Marion, IA: Antenna for Attic - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 49 Old 07-30-2011, 02:07 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm trying to narrow down my antenna choices for switching to OTA. At this point, I have a slight idea of what I am looking at when it comes to an antenna.

First things first:
http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...3e47662941ff91

It would be so much easier for me if I can mount an antenna in my attic. It's not very often there is an extra set of hands around to help me and I would probably need help to mount one outdoors.

There are just two (hopefully only 2) problems with my attic. First, the access to the attic is 2' x 2'. Second, the construction of the attic is trusses which limits the amount of room for mounting and adjusting the antenna.

The space between the trusses goes in a WSW to ENE direction.

Is there a good antenna that will work for me that I can fit up there? I've been looking at the HBU series and the Winegard HD 769 series, but I am really bad at judging size based solely on measurements.

The antenna will be feeding my HTPC and probably 2 other tv's.

Thanks in advance.

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post #2 of 49 Old 07-30-2011, 06:09 PM
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Well the good news is most of the main channels are 180 degree from each other.
The bad news is Fox if you want it, might be tough to get without rotating the antenna.

How much space is in the attic? Can you stand up in it? Could you hang a 3' X 3' antenna and be able to rotate it?
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post #3 of 49 Old 07-30-2011, 07:11 PM
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At your distance away from the transmitters (22-27 miles) you should be ok with an attic antenna, but there are no guarantees until you try it. The Winegard HD 769 looks too big for what you need. You could get away with something smaller. And even with a 2X2 access door, you should still get the antenna up in the attic because most of them come folded closed when you purchase them.

As far as which direction to point the antenna, you should try to aim it to split the difference between FOX and the rest of the stations to eliminate the need for a rotor.

The only oddball is CW, which is 180 degrees opposite to the SE. You could get a small UHF antenna strictly for that station pointing to the SE, and combine it with the other antenna pointing to the NW using a combiner/splitter.

Keep in mind if you want to feed multiple TV's, you are probably going to need an amp. But I would hold off until you try it out and see what the signal is like.

Of course, mounting the antenna outside would probably lessen the chances of needing an amp.
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post #4 of 49 Old 07-30-2011, 08:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Heh, there is no space for rotation and there is no standing. Trusses are on 2' centers, I think? Besides, I am not going to use a rotator. I need to keep the ability to use the DVR.

Using the cheap indoor antenna that I have been using to test this out, Fox is the channel that's not coming in and the CW signal seems off. (I'm not sure if it's because of the OTA signal or something else because it has some issues on Directv as well.)

I'm not opposed to getting more than one antenna and using a combiner/splitter, especially if they are less expensive antennas that I should be looking at. What would I be looking at for antennas then? Speaking of splitters, what do I need to look for to know if it's a good splitter or not? Is the combiner/splitter something special or just a normal splitter fed backwards?

I'm assuming an amp is something I can worry about later if I need it.
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post #5 of 49 Old 07-30-2011, 08:58 PM
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I think the ideal antenna for your situation isn't really sold anywhere, it's a homemade, bi-directional Gray-Hoverman. Pointed pretty close to due north/south, it should grab all the greens & yellows.
For store-boughts, the CM 4228 has VHF capabilty, and the strong stations from the northwest might come in on the back side with the antenna pointed south at the weaker stations. This could also work with a 769 or an HBU.
But for solid reception from the attic, you might have to use 2 antennas coupled with an A-B switch. This is because, when you count on side and rear reception, there will always be conditions that will tank reception. Impulse noise from thunderstorms wreaks havock with attic reception, as does tropo, which makes far-away co-channels strong, stepping on the locals.
Whatever you do, make sure you have those VHFs, as Cedar Rapids is definitely a VHF-heavy market.

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post #6 of 49 Old 07-30-2011, 10:12 PM
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An outdoor location may not need to be on your roof. Testing near ground, where no ladder is necessary, might get the job done. Good Luck.
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post #7 of 49 Old 07-31-2011, 07:09 AM
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What deltaguy said. Several times, I've gotten just as good reception about 6' off the ground as I have up above the roof line.
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post #8 of 49 Old 07-31-2011, 07:36 AM - Thread Starter
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I do not have a good place for an outdoor antenna except for the roof. I've got 4 very large trees taking up more than half the yard. I also think higher is probably better... I live at the bottom of a hill.

I'm intrigued by the idea of a homemade antenna. I would just be concerned about how much knowledge I would actually need to do it right and if it could be built in sections that can then be put together in the attic (given the 2'x2' access). I'm overwhelmed by trying to sift through information about antennas as it is.
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post #9 of 49 Old 07-31-2011, 08:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vorkosigan View Post

I do not have a good place for an outdoor antenna except for the roof. I've got 4 very large trees taking up more than half the yard. I also think higher is probably better... I live at the bottom of a hill.

