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TV Antennas

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by velvetfoot, Oct 24, 2007.

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  1. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    For surround sound, skip the BOSE brand. When you go to the store, and listen to a BOSE system you'll be absolutely amazed like the heavens doors have opened up and you're listening to Heaven. You bring it home and wonder what the hell happened!? You then realize, at the store their Demo is of course tuned to their system like surgical precision. I had a moment at the store to say the least and walked home with a $2,800 BOSE surround sound system. Plugged it in, they had me walk around the room with a sensor while it measured sounds at various places and was done. I excitedly put in a movie and the bass was awesome, so wasn't the tweeters (high pitched sounds) but the medium tones like voices could barely hear them. I kept the system for a week playing with the controls, raising the bass, lowering the tweeters, trying to bring up the volume of the middle tones and ended up having to hook up sound to my regular 1985 TV to get those middle-tone sounds and actually hear what people were saying. It was disappointing to say the least, their system is NOTHING but bass and tweeters they have no mids and I brought it back.

    So, my brother-in-law buys a huge HDTV and gets the Bose surround sound system. As I'm over there, I say hey you have the Bose. He says, I wouldn't get it again I couldn't hear the people talking in the movies and nothing I could do to bring up people voices. I have to have my TV hooked up for the sound so I can hear people talk without being overpowered. Told him, you should've talked to me I went through that! After that experience, to me the most important feature is that it has mids & tweeters for all speakers and a subwoofer. The Bose, or most I know are only tweeters and subwoofer giving them terrible middle-tone capability.

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  2. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the tip. For me it's a brave new world.
  3. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I would also stay well clear of Bose - I had a temp job working for them a few years back, and was very much NOT impressed by their attitude towards QA... I was supposed to be doing inspection on some boards that were going into a big money optional Bose sound system that was being sold by some of the major luxury car companies of the day.

    I'll admit I've got high standards for electronics build, much of what I've done has been to various mil-specs, and I almost got a NASA satellite cert once, but there are acceptable industry standards for soldering, and there is CRAP - they were telling me to put my name on boards as approved that if I had built them, I would not have had the NERVE to send to QA... When I mentioned this, they told me "Don't worry, they only have a 90 day warranty" :mad:

    I've never considered a Bose product since...

    Gooserider
  4. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    Update!!! Well, I had another moment at the store. I went in thinking maybe my wife would want a 26" HDTV for the bedroom and they were pretty similar in price but I saw a 42" one for $50 more and, it was plasma (I like plasma better than LCD) so had a moment and came home with it. Not something I was wrapping or able to sneak so "Merry early X-Mas honey". Hooked up some rabbit ears, and couldn't believe I got 5 HDTV stations. Well, 2 come in great the others come in with blocks & sound problems but I couldn't believe how nice HDTV air signals are! I didn't realize, that unlike analog where you can frequently get static or stations that come in with lines you don't get any of that with digital. It's all or nothing there seems to be a threshold for digital.

    So, this weekend I picked up a roof antenna, pre-amp, rotor, and wires to see if I can get all 5 stations in. Also saw how to test where the broadcast towers are (www.antennaweb.org) most of mine are 45 miles away in one direction, I have several that are 57 miles in another direction, and 65 miles in yet another direction. Looks like I should be able to get more than 5 stations if the roof antenna works out, or get the 5 I have now at least. Probably take me a month to get the antenna & wiring up and running.
  5. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    My TV came with a signal meter function in "Setup", to help with the aiming, even with the rabbit ears.
    I used a compass too for the big antenna, but you will have a rotor, which you'll probably have to point at north to make agree with the controller inside . I didn't go the roof route partly because I was scared of it getting hit by lightning too.
    Be careful if you're around any energized lines on the roof with that metal in your hands.
  6. Kenny1

    Kenny1 Feeling the Heat

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    From a geek with a bit of broadcast experience:

    Over the air (OTA) broadcasts (e.g. our traditional networks) look fab in digital. The broadcasters are pumping out 19.4 megabits per second. Why is this important? Because your satellite and cable services will not waste this much space on one channel. They will compress harder to have the signal take up less bandwidth. The result is more compression artifacts. OTA beats "digital" cable or satellite hands down.

