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Absolute Newb Needs Advice

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
First, let me give you a bit of info on my current situation...
I have an ancient antenna on my roof...not sure if I can use it for anything or not.
I get 8 cable channels...only 8 because they happen to be the 8 channels that use the same bandwidth as my cable modem. So, in essence, I don't really have cable TV, I just happen to get 8 channels.
None of those 8 channels are any of the major networks, hence, also not my local channels.
I can pick up one of my local channels in an upstairs bedroom with rabbit ears. That channel happens to be 20 miles away.

I'm interested in picking up all my local channels (HDTV and Standard Broadcasts).

As I mentioned...I am TOTALLY new to this stuff. I haven't used an antenna since the late 80s! Up til about 2 years ago I had cable. Also, HDTV is still a mystery to me. So, please keep any advice on a second grade level so I can pick it up!

Things I'd like to accomplish:
1. Acquire an antenna that allows me to receive the following channels. All are at a 260 deg. position at a range of 20 to 60 miles away. (Info acquired from AntennaWeb):
7, 10, 13, 21, 27 and 38
There are other stations but most are just the same networks from another area at a 51 deg, position. So, I don't want to get another antenna just to pick those up.
Some of these channels put out HDTV secondary channels...21.1, 21.2, etc.
NONE of my TVs have built-in HDTV tuners. The one HDTV-ready TV I have is hooked up to a Media Center Edition PC. I'll install an HDTV tuner card in it.
Suggestions for HDTV STB tuners and PC cards are welcomed!!!

2. I also would like some suggestions on ways to hook up both my cable and antenna feeds to my TVs. Is there some slick way of combining the signals if the channels numbers don't overlap? Or am I reduced to the antiquated A-B switch route?

Thanks so much for the great site!!!
Matt Tyree
post #2 of 11
Looks like you'll need a antenna that gets UHF and VHF I have a Channel Master 3020 Large UHF/VHF Antenna (Long-Range) http://salestores.com/chma30defrad.html ,, but I'm sure these guys will suggest their own favorites, I can get stations a 100 miles away on good days.
post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyree View Post

I have an ancient antenna on my roof...not sure if I can use it for anything or not.

First, do you still have an antenna cable coming into the house? Does it seem to be in halfway decent shape? That is, no pieces obviously missing or bent at crazy angles? If so, try connecting it to a TV to see what kind of reception you get on analog channels, at least.

Second, it might help if you paste your antennaweb.org results here, so we can make sure you're not misinterpreting something. If you're in a hilly or mountainous area, it often helps to get your location as exact as possible, by clicking on antennaweb's street-level map to zoom and recenter it if necessary. Your station listings will update themselves accordingly.

Third, look for the thread for your local area in the Local HDTV Info and Reception forum:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forum...asc&sort=title

People who post there might be able to give you advice that is better targeted to your local situation.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies, guys!
I've attached my AntennaWeb results. It only shows 2 digital stations which I know is incorrect. I know that 21 also shows CW programming on 21.2, for example. Same tower, so I'm sure if I can get 21.1, I should be able to get 21.2.

@jtbell,
The antenna on my roof just has a 2-conductor wire hanging down by the chimney outside. It's not even run into the house. I could pull it through the bedroom window and give it a shot though. I'd need to go grab a coax convertor though.

Is it possible to pick up HDTV with any UHF/VHF antenna? In other words, could this 25 year old antenna possible do the job alone?

From the ground, the antenna looks like it's in fine shape...some of the fittings are a bit rusty and I can't see the condition of the box that the wire comes out of. But, it's not bent up or anything like that.

There's a Roanoke, VA thread...That's about 60 miles from me. They may be able to help.

Thanks for the advice guys.

Any suggestions on my second question?
LL
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyree View Post

Thanks for the replies, guys!
I've attached my AntennaWeb results. It only shows 2 digital stations which I know is incorrect.
...
Is it possible to pick up HDTV with any UHF/VHF antenna? In other words, could this 25 year old antenna possible do the job alone?

Yes, it is possible that the 25 year old antenna will do the job provided it is a good VHF and UHF antenna. You may have a bigger problem with the cabling, as cables & connections do corrode. If is is 25 years old, it may have old style 300 ohm twin lead cable where 75 ohm RG-6 co-axial is widely used today. But outdoor antennas are not that expensive, you can get a good antenna for $25 to $100, figure another $25 to $100 on cables and mount (if a new mount is needed), and maybe $60 on a pre-amp if that proves necessary.

