Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Gahimer (K9ZCE) for the following guest post:
Small Magnetic Loop Antenna with Broadband Amplifier for SDR Reception
by Dave Gahimer (K9ZCE)
Those with limited space, or antenna restrictions, might find a small 1 meter loop antenna a solution.
My son lives in an apartment. One Loop leaning against a wall gives him acceptable reception with the SDRPlay RSP on the ground floor–2nd or 3rd level flats should have very good reception.
Ten meters off the ground outside should give reception equal to any SWL antenna. We all with SDRs fight the image problem. Normal resonate ham band antennas show too strong reception of unwanted bands/stations. Did I mention noise? Loops are well known for –6 db noise reduction.
Then there is the possibility of SDR chip damage from your 1.5 KW station! In researching Loops we came across LZ1AQ. A Brilliant design /engineer (http://www.lz1aq.signacor.com/). Deep reading sometimes, but a great understanding of what makes a good receiving loop antenna.
Those who chase DX know that sometimes fading is caused by the signals’ polarization changing in the Ionosphere. Having both vertical and horizontal loops, and the ability to combine both signals diminishes this fading problem. Being able to filter the powerful, commercial FM transmitters diminishes image problems. Clipping strong signals at the antenna from very near powerful antennas/transmitters could save the SDR receiver from damage.
The LZ1AQ broad band Amp solves all these problems. http://active-antenna.eu/amplifier-kit/.
My son Ted and I built three, one meter loops from soft ½ inch copper plumbing tubing. One for his apartment, two for my crossed loops antenna. We weather proofed the Copper from corrosion by coating with outdoor clear spar varnish. We shaped the circle by drawing the tubing around a round glass top patio table.
The soft copper loop in held by white PCV plastic plumbing pipe. 1” or 1.25 inch schedule 40. Be careful to check that the PVC is schedule 40, thick wall. The thin wall pipe is not strong in the wind and will crack when you try to drill it.
Drill up to a 3/8 hole for the ½” copper tube to go through, then file out to fit. Here are some photos (click to enlarge):
Check out these links (all courtesy of LZ1AQ) to acquaint yourself with the loop construction and amplifier installation:
Many SDR receiver owners have seen improved noise and Image reduction by placing the plastic cased SDR unit on a small shielded/ grounded case.
The Amp needs 12VDC from in the shack. The Amp has two relays that you can switch, from in the shack, to select Vertical or Horizontal loops, or a dipole. The loop amp connects back to the shack via a shielded Cat 5 cable, Make sure you get shielded CAT 5 to reduce noise pickup. Make sure you provide an adequate good Ground below the antenna, less noise pickup and lightening protection.
Retired from EE Dept @ Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Terre Haute, Indiana
Thank you so much, Dave!
Readers: yesterday I saw Dave’s loop antenna photos on the SDRplay RSP Facebook page. I was fascinated by his horizontally/vertically oriented loops and asked if he would write up a short guest post. He kindly obliged in a matter of hours!
If you have an antenna project you’d like to share, please contact me. So many SWLs and ham radio operators live in areas with restrictions and pervasive RFI–projects like Dave’s can revive one’s radio life!