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Solution for obstructed path?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I live about 10 miles from a major metropolitan broadcast station (Mount Wilson, in L.A.), but there is a hill between me and the station. Three blocks from here, you get awesome reception on tons of channels with a $10 antenna, but at my place, the same antenna gets me a very shaky channel 7.1 and nothing else.

Antennaweb confirms this, shows only 3 channels, in the blue/violet range for my location, and dozens in the yellow just a few blocks away.

Am I screwed as far as antenna reception goes, or would a better antenna improve my odds of a full range of channels? Am I likely to have any luck with indoor or attic antennas?

Years ago I had a Winegard SS-3000, which got me tons of channels about 40 miles south of here. Would that likely do me any good here, or do I need something with more oomph?
post #2 of 23
Thread Starter 
Also, I don't know if it's relevant, but my location has excellent FM radio reception.
post #3 of 23
How bad do you want it? You can buy a used CRT spectrum analyzer on eBay for typically a couple hundred bucks or so and move the antenna to where the "boxcar" image of the channel you are trying to receive looks flattest.

Back in analog days, I used to live in a place with lousy reception, so I hung a loop antenna from my curtain rod and whenever I changed the channel, I'd use a broom handle to slide the loop antenna back and forth along the rod to zero in on the best reception for that channel.
post #4 of 23
I'd try something better than a $10 antenna.
You might be surprised.....signals do a "knife-edge" propagation over and around barriers, and ATSC Digital signals don't have to be perfect, to decode.
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I'll try a better antenna. Any particular recommendations of antennas or features of antennas that work best in this kind of situation?
post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Just trying to avoid a bunch of buy-return cycles...
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Also, moving the antenna as necessary per channel isn't an option, as we're hooking this up to a tivo.
post #8 of 23
Feel free to edit your previous post each time a new thought comes up...

We'll need to see an exact address TVfool plot for your location
post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
post #10 of 23
If your TVFool is correct, you should be able to get most of the channels in green/yellow on your report, with this antenna and this preamp.

See this article about reception when hills are in the way. A hot spot near the ground may work as well as a really tall antenna.
post #11 of 23
Thread Starter 
An outdoor antenna isn't a particularly good option for my situation. Do you think I have a chance of decent green/yellow reception with any indoor or attic mount, or is it kinda hopeless?
post #12 of 23
Indoor reception is impossible to predict, particularly in your case, as all of your "green" stations are in the VHF band. VHF often has a harder time passing through building materials than smaller wavelength UHF channels. Concrete, metal and stucco, in particular are good signal blockers.

You can always try an indoor antenna. Locating it near a NE-facing window and away from any electrical/electronic devices may be your best location. Add a longer coax, if needed.

Avoid amplified antennas. In your case, they may make reception worse, not better. A simple passive VHF/UHF antenna would be a good choice.
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
Hmmm... tricky, as the room with the TV is in the southwest corner of the house. Maybe I will look at an outdoor antenna after all. Previous tenant left a DirecTV dish mounted outside, maybe I can swap that out without too much headache.

Why not amplified?

Should I really spring for a huge old-school-looking outdoor antenna? Would I get similar mileage with a more compact indoor-outdoor model of some sort that I could take with me if, say, I move into an apartment complex in a year?
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by MostlyDifferent View Post

An outdoor antenna isn't a particularly good option for my situation. Do you think I have a chance of decent green/yellow reception with any indoor or attic mount, or is it kinda hopeless?

I use two attic antennas (CM4221 and Y5-7-13) and I get all the local stations that are not low power. See my TVFool results for my location. All the local channels are not LOS, yet, I can still receive them and all my signal levels are lower than yours so you have a very good chance of receiving them with an attic antenna.

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...60b529e3717331
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
I'll check with the landlord for a go-ahead on outdoor mounting, and if not I'll toss it in the attic, then.

So what's the verdict on amplified or not?
post #16 of 23
The antenna setup retiredengineer suggested or the one I suggested should work well. Try without a preamp first, then add one, if needed (channels freezing or dropouts).

TV reception hasn't changed. Digital TV is received the same way analog was. If you have VHF channels (which most of your majors are), lots of metal (old-school antenna) in the air still works best. There is no such thing as a "digital" antenna, contrary to all the ads and hype you see in online antenna sales websites and ads.
post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by MostlyDifferent View Post

So what's the verdict on amplified or not?

Your answers have kinda beaten around the bush, so I will too

The problem with amplifiers is that they are not "ideal", they do things other than amplify.

A strong signal, in or out of band, can overload the input resulting in harm to weak signals.

Your TELEVISION signals do not look like they will cause much damage per your TVFool results. FM signals are a problem sometimes, and even your balanced (relatively speaking) TV levels may not be consistent. IF you get an amplifier, don't buy the high gain junk everywhere on eBay. 10dB SHOULD be more than enough to overcome cable losses and put low noise gain near the antenna.

MANY years ago, I was involved in low noise amp designs. We did several things to minimize but not always eliminate problems.

Filter out of band offenders
selectively attenuate in band offenders
amplify as closely to the antenna as practical
ensure amplified output did not reach receiver overload levels

Commercial high quality amplifiers can (economically) do all of these BUT the selective attenuation. That takes technology and money ... AFAIK it's still analog for RF frequencies of interest. It has become digital for audio, and is (by many measures) very economical.
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
Cool, thanks everyone! Think I have more or less a plan of action now.
post #19 of 23
Please post back with your results, so others may learn from your experience.
post #20 of 23
Thread Starter 
Got the go-ahead from the landlord on a roof-mount (been busy, took a while to get to it). Antenna is on its way. Will let you know how it goes.
post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 
Update: Antenna arrived today Channelmaster 4228HD. Haven't gotten it on the roof yet (need a mount, and the roof is tricky to get up on). Good news: Inside the house, I'm able to get signal, though not great, on lots of the channels. Bad news: Inside the house, there is no angle where I can get signal on all or even most of the channels. Other update: Attic mount is out of the question with this antenna. It doesn't fit through the hole in the ceiling that leads to the attic.

Further update: Just realized that the antenna would be easier to mount on the opposite side of the house (closer to the tower, but also closer to the base of the hill). This would require an additional 50 feet of cable between the antenna and the TV. Would this be a problem? Probably need a signal booster in this case?
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by MostlyDifferent View Post

Update: Antenna arrived today Channelmaster 4228HD. Haven't gotten it on the roof yet (need a mount, and the roof is tricky to get up on). Good news: Inside the house, I'm able to get signal, though not great, on lots of the channels. Bad news: Inside the house, there is no angle where I can get signal on all or even most of the channels. Other update: Attic mount is out of the question with this antenna. It doesn't fit through the hole in the ceiling that leads to the attic.

I know you plan to install it on the roof, but:
Inside the house, if you only tried the antenna in one spot (regardless of angle or direction), it was likely sitting in a dead spot.
post #23 of 23
Thread Starter 
I tried it all over the living room, high and low, at various angles, as well as on the front porch.
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