The KY6R Optimized 40M Delta Flag
Bottom line – one KY6R Loop performs as expected – in some cases, the gain is zero and the UrbanBeam beats the loop, but in others they are the same. The UrbanBeam has 6 dBi more gain than the “unity” KY6R Loop (that’s with the Wellbrook preamp), but the big difference is that the polarity and Front to Back ratio of the Loop adds enough “oomph” to compliment the UrbanBeam. In one case, on 80M, I heard a weak station in Darby, Montana that I could not hear at all on my Diamond Inverted Vee, but he was Q5 on the loop when pointed in his diection. His signal was still at the noise level, but I could copy him. So, comparing gain is not quite as important as F/B in some situations – but there are many variables to consider (polarity, take off angle, pattern, band, gain, F/B, noise, etc).
What I am noticing is that the loop does go from not hearing a station at all to Q5 copy – and its many times hard to see it clearly on the S meter – because of Diversity mode and because with the two receivers, the S meter must be measuring the strongest signal – so if the UrbanBeam hears the signal better than the Loop – I wouldn’t know how effective the loop is by the S meter. So, I tried to turn down the AF and RF on the UrbanBeam on ANT 1, and then the S meter really gets weird (it goes to S9 +40 and just stays there).
Lesson: use my ears to hear the difference that the Loop makes. Now my Top Band days are coming back. With weak signals, the phased loops make it possible to hear the weak station. Sometimes the “drama” is subtle . . .
Diversity receive with two sets of antennas is the way to go, especially at the bottom of the solar cycle. I did see one very strong signal go from S9 +20 to S9 +40, so I could brag about how I am getting that 55 dB on the KY6R Loop – but I suspect that very string signals are a much different beast than say a weak signal. Also when someone is that strong, that extra signal doesn’t matter because it’s imperceptible to the ears.
I’m getting the idea that the bottom line is – with Diversity, the question to ask is “Did at least ONE antenna receive a signal that the other(s) could not – and if one fades will the other pick up the slack (and vice versa). I do believe the answer to that question is YES.
This weekend I will put up the second flag, and will get the NCC-2 set up. I won’t have the second Wellbrook preamp until next week sometime, but I will set up the NCC-2 and add the preamps that I purchased for it. I will be able to test the NCC-2 preamp against the Wellbrook.
A single loop has -23 dB gain, which is too low, and so needs a preamp one loop has an RDF of 7.66 dB
The Wellbrook has a gain figure of 23 dB, and the NCC-2 preamp has 16 dB gain, which means it could be used in conjunction with one KY6R loop fitted with the Wellbrook preamp.
With two KY6R Loops, the gain is -20 dB, a 3 dB improvement with the same F/B but a narrower pattern
When I did a quick test this past weekend and had the KY6R Loop phased against the UrbanBeam, the “old magic” of the NCC-2 came back. I could see the phasing working and the noise was almost eliminated – so the NCC-2 gets very high marks in my book. However, that was just one loop, and remembering back to the days where I had two Wellbrook ALA1530LNP’s and the NCC-2, the best is yet to come. I remember that phasing two loops and then using them with the TX antenna is the Holy Grail.
I do expect that when I test one loop with the Wellbrook preamp that it will be significantly better than a loop using just the NCC-2 preamp. It will also be interesting to see if using the Wellbrook plus NCC-2 preamp will be an improvement – at that point it seems like I’d get 16 dB gain, and so I would turn the preamp off in the rig. That could go a long way to reducing noise as well.
I’ve seen enough so far to make me a believer – having the second loop in the NCC-2 and going to receiver #2 (actually AUX RF), while the UrbanBeam in receiver #1 should be a success and bring about the whole reason I just upended my station and have gone back to the K3.
On Another Note – Panadapter
Today I will get another RS-232 to USB converter and see if a newer FTDI driver beats this old 2010 driver. The Win4K3Suite and panadapter is still just “eye candy” for me – I don’t need a panadapter to pursue the FREQ 300, but I do need the phased KY6R Loops and the NCC-2 for sure. Funny thing – I’ve been running just the rig connected to the laptop using the Keyspan adapter and old 2010 driver, and no crashes – which makes me wonder if Win4K3Suite and all of the other associated USB drivers are “colliding”. I will next run Win4K3Suite with no panadapter and see if there are any crashes with just the rig control software. If I get no crashes, then its this “exotic” panadapter setup that is causing the problem. If it still crashes, with the WIn4K3Suite rig control but doesn’t when I am not running Win4K3Suite- then its WIn4K3Suite that potentially has an issue with that Keyspan adapter.
I will know later today what is causing this and hopefuly, will have it fixed.
Anyway – the Loops and NCC-2 and Diversity are the absolute most important things, and that will be my main concentration. The panadapter is as I said just a “curiosity”, but a good education in Signal to Noise ratio and monitoring.