Another what antenna question

MickeyRat

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#1
I'm a computer geek not an antenna geek. My antenna is hooked to an hdhomerun with two tuners (assume an internal splitter). I won't go into what that's feeding into unless someone asks. I'm using a Winegard Flatwave Amped antenna and considering the fact that I just stuck it in my office window without regard to where it's pointing, it works pretty well. This setup was mostly to test the feasibility of cutting the cord. It looks feasible but, I think I need a better antenna. WSOC is spotty and I really want that one. I'm willing to spend some money but, not more than is necessary. I'd like to put the antenna in the attic.

Here's the TV FOOL info

The attic's pretty roomy. There aren't a lot of obstructions. I'm trying to get stations in the Charlotte region and going by the elevation change I'm about 130m higher. I'm thinking that should work in my favor. Also part of that downstream stuff I'm not talking about includes a PVR which will record at varying times unattended. So, using a rotor to turn the antenna isn't an option.

What kind of antenna and what direction should I point it?
From reading other threads it seems that most of the advice on here tends to say not to go with a pre-amp unless the antenna alone doesn't do it but, go ahead a recommend one if you think I need it.
Also I read the thread on antenna grounding. I know what a grounding block is but, should I get an antenna discharge device? If so, which one and where do I get it?

Thanks very much

What is your primary objective (check the line applicable) :
I don’t want to spend much, just want a few Local Stations:___.
I want as many as I can reasonably get:__X_.
I want the best system I can, to replace my Cable/Satellite Service:___.
I want to get EVERYTHING I can, cost is NO object:___.

Main Assembly:
What kind of Terrestrial Antenna do you presently have:
(Make/Model/None): Winegard Flatwave Amped.

Is the Antenna to be/or installed:
On top of your TV (same Room), Attic, Rooftop or Pole: Attic.

If inside (same room) on which floor is the Viewing Area:
First, Second, which: First Floor.

If in Attic, Roof or outside separate Mast/Pole:
How high above ground is your Antenna installed/proposed:
.15 ft

Do you have an Antenna Rotator: No

Are you presently using a Pre-Amplifier:
(Make/Model/None): Built into antenna

Interior:
How many linear Cable feet is it between your Antenna and the most far TV:
.20 ft.

How many TV sets will be/are presently being used, on this system:
. It's going into a network device with 2 tuners so I assume there is an internal splitter.

How many Splitters are in use in your system:
Number & Qty of outlets for each?

1
 
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#2
Looking at your TV Fool report the first antenna that comes to my mind for your situation is the Antennas Direct ClearStream 2 because of it's wide beam width. Aimed at about 150 degrees. That should get you most of the stations listed as LOS if you don't have some sort of local blockage. You don't have any VHF signals until you get down to bottom of the channels shown in yellow.
Antennas Direct C2 ClearStream2 Outdoor Digital HD TV Antenna (C2) from Solid Signal
A lower cost antenna option that should work in your location.
Stellar Labs HDTV 80 Mile Deep Fringe Bowtie Television Antenna | 30-2430 (302430) | Stellar Labs
With that one you would need to aim one panel at 167 degrees, and the other at 138 degrees. It could take some time, and experimentation with aiming. Antenna placement, and aiming normally requires a bit of time and experimentation.
You really should not need a pre-amp. With signals predicted to be that strong an amplifier could do more harm then good.
Steve
 

MickeyRat

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#3
Thanks for the reply. I probably should have said now much I'm willing to spend. I want the best option for around $150 or under. From what you've said the ClearStream is my best bet. I've actually been looking at a Mohu Sky 60. So, you've saved me some money.
 
#4
The Mohu sky is more marketing hype then real antenna. You could build a well designed single bow tie add a good pre-amp( RCA TVPRAMP1R) and have a better antenna then the sky for less then $35.

