Antenna and Mounting Advice - SE Wisconsin

mikewi

DTVUSA Rookie
#1
Hello all,

I am looking to switch from TWC to OTA HDTV via an antenna. I have been reading the forums feverishly the past few days but I am still feeling a bit overwhelmed and undecided. Between UHF, VHF, grounding, amps, etc my head starts to spin and I'm not sure what I really need given my location.

I am located in Kenosha, WI - south of Milwaukee and north of Chicago. My primary goal would be to get all the Milwaukee based channels. In a 100% ideal situation I would like to get all Milwaukee stations AND as many Chicago stations as possible. Since these markets are complete opposite directions relative to my location, am I correct in thinking that I would need a two antenna setup then something to combine the signals?

As for antenna location, I am open to suggestions. Based on the TV Fool report, if there is a "good" indoor antenna that would pick up most stations, I would be apt to go that route and skip any external mounting. Based on what I've read, outside and higher is always better. From that regard, the best I could do would be maybe 15 ft from the ground outside. However, this opens up other issues. Ideally I'd like to stay away from any sort of mount that penetrates the roof (crazy I know). I was thinking of maybe trying to mount the antenna to the electrical service conduit on the side of the house (about a 1-1/2" metal pipe that the service enters the house in from the pole). I'm not sure if this is the greatest idea from a technical standpoint. I also haven't seen many (or any) pictures where an antenna is "side-mounted" to a vertical pole? Or if I could somehow mount a vertical mast side by side to the electrical service conduit. But again, an external mount opens up other questions (grounding) - but I am open to it.

The signal from the antenna would be split to three TVs. Another plus for the external antenna is that my plan would be use the existing coax that TWC is using to enter the house. I would unscrew the TWC line from the pole and put the antenna coax in its place. I believe this should work? The only wildcard is I am not sure if the house is wired with RG6.

I am open to all/any solutions. Any help is appreciated - Thanks in advance.
 
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#2
Well, the good news is that you're right, Chicago and Milwaukee are in completely opposite directions from your home. In addition, the signal strength in both directions is very strong from major networks and major independent broadcasters. I count 32 broadcast stations with at least 15dB estimated in your location. With a good tuner and halfway decent cable, you won't have much problem pulling in all your stations. Have you considered an attic-mount? This allows you to get the antenna a bit higher than in your living room, but it's protected from the elements.

I'd recommend against mounting directly to the electrical pole. While it may seem convenient, the possibility of an electrical short or other event isn't conducive to using it. Your idea of using another pole that's anchored to the electrical pole might work, but you still need to make sure you're properly grounded, and doing it wrong could be a problem. In fact, no matter where you place an antenna outside, you need to be grounded.

Are the eaves and fascia on your home made of wood or are they covered with vinyl? If you're worried about "piercing" your roof, you could use what's called a "J-Mount" and attach it to the fascia just below the roof. If it's wood, you don't have a problem. If it's vinyl or aluminum, you need to be more careful about it, because you're putting a hole in a very thin, single-barrier structure. Either way, sealing some bolts with a silicone caulk would be a good idea. This is how a lot of satellite dishes are attached.

As for antennas, it looks like you should get a highly directional antenna. The broadcast stations are so evenly opposed that you'll be able to align the antenna generally north-south and should pick up everything that you would pick up. Some others here can comment on what specific type is best for your situation. It looks like you have some VHF-lo stations at some greater distances/lower power, which will make it more difficult for you to pick them up. You may, in fact, need two antennas, or someone may be able to recommend a single antenna that can work.

I think you're in a perfect situation to get a host of broadcast options. Remember, it takes some playing around to get it just right and get the best overall setup. A few weeks ago, I tested my cheap Chinese POS antenna, holding it with my hand 9 feet above ground and picked up 91 channels in Atlanta, about 70 of them clearly enough to watch. When I mounted it in my attic, I found out the wiring in my home wasn't up to the task. So when you start working on it, you may be surprised by what you find, but with effort and time, you can work it out.

Good luck!
 

mikewi

DTVUSA Rookie
#3
Thanks for the reply. I took a *quick* look at the existing coax and only noticed one wire that explicitly said RG6 on it. Looking at the others at glance I only saw some sort of manufacturer's name like Brightwire or something. Replacing all the coax with RG6 wouldn't be a big deal since the holes are drilled already.

For the external mount, the fascia is aluminum with wood behind it. A J-Mount to the fascia at the peak of the roof is most likely a suitable option.

I begin to struggle when trying to choose an antenna. Based on my TV Fool report, is there a certain type/model/brand I should be looking for? If I went with a "highly directional" model as suggested aimed towards the northern (Milwaukee) stations, would it still indeed pick up stations in the south (Chicago). Would I be looking for a Yagi style antenna?

Would an RCA ANT751R or Channel Master CM-4221HD work better in an attempt to get all of Milwaukee (North) and some of Chicago (South)?

Thanks
 

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