This site may get a bit technical for you, but is one of the best sites I know of on the basics of selecting and trouble shooting TV antennas: http://www.hdtvprimer.com/ISSUES/erecting_antenna.html.

If you could post your zip code, that would help. We can look up the stations and get a better idea of what digital stations are in your area. One trick with antennaweb.org is to enter an antenna height of 100' or 200' or higher under the options link on the address page. Antennaweb is very conservative on digital reception and this can provide a more complete list of the digital stations and what channels they are actually broadcasting on.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Sure, my zip is 24572.

I was already figuring on having to get a new antenna. So, it's not going to break my heart or anything to have to do that! :-)

I did "watch the ball drop" tonight with one of the wires pulled in through the window. I was able to receive 7, 10, and 13...but no UHF at all. 21, even though the tower is only a few miles away, was completely static...not even a shadow of an image.
Could this mean my current antenna doesn't do UHF at all?

Edit to add:
I added 200 feet of height to my AntennaWeb test. You're right, I got quite a few new channels, some of which were digital. Still doesn't show everything that, say, TitanTV says is available in my area...but it does show most of them. One I KNOW for sure is here is 21.2...but it still doesn't show that.

I posted this same message on my local thread. They have a list of all stations I should be able to get there as well.
The main stations they list:
---------------
Quote:
07-1 18 CBS WDBJ-DT 1080i "WDBJ-7"
07-2 18 MY. WDBJ-DT 480i "My Network TV"
10-1 30 NBC WSLS-DT 1080i "Newschannel 10"
10-2 30 WXC WSLS-DT 480i
13-1 34 ABC WSET-DT 720p "ABC13"
13-2 34 ABC WSET-DT 480i "ABC13"
15-1 03 PBS WBRA-DT 480i "Blue Ridge Public Television"
15-2 03 YOU WBRA-DT 480i
15-5 03 PBS WBRA-DT 1080i
21-1 20 FOX WWCW-DT 480i "Fox 21/27"
21-2 20 CW. WWCW-DT 1080i "CW5"
27-1 17 FOX WFXR-DT 720p "Fox 21/27"
27-2 17 CW. WFXR-DT 480i "CW5"
38-1 36 i-E WPXR-DT 480i
38-2 36 PAX WPXR-DT 480i
38-3 36 W.N WPXR-DT 480i
38-4 36 PRS WPXR-DT 480i
41-1 41 IND WDRL-DT 480i "DRL 24"

05 W05AA-D .CP 0.00' 3.000 kW DA Will cover Roanoke and little else.
18 WDBJ-DT LIC 1988' 460.0 kW ND No known problems.
30 WSLS-DT LIC 1942' 950.0 kW DA No known problems.
34 WSET-DT LIC 1864' 200.0 kW ND Trouble with signal in Roanoke and New River Valley.
13 WSET-DT APP 2050' 19.60 kW ND Won't sign on until 2009.
03 WBRA-DT LIC 2057' 7.250 kW DA Impulse noise, e-skip, low bandwidth on HD.
20 WWCW-DT STA 1641' 186.3 kW DA Trouble with signal in Roanoke and New River Valley.
........... CP 1641' 400.0 kW DA
41 WDRL-DT LIC 1240' 43.00 kW DA Weak signal.
28 W54BT-D APP 0.00' 5.00 kW DA
17 WFXR-DT LIC 1948' 400.0 kW DA No known problems.
36 WPXR-DT LIC 2043' 700.0 kW DA No known problems.
47 W40BM-D .CP 0.00' 3.000 kW ND Limited coverage.
22 WRKV-CA APP 0.00' 3.000 kW DA
51 W44CL-D APP 0.00' 4.000 kW DA
49 W49AP-D .CP 0.00' 15.00 kW ND Limited coverage.
43 WTLU-CA APP 0.00' 15.00 kW ND

---------------

Thanks again for the help!
post #7 of 11
It could very well be that your antenna is VHF only, especially if it's a really old one that pre-dates the arrival of UHF stations in your area. Or maybe the previous owners didn't care about about the UHF stations, just the "Big Three" network stations.

You'll need both UHF and VHF capability. Most of your digital stations are on UHF, but there's one on channel 3 right now, and according to a list that I downloaded from the FCC web site, WSET will move its digital signal to channel 13 when it shuts down its analog signal. And there will be the low-power W05AA-D on channel 5, which will be a "repeater" or "translator" for one of the stronger stations, but I can't tell which one. If you can get the main station, whichever one it is, you won't need channel 5.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Interesting...we used to have a channel 5 that was WB (now CW). But, channel 5 went away and now, as you can see on that list, CW5 is broadcast on 21.2. So maybe 5 will be a repeater for 21.2??? Who knows???

