Question: Help upgrading my antenna in California Central Coast

jamesm113

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#1
TVFool report:
TV Fool

I am currently receiving all the green channels by mounting a Winegard FreeVison about 22 feet off the ground by mounting a 10' 1" PVC pipe to the chimney. It's about 22 feet off the ground.

Channel 17 was the most difficult - I had to aim the antenna and install a radioshack antenna pre-amp to get a somewhat acceptable signal (50% according to my TV). The station still does cut out from time to time. Raising the antenna higher than 22ft leads to signal loss of 17.

I'd like to upgrade my antenna to be able to receive channels from ~100 miles away. Ideally I would get KTTV and KCBS (located on Mount Wilson) for football on Sunday. TVFool says they would be 1Edge, but indicates KTTV is a much stronger signal than KCBS-DT - not sure why as KTTV is 115Kw vs KCBS's 540KW.

So my three goals are-

1. Improve reception on Channel 17 locally
2. Receive KTTV from LA, if at all possible
3. Receive KCBS-DT from LA, if at all possible
 
#2
The LA stations will most likely require quite a bit of effort, time, patients, money, experimentation, and may never be reliable at your location.
KTTV is VHF real channel 11 at 115 KW it is a flame thrower on VHF.
Path loss is much higher on UHF it requires much more power to cover the same area using a UHF frequency.
KCBS is on real channel 43 UHF. ERP does not tell you what direction the power is radiated.
An out of the box antenna that might give you a chance at LA signals is the Winegard HD 7698P.
As far as improving local reception I don't have a buy it out of the box answer. I would try a UHF 4 bay with the reflector removed. I don't really know which Winegard FreeVision antenna you are using. The two that come to mind are both useful little antennas with different reception patterns.
Steve
 
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#4
The Winegard HD7698P is large directional high VHF/UHF antenna.
Winegard 65-Mile Range Indoor/Outdoor HDTV HI-VHF Antenna-HD7698P - The Home Depot
I suggested it because it is one of the highest gain high VHF/UHF antennas currently available, and what I would try if I wanted to experiment with trying to receive distant high VHF and UHF signals. How well it would receive strong local signals of the back side I don't want to try to predict.
For your local situation you really need a bi-directional antenna with fairly wide beam with, or a small low gain directional antenna. That is why I suggested a four bay with the reflector removed. A VHF dipole could be added if K10PV-D becomes a problemed channel. I also live in an area that is best served by using a bi-directional antenna, but for years I did fine using a small directional antenna the strong signals off the back side were easily received.
Two things in your first post did not make a lot sense. With line of sight signals you should not have lost signal by going higher. As strong as your signals are predicted to be you should not need an amplifier. Something is not right.
Are there nearby trees or buildings in the way? Possibly poor coax, balun, bad connectors, or something wrong with the antenna? The little antenna you have is not one I've ever recommended, but I think it should work in your situation.
Steve
 

jamesm113

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#5
Ok. I think it's worth a shot to try the HD7698P. Would I need a mast? This is my first experiment with OTA TV.

I have a 50 foot cable run from the antenna to my tuner. The cable is quad shielded RG6 from monoprice. I think I could switch it to 25 feet - how much an improvement what that make?

There are a few nearby palm trees - two next to the antenna, the other two across the other side of the driveway. Pictures attached. It's pointed right at the KSBB transmitter.
 

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#6
As I suspected you have a tree problem. All the antennas, and amplifiers in the world won't help that. Careful antenna placement, towers, and a chainsaw can help.
 

jamesm113

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#7
Ok, understood. I'll try to trim the palm trees and work on an alternative placement.

I've ordered the HD7698P. What mounting hardware would you recommend? Would I need a preamp with the HD7698P? If so, which preamp would you recommend?

Thanks for the help!
 

jamesm113

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#8
Also, is it worth it to try to get a 1Edge path vs 2Edge?

According to my TVFool report, I need to have the antenna at 22ft to get a 1Edge path.