Steve
 
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#5
While I've been known to be very critical of the some what misleading marketing department at Antennas Direct, and their high price tags they do sell well designed reputable products. While it can sometimes take some searching you can find very good online spec sheets (technical data) for most Antennas Direct products.
Mohu products can work in some situations, but the products are mostly marketing hype. Much to my surprise I did come across a very good antenna blog awhile back from the Mohu company. I don't know if it can still be found, or how it slipped by their marketing people.
I found it.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B20rz481r3nHaTdEd0t5amFRMlY2QUZ4S29xM2Y0dGp0NEtF/edit?pli=1
To the best of my knowledge no real technical data on a Mohu antennas gain in dBi, dBd, SWR, or beamwidth has ever been published.
Steve
 

MickeyRat

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#6
The Mohu sky is more marketing hype then real antenna. You could build a well designed single bow tie add a good pre-amp( RCA TVPRAMP1R) and have a better antenna then the sky for less then $35.

Steve
That's why I came on here. You're the guys that know. I'm certainly not. Neither is the guy in the cube next to mine that was telling me how good the Mohu was. :)

One more question. I'm a little too old to do too much climbing into and out of the attic to tune the antenna direction. Would getting a signal strength meter be a good idea? Can you recommend one?
 
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#7
I certainly understand the being a bit old to do much climbing. The problem is I really don't know of a reasonably priced signal strength meter. I was pretty certain the hdhomerun has a signal strength meter. On a quick search I discovered the information I was looking for. HDHomeRun has an Android app signal strength meter.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.zaren&hl=en
Now quite honestly I know almost nothing about the hdhomerun, why I'd want one, or what to do with it. I've never used an Andriod device and don't have one to play with. It all sounds like another steep learning curve to me. I got drug into the computer world about four years ago out of necessity. Before that I really had very little use for one. It's been a steep learning curve.
I've been playing with, buying, building, installing various radio, and television antennas for about 50 years now.
One concern I would have about your proposed installation is there actually signal in your attic. You could test your Winegard Flatwave up there. Building materials can sometimes block signal. There is no signal in my attic, and only from one direction in the house I had to put the antenna outside, but I have plenty of signal at only 10 feet high outside.
Steve
 

MickeyRat

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#8
I certainly understand the being a bit old to do much climbing. The problem is I really don't know of a reasonably priced signal strength meter. I was pretty certain the hdhomerun has a signal strength meter. On a quick search I discovered the information I was looking for. HDHomeRun has an Android app signal strength meter.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.zaren&hl=en
Now quite honestly I know almost nothing about the hdhomerun, why I'd want one, or what to do with it. I've never used an Andriod device and don't have one to play with. It all sounds like another steep learning curve to me. I got drug into the computer world about four years ago out of necessity. Before that I really had very little use for one. It's been a steep learning curve.
I've been playing with, buying, building, installing various radio, and television antennas for about 50 years now.
I can't match your 50 but, I've been working with computers professionally for 30 years. The hdhomerun can be run from a lot more than just android. It would probably be too much trouble for most folks. However, if you have good computer skills, a robust home network, and a wife that really wants to cut the cord but, doesn't want to give up the on screen guide and PVR and you have some old gear laying around, you can cobble together something that resembles all you get from the cable company with the hdhomerun.

Unfortunately, the used hdhomerun I bought on ebay had a problem and I just sent it back. I have a new one on the way but, it's not here yet. I'll bet with all the software that I have installed there's a signal strength meter in there somewhere. I'll look for it when the hdhomerun comes in.

One concern I would have about your proposed installation is there actually signal in your attic. You could test your Winegard Flatwave up there. Building materials can sometimes block signal. There is no signal in my attic, and only from one direction in the house I had to put the antenna outside, but I have plenty of signal at only 10 feet high outside.
Steve
That's a good point. The attic was my preference but, I can get away with an outdoor antenna. My house is weird though. It's actually a two story house but it's in the side of a hill. So the other story is the basement and one side of the roof is a lot farther off the ground than the other side of the roof. I don't relish the idea of getting up there to straighten out the antenna after some wind. So I probably want a rotor too. Recommendations?

