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post #1 of 24 Old 10-04-2012, 06:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone,
I need help in getting full signal of OTA digital signal in Centreville, VA 20121. I've tried a lot of things, but either I'm missing something or it just isn't possible in my area.

Here's what I have tried with 5 different antennas:
1.) DB4 Antenna I've had this antenna for years when I first tried to go OTA a few years back. I first tried it in the attic. My goal in all of this is to get the main 4 networks (NBC, Fox, ABC, and CBS). In the attic I was able to get ABC and CBS, but no NBC or Fox. I mounted it outside on the roof and was able to get NBC and Fox, but not ABC or CBS. The run from the attic begins with a 20 feet RG59 run and then probably 50 feet of RG6 into the house and then another 20 feet to the TV. The run from the roof begins with 50 feet of RG6 and then 20 feet of RG59 to the TV.

2.) Mohu Leaf Antenna I tried both Mohu Leaf antennas amplified and not amplified. Both antennas only received NBC and Fox and NOT ABC and CBS. These I tried indoors so I didn't need a cable run and plugged them directly to the TV on my second floor

3.) AntennaCraft HBU33 I figured since I wasn't getting all of the signals maybe I needed a bigger antenna. So I picked this one from Radio Shack. It states the range is 70 miles and I'm only 20 something miles from the tower, so this should be overkill right. I didn't want to get on the roof again, so I tested this one first indoors pointing it through my second floor window. I figured it should do at least better than the Leaf and DB4 antenna, but no luck it still only picked up NBC and Fox and not the other two stations. I checked signal strength on my TiVo box and it ABC still never got over 33 and on average stayed in the 20s. I forgot to mention I tried this amp (Motorola Signal Booster 484095-001-00 Bi-Directional RF Amplifier) with the HBU33 and was able to pick up CBS, but no ABC. Oh one more thing cable run from the second floor window is 50 feet RG6 and 20 feet of RG59 to the TV

4.) AntennaCraft HBU55 I decided to go even bigger and got the HBU55 with a range of 100 miles. Still no dice. Same two channels NBC and Fox and the signal strength either remained the same or weaker. When I tried the Motorola amp with the bigger HBU55, I did get CBS again, but the signal was weaker and the picture kept going in and out. Again this is 50 feet of RG6 and 20 feet to the TV.

I'm not really sure what to make of all this. Any suggestions or ideas I can try. I'm willing to move the Antennas to the roof and try my tests again. It's just a lot of work to get those big antennas up there and I want to make sure I have a reasonable chance of success.

Other ideas I had was to get a real antenna amplifier like this an AntennaCraft DG201 pre-amplifier.

I also thought maybe my signal is too strong and perhaps a variable attenuator would help

Lastly here's my information when I ran my address on AntennaWeb.org and as you can see I'm less than 25 miles from the antenna.

Thanks in advance for your help!!!

Stations Antenna
WNVT-DT 30.6 IND
RF Channel: 30
13 miles at 176°Yellow
WFDC-DT 14.1 UNI
RF Channel: 15
22 miles at 67° Blue
WJLA-DT 7.1 ABC
RF Channel: 7
22 miles at 66° Blue
WNVC-DT 30.1 IND
RF Channel: 24
13 miles at 73° Blue
WUSA-DT 9.1 CBS
RF Channel: 9
22 miles at 66° Blue
WDCA-DT 20.1 MNT
RF Channel: 35
22 miles at 65° Violet
WRC-DT 4.1 NBC
RF Channel: 48
22 miles at 67° Violet
WTTG-DT 5.1 FOX
RF Channel: 36
22 miles at 65° Violet
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post #2 of 24 Old 10-04-2012, 08:01 AM
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You shouldn't be having any trouble getting the DC stations in Centreville. 7 & 9 are reliably receivable as far out as Culpeper to the southwest.

