Done installing antenna...need help increasing signal strength - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 93 Old 03-19-2007, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Here's the deal.

I live in Eastman Georgia (31023), which is about 40 miles away from the towers in Macon. I recently installed a Channel Master 3671 and 7777 pre-amp on my roof. After installing and pointing, I found I'm getting the following signal strength on the stations I'm trying to receive:

WMAZ (digital channel 4) - ~70% (picture has noticeable break ups)
WPGA (digital channel 32) - ~40-50% (no lock or picture)
WMGT (digital channel 40) - ~50-60% (no lock or picture)

Will taking the antenna up another 5 feet increase my signal any? Also, My cable run is as follows:

from mast mounted pre-amp to grounding block
from grounding block through outside wall to back of wall plate
from front of wall plate to 7777 amp
from 7777 amp to television

Would running the RG-6 straight from the grounding block to the 7777 amp help instead of having two sections of cable joined at the wall plate? How much signal loss occurs when joining two separate pieces of RG-6?

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post #2 of 93 Old 03-19-2007, 06:22 PM
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At first glance, that setup appears to be more than adequate for your needs. Have you tried a different location on your roof? Do you have the narrow end pointing toward the broadcast towers? Is it all new cable between the antenna and the wall plate?

How do the analog stations look on your television? Are they ghosting? If so, you may have multipath issues. If they are very snowy, your antenna may be in a poor reception spot. Moving the antenna may help.

Try eliminating items in your cable path. First eliminate the wall plate. If that doesn't help, temporarily move the preamp directly before or after the grounding block as a test.

I've read in this forum antenna reception is more an art than science. Good luck.
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post #3 of 93 Old 03-19-2007, 07:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddUGA View Post

Here's the deal.

I live in Eastman Georgia (31023), which is about 40 miles away from the towers in Macon. I recently installed a Channel Master 3671 and 7777 pre-amp on my roof. After installing and pointing, I found I'm getting the following signal strength on the stations I'm trying to receive:

WMAZ (digital channel 4) - ~70% (picture has noticeable break ups)
WGXA (digital channel 32) - ~40-50% (no lock or picture)
WMGT (digital channel 40) - ~50-60% (no lock or picture)

Will taking the antenna up another 5 feet increase my signal any?

It worth a try if it is not that much trouble. But you should also try lowering it a few feet as well. Did you try to tweak the aim and checking for better signal strength? A single connector should have minimal impact. Have you tried it without the CM 7777 in the path?

I plugged your zip code into antennaweb and could not get WMAZ-DT to show up even adding an antenna height of 1000' for the zip. Hilly area? WGXA-DT is on DT 16, not 32. But there is a WPGA-DT ABC 32 on UHF 32. Several of these stations are not at very high power. The FCC database also has low power STA entries for the station, but they may be at the higher permit power.


WMAZ-DT CBS 13, DT = ch 4, 7 kW, 181 meters HAAT (not that high power even for low VHF)
WGXA-DT Fox 24, DT = ch 16, STA power = 1.16 kW, full power = 1000 kW, 226 m HAAT (probably operating at full power, you be lucky to see anything at 1.16 kW)
WMGT-DT NBC 41, DT = 40, STA power = 3.3 kW, full = 110 kW, 189 m HAAT (110 kW is not a strong power level for UHF)
WPGA-DT ABC 32, DT = 32, power = 18 or 100 kW, 186 m HAAT.

Of these four stations, only WGXA-DT Fox 24 is at high power. Assuming you meant to say WPGA-DT ABC digital channel 32, all three have lower broadcast power levels and are only 181 to 189 meters Height Above Average Terrain (HAAT). You may need to get a dedicated UHF antenna for WMGT-DT and WPGA-DT.
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post #4 of 93 Old 03-19-2007, 08:18 PM
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With WMAZ-DT on channel 4 (low VHF band), you may be having issues with impulse noise from power lines or electrical appliances. On a digital signal that often shows up as frequent dropouts in an apparently strong signal. You can test this idea by viewing a low-VHF analog channel. Impuse noise shows up as white speckles that tend to cluster in horizontal bands across the screen. My analog channel 4 usually shows at least some impuse noise which mars an otherwise strong, clean signal.

