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Moving to house, how do roof antennas work?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
(I posted this in my local city thread..but there aren't active readers there so I wanted to post for thoughts here, too. Thanks!!)

I currently live in an apartment and am moving to a house at the end of May. The guy is leaving his DirectTV antenna on his roof, but said I could use the cable or antenna if I needed to.

My current antennas are made for indoors, and although I could probably get decent reception with them on the roof, I want to maximize my results.

I really don't know how all that works, going through the roof and split off into the bedrooms/living room. Should I be looking for a certain detail when antenna shopping, so that it can handle pulling signal and pushing 3 or maybe 4 different channels to TV's spread around the house at a given time?

According to my exact address, with the right outdoor antenna I would be able to get channels from Orlando, which would be pretty cool. Most of my local channels would be to the North, though some channels are West and South. That means I would need an Omnidirectional antenna, right?

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...7fcf54f8b2b898
post #2 of 27
The TvFool link doesn't work. Please try again.
post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 
Sorry, thanks for the heads up. Hopefully it stays working for me
post #4 of 27
Omni-directional antennas are a great comprise at best and you will find that not many members here recommend them on a frequent basis. Besides, your Orlando stations are at such a distance that one would need a dedicated directional antenna to pull them in anyway.
I would concentrate on the Jacksonville stations only, unless you are an experimenter like some of us on this forum. The stations in the other directions are likely minor networks or secondary PBS.
The good news is that the ION station in Georgia is almost in line with the other major networks and would not need a dedicated antenna although it is near the bottom of your list. ION does have some repeats of popular recent series, I would love to have an affiliate here in El Paso.
A good combination VHF High/UHF should serve you well if mounted outside at a moderate height. Many people in the Jacksonville area have had more trouble that one would expect with channels 10 and 13, so it would be best to err on the side of a bit more gain than necessary.
So, why does a guy in El Paso, Texas follow the Jacksonville antenna thread so closely? I was raised there way back in the 1960's and started experimenting with antennas as a teenager. Best of luck, hopefully some other members will chime in with some further advice.
post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by HunterX82 View Post

I currently live in an apartment and am moving to a house at the end of May. The guy is leaving his DirectTV antenna on his roof, but said I could use the cable or antenna if I needed to.

The coax cable will be compatible with using a TV antenna, but the DirecTV dish will only be useful if you plan on signing up with them.

Quote:


My current antennas are made for indoors, and although I could probably get decent reception with them on the roof,

Yes, but the weather will eventually degrade performance.
Quote:


I want to maximize my results.

Then a directional antenna designed for outdoor use will be your best option.

Quote:


I really don't know how all that works, going through the roof and split off into the bedrooms/living room. Should I be looking for a certain detail when antenna shopping, so that it can handle pulling signal and pushing 3 or maybe 4 different channels to TV's spread around the house at a given time?

Depending on where you are and where the local stations broadcast from, an outdoor antenna may be able to drive 3-4 TV's, but the best way to do it is with a distribution amp or preamp. It will take the antenna feed and increase the signal for multiple TV use. The amp goes as close to the antenna as possible. Most antenna preamps are designed to be mounted right on the antenna mast and are powered using the coax cable.

Quote:


According to my exact address, with the right outdoor antenna I would be able to get channels from Orlando, which would be pretty cool. Most of my local channels would be to the North, though some channels are West and South. That means I would need an Omnidirectional antenna, right?

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...7fcf54f8b2b898

As noted, omnidirectional antennas are not usually a recommended solution. A directional antenna will typically produce much more reliable reception.

In your case, a directional antenna will be pointed roughly north, and once you get it in place you'll experiment with slight adjustment to optimize reception.

If you really want stations from other directions, using a rotor is the way to do it. The rotor moves the antenna to the direction desired, either by use of a manual control or IR remote. Also as noted, unless there are stations you really want from the other directions, the rotor may not be needed.