Sorry, for all the questions. You're da man!!!
 
#9
I don't think you would have trouble with wind load or wind moving a C2 antenna try the attic first. Use the Winegard up there to test for signal. You've never said which direction you currently have the Winegard facing. Most of the signals you will want are to the south east. I hope you don't have any major blockage in that direction. Experiment, and troubleshoot as you build your antenna system. Success with OTA is not always a plug and play instant success.
I've been reading up a bit on the hdhomerun I understand the concept. The computer required at each viewing point is beyond what many are ready to embrace. I used the term computer in a very broad way in that a simple TV would have no way of accessing a hdhomerun.
50 years is not much of an exaggeration at age 7 my parents did not want to discourage my curiosity about radio and electronics, but wanted to me to play with safer forms of it then some of the high voltage experiments I had already tried. Hooking wires to the antenna terminals of radios and televisions seemed like a safe out let for my curiosity. Chrystal radios and old TVs that you had to thump on the tubes to make work were a part of my child hood. You did not thump tubes in the High voltage section.
Most of my computer experience has been rescuing my 80 year old Dad from his windows 7 reconfiguration and virus downloads. Trouble shoot, repair, and restore while I was just learning.
I currently run Linux mint cinnamon on a junk gateway laptop I rescued from the dump, but can boot into windows 7 if I've need to.
Steve
 

MickeyRat

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#10
Okay, so the C2 can go outdoors as well. I think I may go that route anyway. There are a few trees that direction though. Looking at the roof line my best tree free shot is at the other end of the house over the garage. That would be about another 60 feet of coax. So, are trees worse or is more coax worse? Try it and see right? :)

You recommended 150 degrees. I just stuck the Winegard in a front window and it is facing a tree. Coincidentally the front of my house faces 156 degrees. I was a bit surprised that I was getting around 20 channels with a leaf antenna. I guess that's why. If WSOC came in reliably, I wouldn't be on here.

I've had a computer hooked to my TV for some time with an HDMI interface. It doesn't have to be that expensive. For around $100, you get a lot. For this setup I'm using a backend server plus a computer at the TV.

Probably not appropriate to post about all that here but, let me know if you want more info.

I used to use Mint with cinnamon but, I got tired of reinstalling to stay current. If you get to feeling that way, you might take a look at Manjaro with XFCE. It's a rolling distro (no reinstalls) and it's not any harder to set up than Mint. I still use Manjaro on my wife's laptop. I use Arch with a desktop environment I built from scratch using openbox on mine. I'm such a geek!!! :)
 
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#11
I liked the try it and see comment. I've often said you really won't know until you try. 60 feet of coax won't kill a good signal. A tree in the way will. At my location I have reception of a weak channel 22 signal all winter, when the trees leaf out in the spring it's gone. It would not be difficult to move the antenna, but the channel 22 is a repeat of a signal I receive year round on channel 35 from a different direction. They both show on the TV as virtual channel 2.1.
I liked the last post better before the edit. I have seen some threads on this forum drift way off subject.
I'll try to post more later.
Steve
 

MickeyRat

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#12
I liked the last post better before the edit. I have seen some threads on this forum drift way off subject.
I'll try to post more later.
Steve
I actually saved the original, if you'd like a repost. After giving it some thought, I felt it was way too long and way too detailed. You didn't ask how to do all that. I won't be able to do anything till some of the gear I have coming makes it in next week. Do take a look at Manjaro. :)
 
