Kitztech KT200 Coax Preamp Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 36 Old 04-15-2011, 10:00 AM - Thread Starter
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I know that many of you are curious about the Kitztech preamps, so I hope this review will be helpful.
My system is a Winegard 1713, a Winegard 9022, and a CM 7777 preamp.
I was looking to bring a few of my borderline stations "into the daylight", as they usually work fine at night, but not during the day. I figured that I had three options:
1. Double up on my UHF antenna with a vertical gang
2. Buy a better UHF antenna like a CM 4228 or AD 91XG
3. Buy a preamp with a lower noise figure
Options 1 and 2 might help, but both would significantly raise the weight and windage of my rig. On top of that, neither does anything to help VHF (in fact, option 1 would require me to lower my VHF antenna, making it worse). So option 3 seemed like the best way to go, as it would help both UHF and VHF. I ordered the KT-200 with coax-fed power (the most expensive one, with the 0.4 dB noise figure).
When I first installed it, my Winegard 9022 didn't seem to like it at all. Signal levels were fluctuating around like crazy on several UHFs. After making sure it wasn't my downlead coax, I swapped out the 9022 for my vertically-ganged Antennas Direct Clear Stream 4 (2 CS 2's coupled together with equal coax and a splitter). This worked fine, so I re-installed the CM 7777 preamp to get a fresh baseline, then re-installed the KT200. (I plan on revisiting the 9022 when the weather is a bit nicer).
Here is my TV Fool Report-
http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...8d179598d5fa2b

Target: WISN-12 ABC (RF 34, 70 miles, NM -3.2)
Much better at night, and now usable during the day. I was able to watch a complete NBA afternoon game with only minimal dropouts. I really want this station because it is the only un-subchanneled ABC around here, and as such has a way superior PQ. Can't wait for the Indy 500!
Target: WVCY-30 IND (RF 22, 70 miles, NM -7.2)
I don't watch this station, but it was the most improved. Almost dead-solid during the day now. A Pyrric victory.
Target: WMVS-10 PBS (RF 8, 70 miles, NM +4.0)
This station would always hang around 14-16 SNR, and it still does. Very little improvement here, maybe just a touch less likely to drop out at night, but still not useful during the day.
Target: WYIN-56 PBS (RF 17, 75 miles, NM -10.9)
This one was a long shot. It did improve slightly, as it is more likely to grab a lock now, but it still can't hold it. Not much you can do with a NM that low.
Target: WMSN-47 FOX (RF 49, 85 miles, NM -5.1)
One of my most desired fringe stations, there was an improvement in night and day reception, but it's still not quite there for daytime. It does seem to deal with co-channel KLJB better than before.
Target: WBUW-57 CW (RF 32, 85 miles, NM -8.8)
Similar results to WMSN, better both day and night but not quite there for daytime reliability.

As for my channels in the -3 to +10 NM range, they all are better by about a dB or two, which is expected because that is the difference between the noise figures on the amps. Far-off digital stations with closer analog co-channels are decoding much faster, and with less dropouts. Stations with NMs right around zero have improved a lot, as they are now less prone to dropouts from small airplanes crossing the signal path (the glide path for my local GA airport crosses my Milwaukee signal path in a bad way).
Stronger stations above NM +10 were pretty much the same as with the CM 7777, but that's not really unexpected.
Besides the 9022 issue, there is one other observation I have about the Kitztech. When using a less-than-ideal tuner, like the one in my DishNetwork box, the difference between the CM and the KT is negligible. But with a newer, more sensitive tuner, like my Visio TV or Hauppague 950 USB stick, picture was holding much stronger on the KT, even when the SNR would dip below the 15.6 cliff. I think that because the Kitztech is working on the very fine margin, a better tuner is more able to take advantage of the lower noise figure.

So I will not be taking up Mr. Kitz on his money-back guaranty, since there is a noticeable improvement- not much, but an improvement. I haven't had the right conditions to DX with it yet, but I'm hoping it will help reel in a few new stations. I want to try the 9022 again to see if it was a a one-time thing, and I also want to try it with other antenna combinations. The CM 7777 will probably be used for a Rockford-Madison dedicated system, if I ever get that up and running.

In conclusion, I found a small, 1-2 dB improvement in almost all of my stations below NM +10, which matches the difference in the noise figures claimed by Kitz and CM. But these gains are only realized with a better-grade tuner, and a campaign of cable-improvement to make sure that you are not losing any signal on the way down.
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post #2 of 36 Old 04-15-2011, 10:40 AM
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Very nice. I own a KT-200 but have yet to do a side-by-side comparison with the CM7777. I'll probably do my own comparison in the near future.

