Intermittent Reception Que.

ShastaGeezer

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#1
I sort of stumbled upon this forum and have read many posts about antenna installation. Many thanks to the gurus who have helped people here. We are very fortunate that they take the time to help us out.

We went ota in July. We hired a local guy to install and hookup up our antenna which we got from him. I had already got our chart for our zipcode from TV Fool. He had not see stuff from them before. We live in a fringe area with hills all around. Our antenna is currently about 10' up from the ground. I also bought a channel master dvr+ which has 2 tuners. We are using it's wifi dongle and I hooked a 1tb ext. drive to it. Our tv is an 8 yr old Samsung 46". Our internet is via Charter and we have 66mps (verified by test). We also have a Amazon Fire TV box. A 2nd 22" Samsung TV runs off the antenna splitter direct and does not go through any other equipment.

The 2 main TV channels we watch are ABC and CBS. The CBS station is in Chico and per TVFool is 57 miles SE of here at a bearing of 123 deg.. The ABC and PBS channels are 11.4 miles at a bearing of 266 deg. . Wikipedia says that the CBS channel has a translator on a local mountain which is 7 miles at a bearing of 307 deg. designated as channel 36. However it does not show up on TVFool's chart. The installer said that the CBS channel is being received off the back of the antenna which cost around $20. The CBS station also provides the signal for the CW channel. I think our antenna is currently sighted at a bearing of around 300 deg..

We have pixelation issues with the CBS station signals and also another channel, NBC which is 28 miles at a bearing of 125 deg.. The signal from the CBS station is good most of the time. Sometimes the pixelation issue is only at the beginning of the program. Other times the pixelation is so bad that you can't watch the program. It seems that all the programs we like are on the CBS channel (12). I would not be adverse to getting an antenna that would bring it in and take my changes with ABC, PBS, and Fox. There are hills between us and all of the transmitter locations. but the closer ones do not seem to be affected by them.

Okay, here's where I'm confused. Let me say that I'm no electronics tech even though I was a radio operator in the USAF and have put up antennas (doublets). I do realize that there are troubleshooting procedures that have to be used to identify and solve electronic problems though. Therefore, it seems to me that if something were really wrong with the antenna/co-ax, we wouldn't have any reception. Also, Channel 7 & 9 (ABC & PBS), do not have pixelation problems-ever. I'm wondering if our reception problem is caused by interference. Maybe from HAM radio, planes, and/or ground-to-air communications? Is there a chance that the stations, that we don't receive well all the time, have too weak signals? Would these be corrected by getting a better antenna? I have ordered a little rca indoor amp ($9) to see if it would help. The reviews are abut 50-50 on whether it helps or not. I'm also thinking of moving the antenna higher but that would add another 12" of co-ax.

I apologize about asking these questions, but none of the people that I've spoken to here locall have any answers. In fact we can't even find anyone who is willing to do any installing other than dish or direct. Apparently, I'm one of the few who has cut the cord. Everyone else is on Dish, Direct, or Charter. I had problems with all of those mostly with customer service and billing. I really appreciate any help/comments. Thanks!
 
#2
You really need to provide us with a link to the TV fool report for your location, and what you are currently using for an antenna. What make and model of antenna is it. With out a TV fool report we can't be of much help. If you can't find out what the make and model of the antenna is post a photo if you can. You gave us all kinds of information that is of little use when trying to solve a reception problem.
 

ShastaGeezer

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#3
You really need to provide us with a link to the TV fool report for your location, and what you are currently using for an antenna. What make and model of antenna is it. With out a TV fool report we can't be of much help. If you can't find out what the make and model of the antenna is post a photo if you can. You gave us all kinds of information that is of little use when trying to solve a reception problem.
Okay, I think this is the info you are asking for?

Stellar Labs HDTV 60 Mile Fringe Yagi Television Antenna | 30-2155 (302155) | Stellar Labs

This not where I bought mine

TV Fool
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#4
I noticed 3 directions you could aim: 320, 140 or around 50 degrees. Now, each one has its own problems and different channels. But your biggest issue is that the antenna you have isn't designed for VHF (RF channels below 14) and you have both VHF-lo and VHF-hi channels.

I will have to go to RabbitEars.Info and do some more research on your location, but I will need your zip code to do that.
 
