Vertical ground radial wire guage...

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by KB4MNG, Jun 6, 2021.

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  1. KB4MNG

    KB4MNG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Seems like I read in the past, you can use a very small guage wire for your ground radials and be fine. Is this true?
    N2HUN likes this.
  2. AK5B

    AK5B Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes. Ground radials (assuming you have a decent number of them) share the return current which is generally small. Elevated radials could be a different story as only a couple often suffice which will also carry more accordingly...


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  3. N4UFO

    N4UFO Ham Member QRZ Page

    I recommend Petsafe or some other pet boundary wire. Comes 20 gauge, solid usually yellow or light green color. Can be found at home improvement stores, but I've seen it on eBay for less than $20 for a 500 foot roll. I laid out close to 3000 feet for my three verticals back in NC and it worked great. Oh, and 8 stripped wires will fit into one 10-12 gauge yellow crimp lug. (I recommend soldering it.) That means 32 radials comes down to 4 lugs which can attach to one long ground bolt. No need for a ground plate. Instead run the wires to the vertical base, and up to the ground lug, then protect the wires with a $10 tree ring. Example below:

    lowband base.JPG

    Cut the grass low, turn your string trimmer sideways and dig a small slit... lay the wire in it and all good. Staples to hold the wire down is a good idea.

    73 & GL! Kevin N4UFO
    N0TZU, N2HUN, M0AGP and 4 others like this.
  4. KB4MNG

    KB4MNG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hey kevin! Enjoying the relocation? Nice looking vertical setup
  5. N4UFO

    N4UFO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Oh, you probably know... buying a new house is like taking on a part time job; lots of work to do. As for being back living where I grew up it's weird... it's like they've rearranged everything from my youth and forgot to tell me. :p

    As for ham radio, I like having some trees to string up wires to. Much cheaper than tripods, masts and towers! (check my QRZ page) That vertical in the picture was my 80/160m antenna back in North Carolina. Did a good job for what it was... I managed 160m DXCC with a hundred watts and it was less than 30 feet tall.

    Take care, good luck with the vertical/radials... 73, Kevin N4UFO
    AK5B likes this.
  6. N2HUN

    N2HUN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've used many different types of wire, both insulated and uninsulated for radials. In truth it was mostly scrap or extra wire dissected from discarded appliances.
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  7. AK5B

    AK5B Ham Member QRZ Page

    Now that's part of what I call being a "real ham" entails. Way to go, Mario.


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  8. N0TZU

    N0TZU Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    The main requirement for ground radials is enough mechanical strength to withstand traffic on top of them and soil freeze-thaw cycles, if any.
    AK5B likes this.
  9. W3TKB

    W3TKB XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I second the recommendation for using pet boundary system wire; the "invisible fence" system. I don't remember the exact gauge of the stuff I got...I want to say it was 18 but it may have been 20 as mentioned.

    You don't necessarily have to dig trenches for your radials to lay in, although if you want to exert the effort go right ahead. When you lay them out on your lawn, the grass will grow up and around the wires and eventually engulf them, pulling the wires down into the root system.

    I laid mine out before the Spring growing season began, but I would recommend doing it after mowing your lawn. Get some plastic 4 inch lawn spikes/stakes and wrap the end of each radial wire around one with a few twists. Then you can pull the radial taught and pound the stake in. The wire will be laying nice and flat along the lawn. Now use a few lawn staples spaced out over the radial's length to keep it in place and will allow you to mow over it without lifting the wire. Lawn staples are available in biodegradable versions if you don't want to use metal ones.

    I also decided to go the traditional radial ground plate design. For the plate, I just bought a scrap piece of galvanized steel, about 3/16" thick and cut 12"×12" square. Drilled holes around the perimeter for anchoring bolts (#10 stainless) and a few bigger bolts in the middle for grounding and antenna wire attachment. Easy-peasy.

    Brando 20210408_102314.jpg
  10. N4UFO

    N4UFO Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just to explain... the reason I used the lawn trimmer to make a slit, was not to bury the wires, but to get under the type of grass I had. I am not sure the type of grass, but it had thick, kind of like vines that would grow along the lawn... if you didn't get the wire beneath it, it would lift the wire up in many places. It would have been a herculean effort to weave all that wire underneath the grass, so the easiest thing to do was cut a slit and lay the wire in/on the slit. But agreed, burying the wire is not necessary. - AND, since I know the OP and know where he lives (couple hundred miles downstate from where I did), he may very well have the same type of grass. But for others, the slit just makes it easy to get down to the dirt. But, no, I agree... no need to 'dig' actual trenches.

    This is one case where, for sure... your mileage may vary! ;)
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