It’s now between two antennas……….and some last minute exciting news!!!!

The weather here has sure cooled down and had 20cm of snow on Saturday this will at least make the ground white. At the old place there is a pile of snow but here in the city not so much.....speaking of not so much that has been the progress with my antenna situation in the condo. I have not really had all that much time to try anymore idea out. My next plan of attack  will be to place the Alexloop on the balcony in the horizontal position (in the cover of darkness of coarse) and see how that does for both receiving and transmitting. I have now narrowed my antenna selection down to two antennas, the MFJ 1788 loop or the MFJ 1780 fan box loop. I contacted MFJ and asked their opinion and was told the 1788 was a better construction and the 1780 was more portable but both are good antennas! Well that really didn't  help much. I called the local ham dealer and they do not stock the fan box loop and the 1788 has been on back order since October!!
I am tending to lean towards the fan box loop as it looks nothing like an antenna as the last thing I want are the condo cops coming after me. This unit is not really made for rain and is "portable" meaning I will have to take it in and out when using it. As for the 1788 it sure is more money but it covers more bands and is built better and I am a firm believer in you get what you pay for! So my delema is which antenna to go for.......
The 1780 fan box
1. It is cheaper but that may not be a good thing
2. It looks nothing like an antenna.
3. Very portable so small footprint.
1. Only covers from 14-30 meters
2. Not good in bad weather due to housing construction.
3. Has to be taken in and out.

The 1788
1. Covers from 15-40 meters
2. Solid construction
3. Able to be left outdoors year around.
1. The cost is more.
2. It looks like an antenna
3. May be hard to hide and hiding it may affect it's preformance.

Some exciting news regarding my signal getting out in this concrete jungle!
I was able to get the loop out and in the horizontal position and it worked great! The receive was very good and I was able to finally get spotted on the RBN. This are only U.S spots but with 5 watts and up to this point batting ZERO in the spot dept I am thrilled to see that my signal is getting out. Now I just have to fine tune things. At this point I have not tried WSPR but now that the horizontal position seems to work that is my next step to see how I do using WSPR.
rows to show:
showing spots for DX call: VE3WDM
search spot by callsign
W8WWV VE3WDM 7016.9CW CQ [LoTW]7 dB23 wpm2305z 13 Dec
NY3A VE3WDM 7016.9CW CQ [LoTW]9 dB23 wpm2305z 13 Dec
WZ7I VE3WDM 7016.9CW CQ [LoTW]10 dB23 wpm2304z 13 Dec
W2MKM VE3WDM 7016.9CW CQ [LoTW]11 dB23 wpm2304z 13 Dec
K1TTT VE3WDM 7016.9CW CQ [LoTW]10 dB23 wpm2304z 13 Dec
W3LPL VE3WDM 7031.9CW CQ [LoTW]1 dB23 wpm2255z 13 Dec
K1TTT VE3WDM 7032.0CW CQ [LoTW]8 dB23 wpm2255z 13 Dec
WZ7I VE3WDM 7031.9CW CQ [LoTW]8 dB23 wpm2255z 13 Dec
WE9V VE3WDM 7031.9CW CQ [LoTW]6 dB23 wpm2255z 13 Dec
W8WWV VE3WDM 7032.0CW CQ [LoTW]8 dB23 wpm2255z 13 Dec
W4KKN VE3WDM 7031.9CW CQ [LoTW]4 dB23 wpm2254z 13 Dec
NY3A VE3WDM 7031.9CW CQ [LoTW]9 dB23 wpm2254z 13 Dec

Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

8 Responses to “It’s now between two antennas……….and some last minute exciting news!!!!”

  • Todd KD0TLS:

    I don’t see either as an improvement over the AlexLoop, but the concern over the 1788 looking like an antenna is a bit ill-founded, IMO. You’re thinking like a ham. To a non-ham, it doesn’t look like an antenna. Aside from that, you can put a couple plastic pine boughs on it and call it a wreath. Drape a Canadian flag over it.
    Like I said before, if your solution doesn’t seem (to a non-ham) to attract lightning, or be a danger of falling/blowing on to someone below, then nobody is likely to question it. Unless, of course, your neighbours start hearing loud clicking sounds on their cheap PC speakers (or clock radios) caused by your CW activity. Or your voice (with the easily-looked-up callsign) starts coming over their home theatre system.