I have a distant digital channel 8 that I can normally receive pretty well, but when one of my neighbors mows his lawn, the impuse noise from the spark plugs in his lawnmower causes my picture to break up. When my wife's bread-making machine goes into kneading mode, I get impulse noise all the way up into the middle UHF channels!
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post #5 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 04:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afiggatt View Post

WGXA-DT is on DT 16, not 32. But there is a WPGA-DT ABC 32 on UHF 32.

Oops. Yep, that should have been WPGA not WGXA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jtbell View Post

With WMAZ-DT on channel 4 (low VHF band), you may be having issues with impulse noise from power lines or electrical appliances. On a digital signal that often shows up as frequent dropouts in an apparently strong signal. You can test this idea by viewing a low-VHF analog channel. Impuse noise shows up as white speckles that tend to cluster in horizontal bands across the screen. My analog channel 4 usually shows at least some impuse noise which mars an otherwise strong, clean signal.

That's EXACTLY what I'm seeing on WMAZ. I can't think of any appliances nearby. Could be a power line issue. I'll have to take a look when I get home. Any ways to eliminate impulse noise? Could my crappy crimping job be contributing to this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by afiggatt View Post

Have you tried it without the CM 7777 in the path?

Yep, tried it with the 7777 and without. Without the 7777 my signals dropped. I tried adjusting the aim as well. My analog stations actually look pretty good. No noticeable ghosting or snow.

I went yesterday and bought an excellent crimper and f connectors. I replaced all the ones not on the roof, eliminated the wall plate, and can now get WMGT pretty much all day with a signal strength around 60%. I'm going to try and get on the roof sometime this week (will probably be the weekend though) and replace all of them there as well. I may also replace the balun as the one I am using isn't new and see if that helps. Also, I'm using pretty decent RG-6 from solidsignal.com. It's not quad shielded however. Should I have went with quad shielded?

As for terrain, it's not real hilly in this part of the state. After I get through eliminating everything in the signal path like connectors and cabling, I'll raise it some more and see if that helps.

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post #6 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 05:02 AM
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Here is what I get with 2150;
http://www.2150.com/broadcast/defaul...=Show+Stations

Doesn't look as you have much to watch.
No idea how the terrain is, all but one station is the same direction 42 miles away.

Have you looked over in the reception thread for a area near you?

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post #7 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 05:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by videobruce View Post

Here is what I get with 2150;
http://www.2150.com/broadcast/defaul...=Show+Stations

Doesn't look as you have much to watch.
No idea how the terrain is, but all but one is the same direction 42 miles away.

Have you looked over in the reception thread for a area near you?

Yep, tried the Macon thread. I'm the only person from Eastman that's posted there. Looking at your link, I can see why I can pick up WMAZ and WMGT. I can also pick up WGNM very easily, but it's a Christian channel so I don't watch it. I know WGXA is going to full power in the next month or two (1000 kW) which looks to almost make it the strongest station on the list. I think WPGA is going to be the hardest one for me just looking at the transmitter antenna column.

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post #8 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 05:25 AM
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Can you see any analog of channel 3 in Columbus (or, any analog stations on 2-6)?
If so, do you see pops and flashes of static? Or even, bars of noise that roll from the bottom to the top of the screen?

Those would be electrical interference.

Ken English, Sr. Engineer, KSL-TV.
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post #9 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 05:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenglish View Post

Can you see any analog of channel 3 in Columbus (or, any analog stations on 2-6)?
If so, do you see pops and flashes of static? Or even, bars of noise that roll from the bottom to the top of the screen?

Those would be electrical interference.

