Woodstock, IL: Db4, Db8 or Gray Hoverman? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 24 Old 12-16-2012, 01:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi. I'm new to this forum and was impressed by the knowledge some of the members seem to have here. I'm wanting to build my own antenna. I've been searching the Internet for about a week now and in that time I could've built a few of these. The problem is, there are too many discrepancies from plan to plan for the Db4's and 8s. I know the phase wire spacing and whisker dimensions are crucial for signal reception. 9.5" whiskers with 5.5" gap and 9" spacing between bays? Or 7" whiskers with 3"gap and 5.25" spacing between bays? 1.25" spacing between phase lines or 1"? Bottom line is what plans are correct? At first I thought i would build the Db4 but wasn't sure it would be strong enough bring in Chicago stations 60.1 miles away. So I thought maybe the db8 but am not sure if I should build it vertically ( 2 db4s ganged together on one vertical ) or do I build two db4s ganged together side by side? Below are some links to the plans I'm interested in.

http://moneyrhythm.com/diy/how-to-build-a-db4-antenna/
http://moneyrhythm.com/diy/how-to-build-a-db8-antenna/
http://moneyrhythm.com/diy/build-db8-tv-antenna-db4-antennas/
http://www.tvantennaplans.com/
http://m.instructables.com/id/Build-a-Large-DB8-HDTV-Antenna-Big-Bertha/

Also I must add. That I live in a house that was built in 1900 with aluminum siding. I found a decreped aluminum antenna in my attic (probably from the 50's). For giggles, I connected a balun to it and propped the decreped, falling apart antique in the direction of the Chicago towers and got 2-4 channels, depending on the day. Only two channels are strong enough to give me a picture. Ch. 9.1 ( WGN Chicago ) and Ch. 17.1. (ABC out of Rockford). I was picking up the Rockford signal from the back side being that its 35 miles away in the opposite direction of Chicago, according to the azimuth readings on my TvFool report.
I would like to keep the attic as my location for my new antenna. Wether it be one that I build or purchase at this point. I do have some trees to contend with. But I figured if I could get WGN Chicago with the junk antenna In the attic now, I should be able to do better than that with one I build. Here is the link to my TvFool report below:

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3dcc49a5618315db

Would a Gray Hoverman be an option? Or am I just wasting my time with building an antenna at all?
I've also been looking at purchasing the HD 2608 antenna from homeantenna.org

I do apoligize for the long post as its been a long search thus far. Any feedback would be GREATLY appreciated! smile.gif
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post #2 of 24 Old 12-16-2012, 03:42 PM
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Building an antenna would be a fun and interesting project to do, but...... If you're house is a single story and you're trying to get stations 60+ miles away that may be difficult to do with an inside antenna, even up in the attic. Not impossible depending on what's around you and between you and the towers, but difficult none the less. I would look at good indoor antennas, maybe with a rotor, or better yet, consider an outdoor antenna for the best possible reception.
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post #3 of 24 Old 12-16-2012, 05:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you Otto for your reply. I guess I failed to mention in my last post that our home is a 2 story . Oops!? Sorry about that. The attic is fairly large and I would be able to mount the antenna in the highest peak of the roof ( if I built a db8). If I purchased an antenna I would have plenty of floor space and clearance for rotation. I'm not opposed to putting one on the roof either. After reading your response I had to laugh because that was my initial reason for building one myself. I thought it would be a fun and interesting project as well. But thus far it hasn't been real fun and I haven't even built it yet! Lol! I may take your advice and just purchase a quality antenna and save my efforts. I'm sure I could find plenty of other fun and interesting projects to work on ( i know my wife could) that would probably bring more rewards in the end than this one. Thanks again. smile.gif
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post #4 of 24 Old 12-16-2012, 05:33 PM
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Your TVFool report shows that you have very weak signals in BOTH
the Hi-VHF (Ch7-13) and UHF Bands...and MAY need a VHF antenna
that also covers Ch5, if it's on your list of "must have" channels. You're
going to need a good VHF+UHF Mast Mounted Preamp and a Rotator.

re_nelson
conducted comparison tests for several Preamps, finding very
minor differences between them in a very Rural environment (like yours):
http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?p=1404708
Of course, in an Urban environment with very strong interference
between signals, the lower Gain, higher overload Preamps should excel.....

Most of the on-line DIY antennas are very sub-optimal. Optimized 4-Bay
and 8-Bay antennas can be found here:
http://m4antenna.eastmasonvilleweather.com/Drawings/PDF%20Drawings.html
mclapp's Vertically Stacked 8-Bay consists of two 4-Bay M4's interconnected
by the Vertical Stack Co-phase Line (last diagram).

I modeled various sizes of 4-Bay Antennas and found that the BEST size for NEW
UHF Band is mclapp's M4 with 10-in Whiskers & 9.5-in Bowtie-Bowtie Separation,
but it's only slightly better than 9-in x 9.0 and is MUCH better than DB-4. Also
note that M4 has very healthy 9 dBi or higher Gain on Ch7-13, unlike most
other 4-Bay or 8-Bay antennas: [You can navigate to many other antennas.]
http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/multibay/4bayrefl
And if you decide you want a little bit more Gain for UHF and Hi-VHF, you can
upgrade later to a Vertically Stacked 8-Bay (VM8):
http://m4antenna.eastmasonvilleweather.com/Computer%20models/Computer%20models%20M8.html

If you ALSO want to receive Ch5, you might get lucky and the M4 might have
just enough (negative) Gain to get the job done.....but (probably) NOT. If you
also want Ch5, you'll probably need to add a separate Lo-VHF Antenna, using
an HLSJ Hi-VHF/Lo-VHF Combiner. I've provided DIY designs for (too) few
antennas for this infrequently required band, but most of them are rather large
and may or may not not fit in your attic, for example the 6-Whisker Bowtie (5 dBi):
http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/dipoles/vhf1baybowtie
Another 2-3 dB of Gain should also be available with some Reflector Rods,
but I haven't (yet) worked out minimum number, optimum size & separation.

