Author Topic: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna  (Read 8010 times)

Offline Alan Georges

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Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« on: April 08, 2012, 01:17:24 PM »
Pro: Works, and can help fetch the news when the chips are down.  Doesn’t require power, or even a physical connection to the radio.  Easy to tune.  Mildly directional.  Looks pretty good too.

Con: Quality may vary (but that problem may be in the past).  Complicates tuning slightly.  Too big for a BOB.  If you have an EE degree, you can probably build something ten times better from scrap parts (but you wouldn’t want it in the living room).

OK, so what relevance does an artsy-looking AM antenna have to a survival forum?  The answer’s pretty easy.  Nighttime clear-channel AM broadcasting reaches out hundreds of miles, and was the U.S.’s first nationwide real-time news medium.  (Here’s a write-up and listing at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clear-channel_station)  As with most technologies, the farther back you go, the more robust the systems.  That’s certainly the case with AM radio.  On the broadcast end, if AM’s off the air probably everything else is too.  On the receive end, if you can’t dig up an old AM radio somewhere odds are you can’t find any other kind of radio either.  It’s basically the last-ditch mass telecommunication method in this country.

That sounds like a great rock-bottom broadcast system (price is right anyway), but the little “loopstick” antennas in most portables these days aren’t that good.  I remember after Katrina, sitting here on the MS Gulf coast trying to get news at night over a little AM/FM solar-crank radio.  WWL from next door in New Orleans came in fine, but they were having troubles of their own at the moment and focusing on local news.  The other AM stations were just tantalizing static, where you could *almost* understand the newscasts.  It was frustrating.

So while dabbling in shortwave recently, these loop AM antennas kept popping up on the “Amazon Recommends” window.  At $25, sure, why not.

Well, it works.  How well it works is hard to quantify, but let me put it this way: let’s grade radio reception like a school grade – A, B, C, D, F.  Call A as good as AM gets, B is not perfect but you’d listen to music on it, C would be OK for voice, D means you can understand what the newscaster is saying but it’s work to make it out, and F means you can tell something’s there but that’s about it.  This antenna brings things up by about two solid letter grades.  In other words, what was “yeah it’s there but I can’t understand it” turns into “I’m getting the news now.”

From a prepper point of view, that’s significant.  On that same little radio I used after Katrina, it’s easy to pull in voice on major stations 500+ miles out at night.  On a Katio PL-660 it’s slightly better, call it a letter grade.  While times are good (like now) it’s pretty cool to listen to the Grand Ole Opry live on WSM, straight out of Nashville.  WSB Atlanta is usually easy, while several stations out in Texas are in there too.  And in the daytime it cleans up the signal on a little Cajun station in Golden Meadow (hoo-wee!), as well as low-powered WGSO New Orleans (home of Baldie and the Blonde).  I could get those last two previously, but they weren’t any fun to listen in on.  All better now.

On a side note, it also pulls in longwave.  The only LW station I can get is in Spanish, 280 KHz.  Don’t know who they are, but they are very enthusiastic!

About tuning, there’s one big knob hooked to a capacitor that adjusts the resonant frequency to match the station and your radio.  There’s no calibration or dial, you just twist it until the frequency pops into focus.  It’s easy, but it may be a little outside of a few folks’ technology comfort zone.  The antenna loop itself is mildly directional.  You pick it up and turn it to get the best signal.  There’s a signal wire included, but if your radio doesn’t have an AM input, don’t worry.  The antenna can concentrate the signal into a radio’s internal loopstick antenna.  Just put them near each other and it works like, well, magic.

Finally, it looks pretty sharp: curvy black base, 10” clear plastic hoop wound with sexy lacquered copper coils.  Early reviews on Amazon indicated poor quality – coils sliding off the hoop, stuff like that – but mine’s solid.  Guess Katio got their act together.  Back to the prepper lifestyle, it’s fine for home use but it’s not really field gear grade.  It’s also probably too big to stuff into a BOB. 

Well, that’s about all.  It’s just an antenna, it won’t change your life and I’ve probably gone on too long.  It has some disaster preparedness value, it’s fun to fool with while times are good, it didn’t cost all that much, and it looks pretty slick too.  OK, that’s it.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2012, 09:19:59 PM »
Where is my brain?  The brand name throughout is "Tecsun" not "Katio".  Same company, different brand labels.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2012, 10:05:43 PM »
Do you have a link for the antenna? 

Wonder if it would work with my Radio Shack DX-394 General Coverage receiver?  I'm picking up WSM 650 on it tonight out of Nashville, down here in Southeast Texas.

~TG

 

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2012, 11:20:04 PM »
Do you have a link for the antenna?
Right here: http://www.amazon.com/Kaito-AN-200-Tunable-Passive-Antenna/dp/B001PNNXGO/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333947290&sr=8-1-spell

Quote
Wonder if it would work with my Radio Shack DX-394 General Coverage receiver?  I'm picking up WSM 650 on it tonight out of Nashville, down here in Southeast Texas.
Probably.  The lead wire has a mini stereo jack on each end, same as earbuds, etc.  It's probably only using two parts of it, the center hot and ground, so a 2-element mini-mic plug would do the same thing.  If your radio has that for an AM input, you're good to go.  But even if it doesn't (none of mine do), it works fine by just being placed near the radio.  I had to try it before I believed it myself, but it does work.

