Products & Product Reviews

Ham Products for Effective Grounding and Lightning Protection: DX Engineering Radio RF Ground Plane Kits

How much fun would amateur radio be if all Hams agreed on every aspect of the hobby? Not nearly as enjoyable, we suspect. Spirited—and hopefully civil—debate about everything from proper grounding to emerging digital modes are as much a part of Ham radio as RFI and tropospheric propagation. It goes without saying that Hams don’t always agree on what’s best for their stations or the hobby in general. Check out any forum on FT8 and you’ll find a divergence of opinion separated by a chasm as vast as the Moon’s Shackleton Crater—three times deeper than the Grand Canyon.

This is not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to products that address common problems in different ways. The scientist in us approaches new ideas and off-the-beaten-path innovations with a healthy mix of curiosity and skepticism. Such was the case with DX Engineering’s new Radio RF Ground Plane Kits. Would they work? Were they even necessary? I never needed them before—why now? The questions and comments on Facebook came fast and furious.

The verdict two years later? Yes, they work. Yes, they’re necessary. And you don’t know what you’re missing, so why not give them a try.

What do Hams think?

Five Stars: “I bought this kit to help with some RF issues in my basement shack. The installation has been a bit tricky because of the position of my HF gear (not a lot of working room). Still, once I was able to get it properly positioned and connected, the setup is working well and has addressed my RF issue. The folks at DX Engineering were very helpful in advising me and answering my questions. I would highly recommend them and this product!”

Five Stars: “Excellent.Wish I had seen this before now.”

How they Work

Amateur Radio operators know that radio frequency interference (RFI) can significantly diminish transmitted and received signal quality. DX Engineering’s Radio RF Ground Plane Kits offer an effective solution to this common problem by reducing stray RF pickup from indoor radio equipment and interconnecting cables.

The kits include a 1/16-inch-thick copper sheet. When placed under your HF radios, microphones, and other devices, this RF ground plane, also known as a reference plane, decreases the chances of experiencing RF trouble. The copper sheet is connected to your existing grounding bus.

As noted by OnAllBands blogger Ward Silver, N0AX, in his ARRL book, Grounding and Bonding for the Radio Amateur, employing a large surface area of metal improves upon the use of a single-conductor grounding bus by equalizing the RF electric field around equipment and on attached cables.

Used by top contesters and DXers, copper RF ground help eliminate voltage differences between pieces of equipment and associated currents that cause RF interference to transceivers, microphones, tuners, amplifiers, computers, and other electronic equipment. Further, placing audio and data cables directly on the metal surface can lessen their ability to pick up RF.

DX Engineering Radio RF Ground Plane Kits come with either a 13″ X 10″, 16″ X 16″, or 20″ X 20″ pre-drilled copper sheet and all necessary hardware for easy installation. Kits are available with or without an MDF mounting board.

RF Ground Planes are intended for indoor use only and are not to be confused with ground planes or radial systems used for vertical antennas. DX Engineering suggests these parts for use with the Radio RF Ground Plane Kit:

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