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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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    ...So I will get a DB8 and see what happens. Can I try that without a preamp thing at first? ( don't have the extra $ at this point to buy both ) I do have a second story. As of right now I am looking at 30' ( maybe more) above ground.

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  2. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    If you don't use an amp, you might get nothing. Also note that with the DB8, you are not going to get any of your VHF channels.

    For example. On the hill behind my house - going by TV Fool - the three strongest channels are rated as 28 NM, 7.7 NM and 5.8 NM and all three are VHF. The next three are minus 4 NM, minus 7.6 NM and minus 8 NM and all are UHF.

    With the largest deepest fringe VHF/UHF antennas on the market - on a 25 foot tower - with no amp - I get nothing. Not one channel.
    When I add a 25-30 dB amp - I get over 20 channels.

    Note also that with one of the tiny cheap Chinese amplified antennas for $30 - same location, I got around 12-14 channels.

    I can't say specifically for your area - but I suspect having no amp is going to be a waste of time, unless you've got a transmitter-tower 20 miles from your house. Note that the amp has to be the mast-mounted type and NOT a line-amp.

    You can buy the AntennaCraft 10G212 amp for less then $30 if you shop around. I have several and they've out performed the higher priced amps. They also have certain features you won't find in the top-rated Winegards or Channel Masters. This AntennaCraft amp has . . . and adjustable gain control that you can operate from inside the house, and an FM trap that you can also control from inside the house. Both are great features. Without that gain control, a powerful amp can ruin your strongest channels, if you have any. If a signal is too strong - you lose it and see nothing. With the gain-control - if you have a problem like that and want to watch one of your strong channels, you just turn the dial down. The FM trap allows you to get FM radio when it's turned off. This is the only amp I know of that has a trap you can control from inside the house. With the Winegard and Channel Master amps - you have to take the amp apart - at the antenna - and reset an internal switch.

    http://www.google.com/products/cata...=X&ei=8qOwTY-zLI23twez3cz9Cw&ved=0CEYQ8wIwAw#
  3. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    Where do I go to find a list of locations of transmitter-tower.
  4. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    The TVFool signal locator will give you the direction and distance to each tower for each station - from your house.

    If you want even more info, just do a Google search for each station and you'll get the wattage and GPS coordinates.
  5. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    The first time you try to get channel, you ought to do a full channel scan every 10 degrees and write down what you get and where. Sometimes a transmitter that's at a compass heading of 179 degrees will refract and come to you from some direction that is totally different. That happens a lot if there are mountain tops around.

    Attached Files:

  6. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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  7. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    I don't think the word "better" fits, since the word means different things to different people.

    The Antennacraft 10G212 for $30 has near 30 dB of gain.

    The Winegard AP8700 for $45 has less then 20 dB of gain.

    The Antennacraft 10G212 has an adjustable gain control and the Winegard does not.

    The Antennacraft 10G212 has an FM trap that you can control from inside the house and the Winegard does not.

    So for me, there's no contest.

    If you have very weak channels, an extra 5-10 dB of gain can make a huge difference in reception. Just one unit of the old Bell Telephone measure is a lot (that's what the "B" stands for in dB).

    If you have very strong channels, you need low gain. A strong amp will ruin the signal -and thus the reason why an ajustable gain-control is a great feature.

    So what is best? Best if probably living somewhere that has such a stong signal, all you need is rabbit ears and no amp. But for the rest - most things are based on compromise.

    A good antenna with a high gain amp and adjustable gain-control can pick up anything available.

    A good antenna with a fixed high gain amp can get the distant channels but might not be able to get the close/strong ones due to overload.

    Just for the record, I suspect most installers will rate the Channel Master CM7777 amp as the best on the market. I've tested it along side of others. It's fine but does no better in most installs then the AntennaCraft that is half the price.
  8. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Good to have a few experts around on this issue. I hate paying for cable and when the power goes out, so does the cable. I can make power with a genset but I can't make the cable work so I went and built a UHF antennae following the directions from one of the earlier mentioned sites. It works freaking great. Looks goofy though with what appears to be four bow ties of copper wire attached to a 2x6. It works so freaking well that I mounted it in the attic and "plumbed" it to my A/V panel so that I can switch to OTA TV pretty easily.

