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post #61 of 9616 Old 02-04-2003, 04:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Andy,
As Gary points out, the attic mount causes severe signal loss. In my case, the antenna in the attic was not pointing through roof tiles, it was pointed through an exterior stucco wall. Stucco has a layer of wire mesh that's stapled to the framing for the stucco to adhere. Translation, you'll have severe signal loss whether your attic antenna points through wall or roofing. Even if you get it to work occasionally, you will never be happy with the results. At 55+ miles from Mt. Wilson, you would be at "the fringe" for receiving UHF even on flat terrain!

You can also order Radio Shack stuff online if you don't want to drive all over the place, but it probably complicates the merchandise return process.

The pre-amp characteristics include gain and noise figure. You can have a high gain amp with high Noise Figure (lower NF is better) meaning that the amp is degrading the signal/noise ratio. You get a signal boost with a disproportionate increase in noise.

Gary, I mounted my DAT-75 at last. I got an across the board boost in numbers, perhaps 5 units on the Dish 6000 receiver scale. A clipped photo, the only one I took...



All channels give a satisfactory picture except KCBS, which still presents mostly 0, spiking sporadically to 35, 40, maybe even an occasional 55. A signal spike every few seconds. Once in a long while, it will actually lock and I'll get a frame or 2. This is the only station with this symptom. I'm beginning to suspect multipath cancellation. From the lat-lons of the transmitters, I know that KCBS is a bit further north than the others, at least as seen from my location. Maybe there's an interfering ridge or ?? that only affects their signal along my line of sight.

Fortunately KCBS-HD is on my Dish satellite service, the only network station that Dish presently offers. But I'm paying an extra $1.50 per month for just KCBS-DT, in addition to $5.99 for analog locals, already including analog KCBS.

Gary
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post #62 of 9616 Old 02-04-2003, 06:01 PM
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Gary(s),

I re-thought my idea and ended up returning the ChannelMaster. I'm going to take your suggestion and get hold of a couple of RS-2160s and horizontally co-phase them - mounted externally. Is there anything special I should know about co-phasing, apart from using a non-conductive boom, and keeping the feed cables the same length? What do I use to combine the feeds? I'm going to attempt this without a preamp at first to keep multipath issues to a minimum but as you suggest I'll hold onto the RS preamp - I suspect I will need it.

Anyone care to PM me the details of a reasonably priced local installer?

Andy.
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post #63 of 9616 Old 02-04-2003, 06:16 PM
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Gary --

Bummer about KCBS. It's odd because it is absolutely the strongest station that I get. I assume you put the DAT-75 in the same location that the 2160 was at, is that right? I wonder if moving laterally one way or the other would make a difference. Strange.


Andy --

I used two of the "higher end" RS 3-foot cables (I think they are called AV Fusion...) and one of their "gold" splitter/combiners. Although I did get fully "locked" signals for all channels without the amp, I got an across-the-board improvement when I added the 1171 amplifier.

I don't know any local installers as I've done everything myself, so far.

-- Gary
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post #64 of 9616 Old 02-04-2003, 06:21 PM
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Gary,

I've always done my antenna installs myself as well - the problem is that I don't have a ladder Maybe investing in such an item would be cheaper than an installer....

One more quick question - is it possible to combine antennas pointing in two directions? If so - is it wise? I'd like to be able to receive some of the San Diego stations if possible, once my main antennas are pointing to LA. My gut feeling is that this isn't a clever idea (multipath etc.) but I'd value other opinions. I guess a rotater would be the real answer. Can someone tell me about the value of those little gadgets I've seen that can adjust the inclination of the antennas?

Andy.
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post #65 of 9616 Old 02-04-2003, 06:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Andy,
I edited my last message above to add a photo that shows my mounted antenna. You can see the concrete tile roof that makes ladder climbs exciting. The ladder rails aren't ideally spaced for the tile humps. I've also done my own installation, too. I've gotten used to stepping off the extension ladder onto the roof in one continuous motion, so i'm moving inward in case something slips. I found it's easier to get down by sliding to the edge on my butt, and dangling my feet over the edge and carefully mounting the ladder while facing outward.

