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The Official AVS Antenna and Related Hardware Topic!

post #1 of 16086
Thread Starter 

Please post your experiences with antennas, preamps, all related equipment, and installation experiences. Indoor & outdoor. To include mounting, cabling, connectors, rotors, etc.

- Be specific; brands, models, sources, prices, etc.

- What works, what doesn't, and why?

- Tricks of the trade, and unique solutions.

Thanks in advance for your participation. AVS is only as good as it's members, and our members are the best.

Moderators Note as of 2/15/2012: The "Antennas, rotators, boosters/preamps... for wide-band VHF/UHF" has been merged into this topic, which now covers not just antennas but preamps, rotors, antenna cable, mounting systems, termination, transformers, baluns, distribution amps, and all other OTA reception related equipment.

As always, set-top-boxes are covered in the Official AVS STB Topic, found 'stuck' at the top of the HDTV Technical Forum.

post #2 of 16086
Quote:


Originally posted by Ken H
99.44% of the time, the following apply:

- Bigger is better

- Higher is better

- Outside is better

- Directional is better

Ken,you are sooooo right.Thanks for heading up this thread.I'll start it out with one of the best setups for UHF reception...and I've tried 'em all

Lots of pics and nice links for valuable info.

http://community-2.webtv.net/GregBar...rrentUHFTower/
post #3 of 16086
I'm a newbie and have been bugging the fine people in the Nearly Official Portland, OR DTV thread. Figured I'd make a quick post here, to see if I could get any more opinions and/or help. For more detail on my situation, see pages 90 & 91 of the Portland thread.

I am in a bad reception area only 11 miles from the Portland towers for all of the locals, but I am behind a hill (antennaweb.org says I shouldn't be able to receive anything). I have a big Radio Shack VU-190XR antenna in my attic (of a multi-story house) pointed in the direction of the towers. I have tried an attenuator (didn't help) and a RS line amplifier, which seemed to help a bit. I am using a new D* Hughes box. While I am getting decent to good reception of all of the analog locals, my only constant success on the digital side is with ABC. I am able to get a strong signal from CBS, NBC, WB, and UPN from time to time, but never all at the same time (usually just one or two of them along with ABC). I have not been able to get the digital versions of PBS or FOX at all, despite being able to get the analog signals decently well (and the fact that their tower are in the same place as the other stations).

Of course, the next logical step would probably be to go with an outdoor antenna, but I have a few concerns. I need an antenna that isn't too big or ugly, for the wife factor. Most people are recommending the Channel Master 4228 or 4221, but I was hoping for something a little more pretty. I'm also concerned that if I buy one and it doesn't work, that I won't be able to return it (not to mention being out the installation fee I'm going to have to pay someone to go up on my three-story roof!)?

Any suggestions of equipment to buy or things to try would be greatly appreciated. Is it wishful thinking (based on what I've described) that I'd be able to mount one small outdoor antenna to catch all of my locals?

Thanks.
post #4 of 16086
What channels (actual) are the DTV channels on there in Portland ? Radio Shack antennas are pretty weak above 40 - the usual brands (Winegard / ChannelMaster) are much better up here. You may also need to get a pre-amp - get one of the Winegards / Channelmasters.

Otherwise - there is no substitute for getting your OTA antenna outside, especially in a potentially marginal situation like yours - no matter how big or ugly it is (ugly is in the eyes of the beholder - I personally would prefer to measure this on my screen ). It comes down to - do you want HDTV OTA or not ?
post #5 of 16086
I started with a CM 3021 4-way bowtie in my attic. I chose an attic installation for a few reasons. First I did not want to climb on top of the house and worry about mounting something to withstand wind. Second I did not want the expense of a professional mount. Third I did not want an eyesore. I figured my altitude near the top of Mine Hill would help things. My results were that I was able to get CBS, ABC, and FOX out of New York, and PBS out of Montclair, NJ. I could not get NBC on ch. 28 or the WB on ch. 12.

I was talking to a friend who wanted an antenna so he took the 3021 off my hands and I then bought a 4228 and a CM 7777 amp. I now get WNBC on ch.28. Still no WPIX on 12. If anyone has any ideas on the best cheap way to get ch.12 from here I would like to hear them.

