Syracuse, NY Help choosing antenna and maybe a pre-amp with stations in opposite directions - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 07-19-2013, 06:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi,

I'm hoping I can get some help making the right antenna and pre-amp / distribution amp choice. Most stations that I care about getting are fairly close 10-20 miles as you can see in the TVFool report:

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3d46aee3f3b73cd4

I'd be perfectly happy getting the following, so long as they came in and didn't suffer from pixellation / dropping out.
WTVH-DT 47 (5.1) CBS 10.4 LOS 64.4
WSTM-DT 24 (3.1) NBC 11.2 LOS 62.0
WSYR-TV 17 (9.1) ABC 10.9 LOS 59.8
WCNY-DT 25 (24.1) PBS 11.2 LOS 58.6
WSYT-DT 19 (68.1) Fox 16.8 LOS 57.2
WNYS-DT 44 (43.1) MyN 16.8 LOS 57.0
WSPX-TV 15 ION 14.1 LOS 54.3


My current setup is a DIY Coat Hanger antenna that is in the attic (antenna found here: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1200448/my-coat-hanger-antenna-review-awesome). It's only using the 7 inch design and not the 9 inch design of the mclapp. I have a few problems with this setup: some of the stations above experience pixellation / dropping out. I also have trouble getting WSPX-TV (ION) on channel 15. Most of the TV stations are in the same direction with the exception of WSPX-TV in almost the opposite direction.

I run 4 tuners and here are my cable lengths:

Antenna to first splitter - 25 ft
Splits two ways - one to a tv that is close to antenna, the other continues on another 40 ft to the main splitter
Main splitter splits to 3 more TVs
Runs to each TV - 60 ft, 30 ft, 30 ft


I also have the following antenna pictured here, but the DIY antenna works better.
http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=109&cp_id=10901&cs_id=1090102&p_id=4730&seq=1&format=2


I have tried connecting up the antennas directly to a tv and I can pick up WSPX-TV, but signal strength is ~ 50-60 (according to TiVo) and it doesn't stay locked for long.


Few questions:
  • A few of the stations are in the low UHF range. Are there better antennas for this range?
  • Would a combo VHF / UHF antenna work better for this low UHF range?
  • Do I even need an antenna with VHF (doesn't look like it from a TVfool perspective)?
  • A lot of the antennas I've looked at have reflectors - I'm guessing this wouldn't work as well for me because I need channels from both directions - is it better to go with an antenna that can get both directions or two antennas and try to combine?
  • Is it possible to have reflectors on both sides (like one on top facing one way, one on bottom facing the other)
  • Do I need a distribution amp / pre-amp based on the cable lengths? (I know, it also depends on the gain from whatever antenna I use) I was thinking of a distribution amp like the 3414.


Antenna thoughts:
  • DIY Grey Hovermann without a reflector (This one seemed better over Mclapp for the low UHF)
  • DIY Mclapp without reflector
  • Clearstream C2 or C4 (could or should I remove the reflectors, would I be better off with C2-V)
  • DB4E (could / should I remove the reflectors ?)
  • RCA ANT751 (is this too directional and I'd lose out on the other direction?)
  • Winegard 1080
  • Other?


Would it be possible to do one of the DIY antennas and put one on top of the other (like 2x Grey Hovermann or mclapp and then put a reflector on opposite sides? one on the bottom, one on the top?) Likewise is it possible to reverse the reflectors on any commercial models to do the same thing?


Thanks!
I appreciate your help...
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post #2 of 4 Old 07-19-2013, 09:15 AM
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Two things jump out at me right away:

1 - If you build the 9" McLapp antenna (without any reflector), the longer 9" elements should improve your lower UHF channels like 15. That's probably the best antenna for your situation, since it's bi-directional without a reflector, it has good gain, and that ION station is in the opposite direction from the others, so you wouldn't want anything with a reflector or a uni-directional antenna like the ANT751. Also, it's important to mount it at the highest (central) portion of your attic (assuming no signficant metal up there like aluminum siding, metal roof or lots of nearby ductwork to block signals) to minimize signal blockage from nearby trees, homes, etc., and facing broadside to north and south directions. If possible, choose an attic location for the antenna that's closest to your downlead location, to minimize coax length.

2 - You're probably losing a lot of signal by using multiple splitters. Test your signal strengths first using a single coax run from the antenna (once improved and mounted high) to one tv. If signals are sufficiently strong, then a centrally-located 4-way splitter would probably improve signal strengths throughout your system. If signals were still not sufficient with the 4-way splitter inserted, then a 4-way distribution amplifier would probably fix things.

Hope this is helpful - good luck...
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post #3 of 4 Old 07-20-2013, 10:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks!

I'll give those a try and report how it goes.
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post #4 of 4 Old 07-28-2013, 02:58 PM - Thread Starter
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Good News!

I built the mclapp 10" version and I now get all stations with signal strengths in the 90's for all of them. I left the splitters as is because re-routing the cable to support the one TV was going to be too much of a pain. I did however test with and without the first splitter and signal strength went down ~5-8 points (according to my tivo) with the splitter. For now I'll try it out and see if the signal drops out at all, it seems like it should be good enough even with my sub-optimal splits.

Wife should be happy.. and that's all that counts!

Thanks gcd0865!
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