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Tips for Driving Ground Rods

jeff (N3JBH) on November 22, 2005
View comments about this article!


TIPS FOR DRIVING GROUND RODS.

I have heard many different ideas on how to drive a ground rod into the ground. And I assure you there is several different ways to accomplish this task as well. But being the sort of fellow I am I always like to find the easy way out. Ok so I can hear you now easy way pay some kid to do this. Well that probably is the simple thing but i want suggest a few ways for the do it your self types here.

The first method.

I call the barbarian method. Please let me explain.

We take ground rod in hand and place it in the location of are picking and then with are free hand we strike it with a hammer or other blunt instrument. Results? Well usually you never get that ground clamp on. Secondly you probably have several banged up parts all over your upper appendages. And finally you'll get disgusted and saw it off long before you have it deep enough to do any real benefit. This is the hard and wrong method.

The second method.

is simply an improved version of the above where we fashion a covering device such as section of iron pipe with a cap screw on. And pound it in the same fashion. End result about same as above.

The third method.

Now this will get you all wet that I promise you. But here we go. We construct are own piece of machinery here folks. So get ready to visit your local hardware store. You will need a piece of ¾ inch steel conduit 10 feet long if you doing an 8-foot rod add 3 feet for 12-foot rods. I like EMT for this. You'll need 1 bronze hose adapter and lastly a garden hose. Now to assemble are parts. You need to have the conduit thread with national standard pipe thread on one end. This is where you screw the bronze adapter on.

Connect water hose and insert rod in to conduit. Place the unit over where you want the rod and turn on the water. You may want to install a ball cock valve on conduit between bronze adapter and conduit to start and stop water flow. Now you simply what the water rushing out the pipe dig your hole for you. I like this method it is not fast and don't work in rocks. But hey you have the tool left for whom ever May want use it. And they think your pretty darned smart to have made this gizmo.

My fourth and final method.

I like this the best. Now we need to take a trip to our local tool rental center. What we want is an electric jackhammer around a 30 ponder is perfect.

Now before we get to far a point I must raise if you tell the guys your going drive ground rods with this they may frown and not rent it. So get a bit any bit tell them your bust block wall with it.

Now you have the jackhammer what you need is to place the ground clam loosely over the ground rod so it will slide to bottom easily. Place jack hammer over the ground rod and drive it home. This method works in rock soil darned near any place. It is fast simple. And cost around $20.00 to rent the hammer all day. Best part is no sweat no bumps or bruises. And you'll have the rod down faster then our beer. Not that I would dare think a ham would drink beer during work oh no. Well again as always folks I like to thanks you and the great staff of eham for permitting me to do this littlie how to thing. God bless and good dx. Jeff/N3JBH

Member Comments:
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Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KK7WN on November 22, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I might suggest that the electrical quality of the ground would be inversely related to the "foot pounds' of force needed to install it. Dense dry stone is much inferior to loose damp earth.
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KE5EMH on November 22, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Place a water hose at the site you want the ground rod. Let it dribble water all night long. In the morning, the ground should be softer and the rod pass easily.
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KU4UV on November 22, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I live an apartment on the ground floor. I have used two 4 foot ground rods driven in the earth outside my patio to help prevent RF in the shack. One easy way to drive ground rods is to wait until after a heavy rain/snow storm when the ground is fully saturated. It makes driving the rods into the ground much easier. I have also used some vise grips clamped to the rod end for pulling it back out of the earth. Hope maybe this helps someone.

73,
KU4UV
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by NB3O on November 22, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Here in the northwest end of the Shenandoah Valley, our soil is mostly rocky shale with some limestone, requiring a large amount of ground rods for a decent earth ground. I purchased a jack hammer bit designed for 5/8" ground rods from West Antenna Corp (Greensboro, NC), then rented the Bosch 11304 70 pound electric hammer. What took hours to drive by hand, was driven in minutes. Plus the heads of the rods were not mushroomed, allowing the Cadweld molds to fit easily over them. A second set of hands to help stabilize the ground rod and a small step ladder are necessary if you start with eight foot long rods.
The 11304 hammer is sometimes on sale for $1200 (with extra chisel bits and hand cart) and worth the price if you can get a few other guys to go in, since it will do a lot more than ground rods.
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KE8PA on November 22, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Sledgehammer always works for me. Not having many other uses for it anyway. (anger management maybe?) I tend to agree that rich moist earth offers better conductivity than rock. Often the deeper one goes, the more rock. Cheap trick #1 - More ground rods equals more contact. Especially if you can't get a single long one deep enough. And...cheap trick from broadcasting...bury some solid #14, 16 or 12 copper in a number of spade-slits 6" deep or better for as long as your terrain or wire supply permits. Ground radials aren't just for verticals anymore here.
Also at this QTH, all outside ground leads are tacked to a piece of 2" copper strap & buried outside the house near the entry/exit point. Shack uses 'star' configuration to single point ground. No ground loops allowed. Burying runs of copper when camping or for field day means the stuff can be recovered also.
Well, I'll settle back & read all the other creative ground ideas Y'all have.
73's, KE8PA
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by W1JIM on November 22, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
First take the ground clamp and put it in place so you won't have to deal with the distortion which will result from hammering. Next soak the soil with water (or wait for a wet day). Pound the ground rod in as far as you can. Next pull it out with vise grips and pour water into the resulting hole, let soak over night and repeat.
W1JIM
Jim Blumenfeld
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K3ZE on November 22, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
For drivin' ground rods and diggin' holes for towers, I prefer dynamite me'self
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by N3JBH on November 22, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
K3ZE say's " For drivin' ground rods and diggin' holes for towers, I prefer dynamite me'self"