For Ch5, a Yagi antenna, such as A-C Y5-2-6 (7 dBi) is also a DIY candidate:
http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/yagis/ch26acy5265elyagi
or rescale K6STI's 5-Element Yagi (7-9 dBi) or one of the other Yagi designs:
http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/yagis
[If you want to pursue a Ch5 option, let us know so we can work it through....]

BTW: babblin5's UTube 4-Bay "Defect" (with NO Reflector) is worst of all:
http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/multibay/4bay/chartsnorefl
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post #5 of 24 Old 12-16-2012, 07:16 PM
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^^^^ that's good information to know. We have no reception issues from 50+ miles with our antenna, but it's on our roof and is a big 72-element UHF-VHF-FM. We also have a rotor and use a drop-amp signal booster in the garage before the cable is split and goes to the house. If you've got the attic space, you may want to consider that following holl_ands advice about a rotor and pre-amp.
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post #6 of 24 Old 12-20-2012, 10:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you to Otto and Holl_ands for your responses! A special thanks to Hol_ands for the plethora of information! I really appreciate it. Too kind of you! The links you sent me are VERY informative. Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I been really busy with the holidays coming up. I think I might try to build the mb4 or 8 base on the plans you sent me. I was impressed with the test results you sent me. Since i have all the material i need here at the house i may just build it for giggles. NBC would be great to have (for football games etc.). Maybe I'll get lucky with the mb8. If not, I will most definitely take your advice on a good mast mounted UHF-VHF antenna with rotor and preamp. I will keep you posted on the outcome of this project. Thank you again for taking the time to send me all of the valuable information. I will probably start my build after Christmas, due to my family being out of town for the holidays. I wish you the happiest of Hollidays!!
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post #7 of 24 Old 12-20-2012, 01:37 PM
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Yes, do let us know how the project turns out. Kinda makes me want to futz around just for $hit and giggles but I'm getting "the look" from my wife eek.gif
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post #8 of 24 Old 12-20-2012, 04:27 PM
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NBC is not RF digital channel 5. It's up in the 40's or 50's, and is relatively easy to get. Channel 5 RF is some low-powered, ethnic channel.

 

All you really need is a good hi-VHF/UHF antenna, like the Winegard HD7697, with a good, low-noise amp, and possibly a rotor, because Rockford is pretty easy to get from there (CBS should be more reliable than WBBM, and they show the same programming during primetime). From there you can probably get some Madison, WI, too, and you should be able to receive a plethora of Milwaukee channels, barring interference.

 

WBBM is RF 12, and NBC out of Rockford is RF 13. Those are both hi-VHF. CBS out of Milwaukee is UHF.

 

You're in a good spot (McHenry's really about the most centered) I can receive all of those markets from C.L., except Madison.

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post #9 of 24 Old 12-21-2012, 08:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you Rammitinski (neighbor!) I appreciate the info. I failed to mention in my first post that I was able to get ch 13(NBC) and ch. 17(abc) out of Rockford with the dilapitated antenna that was left in my attic ( it has to be from the 1950's and falling apart). I only got ch. 13 for a day, due to me moving the antenna around so much and it's totally falling apart. I had it aim toward Chicago at that time, so i must have been picking those chs. from the backside. I only hooked it up for giggles just to see what Chs. I could get. I'm hoping to get Fox Chicago or Rockford (39.1 came in for a day as well) so I can see my Bears games. I would probably stay away from Madison and Milwaukee cause I don't want to be stuck watching Packer games. So.... After reading your post and as I write this, I think the my decision has been made. You are right ( as well as Otto and Holl_ands) , a good VHF-UHF with preamp and rotor will be my best choice. That way I can rotate it depending on what channels I want to watch at any given moment. So I'm not just stuck with one or the other. Do you think the Winegard will be effective in the attic? I have PLENTY of room for it. If not, I'm not opposed to installing it on the roof. Thanks again for your response! Happy holidays!
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post #10 of 24 Old 12-21-2012, 09:48 AM
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^^^^ my Winegard is about 28 years old and is very similar to the Chromstar 2000 series, Model CA-8100. 79 active elements (42 UHF and 37 VHF). It's a beast but it does the job.
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post #11 of 24 Old 12-21-2012, 06:01 PM
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If your house is aluminum-sided, you should put the antenna on the roof.

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post #12 of 24 Old 12-21-2012, 08:02 PM
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He did say that he was getting some reception already but that is a very good point. The aluminum siding could be problematic. FWIW, our roof-mounted antenna sits on a metal roof, but that's on top of the metal, not between it and the tower signals.
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post #13 of 24 Old 12-23-2012, 10:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rammitinski View Post

NBC is not RF digital channel 5. It's up in the 40's or 50's, and is relatively easy to get. Channel 5 RF is some low-powered, ethnic channel.

All you really need is a good hi-VHF/UHF antenna, like the Winegard HD7697, with a good, low-noise amp, and possibly a rotor, because Rockford is pretty easy to get from there (CBS should be more reliable than WBBM, and they show the same programming during primetime). From there you can probably get some Madison, WI, too, and you should be able to receive a plethora of Milwaukee channels, barring interference.

WBBM is RF 12, and NBC out of Rockford is RF 13. Those are both hi-VHF. CBS out of Milwaukee is UHF.

You're in a good spot (McHenry's really about the most centered) I can receive all of those markets from C.L., except Madison.

When Holl_ands commented about RF 5, RF 5 in the TV Fool chart is for Milwaukee area WIWN (formerly WWAZ), which is actually licensed to the Green Bay market to Fond Du Lac. They're no low power station according to the FCC. They're a full power station. If they were a low power station by the FCC definition, it could broadcast no higher than 3kw (used to be only 300 watts) for VHF, while UHF is only allowed at the most, 15kw. Anyway, unless Weather Nation is important, or WOCK-CD (for any of the Spanish language programming or English language America One), then an antenna optimized for VHF-Lo isn't necessary.

