Posts Tagged ‘CHA P-Loop’

Part 4 Lets look at some condo antennas

At our old condo the loop loops like a covered piece of furniture.
Good afternoon everyone, it's time to have a look at getting on the air from a condo. I have been living in a condo for about 6 years now and really have only had one antenna BUT I have tried some that really did not work at all and some that did a so so job. Operating from a condo does have it's challenges:
- most likely you are in a highly populated area with other large condo's around you.
- very small foot print for an antenna.
- In some cases the condo unit is small which limits your space for the ham radio "stuff".

Well now that I have you listing your radio on QRZ.COM for sale lets look at some of the advantages of being in a condo.
- In most cases you are high up as for me in one condo I was 60 feet up and in this one I am 160 feet up.
- Your balcony as most are made of metal make a good ground plane for some antennas.
- Your ham skills are challenged with regards to antennas, power output and mode of operation.
OK the last two points above I was really stretching for some positives but for sure height is in most cases a major advantage.

In this post lets look at some antennas that may work from a balcony. The antenna I use as you may already know if you are a regular reader of my blog is the MFJ 1788 mag loop. Now I have had many comments as well as emails saying that the mag loop is pricey. It's very true it is and most mag loops are not cheap as I also have the Chameleaon CHA P loop 2.0 mag loop for portable op's which also is a pricey antenna. I did save my pennies and spent some coin on the MFJ 1788 and not to turn this post into a review of MFJ but quality is not noted on the Eham review site with regards to most MFJ products. I did have a small issue with my loop but I repaired it and since that time (6 years ago) the loop has given me no issues at all. In no way am I saying that the mag loops are the only way to go.
A very unique looking antenna that is great for balcony operation is the Isotron antennas  these antennas get a very decent review on Eham and I know of a ham who uses one and has had great success with it. These antennas are small, no ground plain needed and they can be purchased as mono band or multi band. Also they really don't look like an antenna. With antenna when you want to use it you put it out and when done take it in. In the present condo I am in this is how I use my MFJ loop it's only out when I am using it.
The loop at our new location 
Another antenna worth mentioning is the new Elecraft AX1 for 20/17/15m and rumors are they may be extending the band coverage soon.  It comes with a 13 foot radial wire and has a max output of 30 watts.
Depending on the size of your balcony a wire antenna dipole antenna can be used. When we were looking at condos some balcony's were huge and could support a homemade wire dipole antenna. Two antennas I have tried that did not seem to work for me is a mono whip antenna mounted vertically  with pre-cut radials...did not work at all. I also could not get the MFJ 1788 to work horizontally at my new place I had to mount it vertically. I also tried mono whip antennas in a dipole configuration and it did work but way to large for the balcony.
In my next post I am going to talk about what modes of operation I found to work best for me and how it opened a new door for me in ham radio...........oh and by the way from my condo setup as I was writing this post I was able to make contact with IK4UPB on 20m.

Another day of outdoor op’s

The view from my other spot along the lake
I had the day off work today and it was another amazing day up this way for fall so I headed outdoors again with my KX3. This time I was out and about in the morning and was expecting 20m to be shut down and possible 40m opened up. I found 20m was open and never ended up checking 40m at all. Once again I headed toward the lake and this time my "spot" was taken with someone who also was taking advantage of the great weather. I was watching the weather forecast this morning and it looks like "seasonal reality" is going to set in very soon! This time I set up a little further along the lake at a picnic table. Today I was happy to make 3 CW contacts:

1. WA5OVB Phil's IC 7200 was doing a great job picking up my portable signal I gave Phil 579 report and I was given a 569 with some QSB.
The Chameleon CHA P antenna setup

2. KW7D Paul's signal was strong, he was in New Mexico where the weather is much more pleasent than it is going to be up this way. Paul was calling CQ and I was able to catch his attention with my portable signal.

3. K3PR is Joes call and we had a nice long QSO exchanging as much info as we could. At first my signal was in around a 229 but conditions changed and I moved up the scale to 559! Joe and I had a nice QSO about antennas, rigs, WX and just what we were up too.

I did hear a station 4U1A the United Nations in Austria and when I first heard their CQ call they had not been spotted and I was trying to get their attention from my portable setup. I did not have any luck and even less luck after they were spotted and the pileup began.
Things pack up very nicely. 



VE3WDM's QRPower BLOG 2017-10-22 02:23:00

I just can't believe the weather we are getting for it being half way through October. The temperature today was 22C with clear skies and just a gentle breeze off the lake. This is a great time to grab the KX3 and head out for some portable op's. I check the contest calendar to see what was happening in the way of CW contests. I found the NYQSO party and Worked all Germany (WAG) contest were going to be in full swing the same time I was out. I checked to see what the contest report was supposed to be, contesters can add lots of contacts to a portable op. I set up beside the lake (Lake Ontario) with a nice breeze and in the shade as the sun was out and I did not want to overheat. I made 20m my band of choice and it so happens that it was alive with WAG contesters. The band was in great shape and lots of German stations looking for DX stations to fill their log! I was using my Elecraft KX3 at 10 watts and my Chameleon mag loop antenna. I was set up in 10 minutes and on the air searching the band for contacts. I was on the air for about an hour and had the following contacts:
DF0DW           WAG contest
IQ1GE             DX calling CQ
DJ0SP              WAG contest
DL5HIA           WAG contest
DF8AA            WAG contest
W2RR              NYQSO party
DJ6OZ             WAG contest
DL0DA            WAG contest

As you can see the WAG contest dominated the bands and it turned out the NYQSO party participants were just not making it over the German WAG contesters. I did not include the signal reports in the above list as it was a contest so the standard 599 was sent. I knew I was no were close to 599 as the German stations asked on more than one occasion for a repeat.