General guidelines regarding antennas:
Outdoor is better than indoor.
Bigger is better than smaller.
Directional is better than omnidirectional.
Higher is usually better than lower.
post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
Some great information here guys, thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. I definitely won't be using the DirectTV dish, so I will plug the OTA into it via the coax jack from that dish. Both of you make good points about the Directional versus Omni, and you're right that the channels I may get from the Gainesville area would probably just be secondary channels of what I already have. The outdoor directional antenna would provide me better quality from ION and PBS, so I think I will go that route.

I've kind of been worried about having to use a preamp, but if they are powered via coax cable like you mention, then I won't have to worry about running a power cable/extension cord up to the roof. That would be a good solution, though I may not even need it.

Thanks guys, really do appreciate it. Now time to research antennas !
post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by HunterX82 View Post


I've kind of been worried about having to use a preamp, but if they are powered via coax cable like you mention, then I won't have to worry about running a power cable/extension cord up to the roof. That would be a good solution, though I may not even need it.

Thanks guys, really do appreciate it. Now time to research antennas !

FWIW, I have a big old Winegard directional antenna on my roof (a metal roof) about 30' from ground. I have a powered signal booster but connect it in the garage where the antenna RG-6 comes in, that way I don't have to worry about running power up to the antenna. It works well in my situation so you may want to consider that if the preamp is necessary.
post #8 of 27
Your signals coming from the north are very strong and would probably overload a preamp. Try an outside antenna without a preamp first. The signals are strong enough so that you should be able to use a splitter for more than one TV.
post #9 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbit73 View Post

Your signals coming from the north are very strong and would probably overload a preamp. Try an outside antenna without a preamp first. The signals are strong enough so that you should be able to use a splitter for more than one TV.

Yes I am going to try without a preamp first, it would be the easiest. I'll do some reading and make a purchase in the next week or so.

http://www.hdtvantennalabs.com/hdtv-antenna-reviews.php
post #10 of 27
You should be able to get your major networks to the North with this antenna, clamped onto the existing Directv dish J-mount pole. Disconnect the coax lines from the feedhorn, remove the dish and reuse the coax they installed. IF there are any DirecTV splitters, switches, etc., remove those and use regular balanced splitters.

IF (and only if) the signal is weak enough to cause dropouts or macroblocking, add a distribution amp later. You won't likely need to, though.
post #11 of 27
Thread Starter 
Awesome thanks. I should be able to unscrew the dish and figure out the mounting, as well as the coax cable. Are the DirecTV splitters/switches on the roof at the base of the dish or usually at the spot where the cables enter the home?
post #12 of 27
If the DirecTV antenna is the 18 inches round antenna, then there are no splitters/switches. The two cables attached to the LNB at the base of the dish go there separate ways to the DirecTV receivers. If the dish is oval then the cables you want to hook up to are after the switch.
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by HunterX82 View Post

Awesome thanks. I should be able to unscrew the dish and figure out the mounting, as well as the coax cable. Are the DirecTV splitters/switches on the roof at the base of the dish or usually at the spot where the cables enter the home?

They can be in different locations, but those are the two most likely spots. Follow the coax cables and remove any D* equipment in the mix, except a regular coax grounding block, if present.
post #14 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by arxaw View Post

You should be able to get your major networks to the North with this antenna, clamped onto the existing Directv dish J-mount pole. Disconnect the coax lines from the feedhorn, remove the dish and reuse the coax they installed. IF there are any DirecTV splitters, switches, etc., remove those and use regular balanced splitters.

I just installed the antenna you mentioned. The satellite dish had 1 coax going to what looked like a regular splitter feeding throughout the house. Quality was good and signal strong.

The antenna directions mention plugging in grounding wire. However, the satellite dish didn't have one plugged in and there seems to be only one cable going up to the mount on the roof. Is this a scenario where I have to make my own somehow?
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by HunterX82 View Post

I just installed the antenna you mentioned. The satellite dish had 1 coax going to what looked like a regular splitter feeding throughout the house. Quality was good and signal strong.

