Looking for better reception

Ray In Florida

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#1
I was researching TV antennas a while back, but got sidetracked but I just got new HDTV and am thinking about upgrading my antenna again. I have an old large Radio Shack antenna with amp and rotor about 25 to 28 foot in the air. My home is a two story with the antenna on the high roof. My property is surrounded by trees much taller than my antenna. In the past I was happy with the reception, but I did not mind a bit of snow. With the digital changeover I do not get some of the channels that were watchable in the past.

I really miss picking up channel 12.1 all of the time. They have the best weather report for me in this area. As a RC airplane flyer the wind prediction is important for me.

I am always able to pick up 5.1, 20.1, 28.1. I can get 9.1 about 95% of the time. I can get 12.1 about 50% of the time.

I would like to improve my reception on 12.1, 51.1 and 4.1. Any more stations would be great!

Here is my TVFOOL information: TV Fool

I am hoping to replace my old antenna and cable running between the antenna and amp (maybe 40 foot). Maybe keep my mast. I don't know about the amp.... My budget is flexable but would like to stay in the $150 area. Putting up 2 antennas does not appeal to me, but maybe?

Any suggestion would be welcome.

Thank you,
Ray
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#2
Standard advice for an old antenna: check your cable. Is it in good shape, how old is it? Is the cable RG6 or RG59? (replace it with new RG6 if its RG59, or if you're not sure - use black, it lasts longer)
How long is your Coax, how many TV set do you have? If you have a long coax or a lot of sets, you may need a new amp, digital signal is sensitive to noise from the amp (it may be noisy, I had a very noisy radio shack amp back in the analog days that caused me trouble). Try with or without the Amp you have now.

Now, on to the trees. Can you cut them back, or is there a better antenna location on your property? Being Florida, with leaves on the trees all year around, its hard to tell if the trees are affecting your reception.

Once you've checked all that, you need to Identify that old antenna. If you can't find the model #, post a picture here and someone can identify it. You need good VHF-hi and UHF for the channels you want.

I think you're fighting the curve of the earth here at 58 miles for channel 12. In your case, height may make a difference. just another 5-10 feet may do it, try going to TVfool and use a higher antenna height, see if that helps.

I doubt it will cost you more than $150 to upgrade, probably a lot less. You already have a lot of what you need. if you need an antenna, it will be well less than $100. 50 ft of RG6 (with F connectors) is under $15 (DON'T get radio shack cable, its overpriced!). If you can live with turning the antenna when you change channels, you shouldn't need a second antenna.
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#3
:welcome: Ray,

How was your reception over the winter when the trees had fewer or no leaves, versus your reception today? If the reception is similar, I suspect your trees aren't much of a problem for you: my area is loaded with trees and I have no issues with them. Others here, do.

Mr Pogi offered good advice and knowing exactly what you are currently using as an antenna is very important. Your Channel 12.1 is 'real channel 13' which like your Channel 9.1 is high VHF. Take a look at my albums here and you will find my Project-9 antenna, which I built from a scrap antenna specifically to receive my Channel 9 and 11. A similar antenna ought to capture both of your VHF stations, but you will have to rotate it. If you are a comfortable fabricating your own antenna, possibly from what is already on your roof, I'll send you a link to a website that will design it for you with a few clicks of your mouse!

Don't forget to ground your antenna mast for lightning protection. There are several threads here on the Forum regarding the correct way to do that.

Jim
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#4
Jim, Ray:
I had no problems with leaves until about a month ago here, when they got thick. Seems more of an issue when the wind blows.
 

Ray In Florida

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#5
Thank You MrPogi and Jim In Seattle!

I went through my old receipts for home electronics and found all of the original information on my current antenna, cable, amp, etc.. One of the nice things about of being a pack rat is you can find a lot of information on previous projects....the bad thing is you have to look through a lot of JUNK!!

My antenna is a Radio Shack VU-160 VHF/UHF/FM Antenna with Matching Transformer #15-1718 (Purchased in April of 94)

My antenna amp is a Archer 15-1108 Mast-Mount UHF/VHF/Amplifier with switchable FM Trap (Purchased in Feb. of 85 )

I looked at my cable and it has written on it: Radio Shack Type RG\6 Sat Foam 18 AWG #15-1526 (Purchased in Feb. of 85 )

I do not have any splitters just the coax into one TV. I have thought about putting a splitter close to my antenna and running two coax to my two TVs. I could get rid of my crude home made antenna upstairs in the bed room. I am sure my wife would appreciate that, but she does put up with my projects as we are both artists.

These items my be just in need of replacement because of age. The cable and amp is 25 years old. The cable is probably about 50 ft. long. I would think the cable need replacement for sure.

Someone gave me a box with about 75ft of RG6 cable for a dish network installation. It is gray cable and written on it is: EchoStar RG6 18AWG 2200MHHZ Type CM CL2 or CATV, whatever that means. Is this cable any good or should I buy some new cable? Any suggestions on where to buy RG6 at a good price. I have been looking at HDMI cable for my TV and a lot of people recommend Monoprice.com...any experience with them?

My lot is covered in trees with very little cleared areas. It is all different type of trees and some seem to be probably 50-60 foot tall. My wife and I would much rather enjoy the wildlife on our property than mow grass, so cutting very many trees would not be something that we would want to do. Being in Florida we have leaves all year around on some of the trees. I don't really see much difference in reception between summer and winter. We do have better reception on cloudy days (skip ?).