    Next, what are they doing with their 19.4 Mb/s? A single really high quality HD signal? No, putting out more "channels" of course. Think of it this way, if you have a station, your transmitter can put out one really good HD signal, or compress it a bit harder (and live with some artifacts) and squeeze in a second standard definition (SD) channel (maybe a weather service), maybe press a bit harder, and add a third SD (maybe a kids show) channel. The result? You now have three commercials on the air at one time.

    On the bright side, even with one HD and two SD channels, your local OTA broadcaster will still look better than the cable or satellite service.

    BTW - HD at 19.4Mb/s is good, but uncompressed HD is really amazing. However, with a data rate of 1.5Gb/s, it is not practical to store or transmit it.

    Cheers


    Kenny
  7. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Of course with all this HD talk, what will win, BluRay or HD DVD (or whatever they're called)?
  8. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    Well, I thought HD DVD is going to win and this is just my $0.02 just because of its name. A typical non-informed consumer walks into a store to get a DVD player and sees one that can play Blue-Ray, and another that can play HD DVD. They're going to say, what is Blue-Ray I just want to play High Defintion DVD's and get the one that says it plays HD-DVD. I think it the rare consumer that's going to walk into the store and know blue lasers having a higher frequency and can play/store more data so they should look for a DVD player with a blue laser, and realize it's called Blue-Ray. Though that's what I theorize according to http://www.eproductwars.com/dvd/ (give it a minute, the first page is about 30 different tests to see who's in the lead) uses amazons ability to see how many blue-ray vs. HD-DVD units are purchased, compare how many DVD's are purchased gives you tons of data and blue-ray was way behind and now it's killing HD-DVD. Most of the data on the graph uses salesrank lower is better.
  9. Czech

    Czech Minister of Fire

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    So I purchased an OTA HD antenna, can I just plug it into the back of the HD set where the typical air antenna hooks up? I know there is a HD connection for an HD box, didn't know if I had to have a box or not. Also, how do you tune the 'in between' channels such as 2.1, 2.2, 2.3? Thanks!
  10. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    There's no such thing as an HD antenna. It's just vhf and uhf, same as always. In fact, that hd antenna may only do uhf and won't work as well on vhf, if any of your ota digital stations use vhf.

    If you have a digital tuner in your TV, you just plug it in.

    You setup the TV and it recognizes available channels.

    Don't forget to aim the antenna.
  11. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    And, that is key. Go to http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/Address.aspx and uncheck the 2 boxes saying you'd like to receive marketing, enter your street address & zip and click Submit. What you'll get, is the available digital stations in your area and what compass orientation they're in. The stations are color coded yellow is close range and what an indoor antenna should be able to receive, followed by dark green, then light green, red, blue, and pink/violet. You need a serious directional outdoor antenna for anything in the blue-pink colors. Click "View Street Level Map" to see exactly where you should aim the antenna for what stations.
  12. houblon

    houblon New Member

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    I have an uhf antenna in the attic, a pre-amp and a set-top box. I'm in the middle between New York and Philadelphia and get 11 channels, some of them have 2, 3 or for sub-channels. And best of all, it is free.
    Not all channels have HD programming, but if they have, you get wide screen and surround sound.

    I would like to try the antenna up on the roof to see if I can pull in more stations, but I'm not sure how to install it. Would the metal band thing around the center chimney (masonry) be safe? It is a channelmaster 4228. Is there a risk of lightning strike?
    We have a SS steel liner inside the chimney, so a measly coax cable might not change much.
  13. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    Well, since I just researched this for 80 hours and could write a thesis this is the facts, and what I learned. The problem with antenna in the attic, is that moisture blocks signals. If you lived in a desert an attic antenna would work almost as good as a rooftop. However, where you live because of the moisture under the shingles your attic antenna is getting about 1/2 the signal of a rooftop. Wet surfaces reflect nearly 100% of the signal so when your roof is covered in rain you're particularly getting a poor signal. Lastly, in winter when your roof gets covered in snow for extended periods of time... bad for signal.

