Digital Reception Challenge: The "Hill" - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 02:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Location: 34 miles NE of Empire State Building
Altitude: 45ft up(fourth floor apartment, steel-frame, cinderblock construction)

Setup:

TV: Standard NTSC analog Toshiba 24" flat CRT.
Digital STB: Channel Master 7000
Antennas: Clearstream C-2, Radioshack 40" rabbit ears, combined with standard coax splitter.

Channels I receive - Network, .x=subcarriers/Signal Strength:

CBS - 2.1/100%

NBC - 4.1, 4.2, 4.4/100%

Fox - 5.1, 5.2/100%

My9 - 9.1/fluctuates 90-100%

PBS - 13.1, 13.2, 13.3/fluctuates WILDLY 40-80%

WLIW - 21.1, 21.2, 21.3/100%

WNYE - 25.1, 25.2, 25.3/100%

ionTV - 31.1, 31.2, 31.3, 31.4/90-100%

Spanish: (WXTV, NJU, etc) 41.x, 47.x, 67.x, 68.x, all rock solid 100%

WLNY - 55.1/70-90%

Channels I would also like to pick up: 7.x(ABC), 11.x(CW-11)(both on H-VHF)
Channels I receive all too well, but could care less about: No explanation nec.

The challenge: (see attached photo) Basically the way I'm facing, is pretty much towards all of Manhattan, if not the ESB specifically. I'm estimating the hill(itself, not including any trees, etc) at anywhere from 60 - 70 feet total height, or about 30 feet taller than our location.

Can I safely assume that NO type of antenna nor any amount of amplification will help me get those two additional channels, given what is in that photo??
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post #2 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 02:23 PM
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Is there any possibility that the U-VHF channels(7 and 11) are too strong and that they are overloading your digital tuner and therfor you get nothing?
Before the cutover could you receive analog channels 7 and 11?
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post #3 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 02:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walford View Post

Is there any possibility that the U-VHF channels(7 and 11) are too strong and that they are overloading your digital tuner and therfor you get nothing?

Well here are my TVFool results for my specific ZIP code, and 7 seems to be high on that list. It's ironic that I wouldn't be able to get the strongest signals around a freakin' hill - guess I need to read up on signal propagation in general. ABC-7 seems stronger than a lot of the channels I do get in.

Analog - 7 and 11 were grainy but watchable.
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post #4 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 03:43 PM
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Even before seeing the TVFool diagram I was honestly a little surprised you weren't already getting those channels if your VHF antenna is working properly.

Why do you have 2 antennas combined? The combiner may be causing problems so I'd take one antenna at a time and see what you get. The C-2 seems to be Hi-VHF, UHFand I would think you should get.

Is the RS rabbit ears UHF only, VHF, or a combination antenna. Trying to combine antennas often causes problems and I'm not sure a regular coax splitter would work even with a UHF only and VHF only antenna.
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post #5 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 03:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prospect60 View Post

Even before seeing the TVFool diagram I was honestly a little surprised you weren't already getting those channels if your VHF antenna is working properly.

Why do you have 2 antennas combined? The combiner may be causing problems so I'd take one antenna at a time and see what you get. The C-2 seems to be Hi-VHF, UHFand I would think you should get.

Is the RS rabbit ears UHF only, VHF, or a combination antenna. Trying to combine antennas often causes problems and I'm not sure a regular coax splitter would work even with a UHF only and VHF only antenna.

The C-2 has marginal VHF performance IMO. It does not get in 7 or 11, and marginally pulls in 13(also High-VHF around here) - wildly fluctuating signal strength 40 - 80%. It does not get in 7 or 11 with or without help from the rabbit-ears.

The rabbit-ear is VHF only - no loop. The splitter combining them is just that, a $1.99 "gold coated" piece-of-turd SPLITTER from the local Walgreens. Would a proper Diplexer or http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?prod=UVSJ help?

Again, refer to my original photo if you haven't already - see that thing with houses & trees on it in the distance? It ain't helping matters, nor is this metal/masonry box we live on top of.....
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post #6 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 04:20 PM
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Again it is important to point out that a digital tuner unlike an analog tuner will not receive a signal that is too strong or is too weak.
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post #7 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 05:58 PM
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I was just going by the specs and description of the C-2 whether it picked up Hi VHF. With 7-11-13, I would still think it wouldn't be that difficult to pickup those channels even over a hill unless it's a iron ore containing sheer cliff. The picture I see just doesn't look that bad for Long wave VHF channels.

