Today is a sunny and warm day in New Jersey, with a lunchtime temperature of about 66F (19C). This made it a good day for some outside QRP, as the sun made it feel a bit warmer than it actually was, thus providing a comfortable operating experience. The fact that the leaves on nearby trees are changing and are very colorful didn't hurt, either!
I set the station and magloop up in all of about 5 minutes. I seem to be getting better at this. 20 Meters was alive with some activity, but not overly crowded. I worked Josef at DL0IL in Germany, and then a little later Alexei who seems to be on holiday in the Canary Islands EA8/UA4WW. Both were decently loud here. I got a 559 from Josef and a 579 from Alexei, so they both seemed to be "honest" RSTs, as opposed to "cookie cutter" 599s.
I heard a French station around the 20 Meter QRP watering hole, but I couldn't quite make out the call. He was also decently loud here, perhaps even louder than DL0IL and EA8/UA4WW. However, his fist was shaky, and his callsign was extremely hard to make out. F6VAT, or something like that? RBN showed him as F63AT, but that's not a valid call, either. Anyway, it mattered not, for as loud as he was, I wasn't able to get him to hear me, even after trying 4 or 5 times. So much for reciprocal propagation, eh?
So as I gain experience with the magloop, what am I learning? This is all subjective as I have no empirical data to back me up, but I would say (IMHO):
1) Magloops work, as improbable as that may seem (to me, anyway - still seems weird to me).
2) They seem to work as well, if not better, than compromise verticals, such as the Buddistick or a Hamstick.
3) I have no way of proving this right now; but my hunch would be an EFHW in a tree would perform better. This would be an interesting experiment, to see if I could set them up side by side, for at least a listening comparison.
4) It would seem to me that a permanent "home station" antenna such as a dipole or full sized vertical would have a better performance edge. This would seem to be only common sense, given the size and efficiency of these antennas.
So when is a small magloop antenna a viable solution?
1) When you are portable, and you are pressed for time and require a very quick set up and tear down.
2) When you are bound by an HOA or other agreement that does not allow for outdoor antennas at your home QTH.
3) When you are operating portable and using trees is out of the question because A) there are none, or B) it is prohibited.
4) When you are operating portable away from your vehicle, thus losing a very effective ground plane for a compromise vertical.
5) When it's all you've got!
My magloop will continue to remain as one arrow in my antenna quiver. I doubt I would ever rely on it, entirely, in an outdoor Sprint such as FOBB or the Skeeter Hunt, although it might be interesting to give that a try, some day. I think I'm going to have to pull out my WSPRlite and do some more testing, in the mean time.
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!