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Author Topic: Which is soil / rock better to have at your QTH?  (Read 3490 times)
WALTERB
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Posts: 528




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« on: June 29, 2012, 08:25:37 AM »

At some point I want to buy some property to retire on.

For the moment lets forget about if I want a garden, or basement, etc,  and only worry about HF propagation and reception.

In the area I’m looking at I can either buy land with limestone/clay soil  or iron/granite based soil/rock close to the surface.  At one time they had Iron mines in this area, and the rocks and soil are quite reddish from the oxidation.

Which would be better for Ham radio, if either, or would it make any real difference?  (assuming the elevation and topography is the same at both locations

thanks
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K8AXW
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2012, 08:35:20 AM »

IMHO I think the amount of topsoil would be a determining factor.  I think the soil depth probably is more of a factor than anything below that.

My house sets on a ridge of gray slate that sets in the ground at a 45° angle.  My top soil (!) is 3 to 4" and when I used a vertical antenna it was necessary (not an option-necessary) to string many radials.

When I got into installing my tower and 3 anchors, my brother and I spent 8 hours with a 100lb jackhammer and air compressor digging those 4 holes! 

Good luck.
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WALTERB
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2012, 08:37:29 AM »

IMHO I think the amount of topsoil would be a determining factor.  I think the soil depth probably is more of a factor than anything below that.

My house sets on a ridge of gray slate that sets in the ground at a 45° angle.  My top soil (!) is 3 to 4" and when I used a vertical antenna it was necessary (not an option-necessary) to string many radials.

When I got into installing my tower and 3 anchors, my brother and I spent 8 hours with a 100lb jackhammer and air compressor digging those 4 holes! 

Good luck.

I believe the area with the iron is much like your area.  the soil is only a few inches to a few feet deep.  The Ham radio factor won't be the deal breaker in where I locate, but its nice to know so I don't get any negative suprises.  Grin
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W8JX
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2012, 08:55:39 AM »

I think I would worry more about room for a few antennas and possible RFI sources.
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WALTERB
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« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2012, 10:17:59 AM »

I think I would worry more about room for a few antennas and possible RFI sources.

where I'm looking neither are a problem.  40+ acres and nobody around.
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K5LXP
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« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2012, 10:24:27 AM »

At some point I want to buy some property to retire on.

Consider a tropical island out in the pacific on the top 10 DX list.  Then it doesn't matter how crappy your soil or propagation is.

Frankly I think where the soil is geographically matters more than the type of soil.  If your bent is working contests, then you want the east or west coast.  Perhaps something with an oceanfront to get the low TOA.  The soil is a small part of the equation as you'll either be above it with a tower, or isolating from it with radials.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM



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WALTERB
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« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2012, 10:40:50 AM »

At some point I want to buy some property to retire on.

Consider a tropical island out in the pacific on the top 10 DX list.  Then it doesn't matter how crappy your soil or propagation is.

Frankly I think where the soil is geographically matters more than the type of soil.  If your bent is working contests, then you want the east or west coast.  Perhaps something with an oceanfront to get the low TOA.  The soil is a small part of the equation as you'll either be above it with a tower, or isolating from it with radials.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM





Too funny.  I’m afraid most of those small tropical islands in the pacific have governments with much stricter immigration policies than my current country of choice.  I don’t believe you can just move there without being uber-rich or becoming a citizen of one of those countries.

Anyway,  it sound like the having iron ore close to or on the surface isn’t really an issue?  Correct?
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KD0REQ
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« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2012, 10:43:19 AM »

soil conductivity is a bigger issue than soil type.  clay holds a lot of water,  rock is hard to poke ground rods into.

from my travels as an old broadcast brat, I can tell you the happiest "dollar a hollar" radio station owners had their tower in a swamp.  feedline maintenance was less fun, and there's a station in lakes country MN that is in the middle of an active pasture, and the "whack whack whack whack" of the electric fence around the tower is prominent in their on-air signal.  but the groundplane was outstanding -- so much so, the stations couldn't increase power to their theoretical allotment if they wanted to, once the effect of the groundplane were taken into effect.

but that ground wave was consistent, so they spent less in power to cover their area and collect ad money.

try working mobile/portable with a low-watter and slingshot temporary antennas on anything you're really looking hard at.
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WX7G
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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2012, 10:59:27 AM »

For a vertically polarized wave soil is better than rock. For a horizontally polarized wave there is essentially no difference.
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WALTERB
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« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2012, 11:00:12 AM »

For a vertically polarized wave soil is better than rock. For a horizontally polarized wave there is essentially no difference.

ok, thanks!

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N6AJR
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« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2012, 11:13:56 AM »

best is any type of soil that you can dig a hole in. If you can go down 3 feet  you can put in a base wirh a 3' X 3' X 3' hole with some rebar for your 50 foot tall rohn 25 tower, and a bigger hole makes a bigger tower.  you can always put radials out for a vert, and up enough makes it a non problem.
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NS3Q
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« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2012, 11:24:50 AM »

I have good results with good old Georgia clay near a stream that keeps the clay moist. Tower and station are grounded with 8' copper ground rods and porcupine on top of tower is attached to ground rod at tower for lightning protection.

Moisture is important for a good ground, and the grounding of a station is the most important thing IMO for a good signal and no problems in the shack.

73, Clint NS3Q
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WA3SKN
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« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2012, 03:34:44 PM »

Just invest in a proper radial system.  120 1/2 wave radials are not THAT expensive... Problem solved!
73s.

-Mike.
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STAYVERTICAL
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Posts: 854




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« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2012, 03:23:47 AM »


I am on an elevated ridge with only rock and sand as the topsoil.
I get great results, with a vertical and some elevated radials only about 3 feet off the ground.
A friend of mine lives near the ocean but with hills around him.
I get out much better than he does, probably only because of my elevation.

I would not worry too much about the type of soil, the elevation and surrounding topography is much more important.
I have seen the same effect with other stations as well.
You can always compensate for poor soil with radials, counterpoises or raising the antenna - but it's harder to shift mountains.
Also, if you have some nice tall trees for ready made antenna posts, you may finally put up that rhombic on those 40 acres.

73 - Rob
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K3GM
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« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2012, 08:20:30 AM »

I'd be more concerned about soil conductivity than what it's composed of.  That said, I live in a region that was subjected to gacial activity in the past millennium.   Aside from dealing with areas of exposed bedrock, just excavating a hole for for a tower base or guy anchors can be a major challenge.  By comparison, in my former home in south Jersey, I hand dug a cubic yard hole in one evening; big difference!
« Last Edit: June 30, 2012, 08:23:57 AM by K3GM » Logged
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