I'm intrigued by the idea of a homemade antenna. I would just be concerned about how much knowledge I would actually need to do it right and if it could be built in sections that can then be put together in the attic (given the 2'x2' access). I'm overwhelmed by trying to sift through information about antennas as it is.

Higher is better.
Making your own antenna is nice, but if you think it might be a problem with getting it into your attic, you might want to consider getting one already made from Radio Shack or elsewhere. You would need a high VHF/UHF antenna.
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post #10 of 49 Old 07-31-2011, 08:41 AM
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Check the dimensions of the HBU-22 at RadioShack. If you think it would fit in your attic, I would try that one. It comes folded up, so it would be easy to get it into the attic. The elements simply unfold. If not in stock locally, have it shipped to your local store. If it won't fit or doesn't work well, return it.

Another one that might fit is the RCA ANT-751, made by Winegard.

First try only connected to one TV with no splits in the line. If it works OK, try connecting your splitter and extra TVs. If signal is weak after splitting, add a distribution amp. This one usually works well.


If your attic is as cramped as it sounds, your antenna choices may be limited. Outdoors and a bigger antenna would really be better.
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post #11 of 49 Old 07-31-2011, 12:32 PM - Thread Starter
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arxaw, might be able to get the HBU-22 to fit. Not sure on if I could do much in the way of aiming it. But like I said in my first post, I am bad at judging things like that. It might be worth trying.

I'm also still confused about if I need 2 antennas or not.

I also saw this http://www.winegarddirect.com/viewit...9&p=WD-MS-2002

I don't think I've seen that type of antenna recommended, so what's wrong with it?
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post #12 of 49 Old 07-31-2011, 05:44 PM
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It is possible a simple 4bay CM 4221 (or homemade) without reflector and a simple folded dipole combined with a CM7777 would get the job done.

UNLESS the bottom of a hill part isn't taken into account with his tv fool plan.

I pick up stations much farther away with that combo in my attic in hilly western Pa.
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post #13 of 49 Old 07-31-2011, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vorkosigan View Post
I'm also still confused about if I need 2 antennas or not.
Impossible to predict that.

Quote:
I also saw this http://www.winegarddirect.com/viewit...9&p=WD-MS-2002

I don't think I've seen that type of antenna recommended, so what's wrong with it?
Omnidirectional antennas seldom work well for digital TV reception. That's why you won't see them recommended too often on this forum.
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post #14 of 49 Old 07-31-2011, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, so to try and make this easy on myself... my plan should be try the HBU-22 to see if it fits and then see what the reception is like. Then I can come back here with those results and see if I need another antenna or an amp or possibly both. (Or possibly an outdoor antenna which would mean at the very least a couple of months before I could try that.)

My Directv contract should be up so I'm trying to get everything in place to get rid of them asap.
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post #15 of 49 Old 07-31-2011, 11:06 PM
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If you have a dual-tuner dvr that allows recording two channels at once, I'd think about two antennas. One antenna could have an aim dedicated to your weak channels. The other would be aimed for your stronger signals. Getting stations from several different locations with a single aim makes things more difficult.

What cheap indoor antenna have you been testing with?
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post #16 of 49 Old 08-01-2011, 08:22 AM - Thread Starter
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I have the Hauppage 2250.

The brand is RCA, but I see no model info. It looks pretty much like the old style rabbit ears with a round flat thing in the middle. My Dad gave it to me a few years ago and so it's just been laying around and since it was available, I tried it.

And I am still thinking about 2 antennas. I just need to get something to test for fit and see how the reception is first.
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post #17 of 49 Old 08-01-2011, 11:45 AM
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I think pacofortacos is right on target here. To receive all the green stations (only) on your TVFool report all at the same time without switching among multiple antennas, you'd need a bi-directional 4-bay UHF antenna (either purchased, with the reflector removed, or very simple homemade version with no reflector), oriented to face (broadside to) approximately the WNW and ESE directions (testing for best exact aiming direction), to try to capture all your UHF stations at once. An inexpensive 300-to-75-ohm balun would attach to join your coax.

http://scaryreasoner.wordpress.com/2...l-tv-reception
http://www.tvantennaplans.com (but don't use a reflector)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/washuotaku/4309919377

