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A Radial Plate for Cheapskates

from Bill Savage, K3AN on October 20, 2017
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"Editor's Note: Due to the popularity of some of eHam's older articles, many of which you may not have read, the team has decided to rerun some of the best articles that we have received since eHam's inception. These articles will be reprinted to add to the quality of eHam's content and in a show of appreciation to the authors of these articles." This article was originally published on: 04/30/2009

A well-known ham antenna manufacturer sells a stainless steel plate that's designed to mount to a vertical antenna's support mast and provide connections for at least 60 ground radials. It appears to be a well-made product and has gotten good reviews here on eHam.

However it's rather expensive and considerable overkill for my Inverted-L installation, so I set out to look for something that could serve the same purpose at a lower cost. What I ultimately found is remarkably cheap, and should meet the needs of anyone who doesn't have the time, real estate, or inclination to put down more than 30 ground radials.

What is it? It's nothing more than a replacement kitchen sink strainer that you can buy at Home Depot or Lowe's for about $2.00. It's made from stainless steel and is “pre-drilled” for 10-24 size screws. You can readily install ten screws and nuts in the outermost ring of holes, and another five in the next ring. Install two solder or crimp-type terminal lugs under each nut and there's your 30-radial capacity. Furthermore, as shown in the photo, the strainer's center hole is large enough to fit over a copper-clad ground rod. You just have to remove the rubber stopper and pull out the metal center stem.

0x08 graphic

In my installation, each screw is fastened to the strainer with a compression lockwasher and nut. Then the radial lugs are placed over the nut and secured by a second nut. To prevent “galling” or seizing up of the stainless hardware, I placed Noalox grease on the screw threads. I also placed some grease on the flat surfaces of the lugs. Home Depot and Lowe's carry Noalox in the electrical section.

Depending on how many sets of stainless hardware you buy, the total cost for the strainer, the stainless steel screws, nuts and washers, and a small tube of Noalox will be under $10 to maybe as much as $16. For that price there's no excuse for not sprucing up (and adding to) your vertical's radial system.


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A Radial Plate for Cheapskates Reply
by KI4OYV on October 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Working for Home Depot, in the plumbing dept., I see a lot of items that hams can and do use for shacks and antennas, BUT have never thought about this idea. Guess I'll have to pick a few up to use.

RE: A Radial Plate for Cheapskates Reply
by N4KC on October 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!

That's why I call Home Depot the place for the $100 drill bit. I go in for an odd-size drill bit I need for some job or the other and can't get out without spending a hundred bucks!

I keep spotting neat items I just might need for projects I haven't even started thinking about commencing to get ready to begin to consider doing.

You suppose that is part of their marketing strategy?

Good idea here. Thanks!


Don N4KC

A Radial Plate for Cheapskates Reply
by VE3CUI on October 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
VERY clever, Bill…! Ham radio ingenuity at its best…I salute you…!

My ground system here was nothing quite THAT smart --- I had about 16 -20, or so, radials laid atop the ground below each of my "L" elements for 160. I had a centre point (just a 2' length of copper pipe) driven into the earth, & then used 4 -5 automotive rad hose ring clamps (like you have in your pix) to secure 4 radial wires each, to the common bonding point, i.e. the pipe…

Did it work…? It must have: I went from 35 DXCC countries, to a total of 155 in a few years' time --- that is, before the great ice storm of a few years back here broke all of my wires, and their support trees…!
A Radial Plate for Cheapskates Reply
by KA0USE on October 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
me like, a LOT! i do love keeping things simple, even when i have money.
it isn't so much about being cheap. it is about creativity; looking outside the box. it also seems to be human nature to re-purpose things.
A Radial Plate for Cheapskates Reply
by ONAIR on October 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Saw one of those at a dollar store for a buck!!
A Radial Plate for Cheapskates Reply
by N0CEL on October 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I still remember when this article came out! I just re-licensed as a Tech (after a 30 year hiatus from ham radio)and I had several of these just laying around. They do work!...just not for my HF vertical "project". Instead, I used the ground radial "plate" portion of an old scrap CB ground plane. I just pulled the four elements, flattened the curved areas with a 3# sledge, laid it on a large block of wood, and drilled 60 holes through it! I had a lot of "spare" hardware in the junk box, and picked up the extra I needed at the local hardware store. I just used the same diameter pipe to drive in the ground (to mount my vertical). It's still up today, except I now use it with my Perseus SDR. Cheap (inexpensive) is always a winner, and I built it myself! Thanks for the flashback! Carl de NØCEL
RE: A Radial Plate for Cheapskates Reply
by KE2TR on October 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
That is cheap but I have used those grounding bus for an inside utility electrical box which has worked great, I think it was under $10 at Home Depot.
A Radial Plate for Cheapskates Reply
by KI4ZUQ on October 25, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
This is a good example of pure GENIUS!
RE: A Radial Plate for Cheapskates Reply
by SWMAN on October 25, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Groovy !!
RE: A Radial Plate for Cheapskates Reply
by W4KYR on October 29, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for re-posting this, I didn't see it when it was originally posted in 2009. Good article

A Radial Plate for Cheapskates Reply
by AA7LX on November 9, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Yes !! What a brilliant idea. I have brought a great deal of "Parts" at Home Depot-- for all of my Ham Projects ! Plenty of ideas... believe me-- one-stop shopping! Thank You for your article. '73; AA7LX.
RE: A Radial Plate for Cheapskates Reply
by SSBER on November 10, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
You should sell them on eBay for $10
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