Ask SAIL: The Ultimate Ground

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Q: I have a new Icom M-802 that I am installing aboard. I read about wires that make up the needed ground, and a wire run up the backstay for the antenna. I plan an around-the-world voyage. What do you suggest?

Ultimate Ground Copper

D. Freeman, Anacortes, WA

GORDON WEST REPLIES

West-head

If you are going around the world, you need the most powerful SSB signal you can get. Your reception and transmission range is enhanced with a true seawater ground, not a little wire disappearing into the bilge and going to the engine frame. Go with copper foil from the auto tuner to a bronze ground plate aft. For the antenna, an insulated backstay will keep your signal “in the clear” for maximum radiation to the ionosphere. The top insulator goes a couple of feet down from the masthead, the lower insulator no higher than you can reach up to clean it and regularly reattach the high voltage wire for a low-resistance connection point. You do not need to space this high-voltage wire away from the lower half of the stay, if the stay goes into a chain plate un-grounded to your ground system.

Gordon West is an electronics expert who specializes in radio communications

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