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Old 23-01-2013, 20:56   #136
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Re: The KISS SSB Counterpoise - Revealed ( with Pics )

I don't know if this was mentioned earlier in this thread, but there is a very high correlation between boats with excellent ground planes and boats that get hit by lightning. Not sure why?

I've been cruising the tropics for eleven years and finally gave up on the SSB radio. I tried everything to improve the ground plane on my boat and nothing worked. The bright side is that I've never been hit by lightning.
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Old 23-01-2013, 21:29   #137
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Re: The KISS SSB Counterpoise - Revealed ( with Pics )

Maybe they did not polish the ground strap enough, electrons need a slippery surface!
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Originally Posted by Bambolera View Post
I don't know if this was mentioned earlier in this thread, but there is a very high correlation between boats with excellent ground planes and boats that get hit by lightning. Not sure why?

I've been cruising the tropics for eleven years and finally gave up on the SSB radio. I tried everything to improve the ground plane on my boat and nothing worked. The bright side is that I've never been hit by lightning.
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Old 24-01-2013, 00:05   #138
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Re: The KISS SSB Counterpoise - Revealed ( with Pics )

Remember the "Slinky" antenna? I made one of those by soldering two pairs of Slinky's together and feeding the center with coax. I threaded a bit of rope through it and hung it on my apartment wall. Stretch it out for lower frequencies, bunch it up for higher, and it worked -- adequately. Well enough to make some ham contacts, but I've done that with some pretty horrible temporary antennas.

It doesn't take much of an antenna to send/receive a signal, but it's really easy to throw away 10 or 20 dB with a poor one. And a poor antenna may be the most appropriate one in some situations, but on our boats there's no reason not to have a good one.
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Old 24-01-2013, 02:51   #139
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Re: The KISS SSB Counterpoise - Revealed ( with Pics )

Thats why I turn off when I hear these marine SSB failure horror stories.

The facts are these:

-We operating over seawater, the best possible radio frequency environment.
-Ground loss over seawater is lowest that can be technically achieved.
-Antenna efficiencies when a backstay antenna is used, with an auto atu is above average.

All these factors would predicate that any HF installation that is installed in a yacht should therefore work well above the same setup if installed on land. When we have such dismal HF performance that a user gives up using HF, something is clearly wrong , or the installer is incompetent.

If we use mobile ham operators as an example for comparison.

-We have the worst possible RF environment
-high RF ground loss, the worst possible.
-Antennas with poor to low efficiency. Antennas with less than 10% efficiency.

Clearly the numbers are stacked in favor of a yacht HF installation.
What can be achieved with poor ham installation from an anecdotal perspective
leaves maritime yacht installations for dead, or so it seems.

Where do the Db's disappear to when you have a maritime HF installation rendered useless? Something is clearly not right or not working when there is so much in favor of the yacht HF installation.

It is specially concerning since most marine HF communications involves coastal voice communication. If you cant achieve voice quality SSB communication on the 4,6,8 or 12 mhz frequencies with the average yacht antenna your system is faulty. A ham could do it with a FT817 hung around his neck with a miracle whip and using 5 watts.

When someone says Pactor does not work,
if it is not a propagation issue then you have a faulty installation. If I cant communication on pactor using 25 watts, I would throw the whole lot overboard as well.

Some users experiences of HF directly point to a faulty system or a poor installer.
Those having such dismal performance should seek out professional help or better still change their installer. HF does that does not work is just not a reality in this day and age, this is not the year 1934.

While I have empathy with those who dont get results, I would blame the installers rather than the end user. Even the worst possible RF ground cannot account
for such poor performance.

I have had the good fortune of being involved in a good many offshore race events.
HF radio was a mandatory requirement in all these events. The only people who could not be contacted were those with equipment that was installed incorrectly or faulty. For race communications the contact success rate was as high as 99.99% of stations called. What more can you can ask for?



