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tv antenna

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by chrisasst, Apr 11, 2011.

  1. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    anyone have a good tv antenna that you would like to recommend and you live out in the country? I was looking at RCA ANT1650 Flat Digital Amplified Indoor TV Antenna. Seems to have good reviews, but I am not 100% sold on it. any suggestions

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  2. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    That may depend a lot where you are living compared to the stations you want to receive. I would suggest checking here first which type of antenna may be suitable in your situation:
    http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/welcome.aspx
    Just to give you an idea what a crapshot it can be: We had an old RCA antenna which worked for most stations in our area but not all. I bought an amplified Phillips thinking it may be better. In fact, it was way worse and I put it in the closet. Then we moved just about 10 miles south. Now the RCA antenna does not get anything but just by chance I tried the Phillips again and get about half of the stations.
    I am considering putting up a roof antenna but we are not watching much tv anyway.
  3. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    "Good" is a relative term, and all depends on what channels are potentially available in your area.

    I've got many antennas installed in central New York and also in northern Michigan. In both areas, reception greatly improved after the digital changeover - but there is much to know.

    I get many channels perfectly from 80 miles way - with mountians and woods inbetween.

    You need to know if you want to get VHF low, VHF high, or UHF. All need different antennas.

    Many channels switched bands and some even changed transmitter locations - so you can base your info on how things used to be.

    Go to a place like : http://www.tvfool.com/
    Click on "TV signal locator" and then type in your address or GPS co-ords. It will tell you what is available.

    I live 50 miles from the nearest transmitter of any sort. If you live in Cortland, that is much more closer by.
    If all you want is the strong and close channels, just about and small amplited antenna will work as long as it's combo-VHF/UHF. If you want distant channels, you must have a large antenna. A Winegard HD8200 is about the best large combo unit. You'd also need a 26-30 dB LNA (antenna signal amp).

    You've got about two strong VHF channels in your area - RF channels 6 and 7.
    Near a dozen strong UHF channels - RF 19, 24, 44, 20, 25, 47, 16, 17, and 18.

    Just keep in mind that digital channels each usually have two numbers - the real RF channel and the fake "virtual" channel that they identify themselves with. So, RF19 shows up as channel 68 Fox, and RF 24 shows as 3.1 NBC, and RF 44 shows as 43.1 MyN, etc.
  4. dvellone

    dvellone Feeling the Heat

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    I live in the Adirondacks of upstate NY - heavily wooded and hilly terrain - around 40-45 miles minimum from broadcasting stations and I purchased this antenna:

    http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?mc=03&p=91XG&d=Antennas-Direct-91XG-UHF-TV-Antenna-(91XG)&c=TV Antennas&sku=853748001910 and an amp.

    As important as the antenna if you're a ways from the broadcasting station is a good quality amplifier (read: not radio shack)

    With the antenna and amp we're able to receive all the stations within receivable range. This antenna is uhf specific which almost all stations are broadcasting in, but we do receive one from a good distance that's still pushing a vhf signal. The antenna will receive the vhf signal better when pointed the opposite direction- vhf is stronger than uhf. Check your stations to see if they're broadcasting uhf or vhf.

    This antenna came recommended by a neighbor who owns an electronics store and did his research before getting his. He's farther than me from the stations and yet receives them all well.
  5. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    Not entirely true. Yes a good amp is needed in fringe areas. Not true that all Radio Shack amps are bad or inferior.

    I've tested every major brand high-gain amp sold in the USA as well as two, very exspensive ultra-low-noise British amps.
    That included the dual-input Channel Master and the highest dB Winegard.

    The 30dB gain Radio Shack amp actually made by Antenna Craft worked as well as the other leading models. Even better for some channels since it has an ajustable gain control.

