Help selecting an antenna

mommytomyboys

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#1
Hi, I'm totally new and know little about antennas, though I'm trying to learn! We are looking at dumping satellite and going just with our locals with an antenna. We weren't sure with the location of our house (rural, trees, mountains) what we would be able to receive, so my husband first built a "coat-hanger" antenna back in the winter. We were really surprised when we picked up all our locals except for PBS, which broadcasts on VHF 3. Now that it is spring our homemade antenna is only picking up 13 well. Tried the RCA ant751 from walmart, worked for everything except PBS. After doing a little research, here's a few questions I have.
1) With most of the channels only broadcasting from 10 miles away, does buying the larger antenna (like Winegard 7015 or RCA 3036) gain signal strength, or is it unnecessary?
2) Along that same line, would an antenna like the CM 3016 or RCA 3020 be enough?
3) If we would be spitting to 2 or 3 tvs, what would be the best setup?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

TV Fool
 

Don_M

DTVUSA Member
#2
:welcome: , mom... and thanks for the location-specific TVFool report. It's a pleasure to help someone who's done their homework!

1) With most of the channels only broadcasting from 10 miles away, does buying the larger antenna (like Winegard 7015 or RCA 3036) gain signal strength, or is it unnecessary?
These "larger" antennas are necessary to get consistent reception of PBS affiliate WBRA. The problem you encountered with the ANT 751 was that it's not designed for receiving anything below channel 7.

Based on comments from purchasers posted here, the ANT 3036 might be a good choice. I'm not as sure about the HD-7015 as its gain isn't all that great, particularly on UHF channels (14 and up), where you need the most gain. If you want a Winegard antenna, please consider an HD-7084 instead.

2) Along that same line, would an antenna like the CM 3016 or RCA 3020 be enough?
These antennas are aimed at suburban buyers. While you're only 10 miles from the transmitters, you're deeply shadowed from the transmitters by those mountains you mentioned, putting you in more of a fringe area. These two antennas might get you WBRA, but lose some of the other channels due to insufficient UHF gain.

3) If we would be spitting to 2 or 3 tvs, what would be the best setup?
You would require an antenna pre-amplifier, which has a mast-mounted amp module and a power injection module that mounts indoors, near an outlet, plus a two- or three-way splitter as appropriate. Consider the AntennaCraft 10G212, Channel Master Titan 7777 or Winegard AP-8700 pre-amps.

A distribution amplifier, designed solely for indoor mounting, is not suitable for your signal environment. A single pre-amp will provide all the boost needed for overcoming signal losses in a three-set system.

Finally, outdoor antenna masts and mounts need to be grounded to your main house ground to ensure that the antenna doesn't become a giant lightning rod. At maybe $15 for a grounding line and coax ground block, it's cheap insurance. Further details are available under "Grounding outdoor antennas," located about three-quarters of the way down this page.
 
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Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#4
:welcome: mom,

I had a wild thought about your Channel 3 problem. Are you using a digital to analog Converter Box and by chance, is its' output set to Channel 3? If it is, change its output and your TV set both to Channel 4, then scan for 'new' channels.

Jim
 

mommytomyboys

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#5
Thanks so much for the help!! I figured we would probably need the larger antenna, but since my husband's peice of wood and copper wire picks up around 50%, thought the smaller ones might be a possibility :) We have a panasonic viera, so using an hd tuner. Figures we would have one of the few markets that has a low vhf. And my boys love their "Clifford" and "Curious George", so PBS is a priority. I also notice the Ion channel, which has a kids channel, listed on my tvfool results. I wonder what the chance is we could pick that up? I checked, with our "coat hanger" right now it is picking up about 20%, so basically nothing.
 

Don_M

DTVUSA Member
#6
Hey, mom,

That -5.7 dB signal strength in the "NM" column puts Ion affiliate WPXR (RF 38) squarely into "deep fringe" category. You'll be able to receive it with the antennas we discussed earlier, but it probably won't be too reliable. (Best time for reception of this station when the kids are up is likely to be very early in the morning.) There are two alternative antenna schemes that will boost reliability to at least some extent:

• A single, all-channel, deep-fringe antenna like Winegard's HD-8200U. Please know that this thing is big: At 14 feet, the boom is as long as many subcompact cars!

• Two separate antennas, one for each band: A Winegard HD-5030 (for WBRA on RF 3 and ABC affiliate WSET on RF 13), and a Winegard HD-8800 (for everything else). Separate antennas are a better choice for really weak signals, and you'll be able to aim the VHF antenna separately so as to "split the difference" between WBRA and WSET for optimum signal strengths from both stations. Not only that, these two antennas together are about $20 cheaper shipped than a single HD-8200 would be.

Either way, these deep-fringe solutions are significantly more expensive than the all-channel antennas we discussed earlier. With either alternative, a pre-amp is mandatory, even with just one TV. Should you choose to get separate antennas, the CM 7777 pre-amp is preferred since it has separate inputs for VHF and UHF antennas.