now bygolly i never gave that method a thought. sounds good though
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by W6HB on November 22, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
...buy a few lengths of 1/2" copper pipe, "water drill" 3 of them into the ground about 8 feet apart using a garden variety water hose, solder the tops together to form a diamond and run a length of 1/2" copper pipe from one "rod" to the shack. Solder a length of the heaviest welding cable or the widest flat copper braid you can handle if you don't have the means to run all the way to your shack with the pipe. This was a technique advocated by the RFI guys at Southern California Edision back in the '70s.
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K9UW on November 22, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Try renting a hammer drill. The chuck fits perfectly over the end of a 5/8" ground rod. Squeeze the trigger and watch the rod disappear. It typically takes less than a minute to push 8' of rod into the rocky soil at my QTH.
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by AG4DG on November 22, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Let me offer up my way. I couldn't pound all 3 ground rods all the way in, at least not before Hilary Duff becomes eligible for senior citizen discounts. (After the first one with a sledgehammer, I vowed, "NEVER AGAIN!")

I dug a small hole, filled it with water, pushed the ground rod in by hand, and then pulled the ground rod out. I repeated the process until the ground rod was all the way in. I even could take breaks with the ground rod out. In other words, I used the water to soften the ground, and the force of the falling water acted like a drill. Even the underweight and vacuous Paris Hilton could do this.

Admittedly, this might not work for solid rock, but it works for anything softer.
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KC9AGG on November 22, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
(1)do in the summer after a good rain. (2)get a big sledge hammer(3) sweat a little--it's good for ya'.
if you're too old/weak/feeble, get a young guy to do it for you.(ps: use a step ladder).
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by WA2TTP on November 22, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Lots of great ways to install ground rods but before you do make sure you know where your underground services are running. My area has all services underground. I had them marked out before I put my tower up years ago and made a note where they run. You can use the big yard small rod theory but some days luck is not on your side and you end up enhancing the ground system with sewer water!!

Steve
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K9KJM on November 22, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
The "squirting" water down a pipe method should NEVER be used for driving ground rods! The object of the ground rod is to be in CLOSE electrical contact with the earth. The old time proven "armstrong" method to use a short section of pipe with a cap on it until you get it at least half way in is still a good way to go, OR the jackhammer if you are going to drive a number of them. The hammer drill method is only good if you can shut off the rotary drill action, and just use the hammer effect.
Copper braid is a very poor choice for RF use. (It tends to oxidize and causes all kinds of problems between wires) Flat copper strap is the best product to use for RF grounds. (Flat copper strap can sometimes be obtained at reasonable prices from upscale roofing companies (Copper roof flashing)
True silver solder (SilFoss) Is a good way to connect grounds. (A/C repairmen, or a welding supply store will sell it) Use MAPP gas in a small hand held torch to flow it.
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by N6AJR on November 22, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I use a T-post driver shich is $16 bucks at Home depot.. like a pipe with a cap on it and 2 handles on the sides, I call it a slam hammer, mines purple and it works well..
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by W3JKS on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Hilti gun, baby! I'm a regular Paul Bunyan with one.

:-)

73,
john W3JKS/AAT3BF/AAM3O/AAA9AC
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KG6WLS on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
1.) Eye and ear protection (best tools to have)
2.) Step ladder (6 foot)
3.) Someone to help steady things (and can trust you with a sledge hammer)
4.) 20 ounce hammer, or small mallet
5.) Sledge hammer
6.) 60 pound jackhammer w/ ground rod driving attachment ($25 - $45 a day)

In that order. Works for me. :)

As mentioned before, watch out for under ground utilities. If you have underground utilities, save yourself some time and use the UFER ground if it's close to the shack.

73
Mike
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K2GW on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I use two tools for quickly driving ground rods without the water trick. The water trick doesn't work for Field Day or other emergency deployments where you might not have a spigot.

The first is to use a steel pike. A pike is a heavy tool made of steel that is about an inch in diameter, five feet long and weighs about fifteen pounds. You can get one at Home Depot. You repeatedly throw this into the ground until you have a one inch diameter hole about two feet deep. This will ensure that the rod has a good straight start and gets the top of the six foot rod down to four feet above ground level where you can more easily drive it.

I now place the ground rod in the narrow hole (with the clamp on it about two feet from the top) and use a fence post driver to finish the job. The fence post driver is a 12 pound steel tube with two handles on it that you simply raise and drop on the ground rod much like a pile driver. As the clamp reaches the ground, I move it to the top.

I got my fence post driver from Tractor Supply Corp and I've seen them at AgWay. Here's a picture of one from a web supplier:

http://www.redhillgeneralstore.com/A70845.htm

The ground rod is quickly driven this way without water and has solid ground contact for the bottom four feet of its length. Mushrooming at the top is minimal. If you want to remove any mushrooming, a Dremel MotoTool with a cutoff work easily removes the top inch of the rod.