For VHF 7, 9 and 12, you'd also need a bi-directional antenna like a simple horizontal folded dipole or even just a simple pair of rabbit ears oriented horizontally, and facing (broadside to) the NW and SE directions. You can make the channel 7-13 folded dipole easily out of the old 300-ohm twinlead type of antenna wire or any other similar type of wire, even speaker wire spread apart a bit (but pulled straight/tight), and attach a 300-to-75-ohm balun to that antenna as well. You could even pin it to your high attic rafters horizontally using poster pins (testing for the best location for reception before securing in place).

http://www.wfu.edu/~matthews/misc/dipole.html (make yours about 29"-30" wide, right in the middle of 1/2 wavelength for your channels 7, 9 and 12)

Neither antenna will have a huge amount of gain, but your towers are only 22-27 miles away and all line-of-sight. Mount both antennas at the very highest (central) point in your attic (every bit of height will be important), so that neither antenna "aims through" the other (remembering that reception for both antennas is coming from the opposing directions broadside to the planes of the respective antennas). For the UHF antenna, you could hang it from the rafters (or otherwise just prop it up somehow) within an inch of touching the roofboards.

You might not even need an amplifier. I'd try joining the antennas with a UVSJ first to a single coax downlead to your tv. If you needed a bit more signal strength, you could always add an amplifier later.

http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?mc=03&p=UVSJ
http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?mc=03&p=CM3075
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post #18 of 49 Old 08-01-2011, 03:59 PM
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I tried the old 300 twin lead trick for the folded dipole, in my case it didn't work BUT I made my own folded dipole out of 10 guage copper (grounding wire) and it works very nicely.
I have my homemade 4 bay hanging from the rafters and my home made folded dipole laying on the rafters underneath it.
Coupled with my CM 7777 I pull in stations from over 50 miles away. They might be much farther actually.
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post #19 of 49 Old 08-01-2011, 04:07 PM
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Here's the antenna that I'm currently using this way with good results. All of my stations that I want are due south, so I don't need to rotate it, but somewhere, there might be an antenna rotator without the antenna. This is a UHF only antenna, which is what you need for HDTV.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16882790012
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post #20 of 49 Old 08-01-2011, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the added info everyone. It looks like that gives me something to try at the very least.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pacofortacos View Post

I tried the old 300 twin lead trick for the folded dipole, in my case it didn't work BUT I made my own folded dipole out of 10 guage copper (grounding wire) and it works very nicely.

I have some 12 gauge copper laying around, any problems with using this for either or both antenna types?

Now if this heat would let up a bit, I could actually get into my attic and finish running the coax and see about the antenna.
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post #21 of 49 Old 08-01-2011, 05:43 PM
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The 12 gauge copper will work fine, try to get it as straight as possible - though it will still work if not perfectly straight, it will not work just quite as well

Folded dipole is easy and quick to build test, BUT it will be a VHF only antenna most likely - still for testing, those 2 VHF stations are the right directions and distance and will give you an idea of what is possible.

Folded dipole is nothing more than a long wire (60" long or so), and then you basically fold it in half BUT fold the two ends so that the upper and lower wires are 1" apart from each other AND the two ends meet in the middle of the lower wire about 1" apart from each other.
So you have two sides, one side is solid, then the two bends (one bend on each side of that solid side wire), then the other side and that side is where the two ends of the wire meet in the middle of that side - hard to describe LOL.

You balun will go in the middle of the side that has the two ends meeting in the middle, coax to tv.
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post #22 of 49 Old 08-01-2011, 08:15 PM
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Amen to that on the attic. I've gone up there for 2 minutes to make an adjustment and came down soaking wet.

If the plain VHF dipole doesn't work, you could add directors and a reflector-

http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/yagis/k6sti

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post #23 of 49 Old 08-02-2011, 07:40 AM
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In the case where someone needs a bi-directional VHF-high antenna, but a simple folded dipole does not provide quite enough gain, could you add directors only, but no reflectors, to both opposing sides of the folded dipole to increase gain in both of those opposing directions, or would each side's directors cause multipath or otherwise reduce/disrupt signal strength for reception from the opposing side? Just wondering...

Edit: The more I think about this, I suppose it would cause multipath. Instead, another option might be to add one or more additional folded dipole(s) above or below the first (by some specified distance), and then join them electrically like a 2-bay or 4-bay UHF bowtie antenna. Or you could also just make a multiple-bay bowtie VHF-high antenna, just with larger elements than for UHF, and join them the same way. Wondering what the gain would be for these options...
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post #24 of 49 Old 08-02-2011, 02:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gcd0865 View Post

In the case where someone needs a bi-directional VHF-high antenna, but a simple folded dipole does not provide quite enough gain, could you add directors only, but no reflectors, to both opposing sides of the folded dipole to increase gain in both of those opposing directions, or would each side's directors cause multipath or otherwise reduce/disrupt signal strength for reception from the opposing side? Just wondering...

