Chameleon CHA P Loop review
Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].
I had a chance to once again use my new Chameleon CHA P loop antenna and it's now time to give this antenna my humble review. To begin with I shopped around for a loop antenna and looked at the following brands. The Alexloop walkham loop, the Caras HF 315 loop, Alpha loop antennas and finally Chameleons CHA P loop antenna. Most of these antenna had good reviews for the most part but I chose the Chameleon CHA P loop for it's rugged construction and slightly better reviews. The loop comes with very easy to follow instructions that contain in-depth details about the antenna. I ordered it from DX Engineering and the delivery time was GREAT along with their customer service. The loop does not take long to assembly and wth practice I have it up and running in under 10 minutes. Below is a list of the positives I found with antenna:
|The Chameleon CHA P Loop antenna|
- It has a very small foot print when setup and is very portable which makes it easy for traveling on foot or bike.
- In very little time you can get very proficient as setting up the antenna.
- The Loop (LMR-400) section and PL-259 connectors are very good quality and also they are fitted with heat shrink to add a nice water tight fit.
- The tuning box is sealed and weather proof just for those days when Murphy decides to bring some rain on your portable operations.
The tuning box
- The 6:1 reduction gear makes tuning accurate and finding the peak noise level very fast. On the tuning box I added a 40-10 meter decal to remind me of tuning direction. Also I added the DX Engineering sticker as I am blown away with their customer service.
- I was able to successfully tune the loop to at least 1.3:1 on all bands wether is was 10m or 40 meters.
- Once the antenna was tuned to the lowest SWR and you move away from the antenna the SWR does not change. In the past with other loop antennas I have used the tuning know was on the top of the tuning box. Your hand being in the loop would affect the SWR and once your hand was removed the SWR would change and this made tuning frustrating. Other loops did not have the 6:1 gear reduction and finding the sweet spot and lowest SWR was a challenge. The slightest touch of the tuning knob threw the SWR off and often you would have to start over again.
- On the base of the handle is a 1/4-20 female thread that makes putting this antenna on a tripod a breeze. Other loops I have used do not have this and I had to make up a homemade mount.
- RG-58 with integrated RFI choke feed-line decouples the Faraday coupling loop from the radio which is essential to prevent SWR fluctuation while rotating the antenna or moving the coax cable around.
- If you have an HOA situation and getting on the air is a challenge this antenna could be the answer for you.
Quality PL-259 on Loop
Some of the drawback I found with the antenna are:
- The coax that runs from the antenna to the rig is only 12 feet and longer would had been better but that is my humble opinion. In all fairness the other portable loops I have own I had the same issue. Now Chameleon does offer coax with the RF choke in a 50 foot length for 65.00.
- The telescoping mast seems a bit delicate and could if your not careful become damaged making the antenna unless until it's replaced.
- I noticed right away the PL-259 connectors on the feed line are the crimp type and look of low grade quality. In my opinion this makes for a very weak point in the antennas construction. The loop section has quality grade PL-259 but this was skipped with the feed line.
- The carry bag it comes with is defective right off the self and admitted so by Chameleon. I'm not going to go into detail about that here but you can read my post about it HERE.
In conclusion I am very happy with the antenna and it's built quality, easy deployment and reduction gear tuning. It is pricey but in all fairness all the loops of similar characteristics are in around the same price.
Keep us posted on your new great adventure with the antenna. I have a MFJ-1876 and based in it, I know that loops really work very well.. Actually surprising well. I ran across a old QST article form WA3ULH and based on research of Alexandre Py1AHD, I suspect that this was the seed for his design. I have a big junk box and I am tempted to dig out a spare piece of LMR-400 and use it, instead of the 5/8″ copper tubing that was in the article.. BTW I did built this many yrs ago using copper tubing and it worked very well. Had a storage run busted in and this was one of the few thins stolen. Not sure why… Copper back in 1994 as not all that valuable and there was not a whole lot of it.
So keep up posted and have fun..
73 Harry K7ZOV
Good evening Harry always nice to hear from you, now that things have somewhat calmed down at work and if the weather co-operates I planned to get the loop in the field more often.
Hope you can… Now for a dirty little secret that a select few already know… Once you retire all of a sudden you have less them then when you were working full time…. Not sure why, but many others I know also have the same issue
73 and Have a great week end. Have fun with your new toy