73

Gary, K2GW
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by WD5BCL on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Okay, maybe I'm a moron for suggesting this one. In my area, the utility company is usually kind enough to have sunken a ground rod in close proximity to the electrical entry panel. Yes, it's a safety ground for AC, but it can make an attractive ground for other purposes. If it's good enough for the phone and cable companies, it just might work for your shack. Just be sure you don't have AC leakage or loop currents at that stake. Better still, if you're fortunate enough to have your public water supply running from the supply branch at the curb into your house through iron, steel or copper pipe buried at least three feet underground, that also makes a great ground for the shack. So, why drive your own ground if a suitable one already exists? One or the other has always worked for me.
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by N2FZ on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Cut your copper water pipe rods at a 45 on the ground end. Makes it easier to get past stones if you wiggle the pipe as the water is running.
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by N9AVY on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I used a 5 ft. masonry flex-drill bit to get a starter hole for ground rods. Then went to the hammer method and added water to soften up hard clay soil. (flex-drill bits are available at Home Depot).
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K4RAF on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Tower crews use post driver suggested by K2GW. They do many 8-10' rods in a day for ground rings, mainly in trenches around tower bases. Then CADweld #2 tinned solid directly to the rod without any clamp.
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by WA7NCL on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
If its so important to go deep into the ground to get a good RF ground, why do people use radials laying on the surface? I find it hard to believe you need deep ground rods to make your station work. Unless you are running at very low frequencies below 160m, the depth of penetration in the earth is much less than 12ft. If you need coupling to the earth for your antenna system, some wires laying on the ground or just below the surface would work just as well and you will hardly have to break a sweat doing it. But if you need exercise I think driving ground rods into very hard ground with a sledge hammer could be very aerobic.

Skip the ground rods. The third wire in the house wiring provides the safety ground. Run balanced antennas and tuners and if necessary, use coax line isolators or common mode chokes made out of toroids or beads to keep the RF off the outside of the coax. The ground rod thing is a relic of the early days of ham radio due to the use of very low frequencies in the spark gap days.
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K0IZ on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Some good ideas here, and a few maybe not. First, don't use water during rod installation. The whole point of installing a ground rod is low resistance to ground, which required solid contact with undisturbed ground. Second, the steel fence pole driver works well. Also the 3/4 pipe with cap on end. Even better is a 3/4 pipe with a flange on the end, plus some scrap angle iron, etc of 3 to 5 lbs. Will drive through most semi-rocky ground.

I have found the hammer drill also works well.

Sledge is dangerous. If you must, clamp a visegrip pliers near the end, hold the pliers, not the rod.

Ground rods really have little value for RF grounds, as pointed out above. But are very important if there is risk of lightning hits. At my Colorado location in the mountains, lots of lightning. My system has about 20 rods, air terminals, etc. and has taken direct hit without damage. But not everyone needs this!
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by AA4PB on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
The ground rod thing is a relic of the early days of ham radio due to the use of very low frequencies in the spark gap days
----------------------------------------------------
No its not. The ground rod thing is a requirement for lightning protection of your antenna system.

A single ground rod generally does not make a good RF ground. Radials should be used for that. If you use a properly installed balanced antenna system then you will not need an RF ground but you still need one or more ground rods for lightning protection.

I would think in most areas if you use the "water" method the moist soil would settle back around the ground rod within a few months. A good test would probably be to attempt to pull the rod out by hand. If you can't pull it out then it must be in contact with the soil.
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KG4TEZ on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I have additionals to add to this.

I have purchased Ground rods that are threaded on the ends and they sell driving ends and couplers so you don't damage the threads.

You start with the first rod and place the driving cap on it and drive away with a jack hammer.

When you get almost all the way down you take the cap off and screw the coupler on and screw another section of rod on and so on.

I've had ground systems over 50 feet deep.

Jeff
KG4TEZ
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KA0GKT on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
A ½” hammer drill works pretty well to drive a conventional ground rod in most soils.

If you want a really good ground, go active.

1. Hard solder a pipe cap on the end of an 8’ x 2” copper pipe.

2. Silver braze the grounding conductor to the capped end of the pipe.

3. Dig a 6-12” diameter 8’ deep hole with a post hole digger.

4. Center the pipe in the hole and backfill with a mixture of cheap kitty litter and rock salt.

5. Water the kitty litter/salt mixture and refill the hole as necessary until it has been filled to within 6” of the surface of the earth.

6. Place a plastic underground sprinkler valve box over the top of the ground rod.

The valve box allows easy access to the ground rod while protecting unsuspecting people from tripping over the rod or into the hole. The box also makes a good place to pile more rock salt to “recharge” your active ground.



73 DE KAØGKT/7

--Steve
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KG4TEZ on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I have additionals to add to this.

I have purchased Ground rods that are threaded on the ends and they sell driving ends and couplers so you don't damage the threads.

You start with the first rod and place the driving cap on it and drive away with a jack hammer.

When you get almost all the way down you take the cap off and screw the coupler on and screw another section of rod on and so on.

I've had ground systems over 50 feet deep.

Jeff
KG4TEZ
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by NI0C on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"I would think in most areas if you use the "water" method the moist soil would settle back around the ground rod within a few months. A good test would probably be to attempt to pull the rod out by hand. If you can't pull it out then it must be in contact with the soil."

I agree. I've installed several eight foot copper clad steel ground rods in mostly clay soil using nothing but a garden hose and a carpenter's hammer. The connection improves with age.

73,

Chuck NI0C

 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K5DVW on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Wow! Or... uh... huh?

I once got an entire letter grade knocked off of a technical presentation in college because I was a bit too creative with my punctuation. I'm glad someone took it seriously or I wouldn't have learned.

The editors should have kicked that grammatical mess back and required you to proofread it!

 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KC0LBZ on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
A version of the "water drill" is a hose attachment for watering tree roots. Doesn't go more than about 3' deep, though. (Also an invaluable tool for removing T-posts).

Also, a T-post driver works well. "A what?" you say? A T-post driver. Looks like a length of heavy pipe with a cap welded on one end and handles on the sides. Far fewer barked knuckles and far less mushrooming of the rod end.

In particularly hard ground, I've found it useful to drive rods partway in one day, run a trickle of water overnight at the base of the post, then finish driving it in the next day.

- Sam
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KA2LIM on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
AA4PB wrote:
No its not. The ground rod thing is a requirement for lightning protection of your antenna system.