Edit: The more I think about this, I suppose it would cause multipath. Instead, another option might be to add one or more additional folded dipole(s) above or below the first (by some specified distance), and then join them electrically like a 2-bay or 4-bay UHF bowtie antenna. Or you could also just make a multiple-bay bowtie VHF-high antenna, just with larger elements than for UHF, and join them the same way. Wondering what the gain would be for these options...

I have done exactly what you described, in order to get a 12 & 13 that are opposite each other. It works better than the back side of the K6ST1 Yagi I noted above, but not quite as good as a Gray-Hoverman with NARODS.
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post #25 of 49 Old 08-08-2011, 08:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Just wanted to give an update.

I made the antenna and tested it out in the living room. So far so good. It looks like the Fox station might be a little iffy, but the rest of the UHF stations seem to be doing ok. (There may be other channels that are iffy as well as this was just a quick test so far.)



I have not made the Dipole antenna yet.

Friday night I was able to get up into the attic and work on some of the coax runs that I needed to do and I realized that there is an antenna in the attic already. However, there's no way to really aim it. I am looking it over and I can not see a way to attach the coax to it. What am I looking for? Also does this antenna look like it would be better for UHF or VHF? It looks to be pointed at just about NNW.



It looks like it's cool enough today with no sun that I can get in the attic to do some more work. I'll finish running the coax that I need to test out the signal with the antennas in the attic. I think I just need to know what to do with the antenna that was already up there.

I also found this:



If I need an amp, would this be it? If so, can I get a power supply for it somewhere?

Also, are either of these splitters any good?


LL
LL
LL
LL
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post #26 of 49 Old 08-08-2011, 09:52 AM
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I don't recognize the amp.

I would use the regal splitter. Connect the longest coax to the far right tap (3.5dB loss). Use the 7 dB loss taps for the two shorter coaxes.

The antenna in the attic appears to be designed for VHF channels (yours are 7, 9 & 12), but it may pick up all your VHF & UHF channels in green, because they are all fairly strong. If you have problems, try your bowtie UHF antenna by itself. Or combine both antennas with a UVSJ.
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post #27 of 49 Old 08-08-2011, 12:03 PM
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There should be a pair of screw posts on that antenna in the attic. You would need to connect a balun, just like you did on your homemade bowtie.
Usually, an antenna kept in the attic stays in nearly perfect condition. The one in your photo certainly looks like it's in pretty good shape, and you said it was aimed towards 7 & 9, with 12 directly behind it. It might even have a decent shot at getting 4 off the right-rear quarter.
I would try getting that sucker going for the VHF stations, as it would probably outperform a simple dipole, and it's already paid for & installed.

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post #28 of 49 Old 08-08-2011, 01:22 PM - Thread Starter
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I think I found the right place to connect the balun. I'll be able to test later to make sure. You can't really see from the photo, but one of the rods at the back is bent and two of the other rods are not angled straight out because they hit the framing. We'll see how it works, though.

I do have the UVSJ so I can throw that into the mix once I get the wiring done.

I'm in the middle of working on what I guess you would call my wiring closet. Where I have all the Cat6 and coax and everything coming to. Just planning that out and then I can hook it all up and test it.
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post #29 of 49 Old 08-09-2011, 04:52 PM - Thread Starter
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So I finally finished running the cables for the living room and the antennas in the attic.

I went to the HTPC to see what kind of signals I was getting and I wasn't getting anything. At that point, i had only hooked up the antenna that I had found up there and that was it, so I decided to go ahead and hook up the homemade antenna as well and use the UVSJ combiner. Still nothing. Then I got smart and thought that maybe I had somehow mislabeled the 2 lines of RG6 coming from the living room. Swapped them around and magically I had some nice strong signals. Whoops. Guess I better relabel those 2 lines.

Looking at the signals in Windows Media Center, everything is green except for 25 and 47 which seem to fluctuate a bit. 25 at best gets about 4 bars and at worst is in the red. 47 goes from all green to red. There is some pixelation and pauses on 47 and some pixelation with a slight static type of sound for 25. 51 seems to like to cut out briefly every few minutes as well.

That's what I have noticed so far. I'll keep an eye on it to see if I notice anything else. In the meantime, what can I do to help the few channels that are having a problem? I plan on adding a splitter at some point and that will make the signal worse, but I don't know how much worse.
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post #30 of 49 Old 08-09-2011, 08:48 PM
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Try hooking up just one antenna at a time and as few other things as possible in your run. See what you get. It is easier to get a baseline with as few variables as possible.

Sounds promising though
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