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post #1 of 21 Old 09-18-2017, 07:43 AM - Thread Starter
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New to OTA - Pleasant Prairie, WI 53158

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...e6a453c1c6cfa2

I've finally decided to ditch Spectrum and go OTA with a Roamio OTA. I purchased and installed an RCA Yagi antenna mounted to my roof which is about 30-35 ft above ground level. I pointed it to 358 based on AntennaWeb. So first I hooked it up to my Kitchen TV directly and it pulled in 58 channels! I really only care about the major networks but the extras were nice. Looking forward to Lost in Space re-runs! Then I hooked it up to my new Tivo Roamio OTA and got that all set up and everything seems to work just as it should. Next I disconnected the coax from the Tivo and dropped it straight down about 40 ft. to my garage where my main house hookup is. In there now is a PCT-MA-B1010-1A Amplifier outputting to an 8 Port splitter. I have 3 Tv's including the Roamio hooked up to the splitter and will eventually have 5 total. 2/3 get every channel I want and the picture is beautiful but I have noticed the Tivo had a low signal for a couple minutes on one channel. The 3rd simply will not tune all the same channels including some of the major networks I need on it for football. The one that won't tune happens to be the first one I tested with in the Kitchen.

First, is that Amp even made for OTA? It was left by Spectrum. If I replace it, should I use a single port Channel Master CM-3410 and output to the 8 Port splitter or should I ditch the splitter and just get a Channel Master CM3418 8 port amp? I'd prefer the former as it will save me some cash.

Second, I noticed that TVFool says I should be pointing at 354 and AntennaWeb says 358. I'm about 40 miles from Milwaukee so 4 degrees could make a pretty big difference.

Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 21 Old 09-18-2017, 08:19 AM
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The Amp you have is about as good as the one you are thinking of so no need to get a different one. You need to provide call letters for the troublesome channels so we can tell where your problem might be. What model antenna are you using? Your signals in the 168 direction are stronger why don't you try for them. Many of your signals are very strong and may cause preamp overload so I would try without the preamp first.
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post #3 of 21 Old 09-18-2017, 09:16 AM - Thread Starter
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WDJT-DT 4.1 was the specific channel I was trying for but anything under 10.1 wasn't being found. I'm using the OTA mainly for Packers games so I have to go out of Milwaukee, Chicago doesn't usually broadcast them.

This is my antenna
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Are you sure about the amp? I looked it up and some sellers have it listed as for subscriber cable only. Since I know pretty much nothing about how these work I defer to you guys.
~edit: I found the model on the Manufacturers website and it does say it works on Antenna UHF/VHF

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post #4 of 21 Old 09-18-2017, 09:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Oh, also is there a difference between a pre-amp and an amp?
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post #5 of 21 Old 09-18-2017, 10:38 AM
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The amp you have would be about as good as most premps if it is mounted near the antenna. How are you providing power to the amp?
Also according to TVFool WDJT is 58.1 and WTMJ is 4.1. Which do you need?
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post #6 of 21 Old 09-18-2017, 10:48 AM - Thread Starter
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The amp is within three feet of an electrical outlet and it is using the included adapter.

Sorry! TMJ 4.1, I get a little dyslexic sometimes with acronyms.

Tonight I'll use the signal strength meter on the offending TV and on my Roamio to evaluate the difference between using the amp and not using it. I'll also verify it's getting power but I seem to remember the green power indicator was lit.

Any thoughts on the Antenna direction? Should I listen to TV fool and point it 4 more degrees west?

Last thought for now, the splitter has 3 unused outputs, should I have terminator on all of them? Do they make a difference?
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post #7 of 21 Old 09-18-2017, 11:04 AM
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Based on your TVFool report, the antenna should be fine. The 4 degrees isn't going to make that much difference at 40 miles. Its possible you could be over-amplifying the signal...not much different then someone standing next to you and scream in your ear...hard to understand them. Try bypassing the PCT amplifier to the TIVO and see if that solves your problem, you can do this by using a coupler that you can grab at Wallworld or similar.

There is no difference between an amp and pre-amp. usually the word pre-amp is used to mean you have an amp installed right at the antenna so you're amplifying the signal at the best possible location.

I use the same amp with my OTA system, the PCT is perfectly fine and highly recommend for OTA.