    Being in the Adirondacks has nothing to do with it. The terrain varies all over the park as it does in other areas.
  6. PJF1313

    PJF1313 Member

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    When I was working at Rat Shak in H.S., moons ago, their amps seemed like they where flying out the door. Got to talking to some of the costumers about them, and they would almost always say that where great in pulling in UHF and Low VHF at the time.
    But, we are going 30+ years back tho.... I suspect now, like anything else, they are made in China. I remember at the time, depending on model, they where either made in Japan or Taiwan.

    EDIT - The area I was in at the time was about 35 miles ENE of NYC, and 30-some-odd miles from CT.
  7. dvellone

    dvellone Feeling the Heat

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    Being in the Adirondacks has a great impact on reception. Between the heavy forest cover and mountains there is much to inhibit reception, and this is a point I brought up to illustrate how well our antenna was working for us. Antennaweb.org actually predicts no reception at all for our location and yet we're pulling all the available signals.

    As far as radio shack amps go I'll stick with my opinion. My brother was an electrical engineer for Phillips and they used to run tests on amps and found that radio shack amps often were so poorly built that many didn't function at all. I learned this after we had purchased one and it didn't boost our signal at all and I called him for help. Maybe they've changed their quality control in the past few years or offer models made by a higher quality manufacturer.
  8. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    us. Antennaweb.org also says I don't get stations, but find that hard to believe...
  9. colebrookman

    colebrookman Minister of Fire

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    We use the Winegard platinum series antenna with their amp and we've had good results. We also have a rotor which, at least for us, is needed. WE get 40 or more channels by turning the antenna but usually go back to 10 or less favorites. My neighbor a half mile away has the same antenna but gets different channels. Go figure. Be safe.
    Ed
  10. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    The title of "Adirondacks" has little specific meaning. I live at two different areas in the Adirondack park summer and fall. It is a huge place with terrain that varies greatly. The "Adirondack Park" today is bigger and not the same size as when first established. There is much more foothill-type and flatter land in it, then as is was when originally created. I camp all over the park and in some areas - can get over a dozen channels perfectly from a hand-held portable antenna. Especially when near Watertown and Utica. To the converse, I know of many places in Hamilton County that even with a 50 foot tower only one PBS station can be received.

    There are many places in rural NY outside the park that have the same receoption problems. The Catskills and the Applachians block signals for many.

    No matter where you are - you need to know what is where and on what specific wavelength. Line-of-site is not always needed since TV signals reflect and bounce. Different types of antennas work better with different types of reception. For example, often when trying to receive signals with mountains in the way, signals deflect, split, and come in as multiples. If you have a wide-beam antenna these "multiples" can fight each other and ruin a signal. In the old analog days, they would create ghosts on the screen. With digital, they can totally ruin the signal.

    In regard to claims made by electric engineers? Just like anything else, claims and engineers vary. My son is a communications engineer and designs military antenna systems. That being said, he is no expert when it comes to over-the-air digital TV.

    The best information on the subject is from those that have actually installed and used equipment out in the field. That usually means installers - NOT engineers and not electronic sales people.

    Radio Shack is just a reseller. They sell some great, some mid-range, and some bad. Who doesn't? The 30 dB amps that Radio Shack has sold - with adjustable gain and indoor switched FM trap have been great. They are made by the Antenna Craft Company. Do you really think they are somehow better when boxed with just the Antenna Craft label instead of Radio Shack Archer label?

    With the last run of amps I tested - ALL the major name-brand amps sold in the USA are made in China. The high-priced ultra-low-noise British amps are actually made in the UK - but with many Chinese components.

    Say what you want. I've installed many and tested many with over a dozen different new antennas - in many types of terrain. I've seen what has worked and what hasn't. That being said, no two places are going to be exactly the same. Also, the chip in the TV tuner can make a huge difference.

    There is a lot to know depending on specifices. Antenns beam width, noise versus gain with amp, decision to install stand-alone antennas, or gang them, or stack them, choice of RG6 or RG11 co-ax,etc. etc.

    I have tested the following in fringe and strong-signal areas - in the middle of New York mountains and out in flatter northern Michigan.

