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-   -   San Francisco, CA - OTA (https://www.avsforum.com/forum/45-local-hdtv-info-reception/369015-san-francisco-ca-ota.html)

JeffNebraska 02-19-2004 02:11 PM

San Francisco, CA - OTA
I'm thinking of upgrading to an HDTV and have some questions for those getting OTA HD in the Bay Area.

I live in Berkeley and it looks like while I get most of my networks from SF, I need to also point toward San Jose, 57 miles away, to get NBC. I've been looking at the Channel Master antennaes, but I can't tell if you have one station in the blue range and the rest in the green or yellow ranges, whether you can just point your directional antennae at the blue and pick everything else up off the rest of the antennae, or whether you'd need two directionals or one that can point in two directions.

Also, on antennaeweb, it has a column that's supposed to read "live now" for digital channels that are being broadcast, yet none of the bay area channels say "live now." Most are blank. I take it for granted that the digital broadcasts are available right? You can't get HDTV from an analog broadcast, can you, and I know that's available OTA. Also, I assume that all the digital channels are UHF, so I need to buy the antennae that can reach 60 miles on UHF to get NBC, don't I?

If I go the HD route, I'll be using Directv plus OTA, so I will need to get all the networks in HD to really make the investment worthwhile (as directv will give me either none, or only CBS HD). I'd appreciate if anyone in Berkeley, Oakland, Albany, etc. can sound off on their OTA experiences.

Thanks for the input.

UPDATE: I was asked to add the info below to my post. I now live in a hilly area in Oakland and can't get OTA reception any more. Too bad for me.

Viewers in the San Francisco Bay Area will find the following sites very useful for finding local digital stations:

Bay Area DTV - HDTV Channel List - http://www.choisser.com/sfonair.html

FCC DTV Reception Maps - http://www.fcc.gov/mb/engineering/maps/

Locate TV stations available at your address and compute expected signal strength and directions -

JeffNebraska 02-19-2004 06:11 PM

Off the first page with no love at all?

mnmoore 02-19-2004 08:12 PM


I live in Oakland and have had OTA high-def running for about a year now.

The nice thing about the east bay is that Sutro is an easy shot. All the digital channels coming off of Sutro are UHF. I have a Channelmaster 4-bay bowtie that gets plenty of signal (and is nice and small to boot).

NBC is the trick, though. At first I tried pointing a combo antenna at Loma Prieta (KNTV), hoping for enough signal from Sutro to get everything. Didn't work, on either count. KNTV digital is VHF, actually, at channel 12, unlike most DTV stations.

After some more research, I wound up with a 10-element channel-cut (for channel 11, but 12 is close enough) Winegard Yagi pointed at KNTV, merged (with a clever box called a join-tenna, basically a band-pass/notch filter/combiner in one) with the UHF antenna pointed at Sutro. They share a ten-foot mast on my roof. Works quite well, with only the rare hiccup.

Both antennas and the jointenna were purchased in San Jose at a shop called Schad electronics. There may well be a closer place to get this stuff, but I like to drive more than I like to make phone calls.

I should mention that I am in the Oakland "foothills" so I have enough vertical elevation to get (I think) line of sight to Loma Prieta. Depending on your local topography getting KNTV may be impossible.

Another option is Comcast HDTV, which (if available in your area) now carries pretty much everybody (they're adding CBS shortly, I think).

Yet another thing to think about - KNTV is working with the FCC to move its antennas to Sutro, so this all may get a lot easier. Also, the local Telemundo affiliate (owned by NBC) with an antenna on Mount Allison (Fremont area) is apparently providing KNTVs DTV feed on its second channel, again to provide wider coverage. I haven't tried this as Loma Prieta works for me.

There you go, pretty much everything I know about HDTV in the east bay. Whew! Hope it helps.

WillyG 02-19-2004 09:54 PM

I've found KNTV on Sutro with the channel 48-2. Unfortunately, I don't get guide data for it, but I can watch HD NBC. I'm not sure off hand what frequency it's being brodcast in, but definitely UHF band. Antennaweb doesn't list it, however.

Along those lines, does anyone know any ways to alias a station on the Samsung TS-160 or transfer guide data?

mnmoore 02-19-2004 10:09 PM

48-2 is the Telemundo simulcast. In Mountain View you are probably close enough to Mt. Allison that an antenna pointed at Sutro will still do the job.