One last consideration: The Ion station's signal is so weak that even these top-of-the-line antennas might not guarantee fail-safe reception reliability. You'll have to decide whether the added expense and installation complexity is worth what may be only a marginal reception improvement over cheaper all-channel antennas.
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#7
mom,

Don's advice is spot-on. Although your hubby built an antenna for UHF, a decent antenna, 'home-brew' or 'store-bought' for low-band VHF would be a monster and it would have to be outside to try to get away from noise interference such as fluorescent lights, aquarium pumps, lamp dimmers, air conditioners and possibly even your home PC (personal computer).

This is not to say receiving your Channel 3 is impossible at all ... but it will take some work to make it happen and guy wires to keep it in the air when the wind blows. I am fighting to get two VHF channels to be dependable here, but they are high-VHF channels 9 and 11. All I can say is good luck and please keep us posted on your results.

Jim
 

mommytomyboys

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#8
Thanks to everyone for the great advice. I definetly will not worry about the Ion channel, not worth the trouble. Looks like we will try the RCA 3036 from Walmart, $56, and can take it back if we're unsuccessful. Even though the antenna is huge, if it works everytime I look at it I will be reminded of saving $70/month. :thumb: Will let you know how it turns out - thanks!!!
 

mommytomyboys

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#10
More questions

So, my husband was at Lowes and bought the RCA 3020 to see how it picked up. If you point it where antennaweb says too, we get no signal. Could it be the way the signals bounce off the mountains? I really have no idea how they work, so that could not even be a possibility.
Anyway, with that antenna the one spot we have found that works the best on our roof picked up channels 7, 10, and 27 in the 60-70% range on our tv's signal meter, and 13 in 70-80%. For some reason channel 13 always picks up the highest, and its supposed to be the furthest away?? Was only picking up WBRA in the 50%, so not quite enough for a consistent picture.
We're still leaning towards trying the 3036. A couple questions though.
1) With the signal strengths we picked up with the 3020, what are the chances a preamp is all we need?
2) Would it be best to buy a separate low vhf and uhf antenna?
Gotta get it working by football season :cheer2:
 

Don_M

DTVUSA Member
#11
Welcome back!

If you point it where antennaweb says too, we get no signal.
That's a fairly common experience in deep valleys like yours. Don't be afraid to experiment with aiming that makes no sense at all, or with differing heights. Raising and lowering the antenna can have an especially large impact on UHF (RF channel 14-52) signals.

For some reason channel 13 always picks up the highest, and its supposed to be the furthest away??
Most signal meters measure quality, not strength. DTV tuners are much better at maintaining a lock on a very weak (but fairly consistent) signal than they are holding onto one that's full of crud and noise. Channels 2-6 are very vulnerable to noise. That's why, with the exception of about three dozen full-power broadcasters (like WBRA) out of about 2,100 nationally, most TV engineers ran away from these channels during planning for the DTV transition.

1) With the signal strengths we picked up with the 3020, what are the chances a preamp is all we need?
A pre-amp might well be the next logical step here. It may be that you need one regardless of which antenna you use. Get a good, low noise model like CM's 7777 mentioned earlier, and try it out. You're in a tough signal situation, and a low-noise pre-amp should yield a noticeable improvement.

2) Would it be best to buy a separate low vhf and uhf antenna?
See what a new pre-amp does for you first. DTV can be such a fickle animal that you may be delighted with your reception in late spring with just a new amp... only to discover that the antenna isn't quite up to pulling down those signals once it gets cold and snowy six months from now.

Gotta get it working by football season :cheer2:
I hear ya. Couple of months' lead time should be sufficient...
 
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web3221

DTVUSA Member
#12
Hi, I'm totally new and know little about antennas, though I'm trying to learn! We are looking at dumping satellite and going just with our locals with an antenna. We weren't sure with the location of our house (rural, trees, mountains) what we would be able to receive, so my husband first built a "coat-hanger" antenna back in the winter. We were really surprised when we picked up all our locals except for PBS, which broadcasts on VHF 3. Now that it is spring our homemade antenna is only picking up 13 well. Tried the RCA ant751 from walmart, worked for everything except PBS. After doing a little research, here's a few questions I have.
1) With most of the channels only broadcasting from 10 miles away, does buying the larger antenna (like Winegard 7015 or RCA 3036) gain signal strength, or is it unnecessary?
2) Along that same line, would an antenna like the CM 3016 or RCA 3020 be enough?