You could also rent a ladder from Home Depot. Better to rent a Werner fiberglass ladder than to buy a crummy aluminum one that will wobble when fully extended. I have the aluminum one, it's pretty bad.

If renting, just make sure you have everything you need for the installation on hand.

If you have a tile roof, buy a tube of silicone RTV in case you crack any tiles. I've cracked 2 in probably 35 up/down trips, but I weigh 220. A fillet of RTV on the crack will seal it, and it's not visible from the ground (believe it or not). Today I used 5 minute epoxy instead, because the cracked piece was easily removed so I could apply a glue fillet and reattach it. Actually the Dish Network installer broke the first one, and didn't tell me...

I believe you can add antennas ppnting in different directions, but might give problems if some channels are used in both locations! The signals would be added to each other...

Gary
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post #66 of 9616 Old 02-04-2003, 06:58 PM
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Interesting antenna Gary - where can I find out more about it? I have to admit - I went to Mar-Vac and looked at the boxes of a couple of WineGard antennas today. The staff were too busy to help me so I left, but it seems that a single WineGard would set me back at least $100 - I could buy two RS Yagis and all the mounting gear for less than that. Do you really get what you pay for? I'm fearful of going to a bunch of trouble/expense and finding it won't do the job....

Maybe I should take you up on your offer to borrow your 2160. I need the mount in place first (and a cable feed to the outside) but I may just PM you on that one.

I think I'll lash a pole to the back/inside corner of my chimney and pop the antennas on that, rather than using the pole mounted to the 'eaves' (sorry - I'm from the UK - I don't know what you call those boards here haha). That way I get a little more hight and a secure pole if I want to couple two antennas together (the jury's still out on that one!).

Andy.
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post #67 of 9616 Old 02-04-2003, 07:51 PM
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Since the SD transmitters are almost 180 degrees from those on Mt. Wilson and all the UHF channels are different, you shouldn't have a problem combining feeds since the antennas would point in opposite directions.

As for antenna "tilting" you can find info at www.atechfabrication.com but if you go the PVC route you can use tee-shaped "couplers" that work quite well (see the photos earlier in this thread...).

RS and Loew's both have chimney mounts that come with metal straps that go around the chimney. You can then use a 5-foot metal or PVC "mast" attached to the chimney mount for the antenna(s).

BTW, we use "eaves" on this side of the pond as well...

-- Gary
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post #68 of 9616 Old 02-05-2003, 12:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Andy,
That antenna is a Televes DAT-75, made in Spain. It has a relativly high gain, 19dB, and there's an optional 17dB preamp that can be installed in the antenna "head". I didn't buy the pre-amp, which Televes calls an MRD. They also have a smaller DAT-45.
http://www.televes.es/ingles/producto/ficha.asp?COD=242
http://www.televes.es/hojastecnicas/103669.pdf

I ordered it from a distributor in the U.K., CPC.
http://custom1.farnell.com/cpc/produ...uct%5Fid=10131 or e-mail: Internationalsales@cpc.co.uk

The shipping cost from CPC is the same for 1 or 2 antennas, and the total cost for two, including shipping, was $198. The transit time was only 3 days. I sold one to Gary Goodrum, who found a new home for it (earlier in this thread). There are enough people locally with signal level problems that selling an extra one should not be difficult.

I'm considering a chimney mount myself. As you can see from my photo, the vertical mast is attached at the antenna's horizontal center of gravity, so it has neutral balance. As I pointed out to Gary, it probably wants to act like a wind-vane, with a tendancy to point upwind! The Santa Ana winds can be fierce where I live, with gusts to 50 and 60mph. I suspect that my mast mount will fail under those conditions. The wind, pushing on that antenna, will exert much leverage on the pipe's single anchor point.

A chimney mount with two widely spaced straps, should offer greater wind resistance than my current mount. The antenna itself is very sturdy, as is its connection to the mast. As long as I use a heavy wall pipe with the chimney mount, it should stay put.