As for the OP, I would try for the DB8 in your situation, just to see what you can get. I however still never recommend relying on those antennas for any station that broadcast on 7-13, just for the fact that results vary, & while 1 vhf-hi channel might come in, another one might not. I have a Winegard HD-1080 2 bay antenna that has dipoles. That antenna worked ok for WLS-TV on RF 7, but lost WBBM-TV on RF 12 after 3 days, & no moving the antenna around would bring it back in. I only tested it out to see if it was worth the money to buy a second Winegard HD-1080 for Chicago stations. While it works in my area (Gary, IN) for UHF stations, the results for WBBM-TV made my mind up to not buy a second Winegard HD-1080 antenna, & kept the one I have for just WYIN on RF 17 (what I originally bought it for, since it's the only full power station not broadcasting from Chicago). If you're gonna go with separate VHF & UHF antennas, I would recommend either Antennacraft Y10-7-13 or Winegard Y1713, just so you know that VHF will work for you, & the homemade DB8, or other version that you're gonna go with.At least you got advice from people on this board. Too many people just ignored my posting on trying to resolve my problem. While another board got replies for the same posting, I dind't get the help I needed, & have to try & find out on my own to resolve my own reception problem.
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post #14 of 24 Old 01-13-2013, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by holl_ands View Post

Your TVFool report shows that you have very weak signals in BOTH
the Hi-VHF (Ch7-13) and UHF Bands...and MAY need a VHF antenna
that also covers Ch5, if it's on your list of "must have" channels. You're
going to need a good VHF+UHF Mast Mounted Preamp and a Rotator.

re_nelson
conducted comparison tests for several Preamps, finding very
minor differences between them in a very Rural environment (like yours):
http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?p=1404708
Of course, in an Urban environment with very strong interference
between signals, the lower Gain, higher overload Preamps should excel.....

Most of the on-line DIY antennas are very sub-optimal. Optimized 4-Bay
and 8-Bay antennas can be found here:
http://m4antenna.eastmasonvilleweather.com/Drawings/PDF%20Drawings.html
mclapp's Vertically Stacked 8-Bay consists of two 4-Bay M4's interconnected
by the Vertical Stack Co-phase Line (last diagram).

I modeled various sizes of 4-Bay Antennas and found that the BEST size for NEW
UHF Band is mclapp's M4 with 10-in Whiskers & 9.5-in Bowtie-Bowtie Separation,
but it's only slightly better than 9-in x 9.0 and is MUCH better than DB-4. Also
note that M4 has very healthy 9 dBi or higher Gain on Ch7-13, unlike most
other 4-Bay or 8-Bay antennas: [You can navigate to many other antennas.]
http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/multibay/4bayrefl
And if you decide you want a little bit more Gain for UHF and Hi-VHF, you can
upgrade later to a Vertically Stacked 8-Bay (VM8):
http://m4antenna.eastmasonvilleweather.com/Computer%20models/Computer%20models%20M8.html

If you ALSO want to receive Ch5, you might get lucky and the M4 might have
just enough (negative) Gain to get the job done.....but (probably) NOT. If you
also want Ch5, you'll probably need to add a separate Lo-VHF Antenna, using
an HLSJ Hi-VHF/Lo-VHF Combiner. I've provided DIY designs for (too) few
antennas for this infrequently required band, but most of them are rather large
and may or may not not fit in your attic, for example the 6-Whisker Bowtie (5 dBi):
http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/dipoles/vhf1baybowtie
Another 2-3 dB of Gain should also be available with some Reflector Rods,
but I haven't (yet) worked out minimum number, optimum size & separation.

For Ch5, a Yagi antenna, such as A-C Y5-2-6 (7 dBi) is also a DIY candidate:
http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/yagis/ch26acy5265elyagi
or rescale K6STI's 5-Element Yagi (7-9 dBi) or one of the other Yagi designs:
http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/yagis
[If you want to pursue a Ch5 option, let us know so we can work it through....]

BTW: babblin5's UTube 4-Bay "Defect" (with NO Reflector) is worst of all:
http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/multibay/4bay/chartsnorefl
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post #15 of 24 Old 01-14-2013, 09:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello everyone. I know it's been awhile since my last post. Due to the holidays, the time to complete my antenna and testing it in different locations in my attic. I ended up building a vertically stacked M8 according to Mclapps 9.5 x 9.0 with the long X phase lines vs short twist. I'm not sure what difference there is between the two, as i haven't seen any test results regarding that matter. I was very particular with my measurements. 1.25" spacing on the phase lines with approximately 1" gap between the x's. I used AWG 12 wire for whiskers and phase lines. I went with 5.5" spacing tip to tip on the whiskers. I built the antenna on a 6' 2x4 with 1" solid plastic stand-offs. The only thing I did differently (against my better judgement ) was the co- phase line. Instead of using the tapered line per Mclapp's drawing, I ended up drilling through to the backside of the antenna and connected the two 4 bays there. I'm not sure if that is effecting the performance or not. At the time of the build I was a bit unsure how the tapered line worked without interfering with the actual phase lines. Do the wires for the tapered lines have to be bare or insulated? If bare, do I need to use a double stand off at the balun point to keep them from contacting the phase lines?
Upon completion of the build I placed the antenna directly on the attic floor with the bottom set of whiskers being approx. 4 " from the floor and pointed it toward the Chicago towers. With no reflectors, I got Chs. 2.1(CBS also available on12.1) for a day. Ch. 7.1, .2 and .3(abc) in and out depending on the weather. 9.1(WGN ) for a day. Ch. 13.1 and 13.2 (NBC Rockford). And ch. 17.1&.2 (abc Rockford) for a day. The Rockford Chs were obviously being picked up from the side -back side of the antenna. NBC Rockford seems to be the strongest and MOST consistent of all, no matter where I place the antenna. I then thought I would raise the antenna as high as I could( thinking higher was better). I lost CBS, WGN, and abc Rockford. Abc Chicago comes in intermittently. I tried temporary reflectors (foil wrapped cardboard). No change accept NBC Rockford was now very weak (& lost at times) which makes sense being it was coming In from the backside. I still have some playing around to do with positioning. My next step is to lower the antenna again so that I can fit it in a smaller peak of the house and point it toward Rockford to see what happens there. I've yet to pick up Fox except for a VERY weak hour or so. That, again was from the Rockford side, while aimed at Chicago. What is very confusing to me is if this antenna is design more for UHF Chs. Why is it I'm only picking up. VHF signals? Does it have anything to do with my co-phase lines? According to my TvFool report, FOX Chicago should be my strongest signal but I have yet to receive it???
After all is said and done i realize there are too many obstacles to overcome in the Chicago direction and am going to shoot for Rockford the next time I have a chance to get up in the attic again. I also realize that the attic is probably not the best location for an antenna in my situation. I am not giving up though but at the same time looking at commercially designed rooftop antennas.
I had a lot of fun building this antenna but have also been a little frustrated at the same time. So many variables are playing a role here. My checklist is long.
@ Otto - I know " the look" you described that you got from your wife very well. I had to laugh when I read that post. I have gotten "the look" many times from mine in the years we've been married. In these last few weeks it seems "the look" has been permanently engraved on my wife's face because of this project. Lol !
@ Holl_ands. I hope you will read this post and can offer any insight. I had no idea you were as popular on the web in this subject matter when I first read your response. You're everywhere!! I especially like you image event pages. I'm also interest in building a yagi. I think am now addicted to (or shall i say obsessed with) building antennas. Extremely interesting stuff and you seem to be quite the master. I humbly thank you for your response to my initial post.
Thanks to all who have shown interest in my situation and for all of your replies. Below I have posted some photos of my build. Let me know your thoughts.














