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post #1 of 27 Old 01-01-2014, 10:15 AM - Thread Starter
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HI, 

 

I am hoping someone has some good advice for picking up OTA TV in my new apartment in Arlington, VA. 

 

Here is my TV Fool Signal Analysis Report: http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3d46aefcbfb2a590

 

Currently, we have a Mohu Leaf antenna, and are only able to pick up channel 30.  We just picked up an "in-line TV antenna signal amplifier" from Radio Shack, just to try since it was nearby, but it did nothing. 

 

We are on the 15th floor of a large building and our apartment faces South West. Being a high-rise apartment, we are unable to install a rooftop anything. 

 

Is there any hope for getting free TV?  Honestly, all I want is WJLA for Jeopardy...

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post #2 of 27 Old 01-01-2014, 10:45 AM
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First of all, ditch the trendy, expensive antenna and try old school. You might need something directional to overcome multipath from other buildings. But start cheap and keep receipts. You have both UHF and VHF-Hi, so you'll need something that'll do both. Were I you, I'd start with a $10 set of rabbit ears and work up. You may wind up with something like this wedged into a hall closet and pointed north by northwest: http://www.rcaaudiovideo.com/antennas/?sku=ANT751

You sure there's nothing on the roof you can tie into?

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post #3 of 27 Old 01-01-2014, 12:54 PM
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Steel and concrete apartment buildings usually mean that, if you are on the wrong side of the building, you're often out of luck.
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post #4 of 27 Old 01-01-2014, 02:09 PM - Thread Starter
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We're going to try the cheap rabbit ears from Best Buy next.  I have a feeling we will be going through a lot of receipts before either finding something or giving up. 

I'm finding in-store selection to be pretty limited, so I'm thinking we may be ordering things to test online. Do you have any source suggestions other than Amazon (and Amazon's secondary sellers) that might have a sweeter return policy? 

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post #5 of 27 Old 01-01-2014, 02:21 PM
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If you haven't done so already, try the Leaf near that window. A coax connector and more coax can possibly give you a better shot. The same goes for the rabbit ear combo you're getting. Good Luck.
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post #6 of 27 Old 01-01-2014, 09:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SplatteredWhim View Post

We're going to try the cheap rabbit ears from Best Buy next.  I have a feeling we will be going through a lot of receipts before either finding something or giving up. 


I'm finding in-store selection to be pretty limited, so I'm thinking we may be ordering things to test online. Do you have any source suggestions other than Amazon (and Amazon's secondary sellers) that might have a sweeter return policy? 
WalMart, Radio Shack..

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post #7 of 27 Old 01-02-2014, 05:37 AM
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Try the GE 34760 from WalMart.
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post #8 of 27 Old 01-02-2014, 08:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ProjectSHO89 View Post

Steel and concrete apartment buildings usually mean that, if you are on the wrong side of the building, you're often out of luck.
Unfortunately this may be the problem. But most major apartment buildings in Northern Virginia used to have outside master antenna systems that provided reception of most DC and Baltimore channels. But that was before digital, so I am not sure now.
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post #9 of 27 Old 01-02-2014, 05:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, I got an RCA UHF/VHF/FM Indoor Antenna, also using the amplifier, and have it leaning in the window, and got the channel we wanted (and only the channel we wanted...weird...) for about 10 minutes.

 

Can't seem to get it back, but it seems that there might be something there...or it was a strange fluke.  Is there some sort of next step up?  I'm not really sure what I'm looking for.   There were just a handful of other options, but I'm not sure if they are at all different (or different in the right way). 

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post #10 of 27 Old 01-02-2014, 09:41 PM
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Do you have that amp connected correctly? And that RCA antenna has decent rabbit ears for VHF, but the UHF loop appears weak. Go to Walmart and get a Clearstream 2V. It can be used indoors and should perform better. It is pricey at $98 but you can return if it does not work. But remember apartments can be bad for reception as walls block signals.
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post #11 of 27 Old 01-02-2014, 10:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SplatteredWhim View Post

Ok, I got an RCA UHF/VHF/FM Indoor Antenna, also using the amplifier, and have it leaning in the window, and got the channel we wanted (and only the channel we wanted...weird...) for about 10 minutes.

Can't seem to get it back, but it seems that there might be something there...or it was a strange fluke.  Is there some sort of next step up?  I'm not really sure what I'm looking for.   There were just a handful of other options, but I'm not sure if they are at all different (or different in the right way). 

