|Tuning Automation makes it even better
||Time Owned: more than 12 months.
|I've owned the AEA Isoloop and the AEA IT-1 Isotuner for approx 10 years. But one feature I never accessed until just recently totally renews its value and brings it into the new millenium.|
What am I talking about? The serial port on the back of the Isotuner. That combined with the simple command language it understands offers the potential for complete automation.
In the past, tuning the Isoloop was always a compromise. Although it's a 10 thru 30 Mhz antenna it's also a high-q antenna with a very small "tuned bandwidth." So with just a simple twist of the VFO dial, you have to re-tune it. Not a huge deal to tune it up for listening (just hit the autotune button), but a much more major deal for transmittting. Let's count the steps:
You have to: 1) switch the rig to FM mode, 2) crank down the power, 3) key up the transmitter, 4) Hit the autotune button, 5) Use the thumbwheel to slightly adjust the tuning if not at 1:1 SWR via autotune mode 6) Unkey the transmitter 7) Set the rig back to the mode, power level you were in before the tune up.
That's a lot of steps and they can kind of grow tedious on you and make you bitter after doing them time and again.
But fortunately, through the resourcefulness and innovativeness of other hams out there, I recently discovered a solution. A cool CAT tool called TRX-Manager by F6DEX allows your computer, among other features, to easily monitor VFO changes (for a multitude of different brands/models of rigs) in real time. It also has a programming interface such that you can receive such monitoring information from it and well as send universal rig control commands to it to change modes, power, etc.
So I thought about it for a while and thought it worth a try to see if the serial interface of the Isotuner could somehow be connected to the automation information from TRX-Manager.
Eureka! Within a couple of hours I had it worked out.
Now total automation is possible on the Isoloop. It simply "follows" the rig. Spin the VFO dial beyond a certain threshold and the Isotuner tunes up your Isoloop (for either transmit or receive) -- quick as a wink, just like that.
AEA built an amazing piece of technology -- It only took me 10 years to fully put it to optimal use.
So if you're curious about how this can be done, kindly drop me a line.
Earlier 5-star review posted by KK2QQ on 2002-01-04
Overall this antenna has been simply amazing, especially for limited space situations or one's like mine where you don't want an eyesore of a large antenna. It's not directional, but wow do I get tremendous signal reports for 100W DX/Domestic 10-30Mhz, wherever its signal will propogate to at the given time. What more could you ask for in 36 inch diameter metal strap loop?
There is a secret to my enjoyment, though; the AEA IT-1 tuner that automatically tunes it up in about 2 seconds. Without that, tuning can be a bit of a drag using the manual tuner that comes with it.
I've owned two of these ISOLOOPS. I needed to buy the second because the other one disintegrated after 8 years (of learning how to care for it) and I had invested in the IT-1 auto tuner, and a NIB one was available, so I went for it.
To this I must say is that it has some design flaws in the housing. In the manual, AEA says that the plastic/polymer housing was specifically designed to withstand temperature sways and extremes -- Don't be fooled but this chump talk-- your antenna housing will crack severely during the first season up and will be a pile of brittle plastic chards and twisted metal over a short time later.
HOWEVER, these problems are easy to avoid/overcome with the PVC bracing I designed -- (email me if you want to know how I did it). On the new one I have, I can hang from the darn thing and it won't even budge!
BTW, I've also tried out the MFJ Loop, but it didn't last a day on the pole before I brought it back to the store. Couldn't get it tune as easily and consistently and, once tuned, didn't get my signal out as well as the ISOLOOP. Too bad AEA isn't around anymore!
I'm convinced this ISOLOOP will become a family hierloom!
|AEA Isoloop experience
||Time Owned: more than 12 months.
|I have been using a AEA Isoloop for more than five years now. It is on my balcony, horizontally fixed, and worked all the time without having to repair anything on it. As weather here isn't very nice too often, the antenna saw a lot of rain and snow, nevertheless always worked fine. I work on every ham-band from 10 to 30 MHz with it. |
In CW with about 10 Watts, reaching asia, africa or the east of the U.S. is no big problem (even if on the other side isn't much more than a windom or dipole).
With 10 Watts, you can reach in SSB everything in Europe and e.g. Moscow is no problem as well.
With 100 Watts in CW the antenna already worked VK, ZL and lots of JA... Surely one isn't the first to be heard in a pile-up, but one is heard, if one has patience.
So I like it and can recommend the antenna very much. There's only one thing to know: This antenna can cause BCI or TVI as well (my coax from my TS-690 to the antenna here is very short (5 metres).
If there's no alternative, this seems to be THE alternative.
