Are These As Bad As I Think? Loop Antenna Question

MikeThompson

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May 5, 2020
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Near Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I'm fairly happy with my 100ft outdoor wire antenna, BUT as is the case with many burgeoning hobbies, there is a temptation to go a little bit further.

This antenna seems like most loop antennas I've googled. But the low price gives me pause. Would a loop be significantly better than what I have? Its compact size means I could easily mount it on the roof somewhere, but the wire is hidden so there isn't a big difference there.

Does anyone have any firsthand experience with cheap loops? Or can you just home brew something for cheaper that performs the same way?

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87923
 

vagrant

ker-muhj-uhn
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California
Wire antennas work well and I would choose a wire over that loop. That loop will not be significantly better.

As you may know, a loop does well to reasonably null out noise when you turn it until you have found the best position. That particular loop is active, which means it will also boost the signal. The end result may be good or bad. Your receiver may not handle the boost well. I am a fan of passive RX antennas for HF signals as well as a passive tuner. One could use an amp (active antenna) but that will also raise the noise floor. Basically, the station signal became louder and so did the static. For some, that result is acceptable and there is nothing wrong with that.

A wire antenna that is running North to South will RX signals best from East and West, and vice versa. A way to compensate for that is to run another wire perpendicular to the other. You can then add a switch and easily change antennas/RX direction. I run two wire antennas myself this way and notice several dB improvement. I also TX using those antennas.

Do not take away from this that passive or active loops are poor performers. Many people are very happy with their loop, but many of those people may not be able to run a wire antenna. Ultimately one must experiment, but with that particular loop one will get what one pays for. I have various loops and use them as needed. Basically, antennas are like tools and you use the right one depending on what is needed at the time.

You must also consider if nearby AM radio station signals are interfering with you RX. Introducing an AM broadcast filter may significantly help. Even a low cost filter can do wonders. I have one that cost $75 and another less than $20 via Amazon. My results were mostly similar with both. If you monitor VLF, you need to pay additional attention to the filter specs.

Others will probably provide feedback too but remember this, everyone‘s location is different. As we adapt, we may need to compromise. Thus, what is best for one may not be even good for another. Experiment and have fun.

If you are looking to try an active loop, take a look at one made by W6LVP.
 

DeepBlue

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Jun 14, 2016
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Columbus, Ohio
These seem to be both good and not so good. Google is your friend and so is Youtube. These have been out for a while and most folks think they are a decent buy. See reviews on Youtube.

S
 

MikeThompson

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May 5, 2020
Messages
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Near Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Wire antennas work well and I would choose a wire over that loop. That loop will not be significantly better
Thanks for the detailed response, there is a lot that I don't know about radio / shortwave / antennas / many things. I didn't mean to solicit a response on that particular antenna, but rather cheap loops in general.

take a look at one made by W6LVP
$345 USD is significantly out of my price range right now!

Some discussion here on the MLA-30
thanks!
 

ka3jjz

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But if you bought the W6LVP experimenter's kit, that's only USD160. The USD345 one is with a T/R switch installed - without it it's USD250 (not including shipping, natch). And the portable is USD225.

Compare that with the Pixel at nearly double the price - there's an OUCH for you. What the heck is it made of - gold plated latinum??

The MLA30 has been superceded by MLA30 plus. That being said, there's a Facebook page with folks that are modifying the MLA30s for better performance, and you can find it here


Of course there are many other loops out there, and we have a great many of them in our Loops wiki. If you are using a SDR like the Airspy, SDRPlay or RTL-SDR (with HF coverage), people have actually found that the passive YouLoop is a decent performer. And it's something you can build yourself. And it's CHEAP! We even have a few loop amp kits in there. So you don't need to break the bank on building a loop

Don't make the mistake of comparing signals from a wire antenna vs. a loop. It's simply not a valid compare. When you are working with a loop consider the signal quality rather than just signal strength. Put another way, if I have a S7 signal that's being bothered by noise issues on a wire, but it's S5 on the loop and much quieter, you know which one I'm going to listen to...Mike
 

QASSIS

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Leesville, La.
I've been using my cheap MLA-30 Loop Antenna Active Receiving Antenna 100kHz - 30MHz for Short Wave Radio for about 6 months INDOORS and it is by far my best indoor shortwave antenna. I paid about $30 on Aliexpress, it's about the same on Ebay, and about $45 on Amazon. It does a great job and is my primary shortwave antenna on my rtl-sdr.com sdr. It is is equally good for Shortwave on my Satellit 750, my XHDATA D-808, RadioShack DX 398, and RETEKESS_V-115 (requires adapters to connect to each of my radios) and is better than the built in whips on all of them. NOTE: It is directional - you may need to turn it and/or move to another window to get additional stations.
 

GB46

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British Columbia, Canada
Put another way, if I have a S7 signal that's being bothered by noise issues on a wire, but it's S5 on the loop and much quieter, you know which one I'm going to listen to...Mike
So true, and though I don't have a loop here, I've noticed the same thing when comparing a wire antenna on my portable with its whip on the same station. The wire gives me a higher signal strength, but much more noise in the bargain. The whip gives me a slightly lower signal strength, but also so much less noise that the signal stands out from the noise, which makes listening a lot easier.

Lately I haven't been listening to my R75, since it requires an external antenna, which brings in a ton of noise, and the R75's audio seems to accentuate the noise, too. After all, what you can or can't hear clearly is the main thing; the S-meter reading is secondary.
 
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