Question: Antenna Help Needed

jekoenig

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#1
Used to have Aereo - now that they are gone I want to switch to an antenna. I have a Clear Steam 4 from Antenna's Direct with UHF and VHF pieces on it - had it for a few years. It is NOT the right antenna for my location and gets some, but not many channels. Every time a plane flies over, I lose reception. lol

I want to start from scratch. Here is my info.

Address: 22 Caldwell Rd, Hewitt NJ 07421
TV Fool Link: http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id=e1c6413bbfac82
TV Fool Image: Attached
My antenna sits just about 30' in the air with minimal obstruction in the area of the TV stations (trees a little ways away)
We have 2 TVs in the house - I was using a powered splitter with the Clear Stream 4 and that worked OK.

What are some decent choices in antennas.

Thanks
Jeff
 

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#2
Until very recently there were no VHF pieces built for the Clear Stream 4, and at your location the simple VHF kit would not be enough.
The CS4 is a good UHF antenna to do any better on the UHF signals you would need to go to an 8 bay, or a large UHF yagi like a 91XG . On the VHF side the best for your location would be an Antennacraft Y10-7-13 coupled to a UHF antenna using an UVSJ. You are in a fringe reception area.
I'd suggest something like this.
http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.as...enna--(Y10713)&c=TV Antennas&sku=716079000994
http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.as...ntenna-(HDB8X)&c=TV Antennas&sku=700112818417
http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.as...er-for-Antenna-(UVSJ)&c=Signal Combiners&sku=
I only picked that 8 bay over the others available because I'm cheap.
You could try the single antenna route using a large combo antenna.
http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.as...HFUHF-TV-Antenna-(HD7698P)&c=TV Antennas&sku=
If you think you need to try to receive the low VHF channels you could put up a monument to the aluminum industry.
http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.as...enna-(HD8200U)&c=TV Antennas&sku=615798398491
Keep in mind the only channel numbers that are important when selecting an antenna are the ones listed as real channels on your TV fool report. The virtual channel numbers are meaningless when selecting an antenna.
 
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jekoenig

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#3
Hi All - Been a while since responding to this post. The response from RF Steve was very helpful. I purchased the "monument to the aluminum industry" (Winegard HD8200u) and put it up on the roof yesterday. I paired it with a Winegard Boost XT pre-amp. I set the antenna at 143 degrees (true north) and tried detecting channels. Without the pre-amp, I got 26 channels, with the pre-amp I was able to get 50. This is a good thing.

My question is in regard to the channels I am getting. I am getting a mix of UHF and VHF channels, but I am seeing some channels that are at the same location (143 degrees) and same distance that come in and others do not. An example (from the TV Fool chart above) would be ION and FOX. I get ION with decent signal, I do not get FOX at all. Both are UHF and at the same location. Not that FOX is a necessity, but with this big beast of an antenna, I should be able to pick it up. I must be missing others for the same reason. Where should I look to troubleshoot this?
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#4
I suspect changing the antenna location may help. These are distant edge signals, and the FOX channel @ 143 degrees has a negative noise margin (NM). This means the signal is weaker than the background radio "noise". Moving the antenna NSEW or up/down a few feet may allow you to get them both.

Or maybe not. It's often a crap shoot with weak edge signals.
 
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MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#5
Just wanted to share a simple explanation of "edge" signals.

As radio waves pass an obstruction like a hilltop, they are blocked. However, some of the waves are "bent" or refracted, as seen in the picture below:
 

jekoenig

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#6
20141006_113920.jpg Thanks for the help. Here is what I was able to get with messing with the antenna. I now get FOX but it is very choppy (moved the antenna to the right some).

My area is pretty mountainous for NJ (I am on top of one of the mountains (~1200') so the bent signals are likely a problem. Catching them will be the trick. :) My thinking is that I do not have the antenna far enough off of my roof. The mast is only 3'. There is a house next to me that is taller than mine and is in the way slightly at 143 degrees. A taller pole might get rid of any interference that this might be causing and improve my reception. Right??

I added a picture of my antenna. Should be attached if I did it correctly.
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#7
Okay, that helps!

I would expect that getting the antenna above the neighbor's roof would help. Try to avoid a pre amp, your signal on Fox is very weak and adding an amp adds noise - if you find you need an amp, we can suggest one.
 

jekoenig

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#8
My neighbor has some pipe the right size for a longer mast. I can give that a try tomorrow if it does not rain. I should also remove the 4 way split that I have on there too (forgot I had changed it from a 2 to a 4 way). Get one TV setup right then worry about the others.
 

jekoenig

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#10
Removing the splitter and simply hooking directly into 1 TV really helped the reception. Still going to get a bigger mast, but right now I am at 62 channels and pretty happy with this investment.

