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OTA Antenna

Discussion in 'Local Reception' started by myselfalso, May 3, 2013.

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  1. May 3, 2013 #1 of 18
    myselfalso

    myselfalso Godfather

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    Jan 25, 2006
    I have an OTA antenna that I have hooked up to my D* box, and it does an okay job. It's able to pick up all of the local channels, but some of the more distant ones tend to be a bit choppy.

    I'm considering buying a new antenna and I'm looking for suggestions. I'm looking for an upgrade to what I've got now - something that won't have the choppy interference. I'm also curious to know if it's possible to have an antenna that could pick up out of market signals (from Baltimore or Philly, for example).
     
  2. May 3, 2013 #2 of 18
    sregener

    sregener Godfather

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    Apr 17, 2012
    You're not going to be able to get much help because nobody knows where you live, what kind of antenna you have currently, or where you have it installed.

    In general, 60 miles is the limit for reliable reception over average terrain. Beyond that, you're counting on the troposphere to help you out because the curvature of the earth gets in the way of line-of-sight reception. Now, if you're up higher than average terrain (or put up a tower to get above that average terrain) and don't have many things around to block the signal (trees, buildings) you can beat the average by a little, but I wouldn't count on you getting a consistent signal from much more than 75 miles away without going to extreme measures. There will be times, maybe even a lot of the time, where the troposphere will help you out, but it will not be 24x7 for all channels at that distance.

    Baltimore and Philadelphia both have VHF channels as well as UHF, which has a longer range in theory, but also require a much larger antenna. IIRC, WPVI is on channel 6, so you're even going to need a lo-VHF antenna, and those things are very large.

    As a starting point, you're going to need a rotor and something like a Winegard HD8200P, as well as a 28dB preamplifier like the Winegard AP-8780. The fewer splits you can do, the better. And you're going to want to mount that beast up as high as possible, at least 10' above the local tree line (you can ignore trees more than 1/10 mile away.) Forget it if you live in a valley.

    Plug your address into the signal finder at TVFool and figure anything below -100 for signal strength is going to be intermittant at best. Anything in the -90 range is going to take a very large and powerful solution. -80 or better should be easily doable.
     
  3. May 3, 2013 #3 of 18
    P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

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    Mediterranea...
    sites: antennaweb, tvfool, rabbitears are your guide to new antenna's world
     
  4. May 3, 2013 #4 of 18
    harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    Salem, OR
    As sregener points out, "distant" is relative. Greater than 60 miles may be a pipe dream for many as the digital signals often don't travel as far. Much of this has to do with many stations transitioning to UHF frequencies.

    Knowing why you think you should be able to receive more channels may also be helpful if your zip code is too much of an invasion of privacy.
     
  5. RasputinAXP

    RasputinAXP Kwisatz Haderach of Cordcuttery

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    Jan 23, 2008
    They are, and you do, and I can't even bother to try to get them anymore. They're only 20.7 miles from me and unless I grab a huge mother, I'm still not picking it up. I wish they were back on their temporary UHF 64 but that's not possible anymore...
     
  6. sum_random_dork

    sum_random_dork Icon

    911
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    Aug 21, 2008
    As P. Smith said check out those sites. We can all offer our advice but not knowing where your house is, what's near by it is really tough. I recently moved less than a 1/4 mile and went from being able to pull in 5 stations via an outdoor antenna (not a yagi) to -0- stations. What it comes down to is what antenna you choose, where you mount it, and what is nearby. You will often hear "This antenna can pull channels from 60 miles away." That may be true but that's in a clear LOS type set up, add in trees, mountains, windmills etc and it makes it very tough to pull a channel.
     
  7. jsk

    jsk Icon

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    Dec 27, 2006
    I can receive channels from Baltimore, Washington and Philly, but the Philly channels aren't very reliable. I am in Fallston, MD and have a large newer UHF antenna combined with a large old VHF antenna in my attic. I have it pointed toward Baltimore & Washington (both are in a straight line from my house). A rotor seems like it would be a hassle since I have timers set for OTA. I get all of the Baltimore channels, most of the DC channels and WGAL (Lancaster, PA) reliably. I receive WPVI & WPHL (Philadelphia) many evenings during the summer, when the atmosphere is right, but almost never during the winter.
     