The antenna directions mention plugging in grounding wire. However, the satellite dish didn't have one plugged in and there seems to be only one cable going up to the mount on the roof. Is this a scenario where I have to make my own somehow?

If there wasn't a ground wire included with the coax, then you need to have a wire running up to the antenna, like around the U-bolt. Then you run it down along side the house to either a cold water like (if copper or iron), or have a grounding rod (even better) pounded into the ground, & attach the grounding wire to that. The grounding wire is meant to minimize any damage (won't eliminate) to your TV's, should the antenna take a direct lightning strike. I don't know what is recommended, but I've used 10 gauge in most previous setups I've done.

I agree with most repliers in this thread, that you should mainly focus on Jacksonville stations for now. That's like for me, I'm focusing on Chicago stations for now. When I have more money to buy some more UHF only antennas, & the time, I'll focus on getting South Bend, IN full power stations next. I'd like to also have South Bend NBC, CBS, Fox, & PBS (can't get ABC from South Bend, since it's on a low power station).
post #16 of 27
A cold water pipe for a ground does not meet code in many areas. You should run the ground wire to your home's main electrical ground point. If the sat dish was not grounded, it was never installed properly.

The purpose of the ground is to bleed off static electricity buildup on the antenna caused by wind blowing across it. This makes it a less attractive target for lightning. But it will not protect from a direct lightning hit.
post #17 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by arxaw View Post

You should be able to get your major networks to the North with this antenna, clamped onto the existing Directv dish J-mount pole. Disconnect the coax lines from the feedhorn, remove the dish and reuse the coax they installed. IF there are any DirecTV splitters, switches, etc., remove those and use regular balanced splitters.


IF (and only if) the signal is weak enough to cause dropouts or macroblocking, add a distribution amp later. You won't likely need to, though.

We have had horrible storms here in NE Florida the entire week. You'd think it was hurricane season! I am receiving in and out signal to Fox and channel 4.1. The other channels seem to be hanging on. I did have time to go outside to the box last night when the rain stopped for a few minutes and noticed that the coax cable is going from the dish to a Direct TV splitter...which feeds about 6 coax cables throughout the house. I have not tested removing the splitter and running the cable straight to my living room to see if the quality improves.

I currently use 2 TV's so I don't need such a large splitter, though in the future I would like to add 2 more TV's (one smaller one outside and perhaps in the garage). Maybe something like from the link below should work?

http://www.altex.com/6-Way-Indoor-Outdoor-Hybrid-Splitter-42-136-P140741.aspx

I need to spend more time out there and figure out which coax cable going from the DirectTV splitter goes into which room...labeling may be required!
post #18 of 27
Once upon a time all everyone needed for reception was an indoor antenna, I remember when I used to be able to receive a station as far away as Cleveland Ohio from my location and stations from south bend and grand rapids were regular as well. Now I can barely get stations from Chicago or Milwaukee due to the trees in my area. Now because the government decided to choose the inferior 8VSB modulation and offer no help besides converter boxes that don't work or tell people to get cable. We are forced to either get cable or go on the roof to install a roof antenna which may not be feasible for low income residents and for those in apartments.
Edited by eric12341 - 6/8/12 at 11:55am
post #19 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by eric12341 View Post

Once upon a time all everyone needed for reception was an indoor antenna, I remember when I used to be able to receive a station as far away as Cleveland Ohio from my location and stations from south bend and grand rapids were regular as well. Now I can barely get stations from Chicago or Milwaukee due to the trees in my area. Now because the government decided to choose the inferior 8VSB modulation and offer no help besides converter boxes that don't work or tell people to get cable. We are forced to either get cable or go on the roof to install a roof antenna which may not be feasible for low income residents and for those in apartments.