But, your main concern right now is finding something that works. Here's a cheap experiment: Try the Silver Sensor you already have with the RS 15-1171 preamp. Don't worry about a final cable routing, just pass the cable out a window for initial tests. (I did!) If you can't easily get onto the roof (and you don't have a second floor window facing the right direction) then simply mount the Silver Sensor on two 10' lengths of PVC pipe joined together (about $4) and lash it to the side of the building! Or jam the end of the pipe in the ground and use a 6 foot ladder as a support tripod. If you lash the pipe to the top of the ladder with a length of rope, you can manually rotate the antenna for initial tests. At least you can try different locations without hassling with a permanent mount.

Or take the SS out into the yard with a long RG6 cable and try different locations. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Also you will find out that some stations only broadcast DTV during evening hours, like KCET and KCAL. I think KCET is only 8 to 11 pm. Really had me wondering why some stations would be there one day, gone the next.

Gary
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post #69 of 9616 Old 02-05-2003, 05:48 PM
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I've just spent the last 60 minutes reviewing this thread and am glad that others are at able to get at least a marginal LA DT signal using an OTA antenna. I live in the trabuco canyon area as well and have gotten varying information from many sources regarding the availability of an OTA signal. In know that Cox has been working on providing some of these signals but I'd prefer to keep my DirecTV setup and get local prime time broadcasts via OTA.

I am strongly considering the myHD card for use in my HTPC.

If you guys get together, count me in. I'd appreciate the opportunity to learn from your expermintation.
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post #70 of 9616 Old 02-05-2003, 06:11 PM
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ddwakeham --

I have a MyHD card in a PC that I use with a pair of amplified RS 1862 indoor antennas and I get pretty good reception (check out this thread for more info: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=222948). I'm sure there is probably some configuration that will work for your situation. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting on Cox.

-- Gary
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post #71 of 9616 Old 02-05-2003, 07:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Plus Cox won't be anxious to burn valuable bandwidth carrying free local channels in HD when they could use that bandwidth to sell sell valuable premiums!

Also you will discover that OTA SD has superior picture quality to your present DirecTV MPEG-2 encoded local stations, by a wide margin. Well in retrospect it depends on the TV you're viewing the picture with! A 20" set will look great with that MPEG-2 broadcast, while the same broadcast viewed on a 50+" wide screen will generally look lousy!

Good luck with your experiments, and welcome to the fray...

Gary
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post #72 of 9616 Old 02-09-2003, 05:26 PM
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The results from the first test are in.

I mounted the SS on the top of a large 1" PVC tube I bought from Home Depot, and then I mounted that tube into the stand/base from a garden umbrella. Connected it to the RS 1171 and from there to the MyHD. The whole thing stands at floor level and puts the antenna around 15 feet from the ground.

Pointing the antenna towards Mount Wilson (324 degrees) I can only get very poor analog reception. I have been unable to receive any digital channels at all from this location.

Pointing the antenna towards San Diego (134 degrees) I am able to receive Digital channels 25 and 55 strongly (75-95 percent), Digital channel 19 is medium strength (45-55 percent), and Digital channels 30 and 40 will come in if I rotate the antenna a few degrees counter-clockwise.

The antenna is not above the roofline (it's approx. at waist level on the second floor). I'm not sure how to raise it further without going on the roof (I still don't own ladders!), and to make things worse I looked in my attic and don't have room for a full-size antenna (at least not a V/U antenna).

Any ideas for next steps anyone?

Andy.
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post #73 of 9616 Old 02-09-2003, 11:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Your San Diego station results are encouraging. The signals will almost always improve with elevation. Are those S.D. major network stations? You mainly want to get the primetime network shows that are all moving to HD. The local news, etc is never in HD at this point. When it finally is shown in HD, we'll all have HD delivery alternatives, like satellite or cable.

Sounds like you either need a rotator, or maybe a small secondary antenna aimed to pick up the strong stations.