  • Don, VE3OOM:

    Hello Mike

    I too have a very restricted antenna restricted policy. Having said that I am considering the MFJ-1786 (

    It is similar to the MFJ-1788 but it covers 23-30MHz
    On 9 Jan the London Amateur Radio Club will be given a talk on these antennas

    Don, VE3OOM

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Todd, thanks for commenting and getting my grey matter going once again. The only advantage to me over the Alexloop is that I don’t have to head out to the balcony to re-tune on band changes. It’s true I am thinking like a ham for sure and for me no question from the folks around me is a good question. As for clicks and so on this is the reason I am QRP but having said that there is some very cheap stuff out there that can pickup very low power and give me away.

  • john mann KK4ITN:

    Remember one thing. Even though MFJ makes fine products, if you ever need repairs it will take FOREVER! Like I said FINE products, but it may take over 6 to 7 weeks for repairs.
    I just got my keyer back from MFJ and it took 5 1/2 weeks on their bench for the tech to look at it. They are backed up with repairs.
    BUT if you can get out back into the ham world, hey thats all that matters!

  • john mann KK4ITN:

    PS when you hear me on CW, QRS to about 18, thats all I can do right now.
    PS PS. Yesterday on 10 meters 28.050 I spoke to ZS6JBJ. What a blast, with 50 watts and a dipole. For me I think that was the high point of my ham carreer!

    john mann – kk4itn

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening John, so far up to this point I have not had to send any of my MFJ products for repair. It does not seem that customer service is very high on the list with them. There are not to many loop antennas on the market right now and it’s a shame considering the growing ham population in restricted antenna situations.
    Great work on the ZS contact and for sure it’s 10m that can bring Christmas surprises to us all.

  • Jerry KK4GMU:


    Old post, but…

    In December of 2013 you wrote this blog concerning the MFJ-1788 compared to the MFJ-1780. Thank you for that.

    I am in a similar situation 9 years later in 2022.

    I am a fairly newish ham, expecting to be a General in November. I am preparing for HF capabilities. I have very restricted antenna space in my HOA/small lot, one story attached condo. Other hams suggest I would be better off installing wires than to get a loop, but at age 76 I’m not going to be hanging off ladders. My attic is also a no-go.

    So, I have a 1788 (15 to 40 meters) on order at DX Engineering – not in stock until January. In the meantime I’m also considering the 1786 (10 to 30 meters) or the 1780 “Box Fan”, also 10 to 30 meters, instead of the 1788. Remote tuning and at least 100 watts are essentials.

    I will probably gravitate more toward digital (Winlink used now and JS6call – type modes) more than phone – I’m not a big talker except 2 meter net check-ins. Consequently up to 30 meters might be all I need – 10 through 30 might make me happy enough.

    On the other hand, most others I’ve asked advice from said I might be happier with the 1788 because “40 meters is very popular.” They say I could always get a CB 11 meter antenna and use it on 10 meters. But that that requires either a vertical like the Solarcon A-99 which is uncomfortably tall at my location at 18′, or spring for the 1780 for ~$400 plus the $710 for the 1788.

    So, would you be so kind to tell me:

    1. Looks like you sold your 1788 loop. How satisfied with it were you during the time and circumstances you had it?
    2. What differences/pros and cons are you aware of between the 1780 and the 1786? They are both 10 to 30 meter units. Which would you recommend and why?
    3. What are your thoughts about the desirability of going to 40 meters versus stopping at 30 with these loops?

    Currently there is a $300 price difference between the 1780 and 1788; a $250 price difference between the 1780 and the 1786; and a $50 price difference between the 1786 and 1788.

    Price is a concern. Getting both the 1788 and the 1780 would be a huge stretch for me. If the 1780 is as decent as the 1786, that might be a good option.

    I do have the MFJ-993B auto-tuner, but I understand thou shalt not use an autotuner with these MFJ loops.

    Your thoughts and experience, please.

  • Good morning Jerry, very much enjoyed exchanging emails with you regarding the MFJ loop and as in the email if you have any more questions shoot me an email and I will be happy to assist as best I can.

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