TV signals are a lot like water pressure through a hose, every time you put a water splitter in or have a real long hose you lose water pressure. When troubleshooting TV signals is always best to have minimal splitters and limit the distance you use for coax.

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post #8 of 21 Old 09-18-2017, 12:46 PM
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The amp you're using only has 10 dB gain and your splitter has about 10 dB loss plus coax loss so your net gain negative. You'd be better off with a CM3410 that has 15 dB gain.

I have a TiVo Roamio too. None of the meters are a signal strength meter no matter what it calls them. They're all Signal Quality meters so they don't tell you anything directly about signal strength. They are Signal to Noise meters which is sometimes related to signal strength.

Although your antenna should be good enough for your stations, it is pretty small. I'd use at least a Winegard HD7694P or a HD7698P if at all possible.

If you can get the TiVo to receive all the station connected to the antenna by itself, you can add a splitter with the proper amp and not degrade the signal to all the other TVs.
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post #9 of 21 Old 09-18-2017, 01:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Would I benefit much from swapping out the 8 way splitter for a 4 way? One of the TV's is optional so I can make due with 4.
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post #10 of 21 Old 09-18-2017, 01:32 PM
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If your not in overload, the one thing you could do to improve your signal quality with what you have is to put the amp at the antenna. You could use the one you have but you would need to get power to it and keep it out of the weather. I use a similar amp and put a coffee can over it.. A four way splitter would get you a little more signal but since it is after the amp it will probably not help much.
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post #11 of 21 Old 09-18-2017, 02:13 PM
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Per PCT Spec Sheet, Gain for Drop Amp is actually 13-16 dB [typ. 14 dB]....but NF is a fairly POOR 4 dB. Whereas Spec Sheet for inexpensive, waterproof CM3410 says Gain = 15 dB with typical NF Under 2.0....and has been TESTED to confirm NF and Excellent Overload Characteristics. I would recommend replacing the existing Amp to improve sensitivity by AT LEAST 2 dB....and with KNOWN High Resistance to Overload by your Local Stations:
http://www.pctinternational.com/wp-c..._20140827b.pdf
https://www.channelmaster.com/Antenn..._p/cm-3410.htm

Mast-Mounted Amplifiers and PreAmps for TV Signals are the SAME THING....waterproofed, intended to be mounted just below the Antenna, accepting power via the Coax. An OTA Distribution or "In-Line" Amplifier is similar, but typically is NOT Waterproofed. A "Drop Amp" is somewhat DIFFERENT, intended for use with CATV systems with much higher Channel Freqs (typ. 1002 MHz), and allows the REVERSE Channels (5-42 Hz) to pass thru from Cable Boxes back to the Cable Headend Equipment....but they also work for OTA Channels, which are a sub-set of the wider CATV Spectrum....some (like those mentioned here) accept Power either via COAX (with extra cost Power Insertion Module) or via a dedicated PWR IN Coax Port.

===============================================
YES, you should use a 75-ohm Termination Resistor on every UNUSED Splitter Port [even better, select splitter to minimize Unused Ports]. Unterminated ports cause SWR Problems to OTHER ports....which can result in NULLS on particular Channels at SOME Drops and NOT at others, depending on whether the cable lengths are close to a multiple of 1/2-wavelength for that Channel. Using 75-ohm Termination Resistors is ALSO important to ensuring that the specified Port-to-Port Isolation is actually being provided...this (typical) 20+ dB Isolation provides important attenuation of the Tuner's Oscillator Leakage Signal from causing problems for ANOTHER Tuner connected to another port on that same Splitter.

===============================================
I would guess the reason you chose to aim the Low-Gain [abt. 7 dbi in either Band], Hi-VHF/UHF RCA Antenna towards mostly weaker signals toward 358-deg (Magnetic), rather than the mostly stronger signals toward 172-deg (Magnetic) would be because it was necessary to receive the STRONGER CBS on Ch46 [towards 358-deg], rather than weaker CBS on Ch12 [towards 172-deg]. Which then begs the question as to WHY you needed ANY Hi-VHF capability, since CBS on weaker Ch12 would be a Duplicate....and PBS Ch8 would likely be Duplicate to one or more of the THREE stronger PBS Stations [incl. Ch35 towards 358-deg]....seems to me that using JUST a Higher Gain UHF Antenna would work better.....