Not sure. I'll try turning the antenna toward Columbus and check sometime this week. I haven't seen any analog stations in that range while flipping through.

Man, you guys ain't lying about this being a science. I've already dropped some serious coin on this. Maybe it's time to *cough* "move" to Atlanta so I can get the Atlanta HD locals from Dish Network.

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post #10 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 05:50 AM
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Being in a rural area, I doubt there is much electrical interference to deal with.

Standard solutions;
1. Raise antenna,
2. Move antenna,
3. 'Stack' antenna (side by side or one above the other),
4. Preamp (you surely don't have to worry about overload as I do),

5. Just move to a better location............

BTW, I just abbreviate M$ as most other do (never thought about $ony).

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post #11 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 05:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick0725 View Post

much of the noise is received at the antenna. you can try quad shielded cable but may not help much.

the cm3671 has about 5 dbd gain on ch 4 and you can do better and may want to consider separate uhf and vhf antennas to gather more signal.

That's what I've been thinking about as well. I've heard good things about the 91XG UHF antenna. I've considered adding it to my current setup and see if that helps. What about VHF antennas? Anything with a better gain than the 3671?

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post #12 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 05:52 AM
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Quote:


I've heard good things about the 91XG UHF antenna.

2x the price of a 4228 with only very slightly improved performance.

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post #13 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 06:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, here's my plan of attack...

Finish replacing crappy f-connectors on roof with good ones
Replace old balun with a new one
Remove wall plate and run directly to 7777 power supply
Check grounding block

If none of that works, then the next steps are...

Raise the antenna
Move antenna to another location on roof

If that doesn't do it, then my last options are...

Replace 3671 with separate UHF/VHF antennas

This is turning into a big project. Hopefully someone else from Eastman reads this and learns something.

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post #14 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 06:34 AM
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I will admit, I did forget he has VHF to deal with also. So the 4228 won't be the correct approach.

No idea why these (or any area) areas went or stayed with VHF (other than possible greater distance per ERP watt).

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post #15 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 06:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick0725 View Post

I like the wade delhi vip 306sr. has a gain of about 6-7 dbd on vhf and does well on fm

http://www.wade-antenna.com/Wade/VIP...20Antennas.pdf

the cm4228 is rather heavy, a popular choice, a challenge to deal with on a stacked system with a standard rotor, and tames multipath poorly. sometimes it is a combination of factors not just gain that make an antenna more suited to your application and set of conditions. there are other options.

the 91xg is no slouch, is lighter, more directional with improved front to back ratio, can easily be tilted, and can stack the antennas farther apart on a shorter mast.

91xg on top with the vip 306sr on the bottom spaced abot 4' apart with the proper wiring and amplification will be sweet.

Just looked at some prices for the 306sr. Yikes! Anything cheaper out there with decent gain?

Also, I don't know if it makes any difference, but my RG-6 is taped to the pole to keep it from moving in the wind. I probably should have used standoffs. Would that make a difference?

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post #16 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 07:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddUGA View Post

Well, here's my plan of attack...

Finish replacing crappy f-connectors on roof with good ones
Replace old balun with a new one
Remove wall plate and run directly to 7777 power supply
Check grounding block

If none of that works, then the next steps are...

Raise the antenna
Move antenna to another location on roof

If that doesn't do it, then my last options are...

Replace 3671 with separate UHF/VHF antennas.

You have a good plan and are getting a lot of good advice here. If you have two marginal stations, tweaking the antenna aim and placement may do the job.

However, the need for low VHF reception is only for the next two years. WMAZ-DT CBS 13 will be switching it's digital signal to upper VHF 13 after the analog shutdown occurs in February, 2009. The other 3 stations in Macon will stay at their current UHF digital assignments. WMAZ-DT CBS picking VHF 4 for interim digital reception was not the most customer friendly choice they could have made for people putting up new antennas.
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post #17 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 07:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by afiggatt View Post

You have a good plan and are getting a lot of good advice here. If you have two marginal stations, tweaking the antenna aim and placement may do the job.