Can you run a TV FOOL report & attach the link here? This will give us a better idea of what signal strengths look like at your location.
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post #3 of 24 Old 10-04-2012, 08:53 AM - Thread Starter
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post #4 of 24 Old 10-04-2012, 09:50 AM
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Thanks, you are certainly in a low spot, but 7 & 9 should be easy to get with the HBU-33 on the roof. Is the antenna at least 3 feet from any metal objects when on the roof? Have you tried more than 1 tuner? Could also be electrical interference. Any high power tension power lines near the house?
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post #5 of 24 Old 10-04-2012, 10:03 AM - Thread Starter
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I have some regular street power lines 2 houses down that cross my path. And there's some huge power line towers about 1/2 mile down the road that also cross my antenna's path. If it is electrical interference is there anything I can do about that or am I just out of luck? I have two tuners one built into the television and my TiVo tuner. I tried them both, but just not with every combination of antennas and placement. I just thought this should have been easier. I'll keep trying different scenarios.

Please keep the ideas coming.
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post #6 of 24 Old 10-04-2012, 10:04 AM - Thread Starter
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By the way what did you mean by low spot. Are you referring to elevation?
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post #7 of 24 Old 10-04-2012, 10:18 AM
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Yes, you have some minor terrain blockage between your location & DC. How well do you recieve DC 50? Did you ever use an antenna before the digital transition? If so, did you have any ghosting or sparkles in the picture?
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post #8 of 24 Old 10-04-2012, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
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I took the antenna apart b/c it wouldn't fit through the door. I'll put it back together and test it again tonight or tomorrow and will let you know about DC 50, but I think that channel came in fine. It's just those two pesky VHF channels. Would an FM trap help with the electrical interference?
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post #9 of 24 Old 10-04-2012, 01:08 PM
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An FM trap won't help. At 1/2 mile away, the powerlines may not be the culprit. (Can you hear them buzzing in rainy weather?) Could be something around the house as well. (computer, powered speakers, etc..)
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post #10 of 24 Old 10-04-2012, 02:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Weirdest thing. I just put that monster antenna in the attic and it gets ABC and CBS, but now no FOX or CBS. I just don't get it. I'll try it on the roof tomorrow, but I wonder if I need to combine two antenna signals now.
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post #11 of 24 Old 10-04-2012, 05:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Any issue with me using a combiner with two antennas and calling it a day?
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post #12 of 24 Old 10-04-2012, 05:47 PM
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No need to combine antennas, the HBU-33 should do the trick on the roof. How is the antenna mounted on the roof? is it above the roofline?
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post #13 of 24 Old 10-05-2012, 08:04 AM - Thread Starter
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It's a bit lower b/c I used the existing DirecTV J-Mount
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post #14 of 24 Old 10-05-2012, 08:17 AM
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Getting the antenna above the roofline will greatly improve reception. The signals are weak & the antenna cannot gather a high quality signal unless out in the open away from obstructions.
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post #15 of 24 Old 10-09-2012, 10:15 AM - Thread Starter
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The weather has not cooperated the last few days. I'll let you know how my testing goes in a few days.
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post #16 of 24 Old 08-24-2015, 01:15 PM
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Update for 2015

Reviving an old thread...

I recently moved to Centreville (20120) and am very curious about your experience picking up the major networks. Did you eventually settle on a particular configuration to pick up the channels you wanted?
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post #17 of 24 Old 08-25-2015, 03:49 AM
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Most areas of Centreville should have little problem receiving DC with a proper antenna. The attic may work for many situations. If you post a TV Fool report we can evaluate your particular situation.
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post #18 of 24 Old 08-25-2015, 01:14 PM
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http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...8e035ffb038751

I am only interested in getting four channels:
7 ABC
9 CBS
48 NBC
50 CW

I brought my (built from kit) bowtie with back reflector antenna from CA with me to VA. In CA I was able to get channel 7 even though my antenna is designed for UHF. The San Francisco transmitters were about 41 miles away from my house in Santa Clara. I got all four of the above mentioned major networks very clearly.

In Centreville I am 21 miles from the transmitters so I figured I would have no problem. I mounted my antenna on the roof (about 24 feet up) and pointed it to 73 degrees. I get channel 48 but none of the other three I wanted. My coax from the antenna is 75 feet long and goes to a two way splitter. The splitter feeds my Silicon Dust HD Homerun (which has worked perfectly for years).

The other night I got on the roof with my laptop and ran the HD Homerun config GUI. I rotated the antenna to many directions around 73 degrees but the signal strength only got worse.

I am very surprised that I don't get channel 50 since it is in the UHF range. I'm not as surprised I don't get 7 and 9.

