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tv antenna

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

  1. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    Yes, two amps work fine.

    The absolute best VHF antennas are separate units. One just for VHF low, and the other for VHF high. There is a huge gap between channel 6 and channel 7 - although the numbers make it sound like just one sequential step. That huge gap inbetween 6 and 7 is where FM radio is.

    Channels 2 - 6 use a low-band VHF antenna. Winegard YA-6260 for $50 or Antenna Craft YA-1026 (hard to find).
    Channels 7-13 use a high-band VHF antenna. One of the best is the Antenna Craft Y10-7-13. $40 or a Winegard YA-1713 for $48.

    You can join them with a $3 low-VHF/high-VHF coupler. You can also buy another $3 coupler that will join that to a UHF antenna so you can use all three with just one amp and coax.

    You can also buy a combo low-high VHF antenna that can do near as well. The best ever made was the Wade VIP 307 (very hard to find).

    And you can also buy a combo antenna with low VHF, high VHF and all the UHF combined. Winegard HD8200 is the best on the market. Channel Master Crossfire is near the same. These are their advertised gain-specs per channel.

    Winegard HD8200- Gain: Chan/dB, 2 - 7 dB, 4 - 7.7 dB, 6 - 6.4, 7 - 10.4, 9 - 12.6, 11-11 dB, 13-12, 14 - 14.2 dB, 32 - 13.7, 50 - 12.2 dB, and 69 - 13 dB.

    Channel Master Crossfire 3671 - Chan/dB, 2 - 4.9 dB, 4 - 5 dB, 6 - 6.2, 7 - 11, 9 - 11, 11-10.9 dB, 13-9.6, 14 - 7.5 dB, 32 - 9.8, 50 - 12.5 dB

    If you don't want to mess with three different antennas get the three TV bands, you're better off just buying something like the Winegard HD8200. Has all three combined and does a pretty good job on all channels. It's big though. It measures 33" X 110" X 168.25" Has 34 VHF and 34 UHF elements.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    Since you're talking amps....I have one inline amp for my antenna, installed before the splitter. I am on the very edge of digital reception. In the 60ish mile range. I'm up pretty high. I have 2 TV's. Small one for bedroom. Always get clear a picture. But my down stairs one in sketchy at times. But it's a big 32 inch flat screen something or other. Bigger unit anyways. If i put an inline booster for just that TV, will it help? Anytime the big TV won't come in, you use the upstairs one and it's clear as a bell. I assumed the bigger TV needed a boost.
  3. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    When he says it's big he means it's BIG. This bugger is 10 feet wide and 14 feet long. All crazy looking too. Compared to your nice and neat DB8 the huge 8200 style antennas are just way too big. Wife will think you're trying to talk to aliens.
  4. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    DB8 is a UHF only antenna and that's why it's so small. VHF low-band needs a huge antenna in a fringe area, and VHF high-band somewhat smaller but still bigger then UHF. The higher the frequency, the smaller the antenna.

    There is no other way to do it in a rural area if you want over-the-air reception. HD8200 is basically three antennas incorporated onto one beam.

    The HD8200 doesn't look all that big once it's up on top of building somewhere. My old Wade VHF antenna is bigger at 16.5 feet long.
    I've got two HD8200s and my wife isn't freaked out at all. She likes not having a satellite-TV bill every month.

    I've got two of the 8200s. One on an "extra" house I have in nothern michigan. The other here at home on top of my barn.

    The only other way to get equal reception is with 3 or 4 separate antennas (which I also have at a different spot).

    Attached Files:

  5. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    You won't know until you try. I doubt it has anything to do with the size of the TV. The TV tuner chip yes, or maybe more loss in one line. I had a similar situation. Our upstairs TV got two channels less then the one downstairs. The one upstairs was a 32" Sansui. I later replaced it with a 42" RCA and now it gets those two missing channels plus an extra I could never get downstairs. The "extra" is a second channel 7. The older TV downstairs will only lock into the strongest channel 7 and reject the other. This new TV can be forced to lock into either (one at a time of course). One channel 7 comes from 50 miles away in Binghamton, and the other channel 7 from 60 mles away in the opposite direction from Albany.
  6. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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  7. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    No, I'm not saying a smaller one won't work. I have no way of knowing. A smaller antenna will get less signal strength. If you are in a fringe area, 50-60 miles from the transmitter a bigger antenna can make the difference, If you're not so far, it might not matter. Thus the reason why people who live 10 miles from big cities do fine with rabbit ears. Unlike the old analog TV, digital is ALL or NOTHING. No weak "snowy" signal will show up with an inferior antenna. Instead of snow, you get nothing.

