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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Finally An Antenna That Works

Tom Garrisi (W8BNL) on October 14, 2013
View comments about this article!

Some of you may remember a previous article I wrote about my struggles with living in a mobile home park and wanting to do HF. (http://www.eham.net/articles/22237)

Recently - I decided to set up my radio and an antenna at my son's house about 6 miles away and try to get on the air with a remote station.

My radio is a Kenwood TS-480SAT so I figured that I could either use the Kenwood KNS program or even RemoteHams.com to get my radio connected to the internet so that I could access it from the "Antenna Free Zone". First attempt was with a shortened G5RV Lite (not the Jr.)- it is a 102' antenna that has some "coils" in it that shorten it to 66'. This worked but was very noisy. I didn't find out till a couple of days ago that the entire neighborhood where my remote was being set up has terrible line noise from the old transformers there.

I knew that a loop antenna is inherantly quieter that a dipole so I began to research that angle. That is when I stumbled upon the work of AG6IF - Jim. He has done extensive modeling on the loop design and has developed what he calls "The Talented Balun". He determined that most Loop antennas have an impedance of around 115 Ohms. (Don't get picky - I said "around".) Anyway - most people then use a 4:1 balun if they want to coax feed their loop. As you can see - the 4:1 balun will take the impedance well below the desired 50 Ohm target. This promted Jim to develope and build his 2.5:1 balun which he calls "The Talented Balun".

Well - to say that I am absolutely blown away with this antenna would probably be an understatement. But I can't think of any other suitable accolades. All of the local (Great Lakes Area) HF Nets are being heard like never before and the other Net members have been asking me if I moved to a new QTH. The neighborhood where my remote is has some very noisy electric transformers - but I have been able to deal with it since it is mostly on 75 meters - 40 on down are very enjoyable. In fact - I was even more amazed when I put my call out to the Route 66 special event station in Albuquerque, NM and the guy came back on the first try - and that was on 17 meters. A few days later on 20 meters - I worked a guy in Mississippi who had just received his General ticket and was using the /AG identifier. I was his first HF contact and both of us were excited.

This loop - even at only 22' AGL - is definitely not a "cloud warmer" - in fact - about an hour ago, I worked EA8YB in the Canary Islands on 17 meters with a 59+ signal. Wow - I was beginning to think that living in a mobile home park with no antennas allowed would spell the end of my HF activity. But thanks to a lot of research - and the fantastic product created by Jim AG6IF - I am back on the air!!! This is one antenna product that actually delivers and I will definitely be telling everyone I can about how well it works. Below is a picture describing the antenna layout and my station.

If you want more information about AG6IF's great antenna - please follow this link - http://www.ebay.com/gds/Ham-Talented-Balun-skyloop-antenna-160-80-40-20-15-10m-/10000000175955422/g.html

I have also posted a "Product Review" with some of the same above text in it. In case you hadn't noticed - - I am very excited about the opportunity to finally be on the air with a good signal and the ability to receive also.

73 to everyone - Keep Smiling - Keep Experimenting - And above all else - HAVE SOME FUN!!

Tom Garrisi
W8BNL - Traverse City, MI

Member Comments:
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Finally An Antenna That Works  
by W5DXP on October 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I wonder what is the power handling capability of the "talented balun" - ferrite or powdered iron? Seems a 2.5:1 balun would necessarily have differential RF fields existing in the balun material.
--
73, Cecil, w5dxp.com
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by KE6SLS on October 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!

Sounds like a great way to over come your situation. I love the remote idea but I would still hate being forced to use only remote. Noise here gets 30/9 at times and that ends HF for the night. Anyway, good work and you're lucky you have a kid nearby!

73 om, happy dx
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by W8BNL on October 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Power handling on this antenna is full legal limit according to the creator. I don't have an amp so I am not worried about that though. Thanks -de W8BNL
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by N6JSX on October 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
First, I've been researching this exact same type of antenna you have in your article for an antenna I'm going to erect. Contrary to all the arm-chair guru diss'ers I've read great results on this type of HF horizontal sky-loops from 'actual uses'. However, I'm intending to use ~65' 450 ladder-line to feed it increasing the overall antenna broadness (in the same method G5RV uses ladder-line).

Your article falls short on 'the specifics of your 'remote HF operation' (that is AS interesting as the antenna itself)?"

Now as far as the "AG6IF Talented Balun", the only thing 'talented' about it is the $91 (eBay) price for a 12 turn bifilar PVC-core transformers in a box. If you can make/erect this type of antenna then you should be capable of making this balun for far less than 1/3 this price.

