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Author Topic: CHICKEN WIRE FOR VERTICAL GROUND RADIAL SYSTEM  (Read 5697 times)
N8CHR
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Posts: 34




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« on: October 08, 2012, 08:28:23 AM »

I read an article here about using chicken wire for the radial ground system for a vertical.
What I have: A five band vertical ground mounted about 2 feet above ground with a ground rod attached. I have ten radials of different lengths attached to a aluminum plate.
I would like to try the chicken wire for a radial ground. My question is how to I go about it? Do I just lay the chicken wire on the ground around the base of the vertical. Do I have to connect the sections together? Do I then attach it to the ground wire? What will be the effect when it get covered in snow? I can make this over 50" square if I want to. I don't really want to have to bury it. The vertical is on the side of a hill about 50" below the top with tall trees all around.
 Thanks TOM  N8CHR
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K7KBN
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Posts: 2817




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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2012, 08:46:47 AM »

I read an article here about using chicken wire for the radial ground system for a vertical.
What I have: A five band vertical ground mounted about 2 feet above ground with a ground rod attached. I have ten radials of different lengths attached to a aluminum plate.
I would like to try the chicken wire for a radial ground. My question is how to I go about it? Do I just lay the chicken wire on the ground around the base of the vertical. Do I have to connect the sections together? Do I then attach it to the ground wire? What will be the effect when it get covered in snow? I can make this over 50" square if I want to. I don't really want to have to bury it. The vertical is on the side of a hill about 50" below the top with tall trees all around.
 Thanks TOM  N8CHR

It's been tried, and the results have been largely disappointing, IMO.  Yes, you'd have to lay sections of the chicken wire fabric around the base, bonding section to section.  Since chicken wire is generally just galvanized steel wire, this means removing some of the galvanizing in order to get actual metal to metal contact, and preserving things once the bonding was complete.  When you say 50" (fifty inches), do you really mean 50' (fifty feet)?  It will make a bit of difference  Grin.

Burying the chicken wire shouldn't be really necessary unless it'll be getting walked on.  However, chicken wire is lightweight stuff, and as a rule, if it's permanently in contact with typical soil it will disintegrate rather quickly.  Probably just hours before the DX contest you were going to kick tail in...
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
KI4SDY
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Posts: 1452




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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2012, 08:54:38 AM »

Once laid on the ground, chicken wire will quickly rust, making any electrical connections to it useless. Don't use it!  Wink

Aluminum mesh would be a better solution of you want to experiment with a solid grounding skirt.  Smiley
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N3JBH
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Posts: 2358




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« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2012, 09:01:47 AM »

I don't even use chicken wire for the chickens to be honest it just does not hold up very well outdoors much less on the ground. Even though it is some what of a chore to do i simply just add more radials and be done with it.
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N8CMQ
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Posts: 379




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« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2012, 09:30:58 AM »

An inexpensive alternative would be to use galvanized electric fence wire or
aluminum fence wire for the radials.
A 1/4 mile (1320 feet) spool of aluminum wire is $23 at Tractor Supply.
I am going to put down 5.5 spools of aluminum radials for a new vertical I am working on.
Chicken wire may last one year, depending on your ground conditions.
You need to solder the seams, and the galvanizing may not solder well,
and the fumes from the galvanizing are poisonous.
My last radial field was copper clad steel, but the cladding is oxidized,
and the steel is rusting after 4 years.
Good luck with your radial field!
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AD5WB
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Posts: 14




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« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2012, 11:49:46 AM »

I am using hardware cloth as a ground plane for a ground mounted vertical and I am quite happy with it.
You can see what I did at the following url:
http://ad5wb.blogspot.com/2012/01/vertical-antenna-installation.html
I will be glad to answer any questions via email; my call at yahoo .com
Every install is a compromise and everyone will get different mileage.
Best regards
Leslie, ad5wb
Galveston Island, Texas
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KC4MOP
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Posts: 743




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« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2012, 05:42:34 PM »