TV Fool is pretty good about correcting for routine terrain if you entered a specific address and not a plain zip code. I would think even on the wrong side of the relatively small hill you should get a very good signal. The metal roof might be more of a problem.

Are you rabbit ears inside of outside on the balcony of have you tried them outside? Do you know if anybody else in the area is picking up 7/11 with either an indoor or outdoor antenna?
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post #8 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 06:12 PM
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Quote:


The rabbit-ear is VHF only - no loop. The splitter combining them is just that, a $1.99 "gold coated" piece-of-turd SPLITTER from the local Walgreens. Would a proper Diplexer or http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?prod=UVSJ help?

Test it separately without the C2 or the splitter. It that works, get a proper diplexer to combine the two antennas. The splitter is not made for what you are doing and will cause significant problems. Diplexers are available from Radio Shack for around 15 bucks.

Masonry exterior and metal roofing are about as wicked as it comes to get signal into (metal siding is worse). You have to get the antenna outside in order to get anything predictable or reliable.

The C2 is generally good for about 20-25 miles on high VHF with a whole lot depending on the strength of the transmitted signal. It is also going to be very sensitive to the placement of the coax since it relies on feed-line radiation as opposed to element resonance for the high-VHF pickup. I found that running the feedline horizontally for 2-3 feet made a tremendous difference in measured signal strength.

Hills do NOT have to be made of iron ore to block signal. Just plain old rock does it by itself. So does cinder block with a steel frame.

A TVfool forecast in the yellow is never at risk for tuner overload unless excessively amplified.

A wildly fluctuating meter reading is usually due to severe multi-path or other interference rather than signal strength problems. An FM trap might be helpful for you. Try turning off interference generators - computers, calculators, unused electronics, etc.
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post #9 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 06:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProjectSHO89 View Post

Test it separately without the C2 or the splitter. It that works, get a proper diplexer to combine the two antennas. The splitter is not made for what you are doing and will cause significant problems. Diplexers are available from Radio Shack for around 15 bucks.

Masonry exterior and metal roofing are about as wicked as it comes to get signal into (metal siding is worse). You have to get the antenna outside in order to get anything predictable or reliable.

The C2 is generally good for about 20-25 miles on high VHF with a whole lot depending on the strength of the transmitted signal. It is also going to be very sensitive to the placement of the coax since it relies on feed-line radiation as opposed to element resonance for the high-VHF pickup. I found that running the feedline horizontally for 2-3 feet made a tremendous difference in measured signal strength.

Hills do NOT have to be made of iron ore to block signal. Just plain old rock does it by itself. So does cinder block with a steel frame.

A TVfool forecast in the yellow is never at risk for tuner overload unless excessively amplified.

A wildly fluctuating meter reading is usually due to severe multi-path or other interference rather than signal strength problems. An FM trap might be helpful for you. Try turning off interference generators - computers, calculators, unused electronics, etc.


In that photo the C-2 and the rabbit ears would be mounted on top of that rail to the far left of frame, both aiming pretty much as I aimed the camera when taking the picture. The rabbit ears is not right in front of the C-2, mind you - it's about 3 feet away.

Radio shack does sell http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...ductId=2062059, which I tried but the problem is the UHF input is the 300ohm twin-lead on it and the VHF is the 75ohm coax - OPPOSITE of what I have - the C-2 is coax-out and the rabbit-ears is twin-lead-out. So I had no choice but to hook the C-2 up where it said "VHF" and the rabbit ears where it said "UHF". Results: I went from getting 27 channels to getting 20(remember that's 9 primaries with 2-3 subcarriers a piece). When I put the regular turd splitter back on, that number jumped back up 29(still no 7 or 11)!.

So I've optimized my positioning and my aim, but still, no 7 or 11. Stations "we all" grew up with if we lived in SW CT, Westchester, or Long Island.

I'm willing to give http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?prod=UVSJ a shot since it's loss is rated at only 1/2 dB. The splitter I have on there now probably eats up a good 5 or more deciBels as it is!

As for: http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...3&tab=features I frown upon anything whose description contains the word SPLITTER, because instantly that tells me that all it does is distributes(with subsequent transfer loss) a signal to more than one device - I.E. two TVS or to a TV and to a recording device.

The Pico Macom thing Solid Signal sells is called a SEPARATOR/COMBINER because it takes the two antenna's signals and presents them to the digital tuner in a way as to be useful.

I'll sprint for it because I've used Solid Signal before and besides, what can ya lose for under $10 including shipping?