#13
When I look at a TV fool report I look for the simplest most likely to work, and sometimes cheapest way to receive the major network channels (ABC,CBS,NBC,Fox,PBS) with currently available antennas.
What I saw when I looked at your TV fool report was a lot of very good line of sight signals with a wide directional spread between them. WSOC at 138 degrees, other major commercial networks at about 170 degrees, and strong PBS signals from 255 and 304 degrees. All of the line of sight signals are UHF. I saw no need for a VHF antenna for good basic reliable local reception. I did see need for an antenna with wide beam width and some forward gain, and some back side lobe reception. I seldom recommend Antennas Direct products. As I feel they are a bit high priced, and are deceptive in there marketing practices. In your situation the C2 seemed to fit the requirements. I did look at the signals in red on your TV fool report. It gets very large, expensive, unreliable, and complicated to even consider adding those to your channel line up.
The C2 is a directional UHF antenna with about forward 10 dBi gain, a 70 degree half power beam width, and some useful back side lobes. I could link complete spec sheet, and independently done 4nec2 modeling of the antenna. This sales sheet explains it quite well.
https://www.antennasdirect.com/clearstream2horizontalplane.html
I did some looking at the TV fool map page today. Satellite image with lines enabled it looks like if I moved my antenna ten feet west of where it's at I would have channel 22 year round. From looking at things 10 foot higher would work until the tree grows. I never use virtual channel numbers they have no relevance to radio frequency signals. If you've never played with TV Fool maps I encourage it.
https://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=90
I'm basically an antenna signal propagation nut kHz to GHz. Longwave to microwave and everything in between.
Don't expect cable company head end results on you first try. With luck you might get it. None of us acquired what computer knowledge we may have overnight yet so many expect that building an antenna system should be a plug and play procedure with cable company like results. It doesn't always work that way.
I did a bit of research. Manjaro looks to be a bit over my head at this point in time. I will try to send you a PM when I get a chance. Too much Linux talk needs to be done else where.
Steve
 
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MickeyRat

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#14
Not to worry. I'm not expecting perfection. The Winegard is almost there. So, I just need something a little better. The fact is that it's likely that given where the antenna is now, it's probably being affected when a car drives by. Not a lot of traffic on my road though.

It'll be at least two weeks till I can get things in place. I have to order just about everything I want around here.

I have to admit that I don't understand how to read the TV Fool signal maps. I have no knowledge but, knowing you recommend 150 degrees and looking at the signal map, I see a lot of stations off that direction. Looking at the table, it looks like most of the weaker signals are in that general direction as well. Am I even close?

One thing that concerns me. I've been looking at grounding the antenna. NEC recommends that the ground wire be no more than 20' and that separate grounds be electrically connected. Ideally you'd like to ground the antenna to the ground rod where the house current comes in. If I mount the antenna over the garage to avoid the trees, I'm on the opposite side of the house from the power ground rod. I'm also more than 20' from anywhere I could drive a ground rod because of concrete. Lastly it would take a pretty long wire (>100') to connect a separate ground rod. Any advice there? I have to confess that it's really tempting to run a ground wire into a handy outlet junction box and pick up the ground there. :)

I'll be happy to help you with Linux any time.
 
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#15
I really don't feel that I am the right person to offer antenna grounding advice. Nothing will save you from a direct strike, and I've at times lost equipment from nearby strikes.
I did do a bit more looking at your TV Fool report and also ran a RabbitEars.Info report. You can use the Rabbit ears.info site to really dig deep if you know how to use it. As a start just clicking on the call signs will often times tell you what they should be transmitting. Here is a link.
RabbitEars.Info
I ran that one on 60 miles. The one thing I did notice is there are no shortage of WSOC signals being transmitted. It's being transmitted from 4 different transmitters on real channels 42,34,30, and 46. 42 should channel map to virtual channel 6.1. The others should channel map to virtual channel 9.1. The confusing channel system the broadcasters, and the FCC have given us in this country takes some time to figure out. Many of the products the manufactures have come up with to use with our goofy channel system are equally mickey mouse. I had my Samsung TV for over 4 years before I figured out how to do direct channel entry of real channel numbers instead of scanning when searching for signals.
At one time at my location KTWO could be received from six different transmitters some of them HD others SD. It's now down to 4 different transmitters two of them HD. If you don't know what's going on and what real channel you are receiving, it can be hard to determine what transmitter the signal is coming from.
Steve
 
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MickeyRat

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#16
I'm keeping the thread alive with an update. I got the antenna up and the coax is in the attic but, I still need to drag it through the attic and fish it down the wall. I had a septic problem get in the way...YUCK!!! I did find out that RG59 fittings won't work on RG6 cable the hard way.