I have about 60 feet of RG6 from the mast mounted preamp to the Samsung TS-360 STB.

I really wanted Philadelphia channels instead and I can sometimes get KYW on ch.26 but that is it. I am now wondering if a roof mount pointed at Philly would get me those stations. So much for limiting expense ... this is addicting.

Thanks to all on these forums ... you have helped me a lot.
post #6 of 16086
I have a really newbie question, so sorry if it sounds dumb. But what in the world is the difference between a Preamp and an Amp? Are they two different terms for the same thing?

Thanks
post #7 of 16086
Our home is located within 800' of one of the largest VHF towers in the county as well as a smaller tower (microwave, cell, etc.). (There are no hills or other appurtenances nearby.) When building the house I realized there could problems with OTA issues and tried to install the best hardware using RG6QS for all runs in the home-run based system. Everything has worked fine with a Radio Shack attic mounted antenna tying into the satellite/OTA system with a whole house distribution modulator to distribute the satellite to each location. I purchased a Samsung SIR-T151 decoder and connected it via a splitter/combiner to my main feed from the attic antenna with poor results. (Only one of the 3 local dtv/hdtv providers had an acceptable signal strength.) I then purchased a Zenith Silver Sensor which I combined in the attic with the same poor results. I then connected the Zenith antenna directly to the Samsung unit and all of the stations were fine (with a little tweaking to receive the station that transmits from the tower by my house).

I'd be fine with the Zenith perched in my indoor palm plant by the Samsung unit but my wife objects so any advice on a possible cause/cure would be appreciated.
post #8 of 16086
I have just signed up for Voom to come out and install their equipment at my house in Newport News, VA. My house is close to an airport and I would like to know if the antenna that Voom install would work fine since its multidirectional or would I have to get install a directional myself. Please help since I am a newbie to satellite TV.
post #9 of 16086
The Dish installed by VOOM will NOT get OTA reception - that will require a REGULAR TV antenna aimed at your locals stations' transmitter towers.
post #10 of 16086
I live in Southern Spartanburg County in SC , my setup is 2 rat shacks. 1 uhf/vhf 190 model and a uhf yagi that they discontinued that is about as long as the vhf/uhf antenna.i have rat shack mast mounted pre-amps for both with the inside power injectors.the yagi is aimed for the greenville-spartanburg stations and the vhf/uhf is aimed toward columbia, i can also aim it cowards charlotte NC. i get all my locals with an 80-88 signal strength. columbia channels i get are wolo-dt(abc)avg 85-94,wis-dt(nbc) and wach-dt(fox),but fox only comes in after dark. from charlotte i get wbtv-dt(cbs),wcnc-dt(nbc),the upn station.the WB station and sometimes wccb-dt(fox). The only network that I don't get in a satisfactory manner is FOX, the local FOX station is owned by Meredith and refuses to even pass on the FOX widescreen programming at all.The other FOX stations that i get on occasion are both passing on FOX wide screen and do a good job, but alas I don't get them good enough to delete WHNS-DT from my channel list.
post #11 of 16086
Quote:


Originally posted by Scooper
The Dish installed by VOOM will NOT get OTA reception - that will require a REGULAR TV antenna aimed at your locals stations' transmitter towers.

VOOM installs an OTA antenna when they install their satellite dish antenna. However, you may need a better one than the "easy-install" type they use.
post #12 of 16086
Quote:


Originally posted by flashbacck
I have a really newbie question, so sorry if it sounds dumb. But what in the world is the difference between a Preamp and an Amp?

A preamp has two parts - the amp and the power supply. The amp is typically installed as close to the antenna as possible, "before" the coax run; hence the name preamp. The power supply is usually installed behind the TV or STB, but may be installed elsewhere in the coax run (i.e. attic)....

An "amp" is a 1-piece unit and most of the consumer ones must be installed indoors. Since best results are usually obtained by putting the amp as close to the antenna as possible (to prevent amplifying noise introduced in the coax), a preamp usually works better.
post #13 of 16086
Quote:


Originally posted by offandon
... I then bought a 4228 and a CM 7777 amp. I now get WNBC on ch.28. Still no WPIX on 12. If anyone has any ideas on the best cheap way to get ch.12 from here I would like to hear them...