I am using hardware cloth as a ground plane for a ground mounted vertical and I am quite happy with it.
You can see what I did at the following url:
http://ad5wb.blogspot.com/2012/01/vertical-antenna-installation.html
I will be glad to answer any questions via email; my call at yahoo .com
Every install is a compromise and everyone will get different mileage.
Best regards
Leslie, ad5wb
Galveston Island, Texas


hmmmm!! Very interesting approach. I used vinyl covered, welded, fencing about same pricing price from Lowe's. The fencing was 4 feet wide and 50 feet long. I have 8 of these 4' X 50' fences laying equally around the base of the vertical. I would scrape the vinyl off where I wanted to do some bonding using 2 inch wide copper straps around the base of my vertical for the radial system.

http://www.homedepot.com/Lumber-Composites-Fencing/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ1xh8Zbrk7/R-202024099/h_d2/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&storeId=10051#.UHNzlq5U3To

Going into the second Winter and no deterioration, so far.
Fred
« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 05:46:54 PM by KC4MOP » Logged
K0ZN
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Posts: 1553




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« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2012, 07:15:13 PM »


Chicken wire is OK if you only need the ground system for a fairly short period of time. It is thinly plated carbon steel and WILL rust. 
Rust is a terrible conductor of RF current; very lossy.

ALL commercial, military & marine shore stations, etc.  ALL  use copper for radial wires......because it lasts and has excellent conductivity.

If you plan to have the antenna long term, do it right and put in copper wire radials.

73.  K0ZN
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AD5WB
Member

Posts: 14




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« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2012, 11:13:30 AM »

I am using hardware cloth as a ground plane for a ground mounted vertical and I am quite happy with it.
You can see what I did at the following url:
http://ad5wb.blogspot.com/2012/01/vertical-antenna-installation.html
I will be glad to answer any questions via email; my call at yahoo .com
Every install is a compromise and everyone will get different mileage.
Best regards
Leslie, ad5wb
Galveston Island, Texas

My install was done in April 2010.  Still going strong.  No signs of deterioration where I can see it.
Rolls of hardware cloth that I used were 3 ft wide by 20 or 24 ft long.
I laid down 5 overlapping strips totaling approximately 330 sq ft of hardware cloth, laced together with 700 ft of insulated wire.  Hardware cloth was attached directly to my radial plate.
Have fun.
Leslie, ad5wb
Galveston Island, Texas

hmmmm!! Very interesting approach. I used vinyl covered, welded, fencing about same pricing price from Lowe's. The fencing was 4 feet wide and 50 feet long. I have 8 of these 4' X 50' fences laying equally around the base of the vertical. I would scrape the vinyl off where I wanted to do some bonding using 2 inch wide copper straps around the base of my vertical for the radial system.

http://www.homedepot.com/Lumber-Composites-Fencing/h_d1/N-5yc1vZ1xh8Zbrk7/R-202024099/h_d2/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&storeId=10051#.UHNzlq5U3To

Going into the second Winter and no deterioration, so far.
Fred
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K3GM
Member

Posts: 1819




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« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2012, 12:04:44 PM »

I think the key is not to bury it.  Sitting on top of the field or lawn is fine.  Here in WMA, there's a big contest station  that uses an elevated 80m 4 Square Array.  The system employs a spider web of traditional overhead radials and they work fine. But for contests, large spools of chicken wire are unrolled onto the mowed pasture around each antenna.  After the contest, the chicken wire mats are rolled up and stored below each of the four towers so the pasture can be mowed.  That galvanized wire mesh has been out in the elements for years and shows absolutely no signs of rust or corrosion.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2012, 12:10:12 PM by K3GM » Logged
GM3SEK
Member

Posts: 48




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« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2012, 12:54:12 AM »

I think the key is not to bury it.  Sitting on top of the field or lawn is fine.  Here in WMA, there's a big contest station  that uses an elevated 80m 4 Square Array.  The system employs a spider web of traditional overhead radials and they work fine. But for contests, large spools of chicken wire are unrolled onto the mowed pasture around each antenna.  After the contest, the chicken wire mats are rolled up and stored below each of the four towers so the pasture can be mowed.  That galvanized wire mesh has been out in the elements for years and shows absolutely no signs of rust or corrosion.

