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Update on home HF counterpoise

Discussion in 'SSB and Ham Operators' started by Brian D, Jan 9, 2019. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Brian D

    Brian D Moderator

    Joined Feb 17, 2006
    4,270 posts, 913 likes
    Lancer 27PS
    US MCB Camp Pendleton, Ca KF6BL
    After much study to include the webpage I made regarding the KISS-SSB, I tried a new-to-me counterpoise system. I knew it was going to be long so I ordered 200' of 18AWG wire for this test. The purpose was to see if I would get any different results against the existing counterpoise I now have.

    I used 4 lengths of wire at 33.5', 18', 16', and 14'. These were the values given on the KISS-SSB webpage. You can figure out the frequency per each length by using the formula 234/length in feet.

    After cutting I folded the wires as a group. First I measure the height from my balun to the top of the patio cover. That was 8'. The remaining wire was folded into 6'. Total length of wires reduced to 14'. I taped at each fold but will eventually put the whole mess in a tube. I went with 8' to keep the mass of the wire on the patio cover and not hanging off of the balun.

    Results: When I first turned on the radio I heard some activity on 20m (14300 KHz). Don't normally hear that even on a good day. So initial feeling was good. I then tuned all the bands I use. Some got a 1.0:1 SWR but the worst was 1.6:1 SWR. I was able to resolve that by retuning and got it down to 1.2:1. I can live with those figures. The tuner by the way is a MFJ929 Automatic Smart Tuner.

    First test was to try and connect to WINLINK station in Austin Tx. First I tried on 5 watts and got a hit, but was not reliable. Up the power to 25 watts and locked with the server. This is using WINMOR, not PACTOR. Those who have PACTOR are lucky. But WINMOR works just fine.

    Next test was to move to 40 Meters which is a no go for me during the day. I connected right away with the WINLINK station is San Rafael Ca. Normally I can hit him in the early morning or late evening, but not midday. So that was a positive event with the new counterpoise.

    I plan on making one more so I have basically a double counterpoise system. Will it improve my contacts? Might, might not. We will see.

    I bought an antenna analyzer (MFJ259C) and tried to get some readings from the counterpoise. It didn't show much in the way of good dips, but the counterpoise works to a degree.

    Later!
     


  2. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    7,825 posts, 3,136 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    That sounds very positive Brian... Way to go.
    What about the cost. More or less than the pre-made?
    Of course you just can not buy the joy of trying something and making it work. That cost... Priceless
     


  3. Brian D

    Brian D Moderator

    Joined Feb 17, 2006
    4,270 posts, 913 likes
    Lancer 27PS
    US MCB Camp Pendleton, Ca KF6BL
    The cost of the wire, which I did not have lying around, was $14. It is 200' of stranded CCA (copper clad aluminum). Yeah, the joy of measuring out the wire and putting it all together was priceless. Whoot. LOL
     


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  4. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    7,825 posts, 3,136 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    Well the wire cost alone is better than the KISS-SSB listed price...
    How close were you to cutting the correct lengths? Any over/under cuts? 33.5ft is not necessarily easy to get exact.
     


  5. Brian D

    Brian D Moderator

    Joined Feb 17, 2006
    4,270 posts, 913 likes
    Lancer 27PS
    US MCB Camp Pendleton, Ca KF6BL
    When one is as OCD as me and using a tape measure, measureing three times before even thinking about cutting, I think I nailed it. LOL I didn't tune it beyond just cutting. At that length being off 1/4" is not going to make any difference. Now, get up into the microwave band and 1/4" can make you miss the moon by a million miles. LOL
     


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  6. jssailem

    jssailem

    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    7,825 posts, 3,136 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    So does NASA know your shooting microwaves at the moon... You may be getting a visit from the new Space Force if your not careful...
     


    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
    Will Gilmore likes this.
  7. JamesG161

    JamesG161

    Joined Feb 14, 2014
    3,405 posts, 1,166 likes
    Hunter 430
    US Waveland, MS
    This one...
    Air_Force_Space_Command_Logo.svg.png
    Not this one..
    440px-Russian_military_space_troops_flag.svg.png
    Russian
    ____
    Are you running a vertical antennae, Brian?
    Jim...
     