- Trip

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Comments are my own and not that of the FCC (my employer) or anyone else.

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post #3 of 36 Old 04-20-2011, 06:50 AM
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I see a way to wide bandwidth for OTA. Why up to 1 GHz?
He needs to restrict it to below 700 MHz as there will be too much "stuff" in the newly opened 700 and above bands considering how bad preamp's overload.

It would also be nice to have a VHF high and above version cutting off 170 MHz and below. Since the vast majority of markets do not have any low band stations anymore, coverage from 170 to 700 MHz would be ideal.

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post #4 of 36 Old 04-25-2011, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, after 2 weeks I took down the vertical Clearstream 4 and threw up the Winegard 4400. Boy, does the Kitztech love this antenna- every UHF took a 2 dB jump in SNR.
Most of what I said before still applies. I will be changing a few stations on my RabbitEars reception report from "nighttime only" to "all the time"- WISN-12, WVCY-30, and WBME-49 (all from Milwaukee). WMSN-47 and WBUW-57 out of Madison are still not quite there, but WMSN is almost good enough during the day.
The big winner is WYIN-56, which was working great over the weekend. Even in the middle of the day, it was running a 83% signal level with an SNR of 19 or 20- more than good enough to watch.
I will leave the 4400 up for another 2 weeks to make sure that the results are repeatable.
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post #5 of 36 Old 04-26-2011, 07:26 AM
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Think you would do any better with the larger Winegard 8800? Just curious. I am ready to try this amp but am currently ordering external tuner boxes so will have to wait a few more weeks. Also want to try low noise preamp from Ability TV.
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post #6 of 36 Old 04-26-2011, 08:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerSC View Post

Think you would do any better with the larger Winegard 8800? Just curious. I am ready to try this amp but am currently ordering external tuner boxes so will have to wait a few more weeks. Also want to try low noise preamp from Ability TV.

I've considered it, but my experience with the Clearstream 4 leads me to believe that vertical gangs are better for my location. It's a flat, relatively high plain, about half full of recently built subdivisions. No tall tree or buildings, and no multipath. The nearest full-power transmitters are all over 40 miles away, and they are all at the horizon. So when I hacked the Clearstream into a vertical gang, it has a broad, flat reception pattern as opposed to the stock pattern, which is tall but thin horizontaly.
So, I'm going to ask for another 4400 for Father's Day, and install it under the first one. I plan on trying both combining methods to see which works better.
If you do go with an ultra-low noise amp, make sure you are maxxed out on cable and connector quality- otherwise, you can't realize the improvement.
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post #7 of 36 Old 04-26-2011, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LithOTA View Post

So, I'm going to ask for another 4400 for Father's Day, and install it under the first one.

Before you purchase another 4400 click here to see some antenna comparisons. Click here for comparisons of other models.
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post #8 of 36 Old 04-26-2011, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell R. Breland View Post

Before you purchase another 4400 click here to see some antenna comparisons. Click here for comparisons of other models.

As far as UHF antennas, I would like to see somebody compare the Winegard 9032 and the Antennacraft MXU59. The MXU59 does not get a lot of attention but generally gets good reviews by those who use it.
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post #9 of 36 Old 04-26-2011, 07:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerSC View Post

As far as UHF antennas, I would like to see somebody compare the Winegard 9032 and the Antennacraft MXU59.

I would expect their performance to be similar. For example, look at the results for Antennas Direct 91XG vs. Winegard PR9032. IIRC, the 91XG uses a ½λ balun (no insertion loss) while the PR9032 uses a typical ferrite balun. If the PR9032 test were made using ½λ balun it is possible the performance would have been better than the 91XG.
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post #10 of 36 Old 04-26-2011, 07:54 PM
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Quote:


Before you purchase another 4400 click here to see some antenna comparisons. Click here for comparisons of other models.

Shows how bad those other antennas really are. I'd love to see an original 4228 in the comparison.