    Reviews written by average consumers of antennas are pretty much meaningless. Mainly because they are so anecdotal.

    As far as Radio Shack goes, they don't make anything, they resell. Some very good and some not at all.
    Last year I picked up a Radio Shack #15-264. It'a combo VHF/UHF and I bought it for my in-laws in northern Michigan. I installed it in their attic, inside the house. I tested it alongside the big Winegard HD8200, and it works near as well. Works fine for them and they still have it. That Radio Shack antenna also had suprisingly high quality construction. As far as I can tell, the Radio Shack # 15-264 is actually a reboxed Anenna Craft model HD 850. Has a 85" long boom.

    If you only want UHF, you can stay fairly small. But, if you've got any VHF channels, there is no way around it. If you are 50-60 miles away, a 6-7 foot long antenna is the minimum that might work for you.

    Here's the description for that Radio Shack/Antenna Craft antenna:

    Model: 15-264 Catalog #: 15-264 IS the antenna I installed (Item 5855482). Receive and enjoy. This antenna is ideal for receiving over-the-air HDTV channels in most suburban or rural areas. It has a high VHF (ch. 7-13) range of 70 miles and a UHF (ch. 14-69) range of 60 miles. The 85" boom length, 31-element antenna is built with high-tensile strength aluminum for long life. It has fold-open elements for instant assembly and its air-insulated multiple-drive is state of the art. This antenna has a strong square boom with "no-tilt' clamp. • Be ready for the digital transition with this HDTV antenna • Receives high-band VHF (ch. 7-13, 70 mile range) and UHF (ch. 14-69, 60 mile range)* • Made of high-tensile stength aluminum for long life; Snap open elements for easy set-up What's in the box • RadioShack® 85" antenna • 300 to 75 ohm transformer • Mast mouting hardware;.
  8. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    Model: 15-264 Catalog #: 15-264 <----- which one is this? I can't find it by those # 's

    Can I use a splitter in reverse as a combiner? I have read some have had success and some don't.
  9. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    A splitter IS a combiner, there is no difference. But . . . what do you want to combine? If you don't do it right, you can destroy the signal/

    If you want to combine a VHF to a UHF - you need a special VHF-UHF combiner.
    If you want to combine low VHF to high VHf - you need a special low-to-high combiner.
    If you want to joint two same-band antennas - then any splittler wll work - but . . . if the any of a channel signal is coming in on both antennas - it will ruin the signal. That is because they don't come in at exactly the same time and cancel each other out. That is why you need channel filters like Jointenna that are made specific for blocking a certain channel.

    About the only way you can comine two same-band antennas with a common splitter is - if they are pointed in different directions and NO duplicate signals are being received - OR - if both antennas are pointing in exactly the same direction. Using dual antennas pointed in the same direction and joined with a common splitter is called "stacking" or 'ganging." When done right, it gains signal strength. "Stacking" is when the two antennas over mounted on a pole, one above the other. "Ganging" is when the two antennas are side-by-side. I have a pair of UHF antennas ganged and joined with a splitter for one very weak channel.
    I attached a photo.

    15-274 is the Radio Shack cataglog number. Not the model of the antenna.

    http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3739594

    Attached Files:

  10. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    What is the proper way to ground an antenna. I have a grounding rod in the ground that was used for the old antenna I have, can I just run a wire down to that?
  11. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    What is the proper way to ground an antenna. I have a grounding rod in the ground that was used for the old antenna I have, can I just run a wire down to that?
  12. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    A single ground rod is fine at the antenna site if too far to tie into the household ground. If the antenna is mounted to a metal mast, just hook the ground-wire to the steel mast. You don't want a cooper ground wire bolted to the aluminum mast of the antenna (that can cause corrosion problems). Somewhere along the way, the outside wire sheaf on the coax gets grounded also. That can be done at antenna, at the house, or both. It's usually done where you've got a coupler or splittler since either will have a ground lug on it. If you really want to thorough, you can also intall a coax fuse It just screws into the coax. It' there to prevent damage to TV sets in case the antenna gets hit by lightning. Cost around $5.
  13. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    It looks like the only vhf station you may need is the CBS in Binghampton, if you can't get the weaker uhf CBS (WTHV) to the North. Have you had any luck getting that one?
  14. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    I am actually getting the big antenna delivered today ( fedex :wow: :wow: ) so I probably wont get it until late today. Just don't know where or how I am going to put it. Radio shack says it will pick up all of bighamton and syracuse stations. ( Antennacraft C490 ) So I will see...
  15. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    If you don't have a roof to mount on, you can stick a pressure-treated 6" X 6" post in the ground and then mount a steel mast to it. If you put that antenna higher then 15' you'd better attach some support-cables.

    How are you going to handle getting the channels that come from at least two and maybe three totally different directions? South will get you four and maybe five channels with a good amp. If you point north, you might get lucky and get signal from two different towers. One is due north and one more north-northeast. If you between them at 10 degrees, you might get them all.

    You need either a rotator, or two antennas. For myself, I'd mount two atennas. One pointed due south, and the other pointed due north. A second antenna will be cheaper then buying a rotator. I also think you'll find that many consumer-grade rotators do not work when temps get down to zero or below. I have two new ones and neither work ast temps below 10 degrees F.

    You're lucky if you have a Radio Shack store with somebody that actually knows someting about antennas. Most I've gone to have employees that know nothing.

    If you point at 179 degrees magnetic (south):
    Channel 7 - CBS, virtual channel 12.1, WBNG-DT +12 Nm
    Channel 8 Fox 40, virtual channel 40.1, WICZ-DT -2 Nm
    Channel 42 - PBS, virtual channel 46.1, WSKG-DT -11.4 Nm
    Channel 34 ABC, virtual channel 34.1, WIVT -16 Nm
    Channel 11- NBC (maybe - weak) virtual channel 28.1, WBRE -28 Nm

    If you point 3 degrees magnetic (north):
    Channel 19 - Fox, WNYS-DT, virtual channel 68.1 +7.6 Nm
    Channel 44 - MyN, WNYS-DT. virtual channel 43.1 +1.5 Nm

    If you point 16-17 degrees magnetic (north-northeast):
    Channel 24 - NBC, virtual channel 3.1. WSTM-DT +.5 Nm
    Channel 25 - PBS, virtual channel 2.1. WCNY-DT -3.1 Nm
    Channel 47 - CBS, virtual channel 5.1, WTVH-DT -6.1 Nm

    WNYS, WSTM, WTVH - Lafayette, NY 58725 Transmitter coords 42°52′50″N 76°12′0″W

    WCNY Syracuse area 53734 Transmitter coords 42°56′42″N 76°7′7″W

    WBNG Utica area coords 42°3′31″N 75°57′6″W / 42.05861°N 75.95167°W

    WICZ Binghamton area coords 42°3′23″N 75°56′38.7″W / 42.05639°N 75.944083°W

    WSKG Binghamton area coords -
    42°3′40″N 75°56′45″W / 42.06111°N 75.94583°W / 42.06111; -75.94583

    WIVT Binghamton area coords 42°3′39.5″N 75°56′36″W

    WBRE -NE Pennsylvania coords coordinates 41°10′58″N 75°52′26″W
  16. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    That is what I am trying to figure out right now. In the location I have it right now, the tv picked up 15 channels. ( 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 5.1, 12.1, 12.2, 24.1, 24.2, 24.3, 24.4, 43.1, 52.1, 68.1, 68.2, one other that I forgot)
    You are right, if I have it pointed in one direction, I can get those all good except 3.1, 3.2, 3.3. If I turn it a very smidgen to the north, the 3's come in but I loose 5.1, 12.1 completely the 24's are hit and miss and the others are decent. So I am kind of weighing what I usually watch. Usually we watch 3.1( nbc) more than 12.1 (cbs ) I get the fox channels ( so I can watch NASCAR half the season)
    But it would be nice to get them all though. I was able to somewhat pick up the 3.1,3.2,3.3 with the DB8. So I don't know if I can connect the 2 antennas together and be able to pick those up while moving the big antenna back south to pick up the others or not. Which I am still confused on how to do that. I need to "gang" them together with a splitter if I put them in the same area correct? Still need to ground it also. and if I leave it in this location, I think I will have to bury the cable, I can do that right or no?
    Also right now I have 150' of cable hooked up. Do you suggest a good line amplifier? Radio shack has one for $15.00, not sure if it is good or not.

