Monthly Archives: February 2016

Magnetic Loop vs Vertical Shootout

Had a shootout test between the magnetic loop antenna and a 30ft end fed vertical using the Ultimax 100 matchbox. I configured the magnetic loop antenna for operation between 15 and 20m. The vertical used the SOTA beams 30 ft travel mast lashed to a chain link fence post. The radiating wire was a 30 foot length of stranded 16 gauge speaker wire.50 ft of RG-8X was run to the rig. Both antennas were run through a manual A/B antenna switch. The End fed used the Z817 autotuner to find a match.

The first thing I noticed is that there is considerably less noise using the magnetic loop.This is likely due to the nulls that are broadside to the loop while the vertical has an omni pattern. The lower noise makes it easier to hear weak stations on the mag loop.

I made a contact with a station in Washington state and asked him to let me switch back and forth. The signal report was 53 on both antennas. This was with 5W in on 17m. Overall, did not detect much different between the two except for the noise levels.

So for portable use, the Magnetic loop antenna has a few advanatages:

  1. Easy setup (less than 5 minutes)
  2. Low receive noise
  3. Some directionality
  4. No External tuner required (tuner built in to antenna)

For the end fed vertical:

  1. Easy band change from 80m thru 10m using the external autotuner
  2. Can run higher power than current Mag loop
  3. Broadband: generally does not require retuning within the band.

I will still likely favor the magnetic loop over the end fed vertical due to its ease of setup. It is good to know that the vertical works just as well.


New Portable Solar Panel

I found a deal on Ebay for a SunKingdom 12V 52W portable solar panel and could not pass it up. I got it used for a little less than half price. This is a nice solar panel for portable use. I did some quick testing in sunlight and was getting 14V+ with the sun covered by some clouds and 15V+ in full sunlight. The panel should put out a bit over 4A. This panel is in camouflage colors and folded measures 12″ x 7.5″ x 1.5″ and weights about 2 lbs. As it was used, the normal connectors that come with it were not available so I have some on order. Looking forward to trying this out with the FT-817ND.


Just worked New Hampshire

Checking the bands briefly today before I go on a short holiday and came across a station in New Hampshire working a small pile-up on 17m. Had a QSO after a short while and he confirmed immediately on QRZ. Now have a USA 50 award on QRZ and I am hoping he uploads his logs to LoTW (QRZ says he does). That will close my first WAS award with the ARRL with only LoTW confirmations! Nice surprise!

Still thinking about a gain antenna…

Looking to try a vertical Moxon for 20m or 17m.

49 out of 50 states worked!

I am getting close to my first WAS award. I am doing this strictly using LoTW confirmations so it does tend to take a while longer to achieve. Today I made a JT-65 contact with a station in Vermont leaving me with New Hampshire. If I can close that contact I will have a WAS on mixed mode. I am still 5 contacts away from WAS on phone. Would be nice to close this soon.

Nice JT-65 session on 17m Today

I have found that 17m to Europe opens up on 17m after sunrise using JT-65. Today I camped out at a single frequency and called CQ DX. I had 5 contacts in quick succession today: one in France, one in Belgium, one in Germany and two in Spain. What is also really nice is that folks I make JT-65 contacts with almost always confirm quickly on LoTW.

2m Tropospheric Ducting!

I finally experienced VHF tropospheric ducting tonight. I worked a station near San Antonio on simplex FM on 2m. I also heard and made contact with several stations in the upper valley that I had never been able to contact before. This was on 75W with my discone antenna up about 15ft. One of these days I need to get my 2m Moxon up to thirty feet and try it with the Yaesu at 75W.