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post #11 of 36 Old 04-26-2011, 08:06 PM
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New Channel Master CM-4228HD versus 'Old' CM-4228 here.
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post #12 of 36 Old 04-26-2011, 08:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Overall, the "Nisted" 4228 and the 91XG are probably the best, but they're so heavy. So are the high-gain Fracarros.
I love the 8800's weight, I just wish it would perform like the 4228. I am also itching to try the Summit DBGH that Winetennacraft builds for them.
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post #13 of 36 Old 04-27-2011, 07:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LithOTA View Post

Overall, the "Nisted" 4228 and the 91XG are probably the best, but they're so heavy.

That does not make any sense. The Winegard PR-9032 has a shipping weight of 6.6 lbs., the Antennas Direct 91XG has a shipping weight of 6.5 lbs. while the Winegard HD-8800 has a shipping weight of 8 lbs. The Channel Master CM-4228HD does have a shipping weight of 13 lbs. Making it the heaviest of the group.
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post #14 of 36 Old 04-27-2011, 08:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wendell R. Breland View Post

That does not make any sense. The Winegard PR-9032 has a shipping weight of 6.6 lbs., the Antennas Direct 91XG has a shipping weight of 6.5 lbs. while the Winegard HD-8800 has a shipping weight of 8 lbs. The Channel Master CM-4228HD does have a shipping weight of 13 lbs. Making it the heaviest of the group.

The 9032 is only 3.5 lbs. on the mast. Shipping weight and mast weight are going to be different, especially with Winegard, who ship most antennas in a "long box" as opposed to the CM 4228, which ships in a "flat box". I wish all manufacturers would give a shipping weight and a separate mast weight.
I am pushing the envelope on my "height of mast above the bracket" dimension, so I'm more concerned with weight and windage than most folks.
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post #15 of 36 Old 04-27-2011, 08:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LithOTA View Post

The 9032 is only 3.5 lbs. on the mast.

91XG are probably the best, but they're so heavy

That was the whole point, the Winegard PR-9032 and Antennas Direct 91XG is lighter in weight and both have better performance than the Winegard HD-8800!!
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post #16 of 36 Old 05-09-2011, 09:56 PM - Thread Starter
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After two weeks running the Kitztech on the Winegard 4400, I can report that it works very well on UHF low. WYIN-56 on RF 17 has been almost good enough to call daytime-reliable, when using a good tuner.
I have put back up my biggest UHF, the 9022, and whatever was hurting it when I first installed the Kitztech is no longer in effect. I'm thinking it was a loose connection or something.
The 9022 doesn't do as well on WYIN, but it has brought WMSN-47 on RF 49 to the brink of reliability. It has also upped several Milwaukees by a few points. Again, I will keep it up for 2 weeks to average out the results. After that, I might re-constitute my Clearstream 4 back to stock and see if it likes the Kitz.
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post #17 of 36 Old 05-23-2011, 07:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Two weekends later and I've made the switch. The 9022, like the 4400 and the Vertical C4, showed an improvement of a dB or 2 on my weakling stations. But the 9022 is still picky about preamps, and seems to prefer the Radio Shack 15-321 over the Kitz or the CM7777.
So, I reconstructed the stock Clearstream 4 and threw it up. Right away, bang, it was pumping in some impressive numbers-3-4 dB better than usual, and very clean, with reduced dropouts. WISN-12 and WMSN-47 are two stations that I really wanted and they have been very watchable, even during the day.
This antenna has not been assembled in stock configuration since last fall. I was frankly disappointed with it, especially compared to Winegards that cost one-quarter the price. So that's why I hacked it with the vertical gang, which uses two identical baluns and a splitter. Back to stock, it's using the stock Antennas Direct harness and balun box. I'm thinking that this box is well matched with the C4 and is responding well to the Kitz's ultra-low noise figure. It is also receiving VHF-high a lot better than last year (on RFs 12 & 13).
But it takes time to draw conclusions, so I will leave it up for two weeks, and then conclude this review, as I will be out of antennas to test it on.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LithOTA View Post

Two weekends later and I've made the switch. The 9022, like the 4400 and the Vertical C4, showed an improvement of a dB or 2 on my weakling stations. But the 9022 is still picky about preamps, and seems to prefer the Radio Shack 15-321 over the Kitz or the CM7777.
So, I reconstructed the stock Clearstream 4 and threw it up. Right away, bang, it was pumping in some impressive numbers-3-4 dB better than usual, and very clean, with reduced dropouts. WISN-12 and WMSN-47 are two stations that I really wanted and they have been very watchable, even during the day.
This antenna has not been assembled in stock configuration since last fall. I was frankly disappointed with it, especially compared to Winegards that cost one-quarter the price. So that's why I hacked it with the vertical gang, which uses two identical baluns and a splitter. Back to stock, it's using the stock Antennas Direct harness and balun box. I'm thinking that this box is well matched with the C4 and is responding well to the Kitz's ultra-low noise figure. It is also receiving VHF-high a lot better than last year (on RFs 12 & 13).
But it takes time to draw conclusions, so I will leave it up for two weeks, and then conclude this review, as I will be out of antennas to test it on.