Are you able to aim the RCA leaning against a window? Is the antenna on a window sill? Ideally for rf 7, the rabbit ears should be 32 inches. That's 16 inches a piece. Horizontally positioned is also usually best. Could you move something like a tv tray near the window? Since you will likely be relying on a reflected signal, the correct aim could be any direction. If you've had 10 minutes of reception already, then 10 more is certainly possible. The location and height of the antenna can also be as important as antenna aim. I'd try a little more with the RCA first before giving up on it.
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post #12 of 27 Old 01-03-2014, 12:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerSC View Post

Unfortunately this may be the problem. But most major apartment buildings in Northern Virginia used to have outside master antenna systems that provided reception of most DC and Baltimore channels. But that was before digital, so I am not sure now.

Some got upgraded to heterodyne, frequency shifted systems, but they were deemed too expensive for most, so a lot got simple digital to analog conversions, which didn't make much of anyone happy. On Tuesday, I got a call from a 100 unit condo that has just decided that it might like to upgrade its old master antenna system to digital, and I expect to be upgrading iit. A year ago, I got a call from a home owner's association asking me how come their antenna system doesn't work anymore. It had been not working for over three years when they called me.

What building is SplatteredWhim in? I can tell him if it is a lost cause. He can PM that info to me if he doesn't want to make it public.
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post #13 of 27 Old 01-03-2014, 04:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerSC View Post

Do you have that amp connected correctly? And that RCA antenna has decent rabbit ears for VHF, but the UHF loop appears weak. Go to Walmart and get a Clearstream 2V. It can be used indoors and should perform better. It is pricey at $98 but you can return if it does not work. But remember apartments can be bad for reception as walls block signals.

The only station the OP wants is WJLA, on VHF, so I don't think the OP needs to be too terribly concerned about UHF performance.

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post #14 of 27 Old 01-03-2014, 04:54 AM
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That particular RCA has pretty miserable performance. Get the GE antenna I suggested, or, if you want to try an amplified antenna, try the GE 34763, about $30 at Walmart. Mount it horizontally for best overall results.
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post #15 of 27 Old 01-03-2014, 06:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trip in VA View Post

The only station the OP wants is WJLA, on VHF, so I don't think the OP needs to be too terribly concerned about UHF performance.

- Trip
Yes I know but I still think at some point he may want to watch WRC or WTTG. Because with VHF he is limited to WJLA and WUSA. If I was going to a lot of effort to get reception, I would try to maximize performance to receive as many channels as possible, even including Baltimore. But I know he mainly wants to watch Jeopardy.
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post #16 of 27 Old 01-03-2014, 06:07 AM
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For VHF he mainly needs good rabbit ears. He could try the RadioShack amplified rabbit ears and loop, or the Terk HDTVa from HHG. If the amp is not needed, he could turn it off.
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post #17 of 27 Old 01-03-2014, 06:57 AM
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SplatteredWhim is on the "back side" of his building, as the Washington, DC transmitters are to the north. so basically, he just has to get lucky in his antenna placement within his apartment. Back in analog days, I use to hang a small antenna from my curtain rod, and when the TV reception deteriorated, I had a six foot pole I could use to slide the antenna back and forth along the curtain rod to "adjust " it without getting up out of my chair. Of course, with analog, you could see the improvement continuously, whereas with digital, with its "avalanche" failure characteristics, even when you get a perfect picture, you don't really have any idea how stable that situation is. His building is managed by WC Smith and during the transition from analog to digital, I never got any calls for modernization proposals from them, so the likelihood of them ever restoring or upgrading their master antenna system at this point is about zero.
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post #18 of 27 Old 01-03-2014, 11:38 AM
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It's important to note that ALL OTA channels are UHF now. While yes, they may have a channel number above 13, that is just an identifier. The actual RF frequency that the station transmits on is in the UHF band. With this being the case, many problems develop when trying to pick up HD stations using older, longer VHF antennas that are not resonant with the higher frequencies. I have had remarkable luck simply stripping down a piece of RG6 coax to the center conductor about 14 inches long, then sticking the end back into the shielding. I have a user that's on the 20th floor of a high-rise office building that I did that with, and they get every local station like it's on CATV.
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post #19 of 27 Old 01-03-2014, 11:44 AM
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It's important to note that ALL OTA channels are UHF now. While yes, they may have a channel number above 13, that is just an identifier. The actual RF frequency that the station transmits on is in the UHF band.

No, no, no.

Nationwide, about 74-75% of all full power broadcasters are UHF, the remaining quarter, around 500 stations, operate on the VHF band with only about three dozen in the low band (2-6).

