First post, looking for advice

Chris

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#1
Hi,

I was hoping to get some help from you knowledgeable folks with my DTV reception!

Here are my tvfool results:
TV Fool
I set the height at 5 feet, as all I've tried so far is having the antenna in the same room as the TV.

My TV is a Samsung LN46C650, if that helps.

My house is a small ranch. I don't think I have any significant metal anywhere (including the roof). It's all drywall, wood, and cedar clapboards for siding.


I've tried 2 antennas so far:
1. A very old VHF/UHF I happened to have in the basement. It has a "dial" on it for different VHF/UHF settings, a small round UHF antenna, and rabbit ears. (coax connection)
This didn't work very well at all. If I moved it around enough and turned the knobs I could eventually get "a" channel, maybe.

2. A "DIY" UHF antenna following these instructions: Coat Hanger HDTV Antenna! - YouTube
I couldn't actually find wire hangers easily, so I used 12 gauge solid copper wire instead. The 300 to 75 ohm transformer is from Radio Shack. (coax connection)
This actually works pretty well I think for something so simple and cheap! (plus it's fun to make stuff)
I can get pretty reliable signals for the following channels (These are the "real" channel numbers):
38 - CBS
44 - NBC
45 - PBS
I can't get 8 (ABC) at all though. My understanding is that this is because this one is a VHF channel.
(I'm not getting 43 either, but I'm not too worried about that one.)


I'm wondering what my best and least expensive option(s) would be at this point to at least get channel 8. (any other channels would be a bonus, of course, but I don't need them)

I'm thinking the next thing I should try is a "UHF/VHF splitter/joiner" to use my old antenna as the VHF "rabbit ears" to get channel 8, and still use my DIY antenna for UHF.
But... the old antenna didn't pull in channel 8 very well when I tried it by itself, so I'm not sure that will help much.
Is that worth a shot?

Would moving this setup to the attic help? (it's a ranch, so I think that would get me maybe 10 feet higher)
I didn't want to just "try" putting it in the attic without at least asking around and being fairly certain I'll see a significant improvement by doing so.

Or, would I be better off just getting a different antenna?
I am willing to spend a reasonable amount of money on a new antenna if needed.

I would be very grateful for any suggestions!
Chris
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#2
Moving your antenna to the attic or outside will make a big difference in most cases. Height is king. The YouTube antenna design is flawed, it's bowtie elements are too short. Since you enjoyed building your antenna, I'll suggest you do it again, but this time use Escape Velocity's plan:

Start here - http://www.dtvusaforum.com/dtv-hdtv...9-kosmic-antennas-superquad-4-bay-bowtie.html

Looking at your TVfool, I'd build it without a reflector, and aim it for 43 degrees magnetic. You'll pick up the SW stations off the back side.

You could build it just like EV says, or modify it for your attic - like a "hybrid" of this antenna and the youtube antenna. You can be creative with the materials. The critical part is the layout: Longer bowties allow it to do well even on the VHF-hi band.

Here's EV's list of parts for an outdoor antenna. Everything can be found at Lowe's. The PVC trim board is not available at all Lowe's from what I understand, and can be hard to source. I have found similar at Home Depot, and if you're having it in youor attic, wood will do.

Mast = 1.25" Outside diameter 18 gauge chain link fence Top Rail - cut to length (can get 3 36" lengths from one 10.5 foot section)
1x2 inch 14 to 18 gauge galvanized steel fencing or cage wire - cut to length (can get 3 (and more) out of 25 foot roll)
1 total 12 foot 1"x2" PVC Trim board (cut to 3.25" x 7 total) (can get 3 sets easy (actually about 7 total sets) out of one stick)
1 total 8 foot 2"x2" PVC trim board (cut to 3.25" x 2 total) (can get 3 sets easy (too many to count) out of one stick)
1 170 foot roll of 9 gauge zinc galvanized steel chain link fencing wire (this is by the 10.5 foot top rail poles at Lowes) (8 total cut to 21 to 22" - these will be straightened and then formed into whiskers and trimmed to desired length after mounting) (plus 2 cut to 30" for the feed lines)


