Be careful when mixing terms like ground and return. A lot of what he professes is highly relevant to HF and less so to VHF, just simply due to the wavelengths involved. The basic principles remain, though earth, ground and return get muddled in mobile HF while higher frequencies tend to be easier to complete circuits in a mobile environment. It's really essentially impossible to have a good return when doing HF mobile, so everything is a compromise.
Not sure what that mass statement means, mass has nothing to do with anything. Surface area and lengths are critical. A 5 lb slug of metal under an antenna isn't going to work while a very light region of foil might, practically speaking. The use of foil and braid is fine to couple surfaces. What exactly constitutes a conductors, transmission line and radiator is pretty clearly defined but in the real world sometimes you have to do what you gotta.
In any case, he presents a lot of practical information even if it some of it is dubious technically. I don't know that he's studied RF physics or engineering, although that does not make his experienced recommendations without value. The ARRL paper about why antennas radiate is sound with respect to classical EM wave principles.
As far as 1/2 wavelength end fed monopole antennas, they are said to be ground plane independent but this is only because they have very high feedpoint impedance and thus the return path losses are negligible in comparison. They work better over radials or a plane just like any other configuration, it's just that they don't require one strictly to radiate RF while a 1/4 in space without a return won't work at all. All antennas will be much more efficient with a well designed return path.
I don't think it was a lack of return but the configuration. The pattern is distorted, the energy was going somewhere, just not where you thought it was.
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Last edited by DaveInDenver; 02-26-2014 at 06:28 AM.