    Question ---- how do I know what direction to point, there has to be a device right?
    You guys have been super helpful, this is all new to me. I am sure you are sick of me asking some of the same questions over again, I apologize and I thank you..


    Here is a picture...

    [​IMG]
  17. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    I'll try to answer some of your questions.

    First - keep in mind that the new "antenna" you just bought is actually three antennas, NOT one antenna.

    Joining antennas works in many types of situations but not YOUR'S. Two or three different band antennas can be joined easily (e.g. a VHF low to a VHF high to a UHF). Two same band antennas can be joined easily when the antennas are identical and pointed in the exact same direction (stacking or ganging). The new AntennaCraft unit just got has three bands joined together already

    It's a VHF low band, VHF high band and a UHF - all three on one beam and joined together.

    There is no good way I know of to join a fourth UHF (your DB8) antenna to the three you aleady have, without screwing things up. The only way to do that would be to stick a one-channel filter on it and then use a coupler. And that would only work if the main big antenna is not getting that channel signal at all. If there is just one channel you really want bad, yes it can be done with a filtered-coupler (Jointenna).

    Your question about burying coax? If you want it to last you ought to buy direct- burial coax that is glue-impregnated and made for underground use. Otherwise, you need to spend $20-$30, go to Home Depot, and get some PVC conduit. Put regular grade coax in the conduit and then bury it, and it will last fine.

    About testing for signals . . . In the good old days of analog, all you had to do is hook the TV to the antenna and spin it around until you found the best signal. If off, the picture would be snowy and clear up and you pointed better.

    With digitial? It's all or nothing. You need to have a notebook and a pen. Then hook a TV to the antenna. Then move it around full circle, maybe 20 degrees at a time and do a full channel scan at each position. That will be 18 separate channel scans. That is the only way you're going to know what works and where. Also note that your TV has a signal-quality meter. Since digital is all-or-nothing - a picture either looks great, or it's not there at all. So, the only way you can tell when moving the antenna improves things - is by reading the signal-quality meter on the TV. Note that the converter boxes also have the meters.

    The first time you do a full scan, it will take a little time. But, you only need to do it once and then you'll know. If you don't do it, you'll be guessing forever.

    Also note: You don't always know for sure what direction your antenna is getting signals. Just because you have the front of the antenna pointed north, it still may pick up some channels from the south - coming in backwards into the antenna. They won't be as strong though. This is another reason why you need to do a full-circle scan and also -write down signal-quality readings at various points for the channels you care about.

    The channels you just mentioned getting are supposed to be as thus IF they are coming to you in a straight line and not bouncing off a a mountain top somewhere. But since we don't know if they're coming into the front or back of your antenna, you need to do that full scan. Also remember that the channel #s you citied are not the real channel/frequency numbers. They are the make-believe "virtual" channel numbers.

    3.1, 3.2, 3.3 (all on actual UHF channel 24) - 16 degrees magnetic
    5.1 - (all on actual UHF channel 47) 17 degrees magnetic
    12.1, 12.2 (all on actual VHF channel 7)- 179 degrees magnetic
    24.1, 24.2, 24.3, 24.4 (UHF channel 25) - 16 degrees magnetic
    43.1 (all on actual UHF channel 44) - 3 degrees magnetic
    68.1 (all on actual UHF channel 19) - 3 degrees magnetic

    In your situation . . . if it was me, I'd probably mount the DB8 facing the other direction. Then I'd use two amps and two separate runs of coax into the house - all hooked to a $5 co-ax A/B switch box. Also note you can buy dual-lead siamese coax if you prefer. In one of my houses I have three separate antenna systems coming into the house with a three-way switch-box (A/B/C). Very simple to hook up and very little to go wrong.

