Notice the little stake in the corner of the radio set? That’s a grounding stake. It’s important.
A radio system works by creating an electrical path to transmit its energy. Taking into account simple electrical theory, the radio as a system needs a ground to most efficiently transmit its energy and to reduce static buildup in your set which will in time damage your equipment and can shock you. This is especially important if you’re using less than optimum antenna systems, leading to high Standing Wave Ratios, or SWR, which is energy returning to the set along your feed line, and is not radiated. In addition, having a good ground eliminates sources of noise that may otherwise be mistaken for harmful interference.
If you’re running QRP, this is a big deal as you need every little bit of juice possible getting out to efficiently communicate. For 100w or more, this is important because the static created is much more dangerous. When running a radio inside your home or outbuilding, improper grounding can create a fire hazard.
The first thing you’ll need is a ground rod. A ground stake can be anything conductive giving static a path to Earth, but for a longer-term setup, you’ll want a copper grounding rod, preferably 8ft. Drive it into the ground near your transmitter; like a drunk who’s had too much, electricity likes to take the shortest path to the ground.
Next you’ll need a way to connect the radio to the rod. Flatstrap copper is optimum, but wire works fine as well. Couple one end to the rod and the other to the grounding screw on the back of your radio system. This will normally be marked “GND” or labelled Ground.
The wire needs to be insulated from anything conductive to avert any possible shorts to the intended ground; this means you’ll need to shield it, as seen below, hidden under the desk.
If your radio is indoors, you’re going to need to drill through something. Fear not; there’s a pretty simple way to get it through the wall or floor with minimal damage. As you can see above, drill the hole, run it through a small diameter PVC conduit, and attach it to an electrical box to keep everything clean on the outside. Running to your ground rod, your radio now has a solid and simple electrical ground path. Your radio be safer and more efficient.
All photo credit goes to Henry Bowman- Great work Brother.