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Remember the "Slinky" antenna? I made one of those by soldering two pairs of Slinky's together and feeding the center with coax. I threaded a bit of rope through it and hung it on my apartment wall. Stretch it out for lower frequencies, bunch it up for higher, and it worked -- adequately. Well enough to make some ham contacts, but I've done that with some pretty horrible temporary antennas.

It doesn't take much of an antenna to send/receive a signal, but it's really easy to throw away 10 or 20 dB with a poor one. And a poor antenna may be the most appropriate one in some situations, but on our boats there's no reason not to have a good one.
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Old 24-01-2013, 08:46   #140
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Re: The KISS SSB Counterpoise - Revealed ( with Pics )

The FCC issues ham radio license dirt cheap (more than 10x cheaper than VHF licenses) because hams are supposed to be a labor pool for military radio ops in the event of a draft, and hams are supposed to be continually experimenting and improving the "art" of radio. To that extent they certainly have been willing to try almost anything as antennas, and if you can think of it, odds are some ham antenna guide already has it documented. Lawn chairs, light bulbs, fence lines, discones, you name it.

If anyone really wants to try a discone, remember that all the rigging that goes aloft and joins at the top of your mast could easily be turned into a discone, just add isolators in the bottom of each piece, or run the wires alongside on spacers. And slapdash as that seems, it is also the reason why sailboat installations vary so much from boat to boat. You are surrounded by metal with slightly different dimensions and slightly diffferent junctions and differing electrical characteristics, so no matter what you expect each installation will be somewhat unique and some trials may provide a major change. Turnkey solution? Sure, like boxed mac-and-cheese, they are out there and they keep many customer happy. The boxed mac is better than what a lot of people can make themselves, not as good as what a good cook will do.
But turnkey solutions certainly get you started fast, and they beat a burnt up pot of pasta.
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Old 24-01-2013, 11:28   #141
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Re: The KISS SSB Counterpoise - Revealed ( with Pics )

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To that extent they certainly have been willing to try almost anything as antennas, and if you can think of it, odds are some ham antenna guide already has it documented. Lawn chairs, light bulbs, fence lines, discones, you name it.
LOL! This was some time ago, and my memory is hazy on the details, but I seem to recall seeing a pic in QST or one of the other radio mags of two Ford Pintos, bumber to bumper, fed with ladder line and worked on 20 meters. An expensive antenna, to be sure, but there aren't many other antennas you can drive to the grocery store, either.
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Old 25-01-2013, 17:30   #142
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Re: The KISS SSB Counterpoise - Revealed ( with Pics )

As a professional SSB installer and a ham for over 45 years, I agree with most of what plebian99 and others have said about situations where the operator fails to connect.

It drives me nuts to hear that. The worst I've heard on these boards is that someone was "unable to make a single contact all the way across the Atlantic". Sorry, my friend, but licensed or not you just hadn't a clue about SSB radio installation and operation.....particularly operation and troubleshooting.

Fact is, hundreds of boats with SSB installations -- both good and mediocre and even poor -- do make contacts EVERY DAY on the marine SSB and ham SSB nets. Hundreds! Prove it to yourself: just listen in any day to the Waterway Net (7268LSB at 0745-0830 Eastern Time), the Cruizheimers Net (8152USB at 0830-0900 Eastern Time), or the Maritime Mobile Service Net (14300USB beginning at 1100 Eastern Time and running all day). Or, listen to the broadcasts from WLO or the USCG stations on published frequencies.

My slight disagreement comes with plebian99's willingness to blame the installation first and not the operator. Here's the truth:

A good operator can make contacts regularly even on a poorly installed SSB; and

An inexperienced operator sometimes cannot make contacts regularly even on a perfectly installed SSB.

Obviously, then, the desirable thing is to have (1) a well-installed SSB; and
(2) an experienced, knowledgeable operator.

BTW, you don't become an experienced, knowledgeable operator without lots of on-the-air practice. That said, if you dive right in and begin making regular contacts on the nets, and if you listen a lot, you'll be well on your way to becoming a good operator.

