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Old 11-26-2013, 10:26 AM   #1
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KISS ssb ground plane

I am in the starting phase of installing a new SSB in my O.A.

I have done a bit of research regarding the counterpoise required, in my last couple boats I did bond all the big metals and a sintered bronze underwater plate and got good results ( perfect radio calls between New Zealand and the US ) etc.

Has anyone here actually installed a K.I.S.S. unit for their counterpoise?... and what was your verdict.

Personally after spending copious time replacing all the head hose through the bilge I have no real desire to crawl around running copper tape to everything.

Thoughts?

HOLLYWOOD

KISS-SSB TM
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:46 AM   #2
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Use an antenna tuner. The Icom AT 140 is a good one. Not cheap, but is well built and will last a long time.
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:58 AM   #3
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IF you are a power boat , and can not use an antenna tuner to an insulated backstay , I may have the solution.

I have a MONEL antenna that I was told was used in lifeboats during WWII.

It is 5 or 6 sections that lift and lock from a core like a car antenna.

IF you are interested , I can measure the LOA while extended.

As its a WWII artifact it isnt cheap, and the shipping down under would be expensive as its really heavy 60? maybe 75 lbs of Monel.

Also have an ICOM with antenna tuner.

This was used to obtain stable weather map printouts.

This is the famous :blue wire: model , cut the blue wire and you can operate on ANY frequency , not just ham bands. Both show as new.

>running copper tape to everything.<

Actually the copper used to form rain gutters , about 6in inches wide works better.
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Old 11-26-2013, 11:40 AM   #4
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I used to operate my HAM radio on SSB with no counterpoise other than the Gulf of Mexico below me. Your antenna being over water, especially salt water is all the counterpoise you need.
If any of you have a set-up in your car for SSB with a bumper mounted antenna try this. Go out near the street and make a contact. Then back your car up slowly to the water whether it be lake, river, bay, pond etc. Even with your rear bumper 3 feet away from the water you will notice a great improvement. If you can get your bumper over the water, it will be even better.
I also used to operate worldwide from my old van with no counterpoise.
Is a counterpoise better - YES. Is it absolutely necessary - NO
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Old 11-26-2013, 11:59 AM   #5
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We have the IC-M802 with the AT-140. We connected copper tape to 2 thru hulls and a copper line for the hydraulic stearing. We get regular comments on how good our signal is. That's our story.
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Old 11-26-2013, 12:04 PM   #6
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Greetings,
I've heard some put copper screening under the mattress to act as a ground plane or am I mis-remembering?
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Old 11-26-2013, 01:03 PM   #7
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Greetings,
I've heard some put copper screening under the mattress to act as a ground plane or am I mis-remembering?
That should also work keeping in mind that a ground plane does not have to be physically connected. Actually just about any metal will work.
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Old 11-26-2013, 01:18 PM   #8
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I think some are getting a ground wire and a ground plane/counterpoise confused with each other.

A ground wire protects from stray currents, power surges and lightning strikes.
A ground plane or counterpoise is using a 'ground' surface for reflection of radio waves kind of like a mirror reflects your image.

A ground wire must be connected to be effective and a counterpoise does not.
A ground wire doesn't do much for transmitting and receiving, a ground plane does.

Some vertical antenna's actually come with a built in counterpoise.

Generally a boat should not require a ground plane.
For a 'ground wire' any heavy gage wire to somewhere solid on the engine or transmission should do. The engine and tranny are physically and electrically connected to the shaft which with the propeller are in the water which will be your only ground when in a boat while out and about. At the dock there are other ways to ground your electrical system.
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Old 11-26-2013, 01:28 PM   #9
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I am somewhat hesitant to use an antenna tuner on a boat. Sometimes, and only sometimes, when an antenna is so mismatched with the frequency you are trying to transmit on, the tuner will work no doubt but will also throw out spurious radiation and signals which can be harmful to other electronics on board.
How do I know? I shut-in an oil and gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico about 20 years ago or so. The operators could not get it back on line and had to fly in some electronics guy to fix the problem. Maybe it was coincidence, but when I keyed my mic, alarms from hell went off.