On a smaller scale, I do something similar but using rolls of 4ft 'stock fencing'. This is made of much heavier wire than chicken mesh, and the wires are more heavily galvanized. The mesh size is about 4 inches square, way bigger than chicken wire of course, but that is totally irrelevant for use at HF. All that matters at HF is the total width of the strip and the number of parallel wires running lengthways.

Results after 2-3 years have been good. The strips that are laid permanently on the ground are becoming covered by the general root mat, as expected, but the wires are still looking clean and the galvanizing is solid. The strips that have to be rolled up each summer to allow grass cutting are looking even better.

Interconnections are made using galvanized split bolts and crossover connectors obtained from a fencing supplier. With 7 lengthways wires in each strip, there is a lot of redundancy in the interconnections so the distributed resistance is quite low.

The key point is: this system has allowed me to make a reasonably effective ground system in a rough, rocky and heavily overgrown area where multiple single wire radials had already proved impossible. The heavy stock fencing made all the difference.

But, please... DON'T EVER LEAVE CHICKEN WIRE IN THE GROUND! Eventually it corrodes and breaks up into thousands of small, sharp rusty pieces that are a nightmare to remove. Also it isn't strong enough to be torn out of the ground without breaking up. This leaves the ground impossible to dig or to plow, and dangerous for animals. Effectively you will have trashed that piece of ground for any future use, so PLEASE DON'T DO IT.


73 from Ian GM3SEK

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W5DQ
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Posts: 1209


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« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2012, 09:33:00 AM »

Once laid on the ground, chicken wire will quickly rust, making any electrical connections to it useless. Don't use it!  Wink

Aluminum mesh would be a better solution of you want to experiment with a solid grounding skirt.  Smiley

Not that it makes using chicken wire better or worse, but the idea that it will rust only hold true if you live in a moisture prone area. Case in point. Living in the Mojave Desert and less that 5 inches of rain a year on average, I can assure you that I put a piece of cold rolled steel out in the middle of my yard and 5 years from now it would not have a speck of rust on it. I am forever leaving a drill bit or some other small steel item out at a spot on the property when I clean up from a job and when they go back in the box or tray, you can't tell them from the others.

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Gene W5DQ
Ridgecrest, CA - DM15dp
www.radioroom.org
N8CHR
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Posts: 34




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« Reply #12 on: October 15, 2012, 04:25:53 AM »

Thanks for all your replies. I think I will go with some type of fencing. It will be on a rocky side of a hill. I'll bond the lengths together with copper strips. Do I need to be concerned with certain lengths or can I just string it out and around?
 Thanks Tom N8CHR
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W4VR
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« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2012, 10:49:15 AM »

Thanks for all your replies. I think I will go with some type of fencing. It will be on a rocky side of a hill. I'll bond the lengths together with copper strips. Do I need to be concerned with certain lengths or can I just string it out and around?
 Thanks Tom N8CHR

Regardless of what you use for a ground screen, make sure you follow a procedure for bonding disimilar metals together.  Use an anti-oxident such as Penatrox on your connections before you wrap them with silicone tape.
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K3GM
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Posts: 1819




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« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2012, 12:20:21 PM »

.....I'll bond the lengths together with copper strips. Do I need to be concerned with certain lengths or can I just string it out and around?
 Thanks Tom N8CHR

On the ground, length doesn't matter.  If your mesh is small enough, you can "bond" the flat copper strip to the galvanized mesh with a bolt, a couple of fender washers and nut, literally compressing the copper stock to the mesh.  I doubt you'll have much luck with conventional soldering; perhaps brazing.  You could try exothermic bonding, but I have no idea how you'd contain the the charge during the burn.
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