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Old 10-10-2001
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SSB Radio Grounds

Most of the articles I have read talk about using a grounding foil to ground your single side band radio. A friend has recommended the use of a dyna plate. Can you offer some insight on the merits of both systems?

Sue & Larry respond:
We hear a lot of discussion these days about the various methods of establishing a good ground for your single side band radio. The old tried and true method involved lots of copper foil and flat straps run throughout the boat. The copper strapping is connected to thru-hulls, water tanks, engines, etc. Sailors have interconnected anything and everything metallic inside the boat in an effort to achieve 100 square feet or more of ground. Thin sheets of copper foil and occasionally copper screen have been additionally laid against the inside of the hull. All this copper is difficult to work with, eventually turns green, and provides sharp edges which need to be carefully routed around plumbing hoses.

With today’s newer generation of equipment, it’s possible to achieve an acceptable ground without all the muss and fuss of laying all this copper throughout your entire hull. Gordon West, the well known high-frequency-radio guru, has tested different grounding configurations and concludes that there is no need to run miles of copper strapping throughout your boat anymore.

You may find that connecting your tuner to as little as one to three thru-hulls located close by will provide you with sufficient ground. On our boat we installed a scintered bronze ground shoe (like a dyna plate) on the outside of the hull. Our 6 by 18-inch ground shoe bolts through the hull via four bronze machine screws. It’s simple to install providing your boat is out of the water. While using our SSB, we consistently receive a report of having a very strong signal.

For more information regarding SSB grounds and complete installation information for your radio, see our article, Choosing and Installing an SSB Radio.

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