Thursday, March23, 2017

' Icom Marine Ssb Antenna Grounding'

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and Icom Inc
on your purchase of an ICOM marine single sideband transceiver You have
chosen one of the finest sideband sets special insert in your marine single sideband instruction and installation manual will
assist you in choosing the right antenna and getting the best range out of a good sideband installation Good antennas and good grounding are
absolutely essential for
good single sideband range and this is why this special report is included with your TUNERS
If your ICOM SSB is going aboard a sailboat you may Another antenna system for powerboat operation is the
either use an insulated backstay an insulated sidestay or a pretuned trap 23foot aluminum whip from Morad white fiber glass whip antenna off
the stern This antenna requires no automatic tunersimply feed it
to make up your antenna system Your best range will be with coax out of the back of your SSB and it works nicely
from an insulated backstay because of the long length of on all of the preset marine frequencies This antenna
the antenna radiator which is that portion within the top system must usually be tuned up by a technician and it
and bottom insulators Have your rigger put the top usually is not as popular as the nonresonant white about two feet down from the
tip of the mast glass whip used in conjunction with the ICOM tuner
Have your rigger install the bottom insulator at about eye Although both are good performers the ICOM tuner and
level when youre standing back aft This length between the white fiber glass nonresonant whip is usually the should not exceed 120 or be
less than 23 If way to go
you decide to go for the nonresonant whip antenna such
as a Shakespeare or Morad the antenna usually goes at We suggest you check with the dealer that sold you your
the extreme stern and mounts either vertically or raked transceiver if you would like to purchase the ICOM auto
back at about a 45degree angle matic tuner as well as a resonant or nonresonant whip
antenna assembly Dealers that sell ICOM nonresonant antennas may be tuned by the usually have these accessories on hand
ICOM automatic antenna tuner that matches the ICOM
SSB transceiver The tuner goes back aft in the lazarett It THE IMPORTANCE OF GROUNDING
is completely and can easily take the Please read this If you are looking for super range of being aft and below deck where youre
your new ICOM SSB we have some tricks that will give
probably also going to store wet life preservers foul you the same kind of range as cruise gear and the like The tuner interconnects
with the super tankers solo sailors the Navy and the Coast Guard
ICOM SSB Full details are in the tuner Surface area to the sea water and the use of copper foil
tion manual We suggest you use GTO15 high voltage exclusively throughout your RF ground system is the com
leadin wire from the single wire output of the tuner to bination that gives you super range
your insulated backstay or to your nonresonant whip The sea water acts like a diving board or side of a pool for
This high voltage wire wont break down in wet weather or a diver and a swimmer it gives your signal a solid Use stainless steel hose
clamps to attach the wire to push off from This is technically called a counter
to the insulated backstay If you decide to use a non poise and its the absolute necessary otherhalf of your
resonant whip attach the single wire with a lug to the antenna system that must be achieved for your overall at the base of the whip
gle sideband system to work well
More about the importance of grounding in a moment Its not that hard to develop your own sideband RF ground
system in just about a days time and you may even find
For those of you with a powerboat a whip antenna that most of the RF ground system is already installed 20 feet long is what
youll be using with you have little to do but to tie everything together with
your new ICOM SSB The most common and preferred set copper foil Read on please and let us show you how
up consists of the white fiber glass 21foot nonresonant easy it can be
whip antenna that is automatically tuned with the antenna tuner Similar to sailboat SPEAKING
the tuner is hidden out of the way in the flying bridge area If you plan to have a technician or a technical friend install
or below deck near the base of the whip GTO15 wire your sideband system have him skip this part and the whip to the automatic tuner
The tuner is reading at Antenna Ground Principles with coax RG 213 and a control line from the back of Speaking If you plan to
do the installation yourself and
the ICOM SSB wherever you plan to hide the autotuner this is the first one youve done read on
Remember the ICOM automatic tuner is fully automatic
so you can put it completely out of sight
The water that your boat sits in is the ultimate ground copper plumbers tape Threeinch is better Note A Theres none better Commercial AM
broad inch strip mounted three inches away from another three
cast stations on the coast usually put their giant antenna inch strip of copper foil looks like a nine inch strip to a
system in the mud flats of a local bay for good range radio wave
Some boat suppliers put ground foil and ground screen in Its going to take you about a day to work this foil below
the cabin overhead This is true on expensive powerboats decks and below the water line picking up anything and
and is sometimes found in a few sailboats While this type everything of ground potential If you can get at your keel
of overhead RF ground system is better than nothing it bolt or tap a screw into the keel your grounding is done
still lacks the capability of coupling with the ocean or lake Lead incapsulated keels are the ultimate in grounds and
as the ultimate water ground system A far better RF you may need nothing system would be the following
In powerboats since theres no keel youre going to need
1 100 sq ft area of foil below water line to come up with at least 100 square feet of RF ground
2 Metal water tanks surface below the water line This means you must pick up
3 Lead keel as many ground potentials below the water line as possi
4 Foil radials ble We usually use a stainless steel hose clamp to grab
5 throughhull each underwater metal source
6 Engine block
7 Metal oilcatch pans Now lets take a look at grounding from a slightly more
8 Steering system hydraulics technical point of view Dont worry we wont get over
technical and its easy to read and understand If youre