5 total 1" zinc plated steel conduit hanger #2 EMT
5 total 1.25" 1/4" 20 turn zinc plated bolts and nuts
8 total 1" #10/24 turn zinc plated machine screws
2 total 1.5" #10/24 turn zinc plated machine screws (used with the wing nuts on the center stand off)
10 total #10/24 turn zinc plated nuts
10 total 1" Outside Diameter 3/16" Inside Diameter zinc plated steel Fender Washers
2 total #10/24 turn zinc plated solid core wing nuts
4 total #10 2 inch metal screws pan head
4 total 2 inch deck screws (I like the star drive heads)

Multiply everything in the second section by 3 if you want to make 3....plus cut some more sets from the 1st list.
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#3
Chris,

Mr Pogi suggestion for you to rebuild your antenna is good advice. Considering your TVFOOL report is based at 5 feet elevation, it is very likely you will receive many free channels, especially if you put it in your attic. Keep us posted.

Jim
 

Chris

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#4
Thanks a lot for the info! I will give this a try and let you know how it goes. (might not be until the weekend)
I especially appreciate the use of fencing wire, saves me a lot of stripping!
Thanks again!
Chris
 

Chris

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#5
Hi again,

So much for waiting... so here's my attempt at that design.

P2140079.JPG

I will probably need to move it to a 2x4, or at least a better quality 1x3, but it's staying together ok so far.


I haven't tried it in the attic yet, because that's a bit bigger project, but I connected it to the TV, set it up on a chair, and pointed it as best as I could somewhere in the 40-45 degree range. (using a small compass)
(My thinking is that I'd like to at least see reasonably good results downstairs before putting it up in the attic.)


Here is the result:

1. The channel scan picked up some more channels (yay!).
It picked up these: (these are virtual numbers now)
6-1
6-2
8-1 (this is also "real" channel 8, so yes, it picked up the high VHF one I wanted!)
8-2
8-90
26-1
26-2
26-3

2. Unfortunately, right after the scan, every single one of them is showing "Weak or No Signal". (no picture)
It's odd to me that it found them all but there' no picture. There was a picture on one channel immediately following the scan, but as soon as I changed it I could see anything on any of them. (even the first one)

**Actually, while I was typing this I tried them again and it briefly showed a picture on most of them, then gone again (weak or no signal).



I'm not ready to give up yet though, so now I'm wondering:

How precise does the length of the whiskers need to be?
Most of them seen here are too long by about 1/2 to 1 inch. I figured it was better to have too much than too little, as I can always cut them down.
If I cut those down to exactly 9.75 (from the outside of the U bend?) will it help?

What about the length of the feed lines? (I have a little extra there too at the top and bottom)

What about the quality of the transformer I have? It's just what they had at Radio Shack.
Would it help if I were to get a Channel Master balun instead?

Or, is it really more about height? Should I just go ahead and put it up in the attic and see what happens?

(or, all of the above?)

Thanks!
Chris
 

Chris

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#7
Thanks dk, that makes sense. It's pretty much in the southeast corner where it is now, so for a straight shot north-ish (say 30-40 degrees) it would be going through 4-5 walls.
It sounds like the attic might give me better results.

Here's my TVfool at 17 feet (a guess for the attic):
TV Fool
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#8
Yep. Get it up in the attic. You're only getting the a few channels now because of your height and all those walls in the way. You'll have to tweak the aim a bit to get them all at once, but I figure everything above channel 3 / 4 on your TVfool will come in easily.
How precise does the length of the whiskers need to be?
Longer length whiskers increase gain on low channels at the expense of high channels, and vica-versa. I'd probably go with 10 inches even, since you need those low channels and your higher channels are pretty strong.
 
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Chris

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#9
I shortened the whiskers to exactly 10" each, and moved the antenna down to the north corner bedroom.

I got 10 channels found this time. Getting better!
(virtual):
6-1
6-2
8-1
8-2
8-90
13-1
13-2
26-1
26-2
26-3

I think I'm good to try the attic next.
I'll probably attach it to some kind of basic swivel base, and keep it close to the access point (I just have a hatch in a closet), so I can adjust it a little at least.



Just to throw this out there... what would it take for me to get Fox?
Fox is "2edge" for me, 60 miles away, real channel 23

This TVFool report assumes it's up in the attic at 17ft:
TV Fool
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#10
Chris,

You have done very well! :thumb:

'Real' 23 may come in when you install your antenna in your attic, assuming you point towards it. Be aware, although your antenna won't be 'looking' thru drywall to 'see' stations, it can be affected by HVAC ducting, clothes dryer ducting, plumbing vent pipes and any foil-backed insulation in the 'floor'. You will probably need to 'walk' the antenna around your attic to find the 'sweet-spot' and that's where to mount it. Good luck!