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post #20 of 27 Old 01-03-2014, 12:04 PM
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In cybrvanr's market of Richmond, Virginia, WWBT -NBC 12.1 and -MeTV 12.2 is broadcasting on real VHF channel 12. It had been on UHF channel 54 but switched to channel 12 on the June 12, 2009 transition date.
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post #21 of 27 Old 01-03-2014, 12:34 PM
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If simple Low-Gain Rabbit Ears doesn't do the job, consider fol. Medium to High-Gain alternatives:

Hi-VHF (only) Hourglass-Loop with NO Reflector. VERY simple DIY, use ANY Wire Size:
http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/loops/hivhfhourglassloop
Can use VHF/UHF Combiner (aka UVSJ) to couple with UHF Antenna, such has:
UHF (only) Hourglass-Loop with NO Reflector (2-Bay performance is better than a simple Loop):
http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/loops/uhfhourglassloop

Or for even higher Gain on both Bands:
UHF + Hi-VHF M4 Super-4-Bay with NO Reflector:
http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/multibay/4bay/superm4.
Note you can order a pre-assembled Kit from mclapp's website.

The above can be conveniently hidden, such as behind a NON-METALLIC Picture Frame
orientated on walls that run East-West so they point North-South.

If you already have a Metallic Picture Frame, the fol. presume use of 3-ft H x 2-ft W Frame.
Note that use of the same M4 as above only has minor degradation due to the Metal Frame:
http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/loops/hivhfuhfin3ftx2ftpictureframeloop


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post #22 of 27 Old 01-03-2014, 03:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deltaguy View Post


Are you able to aim the RCA leaning against a window? Is the antenna on a window sill? Ideally for rf 7, the rabbit ears should be 32 inches. That's 16 inches a piece.

 

Yup, it is on the windowsill, right up against it. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerSC View Post

Do you have that amp connected correctly?

 

I think so?...describe what correctly looks like so I can be sure, though

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by AntAltMike View Post

SplatteredWhim is on the "back side" of his building, as the Washington, DC transmitters are to the north. so basically, he just has to get lucky in his antenna placement within his apartment. Back in analog days, I use to hang a small antenna from my curtain rod, and when the TV reception deteriorated, I had a six foot pole I could use to slide the antenna back and forth along the curtain rod to "adjust " it without getting up out of my chair. Of course, with analog, you could see the improvement continuously, whereas with digital, with its "avalanche" failure characteristics, even when you get a perfect picture, you don't really have any idea how stable that situation is. His building is managed by WC Smith and during the transition from analog to digital, I never got any calls for modernization proposals from them, so the liklihood of them ever restorring or upgrading their master antenna system at this point is about zero.

 

Yup, facing entirely the wrong way.  I asked someone who works in the building if there was any sort of building-wide set up, and he looked at me like I grew another head. So I'm guessing that means there's nothing on this building. Or I asked the wrong person. 

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post #23 of 27 Old 01-04-2014, 12:03 AM
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Being able to position and aim antennas is extremely important. If you can't do so, favorable results will not likely follow. This can be true regardless of the antenna being employed. Good Luck again, you'll need it.
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post #24 of 27 Old 01-04-2014, 07:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by holl_ands View Post

If simple Low-Gain Rabbit Ears doesn't do the job, consider fol. Medium to High-Gain alternatives:

Hi-VHF (only) Hourglass-Loop with NO Reflector. VERY simple DIY, use ANY Wire Size:
http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/loops/hivhfhourglassloop..

The "no reflector" variant would be my last choice. He is in the back of a highrise building, meaning he is going to get only weak, degraded signals and he has to develop the best of that assortment, so he needs the directionality and rear path rejection more than if he were receiving a strong, direct signal.

I suspect that SplatteredWhim's choices will be constrained by that which he can put up with aesthetically. A home made hourglass antenna in the window probably won't be any more visually obtrusive than having a Glass Wax Santa, whereas the reflector enhanced model will intrude into the room more. If he can better tolerate a monstrosity in his bedroom than he can in his living room, and if his bedroom also has an outside window, then that would be the better place to develop his reception antenna or array. I once hung a YA-0713 from my spare bedroom ceiling and would manually rotate it when I changed channels from Washington (7 and 9) to Baltimore (11 and 13).
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post #25 of 27 Old 01-05-2014, 06:01 AM
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Is there another tall bldg in the area when you look out your window? Try aiming the antenna towards that bldg. Sometimes you can get lucky and the signals bounce off a tall structure and reflect back to your window.
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post #26 of 27 Old 01-05-2014, 09:36 AM
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You probably have a cable outlet in your apartment. Connect your TV to the cable outlet. It's a long shot but if you are lucky, you might be able to utilize the building's cable system as a large over-the-air antenna and pick-up WJLA. Good luck.
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post #27 of 27 Old 01-05-2014, 10:19 AM
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That may have worked to provide a fuzzy picture back in "old days", but now that everything is digital, it's highly unlikely.
OTOH, if there is a "cable outlet" in the apartment, it is worth a try to see what you can get that may be provided by the apt. rent/lease agreement.
(Connect a coax from the wall to the TV's coax input, set the TV to "cable" and scan for channels)
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