This is 20 year old technology I am talking about so maybe things are much better now.
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Old 11-26-2013, 02:44 PM   #10
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I am somewhat hesitant to use an antenna tuner on a boat. Sometimes, and only sometimes, when an antenna is so mismatched with the frequency you are trying to transmit on, the tuner will work no doubt but will also throw out spurious radiation and signals which can be harmful to other electronics on board.
How do I know? I shut-in an oil and gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico about 20 years ago or so. The operators could not get it back on line and had to fly in some electronics guy to fix the problem. Maybe it was coincidence, but when I keyed my mic, alarms from hell went off.

This is 20 year old technology I am talking about so maybe things are much better now.
When we broadcast at high power, the stay RF will light up some of the panel lights and if the FM or AM radio is on, it will come through the speakers.

We have been using automatic antenna tuners on our boats since 1997 for voice and email and have never lost any electronics. I hear from some cruiser friends that their autopilot will disengage when broadcasting sometimes though.

Tony: Without an antenna tuner, how would you tune to the various frequencies?
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Old 11-26-2013, 03:15 PM   #11
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.... Without an antenna tuner, how would you tune to the various frequencies?
After my 'incident' on the platform, I gave up using straight wire and tuners. I Then used what are called "HAM Sticks".
I went to Radio Shack and bought a mount that truckers use on their mirrors for CB Antennas. These fit perfectly on most hand rails.
Then I bought several HAM Sticks for the various bands (Frequencies) that I normally use. it takes about 5 seconds to unscrew one and put on another. They are long rods with loading coils wound in and are easy to store. I haven't been active in many years but I still have my old Kenwood TS-50 and am thinking about getting on the air again from my boat. If I do, I will go the old HAM Stick route. I only used 3 main bands so I only needed 3 antennas. New, they only run about $15 each.
HAM Sticks are just loaded whip antennas and look similar to the long VHF Antennas but are much smaller. Prolly about 4 ft long and 3/4' thick with an adjustable wire whip coming out of the top.
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Old 11-26-2013, 03:23 PM   #12
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Yep, that would do it. I used to use the old base-loaded Hustler antennas on the car bumper with my HW-100, and they worked like a charm. Even on 75 meters, which is notoriously hard to tune.
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Old 11-26-2013, 03:27 PM   #13
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I don't know if an antenna tuner with spurious radiation would actually hurt any electronic equipment but I would rather not be transmitting 100 watts unturned near any receivers like GPS and RADAR, but that's just me.

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Old 11-26-2013, 04:00 PM   #14
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I don't know if an antenna tuner with spurious radiation would actually hurt any electronic equipment but I would rather not be transmitting 100 watts unturned near any receivers like GPS and RADAR, but that's just me.

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Tony: No worries with the newer tuners and radios. During automatic tuning, the AT-140 grounds the key voltage and the HF transceiver reduces the output power.

The IC-M802 also has a "tune through" function on the key board so you can tune up with minimal power output.
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Old 11-26-2013, 05:24 PM   #15
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I think we gave the OP a headache. Sorry Hollywood.

If you want to buy the KISS, go ahead, it can't hurt. As for how much good it will do is up in the air. When it comes to antenna radiation and efficiency when not in an ideal environment, everything becomes an educated guess. If I were do this in the backyard I would install a ground plane made of a steel or copper grid. If I had a pond, I would put the antenna in the center of the pond.

If my reception on my boat needed to be improved, I would go with RT's metal grid under the mattress. Even better, get a coil spring mattress under your bed and then mount your antenna somewhere upstairs outside directly over the bed. Lots of options here.

