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Who knows OTA TV? (Dealing with hilly terrain)

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Badfish740, Jan 14, 2012.

  1. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Don't forget the amplifier. I know 5 times nothing is still nothing, but it helped us.

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  2. SlyFerret

    SlyFerret Minister of Fire

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    If you put in an amplifier, make sure you put the amp up by the Antenna, and not at the end of the feed-line by the TV.

    Just to help set your expectations though...

    I should also mention that depending on what is causing your reception problems, an amp may not help. The amplifiers amplify the signal and the noise, so your actual SNR probably won't improve much. What it does help with is overcoming the signal loss in your feed-line if the signal is weak to begin with.

    Also, digital TV is very prone to mult-path interference. Out where you are, this may not be a problem (it's more common in cities where there are lots of things for the signal to bounce off of). If your reception problems are related to multi-path interference, the amp won't help there either.

    -SF
  3. granpajohn

    granpajohn Minister of Fire

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    Central Maryland
    I think I am using the same antenna. Yes, it will work.

    - I didn't want a rotor, but am glad I installed it. It's amazing what a few degrees difference makes with DTV. Furthermore, TV rotors are less costly and smaller than the old days. Our ChannelMaster has a remote, and memories.

    - If your TV receiver is older (but still digital obviously), it will likely be more susceptible to multipath. Our first setup used one of those DTV analog converter boxes (Zenith), and it pulled in signals better than the TV tuner. That has since changed with a new (2010 I think) TV.

    -Here's where we like to buy: solidsignal.com. BTW TVFool was better than AntennaWeb back when I was researching it. (But use both)

    -My location looks good on paper, but we live in a swamp-hole blocked by USAF antenna farm. Very challenging spot. Have lost count of the channels we receive...maybe 45. (That's Washington and Baltimore, generally)

    EDIT: Sorry; upon further investigation, I have the Winegard HD 7695P antenna. Cost at the time, (Aug 2009) about $70
  4. richg

    richg Minister of Fire

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    Vonage will do phone service for $17.00 per month. Add in $10.00 per month for TV, tell them you'll max out at $50.00 per month for internet and if they don't like it, send someone out to disconnect all of your services. They'll do it.
  5. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Obviously my situation may be different from yours, but living here in central Maine I changed out my antenna, added a rotor and an amp and now I can get stations from both the Bangor and Portland markets . . . the key for me though is my height and the rotor.
  6. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    Night and day difference for me with an amplifier.
    I tried the antenna in the attic first as I really didn't want it hanging off the chimney but it didn't work worth a damn.
    If it wasn't for all the PBS channels I get 2, 36.1, 36.2, 44.1, 44.2, 44.3, 44.4 I'd have to pay for the Discovery and History channel somehow because the regular OTA channels certainly don't offer much for my viewing preferences.


    I had a round boat antenna for a while (before they went digital) in the attic and got 2 or 3 channels and not very good. When the channels went digital it was useless.
  7. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    We use a $40 OBI VOIP adapter and Google Voice after dropping Vonage. We do OTA TV and a Roku with NetFlix. We pay only for Internet (DSL) and Netflix, about $50 total a month.

    We've had good luck with OTA but our situation is less demanding than the OPs.
  8. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I am very similar to Semipro. All OTA and a Roku for netflix. I get DSL bundled with landline phone (no choice) for 70$ a month.

    When I cut the cord to the cable company I first tested out my OTA reception. I used the two sites to figure out which channels I could get, which direction, and how strong they were and then built my own antenna using the very public DIY antenna directions. It is seriously some scrap romex wire screwed to a scrap 2x6. I put it in the attic and pull in all stations that I should be able to get, and want, from about 40+ miles away. If attic reception was poor then I was prepared to mount it to my outside wall under the eve. These DIY antennas are flat so it would be like hanging a picture on the wall. The good news is that all my channels are high VHF and UHF so the UHF design of the DIY antenna is perfect. Good science project for the kids too.

    One benefit is that OTA broadcast is real uncompressed HD. With these new LCD TVs I have really grown fond of actual HD viewing. I still like those silly sitcoms with the laugh tracks as do the majority of the population.

    Use good RG6 coax, HDMI cables, and short home runs for the best experience. I installed a media center in the attic where all of my phone lines adn coax lines come together. The antenna is right next to it. If needed, I could add an amp there too.
  9. saladdin

    saladdin Feeling the Heat

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    Do you have cable internet (kind that uses coaxe)?

    If so, put a splitter on the cable before it goes into your modem. Run coaxe to your tv. You should get basic cable channels.