Jim
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#11
Hey Chris:
Yea, I think you *may* get Fox, if: You get it outside, put a reflector on it, and you may possibly need to make it an 8 bay. Since it's an edge signal, you will probably need to walk it around to get it, like Fringe Reception stated. Or, you may want to think about some other possible solutions.

For now, though, I'd get it into the attic and see what you get there. Pretty sure you'll get 6 networks.
 

Chris

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#13
So I got it up into the attic tonight, and... a scan now picks up 16 channels! (so 5-6 real, you guys were right!)
I didn't realize that my attic was so short. It's only about 4 feet to the top of the roof, so I couldn't get it as high as I had hoped.
I just strapped it to some pvc and made simple base with a piece of metal pipe and a plate flange.

P2150088.JPG

I'm getting these now (real):
45 - PBS
44 - NBC
38 - CBS
8 - ABC
11 - PBS (New Hampshire!)
10 - PBS again - weak or no signal, so I don't think this one counts

This is with it aimed pretty much at magnetic north. (I was trying to aim it at channel 8)

Channel 8 looks strange. It looks "stuttery", for lack of a better word, the picture kind of hesitates and skips. It's not pixelated or distorted at all though.
Does that make sense? Can you tell me what might cause it? Is it just a slightly weak signal?
This is strange too... Modern Family is on and the show itself looks stuttery, but the commercials don't(?)
Is there anything I can do to help with that?

Could I make another one and link them together to get a little better signal? (an 8 bay?) Or does it not work that way?
Would a better quality balun help?
Also, the coax cable is just what I had laying around. I think it's about 25 feet long, and not very thick. Maybe better cable?

Thanks again!
Chris
 

Fringe Reception

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

I am writing the following to you as a generic response because many others have similar reception issues.


So I got it up into the attic tonight, and... a scan now picks up 16 channels! (so 5-6 real, you guys were right!)

Could I make another one and link them together to get a little better signal? (an 8 bay?) Or does it not work that way?
No and yes: you cannot usually link antennas together unless they are identical in every way. Building an 8-bay version bypasses lots of aiming and impedence matching problems.


Would a better quality balun help?
Possibly. I use Channel Master Baluns but they are currently made in China as most are. A "DIFFERENT" balun might make a difference, so if you have others to try, go for it.



Also, the coax cable is just what I had laying around. I think it's about 25 feet long, and not very thick. Maybe better cable?
Odds are pretty good you have a variation of RG-59 coaxial cable which is now considered obsolete for new installations: one exception (I alone claim) is RG-59CU. If that's what you have, I'll buy it from you because I need it to make my own baluns. Good stuff and not available for many years.

Over distances, RG-6 coaxial cable (depending on the frequency/channel) has HALF of the signal loss of 'average' RG-59.

Also please consider, your old RG-59 may be disintegrating on its own. The RG-59 buried in my neighborhood in the 70s is becoming worthless to pass TV signals. It has an aluminum foil shield wrapped by three "silver colored" wires. The foil here is turning to aluminum oxide /white dust probably do to 40 years of electrolysis. Use NEW RG-6!

Jim
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#15
Chris,
Yes, you could hook 2 *identical* antennas together for an 8 bay. Just combine them with a 2 way splitter, keeping the leads from both antennas the same length. There's a bit of loss from combining them, so it won't double the gain, but it will increase. You'll have to put them side by side because your attic is short - but separate them - I don't recall what the recommended distance is. You could also experiment with moving around the attic or putting it outside temporarily and see if that improves your reception. As Jim said, spend the money for some decent RG6, too.

The problem with 8 could be with the station itself, if the commercials are good - it may be the network feed. Give it a day or 2 to see if it improves. It could also be that - it's channel 8 VHF. You may have to break down and get a VHF-hi antenna as a last resort. I have trouble with my own channel 8 too, and I'll probably be adding a VHF-hi this spring.

I'm kind of surprised you're not getting 35, too.
 
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Chris

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#16
Thanks guys. I'll see what I have for cable. I have quite a few little pieces laying around, and a couple could be 20+ years old. If I have the kind you're looking for by any chance Jim I'll let you know.