Yeah, that antenna up there predates Fox (21 and 27) showing up around here. So, I'm sure it was only used for 7, 10 and 13...the big three.

I read something kinda confusing on antennasdirect (can't post links yet). They have short-range, medium-range and long-range antennas.
The short-range antennas say their range is 1-30 miles.
Mid-range says 1-55 miles (the one that goes to 55 says it's min is 15).
Long-range says 50-70+ miles.

So, considering I want to grab signals from towers that are 60+ miles away...it seems I'd need a long-range antenna...but, if long-range only starts at 50 miles...then what happens to the signals at 25-35 miles from me?

Thanks!
Matt
post #9 of 11
Aha! I looked up W05AA in the FCC database using their search engine:

http://www.fcc.gov/mb/video/tvq.html

Its owner is listed as "WSET, INCORPORATED" so it obviously re-transmits WSET's signal. But you're closer to Lynchburg and therefore closer to WSET's main transmitter than to W05AA, so you don't need to worry about channel 5.

It looks like W05AA already exists, with an analog signal, and they're planning to cut it over to digital on the same channel in 2009.

Quote:


So, considering I want to grab signals from towers that are 60+ miles away...it seems I'd need a long-range antenna...but, if long-range only starts at 50 miles...then what happens to the signals at 25-35 miles from me?

They come in nice and strong! If all those stations were in the same direction, it might be a problem because you might need a pre-amp to get reliable reception on the more distant stations, and the closer ones might overload it. But Lynchburg and Roanoke are basically in opposite directions from you, right? In that case, if I wanted to pick up both sets of stations, I'd get a good long-range antenna, with a pre-amp, and try aiming it towards Roanoke. Most antennas have a fair amount of sensitivity (although reduced) off the "back side" so you'd have a good chance of decent reception from the Lynchburg stations, with that orientation.

If that doesn't work out well, then I'd use a rotator, and a pre-amp that's less susceptible to overload (at the cost of some amplification).
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtbell View Post

If all those stations were in the same direction, it might be a problem because you might need a pre-amp to get reliable reception on the more distant stations, and the closer ones might overload it. But Lynchburg and Roanoke are basically in opposite directions from you, right?

Using his zip code, the stations in Roanoke and Lynchburg are in the same direction. Using an antenna height of 300' at antennaweb to get a more complete list for his zip, I get:

* yellow - uhf WPXR-DT 38.1 i ROANOKE VA 261° 60.3 36
* yellow - uhf WDBJ-DT 7.1 CBS ROANOKE VA 261° 60.2 18
* yellow - uhf WWCW-DT 21.1 FOX LYNCHBURG VA 260° 30.1 20
* green - uhf WSET-DT 13.1 ABC LYNCHBURG VA 260° 30.4 34
* lt green - uhf WSLS-DT 10.1 NBC ROANOKE VA 261° 59.7 30
* red - vhf WBRA-DT 15.1 PBS ROANOKE VA 261° 60.1 3
* red - uhf WDRL-DT 24.1 IND DANVILLE VA 228° 40.0 41
* violet - uhf WFXR-DT 27.1 FOX ROANOKE VA 261° 60.1 17
* violet - uhf WVIR-DT 29.1 NBC CHARLOTTESVILLE VA 52° 50.0 32

The major stations are in the same direction and grouped around 30 & 60 miles away. WBRA-DT PBS is broadcasting on VHF 3. WSET-DT ABC 13 will be switching it's digital broadcast to upper VHF 13 in 2009.

Tyree, a long range antenna will work fine for the stations at 30 miles. The issue with long range antennas is more for close stations (< 10 to 15 miles) when you add a powerful pre-amp. With a low VHF station, you need a more conventional VHF/UHF combination antenna. The Winegard 7082P and 7084P get a lot of recommendations on this board.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info, guys...

Yeah, all the channels I really want to pick up are in the 260 deg. direction... Roanoke and Lynchburg.

I've been trying to do my homework...you guys have given me a ton of info and websites to learn from.

Looks like that Winegard 7084P and a ChannelMaster 7775 amp are well-recommended buys.

Now I just need to track down a good HDTV PC Card and STB for my two TVs.

Also, there's still that pesky problem of finding a better alternative to an A-B switch to go from cable channels 54-62 to OTA channels. Not sure there IS a better way...but, it sure would be nice!!!

Thanks again!
Matt
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