Don Wilhelm <w3fpr@...>

Dr. Don,

I disagree that any ground rod and connection to it via any wire or copper strap will be an effective RF Ground.

I think of 3 things that are considered "ground" - the first is AC safety ground (follow the NEC rules for compliance), and the next is Lightning Protection Ground, which is more complex than the AC ground - one can find good information on that subject on the Polyphaser website.  Ron Block had a 3 part series in QST some time back and I consider that a good resource.

Then comes "RF GROUND" - that is a nefarious term and is very often misunderstood.
No "ground wire" will provide an RF Ground if there is any length of wire or copper strap required to connect to Mother Earth.  Consider a good driven ground rod system outside the shack, then connect it to the shack with an 8 foot long wire or copper strap.
Now -- remember that RF flowing on a wire follows the same rules as for antennas and transmission lines - the impedance is low at the ground point, but is high 1/4 wavelength from that point.
On 10 meters, that 8 foot wire is about 1/4 wavelength long - so it has a low impedance at the connection with the ground rod, but at the end of that 1/4 wavelength wire, the impedance is quite high -- hardly a good ground for RF.

My view is that RF Ground is more of a concept than any physical thing.  It exists at the point(s) where the RF voltage is zero.  That occurs midway between the transmission line connection to a dipole, and midway between the transmission line connections to a vertical monopole and the ground plane.  It also occurs at several other places in the antenna field and transmission line system.  Creating an RF Ground in the hamshack at all frequencies we operate is an insurmountable task.

The solution is to keep the RF from getting back into the shack.  That is what baluns and current mode chokes on the transmission line are for.  Jim Brown K9YC has an excellent tutorial on handling RFI in the hamshack - see -- his common mode chokes are good (he does not like the term 'balun') and quite effective.

In other words, keep the RF out of the shack and there is no need for an "RF Ground" in the shack - in fact, it is impossible to construct an RF ground in the shack at all frequencies.

Don W3FPR    

On 1/8/2015 6:01 PM, Don Sanders w4bws1@... [4sqrp] wrote:
Unc Phil, I believe the reference to not using the cold water pipe as ground is when there is no other ground provided. In your case I believe the cold water pipe is "using" the main AC ground just as you proposed. You would be using the same main AC Ground as the water pipe if you ran the 10 foot wire from the water pipe to your station AC ground. 
However this would not be a good RF ground. For a good RF Ground you should use a separate ground rod and wire( actually a 1 inch wide flat copper strip is best)  from the station. And then possibly a couple radials run either around your basement ceiling or external to the house. Depending on the bands needed, one for 40, 30, and 20 meters. 
Here I use a flattened 1 inch diam aluminum pipe from the station to three 6 foot ground rods spaced 5 feet in a triangle and bonded together with heavy welding cable. I added a 1/4 wave wire on 80 meters as a counterpoise to reduce the RF in the shack, lousy rocky/sandysoil, and use an MFJ artificial ground tuner. No RF in shack now. The equipment 3rd wire ground does go to the main AC input ground. 
Possibly others will have other good advice from their experiences. So far in 60+ years, no equipment damage from lightening, but I did have a couple tower hits which burned thru the coax wrapped around the tower leg, bonded to the tower and its ground.

Join to automatically receive all group messages.