Bill
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Old 25-01-2013, 17:39   #143
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Re: The KISS SSB Counterpoise - Revealed ( with Pics )

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Originally Posted by plebian99 View Post
Thats why I turn off when I hear these marine SSB failure horror stories...... If you cant achieve voice quality SSB communication on the 4,6,8 or 12 mhz frequencies with the average yacht antenna your system is faulty. A ham could do it with a FT817 hung around his neck with a miracle whip and using 5 watts. ......
True story:

Lying in my cockpit one afternoon while anchored in Francis Bay, St. John I had my 817 lying on my stomach. It was attached to my favorite DX antenna....a 20-meter vertical dipole rigged on the foredeck.

Tuning across the band, balancing a cold Mt. Gay and coke in one hand...I heard a rare station: EK (Armenia). I called him on SSB with 2.5 watts on internal batteries. He came right back to me and gave me a 5&9!!

My two guests aboard were astonished. Next call was to a ZL (New Zealand) calling CQ. He came right back and gave me a 5&7!

While I've made such contacts regularly from the boat with the vertical dipole and a 100-watt rig, I've never tried it before with just 2.5 watts!

True story, and I've got the witnesses to prove it :-)

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Old 23-05-2013, 06:19   #144
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Re: The KISS SSB Counterpoise - Revealed ( with Pics )

Back to Kiss-ssb. Here results of testing I did with a Kiss-ssb. I became interested in this device after a fellow cruiser asked me about it on the Cruisehiemer's tech net.

Kiss-SSB Counterpoise Testing
Rick Medero 3-Jan-2013


Conclusion
All results are consistent with RF theory and the measured properties of the Kiss counterpoise with antenna analyzer. As an HF counterpoise, the Kiss-SSB is practically the same as a length of 12g wire about 3 inches longer than the overall length of the Kiss. It provides little or no counterpoise at frequencies 6mhz and less, at higher frequencies it is less effective than conventional counterpoise, and it is less effective at preventing interference with other vessel electronics.
The effect the tuner coax feed line and control cable have on counterpoise performance was not address in this testing as that will be installation dependent. For all tests the coax and control cable had ferrites applied at the tuner to minimize RF conductivity to these conductors. The coax and control cable are internally connected to tuner ground terminal in ICOM tuners and in SGC tuners have DC blocking. In both case the coax and control cable will be a significant part of the counterpoise if not isolated as was done in this testing. It is likely that the coax and control cable will provide some improved performance at low frequencies as they are connected to the transceiver chassis. The chassis has a good reference to transceiver power cables and that will have a good RF connection to vessel's DC wiring. The popularity of this device can only be explained by the subjective nature of determining HF SSB RX and TX performance and by the additional counterpoise provided by tuner feed line and control cable.


Discussion
The manufacturer of the Kiss-SSB claims this device is similar to multiple lengths of wire where each length is tuned for resonance at several HF bands. The Kiss-SSB has all of those lengths of wire folded into a ~5/8” ID tube about 12’ long. With radio frequencies, parallel conductors placed in close proximity behave like one conductor due to mutual inductance and capacitance. Testing described here and performed by others using antenna analyzers shows that this device has significant resonance only in one band closely related to its overall length. There is no reason to believe that it has properties not detectable with antenna analyzers.
The only supporting evidence the manufacturer has provided for the claims made are testimonials from users and comments from a professor of communications who did not do any analysis or testing to confirm his assertions. While testimonials should in all cases be viewed skeptically, in this case where the subjective nature of determining HF antenna performance is extreme, one should place little value on those testimonials.
There are many factors involved in the signal levels received by or from distant stations. Transmitted power, radiation angles of TX and RX antennas, efficiency of TX and RX antennas, and propagation are most significant. Evaluating antenna performance using signal reports is confounded by these factors. Some of the signal report testing described here used multiple stations at different angles and different distances over short time duration to help eliminate some of these factors.
The supplier of the Kiss-SSB I tested here was kind enough to loan it to me but did not allow me to disassemble it, so information on how the elements are arranged in the tube is from postings on forums.

