Thursday, September 21, 2023

Interesting discussion

on the Elecraft group on the Alex Loop antenna. An op was thinking of purchasing one, saw a review in the most recent issue of QST (which I haven't read) and wanted a consensus of thoughts and opinions.

The comments were all about the same. Magnetic loop antennas, whether they be the Alex Loop, a Chameleon Loop, a homebrewed loop, or whatever- they all have a place. Just about everyone who responded said as much. For portable ops they can be great, for those stuck in an apartment or condo with no balcony, they can be a life saver and can be the difference between getting on the air; or giving up the hobby altogether. I know a couple Hams living in Senior Housing where magloops are all they have.

When I activated Cheesequake State Park as part of the Atlantic Heritage Trail and Morristown National Historical Park for NPOTA, I used my homebrewed magloop with a pleasing amount of success. But using a loop can be frustrating. Take for instance when I was at Lake George this past July and I used the Alex Loop exclusively that week - I was blown away by how easy it was to work into Europe and get really nice signal reports. At the same time, I'd try answering a CQ from a Stateside station who was 20 over 9 and he'd continue to call CQ right over me. As good as magloops can be, I'd hate to be stuck with one as my only antenna for a QRP Sprint. I guess I have a case of antenna prejudice.

To that end, when I go out portable opping (new word, just made it up!) my preferred antenna is an end fed wire, either the PAR, my homebrewed EARCHI, or if there is enough space, the MFJ-1982LP. When I activated Saratoga National Historical Park for NPOTA, I ran the PAR from the picnic table where I had situated myself over to my Jeep, where I had the Jackite propped up with a drive on mount. It worked great, but again, space is needed to stretch out that kind of arrangement. When space is an issue, or there are no trees, or using trees are an "iffy" subject, then my next resort would be my Buddistick on the magmount on top of the car. I've used that combo with so much success that I'm confident in its ability.

No space, no trees, can't bring the car near where I want to operate from? I'll resort to the magloop. And I don't mean that to sound as dire as a choice as it may sound. It works, it's easy to set up, but it's just my personal preference for wires or verticals first.

A new trend that I have been reading about is using a vertical (whether that be a Buddistick, or a Wolf River coil vertical) on top a piece of aluminum window screen material laid on the ground. That seems to eliminate the need for conventional radials, so it would seem. I'll have to go to Home Depot, but a small roll and give it a try. I'm cynical enough to wonder if the enthusiastic reports I've read are just that - over enthusiastic reports. The proof is in the pudding. I'll have to give it a shot.

As always, my opinions are just that - my opinions. YMMV, and probably will.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!

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