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post #16 of 24 Old 01-14-2013, 11:14 AM
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As far as you are from Chicago, the attic is gonna be a tough place for TV reception. If you can put an antenna outside, it would be the best way to get more stations. I'm only 30 miles SE of Chicago, & I can't get a single station with rabbit ears, or an outdoor antenna mounted indoors. So I must have my antenna outdoors. So trying the antenna outside will give you different results. Driving thru Kenosha yesterday, most homes have antennas outside, & for most houses, they're on towers. Some homes even had newer antennas installed (newer antennas optimized for 7-51 rather than the old 2-69), with the antenna for Chicago at the top, & the one for Milwaukee at the bottom. You might not need a tower, but it looks like moving it outside is the best solution. Someone in the Philadelpha market built something similar to yours, & moving it outside fixed some of the reception problems. That person didn't get certain UHF channels, but I was surprised that person got WPVI on that antenna, considering that station is on RF 6.
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post #17 of 24 Old 01-15-2013, 07:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey Dave,
Thanks for your reply and insight on my situation. I'm sorry to hear that you didn't get the responses you needed with your reception issues. To be honest with you, I was surprised I got the responses that I did. Not that I, immediately, took anyone's advice and went ahead with my build anyway. It was more experimental than anything. Seeing as I already had the material on hand and was already getting 3-7chs upon hooking up the VERY OLD antenna that i found my attic. Oh well. Im not saying that the db8 was ineffective but, honestly, it didn't perform much better than the old antenna in the attic. Of course I don't think any antenna will perform well there, being that I'm so far away with many obstacles to overcome. I am surprised though, that I wasn't able to get any UHF Chs. Only VHF. Being that the db8 is notorious for picking up UHF Chs. But again, that could boil down the stations signal strength at my location and the obstacles I have to overcome.
That's very interesting about your drive through Kenosha. I don't feel, at the moment, that i'll need a tower when it comes time to installing a rooftop antenna. I'll know more once I get up there and take a look around. I have very tall trees around my house. Especially in the Chicago direction. The trees in the Rockford direction are just as tall ,if not taller, but are further away. So that MIGHT help. As far as putting the antenna I built outdoors. It probably won't happen. It's a bit of an eyesore and of course I would have to reconstruct it on a piece of PVC. Not a big deal. But I got quite "the look" from my wife when I mentioned it. Lol! If anything, I could break it down into two db4's. Which might not be a bad idea, come to think of it. That would bring the height down a little so it's not as much of an eyesore. I could add some good reflectors and point them in two different directions like you were originally thinking with yours. Ah, we'll see..... I'll have to think about that one. I may just go with a commercially manufactured antenna instead. I'd rather just have one that does it all (VHF/UHF). Vs. two separate ones. Do you have any suggestion on a GOOD combination antenna for my situation?
I'm surprised being as close as you are to Chicago, that your reception issues are as bad as mine. You must have many obstruction issues as well. frown.gif It seems you had to put a lot of effort into getting good reception there as well as I.
Again, I thank you for taking the time to respond to my posts. Hope you have a great day. Stay warm out there! Talk to you later. smile.gif
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post #18 of 24 Old 01-15-2013, 11:58 AM
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I have some obstacles too. Mine are more to do with aluminum siding around the house, & steel for a roof. That's why I can't get anything with any antenna indoors. I'm lucky I get cellphone reception from Verizon Wireless in my home (their antennas are on the 200' portion of a 500' tower), & being only ¼ mile from the tower.

The only reason I went with separate antennas is because I didn't like how most combo antennas focused more on VHF than UHF. Also, when looking at separate band antennas, there are more UHF only antennas than VHF only antennas. You still want to go with a combo antenna. If you think WOCK-CD might be important (even if it might be for America One on virtual channel 13.4, but broadcasts on RF 4), or even WIWN out of Milwaukee on RF 5 (broadcasts Weather Nation), then from Winegard, the HD7084P antenna would be a good choice. Otherwise, I'd receommend at least the Winegard HD7696P antenna, which would allow you to get WBBM-TV on RF 12, & hopefully the UHF stations, but you might also need to go up to the HD7697, if necessary

In the Antennacraft series, the HBU44 or 55 would be good choices for WBBM-TV & UHF. If WOCK-CD (RF 4) might be important for even just America One or Weather Nation on WIWN (RF 5), then the HD1200 is a good choice, & maybe the C490.