But unless building management allows me to rig up a 30'+ pole outside my balcony to put the C-2 on top of, I don't think ANYTHING will help that hill. And the wife doesn't want a 6' scale model of a stealth bomber frame hanging from the balcony ceiling there either: http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_disp...om=Large#xview

Remember folks, it's AWWLL ABOWT DA HILLLLL!
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post #10 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 06:56 PM
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I am still concerned that the rabbit ears at 40" are giving you too strong a signal for the U VHF channels and it is overloading your digital tuner causing you not to receive channels 7 and 11. Have your tried not using the rabbit ears?
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post #11 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 07:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walford View Post

I am still concerned that the rabbit ears at 40" are giving you too strong a signal for the U VHF channels and it is overloading your digital tuner causing you not to receive channels 7 and 11. Have your tried not using the rabbit ears?

Read post #5(my reply to Prospect60).

I have tried BOTH by themselves and NEITHER gets 7 or 11. Again, I think everyone on here needs to meditate while looking at the photo of my balcony. Even if channels 7 and 11 had the strongest transmitters ever built, that HILL would swallow them up like Pac Man eats dots.

Let me clue you in on something I found out: After 9/11, when the One-WTC tx went down, ABC(among others) moved ALL of their broadcast operations OUT of NYC(AM/FM radio & TV). Those xmitters are now in New Jersey, same signal strength, but probably at only half the height of their old lower Manhattan location. I know this because 77WABC is a b%*tch to tune in here in Fairfield County(not good if you're an Imus fan!), unless you're by the Long Island Sound. WPLJ is a little dicey too, for an FMer, and so it goes for their TV.

Channel 11? I don't know. They may still be on the ESB or elsewhere in Manhattan, but may not be as powerful as ABC even though they are closer to CT, relatively speaking.
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post #12 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 07:14 PM
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ProjectSHO basically hit it out of the park.

You should first try a UVSJ combiner, and get outside of that masonry walled building on your balcony there with both antennas.

If that doesnt work you will have to increase the VHF Hi section of your antenna. Fluctuation is a sign of multipathing, so something more directional.

You can build a VHF yagi like Hollands has posted.

or you can add an RCA ANT751/EZ HD for its VHF section continuing to use the C2 which is much better on UHF using the UVSJ to combine. Or you could try the new Antennas Direct compact VHF Loop antenna...the C5 agina combining it using the UVSJ.

Bottom line, you should be able to get those VHF Hi stations if you work at it a little.

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post #13 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 07:16 PM
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Seeing your recent post, about the Rabbit Ears only not bringing in the stations. Is this out on the balcony?

FWIW, that hill isnt ****, no problems on UHF is indicative of that. The masonry work is MUCH MORE likely to be cramping your signal....but not out on the balcony.

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post #14 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 07:20 PM
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You can ditch the C2 altogether and just use the RCA ANT751/EZ HD out on the balcony with maybe a Motorola BDA S1 or S2 amplifier.

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post #15 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 07:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EscapeVelocity View Post

Seeing your recent post, about the Rabbit Ears only not bringing in the stations. Is this out on the balcony?

FWIW, that hill isnt ****, the masonry work is MUCH MORE likely to be cramping your signal.

Read post#9, my reply to ProjectSHO89 - specifically the first sentence. EVERYTHING is on that wide rail in that photo. Only an absolute IDIOT with severe brain damage would rig all that up inside the apartment.

Like I said, everything is OPTIMIZED as far as aim, being outdoors is concerned. The missing piece may be the 3 or 4 dB of gain that using a UVSJ combiner (instead of my turd splitter from the pharmacy lightbulb aisle ) might restore. Oh, and did I mention the HILL?
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post #16 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 07:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EscapeVelocity View Post

You can ditch the C2 altogether and just use the RCA ANT751/EZ HD out on the balcony with maybe a Motorola BDA S1 or S2 amplifier.

I have experience with signal amplifiers - not for TV but for FM.
Unless I live MINIMUM 50 miles away from anything, I don't. . . .touch. . . .signal amplifiers.



. . .Period. . .

I will however research the RCA antenna you posted.
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post #17 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I researched the RCA ANT751/EZHD(same product different outlets)
and check out this listing on tiger direct:

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applicati...?EdpNo=4545184

Click the product information tab and read that description(It's below for anyone who's too lazy to click)

RCA ANT751 1080 HDTV Outdoor Antenna
The RCA ANT751 offers Film Mode option that when turned on, the intelligent signal processing of the TruScan Digital Reality feature recognizes incoming video signals and progressively converts them to achieve optimum digital picture performance. The RCA ANT751 also recognizes when original film sources have been modified and can automatically convert the analog frame rate back to its original format to bring out the detail—a process commonly referred to as reverse 3:2 pulldown.