Testing
I installed a battery selector switch at tuner ground terminal allowing selection of different counterpoises. The switch has very low resistance, short runs and little capacitance between points. 5 ferrite beads are on the coax and control cables at the tuner to isolate them from being part of the counterpoise.


Test 1
Receive and transmit signal reports. M802 at full power hit tune button after each switch of counterpoise. Test vessel in Apollo Beach, Fl. Saint Jude in NC, Valkyrie in Normans Cay Bahamas, and Kismet in Miami. The TX reports are as received by distant station. RX reports are as received at test vessel. Distant stations were blind to which counterpoise was being tested. Frequency is 8152khz
Station Existing TX Kiss TX Existing RX Kiss RX
SaintJude 2 bars 1bar 4 bars 2 bars
Valkyrie 2bars 1bar 2 bars 1 bar
Kismet 7 S units 5 S units NA NA

This test shows strong trend indicating Kiss has significantly less antenna gain for RX and TX 2 S units corresponds to 12db change which is a factor of 16x more effective power with existing counterpoise.


Test 2
Replaced existing ground on switch to 12 G wire of similar length and extend in similar pattern to Kiss along starboard side. End of Kiss and end of wire about 4' apart at ends fanning out from switch. The goal of this test is to determine if there is a significant difference between the wire and the Kiss. Including open (no connection) and the existing counterpoise verifies that difference in counterpoise impedance is reflected in SWR
Frequency Kiss Wire Existing Open
2093 1.16 1.00 18.90 1.35
4003 1.00 1.00 3.90 1.11
6227 1.06 1.06 3.35 1.30
8146 1.00 1.01 10.50 2.70
12359 1.05 1.00 2.73 3.84
22159 1.27 1.00 1.81 1.60
This test indicates that there is no significant difference between the wire and Kiss and at lower frequencies the Kiss and wire are no different than no connection to tuner ground.


Test 3
Used MFJ 259b antenna analyzer as low power beacon to test if Kiss is better at rejecting RF noise generated aboard vessel. I tried placing the noise source in 7 different locations and tried 20, 40 and 80 meter frequencies. I switched between existing and Kiss counterpoise tuning on each switch. In all but one case at 40meter the Kiss signal was higher and in a few cases it was the same. In most cases the existing counterpoise was better at rejecting noise by 2-6 S units even in the case where the beacon was connected directly to the grounding buss bar where DC ground and RF ground are connected.


Test 4
With one of my refrigeration units with Danfoss DC compressor running, I compared RX noise level and found the level was 2 S units higher with Kiss than with existing counterpoise. At each switch of the counterpoise I tuned the tuner and dialed the frequency to maximize the signal level to compensate for frequency drift of signal emitted by the compressor unit. Repeated the test 3 times with same results. Base line noise level was 9 S units lower than compressor signal.
Moved Kiss-SSB to tuner on base of my vertical on patio roof. Placed 1:1 current balun on coax feed line and control cable at tuner. Existing ground is metal roof and aluminum frame.


Test 5
I performed a test to see if Kiss will radiate. I used a Fluorescent light tube held by one end in my hand with contacts touching my hand and held the other end of the tube near the Kiss. I set radio to 40 meter freq, and power at 150w and tuned then with wireless headset and vox the tube illuminated while transmitting. Another test I did was to switch to existing ground and with same tube but contacts of distant end of tube on tuner ground, the tube did not illuminate when transmitting. Switch back to Kiss and tube does illuminate indicating high potential at tuner ground. Also used an analog 20v dc meter with 1/2 wave rectifier connected between existing ground and tuner ground. With Kiss and power set to 5w it pegged the meter. Yet another test was to touch the tuner ground and it burned. Did not burn when tuner connected to existing ground. Again all predicted by theory.

Test 6
Repeated SWR test as was done in test 2, but this time on tuner at base of vertical on patio roof with similar results.