Consider this: HAM operators successfully communicate with people around the world daily with 100 watts from their car. The car cannot be grounded because rubber tires are insulators. Their communications relies on their counterpoise (ground plane) which is the car body itself. There is a motor, gas tanks, framework and coil springs in their also to screw things up - but obviously not enough to stop around the world communications. Of course, ideally the antenna could be placed on the center of the roof. So, how come mine works so well when I used a rear bumper mount for my whip antennas and the entire height of the back of my van (almost 5 feet) blocked most of the antenna? Some of these gadgets real well and others are like buying gold flyswatters to kill cockroaches.

My suggestion would be to buy the basic radio and antenna set-up of your choice whether it be multiple whips like mine or an antenna tuner as suggested by Larry. Use it for a while and decide on what else you might need if anything.

Good luck in whatever you decide

OH, sorry, I thought this was the "Quick Reply". Something must have gone wrong.
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Old 11-26-2013, 07:18 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hollywood8118 View Post
I am in the starting phase of installing a new SSB in my O.A.

I have done a bit of research regarding the counterpoise required, in my last couple boats I did bond all the big metals and a sintered bronze underwater plate and got good results ( perfect radio calls between New Zealand and the US ) etc.

Has anyone here actually installed a K.I.S.S. unit for their counterpoise?... and what was your verdict.

Personally after spending copious time replacing all the head hose through the bilge I have no real desire to crawl around running copper tape to everything.

Thoughts?

HOLLYWOOD

KISS-SSB TM
I have an ICOM SSB coupled to the AT 140 turner with the KISS counterpoise and a Shakespeare 23' antenna. The system is also tied to one bonding plate in the hull of my fiberglass boat. I have used it very little, but it seems to work well. The SSB on my boat is for emergency contact when I'm 60+ miles off shore. Have no experience using it over great distances.

Ted
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:53 PM   #17
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I am installing a new Icom 802 and a At-140, also have a Shakespeare 23' SSB antenna... got the entire rig new in the box for $ 1000.00.

In the past I have used foil connected to a ground plate and connected it to the engine block also. I was under the impression that to help balance the antenna I needed a bigger counterpoise than just the antenna and the tuner. As far as the SSB lighting led's, florescent lights.. making autopilots go wonky I thought they all did that!.
I can connect copper foil to the big steel fuel tanks I just hate running foil all over the place.

HOLLYWOOD
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Old 11-27-2013, 08:51 AM   #18
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I was under the impression that to help balance the antenna I needed a bigger counterpoise than just the antenna and the tuner.
For the best transmission quality, you do. It is entirely possible, on the other hand, that you will transmit reasonably well, in the right conditions, without any counterpoise at all.

I have heard good reports about the KISS, but be aware that it is nothing more than a bundle of wires, cut to varying lengths. Personally, I think the cost is a bit high for that. If you have the money, and want something dead simple, maybe it is worth it to you. A single piece of copper strap from the tuner to the nearest bronze through-hull will probably do just as well.

There is a lot of good discussion about SSB setups on the Seven Seas Cruisers Assoc. forum, here...
SSCA Forum &bull; View forum - Communications

In fact, there may be almost TOO MUCH discussion about it there. They have several participants who are active and dedicated hams (I have a general class license myself), and who get deep into the esoterica of antennas, ground planes, and so on. Still, if you want to understand SSB, that's a good place to start.

Good luck.

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Old 11-27-2013, 12:40 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hollywood8118 View Post
I am installing a new Icom 802 and a At-140, also have a Shakespeare 23' SSB antenna... got the entire rig new in the box for $ 1000.00.

In the past I have used foil connected to a ground plate and connected it to the engine block also. I was under the impression that to help balance the antenna I needed a bigger counterpoise than just the antenna and the tuner. As far as the SSB lighting led's, florescent lights.. making autopilots go wonky I thought they all did that!.
I can connect copper foil to the big steel fuel tanks I just hate running foil all over the place.

HOLLYWOOD
When making my decision, the flexibility of location and moving it if necessary were worth the $140 investment to try it. The hours not spent installing the foil alone were worth it.

Ted
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