Dream on.. When Lighting hits It makes no difference how many grounds rods you have driven or their spacing. The voltage from the lighting goes where it wants to go and that does not mean it will follow the path to your ground rods. I say this from past experience.
KA2LIM
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KI4IWB on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Yep, I've used my hammerdrill to drive many ground rods. It works great, just hold on the drill. If it locks up it can knok you on your butt.
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KINGBOLETE on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
>>K3ZE say's " For drivin' ground rods and diggin' holes for towers, I prefer dynamite me'self"

>now bygolly i never gave that method a thought. sounds good though

Yeah, just grap a couple of sticks out of the ol' fishin tackle box!
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K6AER on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Ground rod pounder will work fine in most soils and for the most part the exercise won’t hurt you. Electric hammers are used commercially for multiple ground rods and for long ground rod work. Always drive the ground rod as deep as possible. A 16 foot ground rod will have twice the sphere of earth influence than four 8 foot rods paced horizontally. For very deep ground rods I have a drilling rig do the work or water jet it in if the soil allows you to do so. Don’t worry about loose dirt around the rod. It will settle in around the rod in a few weeks and be as solid as if you had driven the rod into virgin earth.


Now for dispelling some myths that have been posted.

• Ground rods will not provide a RF counterpoise as some suggest. Ground rods are for lightning dissipation and surge dissipation and must be bonded with the safety ground at the AC panel.

• The ground impedance even in salt water is too high to do any good at Radio Frequencies.

• Ground rods should be connected to you surge protection point with a short conductor of at least a Number 2 solid conductor or broad copper strap. This reduces inductance. Even a number two GA wire at three feet, will have a thousand volt potential at one million volts

• It is best to have you surge protection point as close to you ground demarcation point as possible. This is where coax, and control lines should have their surge protectors.

• Safety grounds in a house are poor surge protection grounds. This is because the length of ground wire is resonant at some HF frequencies and lightning has millions of watts of broad spectrum RF energy.

• Always put a surge protector on your AC panel. Ninety five percent of surge damage to homes comes in the AC panel and that included the homes of hams.

• Disconnecting coax is of little used unless the radio is completely removed from potential lightning path. Lightning got from the cloud to the ground. Ten feet separation from the coax to the grounded radio in the shack is nothing.

I have many papers on surge protection and if you send me an E-Mail I can provide them for you. Also go the PolyPhaser web site for they have many on line tutorials providing guidance on applying surge protection in a ham application.
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by WB2WIK on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Really good insurance is cheaper and much less tiring than ground rods.

I've had great insurance for many years but never had any lightning damage. One obviously prevents the other.
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K6AER on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Now Steve when did you last hear thunder in the S.F Valley. 1997?
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by WA7CS on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Here is a link to a story about installing a Hy-Gain 18-HT vertical antenna.

http://webpages.charter.net/crstrode/18ht/18-ht.htm

The installation manual calls for 1/2-inch diameter, 8-foot long ground rods. The hardware store only had four, so I bought two 5/8-inch rods also. I was worried that the "Acorn" clamps wouldn't fit, since the package called them 1/2-inch clamps. It turns out that the 1/2-inch clamps will fit very well on 5/8 as well as 3/4 rods.

After huffing and puffing for about an hour as I pounded in these beasts, I discovered that the 1/2 rods are a bit easier to pound in. However, you must be very careful as you are swinging the hammer. When your arm gets tired, and your aim begins to deteriorate, it is possible to bend the rods with a poorly placed hit. The 5/8 rods are much more difficult to bend. I suggest going with the 5/8 rods. The cost is less than a buck more per rod, and it is well worth it!

Don't pound them in all the way until you've attached the #10 or larger ground wires. When the wires are connected, pound them into the turf so they disappear. If you don't, be prepared for major lawn mower repairs in the spring.
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by W6TH on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
.

I did it the easy way and that was to use my "water well casing" at 450 feet below the surface of the earth. The well just tested before the selling of the property and the water pumped 17 galons per minute at the home faucet. Not bad,eh?

Of course this was a cost of over $10,000, yes American dollars 25 years ago. This seemed to be the best method I could find.

W6TH
.:
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KC0KBH on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
The 2 I drove in for my Gap Titan went easy in the sand. I got on a step ladder, then started driving them with a large hammer. Once they got down a ways I got a splitting maul and used the back side. Went down very easy.
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by HAMMERTIME on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
WB2WIK- I know how you feel and could not agree more!
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KF3KWO on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I'm getting ready to drive a ground rod in my new QTH, but here in San Antonio it's mostly limestone. I was thinking about getting someone with some equipment to come out and do it for me, unless anyone knows a way I can do it myself. I don't suppose the water/hose method would do much good with the limestone...

Thanks and 73,

Jeff, KF3KWO
Helotes, TX
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KF3KWO on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Never mind, found an answer at http://www.eham.net/forums/StationBuilding/232

73 de Jeff

// I'm getting ready to drive a ground rod in my
// new QTH, but here in San Antonio it's mostly
// limestone. I was thinking about getting someone
// with some equipment to come out and do it for me,
// unless anyone knows a way I can do it myself. I
// don't suppose the water/hose method would do much
// good with the limestone...

