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Fort Lauderdale - Antenna MYSTERY! What stations will I get today?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
tvfool graph: http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3d05590dd1bcdcc6

I am in a condo on ground floor, on a street full of apartment/condos in Fort Lauderdale. I have a RCA Indoor HDTV Antenna - Model: ANT1400 (can't find that number, on the back it says 1245GM but that's what Best Buy shows), hanging from curtain rod in front of south window. One day I can get channel 2, 4(s), 6 & maybe a couple of 19's. Then the next day none of those, but 7, 29's 45s, etc. Almost all the time I can get 69-2, which is closer, in Hollywood, so due south.

This results in several channels with reception too splotchy to tolerate and only 4 or 5 at any one time that are usable, one or two VHF and a few UHF. Sometimes I can go stand at the tv and put my hand on the coax cable and move it around and reception will change enough for me to see the rest of the show I was watching, but I never know when a particular channel will just be GONE for days. It doesn't matter which tv I use. A whole bunch will tune in on the tuner, but only a few can be watched. So one day I can watch ABC, then it's gone for a week and I'm seeing CBC, but no ABC or NBC. I can never watch all three!

My biggest, newest tv has this function where it will do a partial scan to "add" channels, but when it does, it will take away the ones I'm watching now and give me a different set. rolleyes.gif

I also have a KCPT DT504 tuner the owner bought for an old television. It doesn't change my experience, but it provides additional information, it has a "signal" feature. The signal "strength" on the channels will be consistant between high 20's to high 30s, but the signal "quality" on stations impossible to watch will jump around constantly from 100% to 35% to 70% to 21%, etc. Often channels just go blank and display "no signal".

I'm a ham radio operator for years, though never did too much with antennas. But I do understand how they work. My first assumption was that this antenna (owner bought it, not me) only tunes in a narrow spectrum of channels, which changes with the slightest tiny rotation of its plane. But the material on these kind of antenna claims they tune the entire VHF/UHF band range. And, that still would not explain how it can change so DRASTICALLY without me ever getting within 20 feet of it, much less moving it.

I've searched the internet for a description of this problem and can't find it. Has anyone else had this issue?

Is it interference, bad antenna, type of antenna, or what?

Is there any point in me going on a wild goose chase trying out all different kinds of antennas? I really don't want to get into that trap. I just want to see the local news...
Edited by oldcio777 - 6/24/13 at 7:19pm
post #2 of 6
I just moved into an apartment where I can see all of the TV transmitters on the mountain out the sliding glass doors. I was accustomed to having an outdoor antenna but thought this would be "a piece of cake". Reception was much more difficult than I had imagined, much like your situation. If I set the rabbitear/loop antenna in one spot it was good for some channels but not others, etc. Even moving the 75 ohm lead-in cable would effect reception. Fortunately, I have a balcony with a view of the transmitters. Even putting the indoor antenna out there did not help. Finally I clamped a small UHF/high VHF antenna out there and it solved the problem.
I believe the lesson I came away with is that even strong signals bounce around indoors, are affected by people and objects and can behave quite unpredictably. If you can get anything outdoors, do it. If you are willing to look at an outdoor type antenna inside, it will have a better front to back ratio than an indoor antenna which may help. Last resort would be basic cable.
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Mister B, that's very interesting. There you are with very strong signals with problems. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Maybe I should look for some old-fashioned rabbit ears.

This is a condo and I am not the owner. I can't put anything outside. There is no balcony, no patio, and only one door to shared porch.

I had cable bundle deal and then Comcast doubled it to $160 so I dropped. I'm getting internet from AT&T for $30, after Comcast quoted $70 for just internet and no televsion at all . And, I'm spending enough with AT&T for cell, house wireless phone.

If I can't get broadcast tv with the right type of indoor antenna, I will just use netflix and amazon.
post #4 of 6
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the article, RetiredEngineer. I just read the whole thing 3 times through. Maybe I'm being dense,but I can't see how it solves my mystery.

The only antenna tested that is similar to mine (a sealed plastic box 1/2" high - picture on internet if you google :RCA Indoor HDTV Antenna") is the Micron XG. It performed fairly well. In fact, all of antennas in that article performed better than what I'm getting. So, what's the conclusion of the test?

Let me describe this again - there may be 20 stations found during a scan, but only 2 or 3, side by side in numbers, will work AT THE SAME TIME without the audio cutting in and out and the screen pixelating. There are never more than 3 main channels (frequencies) usable at once.

So, for instance, if 2 is working, I can watch 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, and 4 may be tolerable, but 6 will be horrible, 7 doesn't even scan. When I CAN get 7, I can't get 2,4 or 6.

The first available UHF channel might be 39. There will be 39-1, 39-2, 39-3, 39-4. (or 19-1, 19-2, or whatever) above that, perhaps another group, then another that is too spotty to watch. Of the UHF channels coming in clear, 3 will be in Spanish and 3 or 4 will be redundant PBS, and that will leave one or two UHF and usually one VHS viewable. Last night I was able to watch VHF Jay Leno NBC with 10% breakup, and David Letterman CBS with too much breakup to tolerate. ABC and FOX were black screens, "no signal".

If I walk over and jiggle the antenna so it is tilted slightly the other direction and do another channel scan, I get a totally different set of channels, and the ones I had minutes ago are "no signal".

So, do I have
a. a faulty antenna
b. the wrong antenna design
c. doesn't matter what antenna, in area with lots of interference
d. signals are too strong and destroying each other, need less antenna
post #6 of 6
You have many strong signals, but not too strong for a passive, non-amplified antenna like RCA-1400. When the signal quality jumps around it "usually" is evidence of MULTIPATH distortion. Omnidirectional RCA ANT-1400 is the WORST antenna to counter multipath since it accepts signals from ALL directions with the same amount of Gain. What you need is a DIRECTIONAL Indoor Antenna such as Terk HDTVi Passive Log-Periodic for UHF, which includes Rabbit-Ears for VHF (extend each rod to 14.5-in for best Ch7-13):
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