Phloyd 02-19-2004 11:37 PM


Originally posted by mnmoore
In Mountain View you are probably close enough to Mt. Allison that an antenna pointed at Sutro will still do the job.

I am also in Mtn View and NBC off channel 12 is the strongest signal I get

It takes 2 antennae, but with a channel 12 combiner there is no need to switch antennae...


mike1650 02-25-2004 07:24 PM

I don't get it. I am in Sunnyvale and last week I was watching NBC HDTV on 10 or 12, now nothing. Did something change?

Larry Kenney 02-26-2004 02:08 AM

Just a couple of quick updates for you.

KNTV has applied to the FCC to move their channel 11 and 12 transmitters to Mt. San Bruno, not Sutro Tower.

KNTV's programming on channel 49.2 (virtual 48.2) is probably listed in your guide as KSTS-Telemundo. That's the main channel on 49.1 (48.1) and KNTV is just hitching a ride.

For a complete guide to all of the stations that are on the air in Northern California, including transmitter channel, virtual (PSIP) channel, call letters, network, transmitter location and more, check out my web site:

There are also lots of other HDTV information pages and links at:

San Francisco

tn1 04-01-2004 10:54 PM

Is there any way to pick up HD NBC from Berkeley using an indoor antenna? I currently have the Zenith ZENAA1 amplifier and haven't been able to pick up the NBC station from San Jose.

Larry Kenney 04-05-2004 02:17 AM

I doubt that you'll be able to get either NBC channel from Berkeley with an indoor antenna. You'll need something on your roof to get either 12.1 or 49.2 as both are in San Jose.


GX-Alan 05-02-2004 03:01 PM

I'm in the Inner sunset area of San Francisco. Has anyone had success getting NBC on 48.2 with a Silver Sensor? Or should I be looking into a quad-bow tie setup?

Larry Kenney 05-05-2004 10:32 PM

You'll probably have trouble getting NBC from the inner Sunset no matter what antenna you use. The channel 12 transmitter is on Loma Prieta Mountain south of San Jose and the channel 49 transmitter is on Mount Allison in the hills above Fremont. In both cases there are a lot of hills between you and the transmitters.

Good luck!


ralfwolf 05-11-2004 12:27 PM

It looks like you have two options. Either get a single large UHF antenna with a good beamwidth and try to pick up sutro (which is close) and Mt. Allison which is about 33mi away or buy one large vhf antenna for ch12 and one small uhf antenna. Sutro should be very easy for you to pick up unless there are some major obstructions. Bridges can cause reception hell in very localized spots so check with neighbors.

If I were you, I would try the single large uhf. Buy a CM4228 or WineGard HD9095p. Both have high gain but their patterns are a bit different. The 9095 is a yagi/corner_reflector which has a very interesting rear gain profile especially if tilted up slightly. According to antennaweb, Mt Allison is approx 124 deg at 33mi and Sutro is approx. 222 deg at 13mi. If you angle your antenna slightly up from horizontal and point it directly at Mt Allison, you get very similar gain forward toward Mt Allison and a nice gain profile from 100 deg to about 260 deg (see link below) which should be more than enough to pick up Sutro. You can also try this with the 4228 but it looks like the 4228 has more nulls expecially behind which can be tricky to find the right angle.

The only reason to consider option 2 (big VHF with small UHF) would be if there were mountains, trees, or buildings at 120-140degrees since Mt Allison and Loma Prieta are in the same general derection.. VHF has better defraction characteristics which may make it easier to pick up if there are unavoidable obstructions.

See here for gain plots and other info:

Good luck.

4yanx 05-11-2004 01:34 PM

I am in Saratoga. In the flat area of Saratoga, but still surrounded by some pretty monsterous trees. My FM reception is poor compared to where I lived previously - just about 2 miles away. All web tests indicate that I would need a large antenna. Wonder if it is worth trying a OTA antenna or just wait until DirecTV puts out more digital channels.

cody21 05-11-2004 02:04 PM

Indoor antennaes just flat didn't work for me. (Stucco house) I ended up buying a cheap ($25) outdoor roof-top antennae from Radio Hack and a 15' pole and got it as high as I could. I am able to pick up all the major networks just fine (signals of 90-100) - and I'm further away than you are - and I do NOT have lne-of-sight.

ralfwolf 05-11-2004 02:17 PM

There's no guarantee that D* will ever have all of the networks in HD and they may not be local (like CBS now) if they do. If you can find a 4228 at Fry's like I did, you can try it out and return it if it doesn't work. I'm actually not all that far from you (west San Jose near Prospect and Saratoga) and I've got some big trees all around as well. I get solid signal for 14+ stations including all of the networks. I get NBC on 12 eventhough I don't even have a VHF antenna. I have a great signal on all of the sutro stations. I need to rotate it a bit more north to get better reception of Mt Allison though. If you can, get up to the roof with a compass and check line of sight at around 320 degrees. Walk around the roof because you can often fine gaps between trees or buildings.