 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KD6WKY on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Relax. All you need is a three pound sledge hammer and some patience. Just start at the top and tap tap tap down it goes. You're making a big deal out of nothing. Even the hardest ground is going to give way if you work the soil enough.
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KC9GUZ on November 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Last time i installed ground rods i installed 2 in the ground it took me 4 hours! I put one in for my radio shack ground buss and another for my antenna mast. It was in the middle of summer and it was hotten than ****, humidity over 50%, and i was tired. But after 3 beers, and 4 hours of pounding with a sledge, and lots of cussing and swearing, i had them in the ground!!
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K9KJM on November 24, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
It is really sad to hear old wives tales still being spread like "nothing can prevent lightning damage"
Modern day grounding DOES prevent lightning damage!
Think of you local cellphone towers, Police, Fire, ambulance, etc towers. They DO NOT have damage if they were installed properly. No one said it was easy however.
Ground RODS are for safety and lightning protection. The RODS do close to zero for RF ground!
Ground rods should be spaced about twice the distance apart as the depth (8 foot deep rods spaced 16 feet apart) It takes LOTS more than one rod for decent lightning protection. The interconnecting wires (Radials) work good for RF ground. And the further away from your tower/mast, the lighter the gauge can be.
For an area with lots of limestone (Like I have here) Many short rods, rods at an angle, Much copper radial wire is what it takes. The deep drilled well case is what most modern systems use if bedrock is close to the surface. The well is simply filled with Bentonite clay and the very heavy copper ground wires and straps cadwelded to it.
As mentioned, the mushroom of the top of the rod is not important. If you must use a clamp, slide it on before you start pounding the rod in. But the best method is the Cadweld. 2nd choice is true silver solder.
Any tower or mast or other tall object needs to be connected to its own ground rod BEFORE interconnecting with the power company ground rod.....
The best site I have found for PROPER lightning protection is http://members.cox.net/pc-usa/station/ground0.htm
For good information on RF grounding, See ON4UN's book, "low band DXing"
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by WD5B on November 24, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
While not directly how to drive a ground rod, I recently went through my old house where I grew up and had a shack some 40 years ago only to find my ground rod still there. It was a chore and distance to get outside to where a rod could be placed.

The solution. If you look in the closet, you will find the end of the rod still sticking up about 1" above the floor.

Don't tell mom!
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by W5AU on November 24, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
The best I have found is the "Milk Jug Ground Rod Installation System".

This works great unless you have rocks, of course. First, fill a gallon milk jug with water. Choose the spot you want to install the Ground Rod. Dig a small cup size hole and fill it with water from the jug. Take the ground rod and start working it into the hole. Go in about 6 to 8 inches, pull it out and fill the hole with water again. Start jabbing it in the hole again, going another 6 to 8 inches. This is done over several times until the Rod is all the way in. This only takes a few minutes to install a 6 foot rod. We can install 4 ground rods at Field Day in less than 30 minutes, and never pick up a Sledge Hammer.

I had a good friend, N5EPU move from Dallas to Los Angeles a few years back. He tried for 2 weeks and several Sledge hammers to drive a ground Rod. We had planned a trip to visit, and I made him a bet for $100 that I could put his ground Rod down in a few minutes and never break a sweat! Of course he accepted. It took less than 5 minutes. He said a few choice words, and has never paid the $100. We still laugh about it.

Just keep the hole the rod is in full of water and it will go down quick and easy!

Best 73,
Troy, W5AU
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by AA4PB on November 24, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
K2LIM: No, you are wrong on this. Lightning will follow the lowest impedance path to Earth ground. The better ground you have on your system outside the shack, the less the voltage will rise inside the shack and the less damage will result. Cell stites and broadcast stations take hits all the time without sustaining damage. Granted you may not be able to economically provide as an ideal a ground at your home but the better you do the less chance of damage. In addition to direct lightning hits, a good deal of damage is cause by currents induced into the antenna and power systems by a lightning hit nearby.

I suggest that you do some reading on the Polyphaser web site to get some better information.

Again, it's not a matter of an absolutly guarentee that no lightning hit will ever cause any damage. It's a matter of improving the odds of minimizing damage from the majority of strikes. Anyone who sticks an antenna up in the air without any type of grounding is asking for trouble in my opinion (and the opinion of most professionals in the communications industry).
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by AA4PB on November 24, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
By the way, lightning is electric current. It obeys Ohms law just like any other electric current. The current will divide between all of the parallel paths. If you provide a low impedance path outside the shack then thats where the majority of current will flow, minimizing the flow in the equipment inside the shack.
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KG6WLS on November 24, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Before I spend the rest of the day with family, I thought I'd drop in here real quick and wish you all a HAPPY THANKSGIVING. Save pounding a ground rod (or one another) for tomorrow.

73 de Mike/KG6WLS

(pushes self away from computer)
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KG4ICG on November 24, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I work for United Rentals and we rent electric jackhammers or hammerdrills to people who install rf equipment at tower sites who drive ground rods into the ground with the equipment. It is easy and fast and won't change the grounding properties of the ground rods. It won't damage the equipment either. The only thing left to do after driving the ground rods with the equipment is deciding what you're going to do after the time you saved not doing it the old fashioned way.

R COllins
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K1DA on November 24, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I have sunk a number of 10 foot 3/4inch copper pipe grounds using watter pressure and after a week or two you need a jack to pull them up. I'd say there was no contact issue there.
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by WA8MEA on November 24, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
>>WA7NCL on November 23, 2005
Skip the ground rods. The third wire in the house wiring provides the safety ground.<<

I was going to comment on this for those who live in apartment buildings and can't use radials, ground rods or a counterpoise.

The "third wire" theory of grounding your rig or power supply/rig combo doesn't always hold water. I've often found that the "antenna ground" is often isolated/independent from the electrical ground on many rigs.

HOWEVER, if your apartment/condo building is up to code...the screw that holds your AC wall plate in place connects to the electrical ground system of your house. This SOMETIMES can help....either with transmit, receive or both. Note I said sometimes. I've had instances where AC hum has gotten into my signal because it's been connected to the household ground system.

It's still fun to experiment.