    If you morally object, then forget I mentioned it.
  10. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    I refuse to pay for TV. I use a Channelmaster (red) with Rotor, and pick up Baltimore, Washington DC, Lancaster, Harrisburg--all about 50-70 mile radius. Of course, I get more out in the boonies than I did when I lived in the burbs because there are not a lot of buildings bouncing the signals around me. I fear that once my six-year old antenna system goes belly up, I will be unable to find replacement equipment, let alone someone who knows how to mount the thing.
  11. mbcijim

    mbcijim Member

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    Hulu Plus plus Netflix is about $16/month. If you want even more choices throw in an Amazon Prime for about $70/year. Forget the antennae. I have a Roku box ($100) that enables all this. Most game players will work in substitute for the Roku. I just cut all the way back to the basic plan prior to cutting the cord altogether. Not sure how I'd watch NFL at the moment. That's the only sport I watch. Some of the sports have internet packages now.

    We wanted to watch Christmas Vacation the other day it was $.99 on Amazon Prime and the quality was at least equal if not better than DVD.
  12. SlyFerret

    SlyFerret Minister of Fire

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    I personally think that the old OTA local network affiliate business model is approaching a point where in no longer works. I predict that within the next 5 years, we are going to start seeing local OTA stations shutting down because they aren't profitable anymore.

    I hope I'm wrong, but as internet streaming picks up, and becomes a more viable alternative to broadcast and pay TV services, it will be harder and harder for local stations to keep bringing in add revenue.

    -SF
  13. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    You can't get local news on netflix. We watch lots of network TV OTA air as well. How do you expect real time delivery of this media to occur other than OTA or via cable?
  14. SlyFerret

    SlyFerret Minister of Fire

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    I didn't say I thought that it SHOULD fail, but I think the business model is broken.

    The market will be forced to solve that problem when it happens.

    -SF
  15. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    Currently I have DSL internet/local phone service (we'll keep the landline for 911 purposes, god forbid) through Century Link who owns the lines up here. They bundle their services with Dish Network which I also have and loathe. I could knock $70 off the bill just by pitching the dish, and maybe negotiate the cost of DSL/phone down from there. The other option is the cable company, Comcast, which of course offers TV/internet/phone through one coaxial cable. I was going to go with whoever would give me phone and internet the cheapest. The point you raise is interesting (and I definitely don't have a moral objection :lol:) but I have to believe that they're smarter than that? I'd certainly be willing to try though-it would get me NYC news-I could still use the antenna to get Philly network TV to watch the Eagles get their butts kicked :lol:

    I get what you're saying but for right now we're looking to cut costs and ditch the subscription model entirely, and as you point out, local sports and local news are still not readily available. I get that some people just want more choices and are willing to pay for them. I know a guy at work who has the top of the line cable package plus a Roku with subscriptions to everything from Amazon to Hulu to who knows what. I just want to be able to watch a couple of network shows, football, and get the weather in the morning and not pay an arm and a leg for it. The ability to occasionally splurge on a $0.99 video from Amazon now and then in full HD on a 55" screen will be nice though, which is why I still want to go with a streaming box in addition. A few weekends ago my SIL and her husband were over and the girls were upstairs with the baby. We decided to watch the Top Gear Bolivia Challenge (If you haven't seen it-do so-you won't be disappointed) but since I don't have the equipment we were limited to a 17" laptop screen on the coffee table...

    I get what you're saying, but I have to believe that OTA will survive. Cable didn't kill it and now cable is on shaky ground... At least it better survive after I invest $200 in an antenna and pre-amp! :lol:
  16. cottonwoodsteve

    cottonwoodsteve Member

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    Ideas and suggestions that worked for us.

    Two antennas may be better than rotor. No adjusting rotor between changing channels

    You list UHF and VHF stations on you 3 possibilities.
    Make sure you have the correct type of antenna facing the correct way.
    Some are one type only and some are both UHF / VHF.

    An amplifier really helps some times. Wall wort and driver in house and amp up on antenna.
    Read directions. If you plug in one before the other you can damage the system.

    One trick I have done is put TV on lawn with a temporay antenna cable connection.
    Have remote with you on roof, or ground and rotate mast / antenna. Do it slowly to allow the digital TV to get it's act together.
    Then use the remote info button to check signal strength and look at the reception. This way you can slowly make changes in direction and watch for results on the TV. It is much easier than wife shouting "better", " worse" after you already passed the point.

    When things upgraded to digital, some stations changed antenna locations and sometimes frequency. So the old antenna pointing to the old direction may not work now.

    Multiple antennas facing different directions to the exact location may help. But one antenna can suck up some of the signal from the other. So there can be good reception from both direction individually but not together. Using a reverse splitter on the mast helps this problem and joins two antennas to one one down cable.


