Flip a coin

(Well time to go back to FUN Radio stuff)

While looking around on the ONTARS Website this afternoon I found the following posted:


This is a bit earlier than I expected but I think its a good idea but it also raises a question…  Do I spend the price of the antenna I want to buy to take a trip to Dayton to get a deal on hopefully the antenna I want to buy…

Let me try to explain…

I think I previously mentioned that Liz and I (although we have been threatening to move to an apartment for years now,)  are painfully (my knees etc) getting closer to that decision. 

Its getting harder to make it from the shack in the basement up the stairs to the kitchen or anywhere else in our two story gardenhome…  Its no easier for her but she does not venture into the basement for fear of the creatures that live in my shack… or at least she thinks they are hiding down here…

VA3PCJ Hoola Loop

Above: VA3PCJ’s home brewed “HulaLoop”

Now after many years of playing with many types of portable antennas the best style of antenna I can think of for attaching to an apartment balcony is a Mag Loop.

No ground radials needed and its small with really  good performance. 

I have used a few of this style in several different locations and I have been impressed every time by the strong signal coming out of such a small footprint…  I could build a version of the HulaLoop (see above) for much less but having to mess around with a remote tuning device just does not excite me.  Other may enjoy the builds and I do when they go smoothly…  Having to design and then build it and then trouble shoot it… no thanks…  I want to talk on a radio… not build one…

merblueVA3PCJ1Above VA3PCJ with his ALEXLOOP

Most of the Loops I have used were designed to be tuned at the loop itself which will cause a problem when I want to QSY in the wintertime.  Opening up the balcony door to freeze the house when I change frequencies would not be a good idea…

With that idea in mind I have decided on  the MFJ 1788 Loop Antenna which covers 15m to 40m and most importantly is remotely tuned…  For my circumstances its just the Best Bang for the Buck


As you can see from the above picture… As it does not look like any sort of antenna (although it could be mistaken for a Satellite Dish) it has that very stealthy advantage…  All I need is a bit of altitude and with any luck a southern exposure (south west would be great) and I would be in business…

There is a local ham who is using the MFJ loop and I have seen him make QRP contacts with it using a Flex 1500 and yes thats where I really got the idea from…

Now comes the big problem (not really but…) or at least a question…  The cost!  I have no qualms about spending $469.00 plus taxes and shipping to get this MFJ Loop delivered to Ottawa.  If  I was able to put up a beam and tower it would cost me much more.


Its very close in price to the AlexLoop and the MFJ is remote tuned. 

But if I go to Dayton on the bus trip with the hopes of getting the antenna I need for home then unless someone gives one to me or I win it in some sort of free draw there is no way to justify the cost along with the cost of the trip.  Its going to cost more to go to Dayton than it will to buy the antenna and have it shipped here…

The budget will allow for one or the other….

Dayton or antenna????

Do I flip the coin???

Right now I’m thinking Loop… but some of you have been to Dayton before so what do you think???


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4 Responses to “Flip a coin”

  1. Mike Says:

    I have the Alexloop and it’s great for out and about op’s. I have just moved into a condo and the Alexloop does not seem to be doing the trick for some reason. I am looking at the MFJ loop or the MFJ fan box antenna. The fan box seems to NOT look like an antenna and my end up being my choice.

    • VA3QV Says:

      Hi Mike,
      Tnx for the visit and the comments… I really like the ALEXLOOP but having to go out to the balcony to re tune every time just does not do it for me… as a portable antenna I think its fantastic but as a balcony antenna in our Ontario winters… no thanks…

      When we do move… It will be to a rental apt most likely here in Ottawa and the one we move into will allow Sat Dishes and once you get some altitude the MFJ Loop looks close enough to be called a Sat Dish or an OTA TV Antenna and no body would know it was actually for ham radio.

      If your condo has strict thou shalt not rules about what you can do on your balcony then I recommend the box fan stealth loop… and just put it outside when you want to make contacts,,, I have no experience on that loop but I do know the others (1788 and 1786) are making contacts here…

      Good luck with finding everything after the move and getting the station back on the air…


  2. David Coutts Says:

    I agree that the AlexLoop would be too “fiddly” for home-based operations, but the MFJ version is very intriguing. I lived in a highrise many years ago and the RF noise levels were outrageous making operating from home impossible.
    Do some sniffing with your FT817 before signing on the dotted line.

    As for Dayton, I have never been, but if it comes to one or the other, Dayton will still be there in subsequent years. Your apartment antenna requirement is more immediate. I’d go antenna first.

    Dayton is certainly one of those places every amateur should attend and I will one day. I’ll also make sure I have some coin with me as it would be a shame to visit and not take advantage of avoiding shipping and broker costs one would otherwise incur.
    The other one to visit is W1AW, which my colleague, Peter VE3FXY has visited three times. (I managed to work him on his most recent visit.)

    • VA3QV Says:

      Hi Dave,

      Will be sniffing around for sure…. I am hoping that something with some altitude combined with a south (western preferred) exposure will give me the Attitude to make lots of QRP contacts in areas I have only heard before.

      The only restriction I have given Liz in her apt hunting was “Antenna Friendly” and that in its basic form means that we are looking for a southern balcony on a building that allows Sat Dishes… Loops look enuf like a dish that it should be fine for me…

      Not expecting any RFI issues at 5w or less and hopefully the filtering in the flex will clean up signals for me…

      No rush to move but it would take me long to pack up if we were to find the right spot…Top floor with a south west exposure would be a no brainer and the moving truck would be booked already…


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