Advice for Antenna in Marin, CA - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 59 Old 10-02-2013, 08:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Comcast recently (as of Oct 1st) started blocking QAM channels in my area and I was hoping to get an OTA antenna to get some local channels.

Me neighbor has a small GE rabbit ear antenna that she let me borrow and I hooked it up but the only channel I got was 4-1. My apartment has cinderblock walls, which I imagine would be causing that.

I do have 2 south facing windows, but I have no problem throwing something up on the roof but I'm looking for some advice.

I'd like to get ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and ideally ION (65.1). I'm not sure that is possible though

I was checking out the clearstream2 (and 4 in the hopes of getting ION), db2 and cm4220.

Is it even possible for me to get ION from where I am? That was the only reason I was considering the clearstream 4, which could be ruled out if it's not possible.

Any advice is appreciated

Here are my TVfool results:
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post #2 of 59 Old 10-03-2013, 02:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Anyone? Hoping to try and get this set up this weekend to catch the football games
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post #3 of 59 Old 10-03-2013, 02:47 PM
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Go back and generate a new plot using either EXACT ADDRESS or preferably COORDINATES (Use the interactive map for precision). A zip code level report in mountainous terrain is wildly inaccurate. Post the LINK to the report following the instructions on that page, not an image of the report.
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post #4 of 59 Old 10-03-2013, 04:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Gotcha, tried that and things look a good bit better:

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3d46ae40b1d1e928
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post #5 of 59 Old 10-03-2013, 05:15 PM
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Try a ClearStream 2V, available at most Wal Mart, Best Buy, and probably Fry's. Not the C2, C4, Db2, etc... as they are all UHF-only designs.

You'll have to make a base or hang it in front of the window. that faces SF unless you mount it outdoors.
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post #6 of 59 Old 10-03-2013, 07:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Got it, thanks. I'll give it a shot and let you know how it goes!
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post #7 of 59 Old 10-05-2013, 04:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Picked up and installed the antenna today. So far so good.

I'm getting all the channels I want except NBC. Not sure why on that though. I get ION which has almost identical specs to NBC. Any suggestions on that one?

For comparison, I'm getting ABC, CBS, FOX, KRON, PBS, KOFY, and ION (to name a few). I am getting Ind on 32.1 but not 26.1, which is similar to NBCs direction and distance

I picked up a ton of foreign language channels as well hah.
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post #8 of 59 Old 10-05-2013, 05:15 PM
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KNTV transmits on VHF from a slightly different location than most of the rest of the stations. That means its signal-scattering over the mountains is going to be in a different pattern than the rest of the stations. Its path over the last mountain also appears to be at a higher elevation than the signals from Sutro.

Two things to try:

1) Several different antenna locations.
2) An FM filter from Radio Shack, #15-0024, about $5.
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post #9 of 59 Old 10-05-2013, 06:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tip. I picked up the FM filter from radio shack and rescanned. I picked up a couple audio only channels but still no NBC.

I only have one other spot I could put the antenna so maybe I'll have to give that a shot
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post #10 of 59 Old 10-05-2013, 07:23 PM - Thread Starter
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So, it seems like my TV isn't getting the best signal from ION after all. My main TV shows it at 39% signal strength. If I add a splitter and try and hook up my other TV the signal gets much worse and my second TV doesn't even pick it up.

Would a premp help with this?

Is it possible I'm picking up NBC but the signal strength is too weak by the time it gets to my tv?
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post #11 of 59 Old 10-05-2013, 08:30 PM
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Yes a preamp will help with your signal loss due to adding splitters. Channel Master makes good preamps, but RCA makes a good cheaper alternative.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B003P92D9Y/ref=mp_s_a_1_4?qid=1381029941&sr=8-4&pi=AC_SX110_SY165.

It could also help getting NBC. How much coax goes from your antenna to the first tv?
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post #12 of 59 Old 10-05-2013, 08:52 PM - Thread Starter
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I would estimate the run to the first tv is 25-35 feet. The run to the second is probably 40-50ft (total).
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post #13 of 59 Old 10-05-2013, 09:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Just doing some tests, I hooked the cable directly up to the second TV and it is able to pickup ION although the signal strength isn't very strong. Still no sign of NBC in sight though

Quick question about splitters and that preamp.

Is it best to put the splitter as close to the antenna as possible or as far (close to the tv)? My setup currently isn't very optimized. It goes to a coax outlet near the first tv and I attached the splitter there with one cable going to the primary tv, and 20 feet or so of cable going to the second room/tv. I can take off a good 15 feet of length to the second tv (essentially make the distance the same for both) but I would need to run a new hole through one of the exterior walls

With that preamp, is it an issue having a long coax cable supplying power? It would need to go from the first floor up to the roof (on the second floor)
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post #14 of 59 Old 10-06-2013, 01:48 AM
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Hotsho111... If you want the stations from Mt. San Bruno (11, 26 and 65) to come in reliably, you'll need an antenna with more gain. For KNTV, I'd try a VHF yagi. That will give you some gain over what you've got now. For UHF, I highly recommend the Channel Master CM4228. I've got two of the 4228's and they work great. With all the hills up your way and here in San Francisco, you have to try all kinds of alternatives to see what works best. Good luck!

