An Introduction to the Mysteries of Ground Radio

Periodically classified and declassified, the Rogers designs and their modifications have formed the core of the military VLF and ELF communications arsenal. But most of the researchers instinctively sought out those monopoles which Fr. Murgas developed, and which the military had overlooked. Throughout the early part of the Twentieth Century, a great variety of ground antennas made their sudden appearance in the commercial radio market. Experimenters everywhere were discovering that different shapes and materials were capable of providing extraordinarily strong radio transmissions and receptions when simply buried.


Attempts of devising newer and more effective ground antenna designs provoked several intriguing explorations. The most amazing discoveries included those made with relatively small buried metal forms. Radio rules changed completely when buried antenna were employed, the complete elimination of Hertzian dimension restrictions being the first observation. Unlike their aerial counterparts, buried terminals were not bound by those exacting requirements of wavelength. One did not require lateral dimensions equal to the normal shortwave aerial yardage, the first feature recognized by radio amateurs.

It was indeed during this time period that the customary use of old iron radiators and large metal bedsprings, scrap metal surplus, became an experimental vogue with radio amateurs. These buried, highly articulated iron forms, provided powerful evidence that the ground antenna principle actually worked. In the classic models, the burial of any aerial structure represented immersion in a conductive medium. The burial of conductors in the ground was viewed as reduction to a uniform, neutral electrical gradient. This condition sufficiently neutralized all of the geometric differences within an isoelectric horizon. Electrodynamic theory stated that any buried metal composite, however “variegated” or “articulated” in form, would simply behave as a “lumped” resistance.

While the use of variegated antennas posed no threat to the existing paradigm, academicians considered the concept of buried variegated antennas a theoretical impossibility. Indeed, those who examined ground aerial patents found completely problematic the notion that highly variegated geometric structures could demonstrate differing degrees of transmissive or receptive advantage. Electrical engineers insisted that the net surface areas of these buried “articulate” forms alone determined their resultant excessive performance. In this consideration, material composition did not matter. Conductivity was the prime factor. Differing only in their various surface areas, the only theoretical differences among buried geometries, in addition to those of mere surface area, were thought to be factors of electrolytic corrosion. The more pitted the ground contact surface, the more likely a buried object would become better conductive to signals. The microsurficial increase of surface contact through corrosive pitting was called to explain the “additional gain”.

Since the electrical merits of buried materials were supposedly the simple result of surface area and the effectively moved electrical volume, the result of this inherent surface area, no special discovery was acknowledged among the authorities. But empirical determinations proved that different geometric shapes and (more unbelievably) different material composites, actually did effect an enhanced “launching” of radiosignals far in excess of their calculated surface area. Solid plates of calculated equivalent surface did not perform as magnificently as the buried radiators or bedsprings.

he articulated exposure for potential conduction increasing to or from the surrounding ground.

But empirical research consistently overturned each of the theoretical contentions, proving by incontestable demonstration the superior signalling characteristics of articulate ground terminals. Anomalous signal strengths were both transmitted from and received through ground transmitting systems far in excess of intensities or topographic distances declared possible by theory. This was particularly true when the ground transmitting antennas were powered by spark-generated, asymmetric impulse currents. Signals were somehow being “collimated and constricted” within the ground proper. This constrictive action did not explain all of the observed signal intensities. Evidence had again suggested that the ground was “leaking” a non-electrical component up into both the electrical systems and their emerging signals.

In fact, several widely advertised and highly successful designs included the “Yale Ground Hog”, the “Subtenna”, the “Aeroliminator”, and the “Subaerial”. These few representatives demonstrated the superiority of ground antennas, a validity which literally emptied the stock rooms of each ground antenna distributor. Dr. F. L. Satterlee, an X-Ray specialist, developed several “tuned ground” radio receivers. Implemented by The Moon Radio Company, these radiosets placed their performance boasts on a remarkable “antenna-free” operation. The principle advantage of these ground antennas was their static-eliminating nature. The ease of their installation and maintenance combined great signalling efficiency. Several of the commercial units needed only to be connected with a cold water pipe, their powerful and “static-free” reception being unequalled by the more conventional “aerial receivers”. Additionally, waveradio receivers produced by The Moon Radio Company operated during normally impossible meteorological and geophysical conditions; a condition well described by Nikola Tesla. A great many inventors continued producing truly amazing diversity in the “ground antenna” format. Throughout this time of amazing and anomalous discoveries, the empirical method led the way.


It had been clearly observed by a number of experimenters that the environment exerted strong and dynamic action on transmitter signals. It was long known that this mysterious energy species could actively charge ground-connected radio systems in absence of applied power, the early experiments of Loomis having established this principle (1862). This agency was very obviously possessed of an inherently superior articulate nature, being able to distinguish and energize buried material composites and varied geometric forms. In addition, the energetic ground agency seemed able to selectively seek out, constrict into, and intensify the incoming signal power of distant stations. There were obviously other influences which determined the nature of ground-traversing signals.

Experimenters realized that these effects differed with both the methods used in obtaining the spark energy, the manner in which disturbances were launched into the environment, the grounds into which signals were launched, and the specific directions along which they were launched. The spark applications of small experimental radiotransmitters produced signals of unexpected large volume at great distances, empirical evidence of an unexplained signal “amplifier” in the natural environment (Appleton and Barnett). VLF amplification effects had been empirically recognized among radio engineers on both sides of the Atlantic. In fact, the very first historical Transatlantic Signals of Marconi were problematic from every engineering standpoint. The calculated losses, theoretically expected of these signals, were far too great to account for his first claimed successes (1901). This was a fact which provoked many to doubt and criticize Marconi’s claims in the venture. Later repeatable demonstrations of the VLF amplification effect evoked few suggested explanations from the engineering community.