Tag Archives: Magnetic Loop Antennas

Inexpensive wideband amplified mag loop receiving antenna on eBay

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Ola, who shares a link to this inexpensive mag loop antenna on eBay.

I have no clue if this antenna performs as well at all, but the price is certainly much lower than its competition at $47.99 US.

It appears you’ll need to supply your own dielectric center support  for this loop–a length of PVC would do the trick.

Copycat–?

I don’t like the fact this manufacturer has chosen the name “Mega Loop Active” for their antenna as the name is too similar to Bonito’s “MegaLoop FX Active.” I don’t like the confusion that could create, so I would hope this Chinese manufacturer would change this in time.

To be very clear, this product has no affiliation with Bonito and I certainly would expect the quality or performance you would get from a Bonito product. Bonito products are pricey, but they’re design and manufactured in Germany and set benchmarks in terms of performance and quality. I’m a big believer in “you pay for what you get.”

I suppose though if you’re just looking for a cheap antenna to test, this one is quite inexpensive. Just know that it is not a Bonito MagaLoop, despite the similarities in product name! 🙂

Click here to view on eBay.

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New indoor passive loop antenna for shortwave

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Dave Zantow (N9EWO), who notes:

Here is an interesting looking indoor passive HF loop antenna [photo above] that Randy McIntosh just started selling in the US. Made in Greece. Model TLA500C. Sorry it’s not for MW.

Here’ are the specifications/description from the eBay page:

This sale is for an HF magnetic loop antenna that should be attractive to anyone living in an apartment, residence, or other location where it is not possible to erect an outside dipole antenna. If you can erect an outside antenna, this is always the best solution for reception as no inside antenna can compete with a good outside antenna for the very best signal reception. But erecting an outside antenna is not always possible for many people desiring to listen to amateur radio or shortwave signals. Thus, this antenna offers a solution to such hobbyists handicapped by personal physical limitations to mount an outside antenna, minimal yard space to erect such an antenna, apartment living, or HOA restrictions.

This antenna spans a tuning range spanning 3.5 MHz through 40 MHz and thus covers 80 – 10 meters on the amateur radio bands, all international shortwave bands plus the 11 meter CB bands. The antenna comes with a 3′ coaxial cable to attach the antenna BNC output to a SO-259/PL-259 input of your receiver (most receivers).

Simple assembly directions are also included and you may be view this information in the last picture at the top of this listing. If you have a different input on your receiver other than the PL-259, you will need to acquire the proper interconnect cable from another Ebay seller. Assembly takes 5-10 minutes using only a proper sized Phillips head screwdriver and the antenna can be disassembled to transport to a remote DX location or for convenience in your travel luggage…..or as our picture shows, located permanently at your home listening room or bedside. Depending upon your preference and the dimensions of your receiver, the antenna can be set on top of or next to your receiver (see pictures at the top of this listing) during operation. Please remember that this is a “receive only” antenna and cannot be used to transmit signals.

Features:

  • non amplified….no batteries required
  • works on wide variety of communications receivers both stationary or portable
  • light weight aluminum construction weighs about 1 lb with the interconnect cable
  • portable – can be disassembled and folded into a low stature for compact transport
  • sharp tuning helps filter strong non-desired out-of-band signals
  • low noise loop design helps filter RF noise often found inside a home or apartment from lighting or appliances
  • tuning range of 3.5 MHz – 40 MHz
  • small loop antenna assembles to 18″ diameter at the broadest point
  • great alternative for signal reception when an outside antenna is not possible
  • very easy set up and connection

Thanks for the tip, Dave! This looks like a practical design for portable and low-profile operation.

Since it is passive antenna design, I image you would have to re-tune the antenna for peak performance each time you shift frequencies. It looks like the control panel would make this a pretty simple process.

Click here to view this antenna on eBay (partner link).

Post readers: If anyone has used this antenna, please comment with your impressions or contact me with your review.

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Giveaway alert: Joe Carr’s Loop Antenna Handbook

–UPDATE: A WINNER HAS BEEN PICKED. THIS CONTEST HAS BEEN CLOSED. THANK YOU!–

Lately I’ve gotten a lot of questions from readers about magnetic loop antennas, certainly a popular topic on the SWLing Post. Good discussions underway.

So, when I discovered an extra copy of Joe Carr’s excellent Loop Antenna Handbook on my bookshelf this morning, it occurred to me to share it with you, readers. I think I won this copy at a Winter SWL Fest a couple years ago; it’s chock-full of Joe’s handy tips and solutions to antenna questions and installation conundrums. It’s still in great shape, and I’m sure will find a good home with a lucky SWLing Post reader.

Interested? Here’s how you can participate…

The Loop Antenna Handbook is chock-full of antenna theory and practical construction projects.

If you’d like to participate in this giveaway, here’s how:  Simply comment on this post, telling us about your favorite radio! Give us the make/model, and just share a few comments about why you love it above all others.

This can be any radio: a shortwave portable, an SDR, a vintage radio, a ham radio transceiver, a handheld, a scanner, an aviation radio, whatever…or, yes, more than one, if you simply can’t choose.

I’ll select a winner at random on Sunday, April 7, 2019.

This contest is open to anyone, anywhere! I’ll post the prize to the winner directly wherever you are. (Note: Well, if you’re an astronaut on the ISS, I’ll have to send it to your drop box!)

I’ll also plan to compile and publish the full list of radio favorites in a future post…stay tuned for that.

Click here to comment on your favorite radio…

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Building a 20 meter self-tuning magnetic loop antenna

Magnetic Mag Loop Antenna Eric Sorensen

I’m often asked about what’s involved with building a home brew magnetic loop antenna.

