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Chameleon F-Loop Review

Woody-202

Sr. Member
Sep 5, 2018
488
803
103
66
In an earlier review of the P-Loop 2.0 I wrote:

"Living in an HOA stronghold I've tried several ways to have clandestine outdoor antennas :sneaky:, but they were spotted by HOA observers with binoculars so I tried some indoor wire antennas. Last year I took the plunge and bought the P-Loop 2.0."

Well, no longer having my P-Loop I looked online to find that the P-Loop was no longer available but I had previously eyed the F-Loop for 80m capability but it was more expensive last year (the basic F-Loop will get you on 80m)

Because the F-Loop was their only MLA now, several things had changed:

1. Price. It was always more expensive than the P-Loop, but now the base price was lower ($399) which is what the P-Loop was selling for last year.

2. Accessories: The solid radiator that could be optionally purchased was discontinued. An e-mail exchange with Chameleon indicated this was do to a material/price change that no longer made this feasible. As well, while the P-Loop had a tripod (of sorts) the F-Loop now doesn't. It's okay in my situation because I used one of my heavy-duty camera tripods on the P-Loop to begin with, and now have the "F" model on it.

I bought one a couple weeks ago. Using the slower FREE shipping it arrived on Tuesday and on Wednesday night I made my first-ever 80m contact with a local ham about 40 miles away! To say I was stoked is putting it mildly - with an indoor magnetic loop antenna, taking up no more room than the P-Loop, I was on 80m (I'm listening to a couple fellas on 3918 as I'm typing this).

Build quality is what we'd expect from Chameleon, and having owned several Mag loops previously, it went from box-to-assembled in about 10 minutes. *Note: unlike the P-Loop, the F-Loop isn't a antenna to be left outside (i.e. - not water proof)

Borrowing observations from my previous review I'll save some time with this one:


Price: Relatively expensive, but generally on-par with other vendors. When comparing full price to home grown, home grown wins.
In the box: A canvas carrying bag with a loop of coax for the main loop, another loop of coax for the extended loop, 2 sturdy aluminum coupling loops (one for 60m-10m single loop install, and a larger coupling loop for using the extended cable to get to 80m) telescopic mast, tuning box, 12’ of RG-58 with an RFI choke feed-line, and instructions. The instructions are just copies or laser prints on regular paper.
Assembly: Like I mentioned earlier, after you've owned one, it's easy as pie. If you're new to this type antenna you might spend 20 minutes or so figuring it out, and after that, 5-minutes down and 5-minutes back up.
Tuning: Very easy. The large knob connected the the capacitor shaft and the 6:1 reducer make both small and large adjustments easy. I can easily ballpark my frequency by listening to the receiver while I turn the knob, and use a antenna analyzer to get the best SWR (it was an easy 1.2:1 on 80m)
Performance: I've never had any other style indoor antenna that would really work well due to electrical noise issues so there isn't much to compare it to, but I think it's does a great job. Actually I have a short demo of noise vs no noise to share now (I've had better noise reduction results but this video works):





The antenna usually sits in my 2nd floor shack and using it vertically I've been able to successfully use the null spots in eliminating most of the electrical noise I have around here (from S8/9 to 3/4). While it may take some time for you to get more familiar on-the-fly tuning it won't be long before you're zippity-doo-daa-ing from one end of the capacitor to the other.

Final comments:

Chameleon says it should handle 25 watts SSB but it's not expressly written what they mean by that. Does that mean the power setting of your rig? because if I set my radio to 25 watts it's sure not near that when I talk (as viewed on my PEP meter), so I started to live dangerously several months ago with the P-Loop (and now the F-Loop) by setting my output power on my TS-2000 to 30, sometimes 35 watts. Don't do as I do unless you understand the risks.

It's not a miracle antenna per se (obviously a dipole could do better), except to operators like me who are heavily restricted when it comes to an outdoor antenna. So in my instance it is a "miracle" antenna. I'll update this review if there is something to update..73

f-loop.jpg
 

Riverman

Old Member
Nov 12, 2013
2,659
2,634
273
In an earlier review of the P-Loop 2.0 I wrote:

"Living in an HOA stronghold I've tried several ways to have clandestine outdoor antennas :sneaky:, but they were spotted by HOA observers with binoculars so I tried some indoor wire antennas. Last year I took the plunge and bought the P-Loop 2.0."