I would like to use a 4 way splitter with the antenna eventually. Is there a powered 4 way that would improve things?
 
#11
It really sounds like your on the right track. A two way splitter cuts your signal in half. Really your signals are pretty weak, but it sounds like you are making progress. 62 channels sounds good to me considering how low the signal levels are at your location. I did take time to look up which Winegard amp you are using. Unless there are some other strong out of band signals in the area it should work. I often discourage the use of amplifiers, they are often the cause of reception problems, always increase the complexity, and decrease the reliability of an antenna system. If an amplifier is left in line, and the power to it is lost it becomes a signal blocker. I do think that in your situation an amplifier could help. You really should not need more amplification. What you have should be enough for a 4 way splitter, and 100' of RG6 coax. While I admit I am no expert at signal distribution. I would tend to believe that something else is wrong, a bad splitter, coax, or connectors. Adding a second amplifier will create a big head ache to trouble shoot when something does go wrong.
Steve
 

jekoenig

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#12
I will be moving the power injector piece of the amplifier inside my house tomorrow. Right now it is under my house in the crawl space (pretty damp down there). I will try a high quality 4 way and see how everything works. A little taller mast and I will be good to go. The antenna recommendation you made (RF-Steve) was on the money. I got a few laughs from the neighbors at first while putting this beast up on the roof - now that it is working well, they are asking for information. Might have started a trend in the neighborhood.
 
#13
You really are not in a good area for OTA, but you are making it work. I did take a look at what's on those low band channels there are three of them that appear close enough to be received. While high VHF is needed most could live with out the Low band channels in your area. I don't know how you have your cables routed, or if you are using existing wiring. You need to check each cable run without the splitter. When you started this thread you said 2 TV's now it sounds like they are multiplying. As they multiply so will your reception, and distribution problems. Start simple, take your time, trouble shoot every part as you go. I thought of some pages you might find helpful.
Siting the antenna
Preamplifier Installation
A comment from Denny's site. "60% of all reception problems are related to Preamplifier-amplifiers."
Steve
 
#14
It's hard to tell from the picture, but it looks like the signals you're pointed at have to come through either the neighbor's house or a bunch of trees. That's probably the root of your problem. The amplifier basically makes the four way split almost disappear to the system. The math is tricky, but that's the result.

Your signals are low enough, if you want a four way split you definitely need a preamp. But with those low power edge signals, you also need a sweet spot for the antenna -- if one exists. I agree with MrPogi's advice.

Rick
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#15
I will be moving the power injector piece of the amplifier inside my house tomorrow. Right now it is under my house in the crawl space (pretty damp down there). I will try a high quality 4 way and see how everything works. A little taller mast and I will be good to go. The antenna recommendation you made (RF-Steve) was on the money. I got a few laughs from the neighbors at first while putting this beast up on the roof - now that it is working well, they are asking for information. Might have started a trend in the neighborhood.
"Antennas going viral" is what I call the phenomenon. Many times I've installed an antenna then had neighbors call me to install one for them. Once people see what FREE looks like, for many cash strapped families it's a no brainer.

I've also encountered bad splitters. Could be a bad brand, or just one defective one. I had a whole bag of 2 way splitters that were useless for anything but slingshot ammo.
 
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jekoenig

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#16
Been a while since posting (although I do point others to this site). I noticed something strange yesterday. All of the sudden I was able to get the one Fox channel I was barely getting (not watchable) - in perfect clarity. This was the non-HD Fox channel. This morning I did a re-scan of my channels and I am able to get all 3 Fox channels and even the HD one is clear (went from 62 to 66 channels). Is it possible that there was a problem with the broadcast (antenna I guess) in New York City and they finally fixed it after a long period of time?
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#17
Been a while since posting (although I do point others to this site). I noticed something strange yesterday. All of the sudden I was able to get the one Fox channel I was barely getting (not watchable) - in perfect clarity. This was the non-HD Fox channel. This morning I did a re-scan of my channels and I am able to get all 3 Fox channels and even the HD one is clear (went from 62 to 66 channels). Is it possible that there was a problem with the broadcast (antenna I guess) in New York City and they finally fixed it after a long period of time?
It's possible. Another possibility is a change in atmospheric conditions. If so, your additional channels may only be temporary.
 
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