If you’re considering building a passive loop antenna–one designed to both transmit and receive without any sort of receiver amplification–it’s a simple project. With basic DIY skills, a little math, a good variable capacitor, some copper tubing or coax, and a few inexpensive parts, it’s easy to make a passive antenna designed to operate on a given portion of the HF spectrum. It can be an easy two hour build as long as you have all of the parts. There are a number of tutorials for doing this on the web and several books on the topic (one of my favorites is Joe Carr’s Loop Antenna Handbook).

The compromise with a passive loop design is that they tend to have a very narrow bandwidth. In other words, you might have to re-tune the antenna via the variable capacitor even if you only move the frequency 5-10 kHz or so.

Via Hackaday, I recently discovered this innovative self-tuning passive loop antenna design by Eric Sorensen. Eric implements a stepper motor to make tuning adjustments. Not necessarily a beginner’s project, but the principles are straight-forward. He even includes a link to his printed components.

Click here to view Eric’s 20 meter loop antenna project.

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Shortwave antenna options for apartments, flats and condos

A balcony is your friend, if you have one. Otherwise, we need to use other antenna tactics!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Tim, who writes:

I am a regular subscriber here, but until now have not formally commented. I’ve been an avid SWL since 1977.

I am intrigued by your in-depth article on understanding and setting up SDR’s. But, what about an antenna? How well will these radios work for someone who is an apartment dweller?

I live here in South Florida and am unable to erect anything outdoors. I do get pretty good reception on my Grundig Satellit 800 and Tecsun PL-880. For these, I use either an indoor slinky antenna I bought on E-Bay; or an active indoor tunable loop antenna. This is one of the models past reviewed by you. It is Australian made, and covers 6-18 MHz. Please comment if you can on antenna usage.

Thank You very much!

First of all, I’m glad you enjoy the SWLing Post, Tim!

Great question: no doubt you understand that the antenna is the most important part of your radio equation!

It sounds like you’re currently using a slinky antenna and a portable PK Loop HF antenna.

The PK Loop

You’re on the right track with a PK Loop if you live in an apartment and have no way of putting an antenna outdoors. Being a small magnetic loop antenna, the PK Loop should help mitigate a bit of the noise in your apartment building.

What I love about the PK Loop is it’s small enough that you can re-position and rotate it to tweak noise rejection and find the quietest spot in your listening room. When I travel by car and even by air, the PK Loop is a welcome companion.

Before we talk about investing in a better indoor antenna, let’s make sure we cover a more affordable option first…

External wire antennas

If you have operable windows in your apartment, even fishing a thin-gauged wire out of your window–allowing it to simply hang along the outside of the building–could improve your reception significantly. Of course, if there’s a source of noise outside of your apartment it might only make things worse, but this is at least an inexpensive experiment and the results might impress you.

I actually tested this theory once and published the following results in a previous post about the PK Loop:

I had a fantastic opportunity to evaluate how well the PK Loop would perform in a typical hotel room. My buddies Eric (WD8RIF), Miles (KD8KNC) and I stayed overnight in a hotel on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base during our mini National Parks On The Air DXpedition.

The hotel room was indeed dense with RFI.

We hooked my Electraft KX2 to both the PK Loop and to a simple random wire antenna.

Without a doubt, the PK Loop was much better at mitigating radio noise than the wire antenna we hung on the inside of the hotel window.

Unlike most modern hotels, however, this one actually had operable windows, so we tossed the random wire out the window and made another comparison. In this case, the external wire antenna consistently outperformed the PK Loop, no doubt because it had the advantage of being outside the radio noise cloud within the hotel’s walls. It goes to show that outdoor antennas–even if simply hanging from a room window–will almost always outperform comparable indoor antennas.

So, if you have a way to dangle a wire out one of your window, give this a try.

How long should the wire be? I suppose it depends on how much vertical space you have below your window. For starters, I’d try to suspend at least eight feet of wire outside. If I had the vertical space, I’d try as much as 31 feet.

Important: First you must check to make sure your wire couldn’t possibly touch electrical lines. Never lower a wire outdoors if the wind could blow it into an electric service entry point, power line or any other type of line or cable. You should do a thorough inspection of the site first.

With that said, keep in mind: Stealth is key!

Photo by jay blacks on Unsplash

Can you spot the wire antenna in this photo? Of course not.

Use a thin wire with a black or dark jacket/insulation. Only lower it when using it–don’t leave it out all day long. Check to make sure your antenna isn’t going to interfere with your neighbors below (like landing in their outdoor grill or flower pots!). One strong complaint from neighbors could shut down your operation permanently.

Now back to loops…

If you don’t have operable windows or a way to deploy a wire antenna outside–or you’ve tried a wire antenna and results were unsatisfactory–then you will be forced to stick with indoor antennas which almost always leads you down the path of larger amplified wideband magnetic loop antennas.

This is a topic I covered extensively earlier this year.

Please read the post: Indoor shortwave antenna options to pair with a new SDR.

Indoor shortwave antenna options to pair with a new SDR

Keep in mind that if you’re fortunate enough to have a balcony, this is where you should mount your loop antenna. Check out this post by SWLing Post contributor, Klaus Boecker.

Klaus Boecker’s homebrew magnetic loop antenna.

Note that there are a number of sub $100 indoor amplified antennas on the market, but I would avoid using them–click here to read my thoughts about these.

In addition, read through this post which includes practical low-to-no-cost tips and best practices for shortwave listening at home and on the go.

Frugal SWLing: Investing little, but getting a lot out of your radio

I’m plotting to write a more in-depth article about antennas in the coming months, but it will focus on external antennas and methods of mounting them. When you have no means of mounting an antenna outdoors, in my opinion, your best options are the ones mentioned above.

Post readers: Have I overlooked an indoor antenna option? Please comment if you have experience with indoor antennas!

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