    To explain lightning, what happens is that as wind blows over an antenna it causes static electricity to build up in said antenna of the kind that attracts lightning. An ungrounded antenna is a dangerous thing, and by code an outside antenna MUST be grounded. Attic antenna's do not need ground, no wind blowing over them. When you ground it, what happens instead is that the static electricity that builds up flows harmlessly to the ground giving your antenna the same polarity as the ground and greatly reduces your chances of a lightning strike as more often than not other things (like trees) will collect static electricity and draw a lightning strike to them instead. You also need to ground your coax cable before entering the building for like reasons. The coax grounding block only grounds the sheath of the cable, not the center conductor but, if your center conductor builds up static electricity it will "jump" from the center to the ground. Since lightning does NOT take corners well, if your antenna does get struck there MUST be an easy path for it to follow as straight as possible to the ground (no sharp or 90 degree turns allowed in grounding wire) and your antenna must be grounded to its own grounding rod (metal water pipe not allowed for ground). Also, the #10 grounding wire is not capable of handling the millions of volt lightning, think of it more of trying to "lead" the lightning where you want it to go instead of it randomly going to ground however it wants after striking the antenna. Getting struck even with a ground expect serious damage. So, grounding won't guarantee it won't get struck, nor will it handle the amount of electricity of a lightning strike, but it will guide it a safer way if you get struck but its main purpose is to all but elminate the risk the antenna will be chosen to be struck in the first place.

    What you'd need is a
    grounding rod http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?prod=GRROD4
    grounding wire #10 http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?prod=WRGND30
    grounding block coax http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?prod=GRB1
    another copper grounding rod clamp (will explain later)
    #6 copper wire

    So, the first step is to put the coax grounding block as close as possible to where the coax will enter the house. Then, attach a grounding wire from the antenna, through the grounding coax block, to the grounding rod in as straight a line as possible without sharp corners (remember if it does get struck by lightning, the lightning will follow this path). You then need to attach another clamp to the grounding rod (you're not allowed to put 2 wires into one clamp on a grounding rod) and with #6 wire attach the grounding rod to your breaker panel. They want all grounding rods & wires to have the same polarity as the breaker panel. You should be done! If you get a rotor later on, you need to attach a wire between the 2 half's of your antenna mast. What you'll end up should be something that gets 2x the signal strength which isn't a bad thing most digital stations are going to be broadcast at 1/2 to 1/5th their original power you may need to move it outside anyway. You can read all about antennas and ground scenarios at http://etdxa.org/05_Article_810_Download 2.pdf

    I know this may sound stupid, but don't install the antenna near where the power enters your house. So many people have been killed doing such.
  14. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    i snake wires for a living. what you want to do is run a $10.00 dollar snake down beside the main plumbing vent pipe that goes from the basement to the attic. usually a straight shot unless there is fire blocking. and if there is fire blocking run the wire if you have vinyl siding down one of the corners of the house and drill a 3/8 hole thru the sill plate into the basement. if you don't have vinyl siding and have shingles run the wire down the outside of the house next to the electric service pipe or cable what ever you have and into the basement that way.
  15. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    you beat me to it. what you explained to do is not hard (for those people thinking that is to much info and is confusing). when i was a kid i experimented with different antenna's and designs and use to make different cb band antennas horizontal, vertical, beam type, i use to use a y quad really complicated design if your just looking at it.
    back then all we had was vhf tv. we could not afford to buy a new tv with uhf so we got the converter and i made a 3 element beam type antenna and thats how i use to watch tv. never thought i'd be hearing anything about a tv station again.

    what you said about grounding is very important. i use to stop using and detach my antenna every time there was to be a lightning storm near. one day with the wind blowing across the antenna it charged up with static and i got hit with the static discharge. it jumped about a foot to my hand. that hurt. way bigger hit than rubbing your feet on the carpet on a cold dry day and touching a radiator

    the other thing that was said here but not much is when your putting up your antenna outside spend the money and buy a rotor. especially with the bigger antennas with all those elements. the more elements on a antenna the more pinpoint your antenna receiving spot is. so you will have to move it for each individual station but you will receive the station better. then mark on your rotor control box each station and you'll be in business.

    sorry for being long winded but i love this stuff.
  16. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    I wanted a rotor with a remote control as I wanted to control it in the bedroom & living room. That limited me pretty much to the Channel Master 9512A or Eagle Aspen rotor ROTR100. Both appear to use the same motor and assembly, and both made in China. Channel Master used to have top notch rotors but are crap in comparison since the move to China.