ALTERNATIVELY, you would "probably" find that pointing UHF 4-Bay Bowtie Antenna towards mostly stronger signals [toward 172-deg] would provide better long term Reliability....but you would also need. fol. Medium Gain Hi-VHF Antenna to receive CBS on Ch12 [also toward 172-deg]....and fol. VHF/UHF Combiner:
http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/30-2476 [Stellar Labs Deep Fringe 12-El FD-Yagi]
https://www.antennasdirect.com/store..._combiner.html

BTW: We would be Very Interested in how well your current RCA Hi-VHF/UHF COMBO Antenna works when pointed towards 172-deg....you may be pleasantly surprised.....
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post #12 of 21 Old 09-18-2017, 08:14 PM - Thread Starter
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The decision to point the antenna north was programming based. We're big Packers fans and they broadcast out of Milwaukee, the Chicago stations often do not air them.

I did some troubleshooting tonight. First I removed the amp to see if Inwas overboosting. I watched the signal meter of the TV that is having the problem with and without the amp and it got worse. Next I did the opposite, I removed the splitter and hooked the TV directly to the amp and the signal went WAY up. Hooked up that way the TV pulled in every channel available with great picture. So at this point the culprit is either a bad 8 way splitter or the amp is just not enough gain. I'm going to buy a new 4 way splitter and the channel master amp. Optionally I could get the amp with the 4 way distribution built in but I'm leaning towards separate.
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post #13 of 21 Old 09-18-2017, 09:59 PM
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CM3410 Single Output DistroAmp plus Splitter(s) is likely SAME or LOWER cost as one of the Multi-Output CM-341x variants.
It MAY help if you could locate it as close as possible to the Antenna [Loss in Coax prior to Amp directly degrades Sensitivity, i.e. NF Increase]. BUT, if Overloading is a problem, then the extra Coax Loss may be HELPING to prevent it....due to Third Order Intermod Levels being REDUCED by 3 dB for every 1 dB of Coax-to-Preamp Loss.

It also allows you the Flexibility to Optimize the Splitter Network to better match your NEEDS [5 Drops per Post #1]. You could connect a 2-Way Splitter [3.5 dB Loss/Port] to the Output of the CM3410, with one port going to your WORST location [with 7 db LOWER Total Loss] and the other feeding a 4-Way Splitter [7 dB Loss/Port]....for a Total Loss of 10.5 dB Loss/Port on those four Drops. [8-Way Splitter would have about 10.5 dB Loss/Port to ALL 8 Drops.] Alternatively you could use a 2-Way Splitter feeding your Worst Location as well as another 2-Way Splitter feeding your second Worst Location and a 3-Way Splitter (6.3 dB Loss/Port) feeding the remaining Drops.
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post #14 of 21 Old 09-19-2017, 04:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonfish View Post
So at this point the culprit is either a bad 8 way splitter or the amp is just not enough gain. I'm going to buy a new 4 way splitter and the channel master amp. Optionally I could get the amp with the 4 way distribution built in but I'm leaning towards separate.
I believe Channel Master is PCT Amps that are OEM. As others have said, move the PCT Amp up to the antenna, it's water proof...I've been using that same one as a pre-amp for 4 years now without issue. Then ditch the 8-way spliter, even when ports are not used you're still affecting signal level.
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post #15 of 21 Old 09-19-2017, 07:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Even if Channel Master is produced by PCT, as holl_ands pointed out the specs for the CM are better than the one I have. In fact, even more so as he posted the specs for a better PCT amp, mine is only 10 db gain.

