Does anyone here have experience with mag Loops?

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by G4SEB, Sep 6, 2020.

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  1. KF5KWO

    KF5KWO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hi Sebastian,

    Welcome to ham radio! I use the MFJ-1786 magnetic loop because of the prohibition of outside antennas in the neighborhood I live in. It's about $500 US right now, so quite expensive. I bought it in 2003 or so because of the neighborhood restrictions, not because it would be a lot better than a wire antenna I could put outside. That being said, I've gotten terrific signal reports on it from U.S. and stateside stations, even when I had it in the attic (it's currently camouflaged outside). It met my requirement for an inside and/or easily-hidden outside antenna. However, lemme say this...

    If you have constructed your dipole correctly, and it's placed high enough, I would recommend sticking with it for now. Just ensure it's high enough and that you're using good feedline, etc. Are you hearing other stations well? The reason I say to stick with it is because there is a way very soon that you'll get a better idea of how your antenna is getting out: participate in the Worked All Europe SSB contest next weekend. Contests have this :p:p:p magical :p:p:p way of making propagation a whole lot better! It's like the sun and the atmosphere wake up and look at the calendar and decide to help us hams! Contesters want every contact they can make, and will dig your signal out of the weeds if necessary. So, if your antenna system is constructed properly, I bet you'll make plenty of contacts during that contest, whereas in non-contest times many (but not all) hams aren't interested in a QSO with a low power signal on HF. This is an easy way to confirm your antenna is "getting out." Sometimes, conditions and low power work against us.

    Hope this has been helpful, ping back with any questions!

    73 de Jeff, KF5KWO
    near San Antonio, Texas
    KK4NSF and AK5B like this.
  2. KB1CKT

    KB1CKT Ham Member QRZ Page

    What height do you have the dipole at? Higher is better.

    Band conditions seem to always be tough when I turn on the radio though. Not sure when you operate.

    If you have a simple dipole now you could always try adding elements for 40m, which is likely more open more of the time.

    You can always try an inverted L. Mounted over a bazillion radials is best, but some amount of RF will make it into the ether with just a few radials, and it should be aiming for the horizon, if DX is what you are after. Inverted L or a full vertical if you have a tall enough mast; elevated radials are better but have their own pains. YMMV but I've always had better luck with low verticals than low dipoles (not very astounding I know but it's easier to get one end of a wire up into the air rather than 2 ends plus a dangling feedline).
    AK5B likes this.
  3. G4SEB

    G4SEB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi, sorry for the late reply. Been a bit busy recently.

    How high is the 20m dipole? - Just under 2m off the ground. As others have mentioned hight is key, but this is really about as high as I can go with a dipole.
    How Close is Surrounding stuff? - One end of the dipole is connected to my house. This is possible the reason I might not be getting the good signal, because the wall is blocking it. There are no significant surroundings other than that.
    How long is the Coax? - Haven't tried it in a while so haven't got a exact length. I think I use about 5m worth of Coax.
    How is the Coax connected to the dipole? - I have tried both direct from the coax, and from two cables coming out of a 1:1 balun. Neither seem to make much of a difference.

    There are multiple factors that I think could be causing it mentioned, however I am not 100%. I have tried finding information online, and I haven't really found much of use.

    Yeah, from the general research and what people have said here, looks like they don't work the best. I unfortunately can't get it higher than the house. Current Hight is just under 2 metres. I suspect this is affecting the dipole to some degree.

    Yeah, I should have mentioned which mode I was using. I was using SSB. The power limit is quite a big barrier, however people manage it with 5 watts, so I am really determined to give it a try before I just bite the bullet and upgrade my license.

    My parents don't want a wire antenna up all the time, so I have to put it up or take it down for whenever I use it. If I went for a vertical antenna I would be able to keep it up most of the time but have to take it down in the summer because of thunderstorms. This is partly why I wanted to have a look at Mag Loops, as they erase the whole issue about taking it down. I am currently looking into Verticals at the moment. Any particualar makes you would recommend. After all this stuff with the dipole if I was going to get a new antenna I would just buy one.