Test 7
Switched between wire, open, existing ground. Tuner was tuned at each switch. Tested RX signals level (s-units) from 2 stations on 80m, one in FL Keys and other in Ohio
Station Kiss Wire Open Existing
Ohio 2.5 2.5 2.5 8
Keys 7 7 7 9
This test indicate less signal from both stations. The large difference seen between the 2 stations is most likely due to difference in radiation (rx in this case) pattern. The lack of change between Kiss, wire and open is expected as wire and Kiss provides very little counterpoise and low frequency.


Test 8
Switched between wire, open, existing ground . Tuner in pass through. Tested perceived RX audio quality from WWV at 5m and 10m.
Frequency Kiss Wire Open Existing
5mhz poor poor poor good
10mz good good poor good
This test again indicates the Kiss is ineffective at lower frequencies.


Test 9
I hook up my antenna analyzer and found similar results as Chris noted in posts on The KISS SSB Counterpoise - Revealed ( with Pics ). I connected the analyzer ground to the existing ground and the Kiss to the center lead. The Kiss has 2 detectable peaks for return loss, one at ~15mhz and the other at ~16mhz. Above and below these frequencies the return loss was less than 0.3 db indicating no resonance above or below these frequencies. Did the same test with wire and saw only one peak at ~16mhz. While it is not exactly the same as a piece of wire it is practically the same.
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Old 23-05-2013, 06:44   #145
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R.I.P. KISS

Thanks for the effort put into your testing. Your conclusions are consistent with what one trained in the art would expect. However very inconsistent with the conclusions of those here that place unreasonable faith in the mystical arts - including several that should know better.
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Old 23-05-2013, 07:28   #146
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Re: The KISS SSB Counterpoise - Revealed ( with Pics )

I believe it was over two years ago that we established that the KISS was not as efficient as a good traditional SSB ground. Why do tests and repeat it still after all those years?
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Old 23-05-2013, 08:06   #147
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Re: The KISS SSB Counterpoise - Revealed ( with Pics )

"Why do tests and repeat it" -- that is what good science is about: apply theory, test and repeat testing under different conditions and performers to validate results.

"KISS was not as efficient as a good traditional SSB ground" -- the important point is that it is not more effective than a single length of wire about the overall length of the KISS. So, if you believe that this is an efficient counterpoise, save your money and go to Home Depot for 14 feet of wire.
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Old 23-05-2013, 08:20   #148
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Re: The KISS SSB Counterpoise - Revealed ( with Pics )

This is the first real detailed and extensive experimental methodology I have seen for the KISS. The previous stuff was much more simpler comparisons and theory debates. I could have missed previous experiments like Rick's, though.

For the anecdotal evidence of KISS working well, is it possible that the physical installation of the system led to capacitive coupling with something that actually did provide counterpoise? Even laying it along the bottom of a hull may couple it to the sea.

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Old 23-05-2013, 08:23   #149
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Re: The KISS SSB Counterpoise - Revealed ( with Pics )

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save your money and go to Home Depot for 14 feet of wire.
14 feet 3 inches, by your report. They are going to charge you 15 feet for that -$$$...

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Old 23-05-2013, 10:06   #150
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Re: The KISS SSB Counterpoise - Revealed ( with Pics )

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"Why do tests and repeat it" -- that is what good science is about: apply theory, test and repeat testing under different conditions and performers to validate results.

"KISS was not as efficient as a good traditional SSB ground" -- the important point is that it is not more effective than a single length of wire about the overall length of the KISS. So, if you believe that this is an efficient counterpoise, save your money and go to Home Depot for 14 feet of wire.
It is a shame that you did not compare the KISS with a wire like you state in your conclusions. If you had included the 12ga wire in test 1, that conclusion would have been valid. Now, it just adds to the "conspiracy".

test2 seems to show that even an open connection outperforms your existing ground?! Very weird results.

It seems KISS owners don't care much for more testing with their setup; if they would we could have a real comparison between KISS and length of wire, using voice communications over different distances and bands.
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