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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Several years ago I bought a 30" Toshiba widescreen HD ready CRT. I had cable TV and ordered the HD package for an extra $10/ month and watched 6 or 7 channels in HD. Three channels were locals, the others were HBO, ESPN and Discovery.


Cable and internet was $99/ month + $10 for HD. Just over 2 years ago, my cable company, with whom I had been a perfect subscriber for 22 consecutive years, raised my rates to $156/ month + $10/ month for HD. This began the saga of OTA. I dropped cable, kept the internet ($29/ month at 10Mb down/1Mb up service) and bought an Antennacraft MXU59 antenna and a Samsung DTB-H260F HD tuner. I was now OTA digital!


The antenna went in the attic and picked up my locals with occasional dropouts. I added a Winegard AP-8275 preamp. The dropouts lessened, but I had an annoying beeping audio which was most likely digital audio artifacts due to a less than stellar signal.


I added a second Antennacraft MXU59 in the attic pointed at a distant DMA and received a second market of channels, but not quite as well as my locals. I joined the antennas with a common splitter/ combiner prior to the preamp. The preamp output traveled to my second floor bedroom TV, where it was split and continued to the family room TV on the first floor.


My wife really disliked the dropouts and audio hiccups and was against an outdoor antenna. I thought up a devious master plan where I just left everything the way it was until she was so fed up, she would gladly allow a tower. I refused to consider a dish or cable, so we watched TV with dropouts for about 6 months. During that time, I bought a 37" Vizio. The tuner was better than the Samsung 260F and the Samsung 20" HDTV we had in the bedroom. At least the dropouts lessened a bit!


Last November I finally dug a hole 36" X 36" X 48" deep. I bought a Rohn 25G tower setup including (3) 10' sections, a 9' top section, a 10' mast and a house bracket. I assembled the tower, centered it in the hole, plumbed it to vertical and attached it to my house 21' above the ground. I then dumped 4" of pea gravel into the hole and formed a cap using 2X6 lumber to raise the top of the concrete above the ground. I poured the anchor (1-1/3 yards of concrete...about 6,000 lbs once cured) and left it for a week.


During that week, I bought a 91XG and a pair of Funke psp.1922 antennas. Prior to buying and erecting the tower, I spent a lot of time on TVFool figuring the heights these antennas needed to pull in consistant signals. I am on the west side of a large hill and my locals are due east 38 miles away. I needed 33' of height AGL to get over the hill, but the trees add another 80-100' of barrier. The trees are about 200 yds away from the tower, so I added 10' to the total height I wanted and hoped for the best.


I rented a 40' lift and installed the 91XG at 43' AGL. I aimed using the TVFool magnetic direction and a hand-held compass. Local UHF channels lit up the 20" Samsung that I was carrying in the lift with me. Success!


I then repeated this process for the first Funke...although the VHF station I was looking for (channel 11) was currently broadcasting in analog and was not changing to digital until after the switch. The channel was clear with no ghosting after installing the Funke at 37' and aiming with the compass. The 6' between the antennas insured that there would be no interference between them.


I built a stainless steel standoff to hold a second mast (top and bottom) 3' away from the tower as a side mount. This is where I mounted the second Funke. I pointed it to a second DMA that has a pair of VHF channels (7 and 9) which each carry 3 subchannels.


Here is where the setup really begins. After being assured that all antennas worked properly and created enough signal to be useful, I began the real wiring.


First, I bought 500' of RG-6 quad shield, a box of 50 coax 75 ohm connectors and a kit of tools needed to put them together. I also bought a Channel Master CM-7777 preamp and (3) jointennas...channels 11, 16 and 31. The first cable is from the 91XG to the channel 16 jointenna and is connected to the "All Channel" input. This jointenna is output and flows into the UHF side of the 7777 (which is set to seperate uhf/vhf and the FM trap is "IN"). The upper Funke is connected to the channel 11 Jointenna at the "Channel 11" input. The second, lower Funke is connected to this same Jointenna via the "All Channel" input (for channels 7 and 9). This Jointenna is output to the VHF side of the 7777. The 7777 output goes down the tower to a grounding block, then into the house.


I should mention that the grounding block and the tower are both grounded to a pair of ground rods right next to the tower, and also bonded to the main electrical service entrance ground that is about 12' away.