Are they describing an antenna there or a TV?? WTF? I would LOVE to see an antenna that can do all THAT! LOLOLOL!!

But seriously, http://www.dennysantennaservice.com/...v_Antenna.html seems to offer what looks like the same item, and the range looks promising. No information about what VHF it gets, etc, and it "still" uses 300ohm-twinlead to 75ohm coax conversion. That's at least a few dB of loss right then and there.
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post #18 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That RIDICULOUS description of the 751/EZHD seems to be cookie-cuttered everywhere: http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?PROD=ANT751

Someone needs to be fired for this! And on solid signal - whom I respect?

Come on!!
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post #19 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 08:04 PM
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The RCA isnt nearly as good on UHF as the C2, however its much much better on VHF Hi....its a better VHF Hi antenna than UHF antenna. It will give you some directivity on VHF Hi and much better gain that Rabbit Ears.

However, you might could use an amp boost, but its small enough to be balcony material....so that is your poison....whether or not you like amplifiers, since you cant go big on the antenna.

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post #20 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 08:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EscapeVelocity View Post

The RCA isnt nearly as good on UHF as the C2, however its much much better on VHF Hi....its a better VHF Hi antenna than UHF antenna. It will give you some directivity on VHF Hi and much better gain that Rabbit Ears.

However, you might could use an amp boost, but its small enough to be balcony material....so that is your poison....whether or not you like amplifiers, since you cant go big on the antenna.

I wish I could see the specs regarding the first part of your reply - googling "RCA Ant751" or "EZHD" the most I get are dimensions and of course the price. dennys gives the range(70 miles), but no gain figures, VHF/UHF, side or rear rejection, nothing. Even the write up on solid signal just describes how it converts videos to 2:3 movie mode(!) ? ? ?

Your second half: I *could* go big on the antenna - but it would just look ridiculous there, hanging from the balcony ceiling as it would have to. And what would I hang it with, twine?? Some of those suckers are 100" or more overall length and a good 40" wide.
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post #21 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 08:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Folks, I guess the lessons learned here are, don't live behind a hill - it's murder on VHF(especially in the cold, harsh realm of DTV!).

Also, there's no such thing as a "VHF/UHF" jack-of-all-trades antenna, unless it's the size of a F-16 and is mounted 8 feet above a chimney on a house.

"VHF/UHF" should be banned from all antenna literature! 90% of all antennas are good at one or another, not both. Those that claim to be probably suck across the board and deserve to be melted down for scrap metal.

I'll just deal with the clearstream C-2 and the rabbit-ears and look into the UVSJ combiner for now, until we move to a higher or better location.

Referring back to my original post: Channels 2,4,5,9,21, and 31(and all their child subcarriers) as well as the Spanish ones all rate 95% or higher on the CM box signal meter, while channel 55 averages 70% and 13 averages 50%. So in retrospect, I'm not doing all that bad. I'll check out the UVSJ combiner on solid signal and see where that gets me in a week or so.

Thanks for all your tips & suggestions.
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post #22 of 63 Old 06-20-2009, 08:24 PM
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PDF Specs for the Motorola amplifier.

The Winegard 7000R gives you pretty close approximation, especially on UHF. The VHF Hi performance is likely to be slightly better on the EZ HD/RCA ANT751, by a db or 2. Hollands modelled it and is getting 7.5db gain on channel 7 with a rise through the hear of the band then slight drop off on Channel 12 and 13.

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post #23 of 63 Old 06-21-2009, 07:04 AM
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Are digital Channels 2,4,5,9 all broadcasting their HD on those actual RF channels or are they broadcasting them on UHF RF channels instead?
What results do you get when you remove the splitter and only use the rabbit ears?
Is the railing wood or metal?
Have you checked the FCC DTV reception map for your addresse for channels 9 and 11?

http://www.fcc.gov/mb/engineering/maps/
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post #24 of 63 Old 06-21-2009, 12:31 PM
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post #25 of 63 Old 06-21-2009, 05:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by walford View Post

Are digital Channels 2,4,5,9 all broadcasting their HD on those actual RF channels or are they broadcasting them on UHF RF channels instead?
What results do you get when you remove the splitter and only use the rabbit ears?
Is the railing wood or metal?
Have you checked the FCC DTV reception map for your addresse for channels 9 and 11?

http://www.fcc.gov/mb/engineering/maps/

Really odd. Both the Fool and & fcc.gov show 7, 11, and 13 as reasonably strong to pick up. Stations that I theoretically should not be getting(WNJU 47.1(Spanish)100% and WLNY 55.1 70-90%) I DO get! But I still don't get 7 or 11, and 13 is all over the meter. BTW Walford 9 is not a problem, it's 7 & 11. And in the attached image they do state in fine print about reception in hilly areas.

