I've been reading this forum for the last few days to try to figure out what type of antenna I need for my upcoming HDTV setup. I live in Kingwood, a heavily wooded suburb of Houston, about 35 miles from the towers according to antennaweb. Any specific suggestions for antennas are welcome, but that's not my primary question for this post.
I'm trying to maximize the performance of the system in any way I can from the beginning; the whole "weakest link" concept.
My question is: What kind of coax cable do you guys have good experiences with? I know from personal experience the vast difference good cables can make in a HT, and would think that a good coax will do the same for my sat/OTA signal. The problem in my eyes is price. A good solid bare-copper core coax from Belden is easily $1+ per foot, quickly making the cable more expensive than the antenna, especially when running one for the sat and one for the antenna. The copper clad steel stuff they sell at Lowe's is at the bottom of the list quality-wise, and really not that great a deal, anyway. Are there any other options?
Should I just buy cheap stuff and get a bigger antenna instead? I don't like buying cheap cable on principle, I'll always wonder if my PQ could be better...
Or an amplifier maybe? I'm still not completely sure of the difference in practice of an amp and a pre-amp.
Any responses are helpful, thanks.
I've seen bad reports of one cheap brand of cable but that's rare. Unless you're going well over 100', plain old copper clad steel works fine. The function is that of a transmission line rather than a conductor so skin effect comes into play. At very long distances on a satellite hookup, conductance of the receiver's DC signal voltage comes into play and solid copper with quad shield is a good idea. The heavier shield is a better conductor. QS really isn't needed for shielding for antenna or dish hookup unless you're in a high noise area involving high frequencies such as an airport.
I'm 50-60 miles out from many of the stations I get and I'm using basic quad shield from Home Depot, $.19 ft. Only reason I'm using quad is I bought some for my SAT feeds and didn't want to buy more connectors so I went with quad. It may be overkill , but it doesn't matter. My runs are a little over 100', and I'm using a preamp, but the levels are all fine so I wouldn't worry too much about the coax in your situation.
We're running tri-shield Belden with a copper-clad steel core here. DBS dish runs are about 150-feet, with no problems. Cost was about $125-150 per thousand feet.
I'm using TFC (Times-Fiber Cable) quad shield at home. I think tri-shield or quad-shield is the best way to go, since there are so many noise-generating sources in homes and businesses nowadays.
Watch out for preamps....the more I use them, the more I am convinced they are nearly "rocket science"....especially for DTV. We were discussing a viewer's analog interference problem Monday morning. At lunch, I picked up the latest copy of "TV Technology", and saw an article that said exactly what we were discussing.
Is there any reason to use anything other than a standard RG-6 rated cable?
Very long runs for satellite and high frequency noise areas come to mind. Household noise makers may be picked up by an antenna, usually on low VHF, but shouldn't affect the cable unless there is a really close proximity. If an installed system has no major picture problems, changing cables won't help.
greywolf, yeah I doubt changing cables will help protect against the police/ambulance transmitters that put out so much RF noise that they actually distort all crt monitors in my house when they passby. Their signal is actually strong enough that my speaker wire (with no tuner whatsoever) picks up whatever emergeny call or (more often) obscene joke that is told while a vehicle is in a 100' or so radius from my home.
Standard, decent RG6 should be fine. Don't use a pre-amp unless you actually need it.
For full power ststions 500k.w.erp to 1000 k.w. erp I usually use Commscope or Belden rg 6 cable. For a home with computers and R.F. devices showering the surrondings I use quad shield cable. For longer cable runs over 100 feet then we go to RG 11. Or when the signal level of a channel transmitting from a station is running say 40 or 80 k.w. of power. and the rest of the channels are at 350 k.w. and higher. I try my best to not use distribution or pre-amps if possible. Sometimes overloading occurs and most local box electronics store chains use trash for reception products. Winegard has a new h.d. pre-amp with high input levels andmade to overcome digital drop-outs. The model is the HDP-269 and it works very well in suburban locations and if another digital channel is next to the one your receiving it wont over ride signal levels like the higher gain pre-amps.