Just do a little web surfing on 'antenna/coax baluns' and 'antenna loops' and you will find a wealth of info beyond the common ARRL and RSGB books (which the RSGB's are the best).
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by K4ELO on October 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I have a 220' loop. 100' top is 45' up and the 60' legs slope down to about 20' above ground at a 45 degree angle.
I have tried the 2.5:1 balun but find that a 4:1 gives me lower swr. swr is less than 2.5:1 on all bands from 40 through 10M. Works better than any of the other dozen or so wire antennas I have tried over the last two years.
Plans are on the countryhamsnet.com website.

73
Wayne
K4ELO
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by KF5KWO on October 14, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I like the use of Google Earth (or whichever program you used) for the layout.
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by W5LZ on October 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
It's remarkable how those 'cloud warmer' antennas can warm them clouds in far off places, ain't it??
- Paul

 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by W5DXP on October 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
It is true that a horizontal 80m full-wave loop at 40 ft IS a cloud-warmer on its resonant full-wave frequency with a take-off angle of 90 degrees, i.e. straight up. However, on 20m it has a TOA of 23 degrees (not bad for DX) and on 10m, the TOA is 12 degrees.
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by JOHNZ on October 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
A sad sorry testimony to the present state of amateur radio, when a CB term like "Cloud-Warmer" has found its way into the ham lexicon. Decades ago, when ham radio was a technical hobby and not a pursuit of DX QSL cards and contests, "Cloud-Warmer" would have evoked peals of laughter. Heard recently on 2m: "What channel is your 2m set to"? 10-4? What's the first personal there?
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by K7IN on October 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
@JOHNZ - I had never heard the term "Cloud Warmer" until a few years ago when I was experimenting with NVIS antennas. It was used in some text I was reading and also used on the air by several hams while discussing NVIS antennas. And I was involved with CB radio well into the 80's when it was deregulated and essentially became the U.S. "Free band".

The term has been used by NVIS users since the signals on NVIS have a higher than 45-degree radiation angle due to the proximity to ground by the radiating element.

Aside from the 10-codes, I don't think utilizing some of the CB verbiage is such a big deal anyway. Eventually, those migrating to ham radio get away from what they're used to using.... :)

I do like this antenna setup as I have run a couple of different horizontal loop antennas in the past. Both of them fell victim to the strong No. Nevada windstorms we get during the winter. Now, I live in the city on a small 60'x66' city lot with a 2-story house to the north, just 12 feet from the property line. So, a loop antenna at my present location is out of the question at this time....
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by W5LZ on October 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Odd. I used an 80 meter loop at maybe 20 feet to do several WAS's on 80 meters and other bands. Guess I was hearing all those states at a 90 degree angle?
- Paul
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by WB4LCN on October 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great!! I've been using a TS-480HX (200 watt version) for a year and a half with the RemoteRig solution. Which method of remote did you use?


Look at my QRZ page to see a couple pix of the antennas at my remote station on top of a nearby mountain.

dave :)
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by WB4LCN on October 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Great!! I've been using a TS-480HX (200 watt version) for a year and a half with the RemoteRig solution. Which method of remote did you use?


Look at my QRZ page to see a couple pix of the antennas at my remote station on top of a nearby mountain.

dave :)
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by W8IFI on October 15, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article on the loop!

I've been using loops for almost 30 years. They are cheap and very effective. Readers might want to look in ARRL archives for QST November 1985 for Dave Fisher's article on Page 20. He has excellent credentials also. Note he said results with or without a balun were the same and I found that out too. I use mine with a tuner and cover all HF bands 160 through 10m. He shows a method to use it as a vertical. I had a friend do a analysis of my antenna on his computer and he is very knowledgeable. The results he came up with showed such high impedances on mine that I shouldn't have been able to get past my neighbors house. Yet I have worked Siberia, Indonesia, New Zealand with 100 watts. Try it if you have trees or some support for the corners....I bet you won't take it down.
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by RSHIRE22 on October 16, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
A 2.5:1 balun is easy to build. You build it just like a 4:1 balun as shown on Youtube (the Australian guy) except the wire turns ratio is 16 to 10 instead of 20 to 10 (you wind 10 turns of wire 1 and 6 turns of wire 2 - then connect as shown).

I found the balun to make a good loop - not great. Depends on your particular setup.

