The Ultimate 80 meter ham radio antenna

Nearly two years later, the 80 meter skyloop is still a top performing HF antenna.

30 watts on JS8Call from an Icom IC-705, PA500 amp, and the Chameleon Skyloop Antenna.
These are daily, consistent, and repeatable results.

A couple of years ago, I put up the 80 meter skyloop antenna (better known as a sky wire antenna) in the yard. Since then, no other antenna has worked so well for HF, than the 80 meter skyloop. Not even my 80 meter half wave end fed antenna! The skyloops performance does have a high price. It requires lots of space to deploy! Even so, the antenna is practically invisible once it’s up in the air.

Best features of the Skyloop (aka sky wire antenna):

  • Extremely quiet despite local sources of noise.
  • Extremely well-suited to weak signal work.
  • Puts a big signal in the air without running lots of power
  • Relatively cheap versus its outstanding performance.
  • Easily set up for groundwave or NVIS.


The full wave loop antenna is a big performer. It is extremely quiet, brings in the weak signals, and is probably only bested by a large yagi antenna. For an omnidirectional, multi-band antenna, this one needs to be taken seriously! The thing is, nobody is or needs to pay me to say this! So often we see antenna reviews, but rarely do we see a follow-up. The Skyloop has been up just shy of two years at the time of this post. There has been one maintenance trip up the tower. This ended up being the coax cable, rather than anything wrong with the skyloop itself.

One thing to look out for when ordering is its resonant frequency on 80 meters. Mine arrived tuned to the 80 meter DX window ~3.8Mhz. I needed to add about 16 feet of wires to get its center frequency down to a more practical 3.6Mhz. It wasn’t a big deal to splice in, but important to be aware of, since this is a resonant albeit broadband antenna.

Recently I posted a video about portable antenna strategies. In that video I discouraged the use of broadband antenna systems, for man-portable operations. My reasoning (generally speaking) was the weight and reduced performance of portable broadband antennas. These should be avoided whenever operating low power, with a finite load capacity. Even so, there certainly are times and places for man-portable broadband antennas, as I found out while operating a stealth 80 meter winlink station, from a Berlin hotel room.
In contrast, the fixed station affords us many more antenna deployment possibilities, than our highspeed, low drag, man-portable counterparts. The broadband skyloop has been an excellent investment for the fixed station. It is neither lightweight or easy to carry, so when and where we deploy this magnificent antenna, needs some consideration. In the field, the skyloop could be an excellent option for a base camp style field station, FOB (Forward Observation Base), or other camp which will be there a while.

All that is required for deployment is three or four fiberglass poles.

It is a real pleasure being able to create this follow up of the Chameleon Skyloop. It is by far my favorite antenna from Chameleon. It certainly is their best performing and most pragmatic option for a fixed station. With that said, If I were Chameleon Antenna, it would be smart to design a man-portable version of this antenna. Lose the giant enclosure, reduce the weight of the wire, and downgrade its power handling to 50 watts data. An 80 meter skyloop that fits in a cargo pocket is missing from our man-portable antenna options. Sadly, this suggestion will probably be ignored (as many of my Chameleon recommendations). Still, it is nice to put these ideas on the table.

73
Julian oh8stn
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@oh8stn
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Blog: https://www.oh8stn.org

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6 Comments

  1. Agreed — with all you’ve written, especially the end. I’ll bet you a root beer that not only will Chameleon ignore this suggestion of yours, but also that, once the OCF40 stock is gone, they exit the small, portable wire niche completely. Let’s hope I’m wrong. 73 Garu

  2. I have made a DIY 80 meter loop (after I read your first post about the Skyloop) and I agree that it performs very good! I also added a remote antenna tuner at the feedpoint so I can work all HF bands up to 50 MHz.
    73 Lars SM0TGU

  3. Perhaps you write in jest, but that is an outstandingly excellent idea (especially for smaller portable antennas). Your experience and ideas combined with, say, Tim’s building experience… (I volunteer for testing, btw.) How many subscribers do you have? How many on Patron? How many additional mash the “like” button on the Tube? It shouldn’t be too hard to make an elemental sketch of possible basic sales (plus add a “wow” percentage factor). If if works (and make sure it does work) then you’ve hit it out of the park, my friend. I say do it. 73 Garu

  4. Good article. I have used a homebrew 80m loop for years. They do work well as an all band antenna and are simple to put together. I’ve had them in several configurations, including a rough rectangular horizontal set up around a house on a town lot. The biggest ‘issue’ I’ve had is that tree branches like to eat them in windstorms.

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