    Amps - Radio Shack Archer 10G212 - 30 dB max adjustable gain - made by Antenna Craft. Best buy I've ever found.
    Antenna Craft or Radio Shack 10G202 - 29 dB gain, not adjustable
    Channel Master 7777 is VHF 23 dB and UHF 26 dB gain. Considered the Cadillac of amps and made in China.
    Winegard AP-8275 amp is: VHF 29 dB and UHF 28 dB gain. Also considered top-of-the-line by many installers.
    Research Communications (England) # 9253 is 23 dB gain UHF with .6 ultralow-noise.

    Those are the highest rated amps I've tested, but I've also used many others. My favorite -the Radio Shack 30 dB amps were seling under the Antenna Caft label for $28 each. A real bargain. To the converse - the ultra-low noise British amp cost $350.

    I've also tested many antennas. Installed as stand-along, stacked, and ganged. No antenna is best for all situations. The Winegard HD8200 is the best for general overall reception for fringe areas.

    Tell me about what YOU have actually installed and tested.
  11. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    Just moving 10 feet sideways, up or down can make a difference. Signals also can change hourly, daily, by the seasons, etc. Especially if near mountains.

    One big problem with rotators - with certain TVs - is the tuners that do not allow mulitple scans when pointing at different directions. Those tuners can make it difficult to get all the channels registered.
  12. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

  13. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    anyone have one of these

    Terk HDTVa Indoor Amplified High-Definition Antenna for Off-Air HDTV Reception

    [​IMG]
  14. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Skip all the hokey pokey internally amplified antennaes, the ones at chain stores, and those made by RCA. Mail order a real antennae from an antennae company like wineguard or channelmaster. You can even make your own.

    Get ready for free OTA HD TV.
  15. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Do you have a digital tuner in your TV, or are you running an analog TV through a converter box? The converter boxes generally have excellent tuners...
    Running a TVFool for Cortland, NY shows two stations that would be easy to get with an indoor antenna and amp. All stations available to you are 2-edge diffraction (signal must crest two ridges to get to you.) Tough location.

    This is the best small antenna I've found (it's really an outdoor unit, but it's small enough to use indoors.) It's essentially a UHF antenna, but does OK on VHF. You'd have to make a little stand to mount it on. You only have one VHF station, CBS in Binghampton, the rest are UHF and basically North of you. This antenna is bi-directional and picks up off the back of the antenna, which might enable you to get the couple of stations toward Syracuse, and the CBS in Binghampton without adjusting the antenna.

    Go here, type in your address, and map it. The default antenna height is 10'. Try 15 and 20' and see if the noise margins improve. That will tell you weather it's worth going to the trouble to try for more stations with an outdoor set-up (better signal, but you have to worry about lightning protection, etc.) Then click on "Make radar plot" and post a screen shot. Failing that, you can copy and paste the numbers here. (Or if you're comfortable with it, PM me your addy and I'll check it out for you.)

    http://tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=90

    If you go this route, get the genuine Antennas Direct DB2, not a knock-off:
    http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?mc=03&p=DB2&d=Antennas-Direct-DB2-UHF-HDTV-Antenna-(DB2)&c=TV Antennas&sku;=

