Choosing the right antenna

Travis798

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#1
Hello everyone. I'm currently looking into getting ota TV but I have to admit my TV fool doesn't look good. TV Fool

I currently have a 25' pole on the east side of my house that extends about 10' above my metal roof.

TV fool shows a longer distances than Google earth shows between me and the towers unless the towers are located 20 miles out of Tulsa. I'm not holding much hope for Tulsa locals as Google earth shows a 500' elevation difference between me with me being higher elevation. Oklahoma city is about 90 miles but only 100' elevation difference with me being lower. Wichita is around 100' above me and around 70 miles.

I was leaning towards a winegard 8200u antenna with a preamp and antenna rotator but really want to get some opinions on the best route/equipment to to go and try to do this right the first time.

The TV fool doesn't really change with a change in antenna height until I get to 75' where a couple of 2edge channels change to 1edge. Since I can't do a 75' tower I figure the existing 25' pole will work as well as anything else I could do.

Any opinions are appreciated
 
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Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#2
:welcome: Travis

I have a friend who has the same Winegard antenna and he is pleased with it. It is not a small antenna and unless you buy a medium duty ham radio antenna rotor, currently available "home grade" rotors cannot handle it because they all have plastic gears. However, old-time (1960s-1970s) Alliance U-series rotors with metal gears are still available here: Norm's Rotor Service - Sales, Service and parts for Ham Radio antenna rotators; antenna rotor service; parts for antenna rotors If you buy from Norm, please mention this Forum recommended him.

I would try the antenna without a pre-amp and then decide if you think a pre-amp would help: all amplifiers add a little 'noise' to signals, so sometimes they can do more harm than good. Use black-jacketed RG-6 coax and do your testing while feeding one TV set: once you establish that system you can try to split the signal to additional TVs. This can prove the need for a pre-amp.

Please keep us posted and good luck.

Jim
 

Travis798

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#3
Thanks Fringe. The rotor is more for installation purposes so I can easily find the direction for my stations and figure out what I can get. The pole I will have it mounted to is able to be hand turned with a pipe wrench and locked down with a bolt. I don't expect a cheap CM rotor to last a long time with a big antenna, but I assume it will last for a while. The pole is also hinged in the middle and tied off at the bottom so I can drop it down to make working with the antenna easier from ground level. This will make it easy to remove the rotor if/when the plastic gears break, as I'm sure they will with the amount of wind we get here in Oklahoma.

So you think the antenna will work well for me? Do you think I may be better off with something different? I have the 8200u on order from Amazon, but it was supposed to be here tomorrow and won't be here until Monday, which gives me an open window to send it back if I find something better for my situation.

I only have 1 TV in my house, and am planning on running coax directly to it bypassing even barrel connectors for installation, just to eliminate any possible issues. I have plenty of RG6 that I used for satellite running around. While I estimate the final run to be about 35', I'm going to try to avoid cutting the 50' section until I verify channel selection. I assumed a pre-amp would be needed for any chance at some of the weaker channels like Fox, and figure worst case with no really close towers won't hurt anything either way. Could I be wrong there?

Any help in deciding what equipment to purchase would be greatly appreciated.
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#4
Travis,

The antenna you chose has low-band VHF capability which you don't need but for some reason (at 6 AM) I thought you already had the 8200u. A better choice (much narrower, with slightly higher gain) would be a Winegard HD7698P. You have potential reception of channels from 4 compass points so test for them and you may decide on keeping a rotor.

Using new coax on a direct line to your one TV is the way to go and depending on your test results you can always add a pre-amp later, especially easily since you have a tilt-mast. Keep us posted!

Jim
 

Travis798

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#5
Well I haven't gotten a new antenna yet, but I did find and dig out an old Channel Master antenna I had lying in my scrap metal pile. Some of the longer elements are missing, some are bent up, and some of the locking tabs are missing and let other elements just flop around, but things are looking good.

I tried without a pre amp and wasn't seeing a lot, but after hooking up a Winegard LNA-200 pre amp things are looking hopeful. Last night I was getting over 50 channels, but most of them were around 55-60%. I'm getting some channels that don't even show on the TV Fool report. What is hopeful is right now I'm locking into channels at 206 with 95% signal strength this morning.