You have to decide, try to get reception in your attic, or have the eyesore outside to get your TV reception. Only you can decide on that. Just my opinion, I'd rather have the eyesore & get TV reception better. Some people consider satellite dishes (regardless of size) eyesores too, but those must be mounted outside in order to pick up a signal. Now if you decide to stick with a homemade DB8, & mount them side by side, then you could make 2 of them, & have one toward either Rockford, or Milwaukee, & the other one toward Chicago, connected together via an A/B switch. Unlike analog, I have found that in most cases (especially if stations from nearby markets are equally weak, or one set weak, while another set strong), it's not wise to combine 2 antennas together, as some stations will go out. For me living in Gary, IN, it's possible to get South Bend full power stations, & combining 2 antennas (alike or different) knocked out all LPTV stations from Chicago, & didn't even get South Bend stations. So if I use separate antennas, I have to use an A/B switch. I'm wondering if that's what people in Kenosha County do now, or if they have special filters from professional installers installed, so that only certain channels filtered thru each one, & allow both antennas to be connected to the same coax. In my area, most antenna installations are DIY'ers (whether manufactured antennas or home made antennas).
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post #19 of 24 Old 01-28-2013, 11:46 AM
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Hello.

After Chicago went digital, even though I have Comcast, I decided to see what was available off-air. I had a tabletop Philips UHF antenna from another project and I bought an Apex DT250 tuner. Everything from Chicago came in as it should have at about 70% signal strength, as measured by the gauge in the Apex box. Yes, Lord knows what it's measuring, but I don't have any other signal strength meter. The big exception was WBBM Ch2 and WLS Ch7. For whatever reason, those broadcasters decided not to go UHF at the transition and, instead, went HiVHF. WBBM is at RF Ch12 and, after some fooling around, WLS is back at RF Ch7 where they were in the analog days. I've been in a lot of discussions about the wisdom of this HiVHF business, my opinion being that there was no wisdom in this HiVHF business, but now, several years into the Great Digital Experiment, WLS has set up a "fill-in" transmitter on RF Ch44 and WBBM is in the process of doing the same on RF Ch26. WLS now appears on the Apex at RF Ch 44 just fine. I'm hoping for WBBM to do the same, but, well, knowing their puzzling past, we'll see what happens.

OK, so no WBBM and no WLS. I started studying antenna designs and prices. I'd pretty much decided to build my own and I am forced to do an attic mount. I came across the Gray-Hoverman design and thought that looked promising, but I was sold when I read in some on-line forum that it did a reasonable job with HiVHF. Frankly, I didn't want to mess with wood and screws just for an experiment and I had some 2'x4' foamcore panels, styrofoam blocks and blue painter's tape around from yet another project. I went to Menard's and bought 50' of insulated solid 14 gauge wire and got to work.

The design I chose was the one at http://www.digitalhome.ca/ota/superantenna/design.htm. I just drew out everything on the foamcore board, bent the zigzags, taped the wire down with the painter's tape, soldered on a balun, used a broomstick for a mast and an old brake disc for a base. Took about an hour and a half. Later I added another foamcore panel with the reflectors/narods, whichever they are, held in position with styrofoam blocks and some Elmer's Glue. It isn't pretty and it PO'd my wife. Success! It works great on UHF as one might expect, everything's at 97% and reception of WBBM and WLS are fine as long as it isn't raining. WBBM is at 25% and WLS is at 52%. WBBM is the flakier of the two, overall. Now that WLS is at fill-in RF Ch44 using the G-H really doesn't make a difference and I'm hoping WBBM's fill-in does the same. Occasionally, I can get the PBS station from Gary, as well. And, that's my indoor Gray-Hoverman. I've since ditched the brake disc and screwed the mast to a rafter.

Some things to know about my setup...

I live in Prairie View, IL which is 27 miles as the crow flies from Willis (nee Sears) Tower where all the Chicago transmitting antennas are. If I stand on my roof, I can see the top of Willis Tower just above the ground clutter, so line-of-sight is literal. My antenna is about 12 feet off the ground in my attic. It is 25 feet between my Apex receiver and the antenna. I'm using RG59 cable because I had a lot of it laying around and I know I'd get a better signal if I used RG6, but this was done on the cheap, you know. I also have a Radio Shack amp in the line. Pipe down...it was cheap and it works just fine. I don't necessarily recommend it, but I've got a good one. There are other brands with way better hardware and reputations. The UHF, btw, is OK without the amp, about 78%, but WBBM won't come in without it and WLS RF Ch7 is iffy.

I was prompted to write this because of 2edge from Woodstock who has to use an attic mount. You're about twice as far away from the Tower as I am, but you're also about 300' higher in elevation. I think the success of this depends on what your roof is made of and what ground clutter (trees and other houses, water towers and suburban sprawl) is between you and Willis Tower. And, aim carefully. Before I realized I could actually see Willis Tower from my roof, I did some aiming with a Trib map and a Silva compass. I liked that. It was fun and scientific.

Truly, I recommend doing this with tape and styrofoam to see what kind of reception you could get, even if you have to go to Hobby Lobby and Menard's for materials. And, think seriously about an amp to beef things up if you get acceptable results. And, in any case, you're probably not going to get Ch2. Even in the analog days, there was just something about the Columbia Broadcasting System that didn't want people to actually watch their Chicago O & O. Puzzling. Maybe with the fill-in... Well, if you're satisfied with the results, you could go permanent with the "prototype" as I did, or use screws and wood or ABS pipe and chicken wire to make something sturdier.

Hope this idea works for you.
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post #20 of 24 Old 01-29-2013, 03:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dubuque View Post

Hello.