However, the need for low VHF reception is only for the next two years. WMAZ-DT CBS 13 will be switching it's digital signal to upper VHF 13 after the analog shutdown occurs in February, 2009. The other 3 stations in Macon will stay at their current UHF digital assignments. WMAZ-DT CBS picking VHF 4 for interim digital reception was not the most customer friendly choice they could have made for people putting up new antennas.

Yep, that's one of the things I love about this forum. There's a lot of very knowledgeable people here that will help newbies like me.

I read about WMAZ moving to VHF 13 in 2009. That will definitely make things easier for us folk down this way.

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post #18 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 08:16 AM
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Actually, separate VHF and UHF antennas would be the best choice. Combined antennas have been always a poor choice for the best performance.

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post #19 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 09:52 AM
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I use the Winegard 8200 UHF/VHF antenna with a Winegard 8275 UHF/VHF preamp. It is big and not particularly cheap but it is comparable to the 4228 or 91xg plus it has VHF. Also use RG-6 quad shield and it is better to eliminate the breaks. Make a short run to the preamp. A long run straight to the power inserter. Then a short run to the TV or STB.

Actually I use RG-11 which is still better than RG-6 quad shield but it is harder to find and difficult to work with as it is 1/2 inch thick.

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post #20 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 10:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick_R View Post

I use the Winegard 8200 UHF/VHF antenna with a Winegard 8275 UHF/VHF preamp. It is big and not particularly cheap but it is comparable to the 4228 or 91xg plus it has VHF. Also use RG-6 quad shield and it is better to eliminate the breaks. Make a short run to the preamp. A long run straight to the power inserter. Then a short run to the TV or STB.

Actually I use RG-11 which is still better than RG-6 quad shield but it is harder to find and difficult to work with as it is 1/2 inch thick.

Rick R

I ALMOST went with the 8200. I just couldn't find anyone around here that sells it. It's so large that shipping would have cost me an arm and a leg.

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post #21 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 04:10 PM - Thread Starter
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I think I may have multipath issues. My antenna is shooting straight through a bunch of large oak trees. I turned it to some of the channels and watched the signal strength and it constantly fluctuated. On digital 32, the signal strength was jumping wildly from 0% to 50%. I then checked out some of the analog stations and they were either snowy or showed the shadow effect. When the sun starts going down and the wind dies down, the signal starts going up.

I'm still going to double check all of my connectors and replace the balun. Then I'm going to move the antenna to another part of the roof and see if that helps. If not, I think I'm going to buy a 91XG.

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post #22 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 04:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddUGA View Post

I think I may have multipath issues. My antenna is shooting straight through a bunch of large oak trees.

I live 35 miles north of Atlanta in a valley. I am surrounded by 60' Georgia pines. Thick rows of them going up a slope. Prior to having 5th generation receivers, my signal went up and down like a yoyo. I live in multipath hell.

The solution is not solely the antenna. I have the 4228 & 91xg antennas (the best on the market) and neither of them function without my 5th gen receivers - a Samsung 260F and an OnAir GT. Both receivers show my signal strength to be at 80% - stable and consistent day in and day out. As soon as I put in a pre-5th generation receiver, it all goes to hell.

What receiver do you use? Antennas are only one part of the equation and many times not the final solution. I played with every conceivable antenna available for two years and what finally clicked for me was a combination of things - good antennas, sweet spot location, good preamps, quality cable, and 5th generation receivers. Not just one thing...and all of those things cost time and money.
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post #23 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 05:17 PM
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I second bwam, same issue here and the only cure was 91xg recomended by rick 0725. Samsung is tops. But samsung with 91 is A1. 4228 is very close and better for vhf issues. I want to stack 2 91xg's this summer. I have some issues with fading still, but tolerable.

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post #24 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 05:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Davinleeds View Post

I want to stack 2 91xg's this summer.

