. Bill's suggestion for radials will give you much better performance. Chuck
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Old 22-12-2010, 15:20   #6
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I ran two 30' copper strap radials on each side of the boat under the deck and it works great. Tried the commericially available bundle of random length wire strips (is that the kiss system??) and got no improvement in the signal. Signal out seems to be great as the SWR is 1.5 or lower. Talked with Hawaii hams all the way to Hilo from SF and talked with East Coast Marine Nets and hams at various times on 20 meters. Had good daytime signal on 40 meters for Email until more than a 1,000 miles away from the West Coast.

For radio Ground you are not looking for a ground like you need for an electrical connection. The DynaPlates are expensive and require another hole through the hull as well as a haulout to install.
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Old 22-12-2010, 15:42   #7
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As a professional SSB installer, and an active Extra Class ham with several decades of experience using HF radios on boats, I can attest that the "100 square feet of copper" and the need to "couple the ground to the seawater" are two of the most persistent and erroneous myths in this business.

You do NOT need to tie the ground system into every piece of metal belowdecks. You do NOT need 100 square feet of copper in the bilge, or copper screen embedded in the hull layup. You do NOT need an external ground plate. You do NOT need to tie the RF ground into your lead keel.

That is BUNK...pure and simple.

In many cases, a simple radial ground system will work just fine. This can be as simple as tying into the aluminum toerails if you have them. Or connecting to the s/s rub rails like those found on Island Packet yachts. Or to the s/s rudder post. Or to the pushpit/lifeline/pulpit system. Or using either tuned (1/4-wave) or untuned radials. More shorter ones are better than fewer longer ones. Elevated radials are more effective than buried radials.

Or, as Gordon West learned when he ran some actual tests, a copper strap to the nearest bronze thru-hull works just fine.

Other parts of the SSB installation are very important, and often neglected in the almost pathological quest to build the "best RF ground system possible". These include:

1. clean power to the radio (AWG 6 wire directly to the house batteries);
2. good clean connections everywhere;
3. using well-shielded coax between the radio and tuner;
4. choosing the best option for an antenna (not necessarily the traditional insulated backstay); and
5. most important of all, gaining experience in the use of the radio, and having the simple instruments necessary to monitor performance.

Bill
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Old 22-12-2010, 16:51   #8
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To follow on to btrayfors great advice, we installed 3 radials of 1" copper braid. No grounding, no bronze thru-hulls (who would want one anyway?), awesome performance with regular comments on how well we can hear/be heard.
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Old 24-12-2010, 14:37   #9
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Bill,
At one time I had a wide copper strap from both SSB radio (M-802) and tuner connected and running to a keel mounted bronze plate that also serves as lightening ground for the mast. Recently, I was told to disconnect the radio from ground and only ground the tuner. I understand and agree with the single through-hull ground but is it necessary to ground both radio and tuner or is just the tuner preferred? Thanks
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Old 24-12-2010, 15:28   #10
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Just ground the tuner. Otherwise you may be setting up a ground loop.
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Old 24-12-2010, 15:55   #11
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Old 24-12-2010, 16:09   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcassano View Post
Bill,
At one time I had a wide copper strap from both SSB radio (M-802) and tuner connected and running to a keel mounted bronze plate that also serves as lightening ground for the mast. Recently, I was told to disconnect the radio from ground and only ground the tuner. I understand and agree with the single through-hull ground but is it necessary to ground both radio and tuner or is just the tuner preferred? Thanks

Just the tuner. And it should be the RF ground, i.e., not otherwise connected to the boat's DC ground, lightning ground, AC ground, bonding system, etc.

Happy Holidays,

Bill
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Old 24-12-2010, 17:44   #13
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The major problems without proper grounding is HF reaching your navigational instruments as GPS, compass, GPS compass, VHF and more...
Use a wide copperplate/strip 1 1/2" - 2" from your antenna tuner to the amplifier... This is the most important grounding... A trough hull grounding would improve your transmission lobe and reception quite a bit...
Use the cheap way... Two stainless steel bolts welded on one side of a stainless steel plate, and two longer bolts on the other side of the plate. Two of the bolts should go trough the hull with a similar plate on the outside with locknuts and sealant around the bolts trough the hull - on the bolts outside the hull, fit a 100-200g zink anode, do not use to big zink anode...
On the inside you run a decent copper wire 10mm2 soft wound, from the plate to your amplifier or an existing ground terminal - NOT the battery negative terminal!
This can connect all your grounding needs, as e.g. hull valves, engine block or gear...
The ground plate can be located e.g. a few inches under the waterline at the rearmirror or similar...
We have done this on many vessels around the world, with great success.

This is a good thing to do even if you do not have any issues with HF...
It will reduce electric noice, improve VHF and MF/HF reception/transmission, reduce corrosion to engine,gear, prop, hullvalves...

Just a suggestion...
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