Originally Posted by Dave_in_MV
I've been thinking about cutting the cable and have been reading a lot from this thread. I'm in Maple Valley about 25-30 miles from most of the local channels. I picked up a CM-4221HD from Fry's to see what I might expect.
TV Fool report
www dot tvfool dot com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3d8d1705e8c82a33
says I should get the major stations (KOMO, KING, KIRO), Fox, ION, etc. and generally I get a good picture but with random drop outs. I cannot get KCTS at all. I do have a large stand of tall trees in the direction of the transmitters.
I also have a CM-7777 since our house is wired with 4 outlets.
A couple of questions:
I assume the dropouts are due to low signal strength so a larger antenna, like a 8 bay e.g., a CM-4228. Is the 4221 too small for my location? Should I try for more height before I swap antennas?
Is Channel 9 (KCTS) too low of a channel for the 4221? Would it make more sense to add a dedicated VHF antenna or just use a larger antenna for both? For example, the 4228 claims to get channels 7-13 out to 45 miles.
Fry's website lists the 4228 at $95, and a Winegard 8 bay (HD-8800) for $40. Is there that much difference in performance and quality to justify the price difference?
Would adding terminators to the unused cable outlets make a significant difference?
Thanks for any input.
Good news, your at 570ft elevation.
Bad news, 3 miles of trees before you clear the hill at SE Lake Youngs Road and 190th. TVFool doesn't see trees.
Dropouts aren't always from low signal level. Your preamp has lots of power and can make up for that if you get enough coming in above minimums for it to work.
The main problem is the trees. They tend to really chop up the signal. Makes it very hard for the tuner to lock on. A 4228 would be better than a 4221, specially for the VHF. It's not designed for VHF, but works somewhat.
A yagi style UHF, though, usually works better in these situations. Think of it as helping you to pick your way through the trees, ignoring some of the other ugly signals.
Frys has the CM2020 for about $70. It also has the hi-band VHF for ch's 9-11-13. Combined with your 7777 preamp, that's a pretty good start. You could go for more antenna, but since you're doing pretty well with the 4221, it should work.
The biggest thing is finding the sweet spot. Patience will win out. Make a chart with the main channels and the "strength" numbers you see for each. Sight down the antenna and pick a spot in the distance. Move the antenna a bit one way, identify another spot and note it and numbers, and then do it again. By a bit, like having the nose of the antenna move about four inches.
It takes about 10 to 30 seconds for a tuner to lock on, so you can't whip it around like an old analog antenna and get instant results. After a while you'll see some channels are more sensitive than others. Concentrate on those to shorten the process. Also moving it higher or lower than 8" can make a difference, too. Even moving the mast a bit to a different location just 8" can make it.
The numbers you're seeing aren't really strength, but more like signal quality. You could be very weak, or strong in actual level, and still see the same numbers. If the signal is not good, as viewed on a scope, it won't lock. That's what makes this a real challenge with out test equipment.
Check out the basic direction on a map, or use Google Earth to draw a line from your house to QA Hill and that should get you close.
Also, ch13 comes from much more to the west, so worry about that last. If it doesn't come in, you can use a separate antenna if needed.
Last, I hope you installed the 4way split after the preamp power supply, not between it and the preamp. Definitely use terminators on unused splitter ports, or at the end of the unused cable run.
Keep us informed on your progress!