Thats right we list the engine block as last as a good letting a technical friend of technician put in your counterpoise Engine blocks do
not have an ment make sure they read over this section several large amount of surface area that is flat and The facts here are
based on hundreds of hours of doing
close to the water your boat is sitting in The whole idea is and undoing different types of ground systems In all
surface areaand this is why a keel bolt underwater tanks cases following these techniques will give you the and anything else flat and next to
the water that you want and thats long range and the loudest
does such a good job Now we know your next question signal on the band
But doesnt a good ground actually have to be in contact
with the water Not at all At radio frequencies RF your ANTENNA GROUND ground counterpoise sees the water in a TECHNICALLY way
which gives just as good a ground effect The marine antenna system for low medium and high
as if it were actually touching the water frequency applications will utilize both the seawater as
well as that shiny white fiber glass antenna radiator for its
Now heres another very important point no round wires entire operation Like two kids on a the sys
for RF ground Even if you use welding wire the size of tem works well if there is a balance between the antenna
your thumb you cannot achieve a good ground counter radiator and the seawater ground This balanced antenna
poise with round wire In our Technically Speaking system may electrically be compared to a dipole well tell you why but in nontechnical
terms wavelength long on the frequency band
round wires tend to cancel out at radio frequencies and of operation with voltage and current loops equally
they look invisible as a ground counterpoise interconnect distributed throughout the halfwave length system In
This is why copper foil must be used between the chassis marine applications where a vertical antenna is used this
of your transceiver to your ships RF ground as the chas system is more precisely referred to as a Hertz antenna setup
sis of the automatic antenna tuner to ships RF ground The white fiber glass whip is tuned to an wires wont workonly copper foil will
onequarter wavelength and the ground system will make
up the other onequarter wavelength We technically call
Your better marine electronic stores that sell ICOM equip the RF ground system a and the antenna
ment will also sell threeinch wide superthin copper the for grounding In a pinch you can use oneinch wide
If either a onequarter wavelength antenna or ground be laminated inside the fiber glass layers as the hull is
system is missing or inadequate radio reception and under construction Thin sheets of copper foil could range will be severely reduced
How good be used in the manufacturing process of the hull Even the
was your car radio reception when someone broke off conducting mesh that holds together cement hulls can be
your whip antenna The same degradation of range also used quite nicely as a ground counterpoise system
takes place when there is little or no RF ground system for
the whip to work against in a marine installation Copper foil and grounding screen is available from most
marine electronic distributors as well as marine a swimmer making a flip turn but not having the dealers Thickness of the screen and foil is
not of the pool to push off from The same thing happens the most common foil is generally one to four mills thick
with radio wave transmissions on single sideband The and comes in threeinch wide rolls of just about any length
most powerful antenna will not radiate a signal if it has not you want Copper window screen if you can find to push off the signal from
is usable thickness is not important Radio frequency
energy travels on the outside of this conducting surface
In technical terms the less RF ground the higher the called skin effect eliminating the need for resistance of the antenna system This
radiation grounding will lead to substantial power loss and equipment will not only perform poorly but also Since grounding foil and
screen is relatively quite hot in the transmitter section An inadequate most boat builders will simply leave out this sideband RF ground
will also lead to hot mikes process and expect the customer to provide their own RF
where the operator actually receives a radio frequency ground once the boat is finished This is a shameits so
burn each time the mike is held next to his mouth Poor RF easy to build in when the hull is under construction and
grounding will also lead to erratic movement of analogue far more difficult to add after the vessel is fully instruments bizarre behavior of
automatic pilots
while transmitting on the sideband set and may even The copper foil and screen does not actually need to con
cause burnouts of tiny integrated circuits in companion tact seawater in order to create the ground system Radio
marine electronic gear aboard Isolating your RF ground frequency energy passes quite nicely through fiber glass
ing system from your DC grounding system will prevent so an incapsulated ground system works just as well as
these unwanted occurrences one that is actually exposed to the seawater Incapsulated
lead keels with a halfinch of resin also work well Any RF
SURFACE AREA ground system that is capacitively coupled to the seawater
For marine SSB radios a good radio frequency ground sys is enhanced by the seawater itself
tem will consist of a minimum of 100 square feet of metal
below the waterline Now we know youre going to jump Developing the ground system for radio frequency appli
out of your chairs when you read this but dont be over cations as opposed to DC circuits requires that all There are plenty of underwater
metals that we connections be interlaced using copper foil Round ground
might attach to in order to obtain this amount of counter wires are out Wires actually look like inductive below the waterline Lead keels
incapsulated within cuits at certain radio frequencies and will appear glass will make excellent surface area grounds in sail as an
effective way of coupling your set to your ground
boat applications The tough part will be getting to the system Thats right copper foil must be run from below
lead keel or the exposed keel bolt the waterline ground system and attached directly to each
piece of low and high frequency radio gear
In other marine stainless steel tanks lines and will help make up the While this may also seem to be an prob
