Dual band rectangular loop antenna for 15m and 10m

Two Field Day antennas

The loop and the off-centre fed dipole at Field Day

This is the second article describing the two antennas that were used by the Carleton University Amateur Radio Club (CUARC) at Field Day 2010.  The first post described an off-centre fed dipole with a 200 ohm feedpoint impedance.  This post describes the second antenna a loop antenna that worked on two bands, 15m and 10m.

I like loop antennas. I have built large loops for amateur bands, as well as small loops for receiving (which are quite different to their bigger cousins) and have found both types perform well.  They are less sensitive to local noise, so often giving good signal to noise ratios. As CUARC was to operate on 10m and 15m at the Field Day site I was considering a loop for one of these bands, however, which one?  10m could be fun if there was an opening, plus the antenna would be smaller than 15m. However, 15m would be more likely to be open.  In searching the internet I came across a potential solution as KT4QW’s website who describes a 17m and 10m hanging loop antenna.  The idea was simple and elegant, two vertical and rectangular loops fed from the same point, similar as to how multi-band dipoles can be fed from the same feedpoint (sometimes called a fan dipole).

I went about calculating the basic design.  A full-wave loop’s total perimeter length is calculated by:

Length (in feet) = 1005 / f,

where f is the intended frequency of operation in MHz.

So for 21.3 MHz that would be a total loop length of 47.2ft and for 28.5MHz it would be 35.3ft.

To attain a 50Ω feedpoint the loop needs to be rectangular, with the longer length vertical.  Studying J. Carr’s Loop Antenna Handbook and KT4QW’s dimensions the sides were close to being 1/3 of the total loop length for a vertical side and 1/6 for the horizontal side.  So this then gave a design as shown below.

Dual band loop antenna

Dual band loop antenna for 15m and 10m.

To support the wire I bought two 10ft lengths of PVC piping.  The inner support for the upper part of the 10m antenna was some thin wood.  Both the wood and PVC were drilled with holes prior to Field Day.  The wire was cut from a single 100ft roll and the whole antenna was built by CUARC members at the Field Day site on the day. At the feed point a 1:1 balun was used,  an Elecraft BL2.  The intention was to suspend the antenna from a single central point so the loop(s) could be rotated, using a line tied to one lower corner.  However, we could not get enough height and clearance from tree branches, so we mounted it between two trees and it keep it static with the signal projecting in South-West and North-East directions.

Loop antenna being assembled

The loops being connected to the balun by Gerry, VA3GLT (left) and Maria, VA3MMI, (right). (Photograph and copyright of Chris Weisner, VA3SM)

After construction the SWR was measured and found to be nicely below 2:1 for both bands (at least the lower part of 10m which is quite a wide band). As mentioned in the earlier post Maria, VA3MMI, brought a portable analyzer to the site on Sunday morning and the trace of the SWR profile is shown below.  You can see the antenna has two nice dips in the SWR within the two bands. In an effort to see the usable bandwidth (below 2:1 SWR) the max SWR on the Y axis has be limited to 2.0:1.

Loop antenna SWR

10m and 15m dual band loop antenna SWR plot

To further examine the bandwidth of the two dips in SWR Maria, VA3MMI, set markers at the 2:1 points of the SWR curves.  These are shown in the next two traces (one for each band).  Both show good usable portions of the bands for phone, see the tables on the right of the trace. (Thanks to VA3MMI for the measurements and traces).

Bandwidth for 15m

Bandwidth for 15m is 467kHz, starting at 21.1MHz

Bandwidth for 10m

Bandwidth for 10m is 767kHz, starting at 28MHz

So, with the off-centre fed dipole and this dual loop antenna, CUARC constructed two antennas for Field Day that worked on 15m and 10m without the need of an antenna tuner unit.  Performance was good on both antennas and I heard at least one comment that that we had a strong signal (we used 100W).  During Field Day we made over 100 contacts on 15m and 16 contacts on 10m.  Not bad, as for many of the CUARC members this was their first chance at operating on HF.  It was enjoyable for the newly licensed CUARC members to build and then use the two antennas and to find both worked successfully.  For me that was perhaps the highlight of 2010 Field Day.

Alan Steele, VA3STL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Ottawa, Ontario. Contact him at [email protected].

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