Well, no longer having my P-Loop I looked online to find that the P-Loop was no longer available but I had previously eyed the F-Loop for 80m capability but it was more expensive last year (the basic F-Loop will get you on 80m)

Because the F-Loop was their only MLA now, several things had changed:

1. Price. It was always more expensive than the P-Loop, but now the base price was lower ($399) which is what the P-Loop was selling for last year.

2. Accessories: The solid radiator that could be optionally purchased was discontinued. An e-mail exchange with Chameleon indicated this was do to a material/price change that no longer made this feasible. As well, while the P-Loop had a tripod (of sorts) the F-Loop now doesn't. It's okay in my situation because I used one of my heavy-duty camera tripods on the P-Loop to begin with, and now have the "F" model on it.

I bought one a couple weeks ago. Using the slower FREE shipping it arrived on Tuesday and on Wednesday night I made my first-ever 80m contact with a local ham about 40 miles away! To say I was stoked is putting it mildly - with an indoor magnetic loop antenna, taking up no more room than the P-Loop, I was on 80m (I'm listening to a couple fellas on 3918 as I'm typing this).

Build quality is what we'd expect from Chameleon, and having owned several Mag loops previously, it went from box-to-assembled in about 10 minutes. *Note: unlike the P-Loop, the F-Loop isn't a antenna to be left outside (i.e. - not water proof)

Borrowing observations from my previous review I'll save some time with this one:


Price: Relatively expensive, but generally on-par with other vendors. When comparing full price to home grown, home grown wins.
In the box: A canvas carrying bag with a loop of coax for the main loop, another loop of coax for the extended loop, 2 sturdy aluminum coupling loops (one for 60m-10m single loop install, and a larger coupling loop for using the extended cable to get to 80m) telescopic mast, tuning box, 12’ of RG-58 with an RFI choke feed-line, and instructions. The instructions are just copies or laser prints on regular paper.
Assembly: Like I mentioned earlier, after you've owned one, it's easy as pie. If you're new to this type antenna you might spend 20 minutes or so figuring it out, and after that, 5-minutes down and 5-minutes back up.
Tuning: Very easy. The large knob connected the the capacitor shaft and the 6:1 reducer make both small and large adjustments easy. I can easily ballpark my frequency by listening to the receiver while I turn the knob, and use a antenna analyzer to get the best SWR (it was an easy 1.2:1 on 80m)
Performance: I've never had any other style indoor antenna that would really work well due to electrical noise issues so there isn't much to compare it to, but I think it's does a great job. Actually I have a short demo of noise vs no noise to share now (I've had better noise reduction results but this video works):





The antenna usually sits in my 2nd floor shack and using it vertically I've been able to successfully use the null spots in eliminating most of the electrical noise I have around here (from S8/9 to 3/4). While it may take some time for you to get more familiar on-the-fly tuning it won't be long before you're zippity-doo-daa-ing from one end of the capacitor to the other.

Final comments:

Chameleon says it should handle 25 watts SSB but it's not expressly written what they mean by that. Does that mean the power setting of your rig? because if I set my radio to 25 watts it's sure not near that when I talk (as viewed on my PEP meter), so I started to live dangerously several months ago with the P-Loop (and now the F-Loop) by setting my output power on my TS-2000 to 30, sometimes 35 watts. Don't do as I do unless you understand the risks.

It's not a miracle antenna per se (obviously a dipole could do better), except to operators like me who are heavily restricted when it comes to an outdoor antenna. So in my instance it is a "miracle" antenna. I'll update this review if there is something to update..73



Outstanding, in-depth, helpful review.
80 on a small loop. Who’da thunk it?

Thanks, Woody.
 
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Riverman

Old Member
Nov 12, 2013
2,659
2,634
273
:ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
I wasn't kidding in the previous post.

Station.jpg

The new Alexloop has a tuning light built into the tuning box (Top left corner). You tune for loudest noise/highest S-Meter reading by ear. Then transmit a small carrier and fine tune till light is at its brightest.

Alextune.jpg

Still have the Antron 99 up for CB use.

Antron 99.jpg
 
Last edited:

Riverman

Old Member
Nov 12, 2013
2,659
2,634
273
Talked to Atlanta, GA (from Texas) last night on 20 meters. Soon as we finished a fellow chimed in to say I was booming into San Diego, CA at 20 over 9. He couldn’t believe what antenna I was using and that it was indoors. And that I was only using 15 watts.