I haven't tried many antenna types myself. Gary might have some words of advice. It sounds like you need to try either a larger antenna, or maybe an array. The question is what to try next! The 4-bay and 8-bay bowties are inconspicuous mostly wire construction. Especially inconspicuous against a chimney. See http://www.channelmaster.com/pages/u1.htm

That one I have is both large and conspicuous. So far I haven't heard a peep from the neighbors or homeowners association, but I plan to move it to a chimney mount.

In any case, an attic mount is out of the question if your reception is marginal. I'd suggest a chimney mount for sturdiness and the fact that the chimney hides the antenna to some degree. Find an installer if you don't feel comfortable yourself.

AS I've mentioned before, this is not a concern that any of us had when we bought our houses. we all might have had a more discerning eye in choosing a house if we were interested in HDTV "back then"...

Gary
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post #74 of 9616 Old 02-09-2003, 11:48 PM
 
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The San Diego digital channels he lists include the major networks which have most of their primetimes shows carried in HD here.
Mt. Soledad stations (near the coast, La Jolla):
KFMB-DT(CBS)=55
KGTV-DT(ABC)=25
Mt. Miguel stations (inland, Spring Valley):
KPBS-DT(PBS)=30
KNSD-DT(NBC)=40
KSWB-DT(WB)=19

The other two digital TV stations are in SD only including Fox.
San Diego has no digital UPN station at all, only a weak Mexican
UPN analog station in Tecate.

I can pick up all the San Diego digital stations pointing the antenna south without rotating it, by using a 4bay bowtie/screen antenna which has a wider beamwidth than the YAGIs and silver sensor and I am only 25 miles north of San Diego. At your location the angle should be much less, I would suggest you try the 4bay or 8bay bowtie antenna like the Channel Master 4221 or 4228 - you shouldn't need a rotor for all of the SD stations then, only if you also want LA stations.
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post #75 of 9616 Old 02-10-2003, 01:43 AM
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Andy --

Glad you are able to get the SD stations. My mother lives in Monarch Beach, just south of the Ritz-Carlton, and I wasn't able to get any LA stations there either. I was able to get all the SD stations but, like you, I had to turn the antenna a bit to get 30 and 40. I tried three different antennas, a single SS, a 4221 4-bay BT, like Don's, and a RS 1862. I used an 1171 amp with the 4221 and the SS. It turns out the best performing was the SS/1171 combo. I think the reason is that there was a moderate amount of multipath and the SS did a better job as it is more directional.

Regarding the rotor, I don't know. I couldn't find a single position for any of the three antennas that would allow reasonably dropout-free reception. For all cases I had to move back and forth (about 15-20 degrees...). Using horizontally stacked 2160s will be even more directional.

What antenna(s) did you end up using?

-- Gary
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post #76 of 9616 Old 02-10-2003, 02:08 AM
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KOCE-DT is not yet on the air and will not be until later this year.
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post #77 of 9616 Old 02-10-2003, 08:43 AM
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Gary,

Strangely, I ended up using the SS/1171 combo! It's a shame there's no UPN station in San Diego, and I'm still working on getting the antenna higher - if I try to get 30 or 40 by moving the SS I believe I'm firing through the roof of the house across the road. Certainly elevation should help.

I'll report back once I've got more elevation. Thanks for the input.

Andy.
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post #78 of 9616 Old 02-10-2003, 10:48 AM
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Andy --

If one SS works, two will work better. Check out this configuration:



I've done quite a bit of playing around with SS's in various stacking configurations, using up to four of the little devils! What I found is that you can get a significant signal boost with two in a modified vertical stack, where the "upper" SS is offset by the length of the antenna to the front, and above, in respect to the "lower" unit (hard to describe, see the picture...). I also found this combination works best when the elevation "angle", with respect to the horizon, is a little bit greater than about 45 degrees. You'll notice from the picture that this high "angle-of-attack" causes the center point of the two SS's to "line up" in the vertical direction.

In recent tests using my Zenith HDV-420, a single SS produced the following "numbers":



Dropouts start appearing at the line between "Bad" and "Normal". This equates roughly to about 37 on a Hughes E-86. The tests were done with the antennas out on my deck.

