Yes, this is definitely a real antenna. AAA-1C wideband loop performance compares very well to traditional city-lot ham radio antennas.
The first question people ask me about wideband active loops is whether or not they are “a real antenna”. Could you use one of these as your main receive antenna for SWL or ham radio? Short answer is yes.
In recent weeks, I have been evaluating AAA-1C wideband loop performance against my “real” antennas. I have a typical small ham setup, with a 20-10 meter beam on a fifty foot tower, and a 40 meter dipole also hung on the tower in inverted-V configuration. These provide reasonable results for ham and SWL activities above 6 MHz.
In general, the commercial LZ1AQ active antenna amplifier, with a one meter loop, provides comparable results to the traditional antennas. Of course, for reception only, not transmitting.
Signal strength is a bit lower, but signal-to-noise ratio is about the same, often better. Naturally, a big beam on a tower would out-perform a wideband loop, especially for DX. But for a typical station, you could enjoy your radio hobby quite well with AAA-1C wideband loop performance.
This is especially true if you are in a heavy RFI environment, like a dense neighborhood in the city.
AAA-1C Wideband Loop Performance – Lower HF and Local AM Broadcasts
My biggest challenge on lower HF is the excellent loop performance on medium wave. How is that?
Well, I live on the southern side of Calgary. Just south of me are the AM broadcast transmitter sites. In particular, I have two 50,000 watt broadcasters nearby at 7 and 11 miles distance. With the commercial LZ1AQ active antenna amplifier and a 1 meter loop, these local AM stations put +1 dBm signals into my receiver. (This is S9 + 72 dB, folks!)
In short, you need a receiver with some good preselection filters to reduce overload from local AM broadcasters, especially on 160 meters. My Perseus provides bandpass filtering and up to -30 dB front end attenuation. If I try to receive in wideband mode, lots of AM BCB artifacts show up everywhere.
If you are going to try this loop amplifier, you might consider a 1.7 MHz high pass filter between the control board and the receiver antenna input.