73 Daniel, HB9FNO
|age kills perfromance
||Time Owned: more than 12 months.
|After using a AEA loop for almost 5 years, it's ready for the junk yard. It worked great the first year- then it slowly started falling apart- Reminds of my old K car- hi It is an awesome antenna out of the box- but I'd suggest taping the housing tightly together each year. Also found the antenna to wonder in resonance with temperature. The auto tuner sold as an accessory item is a waste of money- just use the tuner control that comes with it and have fun- The gears do get worn out- and bugs love living inside the antenna housing- but if the new owners of AEA put some common sense engineering into this antenna- should become a best seller- I agree it works best on 10 meters but I worked several good DX countries on 30 meters too- worked as well 5 feet off the ground as it did on a 40 foot tower- great stealth qualities- |
|Great performance, small package, but...
||Time Owned: more than 12 months.
|I agree with the first review of this antenna. I lived in a condo for a couple of years, and was able to use an Isoloop 10-30 to work 10m and 15m DXCC. I will only make a few additional comments to those in the initial review:|
1. People were routinely surprised by the Isoloop's performance.
2. I worked most DX stations, even in pileups (with lots of patience), but could not work some south Indian Ocean stations - i.e., it's not a complete miracle!
3. Power is limited to 150W due to capacitor spacing and very high Q of the antenna.
4. 10m is the "natural frequency" of the loop - meaning it is much more efficient here than at lower frequencies
5. At 20m, the loop has about +/-7 kHz bandwidth from where you tuned it. So, if you move more than than, you will need to retune.
6. Earlier Isoloops (the square tubular ones) should be avoided - they used clamped slip joints which kills loop performance. Loop resistance must be as close to zero as possible, hence the welded loop on the later 10-30 model.
7. Early models of the 10-30 developed a problem where an internal gear loosened up when a portion of it fractured. This would cause loss of tuning ability. Rebuild kits were free from AEA, and are probably a nominal cost from Tempo, who took over the AEA antenna line.
8. Isoloops are very quiet on receive (meaning noise-wise) and have a very low angle of radiation. I mounted mine horizontally for omnidirectional coverage, and actually had trouble working some Caribbean stations due to the low angle radiation.
So, what's the "but..."?
DON'T leave your Isoloop up long-term in a high sun environment (like mine in TX). The plastic housing loses strength and fractures - the current condition of mine. While the internals are all good, the housing helps align the gears, so I can no longer tune mine. (Does anyone want a parts Isoloop?!) Tempo handles some of the internal parts, but they do not have the housing and the last time I talked to there, they had no plans of making the Isoloop available in the future.
There was an article a few years ago in QST about a contest effort using only an Isoloop from a Caribbean island - the operator didn't win, but I believe he came in 2nd or 3rd - an excellent showing! How well the MFJ variant works is an unknown factor to me, but if space or appearance is your concern, one of these loops just might be your ticket to working the world on a practically invisible antenna.
|DON'T LET RESTRICTIONS KEEP YOU FROM HAMMING!
||Time Owned: 3 to 6 months.
|When looking for home lots to build on I noticed one thing in common with all the convenants it was clear...no new subdivisions want any hams or there antennas in there neighborhoods! I also have a few friends in apartments that want to talk on hf but can not due to antenna restrictions so when I seen this AES ISOLOOP antenna I thought it might be a good idea to buy one and have it ready and to check it out not only for me but for others to see if it did work (I was aware of the antenna because I talked to a retired ham in a condo in PA that uses the ISLOOP on 17 meters and he is 59 all the way!). The antenna is very samll....it is a 36 inch foot loop (by the way read your deed restrictions if in an apt/rental/new sub because most allow a 36 inch antenna since most new satellite cable antennas are 36 inches..that is good!) and can be mounted vert. or horz.....I suggest using the horizontal. It will fit almost anywhere!! I tested this antenna on a 3 foot wood saw-horse inside my garage!!! Did it work there...Yes!! I worked many stations on 20 meters and some on 17 meters right in the garage almost on the floor (remember the rf rules and keep clear of the antenna when transmitting!). I tested in the attic and on a 10 foot plastic pole with results of about 1 to 2 s units lower than my G5RV so I think that very good! The matching unit that is supplied to tune the antenna has a 50 ft of rotor cable and worked ok but needed to be longer I think. The matching unit is somewhat hard to get used to and the band width of the antenna is very narrow so you will have to re-tune it if you move around much at all...that is a negitive. I give it a good rating for these reasons: 1. It works great!! 2. Small size 3. Will get the restrictive hams on the air! The negitives....1. Need longer wire for matching unit and matching unit very touchy 2. Very narrow band width 3. They do not make the antenna anymore. I will keep this antenna so if I do move to a restrictive area I can still ham it up....I think it is a good antenna for what it is and if one has no choice for an outside antenna! 73'S DON KB9UMT PEORIA IL|