I was looking around for a good (HI VHF)/UHF antenna when I ran across this thread. Seeing how much difficulty twhitherspoon had using VHF/UHF antennas I'm not so sure a new antenna is even going to help.

Do cell towers interfere with TV signals? I noticed a tall cell tower between me and the transmitters in DC. The cell tower is about 1300 feet from my house. I am also pointing through several tree tops.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Last edited by jpeart; 08-25-2015 at 01:15 PM. Reason: Bold was turned on for some reason.
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post #19 of 24 Old 08-25-2015, 04:07 PM
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You should be doing better as your report is better than mine. The DC stations peg the meter here & also see a few Baltimore stations with attic antennas.

Not sure if the cell tower is part of the problem as I have never had one that close? Have you tried connecting to a HDTV instead of a Homerun type tuner? I find those to not work as well with strong signals & excessive multipath.
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post #20 of 24 Old 08-25-2015, 06:05 PM
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I have not tried using an HDTV as I don't own one. All my recording is done using the HD Homerun and MythTV.
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post #21 of 24 Old 08-26-2015, 08:10 AM
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Digital Rules,

I tried to respond to your PM but the system won't allow it because my post count is too low. Has to be at least 15.

I have a short list of users that I am allowed to PM. I suppose they are the admins. If I befriend you will that allow me to PM you?
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post #22 of 24 Old 08-27-2015, 09:19 AM
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Digital Rules was kind enough to lend me some equipment to diagnose my problems:
1 digital to analog converter/tuner (My TV has an analog tuner)
1 VHF antenna
1 UHF antenna

I didn't have the time to climb up on the roof so I just tried both antennas from the back deck. I still have my homemade bowtie with reflector UHF antenna mounted on the roof and connected to my HD Homerun tuner. This allowed me to do direct comparisons of the antennas. I could see results of the roof antenna on the computer and the results of the other antennas on the TV. Granted, my homemade antenna had the height advantage of being on the roof. When I get some time I want to try mounting the borrowed antennas on the roof.

VHF (deck) .......................... Homemade UHF (roof)
*7 - Little to no signal ........... Got a picture sometimes, little signal
*9 - No signal ...................... No signal

UHF (deck) .......................... Homemade UHF (roof)
15 Good .............................. Good
23 Good .............................. Good
24 Good .............................. Good
27 Good .............................. Good
30 Good .............................. Good
33 Good .............................. Bad
34 Good .............................. Good
35 Good .............................. Bad
36 Watchable ....................... Bad
*48 Bad .............................. Good
*50 Watchable ..................... Bad
*Channels that I care about getting

I had high hopes for the VHF antenna but the results with it were not so good. Maybe being on the roof will help.

Thanks again to Digital Rules for lending me the equipment.
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post #23 of 24 Old 09-10-2015, 03:52 PM
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Digital Rules came over to help me out and we think the balun on the VHF antenna was bad. We put a newer one on it and got strong signal on 7 and 9.

I ordered a Winegard HD7694P which came this week. I assembled it and held it up in the backyard as a quick test. Channels 7 and 9 did not come in. I thought maybe my tuner could be the problem and upgraded the firmware. I laid the antenna on two saw horses in the back yard. Channels 7 and 9 had signal strength in the high 70s. I thought I had fixed my problem and that the tuner was the culprit.

I installed the antenna on my roof, but it is not doing well on the four channels I want to get (7,9,48,50). Of those four 7 would come in and out and 48 was pretty good. The others I could not get enough signal to lock on the picture.

I'm not sure why I got better reception on the ground. The cable that runs to the roof is much longer than the test cable I used on the ground so that is part of it.
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post #24 of 24 Old 09-19-2015, 07:47 PM
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This Saturday Digital Rules came over and we tried the Winegard 7694P and an 8 bay bowtie Channel Master in various places. The spot I had originally picked on the roof did not work very well so I ended up taking down my eave mount. The Winegard seemed to perform slightly better than the Channel Master. We found a good spot over my covered deck and I mounted the Winegard there. Digital Rules also had an older Channel Master 7777 amplifier that we hooked up and it made a big difference. I am now getting all of the channels I wanted.

I got MythTV updated with my new antenna lineup and I'm all set to record!
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