RF ground counterpoise system lem in running foil rather than wire foil handles quite
nicely even in tight places The foil is easily soldered to
Boat manufacturers have the capabilities of adding a the below waterline ground system and then routed up
terrific RF ground system when the hull is being laid up the side of the hull into the area of the NAV station It copper screen is one of the
best ways to be glassed into the hull painted over glued in or even left
provide a good surface area ground Copper screen could resting on the side of the hull The foil may be bent in
to accomplish a 90degree turn If the foil must absolutely We usually ground everything with foil at the through a small hole it may be rolled
up in a notso station This would include the casing of the wind
tight configuration and squeezed through the orifice and speed equipment pilot control box GPS a concentric type for that type tends to
cancel oscil radar VHF and just about everything else that lights up
lating radio frequencies Flat is best The more grounding you provide for your central electron
ics the less problems you will have with stray RF
There are several sticky marine compounds that will allow
the foil to adhere to the underside of a hatch or to the side The ground foil must also run to remote tuners This
of a hull Almost anything will work and there is little includes the tuner on your Loran antenna setup as well as
danger of any substantial amounts of voltage developing the ICOM single sideband tuner thats usually several feet
on your ground foil run The ground foil and your away from the equipment These tuners may be all the
complete RF ground system which run inside the hull way back aft adding another dimension to your ground
also will not substantially change your corrosion exposure foil run Its best to run the foil from the RF ground source
to the seawater Galvanic corrosion problems occur directly to your tuner rather than stringing everything out
when dissimilar metals are immersed in seawater The in series like Christmas tree lights Now picture one
ground system is not actually immersed its coupling is ground foil run from the keel bolt to the electronics and a
only capacitive second ground foil run from the keel bolt back aft to the
sideband tuner and your sternmounted Loran is another form of corrosion where stray These tuner ground circuits are mandatory for any
type of
currents may begin to eat up underwater metals Good reliable operation If you try to run an ICOM sideband set
wiring techniques for your 12volt system independent of with a remote tuner that is you stand the
your RF ground system will eliminate electrolysis chance of not only burning up your equipment but also
damaging other electronics onboard with stray RF If its
Now lets get back to finding a spot to terminate that three not easy to run ground foil from your central below the
inch wide copper foil that emanates from the below water waterline ground source back aft then try to figure out
line ground system Most manufacturers of Loran weather another way to do it It has to be done
fax and marine single sideband sets dont provide an
easy way of adding ground foil to the stern end of their You can also pick up additional ground counterpoise The best method is to run the
foil up to the face area by adding substantial metals along the way in
back of the equipment and use existing sheet metal your copper foil run Stainless steel hose clamps make it
screws to make a firm connection Where a ground post easy to pick up throughhull bronze fittings water tanks
stud with nuts and a washer are provided all the copper hydraulic lines bilge pump valves and the foil up to the stud double it back
on itself lines small underwater grounding lightning plates and
several times for strength punch a hole in it and then anything else that may give you some additional under
make the connection Never negate all your hard work of water surface area
running the foil by using a small jumper wire to the foil to the radio setup You will be putting a Mariners with sailboats with poured
incapsulated lead
weak link in your ground system at radio frequencies keels as well as metal hull vessels have the easiest time
in obtaining a good ground counterpoise If the keel is
We usually accordion up the excess foil in back of the visible a second nut on the exposed thread will anchor on
equipment so that we might remove the equipment for the ground foil We usually seal this connection to with the foil attached If you
put the bends in the deterioration from the bilge water It may also be recom
right spot the foil will resume its natural collapsed state mended by local experts to tie in the aluminum mast to
when the equipment is put back in place Watch out for this close proximity keel bolt for lightning protection The
the sharp corners on the ground foil they are capable of run from the mast to the keel bolt must be smooth through the plastic protective
covering on electri and without sharp turns in order to pass lightning energy
cal wires Make sure that red and black voltage carrying effectively into the underwater lead Again consult local
wires are not allowed to rub up against the side of the lightning foil
vessels are easily attached to with foil by
scraping away any protective coating from the hull and
making a low resistant good surface area contact Again
seal this connection well Nonmetal hull or keel boats
require yards and yards of foil to be run below the water
line anywhere you can and picking up any other large
below the waterline tanks and SUMMARY
If you follow
If you follow these steps you will have an outstanding single sideband signal that can be
these steps
heard around the world The difference between a good and bad ground is easily noticed on
you will have
transmission as well as reception Since your ground counterpoise is actually a part of your
an outstand
complete antenna system pay just as much attention to RF grounding as you did to putting
i n g
up that white fiber glass whip or going to your insulated side
band signal
that can be
heard around
the world
The differ
ence between
a good and
bad ground is
e a s i l y
noticed well as reception Since your ground counterpoise is
actually a part of your complete antenna system pay just
as much attention to RF grounding as you did to putting
up that white fiber glass whip or going to your 5
Count on us
Icom Inc
6916 Kamihigashi Hiranoku Osaka 547 Japan 2000 by Icom Inc MA4648 700

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