Ron
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by WB4M on October 16, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Years ago, I used a very similar loop with very good results. At first, it was an 80 meter delta loop with a matching stub. I later removed the stub and used it on all bands with a tuner.
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by W5DXP on October 17, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
A balun function with an impedance ratio between 1 and 4, e.g. 2.5, is probably a conventional transformer design that depends upon differential signal flux coupling between the primary and secondary thus defeating one of the advantages of the TLT designs that avoid differential flux in the (ferrite) core. Such designs are usually less efficient, narrow-banded, and more prone to failure compared to the TLT designs that avoid differential signal flux in the core.
--
73, Cecil, w5dxp.com
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by K8AF on October 17, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I have a 250 ft loop that I feed with 450 ohm ladder line that I have used for 10 years. I use a home brew balanced tuner. I've been very happy with this antenna over the years.
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by KT4EP on October 17, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I built a similar loop antenna fed at a corner like yours. I feed it with about 12 feet of 450 ohm windowed line to a 4:1 balun then about 6 feet of RG8x to the tuner. I made the antenna for 160 meters but it works up to 10 meters having worked several bands into Europe plus the USA. The feed point and another corner are about 18 feet from the ground and the 3rd corner is about 30 feet up on the tower. I don't consider it a cloud burner.
73
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by WB8YYY on October 17, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Tom

Nice work on all these aspects. The loop indeed is a nice way to obtain some lower angle radiation on the higher bands where it radiates more toward the ends of the loop. Of course its non-ideal on 80m for DX, but its real nice for closer-in work (which the contesting crowd should pay attention to for Sweepstakes!). Perhaps indeed you found a nicer balun for use across all these bands. Most definitely your design is the best to use your available space across all these bands with a single antenna. Something vertically oriented would be better for 3.5 MHz DX -- but it would become the cloud-warmer on 10 and 15 meters! Thanks for sharing as it should encourage other amateurs in their pursuit of radiation.

73 Curt
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by KB8CR on October 17, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I agree. If he has a TS-480, Remoterig is a great solution. I have been using a Remoterig with an Icom 706, and now with a 7100 with great results operating from my Ft. Lauderdale QTH, operating the rig located at my Ohio QTH.

I have a friend operating his TS480 with it as well. I also operate the 7100 with the RRC-Micro dongle when I don't want to take the control head with me.

Charlie KB8CR
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by RADIOPATEL on October 18, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hello friends

Can any body post here the antenna radiation pattern figures for this type of loops. It shall be easy to understand the patterns.

Regards

Dinesh Patel
VU2DCI

 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by W5DXP on October 18, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Here's why the 80m loop is a cloud-warmer on 80m but is a good DX antenna on 10m.

http://www.w5dxp.com/80loop10.JPG
--
73, Cecil, w5dxp.com
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by W8BNL on October 19, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I am currently using the Kenwood KNS software for the "Host" & "Remote" along with the Kenwood VoIP software. So far it is working quite well however - I am hoping to use the RemoteRig solution in the future. When I do though - I will also incorporate an IP Power switch - to turn off the power supply remotely and am also looking into the possibility of an IP Antenna switch - to disconnect the antenna(s) from the radio in the event of a thunderstorm at the remote location. These options would help to better protect the equipment and maybe even add a small amplifier (500 max) at the remote location which is at my son's house. Thanks and 73 de W8BNL. PS - - Nice remote setup there Dave!!!
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by K7AAT on October 19, 2013 Mail this to a friend!

I am puzzled by this author's comments, " most loops have an impedance around 115 ohms." Impedance varies greatly with frequency, and unless the author was operating on only one small band, or segment of a band, the concept of designing a balun for 115 home feedpoint is totally bogus. The author was not operating only on one band, so in my view the effort to use a non-standard 2.5:1 balun is wasteful effort, at least.

Ed K7AAT
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by N6JSX on October 20, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
DXP: Yup, pure theoretical arm-chair guru stuff from a popular (costly) PC program. Now show us the 'real MEASURED' plot pattern and then you got a position to stand on validating the term 'cloud-warmer'.

Have you even operated a loop (for +yrs) to at least talk from operations knowledge?

Otherwise you're just parroting an unmeasured mathematical hypothesis.

Antenna Modeling is not an absolute - it is a mathematical possibility within a logical window. I've talked to a number of these Modeling creators and the one question that upsets them the worst is when I asked them, "have you actually built the antenna in your model then measured it on a test range to insure you algorithms are sound?" On HF the answers have been 'NO' due to size and costs of test range time. What they have referred to is operating feedback not measured results.
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by W5DXP on October 20, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
> N6JSX wrote: Now show us the 'real MEASURED' plot pattern and then you got a position to stand on validating the term 'cloud-warmer'.<

How about I make it sound more sophisticated by calling it an "NVIS antenna"?:) Sorry, I don't own a helicopter so I cannot measure the plot pattern. All I can do is trust my EE degree plus 40 years of engineering experience and knowledge spanning the 60 years that I have been a ham. Nobody is likely to convince me that a 1WL 80m horizontal loop at a height of 20 ft. is an excellent 80m DX antenna. Even a 45 ft. vertical has about 3-4dB gain over the 1WL loop at the vertical's TOA. If someone wants a 1WL DX loop, it needs to be vertical and high.