Quote:
Originally Posted by holl_ands View Post
Per PCT Spec Sheet, Gain for Drop Amp is actually 13-16 dB [typ. 14 dB]....but NF is a fairly POOR 4 dB. Whereas Spec Sheet for inexpensive, waterproof CM3410 says Gain = 15 dB with typical NF Under 2.0....and has been TESTED to confirm NF and Excellent Overload Characteristics. I would recommend replacing the existing Amp to improve sensitivity by AT LEAST 2 dB....and with KNOWN High Resistance to Overload by your Local Stations:
http://www.pctinternational.com/wp-c..._20140827b.pdf
https://www.channelmaster.com/Antenn..._p/cm-3410.htm
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post #16 of 21 Old 09-19-2017, 10:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Would I be better off putting a Wineguard XT LNA-200 right on the antenna? It has a NF of 1db and a Gain of 18db and seems to get universally good reviews, or should I just stick with the CM3410? It would be harder to put that up by the antenna as I'd have to run another coax up to the antenna where the Wineguard injects power into the existing coax. I'm going to replace the 8 way splitter with a 4 way, is there a good brand of splitter to look for? I can live without the 5th TV if it means not losing more gain.
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post #17 of 21 Old 09-19-2017, 04:50 PM
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Calaveras made ACTUAL Measurements of LNA-200, CM3410 and other Preamps.
He found UHF NF = 3.0 dB for LNA-200 and UHF NF = 2.5 dB for CM3410:
http://photos.imageevent.com/holl_an...028Nov2015.jpg

So they are about the SAME....either should work just fine....

BTW: I think that manufacturer's pay closer attention to meeting SPECS for equipment [incl. on-going QA Sample Testing] sold to the CATV (and SAT) industry, knowing full well that their customer has knowledgeable techs that are capable and motivated to make SURE that the manufacturer is actually MEETING those Specs (and competitors eager to point out when they DON'T meet Spec). The same can NOT be said about the OTA Equipment sold at bargain basement prices to unknowledeable home consumers....


CM3410 is waterproof and accepts DC power either via dedicated PWR IN port (normally used for CATV applications...cap off if NOT used) or via the RF OUTPUT Port (also labeled "PWR IN") on the unit itself....same method as LNA-200, but different DC Voltage level. Although Wall-Wart AC/DC Transformer is included with CM3410, the requisite Power Insertion Module [may be at convenient TV location] is an additional cost unit:
https://www.amazon.com/PCT-Inserter-.../dp/B005Y12UH6

PS: Since most CATV RF Splitters do NOT pass DC, replace them with Satellite type RF Splitters that have DC PASS on the ONE Port connected to Power Insertion Module.....or ALL PASS RF Splitters, as long as they use "Diode Steering" to prevent one Port affecting the DC Voltage on another Port [VOM only measures low ohms in ONE direction and high ohms in the other].

I don't think there is much of a difference between CATV RF Splitters....although they MAY show Loss differences close to the CATV High Freq Limit (typ. 860 to 1002 MHz), the highest TV Freq currently in use is 698 MHz and will drop to 608 MHz within the next 1-1/2 years.....and SAT RF Splitters typically go up to 2400 MHz....making the point even more moot....

Last edited by holl_ands; 09-19-2017 at 05:19 PM.
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post #18 of 21 Old 09-20-2017, 06:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonfish View Post
Would I be better off putting a Wineguard XT LNA-200 right on the antenna? It has a NF of 1db and a Gain of 18db and seems to get universally good reviews, or should I just stick with the CM3410?.
This is negligible, stick with the CM3410, move it to the antenna...as holl_ands mention it can be powered inline but you'll most likely need the injector. You should also cover the DC in line with a rubber cap that you could grab at Lowes/Home Depot since it's going outside...barring there isn't one already as they ship with them from the factory.

If you want the 5th TV you could consider a unity gain amp which essentially splits signals without loss
https://www.pctstore.com/RF_amplifie..._p/pctvc9u.htm
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post #19 of 21 Old 09-20-2017, 06:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragonfish View Post
Would I be better off putting a Wineguard XT LNA-200 right on the antenna? It has a NF of 1db and a Gain of 18db and seems to get universally good reviews, or should I just stick with the CM3410?

I've bench tested the LNA-200 and it doesn't meet its noise figure spec. It's about 5-6 dB on VHF and 2-4 dB on UHF. Not that good. Overload characteristics are average. I'd stick with the CM-3410.
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post #20 of 21 Old 09-20-2017, 08:23 AM - Thread Starter
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I ordered this amp last night: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Based on comments on this forum and this thread: http://forum.tvfool.com/showthread.php?p=49017

UHF - 2.6 dB NF/23.7 dB gain
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post #21 of 21 Old 09-22-2017, 07:43 AM - Thread Starter
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JVC Preamp made a huge difference. The trouble TV is now pulling in 69 channels, most of which I didn't even know existed. Did you know they still play re-runs of Lost in Space?

Thanks for all the help guys!
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