Flight of the Bumble Bee QRP contest

Setting up 
This is the first (but not last) year I participated in this contest, I have Larry W2LJ to thank as his blog posts regarding this contest inspired me. Both Julie and I made plans for this day, for me it was contesting and she hauled along all her cameras and gear and had a blast with her hobby photography.  The weather was fantastic with it being 31C in the shade but we were right on Lake Ontario with a nice breeze off the lake made it pleasant. I operated from Humber bay shores park which is just outside our condo. We brought along camp chairs and a portable table as we knew the park would be very busy and finding a picnic table would be out of the question. The contest started at 1pm local time which gave Julie and I time to pick out something to eat. (fruit crepes with maple syrup) Once we found our spot in the park and setup we sat and enjoyed the crepes as one has to fuel up before the contest.
The view from the op table
The rig I used was my Elecraft KX3 on external battery power, the antenna was the Chameleon CHA P mag loop antenna and my key was the Palm mini paddle   I was very happy with the Chameleon CHA P antenna, it only took me 5 min's to setup. It was very easy to tune but it was not until 1/2 way through my outing that I realized the KX3 had the preamp off! Once I put the preamp on finding the noise peak was much easier. I was very pleased with the setup and performance of the antenna. I was only able to operate for 2 of the 4 hours of the contest as Julie and I had dinner guests we had to be back home and prepare for. I only operated on 20m as this band was open and the QRP contacts were being heard. I was pleased that I made 11 contacts and I did have about 5 folks stop and ask questions about what I was doing. One gentleman told me that his dad was a ham and one of the young people that stopped told me she read about morse code in her history class! The band was in great shape and I was able to hear and work QRP stations all over the U.S. I made 2 contacts into New Jersey and for some reason I have never in the past made it to that state when doing portable field op's. I really enjoyed this contest and am looking forward to it next year.
Setting up the loop
The outdoor shack.
Chameleon CHA P 
Fuelling  up before 

Flight of the Bumble Bee QRP contest

Setting up 
This is the first (but not last) year I participated in this contest, I have Larry W2LJ to thank as his blog posts regarding this contest inspired me. Both Julie and I made plans for this day, for me it was contesting and she hauled along all her cameras and gear and had a blast with her hobby photography.  The weather was fantastic with it being 31C in the shade but we were right on Lake Ontario with a nice breeze off the lake made it pleasant. I operated from Humber bay shores park which is just outside our condo. We brought along camp chairs and a portable table as we knew the park would be very busy and finding a picnic table would be out of the question. The contest started at 1pm local time which gave Julie and I time to pick out something to eat. (fruit crepes with maple syrup) Once we found our spot in the park and setup we sat and enjoyed the crepes as one has to fuel up before the contest.
The view from the op table
The rig I used was my Elecraft KX3 on external battery power, the antenna was the Chameleon CHA P mag loop antenna and my key was the Palm mini paddle   I was very happy with the Chameleon CHA P antenna, it only took me 5 min's to setup. It was very easy to tune but it was not until 1/2 way through my outing that I realized the KX3 had the preamp off! Once I put the preamp on finding the noise peak was much easier. I was very pleased with the setup and performance of the antenna. I was only able to operate for 2 of the 4 hours of the contest as Julie and I had dinner guests we had to be back home and prepare for. I only operated on 20m as this band was open and the QRP contacts were being heard. I was pleased that I made 11 contacts and I did have about 5 folks stop and ask questions about what I was doing. One gentleman told me that his dad was a ham and one of the young people that stopped told me she read about morse code in her history class! The band was in great shape and I was able to hear and work QRP stations all over the U.S. I made 2 contacts into New Jersey and for some reason I have never in the past made it to that state when doing portable field op's. I really enjoyed this contest and am looking forward to it next year.
Setting up the loop
The outdoor shack.
Chameleon CHA P 
Fuelling  up before 

Chameleon CHA P Loop review

The Chameleon CHA P Loop antenna
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:

  1. It has a very small foot print when setup and is very portable which makes it easy for traveling on foot or bike. 
  2. In very little time you can get very proficient as setting up the antenna. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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 
  5. 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. 
  6. I was able to successfully tune the loop to at least 1.3:1 on all bands wether is was 10m or 40 meters. 
  7. 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. 
  8. 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. 
  9. 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.
  10. 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:
  1. 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. 
  2. The telescoping mast seems a bit delicate and could if your not careful become damaged making the antenna unless until it's replaced. 
  3. 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. 
    Crimped PL-259 
  4. 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. 

Chameleon CHA P Loop review

The Chameleon CHA P Loop antenna
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:

  1. It has a very small foot print when setup and is very portable which makes it easy for traveling on foot or bike. 
  2. In very little time you can get very proficient as setting up the antenna. 
  3. 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. 
  4. 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 
  5. 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. 
  6. I was able to successfully tune the loop to at least 1.3:1 on all bands wether is was 10m or 40 meters. 
  7. 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. 
  8. 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. 
  9. 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.
  10. 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:
  1. 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. 
  2. The telescoping mast seems a bit delicate and could if your not careful become damaged making the antenna unless until it's replaced. 
  3. 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. 
    Crimped PL-259 
  4. 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. 

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