Very interesting differences of opinion about some basic RF propagation facts. I see from your profiles that many of you have technical RF backgrounds, as do I, so it is only natural that we disagree on the basics.
First, thanks "BCF68" for pointing out that I got mixed-up about the OP's antenna with or with amplifiers. A senior moment. However, I stand by my statement that weather "generally" is not the primary
cause of reception problems because most folks equate rain with signal loss
, which as "NightHawk" points out is absolutely not true
until you get up into the very high frequencies (~12GHz and higher). (Oddly, at those very high frequencies, rain is the only factor that is considered when calculating the reliability of a path. For point-to-point reliability calculations below ~12GHz losses caused by rain/snow/sleet/hail are not even considered a factor.) Bottom line, rain (and all its frozen cousins) are not a factor. However, that is not to say other weather issues cannot cause problems. Weather can cause a variety of bad things to happen to the transmitted beam that can cause loss of signal (LOS), mainly bending the beam so that the receive antenna completely misses the signal. That is why we have space diversity antennas in microwave systems. However, this is just as likely (maybe more likely) to happen on cool calm nights as during major weather events.
I am sure that most of you are aware that digital reception is a either "great or nothing" situation with very little difference (in dB or BER) in between, which is where the OP is at IMO. A loss of just a few dB, or a slight increase of BER, will cause a LOS. Under some cases the OP gets a great picture, but any degradation of signal causes a LOS, which is not surprising since the OP is talking 60 miles. I agree with "rm00K" that the OP is lucky to receive anything at all.
OP - - Just curious, what kind of OTA reception did you use to have with analog. My guess, a picture with some level of noise that you just lived with it. If that was the case, my guess would be that with digital you would see a nice blank screen most of the time.
Back to the OP's basic question; how to make this work (if even possible)? Without any TV Fool or similar information (or even knowing where you live), this would be my recommended design for most OTA systems:
1. Assuming that all desired TV stations are in the same direction from your house, use an outdoor, high gain, VHF/UHF antenna that is mounted as high as is possible/reasonable. (An old rule-of-thumb really applies here: you get about 6dB of system gain (less cable loss) every time you double the antenna height.) You want to receive the absolute best signal at the output of the antenna, if you don't, nothing downstream will help much, or be much less affective. High gain antennas are also good at reducing the "undesired" signals (every other TV station) by several dB, which is very helpful for the next step:
2. Use a good mast mounted pre-amp with at least 10-15dB more gain than the combined losses of all downstream devices (cables, splitters, etc.).
3. Do not use any other amps, with the possible exception of a "0dB gain splitter" at a location/room with multiple devices that need OTA connections.
4. Accept that you will lose signal during thunderstorms. At 60 miles, your outages will be prolonged and aggravating since the noise spikes will be widespread.
The steps outlined above is what my former employer has done for years to provide their customers (primarily Public Safety in my case) the best coverage possible. Analog or digital makes no difference to the basics of RF propagation, or to the antenna systems that we provided. The antenna systems that we provided stayed the same when we migrated to digital from analog. The only thing that really changed, from the users perspective, was them getting use to the sudden LOS when they reached the edge of their coverage area. They were use to the gradual roll-off of received AQ until it was nothing but noise (just like FM in your car). It was a real shock back several years ago when they discovered that their new digital radio coverage just "dropped off a cliff" even though the true "useable" coverage area was actually the same.