#5
I've spent a lot of time looking at the situation on rabbitears.info, and I'm still a bit confused. My first thought after seeing both the TV fool, the antenna in use, and the reception reported would be a partial coax connection, or damaged balun feeding only one side of the antenna. Allowing the feedline to act as part of the antenna system making it possible to receive strong VHF signals on an antenna that normally will not, and also degrading UHF reception. Even bad connectors sometimes seem to work for a few months. Then they start to fail intermittently in a manner that seems unrelated to the connectors. Looking at the amount of translators active, and dead with in 60 miles you really need to put forth some effort to determine which real channels you are receiving. Virtual channel numbers displayed on the TV are worthless when trying to determine what kind of antenna is needed, or what transmitter the signal is coming from. Real channel numbers are directly related to the frequency the signal is being transmitted on. I took a look at the manual for the dvr+ there is a screen in the menu system that displays frequency being received. The example given shows channel 14- Frequency kHz 473000. Here is a link to a frequency chart.
TV channel frequencies
Most but not all Samsung TV will support direct channel entry. Example if you enter 43 on the remote and you are receiving a signal on real channel 43 the TV will jump to virtual channel 12.1 Rabbitears.info does show a KHSL transmitter on real channel 36. You should be able to find out which one you are receiving by trying manual entry, or looking at the frequency on the dvr+.
I do agree with MrPogi in an area where VHF signals are being used you really should be using an antenna designed for reception of VHF frequencies.
Are there trees, or buildings in the way? While most splitters are about the same you could have gotten a bad one. Not all three way splitters are of the same design. Some have a 3.5 dB loss port, and two 7 dB loss ports. How long are your coax runs? Is it all RG6? RG59 is higher loss if you are using old coax runs. First you need to have plenty of signal before you start chopping it up with a splitter.
I don't have all the answers. I'm just trying to give you some ideas that might be helpful in solving your reception problems.
Steve
 
#6
Here are the two of the reports I took a partial look at. You can click on the call sign to start opening more information.
RabbitEars.Info
On the next one you can click on expand at the top of the page.
RabbitEars.Info
I said partial look because those reports can be used to find some very detailed information if one digs deep enough.
Your channel 9 signal PBS could be coming from real channel 9 VHF, or 18 UHF. The other signals that would channel map to virtual channel 9 appear to be out of range. Your channel 7 signal ABC could be coming from real channel 7 VHF, or 34 UHF. Knowing which one you are receiving is important in solving reception problems even if those are not the channels you are having trouble with. I picked those two examples because one real channel is VHF and the other UHF, and antenna requirements are very different. Both of the CBS signals in your area are UHF. I find it strange that TV fool does not show a KHSL signal on real channel 36, and rabbitears.info does. RabbitEars.info is most generally more up to date.
I would have to suggest using an antenna with both high VHF and UHF capability. Stellar Labs 30-2440, or one of the Antennacraft HBU series antennas. Even tho I feel you have the wrong antenna for your location I would not rush out and buy a different antenna without first doing some serious research into your current signal situation.
 

ShastaGeezer

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#7
Here's a pic of my antenna:

ota ant.JPG

Thank you, gentlemen. You have given me a lot of info to consider and also some new info that is helpful....like the KHSL channel 36 issue and that rabbitears info is more up to date than tvfool.

Not sure which to go by for channels 12 and 38 per the info from rabbitears and tvfool. Note that the signals from the antenna go into dvr (which has 2 tuners) and then to the samsung tv. Per the dvr manual, it only tunes to digital and not analog. I am somewhat confused as to how to determine which stations are broadcasting in vhf. Our callsign channel 9 does broadcast in hd and we receive it that way for most things.

To simplify things we are only intersted in KRCR-TV (7-1), KHSL-DT (REAL CHANNEL43, VIRT. 12.1 & 12.2 (CW),KNVT-DT (24, 24.1). FOX (VIRT CHAN.38, 38.1) would be a bonus, and KIXE-TV 9, 9.1. We don't care about any of the other channels on the tvfool list.

Looking at the transmitter locations on the tvfool circle. It looks like most of the channels we want are on the same axis of approximately a true bearing of 322 deg and 138 deg. Our current ant. is pointed 300 deg. magnetic. I checked it yesterday with a compass so the reciprocal would be 120 mag., which shows as 123 deg mag for KHSL on the tvfool chart. I don't even know if one exists, but I'm wondering if there is a dual direction antenna? I'm also wondering if I could use an attic antenna.

The transmitters for krcrtv and kixe are on a mountain just west of me. I can actually see the mountain top about a block east of me, but not from my house. I only have to go another block to see the other mountain where the channel 36 and 38 transmitters are located. I do live in a hilly area and that's why all transmitters in this part of the state are on mountains. The transmitters to the southwest (bearing 120) are not line of sight. Even here in our town the is a big variance in topography. I live on the west side in a higher elevation than most of the town.

Does this info help any? Do you think a dual direction antenna would help? As to the connectors I think the guy just used whatever cable was there from dish/directv and it was probably originally put there by charter cable 11 years ago. All rooms are wired for tv. I'm not sure where the splitter is. the 22" new samsung tv does not go through the dvr, hence the splitter.