3) If we would be spitting to 2 or 3 tvs, what would be the best setup?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

TV Fool

:dance: that is a really good antenna, but you might be hapier with a multi directional antenna that looks like a flying saucer and has an amplifier built in, i have one from radio shack and it is made by wineguard i believe. i am in dallas area, pick up around 50 channels ftrom as far away as a bout 85 miles i even get oklahoma city stations but their antennas are nearerto the tx/oklahoma border. my antenna is about 33 feet off the ground and antenna hill is about 35 miles away. it is a great antenna, been thinking about getting your model to add to my existing configuration to see if i can pull in some more stations north of the border. good luck. at 10 miles away you may only need to tweak the movement left or right a little on degrees of the compass to get the other station you want

if u want more info do a google search, there is much info out there :dance
 

mommytomyboys

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#13
So, still working on the perfect antenna! Walmart finally had the rca 3036 back in stock. We just tried it and picked up all channels great, including ION (yay!), but NOT PBS!!! At all, wouldn't even recognize the channel as being there. We were scanning on a cloudy evening, so not sure if a different time of day or clearer night might make a difference. I know people talk about different gains on antennas, is there another vhf antenna that might perform better? I'm stumped.
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#14
Tough one, that Low VHF with 2-edge! - try this, keep the present antenna, and add a UHF-low only - try a Winegard YA-6260 for 3 pbs. $66.88 shipped from solid signal, you can return it but there's a restocking fee. Try it, if it works... get a cm-7777 and combine the uhf/vhf antennas, and maybe rotor for the RCA if you want to turn to other stations, and place the YA6220 on its own sturdy mast. You'll get PBS all the time on all sets, regardless of where the RCA is pointed.

Surprised you got ION, thats why I am suggesting you keep the RCA.

Its a good chunk of money to invest, but still less than a couple months pay TV
 
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mommytomyboys

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#15
Last night after trying for another hour to find a good spot, we finally picked up all channels with our RCA antenna! Haven't mounted it yet and watched to make sure its a consistent signal, but I was so excited to see we were picking up PBS in the 70% on our signal meter. We added a longer coax cable so we could try out every spot on the roof - funny how on 90% of the roof we couldn't pick up PBS, then all of a sudden there it was! So looks like antenna search is over. Now, the countdown of our dishnetwork contract is on - 6 months! And the hunt for the best dvr option is on...
 

FOX TV

Contributor
#16
Last night after trying for another hour to find a good spot, we finally picked up all channels with our RCA antenna! Haven't mounted it yet and watched to make sure its a consistent signal, but I was so excited to see we were picking up PBS in the 70% on our signal meter. We added a longer coax cable so we could try out every spot on the roof - funny how on 90% of the roof we couldn't pick up PBS, then all of a sudden there it was! So looks like antenna search is over. Now, the countdown of our dishnetwork contract is on - 6 months! And the hunt for the best dvr option is on...
Even though I did not contribute any knowledge to your issue, I am glad to see that you got the answers you needed !! How would you rate the help you received here on a 1 to 10 scale, just out of curiosity? Aren't these a great bunch of helpful people on here or what? Just wondering what your opinion of the forum is at this point, and would you recommend it to others?
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#17
Interested to find out if your permanent placement works out for you.Especially with "edge" signals, moving to find the sweet spot will sometimes do the trick, not just n-s-e-w but up/down. Glad you didn't have to spend the $ for a seperate VHF, too.. but if you plan on more TV sets, I would say add a pre amp when you go beyond 1 tv.
 

mommytomyboys

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#18
Well, after thinking we had our antenna selection solved, now we're starting again. Our RCA was picking up all channels, but the best spot to pick up PBS was not the most consistent spot for our other channels. So we're thinking in order to get the best signals, since we'll only have OTA, we're going to try a low vhf for PBS and get another antenna for the others. We also have a channelmaster 7777 preamp. Any recommendations on the best antennas for our situation? And the correct setup? I know we'll have to join the antennas somehow. We've also complicated things a little by having a TIVO that doesn't have the best tuner it it ( I can give up my satellite, just not my dvr.) So I really want to try to get the best signals possible. Thanks everyone!
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#19
Welcome back, and its good you at least got all your channels... though not all in the same location. I think I will defer to Jim on antennas, since he's the man of multiple antennas, I can get all my stations with one antenna. You can join the uhf and VHF with the CM-7777, too.

As for your TIVO, yea, I am sure they don't put the best of tuners in them for OTA. Have you considered a Media Center Computer? It's a little pricey, and more difficult to operate than a TIVO, but its a great solution. You can burn DVDs, a blu-ray drive for computer costs about $50 (compared to about 150 for a stand alone), watch and record tv - at the same time (with dual tuners), and some cards have FM, too. The Program Guide is better than new TV's have in them - And its free, no subscription. The USB tuner stick I just got for $18 works great and can even use TitanTV as the program guide. Oh, yea, if you have a Media PC connected to the net, you are all set for netflicks and hulu! I suggest windows 7 pro, and some research on the right TV tuner for it. You may be able to use a laptop even.

Jim, antenna suggestions?
 
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