73, Bill - WA8MEA
http://HamRadioFun.com
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by N3ATS on November 24, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
So you mushroom the end of the rod. No big deal. Just use a hacksaw and cut off the top 2" or so after it's been driven home.

Or, put the ground clamp lug on BEFORE you start pounding.
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KILOWATT on November 24, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
A bottle(or bucket) of water and some elbow grease is all you need.

Twenty years in the electrical trade and I've put a hammer to a ground rod maybe 10 times.

Take the rod and stab it as hard as you can into the earth. Then pull it out and fill the hole with water. Then start stabbing it in and out until it gets difficult and then add more water. Most of the time I can push the rod down to within 1 foot of the ground. I then give it a couple of whacks with a hammer and it's at 6 inches above grade.

Over the years I've had many folks ask me what I was doing with that bottle of water and when I told them I was going to sink a ground rod with it, they thought I was kidding. Ten minutes later they were in shock at what they had just witnessed.
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by VK1OD on November 24, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Firstly, driven ground rods should be driven if possible. Drilling holes for them (by whatever method) compromises the intimate contact with the soil.

I use an electric demolition hammer to drive ground rods.

I made a driving adapter from a regular bull point which was cut off, annealed and drilled with a blind 15.1 mm hole, then re-tempered. 13mm and 15mm electrodes 2.4m long are driven in less than a minute (unless you hit rock). In fact, the problem is setting yourself up on a step ladder to be able to descend as quickly as the hammer sinks.

You can probably buy tools from your specialist earth rod supplier, but they may only suit a specific hammer.

Rods of less that 2.4m are almost a waste of time in all but the wettest soil. If you are using them for lightning protection, measure the resistance to see if they will be effective. You may well get numbers in excess of 100 ohms for a 1.2m rod. (There are some graphs at http://www.vk1od.net/post/earthing.htm that may be interesting.)

Down here, you can buy brass sleeves to join copper clad rods, so after you drive the rod to the gound, you place the sleeve which is double ended tapered female over the rod, insert the new one in the top, and hammer it down. You can drive 10m or more if you need, depending on the soil type.

Owen
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by AA4PB on November 25, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Skip the ground rods. The third wire in the house wiring provides the safety ground
----------------------------------------------------
There may be instances where you are in an apartment, have an attic antenna and can't drive a ground rod anywhere. However, if you have an outside antenna then you need a ground rod for lightning protection. If you depend on the electrical service ground your lightning path is thru the coax, inside the house, thru the radio to the ground wire inside your walls (usually only #14 or #12) and back to the electrical service panel. That's a good way to MAXIMIZE your damage possibilities.

The purpose of that electrical circuit ground is to guard against shock hazards in the event of a short inside some device you have plugged into the circuit. It is *not* good for lightning protection or RF grounding. It is required that you bond both grounding systems together in order to guard against a shock hazard by ensuring that both grounds remain at the same potential.

 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by N1URE on November 25, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Hay Bill,
Off topic but you got me thinking about the creative use of home wiring. I recall a conversation with a gentleman who said that during World War 2 they were not allowed to transmit over the air. The solution was short range communication using the AC wire in the home. With the proper interface, I'll guess a cap and inductor of some sort, it would work up to the point where the transformer on the street was located. So if you and your buddy were within that space, you could talk. Anyone have any ideas on this? Start a new abet dangerous topic?

73's
Larry N1URE
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K8MHZ on November 25, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"Twenty years in the electrical trade and I've put a hammer to a ground rod maybe 10 times."

About the same for me, but have never heard the "water in the hole" trick. The ground here ranges from sand, which is real easy to work, to rock filled clay which is a real SOB. I have spent over a half hour with a sledge hammer trying to get a ground rod in what seemed to me like concrete. Hitting a 1 foot or better diameter field stone can be a real joy, too. I will gladly try anything to make the process better, like "water in the hole". The electric hammers are not popular around here because the field stone laden soil is just too much for them. I know that nothing will make driving stone easier, but I can see where it would work in clay full of smaller sized rocks, allowing them to move out of the way.

It's stuff like ground rods that make me appreciate our apprenti. (Latin, plural of apprentice)

Also, I would think that if there were a question of conductivity, this would be a good time to put something in the water to help things a little. I am not sure of salt, but fertilizer may not be a bad idea.

Now, kind of off, but still on topic...has anyone had to try to remove a ground rod?

It can be done, sometimes as easy as using a pair of vise grips and twisting the rod out, to hard enough to use a slide hammer modified to do ground rod, or a fence post jack which also has to be modified.

I have had bad luck leaving the ground clamp on. It always seems to get buried in the dirt. We usually just file or grind the peen off the end. Cutting the end of the rod is a bad idea as it may make the rod too short to be legal.

I wonder if there could be a way to make this fun, like designing a ram set device in which we would load a 3 1/2 magnum 12 guage shell into a tool and fire the rod into the ground like a bunker buster? The real sharpshooters could try to shoot the rod through the clamp as it lie on the ground, electrode conductor intact.

I like the idea...I'm off the the drawing board...hello Paslode?

73,

Mark K8MHZ
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by N6JSX on November 25, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
As noted here and in articles I've written/read as a Sr. Electroncis Test Engineer the 10' copper pipe method with hydro-drilling works well and I consider it the BEST method in non-rocky soil.

I've read some concerns about soil contact being lost due to washing the soil from the copper pipe. Give it one soggy spring or frost thawing spring and the soil will close up around the copper pipe - negating this concern.

I took >1/2" copper "tubing" and pound it flate. Make a few tight wraps around the copper pipe (that is ~1' below the lawn surface) and solder it with plumbers solder/flux & a torch. I go one step further after the solder and drill hole through the pipe and tube wrap to install a #8 stainless steel bolt with nylock washer.