I do appreciate any info. You guys are giving me an education here. Thanks.
 

ShastaGeezer

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#8
Sorry that it's taken me so long to catch on to this stuff. I'm an old geezer and techno minus to boot. Here's some more info that you alluded to in your post that I didn't comprehend initially. This is from the Cm DVR+ tech menu.

Channel Network ID Signal Strength Signal Quality
7 KRCR-TV 7 100 100
12 KHSL-HD 36 67 100
9 KIXE-HD 9 100 100
24 KNVN-HD 24 60 92
12.2 CW-10 36 67 100

I guess that channels 7 and 9 are VHF and the rest are UHF. TVfool did not show channel 36 at all, but it looks like that's what the dvr is picking up.
 

ShastaGeezer

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#9
Just a little more info re khsl. here's what the fcc has TV Query Results -- Video Division (FCC) USA

Here's what I found on Google re ch 36 via Wikipedia. However the Wikipedia page shows nothing about ch 36. This is from google:

khsl tv re ch 36.jpg

The little rca amp is coming tonight which I realize is a crap shoot. Actually another antenna might be also. Considering the ch 36 and 38 are the closest channels, they have the lowest signal strength per the dvr, but maybe that tranmitter is not sending as strong of signal. Maybe all these factors are why no one around here is switching to OTA? It's sure not as easy as people like Kim Komando make it sound.
 

dkreichen1968

Moderator
Staff member
#10
I'd point the antenna at 123 degrees magnetic and see what happens (180 degrees from its current point direction). You may want to get the Stellar Labs antenna with the VHF elements on the back. It would pick up VHF (7&9) from the back better than your antenna picks up UHF from the back. Then point it at 123 degrees. That appears to be where most of the UHF stations are located.
 
#11
Your strong signals on 7 and 9 makes me very suspicious of a balun, or coax problem which would also cause signal levels to be lower then what should be on 36 and 24. I base that statement on what MrPogi has reported about the VHF response of the antenna you are using, and my personal experience with defective connectors and baluns.
Which RCA amp? Most are not switching to OTA because they don't know it still exists or how good it actually works. You are not in a bad area for OTA reception. I was aware of the terrain variations of your area. I played with the TV fool map feature a bit in that area. If you haven't looked at it try it out.
https://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=90
Who is Kim Komando? I had to look that one up.
There really are no out of the box bi-directional antennas currently being offered that I can recommend. Multi-path can cause problems when using a bi-directional antenna. I've resorted to home built bi-directional antennas for the area where I live. I've presented a lot of information.
I agree with the advice Dan just posted.
 

ShastaGeezer

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#12
One thing that I forgot to mention is that there are some major power lines (western power administration easement) that run across the rear of our property. The signls from 7, 9, and 36 are west of these lines. However, 7 and 9 signals are 100% strength and quality. Seems strange that the antenna I have now is not for vhf but the vhf channels come in better than all of the uhf channels. I did read that vhf is better in foothill areas, but I don't know if that's true or not. The foothills begin right behind my house.
 
#13
I still think you have a problem with something that is not right with the balun, or coax that is causing the antennas to receive VHF signal so well while damaging UHF performance. Most of my antenna work the last two years has been with home built antennas and junk box parts. I've seen many times the different things that can happen to signals when working with a defective balun, or poor coax connection causing the coax itself to become apart of the antenna instead of just carrying signal as it should. The coax left over from Direct TV should be good. Any other would be suspect. I always recommend testing coax for continuity and shorts using an ohm meter, or low voltage continuity tester. I've seen first hand the strange things that can happen to digital signals when using faulty coax. I have read mention of damaging the balun on Stellar Labs antennas from over tightening. I saw the power line when using the satellite view on the TV fool maps yesterday I think I was getting pretty close to the right neighborhood that's where I noticed how rapidly signals change in that area. VHF is more susceptible to interference from power line noise then UHF. VHF does work better in hilly areas.
My advice would be check things for fixable problems. Poor coax connections. Damaged balun could be a bigger problem. Check signals with the antenna pointed at 123 degrees. Get the right antenna for the job.
Stellar Labs VHF/UHF HDTV 60 Mile Fringe Yagi Antenna | 30-2440 (302440) | Stellar Labs
Unless you have some nearby blockage TV fool doesn't see close trees or buildings you should be able to receive the signals from the 123 degree direction, and still get the nearby signals off the back side of the antenna. If you use the right antenna for the job, and it is correctly installed which might mean a bit higher.
 