I also found that I do have 3 different WSOC channels but, the one that works best is still spotty.
 
#17
It is my understanding that quad shield takes different fittings then standard RG6. My personal experience is working with junk box, thrift shop, and some pre-built coax with out the right tools for the job. Because of having this kind of experience, and knowing the strange unexpected things coax fitting flaws can do to ATSC signals I always recommend testing all coax runs for continuity and shorts. Avoid tight bends. Build it like it is carrying high voltage, or sensitive data. What few realize is that high voltage standing wave ratio on a feed line caused by slightly faulty coax can result in great reception of many channels with one frequency canceled out do to signal reflections on the feed line. High VSWR. As I've mentioned before I once changed out a 25 foot run of coax with a factory made one when testing a different antenna on my back yard test stand. All VHF and UHF channels but one looked good the signal quality meter on the channels received looked good. Channel 32 was missing, 30 was there as was 38, but no 32. When I checked a different TV and antenna system 32 was not off the air. When I put an ohm meter on the store bought coax run I found the shield was open. Since then I've seen other similar situations when there is high SWR on a feed line causing cancellation of a channel. While I do not think this is the cause of your reception problem many have trouble understanding why one missing channel with a strong signal in their area can be the result of poorly constructed coax. In most cases quad shield is not needed. Do not use RG 59 as the center strand is to small to make good contact in many of the connectors in use now days.
Steve
 

dkreichen1968

Moderator
Staff member
#18
My experience with RG6 Quad is that it is very difficult to get standard RG6 fittings on it, but that it works well when you get the job done. On the other hand RG6 compression fitting on RG6 cable is a piece of cake. ;)
 

MickeyRat

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#19
Well I did use RG6 cable with an RG6 compression fitting at the antenna. The Harbor Freight stripper and compression tool worked great after the stripper was adjusted. I did put some dielectric grease in the fittings outside. Should help to keep moisture out. I saw that in a youtube video. :) It took just about all of 100 foot roll of coax to make the trip.

I just did the first scan and I'm getting 9 more channels. Some of them are duplicates of channels I was already getting though. Haven't had enough time on it to know whether things are coming in better on the channels I was worried about. Really if all those new channels come in badly but, the ones I was getting before come in well, I'll be satisfied.
 
#20
Thanks for stopping back by with a progress report. I really do hope it works out for you. There is a bit of a learning curve to all of this. I keep learning a bit more all of the time. The suggested aiming is a compromise base upon your TV Fool report, and the beam width of the suggested antenna. All local reception conditions can't be worked out over the internet.
Linux distros I've played with Ubutu, ( Coming from Windows 7 and XP I did not like the interface) Peppermint, (There is a lot to like about that one, but I got a bit confused at times, and could not keep a stable OS running off of a flash drive.) Chomixium, ( What I see so far I like. Simplicity of the Chrome OS with room to grow. I have experience with the Google Chrome OS, but do not like being locked into a Google world.) Mint Cinnamon is my current preferred OS. As I learn that could change. There is even a possibility of going back to Windows, but at this point in time it seems highly unlikely. If I feel the need I can boot into Windows 7, or even XP. At this point in time I do still have some need to run Windows 7 at times. I want to learn to work with 4nec2. I don't know if I've enough computer to handle it, and getting it running on Linux could add to the complexity. Very steep learning curve ahead.
Keep in mind I've only been into computers since about 2012, and still have a lot of problems doing things that others find to be simple.
Steve
 
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