The real question is, is this loop antenna better than what you already have?  The internal loopstick in my little PL-660 is best described as mediocre, so this is a big improvement.  It may not be such a jump up for you though.  BTW, that DX-394 looks really nice!  Too bad RS doesn't make those anymore.

How's WSM sounding over your way?  It's good and clear here tonight with the external loop, but pretty crummy on the loopstick – call it grades B+ and D, respectively.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2012, 12:44:15 AM »
I'd give WSM a "B" But considering how far away that is, not bad.  A directional antenna might make a big difference.

After I get moved, an improved antenna arrangement will certainly be on the list. 

~TG
 

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2012, 06:04:42 AM »
Considering the distance, that's pretty good reception already.  This may or may not be a significant improvement over the antenna you've already got, but it might be worth a shot.
Good luck on the move.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2012, 08:55:32 AM »
I bought the DX-394 used, but it looks new.  Covers everything from Long Wave up to 30 MHz, AM and sidebands.  Built-in or external antenna, digital tuning, does well on shortwave.  Runs on 12 volts DC or on a wall outlet.

It's a great find for anyone wanting to be prepared.

~TG
 

Offline backwoods_engineer

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Re: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2012, 11:58:18 AM »
I have a dipole on the peak of my roof for LF/HF, but I have been wondering about these antennas for portable use.  Yes, I could easily construct one, but I have only so much time available.

Thanks for the review, and all the comments.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2012, 10:38:49 PM »
TG, that's pretty much everything in one neat radio package.  If one crosses my path, I won't pass it up.

... but I have only so much time available.

Thanks for the review, and all the comments.
Ain't it the truth, BE, ain't it the truth.  And another busy day tomorrow.
You're welcome on the review, and thanks for the kind words.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline TexasGirl

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Re: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2012, 12:29:31 AM »
There's usually one or two DX's on eBay, $150 is about what they are going for in good, non-smoking condition.

~TG
 

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2012, 08:04:44 PM »
There's usually one or two DX's on eBay, $150 is about what they are going for in good, non-smoking condition.
TG, thanks.  I'm gonna rock on with the Katio 660 and learn for a little while more, and keep an eye open for foolish garage sale prices and such.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline jdgct

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Re: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2012, 08:00:41 AM »
I am looking to purchase a Katio KA321 post the storm Sandyup here in Connecticut.  Would like to do an antenna multipurpose for both AM/SW and will attach to this radio.  I now nothing about radios.  For $20 this radio seems to be as agood as it can get.  Is there a simple antenna that can augment this radio if I purchase it.  I I need two different antennas? One for short wave, one for AM?   

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2012, 08:50:26 AM »
I am looking to purchase a Katio KA321 post the storm Sandyup here in Connecticut.  Would like to do an antenna multipurpose for both AM/SW and will attach to this radio.  I now nothing about radios.  For $20 this radio seems to be as agood as it can get.  Is there a simple antenna that can augment this radio if I purchase it.  I I need two different antennas? One for short wave, one for AM?
See review of this radio at: http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=38314.0

Back onto antennas, yes, this radio needs two antennas.  The good thing is that it already has two pretty good ones built in, and if that's not enough it's easy to add on.

OK, for plain old AM, which is probably the most useful band in a large-scale disaster for the U.S., the little internal antenna on this radio works.  An external loop antenna does help it a lot though, as described in this thread.

For shortwave (and FM too), most portables (including this radio) use built-in whip antennas.  They works pretty well.  If you need more antenna, any random length of otherwise unattached wire about 6' or longer will help.  Radio shack sells 60' rolls of like 18 or 20 gauge "hookup" wire for about $5.  I use one for my big outside SW antenna, and it really helps.  Just twist or clip one end around the tip of the whip antenna.  If you want something more portable in an SW antenna, Amazon will sell you one for $10 (link: http://www.amazon.com/Kaito-T1-Radio-antenna/dp/B00066Z9XG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352043033&sr=8-1&keywords=kaito+wire+antenna).  If you look at it as just wire and a clip it's kind of a rip-off, but if you look at it as a neat little spool to keep things sorted out in your go-bag, the price is more reasonable.

To recap, little portable AM/FM/SW radios have OK antennas built in.  To add something more, you'll need a separate AM loop and an SW long wire.  To get big improvements after that, you'll have to dig into antenna theory.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline jdgct

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Re: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2012, 09:48:50 AM »
hank you.  very helpful

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2016, 06:27:49 PM »
A new review of this beast over at a regular radio site:
http://radiojayallen.com/tecsungrundigkaito-an-100an-200-loop-antenna/

Four years and much use later, mine's still working like new.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."

Offline Carl

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Re: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2016, 05:47:56 AM »
I have an early version of the antenna called SELECT A TENNA and the concept does work great...they have been selling this type of product for years (I remember them from magazines in the 50's) selectatennja link

 http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/mwant/4316.html

II like the newer styling of the AN 200 though it is the same as my old Bakelite encased antenna that improves reception on AM radios within a few feet of the unit. Whether you find and old one or a NEW AN200 ,you will be well served.
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Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Katio AN-200 AM loop antenna
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2016, 09:06:16 PM »
Nice demo of the AN-200: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2u3SIqtFtVE&feature=youtu.be

The guy discussed similar DIY antennas, shows it working with several less-than-state-of-the-art radios, demonstrates inductive coupling, etc.  Worth the 4-1/2 minutes if you're into this stuff.

I swear, there are times it seems like "Baofeng" is Cantonese for "hot mess."