This way if lightening does hit and the go to the ground system tube/pipe/wrap the heat of the lightening will not melt the solder and cause an open. Also it insures the heaving of frozen ground from breaking the solder connections. trench the copper tubing and bury the top of the pipe so the lawn mower doesn't snag it - and YL doesn't have anything visable to complain about.

*******************************
I also read some issues about tower grounding. Well there are two schools of thought depends who is talking and how much $$$ you want to spend.

Grounding a tower is always needed but the amount of grounding and do we really want the tower top to be the same earth ground potential is the question.

I know of a Wisc county comm tower that has only two 10 AWG steel cables running from 2/4 of 400' legs to two 10 foot burried under asphalt ground rods. My thoughts would be when lightening hits this tower the 10 AWG cables would act more like a fuse and burn open than conduct to the ground rods. But this tower has never been hit or at least the comm systems have never been hit.

I think I know why. Even though the tower is got a very little ground system and the 4 legs are on 24" above ground cement footings - the tower appears virtually free flooting and not connected to earth ground. Without the tower bringing the earth ground potential up 400' closer to the static cloud base the stringers would not shoot out from the tower top attracting the lightening hit from the clouds.
Call this wild and weird but there is logic to this premis. We've all been told we must ground towers and our station. But lets not confuse good earth ground to minimize RX HF static noise and improve antenna counterpoise with a sound safety ground for the tower.

How much grounding is required and how much earth ground potential do we want to put up in the air is an issue that needs to be studied. Tower Safety ground YES - tower top at earth ground potential - not convinced. I surely don't want earth ground shooting stringers coming from my tower to be seeking a lightening hit!

Now I live in Ohio - I can tell you this place has real lightening of which I never saw in Wisc or Ill and I'm about to put up some towers. This is a very real subject and I cannot aford a Polyphaser ground system!

Kuby, N6JSX /8
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by AH6RR on November 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
If you live in south Texas the water and 1/2 copper pipe works great when I lived there I drove 3 16 foot pipes in the clay soil to reach the water table (salt) so I had great RF and electrical ground. I was 12 feet above sea level. But here in Hawaii on the Big Island there is no such thing as a ground of any kind. The lava is very pourous with vains of extreamly hard bluerock and about 8 inches of soil if your lucky. So rods at a extream angle is the only way and pray there is no blue rock in the way. I live at 1000 feet in elevation so the drive the rod to the water table is out of the question.
The good news is we only get lighting storms maybe 3 times a year so I just throw the coax out the window then.

 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by AA4PB on November 26, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
If not grounding a tower prevents it from getting hit by lightning then I have to wonder why trees are so often hit. Wood, even wet wood, is not nearly as good a conductor as a steel tower. I also would not consider your example tower to be "free floating" when it has two legs connected to 8-foot ground rods.

They way I look at it is that I cannot guarentee that my tower won't be directly hit by lightning or that a nearby strike to a tree or something will not cause currents to be induced into the tower and cables. Since I can't guarantee that it won't be hit then I should provide a low impedance path to ground other than thru the cables into the house, thru the radio gear, and into the house electrical system grounding system.

Houses already constructed often do not lend themselves to providing a complete grounding system as recommended by Polyphaser for a realistic amount of money. The more you can do however, the less damage you are likely to encounter from a lightning event.
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KG6WLV on November 27, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Am I missing something? Everyone writes about mushrooming the head of the ground rod. How about using a conventional electrical ground clamp? It's intended for installation on existing copper plumbing without breaking the pipe, and comes in two pieces. It will fit around any piece of ground rod, regardless of its condition.
Useful information here, though. I used the old ladder-and-hammer method, alone, and have driven three ground rods that way. One was difficult, the others easy, using 8-foot, 5/8-inch rods. This after being unable to find an electric hammer at my local rental place. The roto-hammer drill seems the way to go.
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K8MHZ on November 27, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
" How about using a conventional electrical ground clamp?"

They are not listed nor intended for underground use....bummer, I know. But the underground clamps are all brass or similar, whereas the pipe clamps are made from die cast aluminum or zinc with zinc plated steel bolts. Not a bit of copper at all. Also the design of the electrode (rod) clamps allow for a better connection as there is direct contact between the electrode and the conductor, not true with a pipe clamp which puts a part of the clamp between the electrode and the conductor.

Good question, though. I hope my answer is near as good.

73,

Mark K8MHZ
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K8MHZ on November 27, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
"If not grounding a tower prevents it from getting hit by lightning....."

Who came up with this? Not grounding a tower will cause excessive impedance which will cause lots of heat, in the thousands of degree range, when the tower is hit. There will be destruction of the most severe kind at the point where the lightning leaves the ungrounded tower and continues it's path to the Earth.

The only way to prevent anything from getting hit by lightning is to install lightning rods (air terminals) around and higher than the protected structure, thus reducing the structure's prominence. The air terminals and their conductors must be constructed as to take multiple strikes and not fuse open.

Also, the prevention of a direct hit may not protect the structure and it's components from magnetic surges caused by near hits.

A good structure to illustrate my point would be electrical sub-stations. Note the very tall air terminals and the way they connect to Earth. You will find that most surges through our AC lines are from hits to the poles and wiring outside the sub-stations, not hits to the sub-stations themselves.

73,

Mark K8MHZ
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by WA9PIE on November 28, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Can anyone add a spell-checker to this website?