As for the location of the splitter and preamp... the location of the splitter doesn't make much difference. The way you have it set up now is okay. The preamp will have to go up at the antenna, not at the TV end of the coax. You shouldn't have any problem with the length of coax you're using.

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post #15 of 59 Old 10-06-2013, 05:25 AM
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The location of the splitter is important in that it cannot be between the amp and its power inserter. Downstream of the inserter, it's open territory.

Do experiment with the location of the antenna. 1-edge signals with a steep angle of diffraction often take some diligent work to sniff out and locate.
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post #16 of 59 Old 10-06-2013, 12:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tips. I would probably go a bit further if I was setting this up at my house (which I will never be able to afford in the bay area), but since it's at an apartment I don't want to go crazy on an installation.

I spent the last day or so carefully looking at the antenna map and adjusted the orientation of the antenna. I'm able to get ION at 55% strength.

Checking out the antennapoint map it looks like the only two VHF stations in my area are ABC (7), which I get and NBC.

Would something like the RCA ANT751, HD7694P, or 91XG (granted, this is a bit huge) pick up NBC? Would they get the same UHF stations?

I might just have to throw in the towel on NBC.
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post #17 of 59 Old 10-06-2013, 02:47 PM
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The 7694 would improve your odds for KNTV.
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post #18 of 59 Old 10-06-2013, 03:15 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm gonna pickup the HD7694P and give that a shot.

I should get it tuesday/wednesday. I'll set it up and let you know how it goes.

Thanks for the help everyone!
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post #19 of 59 Old 10-08-2013, 07:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Good news. Got the 7694p today and hooked it up directly to the first tv and I'm getting ION at 83 percent, ABC at 100% and I'm picking up NBC now at 45%.

Adding the splitter ION drops to 73, ABC stays at 100 but I completely lose NBC. The splitter says 5-1002 MHz with -3.5dB loss per channel.

I'm going to put new fittings on some of the cables, as most of it was extra left on my roof so the ends aren't that great.

Would a distribution amp solve NBC dropout problem?
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post #20 of 59 Old 10-08-2013, 08:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Quick update. I replaced the end on by far the worst cable I had and I can now get NBC on both channels but the signal is choppy.

ABC and ION have a strong signal on the second set as well (which it didn't have before).

I gotta replace the ends on a couple more cables which should help, but If NBC is still choppy is a distribution amp or a preamp a better option? I could see the preamp getting overloaded.

The distribution amp I'm looking at is the CM 3412 or 3414
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post #21 of 59 Old 10-09-2013, 12:53 AM
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Hotsho111... I've heard a lot of good comments about the 7694P and yours go along with that. I'm glad to see that it helped increase your signal levels.

A pre-amp would give you more gain than a distribution amp. The distribution amp will give you about the same level of signal on the output that it's seeing on the input. They're used in place of a splitter so you don't lose the 3.5 dB in strength. A pre-amp, added at the antenna end of the coax, can give you quite a bit of gain. Make sure the one you get covers both VHF and UHF. You shouldn't have to worry about signal overload up there in Marin. You're too far from the transmitters.

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post #22 of 59 Old 10-09-2013, 03:08 AM
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A medium gain (15-20 dB) pre-amp or, if your lead in from the antenna to the splitter location is short, the CM/PCT distribution amp may help. Also, keep the FM filter at hand and try it at the input of the amp.

I'd suggest the RCA pre-amp and keep my previous advice about the splitter's location at hand.
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post #23 of 59 Old 10-09-2013, 05:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quick question on setting up a preamp. I currently just have one cable running from the antenna into my apartment. If I were to set up the preamp, would I need to run another cable up to the antenna or can it (the power line) piggyback on the existing one?
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post #24 of 59 Old 10-09-2013, 06:53 PM
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No. See the installation instructions for the pre-amp.
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post #25 of 59 Old 10-09-2013, 10:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Ahh cool thanks. I haven't picked one up yet but checked out the wiring diagrams for some.
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post #26 of 59 Old 10-10-2013, 01:57 PM
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If you add the preamp, let us know how much it increases your signal strength. I think you should see quite a sizable increase.

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post #27 of 59 Old 10-10-2013, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Will do. Placed an order for the RCA preamp today, should get here Saturday

I was looking at the original cm 7777 but basically I didn't match any of the check boxes for someone who needs it
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post #28 of 59 Old 10-12-2013, 01:26 PM - Thread Starter
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So I hooked up the preamp today and the signal is exactly the same.

This is how it's currently wired (from the antenna):

Antenna -> UHF/Combined input on the preamp (with the switch set to UHF/combined. Strangely the manual said UHF/combined should be the default but it was actually set to separate inputs) with the FM trap on -> 10 feet of cable -> a second fm trap (this was where I put the originally recommended fm trap) -> 10 feet of cable into the house -> RCA amp -> splitter -> 7 foot cable to first tv, 15 foot cable to second tv

Thoughts?
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post #29 of 59 Old 10-12-2013, 03:12 PM
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Move the external FM trap to the INPUT of the amp. It's useless if between the amp and its power inserter and only muddies the waters.
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post #30 of 59 Old 10-12-2013, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Should I just remove the second fm trap and just use the one the amp has built in?


Edit: I removed the second trap completely, no change.
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