ARRL

News

Surfin’: Got Good Ground?

07/29/2011

By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

This week, Surfin’ considers our ham radio stations’ connection to Planet Earth.

Bill Chesney, N8SA, hit the nail on the head when he wrote: “Proper grounding of radio stations is probably one of the least understood aspects of ham radio” ( from “Grounding in RF Environments”).

When I was starting out as a shortwave listener, I knew nothing about ground. My Hallicrafters S-200 receiver was “grounded” via a thin wire to the nearest hot air register in my radio shack in my bedroom. The ground wire was so thin that its metal content was in dispute, and the hot air register -- which was mounted on a 2×4 stud -- was not intimately familiar with anything metallic connected to Earth.

After I became a ham, my RF education became more grounded and I was more attentive to my station’s Earth connections, especially after my station’s first lightning hit!

And so it goes.

Getting back to N8SA’s article, it is an excellent summary on the subject and clearly explains the difference between RF grounding and surge/safety grounding.

For more grounding basics, check out Grounding Q&A page by Roy LeWallen, W7EL, on the ARRL website. Beyond basics, browse to the other articles on the ARRL’s Grounding web page.

You can also find a boatload of information on grounding at The DXZone’s technical reference page on grounding.

Since the Earth finally thawed out in my neck of the woods, I thought it might be a good idea to check my ham station ground. So, until next time, keep on surfin’!

Editor’s note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, has had lightning damage via the phone line and the power line, but never the antenna line. To contact Stan, send e-mail or add comments to the WA1LOU blog.



Back