After Chicago went digital, even though I have Comcast, I decided to see what was available off-air. I had a tabletop Philips UHF antenna from another project and I bought an Apex DT250 tuner. Everything from Chicago came in as it should have at about 70% signal strength, as measured by the gauge in the Apex box. Yes, Lord knows what it's measuring, but I don't have any other signal strength meter. The big exception was WBBM Ch2 and WLS Ch7. For whatever reason, those broadcasters decided not to go UHF at the transition and, instead, went HiVHF. WBBM is at RF Ch12 and, after some fooling around, WLS is back at RF Ch7 where they were in the analog days. I've been in a lot of discussions about the wisdom of this HiVHF business, my opinion being that there was no wisdom in this HiVHF business, but now, several years into the Great Digital Experiment, WLS has set up a "fill-in" transmitter on RF Ch44 and WBBM is in the process of doing the same on RF Ch26. WLS now appears on the Apex at RF Ch 44 just fine. I'm hoping for WBBM to do the same, but, well, knowing their puzzling past, we'll see what happens.

OK, so no WBBM and no WLS. I started studying antenna designs and prices. I'd pretty much decided to build my own and I am forced to do an attic mount. I came across the Gray-Hoverman design and thought that looked promising, but I was sold when I read in some on-line forum that it did a reasonable job with HiVHF. Frankly, I didn't want to mess with wood and screws just for an experiment and I had some 2'x4' foamcore panels, styrofoam blocks and blue painter's tape around from yet another project. I went to Menard's and bought 50' of insulated solid 14 gauge wire and got to work.

The design I chose was the one at http://www.digitalhome.ca/ota/superantenna/design.htm. I just drew out everything on the foamcore board, bent the zigzags, taped the wire down with the painter's tape, soldered on a balun, used a broomstick for a mast and an old brake disc for a base. Took about an hour and a half. Later I added another foamcore panel with the reflectors/narods, whichever they are, held in position with styrofoam blocks and some Elmer's Glue. It isn't pretty and it PO'd my wife. Success! It works great on UHF as one might expect, everything's at 97% and reception of WBBM and WLS are fine as long as it isn't raining. WBBM is at 25% and WLS is at 52%. WBBM is the flakier of the two, overall. Now that WLS is at fill-in RF Ch44 using the G-H really doesn't make a difference and I'm hoping WBBM's fill-in does the same. Occasionally, I can get the PBS station from Gary, as well. And, that's my indoor Gray-Hoverman. I've since ditched the brake disc and screwed the mast to a rafter.

Some things to know about my setup...

I live in Prairie View, IL which is 27 miles as the crow flies from Willis (nee Sears) Tower where all the Chicago transmitting antennas are. If I stand on my roof, I can see the top of Willis Tower just above the ground clutter, so line-of-sight is literal. My antenna is about 12 feet off the ground in my attic. It is 25 feet between my Apex receiver and the antenna. I'm using RG59 cable because I had a lot of it laying around and I know I'd get a better signal if I used RG6, but this was done on the cheap, you know. I also have a Radio Shack amp in the line. Pipe down...it was cheap and it works just fine. I don't necessarily recommend it, but I've got a good one. There are other brands with way better hardware and reputations. The UHF, btw, is OK without the amp, about 78%, but WBBM won't come in without it and WLS RF Ch7 is iffy.

I was prompted to write this because of 2edge from Woodstock who has to use an attic mount. You're about twice as far away from the Tower as I am, but you're also about 300' higher in elevation. I think the success of this depends on what your roof is made of and what ground clutter (trees and other houses, water towers and suburban sprawl) is between you and Willis Tower. And, aim carefully. Before I realized I could actually see Willis Tower from my roof, I did some aiming with a Trib map and a Silva compass. I liked that. It was fun and scientific.

Truly, I recommend doing this with tape and styrofoam to see what kind of reception you could get, even if you have to go to Hobby Lobby and Menard's for materials. And, think seriously about an amp to beef things up if you get acceptable results. And, in any case, you're probably not going to get Ch2. Even in the analog days, there was just something about the Columbia Broadcasting System that didn't want people to actually watch their Chicago O & O. Puzzling. Maybe with the fill-in... Well, if you're satisfied with the results, you could go permanent with the "prototype" as I did, or use screws and wood or ABS pipe and chicken wire to make something sturdier.

Hope this idea works for you.

I have to correct you on one thing. WLS-TV actually changed RF 7 to being a fill-in translator (actually a full market translator), while RF 44 is now their main channel. I don't know if WLS-TV has their problems with RF 44 worked out or not. The only reason RF 44 became available, was because then WWAZ (owned by Pappas Broadcasting) for some unknown reason changed their station from RF 44 (to originally broadcast from the same tower as WWRS Mayville, WI, & easily cover Fond Du Lac, their COL) to RF 5 (to broadcast from Milwaukee, which has since gone on the air as WIWN). When WLS-TV learned that, they decided not to build their CP for a fill-in translator on RF 32 (which would have only covered the nearby northern suburbs & the south suburbs, while you would have been in a sharp null) to changing their main channel to RF 44, but make RF 7 a fill-in translator. In the process, they forced WCHU-LD off the air, & they were forced to settle with RF 33, which most people seem to have a problem getting, since it's main interference is from WEDE-CA RF 34, due to that station still broadcasting in analog. For the last 3 years, WLS-TV has had problems getting RF 44 to match the coverage of their original analog signal, with the worst of it being in the city of Chicago. The last RF 44 antenna couldn't even be picked up by anyone within a 10 mile radius of the Sears Tower (still the Sears Tower to me). I don't know how the new antenna is for covering Chicago. My last antenna (Winegard HD9032) had trouble picking up a reliable signal. My Antennas Direct DB8 picks it up better, but it's not as strong as their RF 7 signal. I'm just waiting for WLS-TV to shut off their VHF signal, so I can set up my TV & converter box for the UHF signal.With the exception of Fresno, CA (they chose to return to UHF for post-transitional digital, where their pre-transitional digital channel was on VHF) & Chicago (original digital channel was out of core & didn't ask for a new channel, which was why they went back to VHF), ABC seems committed to VHF (WPVI-TV got stuck having to go back to RF 6, due to their original channel, RF 64 being out of core, & their only option was to return to RF 6, due to no available channels in UHF.)