For KTTV-
@22 ft- 6.6 NM (dB), -84.3 dBm, 1Edge
@21 ft- 4.4 NM (dB), -86.0 dBm, 2Edge
 
#9
It does sound like you are learning. You know there is no guarantee that you are going to receive any of the LA stations, and you run a chance of messing up your local reception. The possibility of amplifier overload from nearby strong TV and out of band signals is very real. I do recommend the use of a FM trap. The MCM Electronics one or the Antennas Direct one are both full FM band filters. The RCA TVPRAMP1R is what I've been recommending For the price and performance. The RCA TVPRAMP1R preamp does have a history of quality control problems, mostly with the separate/combined switch.
In most cases higher is going to be better. A couple pages worth reading.
Siting the antenna
TV Antenna Fixes
I'm not a very good person to offer mounting hardware advice I've crashed a lot of antennas over the last 40 years.
What you are trying to do is a long shot. I wouldn't have rushed into it so fast. Going from a minimal antenna to a large fringe reception antenna and trying to make it all work in a strong signal environment can be a real challenge.
I hope it all works the first try. If it doesn't you have been warned.
Steve
 
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jamesm113

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#11
Mount Wilson (where the LA stations have their towers) is at 5712 feet. I'm at 173 feet (and my antenna will be around 200 feet). According to VHF/UHF Line of Sight Calculator, the radio horizon is 126-128 miles.

Obviously, there are hills between me and Mount Wilson - the biggest being Mount Lowe @ 5606ft, which is about 3 miles from Mount Wilson. After that, there's a 3700 ft peak and then the rest of the hills are under 2k. I've attached an elevation profile from Google Earth.

I've read reports of others in town getting KTTV, even using an indoor antenna (!!)

Google Earth elevation profile (full res)-
http://i.imgur.com/xSeGwdm.png
 

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jamesm113

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#13
Thanks. I hadn't seen the Google Earth torrent.

I trimmed the palms (boy, that was a pain), signal strength went up from high-40s/low-50s, to low 60s. I didn't have any signal issues for the brief periods of time I was checking on it.

I installed the RCA pre-amp, and the signal is all over the board and 100% unwatchable. Jumps back and forth between 14% & 52% signal strength, but video has tons of artifacts and glitches, even when the signal was in the 50's.

Could I have a defective RCA pre-amp? My previous pre-amp was this one from radioshack-
Radioshack - Products

HD7698P is still in the mail, as is it's antenna mast. Plan on using a Gable mount, which winegard said is strong enough for the HD7968P
 

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#14
You have amplifier signal overload, or an intermittent coax connection to the amplifier, or at the antenna. I cannot overemphasize how important the quality of connections is when working with digital signals. Keep in mind the coax to the amplifier has to carry a DC voltage to the amplifier.
Slow down a bit. It took me over six months, and more than five different antennas to work out a simple reliable, low cost solution to my reception problems. There is not likely to be a simple plug, and play solution. Your location shows a lot of potential working out the details could be a major headache. Make certain the separate combine switch on the amplifier is set correctly. Make certain all connections are reliably supplying power to the amplifier. Test the coax. Check the voltage. I've been accused of hating amplifiers. The truth is I am simply aware of all of the problems that can be encountered when using an amplifier.
Steve
 

jamesm113

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#15
Ok, a new update. The Winegard HD7698P arrived. It's now installed 23' 9" off the ground, and pointed at 86 degrees, towards Mount Wilson. It is in a new location where the two palm trees from before are no longer in the way. Currently running no pre-amp, with a 4ft+25ft+6ft cable runs. Cable is high quality, quad-shield RG6 with compression connectors and connected with 2 regular coax extenders.

After running a channel scan at about 9:30pm, I got 9 stations from Mount Wilson, with varying signal qualities. Still a little bit to go on this front, I think. Locally, I get all the channels I care about (K10PV-D/NBC, KEYT/ABC, KSBB-CD/FOX and CBS). When using the RCA pre-amp, I get only a handful of stations, losing many stations locally, and only channel 13 comes through (barely) from Mount Wilson. All connections were snug, tightened with a wrench, corrosion free. FM trap was set ON, combiner switch was set ON, and antenna was plugged into the UHF/Combined input.

