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Old 09-12-2011, 13:00   #1
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SSB Radio Installation - Grounding

I have just installed an ICOM M802 ssb in my boat and it seems to work fine....but...some other equipment in the boat is maybe not so happy.

When I transmit on the ssb, the LED lights in the saloon or in one of the cabins come on.

I'd appreciate any comments on whether this is normal or if it's something that I need to fix (and if so, how?).

I did the ssb installation exactly as ICOM recommend....Cu foil from a separate ssb ground to the antenna tuner and to the tansceiver unit.

My only deviation from what ICOM say in their installation instructions is that they say the "case" of all boat instruments (eg wind, depth, chart plotter, radar) should be connected to a single point at the nav station and from there via Cu foil to the common ssb ground. I haven't done this because my instruments (Raymarine) don't seem to have a "case ground" connection point, and they seem to have plastic cases anyway. I think the radar dome has a separate case ground but that's the only one I've been able to find

I'd appreciate any comments on whether I should be doing something different with the grounding of this installation.

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Old 09-12-2011, 14:11   #2
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Re: SSB Radio Installation - Grounding

Very interesting. I'm thinking about getting an SSB, so I'll be curious to find out what's going on.

It sounds like you are getting induced current in the boat's house wiring when you transmit. Any length of wire will act as an antenna when its in close proximity to RF radiation or lightning, and it will have some amount of voltage on it. Since the LEDs don't need much current to light up anyway, that may be what's causing it. I'm not sure if ferrite coils at each end of the wire would help or not.

You might just leave it as it is, and use the LEDs as an indicator that you're actually transmitting.

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Old 09-12-2011, 15:50   #3
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Re: SSB Radio Installation - Grounding

I am in the process of 're-installing' my Icom IC-M800 SSB as I've been having problems hearing traffic on the radio. There's a plethora of information out there (I'm certain you'll get lots of replies to your post) but I'm amazed at the discrepancies amongst the 'experts'.

If you read anything that Gordon West Gordon West Radio School | 714-549-5000 | Ham It Up! writes, he'll say that flashing LEDs while transmitting are normal. Most people will say that two insulators on the backstay are essential while you can find knowledgeable people who will say that only one is necessary. Some say that you need 100 square feet of copper foil (or it's equivalent) and others will say just run a ground to a bronze through-hull.

This isn't rocket science nor is it new technology but there seems to be as many opinions as to the correct way to do it as there are people. If your system is working and none of your other electronics are malfunctioning, then I'd say "Job well done."

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Old 09-12-2011, 16:33   #4
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Re: SSB Radio Installation - Grounding

Originally Posted by Cruisin Cat View Post
I have just installed an ICOM M802 ssb in my boat and it seems to work fine....but...some other equipment in the boat is maybe not so happy.

This is normal when kicking a crap load of wattage through a ground loop. Remove the wire connecting the tuner and radio. Ground each separately to the battery. Install a KISS SSB counterpoise (thread can be found in at least three places here).

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Old 09-12-2011, 16:36   #5
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Re: SSB Radio Installation - Grounding

On my ham rig, the lights on the breaker panel that were off would glow a little when I was transmitting via pactor. I wouldnt worry too much about it. There are a lot of variables so it's very much an art and not pure science from a pragmatic standpoint. Do you have any ring ballasts installed on the wiring?
"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard

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Old 09-12-2011, 16:53   #6
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Re: SSB Radio Installation - Grounding

It's probably LED's rectifying induced Rf from your transmitter. Sounds normal. KSS ground is OK. I've got mine, but that's a project in the near future. Bring you SSB power ground (-) directly to your battery ground buss. As short as possible. You could cable the transmitter to a dummy load and see if you get the LED effect without actually transmitting through your antenna.
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Old 09-12-2011, 18:56   #7
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Re: SSB Radio Installation - Grounding

Lose the ground to the main radio unit (i.e., the copper between the radio and the tuner). You don't need a separate ground on the's grounded thru the power wire. You want to eliminate the possibility of ground loops insofar as practicable.

As someone said, take your power directly from the house batteries. Not thru a panel or breaker. Put a 30A fuse in both the positive and the negative wires, located close to the battery. Use AWG6 battery cable for the run from the batteries to near the radio, and connect to the shortened AWG10 power wires to the radio.

The KISS-SSB is a good solution, but there are others as well. A copper strip from the tuner ground lug to the nearest bronze thru-hull works well. So, too, do radials (of which the KISS-SSB is just one way to do it, albeit a good and easy solution). There are others as well, depending on the layout of your boat.

The "100sq ft" is just an urban myth....long disproved by hams and professional SSB installers.

Even with the best SSB installation you may get some blinking of's induced RF into the circuitry. It may differ in intensity on various bands. Not much you can do about it except be sure you have a good working RF antenna/ground system, and that you have proper power to the transceiver.

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Old 09-12-2011, 21:17   #8
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Re: SSB Radio Installation - Grounding

On my first boat that I installed my Ham on, the lights did this. Taking the advise of some old hams and grounding to a through hull and making sure the antenna was the correct length eliminated it.

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