    Our house origionally had 3 antennas and an amp.
    I carefully check station trandsmitter locations and frequency type (UHFor VHF)
    Then I carefully did roof top changes with one antenna at a time, others not mounted even to mast.

    Not we have only two antennas and no amp. But we have much better reception and more channels.

    The signal will bend slightly over hills if you are not too close. Also they can reflect or be channeled by hills or buildings. So don't just blindly believe hill means no reception.
  17. Whitepine2

    Whitepine2 Burning Hunk

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    Southern Ma

    http://current.org/ptv/ptv0821make.pdf Check this out don't laugh I did but am using one for the upstares TV and it works easy to make and cheep it's worth a try good luck Whitepine2
  18. Agent

    Agent Member

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    I actually just made one similar to that yesterday - My version had the aluminum foil backer board. Even just sitting sideways in my attic, I'm picking up all the channels I could with my roof antenna, but with a much steadier signal. Now if only I could hook up a rotor...
  19. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Whitepine and Agent: That is the DIY antenna that I spoke of earlier. I made one and used copper wire I had leftover from a wiring project. Bloody thing works great in my attic. It is all I've ever had for OTA TV and it worked so well in my tests that I shut off my cable service.

    There are a couple of versions of this antenna that include slightly different wisker lengths but they all look the same. Mine hangs from the ridge inside the attic for max height and least chance of interference from metal gutters and wiring at ceiling level.

    6" of ice and snow on top of a composition roof did not phase my signal.
  20. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

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    I found the analysis on tvfool to be more accurate than antennaweb, but both show that you really are out there! I didn't realize anywhere in NJ would be so remote.
    For me, the switch from Analog to Digital was fantastic. I have an attic mounted antenna with amplifier, I pick up all stations listed into the red zone. I'm on the wrong side of a hill, and surrounded by trees. My total outlay was less than $100, and I haven't paid a cable bill since 2003.
    I have noticed that a few feet either way, and even up or down can make a huge difference, optimize your setup for the channel you want to watch most. Don't split your cable to different TVs unless you have to, use high quality cable, and if possible try different TVs because they probably have different quality tuners inside.

    TE
  21. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    Just a note -- that design only works (well?) for UHF -- i.e., stations higher than 12. In my parts we get VHF stations too, but that's not true everywhere.

    I've got a big antenna on a tall pole, and we get around 20 stations, depending on the weather. I'd like a rotor. It's cool that each station turns into multiple stations with DTV. Our local NBC affiliate, 4.1, is using 4.2 as a vintage TV station, showing things like the Mary Tyler Moore show. Our ABC, on 7.1, uses 7.2 to show (mainly 80's) movies. Fox just shows doppler radar on theirs. The PBS stations (we get 2 or three states) show a range of programs, especially out of prime time.

    Now I need to figure out a way to record, so my wife can see Dr. Oz. I'm thinking about a PC with a TV tuner card.
  22. This is what angered me about getting rid of analog, analog signals propagate farther than digital. The fact was that most folks with OTA TV were poor and rural and the PTB just don't care about those people. Wait until they try to do the same thing to radio!
  23. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Actually, if you're going to throw that out there then we ought to discuss virtual channels and real channels. In my area, just about every virtual channel like 4,5,7,13 (the numbers that the reporters wear on their badges) are actually broadcast on high channles well into the UHF band like 35,48,50, etc. So to look at channel 4 you set your tuner to channel 50. Sort of tricky but your TV tuner probably keeps that information relatively secret. You will need to know this when selecting your antenna since as Pyper points out, some antennas are optimized to receive the VHF (2-13), some UHF (14- on up) and some can do both. The VHF antennas are the very large ones sometimes 14 feet long and wide.

    The DIY coat hanger style antenna is optimized for UHF but pretty good at high band VHF (9-13). I am very happy that my local stations use mostly UHF.
  24. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    Once you get a decent antenna set up with rotor etc, you can also boost the signal slightly with the addition on an inline booster that connects between the antenna cable and your TV. I had a hard time picking up two of the channels without pixilation until I put one on. You can usually find them at electronics stores.
  25. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    Mine does that (hides the gory details) but if you look at the listings on websites like antennaweb.org you can see where they broadcast (in addition to the display number). My 4 and 7 are really on 4 and 7. Any antenna can work for nearly any signal, if it's strong enough. Before I put up my big antenna I had just the UHF portion of it out sitting on the deck rail, and it picked up 4 well, but not 7 at all. We even thought about just putting up the UHF portion on the pole.

    Speaking of analog propagating well -- my Uncle lives on a hill in Erie County, Pennsylvania. Some nights you used to be able to pick up TV from New York City. It was snowy and fuzzy and barely there, but it was there. All sorts of Canadian TV too. There were at least 50 different channels, if you spent enough time with the rotor.

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