Remove the 4 screws and open the case of the CM 7777. Change the internal Input switch from "Combined" to "Separate" antennas. Then, connect a VHF antenna to the CM7777 preamp's VHF input. Leave the 4228 on the UHF input.

Depending on distance and station power, you may only need rabbit ear dipoles laid flat and extended to the correct length (try each dipole @ ~13.5" or ~27"), or you may need an "outdoor" VHF antenna for channels 7-13.

For a really cheap channel 12 attic antenna, I made one for a friend using two 13.5" lengths of coat hanger wire attached to a small wooden block, using 2 screws. I attached a 300/75 ohm balun under the screws, and connected the coax between the balun and the CM 7777 preamp. He receives our local (27kw) channel 12 DTV station @ 100%.

YMMV, of course.
post #14 of 16086
Thanks ... I have a pair of rabbit ears I will try for ch. 12. If that is a no go I will look for a better VHF antenna. I appreciate the help.
post #15 of 16086
I use the Radio Shack VU-210XR antenna on a 25' mast with a rotor. The antenna originally was $199.00 but was disco'd by RS and I picked it up for $7.99. Many others here did the same. It is a bad boy. It works very well. I am about 20 miles from the Chicago transmitters and pick up all of my local digitals with ease. I highly recommend this antenna if you can find one. It is big.
post #16 of 16086
I think I know the answer but I'll just put the question out there ....

what is the best solution to a bad multipath problem?

(Terrain: hilly, forest nearby, townhouses; antenna: SilverSensor; preamp: channelmaster 7777; tuner: Dish 811)
post #17 of 16086
AcuraCL:

Horizontally stacked antennas.

See:

www.atechfabrication.com
post #18 of 16086
You may want to check out AVS forum sponsor, www.antennasdirect.com

Have had great success with their DB4.
post #19 of 16086
Thread Starter 
Products that work:

Channel Master 9521A
Antenna rotator with infrared remote control
Programmable for up to 69 stations
Internet pricing from $70-$90, plus shipping

http://www.channelmaster.com/pages/TVS/rc1.htm
post #20 of 16086
My situation:

WJAC-DT (NBC) 250 kW Ch 34 at 68 miles
WTAJ-DT (CBS) 3.3 kW Ch 32 at 34 miles
WATM-DT (ABC) 2.0 kW Ch 24 at 34 miles
WPSX-DT (PBS) Single Frequency Network Ch 15 at 7.9 miles/28 miles

My location is State College, PA, and I'm pointing towards Altoona/Johnstown for OTA. My house is situation such that I am aiming over downtown State College.

I started with a CM 4228 and a RatShack pre-amp. With this setup getting the three closest channels was a breeze but WJAC-DT just didn't come in well enough to lock-in. At the suggestion of a member here I ordered a set of Triax Unix 100 Band A antennae from the United Kingdom and tried just one at first. This was an improvement but not enough to stay locked in on WJAC-DT. I added a second Unix 100A in a vertical stack and had better results but still not satisfactory.

A few weeks ago an order I had placed with Warren Electronics in December showed up at my door with a CM7777 in it. I placed this up on the roof in conjunction with the stacked Unix 100A's and am now locked in to WJAC-DT about 96-98% of the time. I still get some drop outs and break ups and I think I'm fighting some sort of overload as there is a pattern to the drop outs on an analog channel 19 at 84 miles on the same azimuth as the other stations I am aiming for.

The 4228 appears to be about 12-13 dB gain at 600 Mhz, channel 35, while the Unix 100A's are about 17 dB. Tied together as I have them I should be in the neighborhood of 19.5 dB gain.

Overall I am pretty impessed with my reception of the low power digitals at 34 miles over hilly terrain and downtown. I moved the CM4228 to my parent's house which is 4 miles closer to both Altoona and Johnstown and on the other side of downtown State College and had nearly identical results to those at my house.

My next project is to try to get WHP-DT on channel 4 from Harrisburg at 59 miles. They're only transmitting at 2.35 kW so I'm not sure what kind of success I might have but the terrain path from my house to Harrisburg is more favorable than that from my house to WJAC-DT.
post #21 of 16086
I'm using an RS VU-120XR, w/ rotator, no preamp. Tried it in the attic but signal wasn't consistent. I bought all the equipment (~$150) and had Fairfax Antenna (~$200) put it up on my roof ( 40' to the peak & 45 degree pitch). It's on a tripod with about 15' of mast and three guy wires. Used RG6QS. Everthing is WELL grounded. Feeding a Dish 6000.