i read your review of kitztech kt200 very nice, Im interested in getting a low noise preamplifier like the kitztech, is this 1 piece or 2 piece unit (mast mounted outdoors) how much did you pay for kitztech ? ebay they have a preamp with lower noise than kitztech http://cgi.ebay.com/HDTV-Preamplifie...item27b9ddb68c looks like its german made any thoughts on this unit
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post #19 of 36 Old 05-24-2011, 08:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by nycdigital09 View Post

i read your review of kitztech kt200 very nice, Im interested in getting a low noise preamplifier like the kitztech, is this 1 piece or 2 piece unit (mast mounted outdoors) how much did you pay for kitztech ? ebay they have a preamp with lower noise than kitztech http://cgi.ebay.com/HDTV-Preamplifie...item27b9ddb68c looks like its german made any thoughts on this unit

I have the two-peice unit. I did have to construct a weatherproof enclosure for it. I bought it directly from Mr. Kitz (I think he builds them himself), it was about $70.
As for the other low-noise amps, there is a British one, but it's like $300. Ability Provisioning in Michigan has their own unit, which features a very cool mast unit- a simple, small coax barrel that connects directly to the antenna's balun output (thereby preserving as much signal as possible), but it's about $180. I have gone with extremely short coax between my antenna and the Kitztech (3 inches) after seeing the Ability design.
And this Kitztech has a noise figure of 0.4, which means that the system noise figure is usually only a little over 1 Db after including cable and balun losses. Now that's cooking with gas!
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post #20 of 36 Old 05-24-2011, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by nycdigital09 View Post

is this [Kitztech] 1 piece or 2 piece unit (mast mounted outdoors)

It's available both ways: KT-200 is the one-piece (inline) version, KT-200-COAX is the two-piece (pre-amp) version.
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post #21 of 36 Old 05-24-2011, 09:18 AM
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Quote:


ebay they have a preamp with lower noise than kitztech http://cgi.ebay.com/HDTV-Preamplifie...item27b9ddb68c looks like its german made any thoughts on this unit

It's basically UHF only. The advertised cellular filters are for European systems and won't provide any filtering for either legacy cellular frequencies or the new LTE frequencies used in North America.

Looks like you'll also need a travel adapter for the power plug.

Tech support for Antennas Direct
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post #22 of 36 Old 05-30-2011, 10:29 AM
 
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not worth the hassle, I stay with hdp 269. I had a link to british preamplifier with low noise of 1.8 db and it was only 13 british pounds. ($21 ) If I find it again i post it. only caveat was that you needed to purchase power supply separetly.
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post #23 of 36 Old 06-26-2011, 04:49 PM
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LithOTA - Any chance you could post photos of the outdoor enclosure you crafted for your KT-200?

I'll be doing the same thing shortly. I'm interested in what box you used, how you mounted the box, and how you kept your penetrations sealed.

Thanks!
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post #24 of 36 Old 06-26-2011, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knnniggett View Post

LithOTA - Any chance you could post photos of the outdoor enclosure you crafted for your KT-200?

I'll be doing the same thing shortly. I'm interested in what box you used, how you mounted the box, and how you kept your penetrations sealed.

Thanks!

I don't have a pic of the final product, but here are two pics of the Hana Cobi box that I used. It's called "lock & lock", and says "dishwasher & microwave safe" and "absolutely airtight".
I just drilled holes on the bottom that match the 2 jacks on the amp, added a ring of Permatex around each, and set the amp in. I also drilled a small hole in the side, and used a short screw and nut to attach it to a conduit hanger (which bolts to the mast or antenna boom). In the third picture, you can see it on the back end of the 91XG's boom (so my cable from the balun is only 6 inches).
So far, the box works great; I have not seen any moisture inside.
LL
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checkout this triax preamplifier, nice specs decent pricehttp://www.scantecshop.co.uk/index.p...Id=486&added=1
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post #26 of 36 Old 09-30-2011, 12:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LithOTA View Post

I have the two-peice unit. I did have to construct a weatherproof enclosure for it. I bought it directly from Mr. Kitz (I think he builds them himself), it was about $70.
As for the other low-noise amps, there is a British one, but it's like $300. Ability Provisioning in Michigan has their own unit, which features a very cool mast unit- a simple, small coax barrel that connects directly to the antenna's balun output (thereby preserving as much signal as possible), but it's about $180. I have gone with extremely short coax between my antenna and the Kitztech (3 inches) after seeing the Ability design.
And this Kitztech has a noise figure of 0.4, which means that the system noise figure is usually only a little over 1 Db after including cable and balun losses. Now that's cooking with gas!