WBBM-TV almost went to RF 11, after they made a deal with WTTW to acquire their old VHF antenna, & was about to go to RF 11 on June 12, 2009. They learned that the coverage area would be worse than what they were getting on RF 3. For RF 3, they were at 2.8kw, while for RF 11, it would have been only 1.8kw, in order to protect WLFI Lafayette, IN & WGVU Grand Rapids, MI (both stations on RF 11 for pre-transitional digital, & both stations chose to stay on RF 11), & to a lesser extent, WWTO LaSalle, IL on RF 10. When WBBM-TV learned that WISN Milwaukee chose to stay on RF 34 for post-transitional digital, they made the change to go to RF 12, & was able to up the power to 8kw. Their complaints from viewers not getting them on RF 12 haven't been as large as WLS-TV's on RF 7, since WLS-TV has to protect WOOD-TV Grand Rapids, MI, since that station chose to stay on RF 7 for post-transitional digital. They got more complaints during the pre-transitional digital days, due to VHF-Lo not working with rabbit ears at all. VHF-Lo also does not work with most omni-directional antennas either. The old-fashioned element antennas optimized for VHF-Lo is the best way to get any station on VHF-LO (rabbit ears won't cut it at all for VHF-Lo). I know this, because I got WBBM-TV on RF 3 with few problems, & I used an old Philips all channel VHF/UHF/FM antenna from 2002 in early 2009, & I was not using a pre-amp at the time. I currently have an Antennacraft CS600 & an RCA TVPRAMP1R pre-amp, & I get WOCK-CD on RF 4 with it. I also get WLS-TV on RF 7 & WBBM-TV on RF 12 as well with the same antenna (both will come in without a pre-amp on the VHF only antenna). Since UHF channels are scarce, WBBM-TV has been forced to settle for a fill-in translator, & they elected RF 26. They had planned to install it on the Sears Tower, but that request was denied on the grounds that it didn't protect W25DW-D's coverage. They amended the original application, & decided to have it moved to the tower that their backup FM stations are on, along with AM station 820 WCPT (daytime site) (tower located on top of the old WXRT studios at 4949 West Belmont Avenue in the city), & it has been approved. I don't know when WBBM-TV will have the antenna installed, & on the air. Since it's on a shorter tower, it'll mainly reach people living in the city of Chicago & a few nearby south & western suburbs (will reacha few nearby north suburban people too, but has a null to the north & north west). Since you're up near Vernon Hills, don't expect WBBM-TV's fill-in translator to reach you, since the sharp null is to protect WKOW Madison Wisconsin (also on RF 26). RF 23 is the only logical channel for WBBM-TV, if they wanted to go UHF instead, but can't, since Weigel Broadcasting still has WWME-CA running on RF 23 in analog, & that station can't be bumped, due to Class A status. You're gonna have to make VHF work for WBBM-TV. While I get their VHF signal fine in Gary, IN, I don't expect to get WBBM-TV's fill-in translator, due to a weak signal toward Indiana, whereas I would have gotten them, if they would have been allowed to broadcast on the Sears Tower. I forgot that WBBM-TV also has to protect WCCU Champaign, IL as well on RF 26.
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post #21 of 24 Old 01-29-2013, 04:02 PM
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Thanks, dave73.

Good grief what a story! Those of us just on the periphery of the Great Digital Experiment are aware of some of that twisted business, but you, clearly up to your pits in it, can tell s a lot. I have friends in Cadillac, MI and Peoria who are engineers for broadcast services companies and their stories are like yours. Both outfits are, in fits and starts, trying to get HD sorted out and it's clear it's going to take them a while to come. And that's not just the tech, but personalities, as well. You'd just like to think that digital and HD were all figured out a long time ago, but clearly not.

Well, OK for WBBM on VHF. Thanks for that information. The good thing about this is that I'll be able to build a dipole that's specific to their frequency and probably have room under the rake of my roof for a reflector element as well. Should improve things. And give me something to do.