    Here's the pre-amp I use:
    http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?mc=03&p=AP8275&d=Winegard-AP8275-Chromstar-2000-Series-VHFUHF-Pre-Amplifier-(AP8275)&c=Pre-Amplifiers&sku;=
  16. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    Amazon has good reviews on this one. Do you think the next one up would be any better. ( Antennas Direct DB4 Multi-Directional HDTV Antenna ) for $11 more or not. I just tried an rca ant 111 and couldn't get anything..
  17. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    I have a DB4 also, and didn't notice any difference indoors. Actually, I think the DB2 did a little better. That RCA antenna doesn't have a preamp...not enough gain to pull in anything, based on the numbers for Cortland. Those numbers are for a location that looks like it's the main intersection in the middle of town. The problem with that location is that it is at less than 1200 ft. elevation and is surrounded by 1500 ft. hills. That's why I'd like to see the numbers at your actual location. Also, the NM numbers that they give are based on an outdoor antenna, and don't take into account nearby man-made obstructions, trees etc. If you have a lot of trees between your antenna and the station, you may have multipath trouble when it's windy.
    Are you considering putting an antenna outside? If you want to try inside first, be aware that the construction of your home can affect reception, too. Aluminum siding, a masonry exterior, or roofing materials for an attic install, may cut signal strength. As you may have gathered from reading this thread, this stuff is way more involved than deciding which stove to buy. :)
    If your numbers are similar to the Cortland numbers, I'd say that you'll be able to get the two strongest stations for sure with a DB2 and the preamp, inside a stick construction home. The stations I reliably get inside range from 61 NM LOS to 13 NM 1-edge.
    On TVFool, you can pick the "hybrid" view, put the antenna on the exact location on your home, at the correct and have it draw lines to the transmitters to see if there are any obstructions that may affect the signal.
    If you decide to go outside with a rotor, you should be able to do much better. Previous posters have mentioned some great antennas for fringe reception.
    Good luck. :) I hope you report back with the results, whatever you decide to do.
  18. djblech

    djblech Feeling the Heat

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    I just put up the largest exterior RCA antenna that Menards sells, I think it was about $70. I also installed a roter so I can tune it. I am about 50 miles S of Duluth MN and can now pick up all stations with good reception.
    Doug
  19. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    You can read antenna specs forever and still now know what will work best in your situation.

    You haven't stated if you want to get the best reception possible - or will be satisfied with just geting the strongest signals in your area.

    I'm in central New York with multiple mountain peaks that block all direct signals to my home. Besides the obstructions, the closest transmitter towers are 50 miles from me, and the furthest that I'm picking up are 80 miles. When you have non-line-of-sight signals, they often are refracted and come in as muliples. An antenna with a narrow reception range works best if you have those problems. If an antenns receives 2 or 3 signals from the same channel, they tend to weaken each other. A narrow antenna will be able to focus on just one.

    When I used signal projection, like from TVFool.com - I can get all the channels listed as low a minus 30 NM with is pretty weak.

    The Winegard HD8200 is by far that best antenna for "fringe" reception on all the bands - low VHF, high VHF, and UHF. It's not as good on the UHF bands as several UHF only antennas but often good enough for many people. keep in mind, it's a big antenna.

    If you want to target the UHF channels, the Antennas-Direct DB8 or Terrestial-Digial 91XG do the best from any tests I've done.
    Not only did they beat everything else I've tried - people from all over the USA report the same. The DB8 is more rugged and compact then the longer 91XG if that makes any difference to you.

    I attached some photos. I installed dual 91XGs to get some very weak signals. By installing duals, you can get a slight gain over just one if done properly.

    If you are serious, an LNA is a must (mast mounted amp).

    By the way, there have been little "digital antennas" advertised all over, with built in rotator and amp. You can often buy for $30. I've got a couple of them. I use them on an RV and also use them for testing purposes. They actually work great, for what they are. Yes, they are cheap, Chinese, and flimsy, but they do work very well for a small antenna.

    Attached Files:

  20. colebrookman

    colebrookman Minister of Fire

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    That's my Winegard, Love it . Be safe.
    Ed
  21. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    Here is my address 4886 health camp rd, cortland ny 13045... I don't see the hybrid view on tvfool?

    Here is a question, I do have a very old antenna already on top of my house. I hooked that up to my tv and got nothing. I am still learning about this stuff so, a) with out climbing the roof and look at it, the wires may have rusted, or b) Do the older antenna still work with the newer tv's ?

    Also I do have Aluminum siding so I may be fighting a loosing battle with an inside antenna then right? Can a DB2 be put outside?

