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Outdoor to basement wireless antenna connection? Or passive reflectors?

Discussion in 'Local Reception' started by grunes, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. grunes

    grunes Member

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    College...
    I live in a major urban area, where I was previously able to get good reception of all the major OTA networks using an attic antenna.

    I have moved to a basement apartment, in the same area, where it is impractical to put an antenna indoors anywhere higher than the basement. Reception is awful.

    It would be too awkward with the landlord to put something on the roof, and wire it to my apartment, and I don't want to do anything permanent.

    But there are tall trees here. If I could mount an antenna in the trees (or make an antenna look like a tree??), is there a reasonably cheap wireless way to transmit the antenna signal to my apartment? I'm thinking it would be powered by solar cells. Part of the idea is that if the antenna were hit by lightning, there would be no wire to transmit the voltage to my TV and DVR, and there should hopefully be no electrical code violations.

    It would be nice if there was an off-the-shelf solution. I suspect a lot of people have similar issues, so it should exist, but I haven't been able to find it. Do you folks know of any off-the-shelf solutions?

    (If full full antenna bandwidth for all possible HDTV channels is too large for wireless transmission, I'm willing tell the outdoor device what times and stations I will want to watch or record.)

    Is this a crazy or impractical idea?

    I've had some other crazy ideas how to do this. Like setting up passive reflectors in the trees that would reflect the TV signal from nearby transmitter towers to the area of my Window. Anyone know of off-the-shelf devices or plans to make that happen, or would it require too big a reflector to work?

    (I already tried connecting an antenna wire to the ground of my electrical outlets - which works for some people, depending on home electrical system geometry - but doesn't work well for me. I also tried connecting an antenna wire to the heating duct, in hopes that the [metal] duct system would act like an antenna. And within the basement, I tried pointing an antenna in multiple directions, at multiple heights, through a window, and through the walls. No dice.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  2. grunes

    grunes Member

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    I did some on-line research, and discovered that what I am talking about is called a "repeater". And my "passive reflector" is actually called a "passive repeater". From what I've been able to find, most passive repeaters are large planar reflective surfaces, designed to reflect radio signals to a large area - e.g., around a large building. I had in mind small parabolic reflectors, that would concentrate the signal from specific transmission towers to my by-the-window antenna. (Obviously, they shouldn't be optically smooth and shiny, or they could start a fire. They only need to be smooth and shiny at TV channel frequencies.)

    This type of work seems to be mostly done by large companies, and is very expensive.

    I need a cheap solution for one home, that can be removed when I move again.

    Any ideas?
     
  3. jimmie57

    jimmie57 Hall Of Fame

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    I could be wrong but I think this is a dream that is not going to happen.

    Does the building have cable ? If yes, your solution might be cable.
     
    grunes likes this.
  4. WestDC

    WestDC Well-Known Member

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    you may want to look at solid signal and call them for advice! Putting any metal in a tree is asking for a lighting hit - so I would ditch that idea.

    Streaming may be your only option
     
  5. RBA

    RBA Well-Known Member

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    Is there an internal chase that a cable could be dropped down to feed from roof to basement?
     
  6. grunes

    grunes Member

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    The building probably once had cable.

    But the cable company here charges hundreds of dollars/month (not at first - but they climb up an order of magnitude over time). And, from past experience, the local affiliate has serious honesty issues. They like to charge for boxes one never had, and they charge more than they say they will over the phone.

    The house now gets Internet from Verizon FIOS (the landlord pays for it) - but Verizon charges a lot to add TV service, and keeps getting higher the longer you stay with them. In fact, if you call, they won't even give you a definite price quote, and what they give on-line is very confusing. (Maybe that is the local affiliate, rather than the national company, too?)

    Incidentally, the cable company (or was it Verizon?) ran the cable coax all over the outside wall, and around the front. (The walls are brick.) I would really hate to use that cable, because it seems like a big lightning target too. The cables don't go all the way to the roof - and if they did connect to an antenna there, one would have to ground it. As I walk around the house, and the neighbors' houses, I see no grounding rods, though I don't know whether there is internal grounding. Anyway, the landlord wouldn't go for anything mounted on the house.