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  8. Brian D

    Brian D Moderator

    Joined Feb 17, 2006
    4,270 posts, 913 likes
    Lancer 27PS
    US MCB Camp Pendleton, Ca KF6BL
    Jim, no. A horizontal random wire that is 35.5' long. There are certain lengths that are not 1/2-wave, or even-multiples (1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, etc) thereof, that will tune on most of the ham bands. Unfortunately, there are more marine SSB bands so not all tuners will tune all the available frequencies.

    If I was younger I would volunteer for the new Space Force. Specifically in the communications field. No more grunt for me. LOL
     


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  9. Mark Maulden

    Mark Maulden

    Joined Jan 25, 2011
    1,777 posts, 174 likes
    S2 11.0A
    US Anacortes, WA
    Brian, are you testing all your configurations at the same day/time as much as practical? Comparing different configs on different days/times introduces the variable of propogation differences. Also, I think I would use a manual tuner for test purposes as you can control it..
     


  10. Brian D

    Brian D Moderator

    Joined Feb 17, 2006
    4,270 posts, 913 likes
    Lancer 27PS
    US MCB Camp Pendleton, Ca KF6BL
    Mark, that is kind of impractical, yet I understand what your are talking about. I really wish I could do everything at once. But I have to extrapolate what I can given the nature of propagation. Those were initial test results though unscientific at best. I usually wait a few days and monitor activities based on SFI and WSPR. True, I may have a day in which the RF gods are messing with me. LOL. We will see over the next few days.

    This is probably no different than installing a new ground system on a boat and hearing stuff you haven't before. Too many variables to contend with. But as of now, when I have being heard in Antarctica on 40M I won't complain. LOL

    Before changing out the counterpoise I can confirm that I was having hearing issues. That has changed now for real. I am hearing more stations that before. I do not believe the SFI, A and K indicies are changing for the better. So with that, there is a good indication that the counterpoise has increased efficiency somewhat.
     


  11. JamesG161

    JamesG161

    Joined Feb 14, 2014
    3,405 posts, 1,166 likes
    Hunter 430
    US Waveland, MS
    Those are directional and normally act as a beam antennae in the balun to tip direction.
    I had these tall trees and two strings to change the direction and elevation above the ground to beam on all HF bands.
    On a hillside, no less, so the hill would act as a ground plane. On 20m I could get a great signal when the Sun was over Hawaii and QRP clear channel Japan and Russia.;)
    Jim...
     


  12. Don S/V ILLusion

    Don S/V ILLusion

    Joined Sep 25, 2008
    5,235 posts, 404 likes
    Alden 50
    US Sarasota, Florida
    Brian
    Maybe I missed it but what antenna are you using - a vertical (I assume)?
     


  13. Brian D

    Brian D Moderator

    Joined Feb 17, 2006
    4,270 posts, 913 likes
    Lancer 27PS
    US MCB Camp Pendleton, Ca KF6BL
    Don, horizontal random wire @ 35.5'. It is attached to a 4:1 unun.
     


  14. Don S/V ILLusion

    Don S/V ILLusion

    Joined Sep 25, 2008
    5,235 posts, 404 likes
    Alden 50
    US Sarasota, Florida
    In that case, I doubt a counterpoise would have any observable or measurable effect. Have you tried modeling it?
     


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  15. Brian D

    Brian D Moderator

    Joined Feb 17, 2006
    4,270 posts, 913 likes
    Lancer 27PS
    US MCB Camp Pendleton, Ca KF6BL
    Don't do that eznec thing. I tried that and it was useless for me. I do use a counterpoise because I have a choke balun at the feed. I do not want my coax to radiate. So with the antenna being some odd multiple of a quarter-wave, it requires some sort of counter system. Same hold true with a quarter-wave vertical. Make sense? I have tried without the counterpoise and could not tune.
     



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