Testing the Loop-on-Ground with Real Signals
In a recent RTTY contest
, I watched as a friend did
a CQ run on 40m
. He was using a full-size 33' 40m vertical at his station, which
has similar ground elevation to mine. Since our stations are also within a few miles of
each other, this allowed me to watch him work several stations in quick succession, while
I observed his run on the LoG antenna. In order to compare the receive performance
of the two, I watched to see how many stations he could hear on the vertical that I could
not hear on the LoG, and vice versa
The vast majority of stations that he worked were also perfectly copied on the LoG.
There was one station that he heard that was marginal copy on the LoG. Surprisingly,
there were several stations that I could copy perfectly on the LoG that he never heard on
his vertical. He called CQ, and they answered him, but he just couldn't hear them.
I looked up those stations to find their location, and none
of them were inside
the skip zone, or anywhere near it. In fact, the stations he was missing were all
on the order of 1,000 to 1,500 miles away from him. Because of the pattern differences
at high angles, you would expect the LoG to hear close-in stations better than the vertical,
but these were not
These were low-angle skywave signals that the LoG simply heard better than the vertical.
So at least for this one test, the 15' square LoG antenna actually pulled in more stations on
receive than his full-size vertical antenna on 40m. When we both switched to 80m, I was
able to copy several stations, while he couldn't hear anybody.
More recently, I used the 15' square loop-on-ground for the
ARRL 160m Contest
. The antenna was
pointed roughly ENE/WSW. I used a much larger vertical loop antenna as the dedicated
transmit antenna for the event, similarly oriented to the compass, and separated from the
LoG by roughly 50' to the broadside. Bear in mind that I live near the center
of a town of roughly 50,000 people, and my lot is approximately 100' by 60', located in a
subdivision of similarly-spaced houses. A resonant vertical is unusable as a 160m
receive antenna here, for obvious reasons. If the RF surroundings weren't already
busy enough, the weekend of the contest was filled with an active weather pattern, with
nearby storms and showers during the entire event.
Despite these challenges, the LoG antenna performed beautifully. The recieved S/N
ratio on 160m looked better than 15m does on my hexbeam, and a screen capture of the
panadapter can be seen at right (click to enlarge). The LoG served as the sole
receive antenna for the entire contest, driving both the TS-590SG, and an RSP-1 used
as the pandapter. The antenna produced enough signal to "set the noise"
in both the panadapter and the transceiver, even with the 3dB splitter loss. Not
only was I able to work the contest despite the challenging RF environment, I greatly
enjoyed listening to very clean and low-noise CW for over ten hours of 160m operation.
The LoG easily heard stations at all distances, from a few miles to many hundreds of
miles, all with very similar S/N levels.
A little over a month after the ARRL 160m contest, I used the LoG again to work the
CQ 160m CW Contest
. The antenna again
performed quite well and contacts were made across a similar range of distances as during
the ARRL event, resulting in a similar QSO count and final score.
All of these events were contests, so more recently, I decided to take advanatage of all
the JT65 and FT8 activity to test the antenna by focusing on normal HF traffic. On
a random Sunday evening, I used a
connected to the loop-on-ground to listen to 40m
JT traffic overnight, from just
before sundown to just after sunrise, local time. The RTL-SDR is a very inexpensive
and popular reciever, but it is not well known as a high-performance device. My hope
was that the test would show what could be done with the loop when paired with an
The resulting map is shown below:
The antenna not only pulled in dozens of US stations at all distances, but it was able
to hear DX from Japan, Australia, Europe, and South America. Japan alone produced
over two dozen spots. This particular evening, even Alaska and Hawaii showed up in
the list of spots. The selection of European stations was fairly good considering
the test was run early Monday morning, their time.
The map from a second night of watching 40m
similar results, with some new EU countries and more stations from the far side of the
Pacific, including new spots from Indonesia, New Zealand and Hawaii. There doesn't
seem to be a lot of JT-65 activity on 80m, but the new FT8 mode is alive and well there,
and a 24-hour map of FT8 spots on 80m
showed that the
antenna has solid coverage across North America, and even pulled in a Hawaiian station
through all the summertime thunderstorm noise.
The performance of the antenna is clearly up to the task of both DX and domestic HF
reception, even with the most modest of receivers.