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Subject: [TowerTalk] RADIAL QUESTIONS
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 1997 17:08:38 -0600

Are insulated wires laid loosely on the ground essentially non-resonant?

I have always believed that radials laid on the ground were detuned by
their proximity to the ground.  A recent experience makes me question
that idea.

I am installing an 80M  quarter wavelength vertical suspended from a 
tree branch at 70 ft.  When I check "resonance" against a 4 ft ground rod
using an MFJ antenna analyzer, minimum SWR and minimum resistance
occur just below 3.5 MHz.  The antenna wire consists of a 140 ft length
number 14 solid copper wire, folded in half and separated by a 2 ft cross
arm at the top with the two halves suspended from the cross arm.

After laying 32 insulated radials and soldering them to a 3 ft diameter 
ring of 1/4 inch copper tubing which encircles the base of the tree and
measuring "resonance" against the radials, minimum SWR and 
minimum resistance occur around 3.1 MHz.  When measured against
one, two, or 4 radials, the minimum readings are even lower in frequency
(approximately 2.2MHz).  

24 of the 32 radials are approximately 100 ft long while the remaining 8 
range from 70 to 80 ft.   The shorter radials are from NE to SE and end 
at the edge of a creek.  The radials are NOT connected to ground.

The ground is soggy and has surface water in several places and tends
to remain this way most of the winter.

An extensive study by Brown was performed around 1935 showing 
that field intensity increased with number and length of BURIED radials.
I do not recall how they matched the antenna or how deep the radials 
were buried or even if the radials were bare or insulated wire.

So, for question number two, do I need to tune these insulated  radials 
laying on top of the ground surface to 1/4 WL at 80M to obtain resonance 
at 3.5 MHz?

I refrained from providing the SWR and resistance numbers until I check
the resistance and SWR calibration of this instrument.  Presumably the
frequency counter is reasonably accurate.  I need to understand what
accounts for the frequency shift between an earth connection and 
connection to the insulated radial field laying on the ground.

Your ideas are welcomed!

Thanks for your consideration,

Tom  N4KG

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