    Also, question about a converter box, I have hdtv's that I am pretty sure have tuners in them, so I don't need a converter box correct?
  22. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    The age of the antenna doesn't matter. But, year's back most TV reception was on low or high VHF so many older antennas are VHF only. Now, most digital channels are on UHF. Obviously, if you have a VHF only antenna, it's not going to work well with UHF.

    Something else to consider. Digital is all for nothing. No more weak channels showing up as "snowy" on the screen. So, you can have an antenna that's 9/10ths adequate and you'll still see nothing.

    And yet another thing is - your favorite channels from the past may be comimg from totally different directions now. Many companies moved to different towers when/if they changed to digital, or changed bands.

    If you antenna is very old, I'd suspect bad co-ax wire or a bad balun-transformer - betore I condemed the antenna itself.

    My huge Wade VHF antenna was bought new in 1979. After a few years, I built a satellite dish and threw the antenna in my farm dump. It sat there for near 30 years. Last year, I hauled it back out of the dump and installed it. Works great for what it is - VHF only.
  23. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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  24. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    The cheap little Chinese antennas like the following on Ebay work suprisingly well. They ARE cheap junk and pretty flimsy but . . . for an indoor install they're kind of amazing. Mostly due the high gain amp. I've got several of them. Looking at your TVFool projection, one of these little el-cheapos would probably get half a dozen channels easily - mounted inside your house.

    I use one on my RV. For $25 with a built in amp AND rotator AND remote, it's hard to go wrong. I also installed one at my in-laws house in a rural area of Nothern Michgan. I stuck it in their attic.
    I also use them for "signal mapping" before installing a real antenna outside. I tie one to a long pole, hooked to a portable TV and walk around to find the best antenna sites. Last summer, while "mapping" my land for signals - I was able to get around 10 channels with one of these little antennas and I'm in an extreme fringe area. Later, after installing many large "real" antennas, I wound up getting another 4 channels.

    Note I'm not trying to sell you anything but . . . these things DO work. Whatever you do, you really need a good amp mounted at the antenna, NOT a line amp in the house somewhere. Without an amp, you apt to get nothing.


    http://cgi.ebay.com/HDTV-AMPLIFIED-...450?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5d2e16aca2

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Outdoor-HDTV-An...itu=UCC&otn=5&ps=63&clkid=8597702719637855367

    Attached Files:

  25. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    The hybrid view and other buttons are on the google map in the upper right corner.
    Whew. Rough sleddin' at your location but with a high gain antenna like the DB8 and a good low-noise preamp it can be done, as jdemaris has said (he's obviously got plenty of experience at snagging weak signals.) Probably best to go with a new antenna; The aluminum of the elements themselves have probably oxidized over the years and won't make good connections. You could try to recondition it, I guess... Heck, I even made a DB2 out of bent aluminum rod, with 1x3" fencing for the reflector screen and it works pretty well with the stronger signals that we have here, although not as well as a factory-made antenna.

    Any of the DB antennas are designed to be used outside. Several of your strongest stations are up toward Syracuse in the same general area, so you may be able to get a good basic selection without a rotor. For indoors, you may be able to place the antenna in a window that faces toward the cluster of stations, or maybe the siding won't be an issue. Not sure if you have a second story, but an upstairs window facing the stations would be great. An attic install will lose some signal through roofing materials, but it may work. Indoors is always easier, no lightning worries, not subject to weather, but the signal is better with steel in the air.
    You'll just have to try some stuff to see what. Or maybe you have a friend or neighbor in the area who has tried and failed enough times to have figured out what works. :lol: Maybe there's a local internet forum to post on...

    Probably not, as jdemaris stated. In your manual, it will tell you if you have an ATSC (digital) tuner.

    I don't know how much time you want to spend learning about this stuff, but this site has some useful info. Hard to navigate, though...
    http://www.hdtvprimer.com/ISSUES/erecting_antenna.html

    There are some forums like AVS and highdefforum that may be useful.

    These guys are ate up with this stuff! :lol: Good info.
    http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/forumdisplay.php?s=3d7a7552558c6ea1f71157eb6d473685&f=81

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