ShastaGeezer

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#14
The RCA Amp really improved the 2 channels that we wanted to receive. (http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B004HB2X4Y/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1). All signals are now 100% strength and quality. I just took a chance based upon customer reviews on Amazon. It did bring in a Fox channel but the quality was too poor to use. We did not have that channel before anyway and we get Fox on Channel 38 which is also now 100%. We did lose channel 101.1 and 101.2 which are he same as channel 12 coming in on channel 36, now at 100%. Now, I'm just keeping my fingers crossed. I'm not going to change anything unless something happens. I should mention that channel 7 now comes in on ch 34 and we didn't get that before. However the ch7 vhf doesn't come in now but since we get it on ch 34, that doesn't matter. Looks like channel 9 is the only vhf channel left and it remains at 100%.

The RCA digital signal amp says it's for indoor antennas, but it fixed the problems I was concerned about. Go figure.

Thanks for all you help and patience, Steve and mrpogi. I really have learned a lot and if I have future problems, I have a good foundation of where to start trouble shooting. Kim Komando is sort of a computer, phone, tablet guru. she has a radio show, many videos and a website with a store and good info archives. I subscirbe to her daily column and she also writes one for USA Today. Actually, she stays current and is pretty smart, too. There's a forum on her website with nice helpful folks.
 
#15
I've at times recommended that cheap little amp to solve distribution problems. The price tag is right. I've looked at the bench tests of it. It doesn't really qualify as low noise by todays standards, but it is not bad. It does have some FM and out of band filtering. It is much better then some of the other cheap amplifiers of that type that can still be purchased. The high reported failure rate has made me a bit hesitant to keep recommending that amp, but it's not a bad little amplifier for the price you can always keep a spare.
 
#16
All of your strange changes in reception from adding an amplifier still points to something that is not right somewhere in the system. I'm glad you have things working. I hope it all continues to work for you.
I probably should check out Kim Komando. I did do a quick search to find out who you were talking about.
I need all the help I can get when it comes to computers. I've only been around a PC for about two years. I've worked with various types of antennas for both transmitting and receiving signals of different types for well over forty years. It's probably closer to fifty years, but I'd hate to admit my age.
Steve
 

dkreichen1968

Moderator
Staff member
#17
The antenna is currently aimed at the VHF stations, and in the opposite direction from most of the UHF signals. Both VHF signals are quite strong. That easily explains why the VHF signals are stronger. All UHF antennas can and will pick up VHF signals if the signals are strong enough. I'm still suggesting getting the Stellar Labs VHF/UHF HDTV 60 Mile Fringe Yagi Antenna | 30-2440 (302440) | Stellar Labs and pointing it the opposite direction. There is a very good chance that there are channels that you could be getting that you aren't getting with the antenna pointed toward the VHF stations, but if it wasn't pointed in toward the VHF stations you probably wouldn't be getting the VHF stations at all.
 
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ShastaGeezer

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#18
Not sure how I discovered the RCA amp. Like I said, it's a crap shoot. I works great for some and not at all for others. For $9 I decided to give it a try. I was really surprised that it worked to well that it solved my problems--at least for now. I'm going to make any further changes unless something goes wrong. I'm an "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." guy.

As to the antenna direction, it is pointed to almost all of the channels that we use. PBS is vhs, but it's 100%. ABC was vhs, but is now coming in on uhf at 100%. CBS and Fox are also coming in from the same quadrant on uhf 100%. NBC is uhf and is in the opposite direction from the other stations. We don't watch it very much, but it's now at 100% also. There were a few more stations that we receive, but I took a bunch of them off because we will never watch them. We don't even want any more stations than we currently have. We have Amazon Fire TV and Netflix. They both have many old tv series that we like--and there are no commercials. We really don't watch many movies except for some older ones. We don't seem to be interested in new movies except for some like "The King's Speech." I really like westerns and scifi.

Again, I really do appreciate everyone's help. If I do have future problems, I'll be checking out all of your suggestions. Best Regards!
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#19
Shasta,

Congratulations on your progress but my take is somewhat opposite from others here. The antenna (photo) you posted may be good for European or Chinese television reception, but the elements are far to short to efficiently receive North American television. Based on your TV dial, channels 83 down to 52 have been eliminated in the Western world.

I'd try different antennas ... anything else. They are cheap to buy and to sell on Craigslist.

Jim
 
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ShastaGeezer

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#20
If I ever have to change antennas, I will. I would like to have one in the attic if it would work from there. That way it would be protected from the weather. My existing antenna has held up okay from strong winds and storms though. Looks like whatever changes are made I'll have to do myself. I can't find anyone who works on OTA antennas. I'll have to rent a ladder to put the antenna higher and also learn how to make coax connections. Also, I would prefer to that kind of work when the weather is warmer.

I know nothing about how TV's have improved signal reception over the years either. Now, the incoming signals go to the tuners in the DVR+. I would assume that upgrades/improvements will be made to that over the years. I already have had 2 firmware upgrades since I bought it.
 
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