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In free space, the loop antenna with the highest gain is the loop with the shape that encloses
the largest area for a given circumference which is the circular loop but it is difficult to construct.
The second best is the square loop (quad) antenna.
The square quad can be fed for either horizontal or vertical polarization merely by placing
the feed point at the center of a horizontal arm or at the center of a vertical arm. At the higher
frequencies in the HF range, where the quads are typically half to several wavelengths high, quad
loops are usually fed to produce horizontal polarization, although there is no specific reason for
this except maybe from a mechanical standpoint. Polarization by itself is of little importance at
HF because it becomes random after ionospheric reflection.
A horizontally polarized quad loop antenna (Figure 1) can be seen as two short, end-loaded
dipoles stacked /4 apart, with the top antenna at /4 and the bottom one just above ground level.
There is no broadside radiation from the vertical wires of the quad because of the current
opposition in the vertical members. The radiation resistance of an equilateral quad loop in free
space is approximately 120 .

Figure 1. Quad loops with a 1- circumference. The current distribution is shown for (A) horizontal and (B) vertical polarization.

A horizontally polarized quad-loop antenna (two stacked short dipoles) produces a wave angle
that is dependent on the height of the loop. The low horizontally polarized quad (top at 0.3 )
radiates most of its energy right at or near zenith angle (straight up). Figure 2 shows directivity
patterns for a horizontally polarized loop. The horizontal pattern, Figure 2, is plotted for a takeoff
angle of 30. At low wave angles (20 to 45), the horizontally polarized loop shows more frontto-side ratio (5 to 10 dB) than the vertically polarized rectangular loop.

Figure 2. Azimuth and elevation patterns of the horizontally polarized quad loop at low height (bottom
wire 0.0375 above ground). At an elevation angle of 30, the loop has a front-to-side ratio of
approximately 8 dB.


Radiation Pattern


Typical Values

Frequency Limit

1 to 3 dB
10% (1.1:1)
50 MHz to 1 GHz




100 x 360

Elevation Pattern

Azimuth Pattern
Figure 3. Square Loop Antenna Specification



Figure 4. Square Loop Antenna Sample Calculator

The basic formula for determining the length of a full-wave wire Loop antenna is:

1005 freq (mHz) = Length (feet)

Since closed loops are not subject to "end-effect" the calculated physical lengths with this
formula are longer than corresponding dipole dimensions and are close to free space dimensions.
Since the loop dimensions are larger than those of a half-wave dipole, the radiation efficiency is
also higher.