Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by KI6TRA, Apr 30, 2017.
I'm a new owner of the CHA F-LOOP 2 PLUS. Even in bad conditions I've made contacts with ops in France, Slovenia, Luxembourg and western US on 20 meter CW. Less successful with SSB
I'm interested in buying the power compensator. The user's manual only shows instructions for connecting it with the standard coax loop set-up not with the aluminum loop. Tried to reach Chameleon support but no response. Any ideas?
I just looked into our spam/junk email folder and we've no email from you!
Yes you can install the Power Compensator with the aluminum loop. It goes on the left side. Try to send me another email to see why we can get them.
I sent the email via the Chameleon website at the link contact support. Will send another to test. Jeff
I'm a new F-Loop 2.0 plus owner. Do you have any data in regards to the increase of performance when used with the power compensator? I'm also sitting on the fence but, frankly speaking, I can't see how it would improve the performance since I imagine the extra power might just turn into heat in the compensator. Also, in the best case scenario, does it really make a noticeable difference going up to 60w? I'm also not sure how to install it in combination with the Alu loop. Is there another fitting for that?
The truth is, at the moment when Tx I hardly get beyond 500 miles on 25W SSB. It's actually quite frustrating since even if signals come in nice a crisp it's really listening only in most cases since nobody can hear me. This is forcing me into digital modes which I never intended to get into but now I have an interface for PSK31 on order anyway. This might give me at least a few DX QSO's even though it's really not the same experience exchanging canned macro messages but that's another discussion.
I was hoping I could Rx/Tx SSB at least throughout all of North America. Nope. It's my own state and the bordering ones only. It does well with NIVIS though as I can fairly comfortably contact stations 25 miles away on 40m.
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It has nothing to do with the antenna itself but more about how and where the antenna is operated
First thing, you need to look at the antenna location. If you're surrounded by metallic structures and/or tall buildings (or indoor), then a lot of the RF radiated will be absorbed by those structures.
The loop is directional so you'll need to rotate the loop on itself to maximize the radiation toward the desired direction.
Before getting the power compensator, practice at QRP level and move the antenna around and see what and where is the best location for you. You need to be comfortable at QRP level and understand why the antenna will perform better at certain location.
I’ve done pretty well with mine, a large handful of 1300 mile contacts and a few 2000 mile contacts using just my FT-817ND at 5w. I have yet to install the power compensator and try one of my higher power radios.
I’m sure that you probably realize that the antenna has a very high Q and I may be about to tell you something that you may also know but I figured that I’d type it out here for the benefit of anyone that’s reading this down the road. Sometimes people find this stuff like this while doing some research. And no, I don’t work for Chameleon.
Just because the receive signal is good doesn’t mean that your tuned as well as you can be. When I’m running low power I want to make sure I can as much signal out as possible. What I do is run my coax (about 15’) from the antenna into a Diamond 2-way antenna switch. One port I connect to my FT-817ND or Bitx40 and the other port I connect to my Rigxpert AA-170 antenna analyzer. If I’m going to call CQ or answer someone’s CQ I type that frequency into my analyzer, throw the switch over to that port and tune for the lowest SWR then switch back to the radio. There have been a few times that I tuned by ear or using the S meter and then switched over to the analyzer to check my work and I’m well above 2:1. There’s less expensive analyzers out there so if you don’t already have an analyzer you don’t really need a $400 analyzer, it’s just what I use. I’m anxiously awaiting Chameleon to come out with their device that will allow me to tune the antenna while I’m sitting at the radio instead of straining my eyes while I’m at athe antenna looking over at the antenna analyzer. I’d like to get the antenna a little further from where I’m sitting.
There have only been a few days that I’ve setup my antenna and not made a contact but that’s a little rare. On a bad day making contacts I’d say I’ll make 5 or 6. On a good day 12-20 or more depending on how much time I want to put in. QRP or even a little higher power can be frustrating. If you think you’re going to get your WAS in a few months with it, sell it now. Ha Ha Ha.
If conditions aren’t very good, the magloop isn’t going to be a magic bullet for you. Conditions are probably more important when using a magloop than most other antennas. Also, where and how you setup the antenna makes a huge difference in how well you can get your magloop tuned. The analyzer will clue you in about that. I use Velcro straps to keep my coax in place on the support. It’s surprising how much the coax being in the wrong spot can affect your ability to get a low SWR. Also standing really close to the antenna while tuning it doesn’t help. Sometimes I’ll tune mine a little off on purpose because when I walk away the SWR will get better. You’ll figure that stuff out the more you use it.
We’re coming back up on some state QSO parties. Pick one that’s a decent distance from you and if the conditions are right try to work some of the stations on day two when they are more hungry for contacts being that the day before they were working pileups all day and day two they aren’t as busy but need some fresh meat. You might be surprised. Hang in there, it’s an exercise in patience at times. Just remember that’s it’s not a 6 element beam. Keep in fun and before you know it you get some distance out of it.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for helping. I really appreciate it.
My tuning process is as follows. I generally achieve 1.1:2 - 1.5:2 on the higher bands and 1.5:2 - 2:2 on the lower ones. 10m tunes best but it's nothing but crickets there despite my endless CQing. Always outside since I've had little success inside. Day works better than night. I have no problem with either since it's predominately a field antenna to me.