    Some of the trees are about 70' tall. Would putting a reflector up 15 or 20' really make them bigger lightning targets? After all, it seems like trees are already grounded conductors. I actually don't understand why they aren't hit all the time - though we are at something of a low point, by 10 -20', in the local terrain, and the terrain around us has tall trees too. (And this is in the DC Metro area, not "lightning alley" in Central Florida.)

    What if the passive repeaters were mounted on a (possibly grounded) flagpole, also 10-20' high? Would that be likely to attract lightning to the home or trees?

    I have played a bit with with Hulu, Netflix, and Sling TV Blue. But none of those deliver most of the local channels, including most of the major networks. (Sling TV locally delivers only Fox & NBC.)

    Of course, some of the major OTA networks let you watch recent episodes of some shows on-demand for free - but it would still be nice to get more local OTA channels. And most of the networks omit some programming from free on-demand.

    Anyway, I am trying to go CHEAP, like everyone else who wants to watch OTA. Sure, there are services more expensive than Sling TV Blue (which is already pretty expensive, for the few channels on it that I watch - mostly SyFy and BBC America), that can include the other networks, but the price is too high.

    Besides, I think the idea of a passive repeater is really cool.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2017
  7. grunes

    grunes Member

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    I guess one other possibility would be to combine a bunch of extremely high gain antennas from within the basement. High enough gain to reliably receive despite attenuation by trees and nearby homes. But that sounds pretty complicated. I'm tempted to try to make antennas out of simple wires, but I suspect creating a low-loss combiner is more complicated and expensive. Besides, there may be some terrain blockage, because we are at a low point.
     
  8. RBA

    RBA Well-Known Member

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    The first thing you may need is written permission from the Landlord to attach anything to their property. Having both cable and Verizon available suggests they may already have a contract to provide internet/video services to tenants.
     
  9. J Blow

    J Blow Legend

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    When you are referring to local channels, is it important that they actually be 'local' or are you referencing just networks in general? If the latter, many streaming options sound best.

    As far as the cable running everywhere....that should benefit you. I wouldn't be afraid to put up an antenna somewhere just due to lightning strike fear alone.
     
  10. scooper

    scooper Hall Of Fame

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    If you weren't in a basement, you might be able to give it a try with an inside antenna at a window. You could try that in your basement, but I would not expect much. You may have to use FIOS / cable for your TV or go without or move.
     
  11. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    The landlord does not want anything attached to the house but would accept something in a tree or on a flagpole?

    If they will allow a "flagpole" I'd look in to a small tower or push up mast. They can be grounded. But I'd check with the landlord first.
     
  12. grunes

    grunes Member

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    I hate moving, and am trying to avoid it.

    I already tried a Clearstream 4V antenna

    https://www.amazon.com/ClearStream-...05498396&sr=8-2&keywords=clearstream+antennas

    against the window, and the wall. Don't have an antenna amplifier - but the coax run is short, and the strongest channel, which would set the AGC, is already strong, so it probably wouldn't help.

    The landlord lives upstairs. He keeps a nice yard. He suggested using the existing coax along the wall. With all the cables there, one would barely notice a small antenna (smaller and flatter than the Clearstream 4V, of course). But as best I understand it, without lightning arresters and a grounding rod, any outdoor antenna is illegal and unsafe for the house. He will probably let me add an antenna if it is hidden behind the shed, or if it is in the shed, and there is a wireless way to get the antenna signals to me.

    Sling TV Blue, plus what is available free on-demand, gives me most of what I want at $25/month - but I would have to go way up in price to get a service with the other OTA networks, like PBS. Not worth it. But if I could just get better OTA reception, that would be very nice.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2017
  13. RBA

    RBA Well-Known Member

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    The cure move out of the basement, YOUR OTA is actually underground
     

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