    I have no amp. I am 30-50 miles from the towers and the advice I got was to try it without an amp first since you can always add an amp later if you need it. You'll know if you need it based on the signal strength received at the TV. I didn't want an amp since I would then have to run power to the thing, pay for it, and otherwise make an investment to have it.

    The cool thing about the CM777 amp is that it has dual inputs so if you have one channel that is in a funny direction (my local fox network) you can actually use the amp to join two different antennas.
  9. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    That's not the way the CM777 works. It cannot be used to just join two antennas together. It has an internal switch to allow it to accept a single input, or a dual that accepts one UHF antenna and one VHF antenna. You cannot use it to join two UHFs or two VHFs. It bascially does the same thing that many combo antennas do (join VHF and UHF into one lead).

    You can do exactly the same with any amp and a $3 coupler that joins VHF and UHF and outputs into one co-ax.

    You can also use a $3 coupler to join hi VHF and low VHF.

    Also note that if you use dual antennas of the same band (UHF or VHF) and have them pointing in different directions to get different channels - you can get in a mess unless you use special filters and a combiner.

    I've got on tower with one UHF antenna and three VHF antennas, all joined and filtered and inputed into a single-imput preamp, and then run 600 feet to my house through some RG11 direct-burial coax.
  10. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Wow, 600 feet?

    Fortunately for me, the one goofy station (different azimuth) is a high VHF and the rest are UHF so it would work but that's not always the case for everyone. They used to have a jointenna didn't they? To join different antennaes? The goal being to eliminate those lousy rotors.
  11. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    Jointenna is a one-channel-specific filter incorporated into a coupler. Using them is tricky and complicated and there is signal loss also.

    Lets' say at 200 degrees you get channel 6 strong and channel 10 weak. And at 150 degrees you get channel 6 weak and channel 10 strong. If you install two antennas - one pointed at 200 degrees and one pointed at 150 degrees and join them with a coupler, you might get nothing - or a very bad signal. That's because you get channel 6 twice and channel 10 twice, and those dual signals fight each other. With a Jointenna - you buy one thats made just to receive channel 6 and you buy another just to receive channel 10. Then the two antennas can work together - but it won't be as strong as using one antenna on a rotator. Also, if you use the Jointennas - you lose all the other possible channels you might have gotten.

    If in a fringe area where you cannot afford any signal loss, you need either a rotator . . . or multiple antennas pointing in different directions that run directly to co-ax switch-boxes. It can be a simple manual A/B or A/B/C box in the house, or a fancy amp/switch/controller/amp unit at the antenna site.

    You can join a low VHF to a high VHF to a UHF antenna and run all three into one line and it works pretty well. That because you don't get muliptles of same-channels fighting each other.

    Another issue that ocurrs with some digital TVs is the inability to do multiple channel scans. Some TVs do a scan and put the channels found into memory. When you rescan - some models will delete the first scan which can be awful. If you use a rotator, or have mulitple antennas with a swith-box - you need the ability to do mulitple channel scans and retain the info from all of them. Otherwise, you have to hope for the best and install the channels into tuner memory manually.
  12. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    I don't think you will get anything without an amp. The strongest station on your TVFool is WBNG CBS out of Binghampton. Unfortunately, it transmits on RF 7 (VHF) which the DB8 doesn't excel at.

    His strongest station is VHF at 12.5 NM so I don't think he's in danger of overloading the tuner with a too-strong signal. Probably can run full gain from the amp and not need adjustable gain. I run a Winegard 8275, almost 30 db gain, my strongest station is 61 NM and I still don't overload the tuner. Granted, I use a DB2 which has less gain than a DB8. And tuners in different TVs have varying sensitivity...
    Looking at his FMFool, it doesn't appear that he should need an FM trap...

    To get the chart of your stations that jdemaris posted, first type in your address and get the google map, then look above the right upper corner of the map and hit the button that says "Make Radar Plot."
    Another thing you can do to visualize where the stations are is to look below the google map and check-mark the square that is labeled in bold print "Show lines pointing to each transmitter."
    When I punch in your address, the marker is place in the middle of a field. If you get the hybrid view, you can hold down the left-click and drag the cursor to the exact location of the antenna in your house. Don't forget to put in 30' for the antenna height, as this appears to make a difference in your location. Post a screen shot like jdemaris did, or just copy and paste the numbers here. That might help us.