After a couple of years I added a RS 15-1196, 1 in to 2 Bi Directional Amp, to split the signal to a second Dish 6000. A preamp did not improve my signal, but this amp did.

I'm getting outstanding reception from D.C. (35mi) and Baltimore (60mi). I think a lot of my success is due to being several hundred feet above sea level.

I went with the UHF/VHF setup playing the odds that some of the stations will revert back to their VHF signals for digital when everything shakes out.
post #22 of 16086
I need to pull in stations from about 40 miles away (see below) and I must install the antenna in the attic for cosmetic reasons. I'm a newbie to all this, so your experienced suggestions are greatly appreciated...

uhf WYDN-DT 47 DAY WORCESTER MA 04-04 161° 38.3
uhf WSBK-DT 38.1 UPN BOSTON MA 162° 37.7
uhf WNDS-DT 35.1 IND DERRY NH 115° 13.0
uhf WUNI-DT 29.1 UNI WORCESTER MA 202° 30.0
uhf WUTF-DT 66.1 TFA MARLBOROUGH MA 179° 27.5
uhf WMFP-DT 18 SAH LAWRENCE MA FCC Ext 161° 38.3
uhf WGBH-DT 2.1 PBS Boston MA 162° 37.7
uhf WGBX-DT 44.1 PBS Boston MA 162° 37.7
uhf WFXT-DT 25.1 FOX Boston MA 161° 38.6
uhf WCVB-DT 5.1 ABC Boston MA 162° 37.7
uhf WHDH-DT 7.1 NBC Boston MA 160° 38.3
uhf WBPX-DT 32 PAX BOSTON MA Awaiting FCC Permit 161° 38.3
uhf WBZ-DT 4.1 CBS Boston MA 162° 37.7
uhf WLVI-DT 56.1 WB Cambridge MA 161° 38.6

I only want the stations in the 161-162° direction, so what do I need to pull them in consistently?

~ Fred
post #23 of 16086
RagerXS, depending on your roof, decking and wall construction materials, an attic install may not be reliable.
post #24 of 16086
Quote:


Originally posted by Belcherwm
...
I went with the UHF/VHF setup playing the odds that some of the stations will revert back to their VHF signals for digital when everything shakes out.

'
What is your source for this belief?

I read on the FCC web site that they are reallocating the VHF band to public safety.
post #25 of 16086
If some stations move to VHF it won't be for quite some time.
post #26 of 16086
We have one VHF digital and another one will be on the air by this summer. And two other local VHF analog stations here have told me they plan to move their UHF DTV channel to their VHF assignment, when analog is shut off.

The TV channels that will go away after the analog shutoff are UHF channels 52 - 69, not VHF. Article here

.
post #27 of 16086
That article suggests there will be pressure for the *analog* stations to move from 52-69 after 2006, it doesn't really address digital stations with those frequency assignments, or am I reading it wrong?

Charles
post #28 of 16086
Digital stations on 52-69 will have to return to their analog channel number, or petition the FCC for a new assignment after analog shuts off. A very small number of stations have both analog and digital channels above 51, and presumably the FCC will give them a new channel between 2-51.

As far as getting a VHF antenna if all of your digitals are UHF, I say don't worry about it unless you want VHF analog reception or FM reception. You'll be fine for sure for at least a few years with a UHF antenna, and if your stations switch back, you can always add a VHF only antenna to your setup. Most antennas aren't that expensive.
post #29 of 16086
Quote:


Originally posted by jckessler
... As far as getting a VHF antenna if all of your digitals are UHF, I say don't worry about it unless you want VHF analog reception or FM reception. You'll be fine for sure for at least a few years with a UHF antenna, and if your stations switch back, you can always add a VHF only antenna to your setup...

If you need a preamp, go ahead and get a VHF+UHF preamp, with a dedicated VHF input. That will make it easy to add a separate VHF antenna later.
post #30 of 16086
The only issue with that is FINDING a VHF only antenna now - I have one - bought a couple of years ago.
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