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Dear Forum:


The questions for today are about antennas and their installation, as follows:


I live in downtown Boston, on Beacon Hill ( and high on the hill, with full rooftop access and a basically unobstructed view). The 4 towers in Needham (10-20 miles to the west) broadcast the networks and most of the locals. Antenna installers have recommended a directional antennal with a rotor. With luck, the rotor will require little or no adjustment for my normal channels. (I have tried a cheap inside set-top antenna and it is not strong enough.) All of this sounds fine.


My questions are as:


SIGNAL DISTRIBUTION: If I want to connect 4 TVs (a combination of standard, medium, and high definition sets), there is concern that a 4-way splitter will yield too low of a signal. Should I:

1>Do homeruns from the antenna to each set (this is not easy).

2>Do one homerun to my HD Plasma, and a second run to a splitter for the other three sets.

3>Use some kind of line amplification to offset the effect of the splitters.



WIRES: The interior of the house is currently wired with dual-coax (two coax cables to each set for a and b channels) from Cable Vision. I believe this is less than RG6 (maybe RG5?). There is a central distribution location where the CAVT wire comes in from the outside, and splits to the TVs. It is easy for me to get to this distribution point with my antenna cable. Thus, signal distribution over the existing coax is easiest. But…

1>If the wire won’t carry a sufficient signal, I can do additional new-wire homeruns, if necessary.

2>What wire should I use?

3>Is the answer different for the Plasma, vs. the lower definition sets?



TUNERS: Based upon your prior information, I will wait to get one of the Samsung STBs for the plasma. With regard to the other tvs:

1>For my 27’ Sony Wega high-quality analog set, should I just use the TVs antenna input with no tuner? I am told that it will not handle a HD signal. It there a benefit to an external tuner (assuming I am not using DitectTV)? By using a tuner, could I get DVD quality signal, vs. what I now see over my analog cable, which is poor?

2>For my Panasonic 15†LCD TV (600x800 I think), same question. This set has a built in tuner.

3>For my 12†Sharp (non-Equos) LCD (400x600 I think), same question. This also has a built in tuner.



ANTENNA ROTOR: Do you know if any rotors can be controlled via IR, etc from multiple rooms?



ANTENNAS: Do I rely on an antenna installer and/or dealer to pick an antenna, or do I want more control over the selection?


I think that is it for today.


Thank you, once again.


--Caleb
 

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For news wires, it would be best to use RG6 Quad shield with crimped connectors. You can buy cable, connectors, and crimping tools at U-Do-It Electronics in Needham, Mass.


Try using the existing cable wires. If they are not good enough replace them with RG6 Quad shield. If you don't want to risk having the installer come back, and don't want to do the wiring yourself, then put in RG6 Quad shield in place of the cable wires. Obviously if the cable wire is already RG6 Quad shield then leave it there.


Use one wire from the antenna to a quality 4 way splitter. Monster Cable sells some. I think Channel Master ones are decent. Don't use cheap Radio Shack or Gemini splitters like you buy at K-Mart.


You may not need a video distribution amp. You are in town. Most of the towers are maybe 10-15 miles away. Try without it. If you need an amp you can always add it later. That should be easy for you to do yourself without needing an installer. I think you would put it in front of the splitter.


For antenna advice search the HDTV forum. People have specific advice on antennas. You should probably buy the antenna, and then either install it yourself or have an installer do it.


The antenna rotor I have uses a cable from a control box up to the motor. I don't know if there are wireless designs that would let multiple rooms control the antenna.


One source of antennas, amps, etc. is www.starkelectronic.com. They are located in Worcester, MA.


Good luck on your installation.
 

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For your Tuner question, for the analog TV's use their built-in tuners.


As the previous post said use the existing wire first and a 4-way splitter with no amp and see how it looks. If you do need an amp I would suggest using a pre-amp at the antenna, it should provide enough and will be lowest noise. Try the Channel Master 7777.


If your existing coax is RG59, and you use RG6 coming from the antenna, do not attach RG6 directly to RG59, there is a slight impedance mis-match between the 2 that will cause reflections. Use RG6 from the antenna and attach it to the Splitter input and use the RG59 attached to the output of the splitter. The splitter will Balance the slight difference in the 2 types of coax.


For an antenna, you sound like you are in a good location, but get a little larger antenna than you think you need, extra can help and it should not cost much more.


Good Luck and let us know how it goes.
 

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Caleb,


I assume you need a VHF/UHF antenna so that you can cover the analog as well and the digital channels. I use the Channel Master 4242 at 30 miles. Some might say that is over kill, but the antenna is not all that big. I don't think you will need a rotator if what you normally watch is all from the same location. If you do decide to use one the Channel Master remote model is IR and you could use IR extenders to control the rotator.


About distribution, if you want to use the existing cables, it should work even if it is RG59 if you use a good low noise distribution amplifier. CM has a good one that will support 4 TVs. I use two of them. If you replace the RG59 with RG6 you could get away with a 4 way splitter. I would not use a preamp - you are two close to the transmitters and could overload the preamp. That can be a killer. With your height, I would doubt you would have a serious multipath problem. If you want to go digital on all the TVs Samsung will love you and maybe you only need a good UHF antenna.

vdc
 

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If you can put the antenna on the roof where it has a clear unobstructed shot at the transmitting towers 10-20 miles away, you're 90% there. the rest is just details.


If the towers are all in the same direction you could get away with not using a rotor; certainly for the digital stations. For analog reception, you may still want to "fine tune" each channel, I suppose.


Which channel numbers are you trying to receive?


For signal distribution, bringing one cable down to a central point and splitting from there is just fine. You gain nothing by individual home runs from the antenna itself.


The existing CATV cables are probably RG-59, the standard for CATV installations. This will be fine for VHF, and may be OK for UHF channels as well. If not, you can just add a signal distribution amplifier.


Do NOT use a mast-mounted pre-amp. These are easily overloaded, and you already have plenty of singal strength.


Try just a passive 4-way splitter. If you have snowy pictures on analog, especially at higher channels, you can replace it with at 4-way distribution amplifier. Something like a Channel Master 3044 would work.


Rotor controller boxes are IR-controlled. They can be controlled from other rooms by the usual IR-extension means (see Home Integration Forum here).


The Samsung is a good HD tuner choice. For the other TV's, that you only want to receive analog stations on, there's no reason not to use their built-in tuner. The picture won't be quite DVD-quality, but it should be alot better than the typical CATV signal.
 
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