Magnetic loops + Mother Nature = Great Fun :p
 
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Wire Weasel

Senior Moment
Dec 13, 2008
2,850
466
193
Have you thought of this? Traditional Wire Loop antennas tend to ignore nearby objects. You can run a wire around the outside of your house on the underside the eves/soffit. You can even paint the wire if you have to to match the soffit. It WILL be invisible. Length around a typical house should ring up for 80m nicely.
 

Riverman

Old Member
Nov 12, 2013
2,659
2,634
273
Forgot to mention in my Post #6 above, having a spectrum scope/waterfall opens up a whole, new world. Rather than doing the initial tuning by ear, simply tune the antenna to the band your radio is set to and watch the scope come alive when you get there. I can view the entire phone portion of every band from 10-40. Then I just dial the radio to a visible signal and fine tune the loop to lowest SWR. (Takes about 5 seconds).

With my Alexloop situated next to a wall, a window with aluminum blinds and sitting next to my radio equipment I am still able to tune to very low or flat SWR. Am making contacts right and left and no one can believe I’m on a 3’ loop indoors.

Great fun! :D
 
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Woody-202

Sr. Member
Sep 5, 2018
488
803
103
66
(y)(y)(y)

Keep up the good work and look the other way when the naysayers show up.
This hobby is about having fun and learning. Exactly what you're doing! :D
Makes me want to get another mag loop!

Thanks. I just bought a vacuum variable cap for a QRO loop project, and I'm thinking of using copper tubing for this one.
 

Woody-202

Sr. Member
Sep 5, 2018
488
803
103
66
:ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
I wasn't kidding in the previous post.

View attachment 37018

The new Alexloop has a tuning light built into the tuning box (Top left corner). You tune for loudest noise/highest S-Meter reading by ear. Then transmit a small carrier and fine tune till light is at its brightest.

I've seen the tuning light feature. Do you get the lowest swr from the brightest light? My only other experience was from designs that incorporated a field strength meter into the mix but it never seemed to be the safest swr to operate from.
 

Woody-202

Sr. Member
Sep 5, 2018
488
803
103
66
Have you thought of this? Traditional Wire Loop antennas tend to ignore nearby objects. You can run a wire around the outside of your house on the underside the eves/soffit. You can even paint the wire if you have to to match the soffit. It WILL be invisible. Length around a typical house should ring up for 80m nicely.

Yep, I've considered it. Laziness has thwarted implementation though :whistle:
 

Riverman

Old Member
Nov 12, 2013
2,659
2,634
273
I've seen the tuning light feature. Do you get the lowest swr from the brightest light? My only other experience was from designs that incorporated a field strength meter into the mix but it never seemed to be the safest swr to operate from.

Oops. Just now saw your question, Woody. To answer:
Tuning for the brightest light usually results in a good, usable SWR (2.0 or less), but fine tuning using a SWR meter can often get it flat or close. (y)
 

Woody-202

Sr. Member
Sep 5, 2018
488
803
103
66
ADDITION TO REVIEW:

All things considered, this is a minor issue, but I wanted to mention the loop "kit bag" as supplied by Chameleon. If you've watched any of the recent YouTuber's reviewing this loop, many times you'll see a large bag, as supplied by Chameleon, for everything to fit inside.

The P-Loop I bought a few years back came with a med-small knapsack, which didn't zip at the top. There was only a fold-over flap to cover the items inside the bag. Even with the P-Loop's smaller tuning box it was impossible to fit everything into that bag.

When I bought my F-Loop, it also came with a small bag, and fold-over flap. Once again: No zipper, and even less room, due to the larger tuning box. I thought everyone got a similar bag until recently, when I purchased a pre-owned F-Loop, and, just about fell out of my chair when I saw the bag that accompanied it:

f-loop bag comparison.jpg

In this photo I placed the one I got with my F-Loop right next to the one I just received. The size difference is enormous.

From this photo it's easy to see that the newest bag is HUGE, and I would have no problems fitting an F-loop into it (heck, I could fit 2 F-Loops with room to spare).
Yes, bag models can come and go over time, so the actual bag will change over the years, but the approximate size should not.

I just wanted to give you a "Heads Up" should you buy an F-Loop and get a dinky bag with it as well...
 
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