Mike, WA9PIE
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by W4VR on November 28, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I've always used a 10-foot piece of heavy duty copper water pipe. Pound it into the ground with a 10-pound hammer. Use a pipe cutter to cut off the top section that got destroyed by the hammer. Install a hose clamp and ground wire. Wrap the ground connection with silicone tape, then a layer of electrical tape. This keeps moisture out of the connection and you're all set for many years.
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K2WH on November 28, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Ground rod??? What ground rod? You only need a ground rod if you think you are going to be hit by lightning.

Other than that, not necessary.

K2WH
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KC6ZNC on November 29, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I thought Dynamite was only good for fishin?
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K9CSM on November 30, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Using the hydraulics of a skid-steer, simply press it into the ground. Takes about 20 seconds. Leave enough above ground so that you can wrap a chain 'round to pull it out. Comes out easily. Ben
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KC7EKK on November 30, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I guess I am a barbarian. I pounded one in using a common hammer. What a workout!

At my next QTH, I owned an 8-lb engineers hammer. I put 2 ground rods in in under 20 minutes. The soil was even rockier but what a difference a little more mass on the end of the stick makes.

No amount of water would loosen my soil. My clay stops water in less then 1/4". I saw standing water sit in a hole for 2 weeks and afterward when I dug it deeper, the ground was dry not 2" under the water level.

For clay, nothing stops a pointy ground rod and an 8lb hammer. For a big rock, nothing stops a rock.

I saw a couple GI's pound a 12' segmented ground rod into asphalt on rocky desert soil. Actually they put in 8 ground rods into asphalt. One of them went in fairly well until they saw the end of it pop out of the ground 4 feet away.

John
AKA KC7EKK
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by K3ZE on November 30, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
To KC6ZNC:

It is good for fishin' too, pard. It's also great for gettin' rid a' gophers and other varmints that try to dig up tairs (towers)and makin' re-pars to them Yahzoo and Ikum raadeeos. Half a stick set under an FT-1000 MkV Field will do the job finer 'en frog's hair split twyes (two times). Ya only need to use a quarter stick on them Ikum IC-746Pro's with the design flaw in the mic amp circuit where the ah-see gits hotter than the sweat band in a far-man's helmet and she lets go three days after the waranty expares and you have to send 'er back to Ikum whar they put in another 'un that don't work no better.

My pard, Old Festus, swares that if'n y'all wraps ten sticks a dynermite round the ground rod, if'n ya' take a dye-rect hit, the voltage will get blowe rat back up'n the luminifgerous ether whar she comed from.

Seven-Threes, Pard.

Al K3ZE
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by WR8D on December 1, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Now here's how its done by a redneck hillbilly. I use a ten pound sledge. Have my beautiful wife stand back and hold it. "She trusts me". hi hi..climb up the tower and beat the hell outa it. I've got to give her a rest because it beats the hell out of her trying to hold the rod as a 250pound redneck is beating on the end of it and trying to hang onto the tower at the same time. Never once have i hit her with the sledge and i've never fell off the tower. You think about it though, i refuse to use a four foot rod i feel you just have to use a ten footer to get down to the good stuff for a real nice gound because its just to rocky here. There just ain't no other way. No you guys can't borrow my hillbilly babe either, get your own! 73 WR8Dawg
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by AB0OX on December 1, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Home depot rents a metal pipe, sealed at one end with two big handles on the side. Slip it over the ground rod and then just repeatedly slam it down -- as a hammer that never misses. I have heard such a thing called a "pile driver", but if you do have piles, you might want to stick with the ointment.

73,

Jack
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KG6WLV on December 2, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
You're right, K8MHZ. Just checked the clamp that I installed on one of my mast ground rods and it is zinc, etc. I have purchased two-piece clamps in the past that were all copper with a brass set screw for the ground wire. I presume those would be okay to use?
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by N4OF on December 4, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
I made up a 10' piece of 1/2" copper pipe with hose fitting and tried the water drilling method in my sandy tidewater soil. It really ate into the ground. I was thinking "Wow, this works great!" After drilling, the 8' long 5/8" ground rod would just drop into the hole. I could rotate the ground rod with my thumb and index finger. Hmmm. Not much contact there. Next I'll try pounding one in with some kind of driver.

Dave
 
Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KB1MVZ on December 7, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
This is a topic of real, practical, interest to me as I'll be undertaking the installation of my first station soon.

So, I have to ask: a hammer drill? Sorry if this seems stoooopid, but are you talking a handheld 1/2 inch hammer drill, like a Dewalt that you'd buy at Home Depot?

If so, can you enlighten me as to how this is done? Surely you don't just chuck up the ground rod in the drill??

A jack-hammer I can imagine... but a hammer drill?

Again, sorry if this is the dumbest post of this thread, but (after reading all the replies) I couldn't help but wonder...
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by KG6WLS on December 8, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
For what it's worth... look at the 17th response of this article. I've worked in the electrical industry for 24 years. I might pound 2 rods per year. Works for me, but there are others that do it differently. It's not rocket science. Hi.

73 de KG6WLS
 
RE: Tips for Driving Ground Rods  
by W4KTL on December 19, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
This is a topic of real, practical, interest to me as I'll be undertaking the installation of my first station soon.

So, I have to ask: a hammer drill? Sorry if this seems stoooopid, but are you talking a handheld 1/2 inch hammer drill, like a Dewalt that you'd buy at Home Depot?

If so, can you enlighten me as to how this is done? Surely you don't just chuck up the ground rod in the drill??

A jack-hammer I can imagine... but a hammer drill?

Again, sorry if this is the dumbest post of this thread, but (after reading all the replies) I couldn't help but wonder...

********
A hammer drill not only drives the bit like a regular drill but it also moves the bit up and down, like a jack hammer. If you've ever had a house treated for termites, the drill they use to penetrate concrete floors is a hammer drill.
 
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