4yanx 05-11-2004 02:52 PM

Thanks, Ralfwolf, I will give that a try. I'd like to be able to combine FM in there, too.

ralfwolf 05-11-2004 04:20 PM

The problem with our area and FM is that we've got stations all around us. There is no single direction to point the antenna. So it's either getting a special omni directional FM antenna or choosing which stations you want to receive (or a rotor).

I bought an AC9 to pull in VHF/FM since it is less than $25 shipped. I was planning to point it to Loma Prieta now and if they get the ok to move to San Bruno, I would then turn it in that direction. That was my plan before mounting the 4228 and finding out that I can get ch 12 right now fine with no vhf antenna. So, I may just point the AC9 toward SF and use it as an FM antenna since two of main the stations my wife and I listen to most are up there. Those in SJ we can get with an indoor.

Go to the fcc site to get information about the fm station you listen to:

To see the location on a map:
1. Enter the call sign and click "Submit Data"
2. Click on the station call sign
3. Click on "Region Map"

badabing8888 05-11-2004 05:02 PM

I am new to the HD world and I just cant wrap my hands around this OTA stuff. Any help would be appreciated. I live in Livermore in a single story home. Antennaweb says I am 39 miles away from Sutro tower.

I am stuggling as to what type of antenna I should try. I think to start, I just want to try and focus on picking up ABC, CBS, FOX and not worry about NBC (just confuses me).

Given that, have any recommendations on antennas for being 40 miles away with a few tall trees in the general direction I would need to point the antenna?

Anyone else in Livermore successful in picking up Sutro tower?

ralfwolf 05-12-2004 05:44 PM

Larry Kenney has a great site that has a bunch of info. You should check it out. He posted the url above but here it is again:
http://www.choisser.com/sfonair.html - list of stations and were they broadcast from
http://www.choisser.com/broadcst.html - links to some very good information

There is a survey at this site that you can check out to find others in your area and what they are seeing. Of course, the best way is to ask neighbors or try it out yourself. Here's his survey page:

I found the antenna info link that I posted earlier (http://www.hdtvprimer.com/ANTENNAS/types.html) off of his site.

Les H 05-17-2004 07:09 AM

The difficulty with over-the-air TV reception, especially in an area with many hills and mountains like the Bay Area, is that it is extremely location-specific.

At your house you may get nothing, and a nearby neighbor could get everything. And there could be every permutation in between these extremes.

One of the key questions is whether you have direct view of the transmitters or if you have obstructions in between you and the transmitters (obstructions are common in the Bay Area). Then the questions are how high are the obstructions, how close are they to you, and what are they (metal or dirt).

Likewise, there can be one location on your property, and one height of your antenna, at which you get good reception and another location/height at which you get poor reception.

Also, the particular antenna you use can affect the results.

The bottom line is that you may have to be prepared for a fair amount of trial and error of different locations/heights/antennas. You may put something up and get lucky the first time and have it work fine. You may not.

In my case, I've been through a dozen antenna installations on my property (in the difficult East Bay behind mountains) with widely varying results. I currently use two antennas at two locations/heights to get all the Sutro stations and Sacramento stations. Also, reception can be affected by many other factors, such as time of day, time of year, and airplane flight patterns.

In Livermore you may have better luck getting the Sacramento stations than the San Francisco stations, depending on your particular location.

The best approach would be to start with something simple and inexpensive and see how it works. You can try different locations and heights. If needed, you can increase the cost and complexity if needed (in my case I use two horizontally stacked yagi's to reduce multipath).

You can hire someone with the proper equipment to conduct a site survey at your location to determine feasibility of reception and the best location/height, or you can experiment yourself.

Hope this helps.

ISF Certified Video Calibrator

IVB 05-25-2004 01:27 AM

Anyone have recommendations for where in SF/oakland to buy channel master/winegard antenna's?