From Mount Wilson, I got-
4-1 (real channel 36) KNBC - completely watchable, 51-54% signal strength shown on TV tuner
5-1 (31) KTLA - completely watchable, 58-61% signal quality
11-1 KTTV - not quite watchable, constant minor glitches, 39-47%
13-1 KCOP - completely watchable, 53-57%
30-1 (38) - KPXN-DT - barely comes in - 22-42%
44-1 (51) KXLA - completely watchable, 51-53%
46-1 (29) KFTR - completely watchable, 49-54%
52-1 (39) KVEA - not watchable - 35-40%
57-1 (49) KJLA-DT - completely watchable - 50-53%

I suspect/wonder if KTTV (VHF channel 11) is getting interference from the neighboring local VHF channel 10 K10PV-D/NBC.

Thanks!
 
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#16
I suspect/wonder if KTTV (VHF channel 11) is getting interference from the neighboring local VHF channel 10 K10PV-D/NBC. - See more at: http://www.dtvusaforum.com/dtv-hdtv...enna-california-central-coast.html#post145569
That is definite possibility, and there is not much you can do about it. Single channel notch filters are not widely available or inexpensive.
FM filters are recommended and are not an expensive addition.
https://www.antennasdirect.com/store/FM_band_rejection_filter.html
http://www.amazon.com/In-Line-Trap-Nickel-plated-steel/dp/B00EIAFHLK
If you are line of sight to KTYD the second harmonic of 99.9 lands on channel 11. The second harmonic of KDRW 88.7 could cause problems with channel 7. The FM trap in the RCA amplifier is not a full FM band trap it leaves room at the bottom of the band to keep from attenuating channel 6. The Radio Shack FM trap does the same.
A zip code FM fool doesn't show the FM signals to be line of sight, but a zip code 93110 based TV Fool doesn't show any line of sight TV signals.
While there could be a problem with the amplifier I would suspect it's being overloaded by strong signals TV, FM, or other out of band signals. While I have no experience with it I've read of using attenuators ahead of amplifiers to solve overload problems.
Careful with that wrench I have seen plenty of damage done by those who were not.
While I'm not always real optimistic. It sounds like you are doing good with your project, and learning a lot in the process.
Steve
 

jamesm113

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#17
FMFool report-
http://i.imgur.com/mw8o3Rf.png

I am LOS both to KTYD (-15.3dBm) and KDRW (-18.4dBm). Seems like these are quite strong signals, as the strongest TV signal i get is -23.4dBm.

I picked up a RadioShack FM trap yesterday and had it installed indoors (ie, 29 feet down from the antenna). Didn't seem to get much improvement. I was not impressed by the insertion loss - the packaging said something along the lines of 5dB. Is that typical for these things? Good to know it's not a full FM trap. I will check out the ones you linked.

What's the recommended location for the FM trap? As close as possible to the antenna? Or anywhere between the antenna and tuner?
 
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#18
I should have warned you. You can't do a link to an FM Fool report. I have seen some post screenshots, but I think you provided the answer. While I'm just a simple antenna enthusiast not an engineer. I think the numbers you posted would indicate a potential for FM interference problems. I would suggest ordering the MCM FM trap directly from them most of the cost will be shipping. I'd order two.
FM Trap | FM-88 (FM88) | Distributed By MCM
The loss from an FM trap is normally less than 1dB. The MCM filter is a true FM band elimination filter, which will affect the reception of CH 6. The Radio Shack and many other traditional FM filters have very little attenuation below 92 MHz to allow for full signal when you get down to channel 6 (82-88 MHZ).
On placement while I can't see where it would make much difference if you're not using an amplifier. I would still suggest closer to the antenna. If used with an amplifier it has to placed between the antenna and amplifier.
Steve
 

jamesm113

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#19
FMFool screenshot linked to my previous post now.

I do not care about any stations in the VHF Lo range, so a channel 6 loss does not bother me. It would be nice to get VHF channel 7 from Mount Wilson, but I do not think that will be negatively affected by an FM trap, outside of insertion loss. (FM trap ends at 108MHz, channel 7 starts at 174MHz)

Found this video of a spectrum analyzer on the MCM FM trap. Looks promising.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFxIMGGtLf0

I'll report back once the FM trap is in place.
 
#20
I had not seen that video before, but it's not difficult to find bench test information on the different FM filters on the market. I knew you were not interested in channel 6. I was only pointing out why some FM filters are designed that way. Good luck with your project.
Steve
 

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