Here's the readouts when I went to the dual unit configuration pictured above:



As you can see, it made quite a difference. I recently helped my neighbor install two SS, in a similar configuration, under a 2nd-story eave and it works great. Initially, we used the 1171 amp but the cable run up the wall, through the attic, out a vent and over to the antennas ended up being 100 feet (actually the run itself is less but we were too lazy to cut the 100' cable and put on a new connector so the "rest" is coiled up in the attic...) and he was getting some dropouts so we recently switched out the 1171 and used a CM 7775 in its place so the amp portion could be closer to the antennas. That totally eliminated his dropout problem. In previous testing, I've used as much as 50 feet between the 1171 and the antennas and didn't see any difference in performance in comparison with the 7775. A 100 feet is obviously too much, however.

Here's a couple more pictures, from my earlier testing, where I tried two SS in a horizontal "stack" and then four in a quad arrangement:





I don't have all the data formatted like the others but here's a summary: With a single SS and no amp I could get a "locked" signal (dropout-free reception for at least 5 minutes...) on only 3 of the 10 LA stations broadcasting that day. Adding the 1171 added one for a total of 4 stations.

Two SS in a horizontal configuration, and no amp: 5 stations. Adding the amp: 7 out of 10.

Two SS in the "offset" vertical orientation, with no amp: 7 stations. With the amp: 9 of 10.

Quad stack, no amp: 9 stations (!). With the amp: all 10, solidly.

As can be seen, most of the improvement comes from the modified vertical "pairing". I haven't tried the "quad" configuration with my HDV-420 but that's mainly because two of the four that I used are now mounted under my neighbor's eave. Actually, I've noticed that the HDV-420 has a much better receiver, in comparison the the 2nd gen units like the E86 or the MyHD card I have in a PC, so I haven't needed the "extra" performance.

If you're interested, PM me and I tell you what PVC "tinker toys" you need.

Finally, as you are discovering, location changes (up , down, left and/or right...) con make a bigger difference that everything else combined. You need to find the best "sweet spot" you can and then optimize for the best reception.

Good luck!

-- Gary
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post #79 of 9616 Old 02-12-2003, 09:21 PM
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Comments: I want my HDTV! Any news? I'm calling dish network soon .

Dear Valued Cox Customer:

Thank you for your inquiry. Cox is committed to providing the best
customer service possible.

It looks like we're looking at Winter 2003.

We hope that we have been able to provide you with the information you
requested. If we have not, or if we can be of any additional service
to you, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Thank you.

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If you need additional information on other Cox products or services,
please visit our web site at http://www.cox.com.




OK- That's the latest. I can not beleive it !!! - Robhair
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post #80 of 9616 Old 03-16-2003, 08:17 PM
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Members,

Does anyone know why this thread, that I subscribe to, will not show up on my subscribed list in my CP. I have about 5 other threads that show up, but this one seemed to fall off this week. I can't seem to find a way to save it. The thread shows that I subscribe. Thanks

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post #81 of 9616 Old 03-16-2003, 10:00 PM
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This is such a great thread. I had no idea that those kinds of angles would help with these types of yagis. In my case I am not very close to any significant hills, would it help to try angling my antenna (Winegard 9095)? I did not build any adjustment into the mast since I thought all I needed was a level antenna, if there is a good chance it could help i'd do it. In my case though i'm toying with getting all the San Diego stations.
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post #82 of 9616 Old 03-17-2003, 10:23 PM
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Woo hoo! There is hope for OTA in South Orange County! Who needs Cox?

Last weekend I finally got tired of waiting for Cox to roll out HDTV. I put the RS double bow-tie I bought last year in the attic, figured out the maze of built-in coax wiring in my house to get the signal down to my family room, and hooked up the DTC-100 I bought last year to the Mits VS60803 I bought 4 years ago. The result: 3 stations (KCBS, KNBC, and KTLA).