Back to tuning. Once I've rough tuned to the loudest noise in my chosen frequency I switch to AM and key up for a few seconds to do the fine tuning with the help of the SWR meter. I found that to be the most precise method short of fine tuning while CQing. I don't like doing it on the fly though since the dial movements necessary have to be minute and talking while concentrating on the dial doesn't seem to work well for me. Heck sometimes I just have to touch the dial and it stays low. Once I'm satisfied I go back to SSB and Tx away while still checking the SWR. I have no analyzer so this method will have to do for the time being. I'm pretty sure it's as good as it gets or at least pretty close. Next is the possibility of interference in the environment. Well, that's hard to tell at the moment. I did one field test on 10m trying to contact a ham friend of mine about 25 miles away. The signal was really bad but I had to abort the mission since I ran into battery problems...which was probably the reason for the bad signal.
From home I've had a 58 from a guy in Utah and a 59 from Arizona. I'm in SoCal. My goal is to reach Florida. DX QSO is probably wishful thinking on SSB but contacting Europe would be amazing. I've heard Japanese stations a few times. I'm not in it for the QSO numbers, by the way. I just want to talk to people and see how far I can make it. The appeal of contests and awards is beyond me but each to their own.
I love the concept of the loop antenna and the Chameleon build quality. The portability is spectacular! No radials to mess around with. Hey, if I could only talk within a radius of 500miles I would still not look at it as a waste of money. However, it seems others get out farther and I wondered whether I could do that, too.
Oh and I do keep an eye in the direction, of course. Hugely important but less sensitive on 40m and lower. Interestingly, when using NVIS, it seems to work better when the loop is positioned perpendicular to the direction of the signal. Not sure why.
Sounds like you’re on the right track with getting tuned up.
While reading your latest post I thought of something that may or may not be a slight difference between our setup. When I ordered my CHA P Loop 2.0 I also bought the optional booster kit. I don’t think I’ve ever used the small loop that came with the antenna kit other than to set it up one time and to be sure that the connectors were OK and the loop would tune. Here’s a link to the kit. http://chameleonantenna.com/MAGNETIC_LOOP_ANTENNAS/CHA_BOOSTER_KIT/CHA_BOOSTER_KIT.html
If Chameleon’s data is correct, on the main page for the Loop 2.0 the efficiency is double that of the standard loop on 40-80. On 20 it’s really pretty good compared to the standard loop. http://chameleonantenna.com/MAGNETIC_LOOP_ANTENNAS/CHA_P_LOOP_2_0/CHA_P_LOOP_2_0.html
I’m nit suggesting that you run right out and buy the booster kit but at QRP power or slightly higher, double the efficiency is nothing to sneeze at.
Welcome to 10 meters during the solar cycle minimum valley. Read up on propagation and specifically MUF. You'll select bands more appropriately after doing so.
Contest periods provide a lot of activity on the bands, which you can use to your advantage. Though search-and-pounce mode isn't fun with such a narrow bandwidth antenna, you're likely to get more stations logged than during non-contest periods.
Interesting. Now I finally understand the booster kit. It's NOT the same as the 80m kit and it's NOT the alu loop either. I might look into that for field use - at home I'm using the aluminum loop.
I know I know...late night brain freeze. Well spotted though!
My current conclusion is, it's probably something in my environment. Something might be messing with my signal where I live. I have an EMF field tester and could not detect any significant interfering sources around my station. Maybe it's other houses nearby. I can detect strong readings from the antenna though on Tx so it's definitely working. It would be great if somebody (Carl perhaps?) could hint what the field strength should be on both the F - Loop with Alu and Coax at say 5' or 10' away from the outer plane of the loop when Tx 25w on say 40m. Is there a table or data source I could use as a guideline for testing purposes? That way I could find out whether it's the set up of the antenna/setting of the radio that's flawed or if something's interfering somewhere else along the path of the signal.
Ah and thanks for the idea of utilizing contests for testing distance. So far I've seen it as an annoyance when all of a sudden the band is totally overcrowded with amped up signals coming from crazy antenna systems. No chance here with my little 25W. Trying it the second day though when the first wave has gone down and the operators with their multi thousand dollar rigs might actually be willing to use all their filtering abilities by trying to pull out my weak signal inststead of just going for the loudest is a great idea! I'll give that a go.[/QUOTE]
Ok, now I just realized that I have been talking about the P Loop 2.0 which I own and you are using the F Loop 2.0. My bad. Those are two different loops with the same overall idea.
You mention that you are using the aluminum loop so that means that you must have the high efficiency kit to use with your F Loop 2.0. If that’s the case you should be doing fine. I think that by accident, you just haven’t worked a far contact.
As I mentioned earlier you just have to stay patient and enjoy the contacts that you are making until the conditions happen to be right and that distant station that you are trying to work is listening.
I may have missed this but are you setting up inside or outside?
Outside. Inside it's hopeless for some reason. Not sure why since it's not even a brick building. Would be nice, no doubt, but it doesn't bother me too much sitting in the backyard instead. As I said, to me it's a field antenna so I don't really expect it to work well inside. Are you having much success inside? Also, you mentioned 1300mile contacts. That was on SSB, right? Do you do much digital?
I'm actually planning to conduct two field tests. One on a mountain nearby and one at the beach. I want to see if the effects of a large body of (sea)water next to a mag loop are as pronounced as they are with a vertical. The mountain will likely not work well since I won't be going up all the way (too much snow) but rather half way up. This means I'll be facing in the wrong direction (West) - unless I want to contact Japan which is unlikely to happen I'll be probably having worse results than from my backyard. At the beach however, I could imagine with the help of the surface of the water I might have a chance of reaching Japan.