Davinleeds,

I stacked two 91XGs vertically for higher gain and upped my signal strength by 2-3 db. That may not sound like much but since the signal tended to dip below the acceptable SNR threshold of the receiver from time to time (dropouts seemingly at the most awkward moments), that extra 3 db stabilized the reception (made it remain above the required SNR).

You might consider the following stacking combiner 2WCU1469 (0.2 db insertion loss). Cost me $100 (with shipping included in that price):

http://www.lindsaybroadbandinc.com/a...combiners.html

I emailed Lindsay directly and got a purchase order from them. Paid by check.
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post #25 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 06:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwam View Post

What receiver do you use? Antennas are only one part of the equation and many times not the final solution. I played with every conceivable antenna available for two years and what finally clicked for me was a combination of things - good antennas, sweet spot location, good preamps, quality cable, and 5th generation receivers. Not just one thing...and all of those things cost time and money.

I've tried both my VIP 622 Dish Network receiver and the tuner built in to my Sony 50" SXRD KDS-50A2000. The Sony tuner seems to do a better job than the VIP 622. With the Sony tuner WMGT and WMAZ are watchable. On the VIP 622, nothing is watchable.

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post #26 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 06:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddUGA View Post

I've tried both my VIP 622 Dish Network receiver and the tuner built in to my Sony 50" SXRD KDS-50A2000. The Sony tuner seems to do a better job than the VIP 622. With the Sony tuner WMGT and WMAZ are watchable. On the VIP 622, nothing is watchable.

Wonder what generation chipset the internal tuner of the Sony is... Or the Dish receiver? Are they known for resolving multipath?
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post #27 of 93 Old 03-20-2007, 06:57 PM
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bwam, that's sweet info. thanks. Todd UGA, the only antenna that has made a real difference for me is the 91xg, and I mean I have spent 1000 on STB and so far-- samsung hands down. I have four other stb's on the shelf doing crap. Because of fading, I want to add another 91xg to stabilize feed. Sweet spot-- YES , you have to check and for me pre amps-- CM 7777 and 7775, check your specs, there's a british preamp with very low specs but $$$

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post #28 of 93 Old 03-21-2007, 05:33 AM - Thread Starter
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I just noticed last night that trying to watch OTA on the 622 causes it to lock up. I was getting a good number of channels last night so I decided to see what kind of signal strength I was getting on the 622 instead of my television's tuner. After hooking the antenna up to the 622, scanning for locals, then adding them they appear in my guide. When I turn to one of them I get nothing but a black screen. After a few seconds the 622 locks up. I then have to do a soft reboot. Even after the soft reboot, it still locks up when I turn to an OTA channel. Weird.

I was getting WMGT, WMAZ, and WPGA last night pretty good. OTA HD looks pretty impressive when it comes in. Hopefully conditions will be right tonight so that I can watch Lost in HD on WPGA.

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post #29 of 93 Old 03-21-2007, 06:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Rick, I drew a quick picture of my setup. The antenna is mounted on the eave of the highest part of my roof. After checking all of my connections this weekend, if the signal hasn't improved I may try mounting it to the right on the eave of the lower part of the roof. It may help me get around the trees some.
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post #30 of 93 Old 03-22-2007, 09:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddUGA View Post

I ALMOST went with the 8200. I just couldn't find anyone around here that sells it. It's so large that shipping would have cost me an arm and a leg.

There were two stores in the area here that sold the 8200. They both sold it for 30% off the list price so it was a good deal. Unfortunately they both went out of business. One guy told me that they couldn't compete with Fry's. I haven't tried to look for another store maybe further away. However I was told that there is a 8200p which is the same antenna but the boom is in two pieces so it is more easily shipable. I have heard that the 8200p is not quite as strong as the 8200.

The first picture is my 8200. The second picture is when I had an 8200 and also a CM 4248. The 8200 was vastly superior to the 4248 so I sold the 4248.

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