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Author Topic: Grounding in an Apartment  (Read 1123 times)
KE5ICB
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« on: July 25, 2006, 06:08:21 PM »

Hello all,
I currently live in an apartment and I am receiving my general ticket soon. I plan on operating hf but the problem with living in the apartment is that I can't figure out a way to get a ground connection. I live on the 2nd floor so the ground wire will be fairly long and I won't be able to drill a ground rod into the ground.Can anyone help me with this?

I appreciate the help, KE5ICB
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W3LK
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« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2006, 06:14:38 PM »

With all due respect, this exact question has been asked and answered probably 25 times already this year.

Do an eHAM search on the subject and you'll find all the answers without everyone having to post everything again.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Baltimore, Maryland
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N3OX
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« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2006, 01:26:27 PM »

We need a FAQ.

Dan
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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
WA7NCL
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2006, 08:23:06 AM »

In spite of previous posters grumpiness, here goes:

You didnt say what kind of antenna you propose to use.  If you use a balanced antenna like a dipole or a loop then no ground is really needed.  You just need a balanced feeder like ladder line or a balun on the antenna and feed with coax.  The safety ground for your radio is provided by the third wire of the power plug (for modern radios).  This is the same as for any home appliance.  If you have any problems with RF on the radio or other equipment it means your balancing method is not adequate.  It doesn't mean you need to go into a frenzy of ground rods etc.

For unbalanced random wires I have done three things:

1) Find an substitute RF ground for the antenna tuner, like a metal heat vent or metal building frame etc. and run a short fat wire to it from the antenna tuner.  This only works if you are lucky enough to have a large metal structure near the tuner.

2) I have used the balanced output of the wire tuner (if it has one) to connect one balanced output to the random wire and the other balanced output to some sort of ground through whatever length of wire is needed.  I have run the "ground" wire down the outside of the building to a water faucet etc.  The ground wire radiates as well as the random wire portion, so RFI can be a problem.  Usually the balun in the tuner prevents RF on your Rig and equipment though.

3) Buy an auto tuner and mount it near a ground point.  Run a random wire to a convenient support and feed the auto tuner with a coax.  This works pretty well if nobody steals your tuner and it is water proof.  Some guys I know have hidden the auto tuner in ingenius ways.

If you can I would recommend the balanced antenna approach first.  You can try the others if thats not possible.

You will need to fiddle and experiment.  Don't be discouraged if your system doesn't work first time.  Try a variety of things.  I have found that luck and experimentation is some times required.

Good Luck and have fun!
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KE5ICB
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2006, 09:24:14 AM »

Sorry if I forgot to mention the antenna. I am probably going to get the MP-1 portable antenna. Would I need a ground?
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W3LK
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2006, 11:05:10 AM »

<< In spite of previous posters grumpiness, here goes: >>

It's not a matter of grumpiness, it's a matter of pointing people to the numerous threads that already exist instead of posting the same information over and over and over again.

It's like asking an committee of authors to write a new copy of an existing book for one person instead of checking a copy out of the public library. Smiley

73,

Lon - W3LK
Baltimore, Maryland
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AD5X
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2006, 11:49:36 AM »

The MP-1 is an unbalanced antenna (short loaded vertical) and does require a counterpoise.

Phil - AD5X
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KE5ICB
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2006, 12:28:52 PM »

I have a metal railing outside by the stairs, would tying a the grounding wire around that work?
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KX8N
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« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2006, 12:05:59 PM »

"It's like asking an committee of authors to write a new copy of an existing book for one person instead of checking a copy out of the public library. Smiley

73,

Lon - W3LK
Baltimore, Maryland "

True Lon, but he didn't ask us to re-write a book, he just asked a simple question that didn't hurt anybody.
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N3OX
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« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2006, 06:52:45 AM »

We still need a FAQ.

Dan
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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
KC0VCU
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Posts: 138




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« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2006, 02:39:17 PM »

>I have a metal railing outside by the stairs, would
>tying a the grounding wire around that work?

It depends upon what you mean by 'tying the ground wire around'.

It also matters what the substance of the railing is. It could be anything from a decorative aluminum casting with a thik coat of black paint to make it look like wrought iron, through tubular steel welded into the shape desired.

I point this out because in any case you will want a metal to metal connection for your ground. thick paint could be a problem.

My nickname is Rusty, so I have also run into my share of information on corrosion. You really do want to be careful of dissimilar metals. Some will leave you with a potentialy very expensive repair bill when you are ready to leave your appartment.

If you can get a good metal to metal contact with the railing, and you are not dealing with extensively dissimilar metals, you will still want to do a decent job of sealing the connection.

73,

-Rusty - kc0vcu
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WB7AVF
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« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2006, 01:41:45 PM »

There are some excellent articles on the subject: DX Zone, Your S Meter, ARRL.

I'm using the following:  66/ dipole, up 100' and fed with coax. I also use twin-lead on another 135' antenna.  Through a 'transmatch'.  Mind you, I'm up on the top floor, too. Use an old tube rig.

The RF ground w/counterpoise wire(s) seems to be the way to go for LW and random wire.  

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W3LK
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« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2006, 02:09:02 PM »

<< True Lon, but he didn't ask us to re-write a book, he just asked a simple question that didn't hurt anybody.>>

And five minutes of searching on eHam would have gotten him far more information that he'll get asking the same question that has been asked over and over again. That's why the search function exists.

73,

Lon - W3LK
Baltimore, Maryland
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K8AG
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« Reply #13 on: August 11, 2006, 09:28:43 AM »

Rather than an FAQ, if the Search function in the Station Building forum (or others for that matter) worked better we could use that to search on key words.  I tried apartment and ground and nothing came up, not even this thread.

Maybe just a better search would allow people to find topics that have already been posted.

My 2 cents.

73, JP, K8AG
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VE3LXL
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« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2006, 01:38:22 PM »

I'm in the same boat as KE5ICB.  My apartment is on the 12th floor, and I operate only on HF. What has worked for me is to use a counterpoise wire as my RF ground.

See this thread from a few months ago, and scroll down to find a post I wrote on this:

http://www.eham.net/forums/Elmers/113669
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