  8. sregener

    sregener Godfather

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    Apr 17, 2012
    I agree that mileage estimates are worthless when comparing antennas. dBd or dBi figures (and it pays to know which is being used, since manufacturers often only list "dB" without saying which measurement they're using) are the only reliable way to compare performance across antenna manufacturers. Check HDTVPrimer dot com for their chart that compares many commonly available antennas and you'll see that it isn't even that simple, as performance across the DTV spectrum can vary widely between antennas.

    And yes, using a rotor can be a pain when you have OTA timers set up, as you have to be rather careful about where your antenna is pointed. However, if you truly need to turn your antenna to receive certain channels, and the content on those channels makes it worth doing, then a rotor can be the cheapest option. Those multiple-antenna + filter setups the cable companies and large apartment complexes sometimes use cost well north of $1000. A quality rotor is only $100.
     
  9. Jim5506

    Jim5506 Hall Of Fame

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    Another option, if possible is to move the antennas outside so the signal is not attenuated by the building materials it has to penetrate to get to your antenna.

    You could potentially more than double the signal at the antenna, just by going up on th eroof.
     
  10. renegade

    renegade Cool Member

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    Jul 28, 2011
    Nonsense. Two small antennas, a combiner and a preamp can be had for les than $200. I have two antennas setup this way and pointed at two markets, and I receive more than 30 channels.
     
    1 person likes this.
  11. Reaper

    Reaper Godfather

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    Jul 30, 2008
    Me too. My second antenna is pointed at a broadcaster in the same market that is located in a different area.
     
  12. Jim5506

    Jim5506 Hall Of Fame

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    Jun 7, 2004
    If you do not want a monster VHF low antenna, try an FM antenna for channel 6, channel 6 is just below the FM band.
     
  13. jsk

    jsk Icon

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    Dec 27, 2006
    Do you have a diagram for that? Is it really as easy as plugging in two antennas to a splitter/combiner? Is it a special combiner? Any other special equipment needed?

    I would like to add an antenna pointed toward Philly.
     
  14. Jim5506

    Jim5506 Hall Of Fame

    3,630
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    Jun 7, 2004
    Combining a VHF-high antenna with a UHF antenna can be done with either a UVSJ (UHF/VHF signal joiner - <$5) or with a preamplifier that has both UHF and VHF inputs (~$65).

    Single band UHF and VHF fringe antennas are available for about $65 and $40 respectively.

    Rotators can be had for $60 to $160 or more.
     
  15. jsk

    jsk Icon

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    Dec 27, 2006
    I thought that Renegade was referring to connecting two UHF/VHF antennas together pointed at different directions. I currently have a UHF/VHF combiner, but both antennas are both pointed toward Baltimore & Washington.
     
    1 person likes this.
  16. P Smith

    P Smith Mr. FixAnything

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    Jul 25, 2002
    Mediterranea...
    it doesn't matter where your antennas pointing, it's matter of matching impedance
    perhaps of phase shift in case of same freq and same stations if you like make synphase multi-beams antenna
     
  17. PrinceLH

    PrinceLH New Member

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    Feb 18, 2003
    I use a Winegard Y1713 for VHF high and a PR8800 for UHF, plus a CM7777 preamp. It works like a charm, here in upper New York State. I also have a rotor on a 30' tower. I can get four different markets and a number of nearby Canadian channels, as well.
     
  18. renegade

    renegade Cool Member

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    Jul 28, 2011
    Yes. The combiner that I used to combine my antennas is really nothing more than a splitter in reverse. I have two small EZ-HD antennas, connected with short, equal-length cables to the combiner, then to a Winegard preamplifier, then a 50-foot downlead to the power inserter and distribution point in my crawlspace. It drives six televisions with no problems. Your mileage may vary.
     

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