    I have the AP8700 and the AP8275. As jdemaris pointed out, the AP8275 is more powerful with almost 30 db gain. The 10G212 has a noise figure of 3.5 db at UHF. For $12 more, the AP8275 has a noise figure of 2.8 db. The CM7777 (at $60) has a noise figure of 2.0. I haven't had much experience trying to get weak signals but if I was in your situation, I would be going for the preamp that would give me the greatest chance of success/the most channels. I understand that cost is a consideration here. As Highbeam said, you can build these antennas. I built a DB2. He built a DB4, which is harder to do. A DB8 would be harder yet. To get a homemade antenna to perform best, you need to be very accurate in your construction regarding the phasing lines, reflector spacing etc. If you are handy, and meticulous, you might be able to pull it off.

    Or you could sell off left-over firewood and get a DB8 and CM7777. :coolgrin:
  13. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    I don't buy into the popular belief that an amp must be low-noise, or ultra-low-noise to get best reception. Yes, it sounds good in theory when you read specs on low-noise transistors, articles on noise-rejection theory with digital tuners, etc.

    What counts is what actually happens when you use them.

    One big problem with "reviews" or anecdotal reports is that every situatiion is different. When somebody reports great success, it's hard to know how much is based on a specific TV tuner, type of antenna, quality of the install, the specific signal quality in that specific area, type of co-ax used and dB loss, etc.

    That being said, I can speak for what I have actually observered. I've done five "studies", tests, and installs. Two in northern Michigan just below the Mac bridge, one in Hamilton Co., New York Adirondacks, one in the woods on the Tug Hill Plateau 20 miles from Watertown, NY and . . . one big one in central New York, Otsego County.

    The one here in Otsego County is as thus. My house is in the side of mountain and in the woods with no reception possible. I have 60 acres of woods, hill-tops and valley views in different parts of my land. I did a signal searh all over the 60 acres, scanning in all directlions and over a dozen different locations. I mapped it all out and then installed three separate antenna sites. One is 600 feet from my house, one is 350 feet, and one is 200 feet. There are seven antennas installed, in total, with four LNAs (pre-amps), several line-amps to off-set line-loss, and two rotators. In the house we have three-position co-ax switch boxes. We do not have a clear shot to any transmitter anywhere. All the signals we get "bounce" and "refract" to get here, most from 50-60 miles away.

    My most important test with various amps was with the weakest channels. The ones that only work now and then. Here that means channel 26 that shows as channel 10 when watching, and channel 50 that shows as channel 55 when watching. Channel 26 shows as a negative 11 NM in strength (with TV Fool) and is 45 miles from here with many mountaintops in the way (at 101 magnetic degrees). Channel 50 shows as a negative 25 NM in strenght and is also 45 miles away at 59 degrees magnetic.

    Note that neither comes from the direction "as the crow flies) to the transmitter.

    I tested a dozen of the best-rated antennas on the market, and also switched back and forth with five different amps that did the best. Here they are. Note that the cheapest $27 amp from AntennaCraft always did as good as all the rest and sometimes a little bit better even though it has the highest noise rating. It beat the amp I paid over $300 for, with ultra-low noise from England.

    I used the Winegard AP-8275 Chromstat, the Channel Master CM7777 Titan II, Antenna Craft, Radio Shack, and Research Communications

    Channel Master CM7777 - $60, made in China, 23 dB gain VHF and 26 dB gain UHF, 2.8 dB noise VHF and 2 dB noise UHF.
    FM trap dip-switch is inside the amp. Cannot be switch from inside the house. Gain is not adjustable.

    Winegard AP-8275 - $38, made in China, 29 dB gainVHF and 28 dB gain UHF, 2.9 dB noise VHF and 2.8 dB noise UHF. FM trap
    cannot be switched from inside the house. Gain is not adjustable.

    Antenna Craft 10G-212 - $27, made in Taiwan or China, 30 dB gain for VHf and UHF, 4 dB noise VHF and 3.5 dB noise UHF.
    This amp has a switchable FM trap on the power-supply in the house. It also has an adjustable
    gain-control also in the house.