    The Eagle Aspen rotor uses coax cable to power & control the unit. Also allows the use of a pre-amp on same coax (up to 17v DC). Meaning, just need a single coax cable to the antenna to power the rotor, pre-amp, and control the rotor (it listens to signals sent in the coax cable). But, adding devices in the line costs signal strength and having it set up with this method causes a signal loss of 3.5 db. The alternative is run 2 coax lines to prevent the 3.5db loss. The Channel Master uses the standard rotor 3 wire its always used so you need to run that along with a coax line. The Eagle Aspen rotor counts motor revolutions to ensure a +/- 2 degree accuracy. The CM uses a clock to determine accuracy, that's to say if you ask it to turn 90 degrees the CM calculates it should take 20 seconds so turns on the motor for that time. You can see the problem with the Channel Master, if it incorrectly times how long it takes and stops the motor at the wrong time, any further requests will compound errors and then you have to force it to do a resynch North.

    I purchased the Eagle Aspen Rotor ROTR100, I think without a doubt superior to CM's. I got it this week, worked as advertised except came with a defective remote control. Just wasn't working with the remote but I could manually control it from the top box, then I figured out how to test if it was the remote or receiver. I used a cheap digital camera and used its LCD and then pointed the remote at it and pressed buttons. Since cheap digital cameras detect IR, I should see the IR light blink in the digital camera's LCD. I didn't, but did see it with my other remotes. Now waiting for the replacement.
  17. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    i haven't done anything with antenna's or tv in a long long time. i just was at the channelmaster site before here and seen the remote control. that is the first i've ever heard or seen about a remote control rotor. that is awsum.
    when i was in my cb days i had a set of beams on my roof it was called (the wilson y quad) horizontal or vertical two element with a wire that wrapped around the tips of all the elements. what a site but i did a long of talking to people all aver the world with that thing. i use to have a rotor that did way more than i should, and took it. never burnt out it was made by a company called reliance. awful noise control box but it did the job and it was cheap money
    you guy's gave me the itch again and if i can find some time this weekend i'm going to hookup the sony to a antenna and see what we have around here.
  18. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    This weekend got the roof antenna hooked up. I went from 3-5 stations to 38 DIFFERENT stations (I had 50 originally but removed the duplicate analog & digital) ALL are crystal clear. That was facing the antenna towards a big city where most of the broadcast towers are located, I haven't rotated the antenna in another direction and seen what others I get (it won't be many I believe).

    My wife and I could not be happier, only snag was the rotor gets power & signals through coax and if > 75 ft needs solid copper core coax which isn't easy to find in todays world (today almost all coax is copper coated steel). Found it at a satellite shop that not only had it but had a twinned coax of it looked like http://pimages.solidsignal.com/ULPVRG6SCDUALWHT.gif but black. Was perfect, one for the rotor one for the antenna. Could not believe how crisp and clear all 38 stations are. Many are in high def, dolby 5.1 surround sound and best of all free (after high up front costs *:eek:)

    Cost was:
    $109 for Winegard 7084p antenna (131" x 110" but just 13 lbs!)
    $69 for Eagle Aspen Rotor
    $59 for Channel Master 7777 Pre-Amp
    $9 for an 8' piece of galvanized fence post at HD for the mast
    $70 for 100' of twinned coax cable solid copper core
    $22 for Coax crimping tool
    $14 for Coax stripping tool
    $75 for #6 grounding wire to breaker panel (I needed 70 feet) + 50 feet of #8 grounding wire
    $6 for grounding rod
    $6 for 2 acorn grounding clamps
    $2 for double coax grounding clamp
    $25 for clamps, coax cable crimp heads (both waterproof and regular), fasteners, etc.
    $22 Eave mount antenna bracket
    --------------------------
    $488

    The setup above is pretty much as high end as one can go without going into specialty. The antenna is the biggest a consumer rotor can handle, and that's the best antenna for its size since it's the only that's direct to coax (doesn't need a balun and baluns slightly decrease signal). My wife and I feel it was worth the $500, though I thought it would be $300 then I had to purchase the #6 wire, tools, crimps, it added up. I was just hoping for the 11 or so stations some 45+ miles away but to get 38 crystal clear, many in high-definition dolby 5.1 surround we feel it worth it. I'm really amazed that, if you don't have a digital tuner you really are missing out on A LOT of stations, high def & dolby 5.1 beside. Had we just an analog TV we'd have 18 stations, because we have digital we get another 20 stations! Many digital stations are linked together, let's say you watch channel 14. Well, that channel 14 in digital format can have channel 14-1 which is the typical station and 14-2 which may be a 24/7 weather station channel that anlog folks simply can't see. But, we live on the top of a hill and it's winter (particularly strong signals) so we'll see what summer brings and fortunately it's winter when we want to watch it.
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