Loop Skywire Antenna & Remote Tuner

Now that I’ve had this antenna setup for a few years now I have come to recognize the drawbacks. The biggest of these is a lack of tuning bandwidth. This resulted in having to retune the system even when changing frequency by only a few kilohertz, very annoying. After playing with a MFJ 926B remote automatic antenna tuner at Field Day this year I decided to modify my antenna to make use of one of these units and see if it improved my operation. The 926B is actually pretty similar in design to my LDG tuner except it is mounted in an enclosure suitable for use outside and can be powered via coaxial cable using a BiasTee power injector so no extra cables are needed. It automatically initiates tuning when a mismatch over 2:1 SWR is detected while transmitting and it saves the match settings to memory.

The idea of a remote antenna tuner is that it allows the tuner to be located at the feed point of the antenna. This means that the tuner is matching the impedance mismatch of the antenna only; not the antenna, plus feedline combination that it was dealing with previously. This allows the tuner to find a match much more easily and also results in a much better tuned bandwith because the only variable changing is the impedance of the antenna not the impedance of the antenna and feedline combined.

A side benefit of this new setup is that in order to reach the tuner as it is mounted on the side of my house I had to add some wire to my antenna which now contains approximately 270 feet of wire. The antenna is now solidly resonant in the 80 meter band. In addition to adding wire I separated the feed point in the air by about 10 feet. This allows the wires to drop to the tuner at an angle in order to keep the shape of the loop as intact as possible and prevents the two ends from contacting or crossing one another. I also installed an Alpha Delta TT3G50 surge protector in the coax line from the tuner.

In the short time that I’ve had this setup on the air I have been very pleased with its operation. To tune the system I switch to CW mode on my Icom 7200 and transmit a tone (with the power turned down to 10W). The tuner then initiates its tuning cycle and matches the antenna. This generally only takes 2-3 seconds, much faster than before. It also tends to find much better matches and regularly achieves close to 1:1 SWR. As hoped, the tuning bandwidth is greatly improved as well and I am no longer required to retune every time I move around a band. This new setup is also much cleaner looking on the house with no ladder line or balun, just wires going to the low profile tuner and a coax run along the brick.

7 thoughts on “Loop Skywire Antenna & Remote Tuner”

  1. Hi Joe and Carl!
    I just haven’t got around to getting my wire up yet. All parts are purchased but I still struggle with how I’m going to get those corners up into the trees! Climbing is still out! I guess I need to look at hiring a tree climber. Other than that, I am ready to do this! I have been working with some local gentlemen on doing some 2m SSB work, but no I am ready to refocus on this project. I was able to get on 80m for the first time in over a year while camping using a random wire. I miss using the 80m and 40m bands!

    Mark – K7MWJ
    Keizer, OR

  2. Joe,

    Can you talk about how your feeding configuration changed when adding the remote turner…specifically how much ladder line are you running from your loop to the tuner, and how much coax from the tuner to your radio?

    Mark, I am getting g read to put up a full 160m wave…goimg with 544 feet of marine grade 10 awg. If you want to stay I. Touch, maybe we can share notes.


    1. Carl,

      Since the tuner is now outside, the tuner is essentially at the feed point of the antenna. Technically I have wire that drops down vertically about 20 feet from the loop to the tuner connections. This wire is still part of the loop, even though you could consider this the feedline. You could use ladder line for this purpose instead, but my configuration works fine and I haven’t had any issues with RFI or tuning on 80-10 meters.

  3. It’s been about 30 months since putting up your remote tuner. How about an update. I have pretty much convinced myself this is exactly the way I want to to compliment my hexbeam. Nice to certainly have 80m-10m, but would use it most on 80 and 40. Getting the wire up high enough in the trees is my biggest challenge. At 60, I don’t want to climb!

    Mark – K7MWJ
    Keizer, OR

    1. Mark,

      Wow, 30 months already, time flies. The remote tuner continues to work very well for me and I have no complaints. It makes operating my loop a breeze and I recommend this setup regularly to hams in my local club.

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