    RadioShack 15-2507 - $52, made in Taiwan or China, 30 dB gain for VHf and UHF, 4 dB noise VHF and 3.5 dB noise UHF.
    This amp has a switchable FM trap on the power-supply in the house. It also has an adjustable
    gain-control also in the house. This is just a re-labeled AntennaCraft amp.


    Research Communications 9253 Ultra-low noise - $330, made in Great Britain, 23 dB gain UHF with only .6 a dB noise.
  14. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    True dat. I've seen from messing with the coverter boxes that the tuner makes a big difference. Tuner sensitivity is an afterthought to TV manufacturers, since most people have cable or satellite and sensitivity is a non-issue for them.


    Awesome install, and impressive results!
    As I said, the TVFool numbers are for outside antennas and don't take into account some of these factors you've mentioned.
    Since chrisasst wants to keep the cost as low as possible, it would benefit him to have the option to return stuff that doesn't work in his location.
  15. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    What is the best cable to use to connect an antenna to tv, I have read an RG 6, is this correct?
  16. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    There is no "best." It's just a matter of how long the distance is . . from the antenna to the TV set. You then calculate signal loss and decide what will work best. RG59 is the cheapest and also has the most loss per foot. RG6 has less loss, and RG11 have less loss then RG6. If your run is 50 feet or less, it's not going to matter. If more, using better cable instead of worse is good insurance.

    Even with RG11, if the run is extremely long - you've got to use line amplifiers to off-set dB loss. I've got antennas 600 feet from my house and I had to use RG11 with a 25 dB lineamp mid-way.

    The best "bang for the buck" is usually RG6 with a copper-clad center conductor. The copper-coated steel conduction has less signal loss then when pure copper is used.
  17. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    will it make a difference if there are 2 types. The amp has rg 59 and my long run is rg 6. I am on top of my roof and I can't get anything. Wondering if I am doing something wrong.
    take that back, just got 2 digital channels, 43.1 ( mytv) 43.2 ( cooltv)
    ).
  18. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Isn't there also RG-6u cable? I bought a big spool of that and used it to make home runs from each house outlet to my media center junction box. Is the RG6u better or worse than plain RG6.

    When aiming your antenna remember there is a difference between true north and magnetic north.
  19. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    Now adays RG6 and RG6/U mean the same thing. RG6 is an old military standard. Anybody can stick a "U" to their cable to look more modern. Loss is loss and you can mix cable types without any added problems.

    Regardless if RG59, RG59U, RG6, RG6U, RG11, RG11/U - they all differ by brand, model #, type of insulation, type of center-conductor, etc. Besids the signal loss ratings, some versions are made for damp condtions and direct burial and some are made stronger for being strung through the air.

    Loss depends on what specific freguency you are using. The same cable with have different loss with VHF low,, VHF high, and UHF.

    Here's how it goes, in general. Less loss with VHF and more loss with UHF. A copper-clad steel center conductor will have less loss then soild copper with TV frenquencies.

    This is for a fifty foot run of co-ax:

    Channel 2 - RG59 .94 dB loss, RG6 .75 dB loss, RG11 .18 dB loss
    Channel 13 - RG59 1.8 dB loss, RG6 1.44 dB loss, RG11 .9 dB loss
    Channel 15 - RG59 2.65 dB loss, RG6 2.14 dB loss, RG11 1.35 dB loss
    Channel 24 - RG59 3.1 dB loss, RG6 2.6 dB loss, RG11 1.6 dB loss


    Common TV frequencies. Note the big jump between VFHF low and high, since FM radio is stuck in-between.
    VHF low-band: Channel 2 is 55 Mhz, 6 is 83 Mhz,
    VHF high-band: Channel 7 is 175 Mhz, 13 is 211 Mhz
    UHF: Channel 14 is 471 Mhz, 24 is 531 Mhz, 50 is 686 Mhz
  20. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    So here is something interesting... just for the heck of it I took the antenna and stuck the pole in the ground out in front of my house. I did a search and came back with 14 channels. A few of them aren't coming in. ( 24's) I am getting 2 fox stations, a country music station ( can't remember #) My local channel 3 ( wstm) comes and goes and is scrambled a little. Really wish it would come in. watch alot of tv on that channel. I tried different locations, but can only find one spot that comes in good with all the channels. I currently have a 50' rg6 hooked up. Not sure why I am getting more channels stuck in the ground then I did on my roof.