I saw the Kitz website... Is he a "one-man" shop? He builds this out of his house or something?
I wonder why he doesnt make a weather-proof enclosure as well?


But I do like your review.. seems positive... I was contemplating getting a CM 7777 or AD CPA19 or PA18 pre-amp.. but their NF is about 2dB NF.
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post #27 of 36 Old 10-02-2011, 06:21 AM
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LithOTA,
If you haven't already done so, you might want to paint your weatherproof enclosure to protect it from UV, which could cause it to become brittle and crack over time. Krylon Fusion plastic paint works well for this purpose.
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post #28 of 36 Old 10-08-2011, 02:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Trip in VA View Post

Very nice. I own a KT-200 but have yet to do a side-by-side comparison with the CM7777. I'll probably do my own comparison in the near future.

The future is here! The oldish thread grabbed my interest as I happened to have a few extra dollars of discretionary funds, I got the KT-200 COAX system (a power injector and the preamp itself).

Here's the A/B comparison between the KitzTech KT-200 COAX and the ChannelMaster CM-7777 (which was set to COMBINED mode for this shootout). The antenna used was the Winegard 7696P UHF/high-VHF combo and the raw power values (in dBmV) are from a Sencore SLM-1456 signal analyzer.

I have a lot raw data on hand (and I'll post the full numbers if requested) but to keep this concise, I'll limit this to just the gain differential between the KT-200 and CM-7777. The KitzTech beats the ChannelMaster on VHF but, as you see below, UHF is a very different story, especially as the frequencies go higher.

Code:
    
    A: HD7696P_KT-200 FRI 2011-10-07 @20:21
    B: HD7696P_CM-7777 FRI 2011-10-07 @20:11

    CH      A      B   Diff
    ---  ----   ----   ----
     8    9.4    6.6    2.8
     9   12.0    8.7    3.3
    11   15.8   11.4    4.4
    12   -6.6  -11.5    4.9
    14   14.2   17.5   -3.3
    18   -4.1   -1.6   -2.5
    19   17.2   19.8   -2.6
    20   -0.7    1.9   -2.6
    21   -0.8    1.7   -2.5
    23   18.4   22.2   -3.8
    25   -4.9   -1.6   -3.3
    27   -9.0   -6.8   -2.2
    28   -7.7   -3.4   -4.3
    29   12.1   14.3   -2.2
    30   20.2   23.7   -3.5
    31   -4.7   -2.0   -2.7
    32    6.4    8.7   -2.3
    34   -4.6   -1.8   -2.8
    35    1.7    4.1   -2.4
    36   13.0   16.6   -3.6
    39   18.9   23.5   -4.6
    40   19.4   23.4   -4.0
    41   18.2   23.6   -5.4
    42   14.3   18.9   -4.6
    43    9.8   15.0   -5.2
    44    3.1    8.0   -4.9
    45   12.6   16.1   -3.5
    46    7.5   10.4   -2.9
    48   11.9   14.3   -2.4
    50   -2.8    1.5   -4.3
    51  -23.1  -18.8   -4.3
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post #29 of 36 Old 10-08-2011, 07:34 AM
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Interesting.

The raw power values are probably less important than the MER values, however. The KT200 doesn't promise higher gain than the CM7777, it promises a lower noise figure, which should be reflected in the MER value rather than the power. As I recall, the MER on your local stations exceeds the capability of the SLM-1456 to measure, so it may be difficult to do a test of that at your location.

- Trip

N4MJC

Comments are my own and not that of the FCC (my employer) or anyone else.

RabbitEars

"Ignorance and prejudice and fear walk hand in hand..." - Rush "Witch Hunt"

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post #30 of 36 Old 10-08-2011, 07:40 AM
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re_nelson,
Thanks for the comparison. Very helpful.
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