Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Jock Elliott, who shares the following guest post:
Got reception issues? An idea worth considering: the “Horizontal Room Loop.”
by Jock Elliott (KB2GOM)
When my radio room was in the front of the house (on the east side), it was easy to run a feedline to a large RF-hungry SWL dipole with various stubs and feeders.
Now, however, with my “shack” moved to the SW corner of the house, any attempt to mount an outdoor antenna of any significant length raised potential safety issues because of nearby electrical lines.
Monitoring VHF/UHF is no big deal because of high-performance scanner antennas. HF, however, presents challenges.
My main SWL receiver is a Satellit 800, which has the guts of a Drake R8 and also has a large telescoping vertical antenna. It works okay, but I wanted more signal. I had been looking at small loops and got some great recommendations on Radio Reference, but then I had a thought: what if I turned the 8′ x 12′ room into a giant horizontal passive loop?
So I called a ham friend and ran the idea by him. “Sure,” he said, “give it a try.” He gave me 25 feet of 4-conductor phone wire. Before I could use it, I had to strip off the outer insulation so I could get at the four separate insulated wires inside. The better half helped. Once I had the four wires, I connected two of them together and ran the resultant 50-foot strand around the perimeter of the room by taping the wire to the top of window frames and hiding the wire on the top shelves of book cases. As a result, the horizontal room loop is near the ceiling, about 7 feet in the air, and the room itself is on the first floor.
With the loop in place, I hooked the ends to the clip-in terminals on the back of the Satellit 800.
There’s a switch on the back of the 800 that allows me to quickly compare the loop with the radio’s built-in vertical antenna. And . . . it works! It pulls in more signal than the vertical (as measured on the signal strength meter), but I have not noticed a dramatic reduction in noise. On some stations, the horizontal room loop brings the signal up to full scale, and then the sound is very agreeable indeed.
In all, I am pleased with the results.
For anyone who wants squeeze more performance out of their shortwave receiver, I can recommend giving the horizontal room loop a try. It’s not expensive; it’s relatively easy to do (and undo if you don’t like the results), and just might improve your shortwave reception.
If you are not blessed with a bunch of window frames on which you could tape the wire for your room loop, you’ll have to get creative, but with lightweight wire, you don’t need a massive support structure. Tape, map tacks, or even self-adhesive Velcro segments might work for putting your room loop in place.
I don’t claim that this is the “ultimate” SWL DX antenna, but it certainly improved my situation. Perhaps others have suggestions for improving it.
— Jock Elliott, KB2GOM