    I assume 2 antennas can be hooked together correct? How do I do this?
  21. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    Signals can bounce all over, so it's not usual to find better signals on the ground then higher up in some areas.

    Yes antennas can be joined - but the way you do it differs depending on what they are, and why you're doing it.

    If you want to join antennas made for different bands - like a low VHf to a high VHF or either to a UHF- you need a special combiner made just for that purpose. Only costs around $5.

    If you want to join to identical antennas pointing in the exact same location, any common diplexer will work ($3-$4). That's called "gangng" or "stacking."

    If you want to join antennas of the same band but each pointing in a different location - it gets more complicated. In many cases you must have a channel filter on each - usually called a "Jointenna." The reason it, you might get signals from the same channels on both antennas - and that will weaken the signal.
  22. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    I assume you're using the original antenna that you had on the roof. Can you post a closeup pic of the antenna? How did the connections look? It has a balun attached to the antenna, then your coax connects to the balun, correct? Which way did you point the antenna?
  23. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    No I bought a DB8. I have a "chicken coupe" up in my field, wide open sapce all around it, that I am going to try to put the antenna on next. However I will have to use a 100' cable so that will affect the signal some.
  24. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    For 100 feet you need at least RG6, and RG11 is a even a little better. If the run is 100 feet point to point, then I assume you're going to have 120 feet in total.

    Best test for any loss is this. Bring a TV up there by the antenna and see how many channels you get. It's easy to do. If you don't have a 12 volt TV, just bring a regular TV, 12 volt battery, and an inverter. With a cheap inverter, you can power the TV and an antenna-mounted amp at the site. Once you scan all the directions and know what you get, then run the cable to the house and test again - in the house. Obviously, if you still get all your channels you are fine. If not, you'll need a line-amp. You are going to lose 2 dB to 6 dB with 100 ft. of RG6. Then, in your house - if you have any spitters so you can use more then one TV, you're going to lose another 6-7 dB at each spittler.

    The DB8 is only designed to work on UHF, channels 14 - 69. It won't get any VHF channels unless they are very strong.

    Channel 14 will lose around 7.4 dB with 100 feet of RG6.
    Channel 50 will lose around 9.1 dB with 100 feet of RG6.

    The thing you don't know is how much signal can you lose and still have your TV work? That's why doing a test first at the antenna is important. Otherwise, you'll never know for sure. A good 25-30 dB "pre-amp" on the antenna will make up for a lot of signal loss with a long cable run.

    Sometimes the splitter inside the house causes enough loss to lose channels. A three-output spiltter (so you hook in three TVs) will have 7 dB to 11 dB loss - which is a lot. The easy fix is to use a cheap line amp with a separate splitter - OR- an amplified splitter that has all in one unit.

    SP Winegard 2054 four-connector splitter: Splitter Loss: 40-950 MHz 7.5 dB - 11.0 dB . Cost $6

    Eagle-Aspen distribution amp with 25 dB gain - $12

    Channel Master "combo" CM3410 distribution amp/splitter with two outputs, 15 dB gain - $15.

    If you are going to bury your co-ax, buy direct-burial grade RG6 or RG11. It doesn't add much to the price. I usually use dual siamese cable when burying. That way I've got an "extra" underground in case I need it later.
  25. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    well I couldn't get on top of the "chicken coupe" ( roof caving in) But there used to be a big satellite in front of it. The pole is still there so I stuck the antenna in it and didn't get any better or more channels in that location than I did in front of my house.

    Can I have 2 amplifiers connected ( mast mount and a line ) or will that interfer? I do have the 30 amp you recommended on the mast.
    I think at some point I am going to have to try 2 antennas.
    What is a good VHF antenna?
    According to http://www.fcc.gov/mb/engineering/maps/ the channel 3 (wstm) I am trying to get is UHF. I looked that one up though and apparently alot of people can't get that channel since they switched.

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