    Your other option is to just use the new antenna you've got that already is VHF low, VHF high, and UHF - and just stick a rotator up. Like I said though, these $90 rotators don't work great in extreme cold. THe nice thing about having a co-ax switch box instead is - the simplicity and durability.
  18. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    actually my TV does not have a signal-quality meter which stinks.

    Here is what I am thinking I will try. Get another amp like you said, leave the DB8 in front of my house, the other one in my back yard. Run them both to a splitter and see what happens. I just tried it without another AMP and nothing really happened. Maybe they are far enough apart so they won't interfer. The DB8 picked up all the stations I mentioned except for the two CBS channels ( 5.1, 12.1) & 12.2. Still can't seem to get the ABC channel no matter how I move it.
  19. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    A couple of problems with that idea.

    First - you can't have two antenna amps hooked to one splitter. How is the power going to get to the amps? Each amp gets it's power from a power supply inside the house - and the co-ax center-conductor is used to carry that power to the amp. You'd have two power supplies trying to power two amps - but you' d have that power joined at the splitter. In theory, if both amps are the same make and models, and the power supplies are exactly the same - it might work - but I wouldn't try it. If different makes and models - the voltages and even the polarities could be different. And some amps change polarity when you flip the FM trap "in" or "out." What do you think would happen with one 18 volt power slupply with negative ground - got coupled to another 18 volt power supply with postive ground? Something would quickly blow out.

    Second - is the mulitple signal problem. Antennas work backwards - but not as well as frontwards. With the DB8 and the new AntennaCraft - you'll have two same-band UHF antennas hooked to a coupler. If any UHF channel is picked up by both antennas at the same time, it will degrade the signal. The reason is - unless the antennas are identical and pointed in exactly the same direction - the same channel signal will reach each antenna at a slightly different time. That tends to ruin the signal. It will only work if both antennas "see" totally different channels and neither sees the same.
  20. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    [quote author="chrisasst" date="1304561231"]

    I assume you know what A/B or A/B/C coax switch boxes are, but here are some photos. They are cheap and easy to hook up and use.

    I also included some "Jointenna" info. The Jointenna is a couple and a one-channel filter. If you used it on your DB8, you have to use it to get only one channel AND that channel would only work as long at the other antenna did not receive any of that same signal. Also keep in mind that all "joiners" and "spittlers" degrade the signal -even when hooked up properly. An A/B switch box will not degrade the signal at all.

    Attached Files:

  21. chrisasst

    chrisasst Minister of Fire

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    So I can have 2 amps hooked to an A/B switch without a problem. Maybe I will try this then. Will have to get another amp.
    Do you recommend adding a line amp also to my long run?
  22. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    You use two separate coax lines and two amps - along with a coax switch box . Each amp will consist of the amp itself that mounts on the antenna and the power supply that goes in the house. On each power supply - there is an "in" and "out." "In" connects to the coax running to the antenna. "Out" connects to the TV or the A/B switch box. This "out" lead does not carry any power - just the TV signal. So, not trouble hooking it to a switch box.

    Line-amps are different and self-contained. That is, amp and power supply in one unit. I have no way of knowing if you need one. I have several on all my runs over 200 feet. If you test for TV reception at the antenna, and then test in the house - and you lose channels - you can assume you need a line-amp. Each splitter or coupler will lose 3-7 dBs. 100 feet of coax will lose another 5 dBs per 100 feet on channel 7, and 8 dBs per 100 feet on channel 50. The higher the frequency, the more loss.

    So, it comes to this. How strong the signal is at the antenns, how much weaker it becomes when it gets to your house, and . . . if your TV can make a picture out of whatever signal it is getting. 15-20 dB loss is common for an anntenna 100 feet away. If you stick in a 20 dB line-amp - you prevent that loss. You can buy 20-30 dB line amps for less then $20. A cheap investment.

    Note that often much of the loss is inside the house with splitters running the signal to multiple TVs. You can buy a combo amp-spittler that works nicely. Usually called a "distribution amplifier."

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