    High up wise it is just under 2m above ground. That is the max I can go. There are hardly any hams in my area, so even if I wanted to I wouldn't really be able to talk to anyone locally.

    The power restriction is quite annoying, however I guess the incentive is to get you to upgrade. I will have a look at the 40m band. 20m seems lots more active from listening, but if I can't work 20 then it's better than nothing. I will go with the loading coils as the max length antenna I could do is 27m. Never really looked at 80m, I will give that a look at as well.

    I was looking at eBay at the ready made ones as I wouldn't feel confident in making one. Looking at this:|iid:1

    Based on your description it won't be a true magloop. I'm not really prepared to spend $700 on a antenna at the moment. I am looking at Verticals at the moment as they seem the best solution.
    I am using SSB. The 10W limit is a pain. I have tried learning CW once and it didn't go very well. I do plan to try out FT8 sometime. How many people generally use FT8? I wouldn't want to go through all the bother with setting it up, then nobody on air actually using FT8.
  4. WB5YUZ

    WB5YUZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Right now there may be more day-to-day activity on FT 8 than any other mode, at least in my region!
    PU2OZT likes this.
  5. G4SEB

    G4SEB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for the really detailed reply and helpful information! :D
    Luckily where is fine with antennas, however some tall ones needs planning permission. I have heard a lot of mixed bags with mag loops, however the general consensus is generally going towards the bad side. They are also a bit too expensive for me.

    I am almost certain it is constructed correctly the dipole, however I think the issues lies with how high up it is. I can't get it any higher than it is at the moment (Just under 2m), and I suspect this is the issue. The only one contact I had gave me a 58 signal report (From UK to Netherlands). So, I don't know whether it is antenna issues or conditions like you mentioned. Haven't really thought about contests yet, however I will look into it. Hopefully it will be a good way to stress test my current antenna. If I get lots of contacts during the contests, then I may just look at upgrading my license.

    Like I said thanks for all the help. If I do the contest next weekend I will reply with how many contacts I made.
    73s, M7SBB
    KF5KWO likes this.
  6. G4SEB

    G4SEB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I generally operate in the afternoons at around 2PM BST onwards. I haven't operated at night yet.

    My dipole is at just under 2m's high, which I suspect is the culprit after reading through all the replies to my thread! That's the max I can really go with a dipole. I am going to try and test it out next weekend during the Worked All Europe SSB contest next weekend.

    I will look into the inverted L design. With all antennas I will struggle with getting the height. With permanent verticals, I would have to have it ground mounted and no more than 3m in height unless I want to go through the planning process with the council. If I went for a mobile vertical, that could work.
    Thanks for the tips!
  7. G4SEB

    G4SEB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Wow! Will have to give FT8 a try out. :D
  8. KB1CKT

    KB1CKT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Could try it temporarily--throw some radials on the ground, min of 4 (more than 8 i think will be a nuisance) and a radiator, and see what happens. If it's promising, then look into how to bury the radials and go with a bigger/better antenna.
    KF5KWO likes this.
  9. KF5KWO

    KF5KWO Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    My pleasure, amigo. So 2 meters off the ground...hmmm....if you don't want to go the planning council route, then the mobile vertical option may be a very good solution. Much less expensive than a mag loop of course, and rather simple to install. Hams in the U.S. have even set them up on their cars and just run the coax from the home shack to the antenna on the car.

    You might also consider a portable, as in quick set-up and take-down, antenna. Look for VK3YE online, he has a lot of great ideas, materials, and videos. Also, the MFJ-1979 portable antenna may be option for you. :)

    Let us know how you do in the contest!
  10. K6CLS

    K6CLS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ha ha ha! That's not going to work!

    Put a painter's pole on the balum,.get the center up 5 meters.

    Hight of the ends doesn't matter much, they have no current, but potentially a lot of voltage, protect th from being touched at the wrong moment by humans and other animals.
    WN1MB and AK5B like this.

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