As for the railing, it is metal as you can see in the photo. The antennae are not attached to it per se. The rabbit ears is sitting on a 1/2" piece of board with a 1/4inch hole in it, on top of the ledge, and the C-2 is bolted into that cinderblock wall below the flashing.

Don't tell me THAT has something to do with it.
Like I've said repeatedly, let me order & install http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?prod=UVSJ instead of that crappy splitter and report back to y'alls.
LL
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post #26 of 63 Old 06-21-2009, 05:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by arxaw View Post

The Hill.

That will be fine - yes, THAT'S a hill, I know. And I shouldn't need to install a rig like the one in that article just to get two lousy channels when I get everything else all over the map(except New Haven & Waterbury which I don't expect and don't want to be getting.
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post #27 of 63 Old 06-21-2009, 05:21 PM
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Well it's a combination. I spent years without abc, and with a steeper hill. On the 12th they went from 46-1 uhf ( I couldn't watch it) to 8 vhf and I get it on a CM 4228 as well as nbc (44-1) and cbs (38-1). For years analog vhf 8 was no go. Strange is the terrain.

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post #28 of 63 Old 06-21-2009, 08:48 PM
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D605....,
Your channel 9.1 is on RF channel 38 not RF channel 9 which is why you get it/
Metal close to your rabbit ears could be causing multipath interference which can be a major problem with digital tuners.
Have your tried only the rabbit ears yet as a test to see if will improve the UVHF signal strength by eliminating the signal loss caused by the splitter?
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post #29 of 63 Old 06-22-2009, 02:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walford View Post

D605....,
Your channel 9.1 is on RF channel 38 not RF channel 9 which is why you get it/
Metal close to your rabbit ears could be causing multipath interference which can be a major problem with digital tuners.
Have your tried only the rabbit ears yet as a test to see if will improve the UVHF signal strength by eliminating the signal loss caused by the splitter?

Again, 9.1 never was a problem. I've said that several times here already.

As for the flashing atop that railing, is there something I could cover it with so as to eliminate-check that: mitigate the effect it may be having on the 'ears?

Finally, yes, yes, and yes, to your final question. My whole digital odyssey began as follows(fasten your seatbelts, take your anti-nausea medicine, and pay attention):

1. RS VHF-only rabbit ears by themself(20 channels).

2. "Upgraded" RS rabbit ears with removable UHF 6"loop(25).

3. Clearstream C-2 by itself - straight 12' RG6 run to CM stb(26).

4. C-2 combined with original VHF-only 'ears with bargain-basement splitter(most channels received of all combinations listed here - 29 or 30 channels depending on weather at time of scan).

5. #4 above combined with http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...ductId=2062059 , which dropped my scan count by 8 channels to 20(.1s plus .x's), for reasons I explained in post #9.

6. Back to combo #4.
(whew!! We hope you have enjoyed your ride aboard the DTV Coaster!)

Of all these combinations, NONE of them pulled in 7 or 11. Channel 13 swings wildly on the signal meter, but dissolves into squares - momentarily - only if a Philippine style rainstorm stops by for a visit(!).

As I said, I'm quite satisfied with what I'm getting, but still miss my ABC-7 and CW-11. And from what I'm reading over in the "DTV Channels on VHF; better or worse?" thread in this forum, it seems like A LOT of people, in this NY market and in others, have also lost their ABC affiliates and CW channels since the transition as well.
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post #30 of 63 Old 06-22-2009, 03:22 PM
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I certainly do not think the Hill is the cause of your problem since you are getting all of the UHF channels from the Empire State building and UHF channels are more subject to line of sight problems then VHF.
The problem is that many users who apparenty received analog channels without serious problems are having problems with digital VHF on the same RF channels as you found from the "better or worse" thread( aslthough many of them do not have a VUHF capable antennas such as your 4" rabbit ears). If you can make a simple 300 ohm dipole and suspend it above the railing or move the rabbit ears away from the railing I think you may be able to receive your UVHF channels.
The wide swings on channel 13 are very indicative of multpath reception as the tuner switches between the direct path to the antenna and a signal received from another reflective object.
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