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.

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