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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Where can I find all the pertinent info with regard to OTA antennas?


In particular, how to choose the best antenna for the area (Torrance,Ca.)?


Google search of the subject is disappointing.
 

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There are two sites:
http://www.antennaweb.org/


and

http://www.titantv.com


You have to give them some info, but I have never gotten any junk mail or Spam from either of them.


They will recommend different antennas. That said, if you plan on using a Hauppauge card or an ATI card (except, I think the 8500DV) you should be aware that to keep noise down from other components inside your PC, they desensitize the tuner. It is no where near as good as your TV or VCR tuner.


To get around that, you should oversize the antenna a bit and/or use a two-stage pre-amplifier. Two stage so you do not amplify noise picked up by the cable coming down the pole and into your house.


You should also use the best coax cable you can afford. It is quite a bit more expensive than the cheap stuff favored by cable companies and landlords since it is sheilded.


I am in a fringe area, 60 miles from the transmitters. Doing what I described above meant that I have a better picture than many people around here that have cable TV. And I can get stations they can't get because the cable company won't. They come to my house and drool.


Take your time, do your homework and you should be alright.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
This antenna feed will be to a MYhd card, when it gets here and I get it set up...


Have you tried any of the "so called" indoor antennas?


What antenna do you use?
 

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I know absolutely nothing about digital reception.


From what I read though, a pre-amplifier can hurt the MyHD more than it can help.


An outdoor antenna wil *always* beat the pants off an indoor antenna. If you can have outdoor, I would not even consider indoor.


The rest of this post is for opinion purposes only and let's me blow off some steam.


I use two(!) antennas because I am in a place where the transmitters are about 120 degrees in different directions. I used to have a nice cheap non-directional antenna which worked pretty well for me. Then the FCC licensed a new FM station which located a tower on top of a high hill about 10 miles from me.


That FM station began giving me fits. It is supposed to be a low-powered (1,000 watts) non-commercial, but it is just like any other commercial station with a 1 song, 3 spot format. Because of that tower location that dinky 1k watter reaches over 40 miles. I could scarcely belive I could pick it up 40 miles away, but I did. A complaint filed by a commercial station competing with it fell on deaf ears at the FCC.


So I had to switch to two, amplified, highly directiona antennas. One is a 109" combo UHF/VHF pointing away from the offensive FM station. The other is an amplified large (30"?) UHF pointing at UHF stations.


I combine the signals right before it hits my tuner card and tweak the attentuation a bit so one signal does not cancel the other out. I must have tried everything, but this works the best.


I had to spend about ~$300 so that one more FM station could be added on a frequency that the FCC knew would cause me some trouble. Only after they licensed the new stations did they "discover" they had screwed up and it was worse than they had guessed, not just for me but for millions similarly affected. I had to poke around in their tech reports and learn all the lingo for days before I discovered the smoking gun "Oops" report.


As far as I am concerned, the FCC's major concern is slicing and dicing money. They represent "the people" about as well as GM does.
 

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There are voluminous threads on the AVS HDTV hardware board regarding OTA HD reception. I even believe there are threads concerning Torrance, specifically. Do a search there for LA OTA or Mt. Wilson OTA or even for Torrance and then stand back.


That said, all LA area DTV broadcasts are UHF and all come from the transmitters atop Mount Wilson. The antennaweb.org site will tell you the exact bearings from your location. Aim your antenna per that bearing. The shorthand version of antenna aiming would be to tune your existing TV to channel 28 and orient your antenna for best reception. That will usually provide the best reception for the DTV stations as well.


For antennas, I believe the general wisdom is to start with the Radio Shack 2-Bay bow tie. This may be sufficient for your location. If you have lots of multipath (ghosting), then the Silver Sensor from Antiference in the UK may work better.


If these don't work, the next step would be a 4-bay bow tie mounted outside. The next step is the Channel Masater 4248 Yagi. The next is the Blake JBX-21 and finally two of the Blakes mounted side by side with a rotor and a means to change elevation as well.


You may will probably find that either the 2-Bay or the 4-bay bowtie is all you need.


Jeff Hipps
 

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Just one question, Jeff.


How would he "try out" all these antennas to see which one worked the best?


Wouldn't he be better off just getting a Yagi (like I have) and be done with it? They are cheap, available at any street corner store and easy to set up.


If things got bad he could use either an attentuator or an amplifier to smooth him over the rough patches.


As I say, I know nothing about digital, but I know it is better to get too much antenna than too little (in most cases).
 

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It really depends on the user. Certainly one could simply purchase the CM 4248, mast, antenna, and rotor, put it on the roof and probably be done with it.


However, some have aversions to external devices. Others run out of money, can't find an installer, etc. And, several retailers, Radio Shack and Fry's come to mind, have liberal trial and return policies that encourage experimentation. (Probably becuase they don't have qualified sales help.)


I actually suspect that all one needs in Torrance is an externally mounted 4-Bay pointed at Mt. Wilson but even a little multipath can change the whole ball game.


Jeff
 

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Do you really need a rotor with digital if you use a Yagi?

I have heard some people say so.


Don't they pick up *anything* off the side?

I am allergic to rotors, you see.
 

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If you're looking to start with an indoor antenna, I'll second Jeff's recommendation for the RS double bow-tie, it's cheap and very easy to experiment with(and returnable if you don't like it). Also do a search regarding modding the twinleads into the antenna, it helped reduce multipath issues for me a lot.


e vey - I don't know much about antennas, but I do know from my own experiences here, when I tried a less directional antenna I had a lot of multipath issues (which results in video/audio breakup with a digital signal). Also I've noticed that the ideal antenna orientation even for the same channel can vary depending on environmental conditions.


PS: maybe this should be continued over in HDTV Hardware, since it really doesn't have much to do with HTPC?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Stereojeff,


The four bay bow tie does work in Torrance, and indoors to boot! Some day soon I'll get it on the roof for, "hopefully", a more reliable signal.
 
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