I can see now that the one I'm using is "RG-59 U 20 AWG 75" if I'm reading it right.

Is any brand of RG-6 ok?



I don't know if this helps, but I just found the "signal info" on my TV.
It looks like the only thing that fluctuates is SNR.
They change a little constantly, so these are approximate, but they seem to stay right within these ranges.
Channel 45 = 18-19 dB
44 = 22-23 dB
38 = 23-24 dB
8 = 24-25 dB



I think I'll try new cable first and see where I'm at.
I might be able to grab some from the basement. I think TW put some in pretty recently, and I had them run some to a empty room.

If I end up buying it online and they also have the CM balun I'll get a couple of those while I'm ordering, and maybe a splitter.
What kind of splitter should I get? I have a few of them left over by Time Warner over the years I think.
One says "2-way splitter 5-1000MHz - CMC2002H-HEP" and "-3dB OUT" for both outs. Is that ok?


Thanks again!
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#17
... Is any brand of RG-6 ok?
Thanks again!
Chris,

A local TV Engineer made a post on another Forum a few years ago after he tested several brands of RG-6 and according to him (at that time) Radio Shack Coax was "lossy and leaky".

Personally, I use RS coax in short lengths underground here (basement) but I use Belden coax above ground. Be aware, colored coax does not survive nearly as well as black jacketed coax does when used outdoors.

Jim
 
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Chris

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#18
I'm now using RG-6 (25' GE quad shield), but I'm not having much luck getting a consistently good solid picture on the channels I'm hoping to get: 45, 44, 38, 8, 11 (I'd be happy with just these.)

I think I'm getting close! If I stay on one channel it will look great for a while, but then it will eventually start to pixelate and get choppy. (audio cuts in and out too)
Channel 8 did that and just got worse and worse until the screen went black (still had sound for a while though). Same with 44, just went black, then "weak or no signal".

I've tried some minor adjustments and I'm back to around 40 degrees magnetic at this point. This is with it still up in the attic.


I'm thinking I could probably do a better job of lining up the whiskers. Would that help?
It's hard to see from the pictures, but the pairs at the top and bottom are angled a little bit toward the back. They're not perfectly even with the board or the middle pairs. This is because how they contact the feed lines, inside verses outside.
How important is it that they're perfectly lined up?

Is there a different design I should try, maybe?


Or... is there a reasonably priced commercial antenna (for the attic) that you think would just do the job right out of the box?
I like making stuff myself... but not if it doesn't work :)

Thanks again for the help!
 

Chris

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#19
I built another version using pvc stand-offs, same dimensions. I read somewhere that using just wood wasn't a good idea.
I tried a reflector with tin foil too.
Unfortunately, I get about the same results as my last post above. (a few great ones and a couple that cut in and out)


So now I'm thinking of getting a commercial antenna.
I still don't want to put it outside. I'm hoping with the right antenna I can get the few channels I'm looking for (<35 miles away) from the attic.

The only issues I have are that the attic is only about 4 feet tall at it's peak, and the access hatch is only 24"x28", so I'd need to be able to get it up there, of course.
(this rules out something like the CM 4228HD I think, unless it comes apart easily)

Do you thing the Antenna Craft HBU22 would work for me? (I think the HBU33 might be too big, it says it comes pre-assembled)
Solid Signal has the HBU22 for $32 shipped.
It's really long but it says: Carton Dimensions 6.5" x 6.5" x 81", so I think I might be able to get the pieces up there and then put it together. The 70" boom will be tricky but I should be able to go in at an angle to get it through.
Also it's pretty cheap, and 'could' go outside if I decide I want to do that at some point.

Walmart has some antennas available too (RCA and some Channel Masters), with free 'site to store' shipping. The benefit there is an easy return if it doesn't work for me.

What do you guys think?
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#20
Most antennas are shipped folded, and you can unfold them once it's through the access hatch. I can get a pretty big antenna through a hatch if it's folded and I go diagonally through the opening. One major concern would be having room to turn it in once you get it up there. And they're difficult to fold once you unfold, so it could be hard to get it back out.

Also, you can contact suppliers / manufacturers and see if they can tell you what the dimensions of their antennas are when folded.

Run your choices past us before you order, too.
 
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