In the attic, I have the pair of MXU59s. the one pointed at my locals is not in use. The one pointed at the second DMA was re-wired using RG-6 quad. The output of this antenna goes directly into the AP-8275 preamp which then helps the signal through the 70' of RG-6 quad from the attic to the basement. In the basement, the tower coax goes into the 7777 power module then out to the "All Channel" side of the channel 31 Jointenna. The attic coax enters the AP-8275 power module and outputs to the "Channel 31" input on the same Jointenna. The output of this Jointenna goes into a 3-way splitter where it is distributed throughout the house to: the Sammy 260F with the Toshiba 30" TV in the basement, the 20" Sammy HDTV in our 2nd story bedroom and to a DTVPal dual tuner DVR attached to the 37" Vizio in the family room.


Everything works perfectly...2 DMAs in opposite directions without a rotor...just change the channel. It took a while, but I found a brand new Blonder Tongue low UHF single channel antenna for channel 16. It cost me $37. I mounted this on the tower and connected the output to the "Channel 16" input on the channels 16 Jointenna. This is the only reach. All channels are at 93-100% at all times, except for channel 16. This is 92 miles away and drops out during the daytime hours lately. At night and during the mornings it is always solid and at least 75%...sometimes as high as 95-98%. I think these new dropouts are due to the stormy summer weather we have had lately.


Here is my TVFool plot:




On this plot, I receive the top 10 channels plus digital channel 31. I also receive analog channel 49 and for the most part, digital channel 16 (at -17 dbm!) I choose to block channel 24 (#11 on the chart) and analog channel 30 is blocked by the channel 31 jointenna. If I rotate, I have received several other channels, but not cosistantly enough to warrant trying to capture them full time.


Here is my tower setup (remember, I have a 5th antenna in my attic!):




and here is the same picture as above, blown up so you can better see the pair of mast mounted Jointennas, the preamp, a better view of the Blonder Tongue channel 16 antenna, and the associated wiring:






This was a fair amount of work and in total, cost me about $1,800. I have a quality setup that works great. I can watch any channel on each of the 3 TVs, plus record 2 other channels, all at the same time, regardless of antenna direction. I could not have done this with a rotor. Also, the rotor would have cost me perhaps $200 less (for a 2 antenna system, tower and rotor) than what I paid. The additional couple hundred $ is well worth it to me.


Bill
 

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Very nice...The only thing I would change is your antenna lead(s) shouldn't be so far out...The wind blows the cable back and forth and can break the shielding...MAY be the cause of your channel 16 dropout...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I don't know...


We have not had a major ice storm since last November, but we have had over 90" of snow, -28F temps and winds in excess of 65 mph (I am on the west side of a hill), and the system has held up very well so far.


Thanks for the comments. Right now we are watching 3 different programs in the house, each coming from a different antenna. We are having no problems with this setup!


Bill
 

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primo antenna farm.


i agree the ends of the coax should be taped to the booms or the tower, the coax shouldn't have movement at the connector. moving coax will loosen the connections, break the coax wires and make them intermittent or fail. no fun redoing the connections in the middle of winter. tape the coax and leave drip loops. you will be glad you did.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
They are quite well taped actually. What you are seeing in the pictures are minimal. The 91XG (top) has about 4' of cable before it is taped. the output is to the rear and I did not want to put a tight bend to the coax, so I looped it in about a 12" radius. The top Funke has perhaps 3' of coax from the box to the first taping. The lower Funke is attached to a side arm 3' off the main tower. Its output is directed towards the tower and is perhaps 4' in length.


All of the cabling seems quite rigid. The connectors (at the jointennas) are all high grade compression fittings (Paladin) and are protected by a rubber boot with a double layer of coax seal on top. All 3 of these terminate at the antenna as bare wire held in place by a loop and screw in balun boxes made by the antenna manufacturers. They are held in place first by the tightening screw, then the locking loop, then by the box exit opening itself.


I will look into better cable security, but the picture is at an angle that seems to make the cabling look much farther away than it really is.


Thank you for the comments and keep them coming!


Bill


EDIT: Looking at the closeup, you can see orange (UV resistant exposed commercial construction) electrical tape. Higher up, there is both black and silver electrical tape holding the cabling. I used tape every 2-3 feet on the mast and the tower.
 

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i think 3 or 4 feet of coax is too much before securing it. if you can see the coax move in the wind between its last attachment point and the connector then it is too loose. about 1 foot between attachment and connector is what I would have at the most.
 
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