I don't know. If you are in an area that gets good OTA reception, installing a rooftop antenna is considerably cheaper than paying for cable or satellite. Apartments are a bit different but if you have a balcony that faces in the right direction, you may be able to get away with putting an antenna there. When I was growing up, we had to install a roof top antenna to get the broadcast stations from about 50 miles away in relatively flat terrain. Indoor rabbit ears worked but not as well as the rooftop.
post #20 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Otto Pylot View Post

I don't know. If you are in an area that gets good OTA reception, installing a rooftop antenna is considerably cheaper than paying for cable or satellite. Apartments are a bit different but if you have a balcony that faces in the right direction, you may be able to get away with putting an antenna there. When I was growing up, we had to install a roof top antenna to get the broadcast stations from about 50 miles away in relatively flat terrain. Indoor rabbit ears worked but not as well as the rooftop.

I have a porch with a guard rail that faces the direction. I tried putting the ANT751 on that and got absolutely nothing, this was about 6 or 7 ft in height. If the government hadn't went with 8VSB I would be getting all my stations reliably with that setup or with an indoor antenna. They owe everybody who is having problems with this a rooftop antenna installation or free basic cable just like now they're providing free cell service.
post #21 of 27
8VSB isn't the problem. It's proper mounting and aiming of the antenna and your local terrain. It's like complaining that all satellite service is bad for everyone simply because "you" have trees or other restrictions blocking your line of sight.
post #22 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

8VSB isn't the problem. It's proper mounting and aiming of the antenna and your local terrain. It's like complaining that all satellite service is bad for everyone simply because "you" have trees or other restrictions blocking your line of sight.

Exactly my point, 8VSB is the problem, it cannot penetrate terrain or obstructions as well as DVB-T/COFDM can. So because it cannot do this proper mounting and aiming is required when that wasn't so before this shítty system was implemented.
post #23 of 27
Thread Starter 
Before installing my outdoor antenna, my indoor ones worked great. I didn't get ALL the channels that I get now with the outdoor, but the ones I got--HD locals and select others--were clear as can be.
post #24 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by HunterX82 View Post

Before installing my outdoor antenna, my indoor ones worked great. I didn't get ALL the channels that I get now with the outdoor, but the ones I got--HD locals and select others--were clear as can be.

You must not have trees around or don't live in a brick house. Things used to be exactly how you described before this 8VSB took over, I remember getting stations 100-250 miles away now I can't even get stations 41 miles in reliably even with an outdoor antenna they used to come in clear with an indoor antena.
post #25 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by arxaw View Post

A cold water pipe for a ground does not meet code in many areas. You should run the ground wire to your home's main electrical ground point. If the sat dish was not grounded, it was never installed properly.


The purpose of the ground is to bleed off static electricity buildup on the antenna caused by wind blowing across it. This makes it a less attractive target for lightning. But it will not protect from a direct lightning hit.
The problem with cold water pipes is that some are plastic now and will not be a ground as a result. If you know for sure your cold water pipes are not plastic it will work.

Rick R
post #26 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by eric12341 View Post

You must not have trees around or don't live in a brick house. Things used to be exactly how you described before this 8VSB took over, I remember getting stations 100-250 miles away now I can't even get stations 41 miles in reliably even with an outdoor antenna they used to come in clear with an indoor antena.

Are you sure is the 8VSB or because they changed the frequency of the channels? I was also able to receive a channel before it was digital but when they changed to digital the channel was changed from channel 12 to channel 44 now I can't get any signal and I live inside the contour area!
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReiMomo View Post

Are you sure is the 8VSB or because they changed the frequency of the channels? I was also able to receive a channel before it was digital but when they changed to digital the channel was changed from channel 12 to channel 44 now I can't get any signal and I live inside the contour area!

Might be a mixture of both. I know for a fact I used to get in WGN 9 better when it was on 9 than it being on 19. Also almost very little effort is required for me to get in RF 12 when compared to RF 45 and RF 38 for instance. Both those channels are what my evening programming comes on, I also got those stations better when they were RF 44 and RF 66. RF 45 in my area is in an especially tough situation because there are also channels on RF40,41,43 ,44,47, and 49. All of which I got better when they were RF55,41,38,7,11 and 20.
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