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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am having some problems pulling in the digital stations from the Philly area. I am hoping someone can give me some trouble shooting advice, as I am not sure where to start with fixing this problem, or if I am simply out of luck. Quick summery of my situation, I live about 45 miles NW of Philadelphia, in Reading. I have an old RS UHF/VHF, medium sized directional antenna mounted 30-40 feet high on top of a barn. I have an old RS pre amp installed (antenna and pre-amp installed by previous tenants about 7-8 years ago) I ran RG-11 from the antenna into my house, probably 250 feet. The barn and its roof are metal. I am using a Zenith 520 & Hughs E86 receivers. I do have some trees, but I am generally above them as far as a line of site.


I can get channels 3,6, & 10 pretty clear, 10 being the worst of the three. Everything above that gets pretty bad, 12,17 & 29 get a picture but pretty fuzzy. 3 is real clear with the exception of some ghosting. I cannot get any sort of signal from any of the digital feeds though, even though antennaweb indicates that I should. Last night channel 26 (cbs digital), was locked on and off but never got a signal above 15-20 on the hughs reciever.


I have several thoughts, but really no idea what the likely cause is.


1. The metal roof is screwing me, and I am out of luck.

2. The pre-amp (or at least the UHF part of it) has gone bad

3. The antenna is not the right kind


I have a bucket truck parked next to the barn for the weekend, so I would like to try all the possible fixes before I abandon this project. There seems to be a wealth of knowledge in this forum, I would greatly appreciate any advise anyone may be able to offer. Thank you in advance.


Brendon
 

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Verify antenna and preamplifier handle both UHF and VHF frequencies and replace if necessary. (VHF-only antennas or preamplifiers wouldn't pass through UHF signals well at your distance.)


The preamp should be attached right up at antenna with its corresponding power supply at the television end of the RG-11 cable. Maybe the power supply is bad or unplugged.


Check your antenna to see if it has 300-ohm screw terminals with a matching transformer into preamplifier. (Your observation that higher channels get snowier could be a clue that the matching transformer has gone bad.) Replace with the best one you can find. Make sure it is waterproof and securely fastened so rain/snow/wind won't torture it.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by brendon
I have an old RS pre amp installed (antenna and pre-amp installed by previous tenants about 7-8 years ago) I ran RG-11 from the antenna into my house, probably 250 feet. The barn and its roof are metal.


I can get channels 3,6, & 10 pretty clear, 10 being the worst of the three. Everything above that gets pretty bad, 12,17 & 29 get a picture but pretty fuzzy. 3 is real clear with the exception of some ghosting. I cannot get any sort of signal from any of the digital feeds though, even though antennaweb indicates that I should. Last night channel 26 (cbs digital), was locked on and off but never got a signal above 15-20 on the hughs reciever.
Odds are good you have a VHF/UHF combo antenna. A reasonable estimate of total length will tell us what kind you have. Unless it's around 190" or longer, it's probably too small for your location. Good replacements would include large Channel Master or Winegard products. If you only want digitals, a UHF-only like the Channel Master 4228 or 4248 would be excellent choices.


Radio Shack's preamp is probably your problem. I'd suggest removing it entirely and see if things don't get better. While their current models have gotten high praise, they were notorious in the past for killing UHF reception rather than improving it. Note that you must remove both the indoor and outdoor units in order to test. Simply unplugging the indoor unit wouldn't be sufficient. If reception improves but not enough, a high-quality preamp like the Channel Master 777x line would be a good selection. Some people have reported good results with the current high-gain Radio Shack preamps so you might want to try one since their return policy is so good.


You don't mention a rotor, but those are usually important. At 45-50 miles, they're probably close enough you won't need to fine-tune for each station, but you *will* want to verify that the antenna is pointed in the optimum direction. (This can be tricky to do alone without a rotor. The best thing to do is use a cell-phone or walkie-talkie to talk to someone looking at the picture downstairs. For best results, try channel 57 since most antennas are most sensitive directionally to the higher frequencies.)


Daylight is the most difficult circumstances to lock onto signals. The sun introduces a fair amount of noise that can knock out a UHF signal after a certain distance. Immediately after sunset, conditions improve and get "good" about 1 hour afterwards. Keep this in mind when trying to pull in digital channels.


With a rotor in Reading, you have a good shot at the Harrisburg/Lancaster/York digitals as well.


Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you for the suggestions. I am heading out know to try some of these suggestions now. Hopefully I can narrow it down. I am hoping it is not the metal roof, but the suggestions do not seem to indicate that as the likely suspect, so that is good. I will let you know how I make out. Thanks again, Brendon
 
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