With the new hope, it gives me renewed energy to work on this. I'm assuming with the shape of this antenna a new one would yield better results, at least most likely. Is that correct?

Would a ChannelMaster 7777 or 7778 pre-amp be better than the Winegard LNA 200?

I had over 50 channels last night but a lot of those were probably just luck. I haven't tried checking all of them again this morning because I can't remember where the antenna was pointed for all of them and I'm kind of scared to move the antenna (Ha!).

I did throw up a CM rotor so scanning is pretty easy. It's kind of strange because last night it seemed the signals were coming in best when my CM rotor was showing exactly (or very close) to where TV Fool says. But this morning I'm 95% on channel 27 (Virtual 4.1) which is 206 degrees and I'm pointed at 129. Walking outside and looking at the antenna verifies that it is pointed toward Tulsa, which is 130 degrees. Does this mean the signal isn't meant to last?

Sorry I'm so full of questions, I'm just kind of excited.
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#6
Travis,

Congratulations of your first test! The 55-60 through 95% indicated on your signal 'meter' is good, but it is an arbitrary number that refers to the quality of the data your tuner is working with and not the strength of the signal carrying the data. I say arbitrary since there is no 'standard' because every make/model of tuner is different: some tuners work better than others working with 'noisy' data, others work better with weak carrier signals, etc.

In your 'fringe' location a high-gain antenna is a must, to capture as much signal strength (carrying the data) as possible. You asked "if the signal will last" and I bet your channels will come and go with weather changes such as a rain storm between you and the transmitters. I receive a 2-edge channel 75 miles distant that behaves that way: its reception is dependable 95% of the time.

Jim
 
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Travis798

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#7
Well I lost most of my channels a couple of hours after posting. I guess I just got lucky. I'll try to post a picture of the antenna, to give an idea of how beat up it is. My hope is that it's beat up enough that a new antenna will probably do better.

I took this antenna down so that I can take it to my stepdads shop to use as an fm antenna so that he can finally have some radio reception inside. The picture I took isn't great, I broke my phone yesterday and had to use my tablet. It's laying on the ground in the pic, but hopefully the pic is good enough to give an idea of the shape it's in. IMG_20160207_122852[1].jpg

I understand about the signal strength. My TV is an older one that I bought about 7 years ago, so the tuner inside is probably not the best.

** Crud. The pic is sideways. I'll try to get another one so that someone doesn't get a kink in their neck
 

Travis798

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#10
Now you see why I had high hopes when I was at first having good luck with that antenna. I was just using that antenna to show him how easily he can get reception in the shop. I was actually leaning more toward this one Antennas Direct Round Folded Element Outdoor FM Antenna | FM360 | Antennas Direct since its omnidirectional and the stations come in from different directions. That would provide more of a set it and forget setup. Radio reception is fine outside of the all metal building so probably even their cheaper omnidirectional would work fine.

I bet that antenna was a good one at one time!
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#11
Travis,

Do you remember 'ghosts' on analog TV sets? They were caused by reflected signals arriving at an antenna from different directions with a slightly delayed arrival time and in FM Radio it is called Multi-path Distortion. You should research the term and his location before you even begin to consider an omni-directional antenna.

Jim
 

Travis798

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#13
Well I've had my 7698p installed for a few days, and my signals seem to be about the same as they were with the broken down antenna. I was only getting 2 stations without an amp, and was getting a few more with the amp. The good thing is that I was getting a couple of Tulsa channels and one OKC channel regularly, however the clamp holding my folding antenna mast broke and sent my brand new antenna crashing to the ground. The pole stops short of letting the entire thing smash into pieces, but it hit the house and one end hit the ground.

I fixed the mast and added a backup clamp as well, and I managed to bend the elements back pretty decent, except for it bent in the middle of the antenna at the mast mount, which I haven't been able to bend back yet. The antenna still kind of works, but not nearly as well, which I'm assuming is because the antenna isn't straight so it's not picking up the signal as well as it should. I'll eventually figure out the best way to get everything back straight, but thought I'd give an update. The reception wasn't quite good enough to get me in a hurry to get everything fixed though, so I may tackle other things needing done before I get to it.
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#14
Travis,

I am sorry to hear about your antenna damage. Can you share detailed photos? We may be able to suggest ways to repair the damage.

Jim and the DTVUSA Staff
 

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