>Have you even operated a loop (for +yrs) to at least talk from operations knowledge?<

Yes, I have operated some loops over the years and I like them. I know that a 1WL square loop has its maximum gain broadside to the loop. Ergo, if the 1WL loop is horizontal then the maximum gain is straight up (no matter what it is called). If the loop is vertical in the N/S plane, its maximum gain will be E/W. It's really simple antenna physics.

> Otherwise you're just parroting an unmeasured mathematical hypothesis.<

Actually, I'm parroting the science and laws of physics for antennas after having applied the scientific method. Instead of repeating the history of the Numerical Electromagnetics Code (NEC) Method of Moments (MOM) I'll just post a URL:

http://www.nec2.org/nec_hist.txt

>... "have you actually built the antenna in your model then measured it on a test range to insure you algorithms are sound?"<

Reminds me of the requests to prove that God does (or does not) exist.
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by JOHNZ on October 20, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Considering the huge amount of self-importance and pride which most hams have, if God showed up on frequency, hams would demand He first give his call sign, before speaking.
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by K7AAT on October 20, 2013 Mail this to a friend!

Well, that's a given, isn't it? G0D , a nice 1x1 call.

Ed
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by KK4CIS on October 22, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
I have had excellent results using the delta loop described in the Sep 2012 QST Article. Also, very good explanation of why a 4:1 balun and an additional article on a tilted delta loop producing gain.

http://traktoria.org/files/radio/antenna/delta-loop/Slant_Delta_Loop_Antenna__Rahim_Coyle__QSTSept2012_Jan2013.pdf

73
KV4QS
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by W8IFI on October 22, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
If God showed up on frequency I think it would be to contribute something of value to the currant topic and not be judgmental or trying to find fault with contributors every comment to satisfy his ego.
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by KA3YAN on October 23, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Ed,

Would that be a special events call? Multipliers?

73,
Brad KA3YAN
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by JOHNZ on October 23, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
@W8IFI
Free, open, and robust discussion is never out of place. Appreciate it, because the 2014 elections could very well spell an end to it in America.
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by N4LQ on October 23, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Couple of questions;

1. How does the loop know the difference between "signals" and "noise" and thus reject the "noise"? Is this the mysterious "magnetic" vs. "Electric" field theory?

2. Why would one expect the impedance to be 115 ohms or even close to it on all or any bands? Cebik says a triangle horiz. loop's Z is about 50 ohms a one wavelength and several hundred ohms on harmonics.

 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by W5DXP on October 24, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
> N4LQ wrote: How does the loop know the difference between "signals" and "noise" and thus reject the "noise"? <

When I lived in the Arizona desert, the largest source of noise was precipitation static. In fact, it was sometimes so bad on the G5RV that the arcing at the coax connector sounded like a machine gun.

http://www.its.bldrdoc.gov/fs-1037/dir-028/_4096.htm

When I was on the G5RV, the p-static was terrible when the wind was blowing even when arcing wasn't occurring because the p-static impulse discharge path of one of the two dipole elements was through a series capacitor on the front end of my IC-745. When I was on the full-wave 40m loop, the p-static was reduced to an acceptable level because it had an alternate direct path to ground from any point on the antenna.

P-static is not EM energy and is simple electron energy transferred to the antenna wire by charged particles (dust, rain, snow, ash ...). That's how the loop "knows" the difference. It discriminates between the received EM energy and the p-static noise.
--
73, Cecil, w5dxp.com
 
Finally An Antenna That Works  
by JOHNZ on October 24, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
An electric field, by nature, is created around electric charge. Whereas, a magnetic field is created around moving electric charge and magnets. As far as the electromagnetic field, an electric field generates vars (capacitive). Whereas, magnetic field absorbs vars (inductive). When we talk about an electric field, we use Newton per coulomb or volts per meter. Whereas, when we talk about a magnetic field, we use Gauss or Tesla. Sort of explains why an antenna does or doesn't do what it does. Put a physicist in a room with an engineer, and they may or may not agree on everything.
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by W8BNL on November 20, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
To K7AAT---
Your statement, (I am puzzled by this author's comments, " most loops have an impedance around 115 ohms."). I am the "author" of this article but I was quoting what the maker of the balun had posted on his sales page.

Bottom line for me is - I live where I can't have an antenna and this one located on my Son's property works just great for my "remote" needs. I am finally having fun with my radio again.

73 de W8BNL - Tom
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by K7AAT on November 20, 2013 Mail this to a friend!

The manufacturer of the special 2.5:1 balun is, in my opinion, nuts on his assessment of loop antenna impecances. BUT, I agree with you on your bottom line. If you're happy with what you have, go for it.

 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by WB3HUH on November 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hmm........ Your nose is so high it has detached from your head.
 
RE: Finally An Antenna That Works  
by WB3HUH on November 28, 2013 Mail this to a friend!
Hmm........JOHNZ, Your nose is so high it has detached from your head.
 
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