Mike Harwood explores active magnetic loop antennas with SDRplay

Many thanks to Jon Hudson with SDRplay who shares the following announcement:

Introducing a new series of videos comparing the performance of wideband active loop amplifier/antennas for HF frequencies and below. In this introductory video, Mike Harwood shows how an RSPduo enables a real-time comparison of two antennas – in this demo, he uses a Wellbrook 1530AN and one of his own compact loop creations. You can see that he has lined up several other active loop antennas/amplifiers to try in future videos, including the Bonito Megaloop FX, the LZ1AQ amp and the Cross Country Wireless amp.

SDPlay will endorse antennas which work well and formally recommend them on its website antenna suggestions page: https://www.sdrplay.com/antennasuggestions/

This is one of many videos from SDRplay – makers of the RSP family of SDR radios. See the full list of SDRplay videos and applications documents on: https://www.sdrplay.com/apps-catalogue/

The RSP family of SDRs from SDRplay cover 1kHz to 2 GHz with no gaps and give up to 10MHz spectrum visibility.

SDRplay is a UK company. The RSP SDR receivers are made in the UK and can be purchased for worldwide delivery directly from http://www.sdrplay.com/ (click on purchase and select your country to view shipping costs) or you can buy from any of our worldwide resellers listed here: http://www.sdrplay.com/distributors/ Many of the resellers offer local free shipping and/or local language technical support.

The SDRplay YouTube Channel is: https://www.youtube.com/c/SDRplayRSP

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9 thoughts on “Mike Harwood explores active magnetic loop antennas with SDRplay

  1. Mike Agner

    Something to keep in mind is that SDRPlay says it’s going to recommend antennas that work well. If this is going to have any meaning at all, these antenna evaluations need to be done in both Europe and North America (and why not in Asia where there are several active clubs)? Otherwise all that is being done is evaluating European products for a European market- and that’s very narrow. They have at least one individual (KD2KOG) that has done a few reviews but all I could find is him using a Bonito antenna (there are LOTS more to try here, too, Mike!). You will say that there are other YouTube reviewers using other mag loop antennas, and you’re right – but are any of them SDRPlay employees?

  2. Keith

    I use a Welbrook ALA153LF here just south (15 miles SSE) of Boston. It is not my main antenna (I use two large broadband switched termination loops) for most of my LW/MW and HF listening. But when those loops have been down for various reasons the ALA1530 has performed very well here…even in the shadow of WBZ (4 miles from me). I’ve used the Wellbrook with all my SDR’s (RSP Duo, RSPDx and Airspy DIscover HF+).

      1. Keith

        My switched termination loops have more oomph but the Wellbrook’s work well too. WBZ will overload no matter what and outboard tunable notch does the trick on them. I’ve been able to dx TA signals with both types of antennas. There have been some tests done in the states (Mike Ladd down in FL for one) with the Bonito, MLA30+ and others that are up on youtube iirc. Extensive testing on my end isn’t possible right now due it being the middle of FM dx season here.

  3. TomL

    I wonder if they would ever consider hooking up the external amplifiers (CrossCountry, Wellbrook, LZ1AQ) to a Loop On Ground antenna? I am pretty happy with my 9 foot diameter 3-conductor rotor cable (copper wires are connected in series, total series length is around 84 feet). I am using the commercially available Wellbrook Medium aperture amplifier and can routinely get faint stations on shortwave. I have not tested it yet on mediumwave but it should perform well. Not much to hear on longwave here in the States, so I do not expect to use it there. Only difference seems to be that I cannot rotate the mostly omnidirectional setup on the ground! On the other hand, there is nothing needed for a stand or tripod and much more portable.

    1. Mike Agner

      It seems they will be doing the Wellbrook, Cross Country and LZ1AQ amp – seems like they’re sticking to commercial units, not anything homebrew.

    2. Andrew (grayhat)

      Heh, I doubt they’ll venture into homebuilt antennas, they’re trying to keep focus on generalized “baked” products, although for a LoG one would just need a nooelec v2 balun and
      optionally (if the receiver doesn’t offer it) whatever low gain preamp with good IMD resilience plus, by the way, a length of insulated wire

      oh well

  4. Mike Agner

    I’m probably in the minority here, but it seems SDRPlay is giving the US listeners a bit of a cold shoulder on this one. These reviews are using loops available in Europe without trying anything from the US market. And before you tell me they need to consider VAT, customs and shipping, how about having one of their US based technical staff (yes they do have them – look at some of their YouTube videos) reviewing loops from our market such as the Chameleon, Pixel, W6LVP and MFJ loops? The argument is about as weak as wet tissue paper.

    Also how an antenna performs is going to be influenced to a degree by the local RF Environment. It looks like the reviews are being done in a semi-urban environment. Let’s see them perform here in the US in the shadow of places like NYC, Washington DC or Boston.

    And surely there’s software out there that can do antenna analysis that can run on the SDRPlau? Yes I know you’re going to say that SDRUno has lots of tools, but this app is for the consumer market. How about using something a little more professional as the measuring tool?

    I mean, really, did SDRPlay consider these things ? I doubt it. Very disappointing; it could have been more relevant this way.

    1. Mike N7MSD

      Mike, it’s not just the US (really everywhere outside Europe) that they seem to be cold-shouldering: I keep reading stories on how they’re also doing it to everyone not running their SDRUno app & Wincrap. As a Linux (including Android) user who refuses to put that spyware on my PC, it really hamstrings me and it’s also a secondary reason I bought an Airspy HF+ (though primary was I bought Youloops at the same time as I want to listen to [V]LF and live in an area with LOTS of AM /MW stations, most on high power during the day (a couple 50kW’s, a 22kW near me) and the HF+ is arguably the best bang for the buck there, beating the SDRPlays).

      This seems to be a common problem in general. No one is learning from all the cyber incidents going on, which almost every single one uses wincrap. If you use it, you are asking for it!


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