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Author Topic: Going portable - Do I need an earth?  (Read 699 times)
2E0FGO
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« on: May 02, 2019, 12:05:02 AM »

Hi,

I'm going to try operating from a field.  I have an Icom IC-7200, a LiFe battery, a home made 1/2 wave dipole for 20m and a 10m glass fibre pole.  I'll be transmitting at 50w.

I've watched lots of YouTube videos that show portable activations, but I haven't seen any mention an earth.

Do I need to earth the rig?  Should I use an earth stake or are there other acceptable ways to do it?

Thanks and regards...Paul
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KF4ZGZ
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« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2019, 01:35:42 AM »

Typically speaking, for temporary portable ops you don't need to worry about grounding.
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Matt
G4LNA
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« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2019, 02:20:04 AM »

You don't need an earth for either a safety or RF reason if you are using a dipole, however, if you are going to be operating from some windy hill top then it might be wise to install some static bleed resistors down to a small earth stake, you'd be surprised how the wind can generate quite a lot of static noise on the antenna, I found that out a few years ago living up in the Chiltern hills where it can be quite windy at times and you get that persistent click click.
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W9IQ
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« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2019, 03:38:00 AM »

There are more extreme cases. I have worked portable in the high Alps several times. Static build up can cause 1/4 inch discharge arcs.

I learned to not only install bleeder resistors but to also deploy a bare ground wire just lying on the ground to keep the radio closer to ground potential. Otherwise the bleeder simply equalized the charge across the antenna but it raised the potential of the radio several thousand volts above ground. That stung when you touched the mike or key!

- Glenn W9IQ
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- Glenn W9IQ

I never make a mistake. I thought I did once but I was wrong.
WA3SKN
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« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2019, 02:21:56 PM »

As you can see, the answer is "maybe".
With a dipole, you can operate with the radio above ground potential.  However you are the path between the radio and ground for any difference of potential... the bleeder is a good idea.  This also applies to your power source... batteries OK, but a generator has shock potential.
73s.

-Mike.
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2E0FGO
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« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2019, 11:04:44 AM »

Thanks all.  I hadn't considered the build up of static.  I have a earth stake and log metal tent pegs so I have options.
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WB6BYU
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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2019, 03:10:42 PM »

I've done a lot of portable operation, and only once did I need a ground connection.

That was when I was using a long wire in Alaska and the capacitors in my tuner arced over every
few seconds from the static build-up.  I wrapped some wire around a metal skewer and stuck it in
the ground outside the window and it cured the problem.

Note that the situation is very different if you are trying to provide an RF ground for an end-fed wire.
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K6BRN
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« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2019, 11:07:21 AM »

For portable ops, the Earth is generally required as a PLACE TO STAND.  (OK - just could not help that!)

No, you generally do not need an Earth ground when running portable, particularly when running 100W or below.  However, it is a VERY good idea to bring along a good feedline common mode choke and install it about 3-6 ft. from the radio.  Some wire antennas that are great for portable ops recommend grounding and have a ground lug, and providing an Earth ground to them will not hurt.  But it's not really critical, either.

I generally operate portable when travelling and use the following equipment, which fits inside half of a compact  roll-aboard suitcase:

1.  Yaesu FT-991 radio with built in antenna tuner and USB sound card (plus VHF/UHF) with Anderson PowerPole connectors
2.  PowerWerx SS30DV switchig power supply with Anderson PowerPole connector
3.  MyAntennas EFHW-4010 or -8010HP end-fed wire antenna
4.  CMC-130-3K common mode choke
5.  25 or 50 feet of RG8x and a 4 foot jumper for the CMC
6.  25-50 feet of thin paracord to help antenna deployment
7.  Bag of eye hooks, carabiners, etc. for antenna deployment

Have fun and Best Regards!

Brian - K6BRN
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2E0FGO
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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2019, 02:06:48 PM »

Thanks both - point noted.

And Brian - I stand on the Ground  Smiley
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N1ZZZ
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« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2019, 06:25:56 PM »

FWIW,

I tend to bring a tent stake, stick it in the soil and run wire to my rig.  I have no hard evidence, but it seems to help with noise level.

The talk about "earth" verses "ground" reminds me when I was on Ascension Island getting a tour of the BBC site and the talk turned to the water-cooled "valves."

73
Jeremy N1ZZZ
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K7KBN
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« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2019, 09:18:22 PM »

When the first DXpedition from Great Britain to the 4th rock from the sun sets up their radios, will they have to Mars their equipment? Huh Grin
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
G8JNJ
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« Reply #11 on: May 30, 2019, 03:00:55 AM »

When the first DXpedition from Great Britain to the 4th rock from the sun sets up their radios, will they have to Mars their equipment? Huh Grin

Ha, Very good :-)
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WB4SPT
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« Reply #12 on: May 31, 2019, 06:05:06 AM »

I'm having trouble grounding OR earthing my boat NEG terminal.   Grin
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