Today I bought a $25 RS bi-directional amp, and now I'm enjoying *all* LA HDTV stations. This is from the south end of Coto de Caza. I think I have a thin sliver of direct line-of-sight with the LA antennas. Whatever, I'll take it. I'm watching the HDTV broadcast of the Lakers-Clippers game, and really enjoying the show (especially since the Lakers finally went up by 4 points near the end of the 3rd).

It really is amazing that the RS double-bow-tie works as well as it does. I'm 50 miles from the LA antennas!

Sure, it would be nice to get the extra channels like HBO-HD that Cox will offer, but I suspect I'll be enjoying my newfound OTA HDTV for quite a while before Cox finally has their offering in place.

Did I mention: Woo Hoo!

-- Steve
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post #83 of 9616 Old 03-17-2003, 10:30 PM
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Excellent news Steve!

Now, if you could kindly setup a microwave link pointing to Aliso Viejo and connect your DTC-100 to the end of it I might be able to pick up one LA station!!!

Andy.
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post #84 of 9616 Old 03-17-2003, 10:34 PM
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Yeah, but then you'd have to wear one of those aluminum foil hats to keep the microwaves from cooking your brain....

-- Steve
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post #85 of 9616 Old 03-17-2003, 10:49 PM
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Haha - you've seen that website too !!!
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post #86 of 9616 Old 03-18-2003, 10:33 AM
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Steve --

Glad to hear you've joined the OTA crowd! I'm in Coto as well (in Oakridge, between Cantamar and San Miguel...). You are probably closer to 60 miles from Mt Wilson than 50. The DBT works fine here too but two SS's work a little better in rejecting multipath so if you run into problems with occasional dropouts, this might be an option.

-- Gary
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post #87 of 9616 Old 03-18-2003, 01:19 PM
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Thanks, Gary! Your posts helped me believe I might have a chance getting an OTA signal after I gave up on Cox. I'm further south than you (just past the South Bend gate), but the calculator at ardman.net says I'm only about 52-53 miles from the LA towers.

I've had zero problems so far with dropouts, but it's only been a couple of days. That DBT is really amazing, and adding the amp just sealed the deal. You'd laugh to see how I have the antenna strung up (literally) in my attic. But, hey, it works!

-- Steve
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post #88 of 9616 Old 03-18-2003, 01:25 PM
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Thanks, Gary! Your posts helped me believe I might have a chance getting an OTA signal after I gave up on Cox. I'm further south than you (just past the South Bend gate), but the calculator at ardman.net says I'm only about 52-53 miles from the LA towers.

I've had zero problems so far with dropouts, but it's only been a couple of days. That DBT is really amazing, and adding the amp just sealed the deal. You'd laugh to see how I have the antenna strung up (literally) in my attic. But, hey, it works!

-- Steve
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post #89 of 9616 Old 03-18-2003, 06:48 PM
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Well after reading this post and several trips to many Radio Shack's, I'd like to report that I am now viewing all LA OTA stations my from Dove Canyon home. I took the simple route and bought a single RS 2160 $21 antenna along with their $49 two way amplifier. I installed the antenna on my roof with a 5 foot mast attached to my fireplace. (I'm sure the HOA is gonna love that!). The connection to my HTPC / myhd card is made via a 50 feet run of RG6. The amp is about halfway inbetween in the attic.

I get 70%+ readings with myHD from every station except ABC-DT which is in the 50% range. No signal dropouts as of yet even with the recent rain. My house is situationed fairly high and not in the canyon, however, I must say that I was suprised at how good the signal was from this relatively simple setup.

Even my wife enjoyed the KTLA HD broadcast of the Laker / Clipper game last night and commented about how good the picture looked. The deal will be sealed this weekend if we can actually watch the Academny Awards on ABC via HD on my loaner projector.

My next endeavor is an attempt to get the San Diego stations as I'd like to see their PBS-DT feed.

Thanks to everyone for their help and information on the best setups.
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post #90 of 9616 Old 03-18-2003, 09:42 PM
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Congratulations! So is the San Diego PBS feed substantially different from KCET in LA? I'm picking up both KCET digital channels at reasonable strength...

I hope that antenna survives the winds we get 'round these parts!

-- Steve
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