I live in Rockridge [flatland section of oakland], and work in SF. Just got an EDTV, gotta get on the full HD bandwagon...

GregF 05-26-2004 07:03 PM

Holy Macaroni! Somehow I could never find this 49.2 but there it is. I pray I'll be able to tune this is in during the mysterious times I cannot pull in 11.1. Thank you.

GregF 05-26-2004 07:05 PM

Am I the only person that watches Smallville in HDTV here in the Bay Area? It looks awful on my system but no one else ever responds when i bring it up on other threads.

IVB 06-04-2004 12:52 AM

Well, I'm putting up my CM4228 this Sunday. Assuming it all works and the HTPC card also works, maybe - well, no, i still don't think I'll watch it

IVB 06-07-2004 10:58 PM

For archival purposes, I live in the flatlands of Rockridge[oakland], and put up a CM4228 on a 10' mast on top of my house. About 10deg up from horizontal. I'm using my HTPC and the ATSC tuner on my Fusion3HDTVGold card to tune the stations. I may/not check this forum that often, so in addition to responding to this post, please PM me if you have a question.

I am able to tune with the following signal strengths as of this moment in time:
Digital 2[KTVU] 100% 32.6dB
Digital 4[KRON] 100% 29.5dB
D5(KPIX) 100% 29.5dB
D7(KGO) 98% 26.5dB
D9(KQED) 100% 29.5dB [and my fav - dang there's good stuff here]
D20(KBWB)87% 23.5dB
D26(KTSF) 100% 32.6 dB
D38(KCNS/shop-at-home) 100% 27.8
D43(KCSM) 100% 27.8
D45(UPN) 100% 29.5
D47 70% 19.1dB
D65(PAX) - 98% 26.5
D66(??) 100% 32.6

Can't quite get D35(??) 16% 3.2dB

There was one more, but it was a foreign language one and I deleted it out of my guide and can't remember which one it was. I also get the following analog channels:

Rack 06-08-2004 07:17 AM

My friend just moved out to Palo Alto, so I've been seeing what channels he should get at his location.
I don't see KNTV, the NBC affiliate in San Jose, in your list.
You must be waiting on that cut-to-channel 12 yagi.

IVB 06-08-2004 10:52 AM

Actually, in August [by olympics] they're moving to San Bruno mountain, which is about 15 miles away from me and only a few degrees over. Hence, I'm currently on the "pray that the CM4228 can get both with maybe some slight repositioning" plan.

Your buddy should have no issues with KNTV, though, the lucky bum. My wife thinks OTA HD is phenomenal, but almost every show she watches is on NBC.

fizbin 06-08-2004 11:04 AM

In the Oakland hills with a direct view of Sutro tower and a Zenith Silver Sensor buried in a wooden footlocker on the first floor of a three story house, we get the following:

KRON-DT - Independent
KTSF-DT - Independent
KKPX-DT - Independent
KCNS-DT - Independent

No KNTV NBC, either on the primary or alternate (48-2) feeds. Currently we have three options for getting HD NBC in our house:

1. Wait for KNTV to move their transmitter to Mt. San Bruno and hope the Silver Sensor works.

2. Wait for NBC to cut a deal with DirecTV to provide a national HD feed (similar to the CBS deal)

3. Test drive more powerful antennas to try to pick up the current KNTV feed.

We only regularly watch two network shows (Letterman and Arrested Development), neither one of which is broadcast in HD or on NBC, so our motivation to get HD NBC is very low.

However, as a huge track and field fan I am highly motivated to get this working prior to the Olympics. Or at least I was highly motivated until yesterday. That was when I came across the thread discussing NBC's decision to broadcast all Olympic HD with a 24 hour delay. With that I have lost all interest in lifting a finger to get HD NBC.

Saves me a bunch of money for a new plasma and HD TiVo that were going to part of my Olympic upgrade, though!

fizbin 06-08-2004 11:09 AM

Originally posted by IVB
Actually, in August [by olympics] they're moving to San Bruno mountain . . .


The last I heard (in a local paper a few days ago) the move to Mt. San Bruno was far from a done deal. Apparently the owner of the tower there has booted (one of) the current tenants (KCSM) to make room for KNTV, but the FCC was still reviewing the deal and KRON and KTVU were both seeking to block this move. Based on that I would not hold my breath about getting this done in time for the Olympics.

Or maybe you have other/better info that you can share???

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