My Wellbrook ALA1530LN active magnetic loop receiving antenna
After working a while with a simple longwire antenna of appr. 9 meters length made from insulated 2 mm. copperwire attached to the well known Magnetic Longwire Balun from RF-systems, which combination was some 3 meters high in the air and working quite well, the building up of noise from nearby electrical sources, as well from my own house as my neighbours, the search began for a definitive solution which combined a great reception of shortwave signals and nulling out those pestering noises from where ever they originated.
The active magnetic loop seemed to be the answer, but building one myself was not for me. Soldering and measuring all those complicated things did not attrack me at all, so it had to be a ready to use and simply to install ML and the search for a high quality so called wonder antenna soon was over. The Wellbrook magnetic loop became the ultimate choice.
Yeah, this was my dream antenna, but the cost of purchasing and shipping it from the UK to my place caused me to wait and search for alternatives. Man, the other loops were even more expensive and they had to come over from the USA and other exotic places. As a matter of fact, the perfomance and building quality of them was equal and in some cases worse than the Wellbrook. After a long time of consideration and research, my decision was made: in a moment of bewilderment I ordered the Wellbrook ALA1530LN.
It arrived 2 weeks later and was well and securely packed and wrapped in protective foam and supported by wooden pieces. Unpacking was quite a job, but assembling went well and after an hour or so my Wellbrook was ready for its job. First testing inside my house was somewhat dissapointing and after a few days it moved outside for testing. The improvement was a very nice surpise and after positioning and nulling out many noise-sources it is now at appr. 3 meters height. But I plan to get it higher up and get it above the roof of my house, which is about 6 meters in the air.
The performance of my Wellbrook ALA1530LN
About the performance of the Wellbrook ALA1530LN is a lot to report. A magnetic loop itself is basically a good receiver but on top of that it can null out all kinds of noises coming from electrical sources near you or even at some distance. So the signal is not so much stronger than many other antennas, but the lack of noise makes some weak signals more receivable or clearer.
Most selfmade loops use a capacitor to get the best signal on a certain frequency. The very sophisticated electronics in the little white box of the Wellbrook do a great job in this respect in the region from 0 - 30 Mhz. Above this it soon gets less, and it performs not better than a whip. The amplifier of the Wellbrook also does a great job, so no worries about that.
Some bands and modes:
- 0 - 2 Mhz : The most weak signals can be heard. Some times the RF-gain has to be turned down on strong ones to avoid overload.
- 3 - 7 Mhz : Reception of Hambands is very good. QSO's in LSB and especially the digital signals like SSTV are much better to receive than with my old longwire and MLB. Great improvement.
- 10 - 14 Mhz : Also on these bands the loop outperformes anything I tried before. Mostly my equipment is picking up digital signals like SSTV, DSSTV etc. Watching the reception of pictures by other amateurs in the same part of the world on SSTV-cams on internet, many times I'm surprised to see my received pictures in comparison are often the clearest.
- 20 - 30 Mhz : I have to admit this part of the band is a little empty, apparently. But I could be wrong, the signals I do receive here are mostly (weak) carriers. So performance-wise there is not much to report.
- Position : My loop is positioned so, that it nulls out most of my own noise-sources and that works most of the time. It seems that this depends on the time of the year. Also other noises from nearby increase in summer and get less or disappear in winter. It's mostly due to reflections of surrounding buildings etc., more devices working in summer (lawn mowers, electric drilling and sawing) and of course the height of the loop. If I could place the loop higher than my roof, I'd go for it, and would increase my reception even more in certain directions and avoid noise-sources more. A rotor would also be a big help. But that is something for the hopefully near future.
- The Wellbrook ALA1530LN is no wonder antenna, however it performs great under certain conditions and/or circumstances. Especially on the lower frequencies (0 - 20 Mhz) it is as good as or even better than bigger and sometimes more expensive antenna's in my opinion. The surprise-effect (or WOW-effect) is a great experience when experimenting with things like position and direction. The fact of having a great signal with a simple loop that many times outperformes anything else is a good feeling.
The price to pay.
Yes, it is not cheap. All and all (incl. shipping from the UK to Holland) I payed € 400,-. I think it is well worth it for the things you get back. And never worry again when reception is not so great today ("Could there be something wrong?"). In all kinds of weather it works great and lasts for years in whatever conditions nature can throw at it (except hurricanes of course). All considered I'm very happy with the Wellbrook!
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