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Stunning K9AY loop test

By John Bryant
IRCA's AM DX NewsFlash, March 30, 2000

This Grayland DXpedition, on the first weekend in March 2000, consisted of Don Nelson, Guy Atkins, Walt Salmaniw and Bill Smith, W5USM, from Dallas and John Bryant.
Various antennas were in use, including four beverages pointed at various directions and two K9AYs.
The medium wave conditions were about what I remember from near the peak of the last sunspot cycle. Signals were noted on many channels, but most at only threshold level. Most of those that became quite good tended to remain so for only short periods of time before diving back into the mud.

I spent the morning of the 13th entirely on comparing our best 1000' beverage (bore-sighted on Japan and the China coast) with Don Nelson's Wellbrook Communications K9AY loop.
The results were semi- stunning.
On a couple of dozen MW signals from Japan and the Koreas, the beverage never out-paced the loop. About 80 percent of the time, they were indistinguishable. The other 20 percent of the time, the Wellbrook K9AY was clearly superior, usually because it did a better job of rejecting relatively high angle splatter from nearly co-channel nearby American stations.
The performance of the K9AY was so impressive that I did not even bother putting up beverages for the second weekend.

The second weekend, March 18,19,20, I DXed solo on Saturday and Monday mornings but was joined for Saturday night/Sunday morning by MWDX legend Bruce Portzer from Seattle.
We were using my own special Wellbrook K9AY model which offers 8 separate directional possibilities (using four loops) rather than the four directions available with the standard two-loop K9AY.
Bruce was the chief operator of the antenna Saturday night and pretty well fell in love with it, too. He, too, appreciates the choices available with a directional antenna at every 45 degrees. We both came away from the weekend feeling the additional hassle/expense of a four loop K9AY was a worthwhile investment.
I should note that the 10 dB amplifier (switchable) in the Welbrook version of the K9AY made substantial improvements in the S/N ratio on weak international MW signals as well as those on long wave. This amplification might be the root of the differences in experience with the Wellbrook version of the K9AY and the experience of some homebrewers.
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