Is Anyone Using or Has Anyone Tried the "Loop Skywire" Antenna?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by N2NH, Jul 9, 2018.

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  1. N2NH

    N2NH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I came across an old QST (November, 1985) article by W0MHS* on this antenna and it really has quite a build-up.

    The description for the Loop Skywire goes as follows: "Looking for an All-Band HF Antenna That is easy to construct, Costs nearly nothing and Works great on DX? Try this one!"

    Those are some pretty big claims. So, if this antenna is all that, I figure that a few here must've given it a go. If you did (or are presently doing so), your response would be appreciated.


    * No longer author Dave Fisher's call sign.
  2. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Without even looking at the article..
    -A paperclip is "all band" with suitable matching devices
    -Easy to construct= A reasonable claim
    -Costs nearly nothing= A reasonable claim
    -Great DX: Well probably not.

    A horizontal loop is fits 3/4 of these criteria and can be quite convenient if you have the space. Try it; however, there is no such thing as a free lunch and you can't cheat physics. Take all claims with a grain of salt.
    WD4IGX and N2NH like this.
  3. KK5JY

    KK5JY Ham Member QRZ Page

    There are some other articles that have come out since then, that do a bit of a reality check on those expectations. It does indeed have a low takeoff angle for higher bands, but only if you install it high enough. It also tends to have radiation in directional lobes, so you get gain in some azimuth directions, and nulls in others. Like all horizontally-polarized antennas, its performance is extremely dependent upon installation height.

    If sized correctly, it can make a nice NVIS antenna, but again, very subject to installation details, mainly height. I used a smaller version of the antenna with a remote ATU for this purpose, and it worked fairly well on 40m.

    The best thing to do, if you want to tinker with one of these, is to model it with the details you intend to use: number of sides, height above ground, side lengths and angles, etc. Then you can model the pattern and impedance on different bands, and manage your expectations before you try to figure out how to get all that wire in the air. 4nec2 is free, as is MMANA-GAL and probably some others. Experimenting with an electrically long antenna such as this can be somewhat frustrating, because the lobes and nulls can be difficult to visualize without a model plot of the far field.
    N2NH likes this.
  4. N2NH

    N2NH Ham Member QRZ Page

    Okay, since you need a subscription to QRZ to see the original article, I will instead post a link to a site on the very same antenna HERE
    Thanks to Jason Buchanan - N1SU
  5. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I think thousands of hams have used horizontal loop antennas. The "Loop Skywire" was not any kind of new invention, although it's a cute name.

    While wire, insulators and rope may cost "nearly nothing," providing four high supports for the loop, unless you're lucky enough to have tall trees in the right places, doesn't cost almost nothing. Even four telescoping masts like Rohn H50s will cost at least $400, plus some ropes and guy anchors to guy them.:)

    Loops don't magically work better than dipoles or any other wire antennas at lower heights. Their takeoff angle is the same as a dipole's or any other horizontal antenna and based entirely on height above ground.

    A cool advantage to a 1-wavelength loop is it's resonant on all harmonics, so an 80m loop can provide a reasonably low impedance and reasonable match on 80/40/20/15/10 meters. It will not provide one on 60/30/17/12 meters, but using low-loss feedline and a good tuner can make it work.

    Another advantage is the loop can provide kinda-sorta omnidirectional coverage. On bands above its first resonant frequency it will have multiple lobes with nulls between, but overall not so bad.

    My first horizontal full-wave loop was erected in about 1975 on a larger property than I owned, at K20WR's home, for a November SS contest. We used four 50' (well, really 45') telescoping masts to support it, so it was up 45' above ground at the corners and sagged a bit in between (maybe 40' on the spans between the supports) and was 260' in perimeter. For SS, it worked well and was our primary antenna on 80 and 40 meters. We had a triband beam on a tower for 20-15-10 meters, so between the two of them it worked out and we made a lot of contacts and did well. But SS is not a DX contest, it's a domestic (U.S./Canada) contest, so the only "DX" to work from NJ was Alaska and Hawaii; everything else was within 3000 miles, and on 80/40m most of our contacts were probably within 1500 miles.

    The "Loop Skywire" isn't any different, but it's still a cool name.
    KA0HCP and N2NH like this.
  6. AD5HR

    AD5HR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have the QSL cards to prove that the "Loop Skywire" will work very well
    on all bands.
    5BDXCC+, and have loaded it up, and confirmed DX contacts from 160M
    to 2M ssb.
    My 80m loop, fed with window, line is strung up through pecan tree
    limbs about 25 to 35 feet "up" in a very irregular shape, but still works
    better than any other "stealth antenna" I've found.
    Don't worry about modeling it, try it? have fun!
    KA0HCP, N2NH and W5TTP like this.
  7. K5UJ

    K5UJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Getting DX awards doesn't really prove much about an antenna -- it proves the operator got DX awards.

    Horizontal loops are okay under certain circumstances. They should be fed with open wire line and a balanced matching network. They should be a true square or at least, an equilateral triangle. Rectangles don't work. Most important, they need to be high in terms of wavelength on the lowest frequency of use, otherwise too much power is coupled to earth and lost. A loop can be too long. It should be one wavelength on the lowest frequency of use. Once you get above 4 wavelengths its pattern becomes a mess--lots of spaghetti lobes every which way and wasted RF. It's better to have a horizontal dipole up high than it is to have a low loop.
    N2NH likes this.
  8. K0RGR

    K0RGR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I like horizontal loops. I like vertical loops even better. My best loop was for 40 meters. The apex was at 45' up on my tower. The corners came down to the top of my 8' fence on a small city lot. It worked great for DX on 40 - I had it oriented to favor Europe and the South Pacific. Loops are quieter on receive. It was coax fed, and worked all the way up to 6 meters.

    I had a 160 meter loop up that was merely a worm warmer. I had a pipeline from central Iowa to Wisconsin and that was about it.
    N2NH likes this.
  9. W8IXI

    W8IXI Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    All hams have their favorite wire antenna. The designs have all been around for 80 to 100 years.

    They are all well known. Having an ARRL membership giving access to Clarence Tuska's and later articles on wire antennas after 1915 makes the membership valuable just for the fact that dozen's of wire antenna designs are described and evaluated. Some every few years!

    This thread will probably bring out many more pages of absolute truth about the topic posted. I have seen here, on the antenna topic forum, thirty or more pages of expert hams arguing about the terms of definition for the wire antenna design asked about. Just pick one of these old proven designs and get on the air. The first wire antenna you put up is not an end point, but a beginning point in getting you on the air, and learning about antennas. Good Luck!

    73, Mike
    K9ZMD and N2NH like this.
  10. WZ7U

    WZ7U Ham Member QRZ Page

    If it's any help John, I plan on one hopefully this summer and have been wanting to get it up for a few years now. I'm hoping between that loop and a vertical I will be as good as it gets here at this location unless I could pull off an inverted L. I would certainly give one a try if you are so disposed, even if only for the learning aspects. Let us know how you decide to go.
    N2NH likes this.

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