Thanks, again.
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post #22 of 24 Old 01-30-2013, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello everyone
For some reason I didn't get any email notifications stating there were new posts, so I apologize for the delayed response.
@ Dave73. That's crazy! It's like a soap opera or something. I don't know how you keep track of all of that. I got lost somewhere between Fond Du Lac and Chicago. Lol!! I need a GPS to get me back on track again. smile.gif Very impressive...
@ dubuque. I wanted to thank you for your response to my original post. You're the first person to address the Gray-Hoverman design option. I looked at the link you posted and I may give it a try for the heck of it. I will however have to make a trip to Menards for some AWG 10 wire as I only have AWG 12 here at the house. I don't know if that's thick enough for the G-H design. I did run across those plans at the beginning of my research but wasn't sure if I should use those or one of the many other designs found on the web. It's great to get some feedback regarding those plans from someone who has actually built it. I haven't given up on my Db8. I still need to get up there and try some different locations in the attic. I can't seem to find my GOOD compass I think it's packed away with all of our camping gear. So I had to resort to aiming my db8 with the my iPhone compass, which I've found was giving me different readings everytime I went up there. I feel that the antenna is interfering with the phone compass. I know I'm close with my headings but not quite there yet. It's NOT a very accurate compass. Also, I too, have a Radio Shack amp that I hooked up to the Db8. I know everyone says its junk BUT it actually works to bring in ABC a little bit stronger and CBS somewhat better. CBS is very hard to keep but I wasn't able to get it at all without the amp. Also, the amp hasn't hindered any reception I have on the other Chs I receive. So all in all I'd say its improving things a little. As far as ground clutter between myself and the towers. I have quite a bit. Many trees and 2 edges to overcome which has made aiming my antenna very difficult as well. I know my elevation is higher than Chicago but looking at topo maps there are elevations that are roughly 50-75' higher than me in the direction of Chicago. Crystal Lake is one of them. Hence that's why I think Ramminski is getting better reception than I am and he's only about 10 miles south east of me. Looking at the tvfool reception patterns for each station Crystal Lake is much better than Woodstock. Im just 2 blocks north of the square (downtown Woodstock) and the reception pattern changes significantly. I'm in the pink -purple, downtown is in the green. The elevation drops about 10-20' at my location vs. downtown. My house is aluminum sided but I'm able to place my antenna away from the siding in the peaks and valleys of the roof. My roof is shingled and plywood under that. I'm sure the siding isn't helping matters though. I am a bit confused though, as to why I'm not picking up UHF Chs with the db8, being that its designed for those frequencies. Although I did get ABC (ch. 44.1, .2 and.3) for a day, along with ABC(Chs 7.1, .2 and.3) yey!! I had six mirrored ABC Chs. Just what I wanted! Lol! I have yet to pick up FOX anywhere. But I can get WGN 9.1(sometimes) CBS 2.1(sometimes) and NBC13.1 Rockford (all the time). So where are all of those UHF Chs? That's the big question of the day for me. Maybe the G-H will work better for me. I shall find out. But like I said, I still have some locations in my attic I have yet to try with the db8. I will keep you posted. For the heck of it I started building an 11 element Yagi on a 48 inch wooden boom tuned for FOX's frequency. Just to see what happens. I was going to just make a simple dipole but didn't think it would have the necessary gain I'd need at my location. I will keep you posted on that as well. I know you mentioned building a dipole for CBS. If you haven't yet. I found a great dipole/yagi calculator site that was VERY helpful. Out of all the ones I looked at, this one seemed to be the most accurate and detailed. There was a LOT of useful information on this site. If you haven't run accrossed it yet, here's the link.
http://www.k7mem.com/Electronic_Notebook/antennas/folded_dipole.html
If you click on antennas on the left side of the site page, you'll find a few other designs and calculators that are helpful.
Good luck to you and thanks again for your response. Talk to you later.
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post #23 of 24 Old 02-01-2013, 11:32 AM - Thread Starter
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I hooked up my home made Yagi. 11 elements designed for mid UHF frequencies. Picked up 17 channels.That's 15 more channels than my db8, which is only picking up 2. Go figure. Just thought I'd let you all know.
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post #24 of 24 Old 02-15-2013, 08:41 PM
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@2edge. Congrats on getting so many Chicago channels. You built a yagi, eh? I have to keep that in mind for another antenna project this summer. Meantime, thanks for the link to K7MEM and his antenna design calculators and tips. That led me to some other pages and I finally have strong WBBM RF 12 and WLS RF 7.

I was looking forward (not) to making a dipole tuned for WBBM RF 12 and getting it phased with my Gray Hoverman. While poking around the interwebs after going to K7MEM, I found that there are additions that can be made to an ordinary GH to bring in HiVHF pretty well. These are NAROD elements of strange shapes and called top hats. Some designs have just a couple 90 degree bends in the element and if you're imaginative enough, look like top hats. Some have recursive hairpin curves bent into the element and look more like those flat hats the men wear in the Shakespeare plays. I went with the Shakespeare style, bent from some 12 gauge. This link was my source for that: http://mysite.verizon.net/res11d41p/id4.html. I just made them like he said and mounted them where he said.

Again, I used blue painter's tape and foam board for building materials. Before, WBBM RF 12 was coming in at a solid 24 on my tuner. Just adding one top hat at the top of the GH boosted this to 52. Adding the second top hat to the bottom of the GH brought this to 55. Then I added the reflecting elements. This pushed WBBM to 72. Fine for me! Not gonna see any pixelation or dropout at that signal strength.

For grins, I thought to see how WLS RF 7 looked. See, when I started this, there was about 5 inches of snow on the roof, right after this last storm, and WLS RF 7 wouldn't come in at all. Just couldn't make it through the snow, I guess. I don't remember what the signal strength was before the snow, but it was low. Lotsa pixelation and dropout. But after adding the top hats and reflectors, WLS comes in at a solid 64. So, this worked and I'm where I wanted to be in terms of HiVHF reception and I didn't have to try to phase two antennas. One interesting thing, though, is that the top hats and reflectors caused some of the UHF stations to go down in strength about 10 points, but that was from 95 to 85. Still good and strong.

This summer I'm going to see if I can help my father-in-law. He's right on Lake Michigan, right across the lake from here. Over the years we've tried all kinds of commercial antennas on a rooftop mast and had reasonable luck during the analog days. The big problem is that we're getting Chicago TV just barely over the horizon and tropospheric effects make the signal fade in and out. Usually when a touchdown is scored or when they announce who the murderer is. Also the occasional ore ship on the horizon can cut the signal for a few minutes. In analog days, the picture would just get snowy for a while and then come back and sound would stay OK. Now...digital nothing for a while. And one tuner we have actually erases the dropped out channel from memory when this happens so we have to redo a channel search. What a PIA. I'm hoping a GH or a double GH can give us a signal strong enough to get through these outages. Also, in recent years, the day-long sustained 75 mile-an-hour windstorms off the lake have played havoc with the antennas we've tried. They stand up to the wind just fine, but as they say, it's not that the wind is blowing, it's what the wind is blowing. Falling and blowing branches (we're in the woods a bit) have just hammered the antennas. But mostly, though, it's been the VHF elements that took the damage. Won't have those with a GH and I can protect its elements with a rim of ABS pipe. Hope it doesn't act too much like a sail, though. Looks kinda flat to the wind. We'll see. But what also gives me hope is your luck with your yagi. If the GH doesn't do the job, maybe a yagi will and I shouldn't see too much wind damage on one of those. The yagi UHF part of the antennas we've used before are in fine shape. Lost only a couple reflectors. But I should be able to build a much bigger one for even better reception.

Again, thanks for your help and congrats.
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