Building an antenna would be something that would be attractive to me. I did build a couple of DIY antennas. The first was the coat hanger antenna posted on YouTube. It did work, but was kind of crude. I got some heavy alum. ground wire and built another better looking antenna. If I remember it was a Grey-Hoverman with a hardware cloth reflector. It is still up in my bedroom hanging from the ceiling hooked up to a converter box and a older TV. It works fairly well, but can not get the 9.1 or 12.1 high VHF channels, but I don't think it was designed for them. I have an old FM antenna that is made from alum. that used in Chicago when I was into getting great reception of FM stations! It is just taking up space. Jim In Seattle...I am interested in more information on the web site for antenna design and your DIY antenna! I will look more at your builds Jim.

Thanks again for any information,
Ray

EDIT............
Jim In Seattle, I was just looking at your photos and was wondering how long the Project 9 antenna is in length. Maybe my old FM antenna is long enough to be converted to the Project 9. It is interesting that we are both after 9! Did you end up getting a good signal?
 
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MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#6
My antenna is a Radio Shack VU-160 VHF/UHF/FM Antenna with Matching Transformer #15-1718 (Purchased in April of 94)
I would not replace the antenna just yet... try some of the other things first, especially Jim's suggestion of a custom cut antenna. I would spend a few dollars and get a new balun, too..

My antenna amp is a Archer 15-1108 Mast-Mount UHF/VHF/Amplifier with switchable FM Trap (Purchased in Feb. of 85 )
THIS I would get rid of. It has a bad reputation, plus its kinda old. Replace it with a ChannelMaster 7777, it will cost about $60. Or maybe Jim has a better suggestion for your situation? Looks like you may end up combining a vhf and UHF...

I looked at my cable and it has written on it: Radio Shack Type RG\6 Sat Foam 18 AWG #15-1526 (Purchased in Feb. of 85 )
It's old, I'd replace it, especially if you have the echostar cable. I believe its pretty decent cable


I have been looking at HDMI cable for my TV and a lot of people recommend Monoprice.com...any experience with them?
Monoprice? Good products at a great price. Never had a problem with them!

My lot is covered in trees with very little cleared areas. It is all different type of trees and some seem to be probably 50-60 foot tall. My wife and I would much rather enjoy the wildlife on our property than mow grass, so cutting very many trees would not be something that we would want to do. Being in Florida we have leaves all year around on some of the trees. I don't really see much difference in reception between summer and winter. We do have better reception on cloudy days (skip ?).
You may find punching a small hole thru those trees in the direction of the transmitter would give you enough improvement, or, move your antenna to a few locations on the roof to find the "sweet spot" for that channel.

Building an antenna would be something that would be attractive to me. I did build a couple of DIY antennas. The first was the coat hanger antenna posted on YouTube. It did work, but was kind of crude. I got some heavy alum. ground wire and built another better looking antenna. If I remember it was a Grey-Hoverman with a hardware cloth reflector. It is still up in my bedroom hanging from the ceiling hooked up to a converter box and a older TV. It works fairly well, but can not get the 9.1 or 12.1 high VHF channels, but I don't think it was designed for them. I have an old FM antenna that is made from alum. that used in Chicago when I was into getting great reception of FM stations! It is just taking up space. Jim In Seattle...I am interested in more information on the web site for antenna design and your DIY antenna! I will look more at your builds Jim.
Yea, I am going to build a grey hoverman as soon as time allows. see my post "grey hoverman vs mclapp?" for some good plans. Really, you have that monster in your bedroom?? Your wife must be VERY forgiving! The bedroom is no place for an antenna! I would try that one outside and see what it can do, in place of the VU-160. It may just give you what you need for UHF. Or mabe the VU-160 is still better, you won't know unless you try. Only after you try all that would I spring for a new antenna. And I would DEFINATLY try the custom VHF antenna, it should do the trick for your channel 9.

Good luck

POGI
 
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Fringe Reception

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

Pogi stole my thunder, again with good advice except about an antenna not belonging in a bedroom. LOL!

For digital TV reception, its actually a fight between receiving a clean signal rather than a lot of signal and the CM-7777 amplifier has an excellent reputation unlike many other amplifiers. Before you purchase one, I would replace you aged coax with the Echostar coax and see if there is an improvement.

The easiest way to 'go after' your VHF channels is to buy a high-band VHF TV antenna, but you can make you own pretty easily. In my albums here, I have photos of my Project-9 antenna which cost me around $15 to REbuild. I disassembled an old obsolete antenna, relocated the plastic element supports (spacing), cut the elements to the correct length, replaced the original balun with a Channel Master balun and replaced its rusty 'U' bolt for mast mounting.

The spacing of (gaps between) the elements and their physical lengths are critical for a Yagi antenna to function properly, and this website does 99% of the math for you: Martin E. Meserve - K7MEM - VHF/UHF Yagi Antenna Design

To use this free calculator, you need to insert the diameter of the antenna's main support (boom), the diameter of the parasitic elements and the diameter of the driven element.

Since you are trying to receive (real) channels 9 and 13, I would design it for channel 11. Here is a frequency chart for television channels: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/get-cfr.cgi?TITLE=47&PART=73&SECTION=603&YEAR=2002&TYPE=TEXT

Each Television channel is 6 mHz wide, so the center of channel 11 is 201mHz.

If you have any questions, lemme know. Good luck!

Jim
 

Orrymain

, Blogger: Orry's Orations
#8
Ah, the good ole antenna issue. I've given up on OTA because my antenna on the roof is deader than ... well, it's lousy reception. The only time I got things that excited me were in the first few weeks. I've said before it's rusted or something. Someday, when I win the lottery, a new antenna will appear, and Prince Charming, and there will be world peace, and people won't argue, wars will stop, and we'll just all get along. LoL Did I mention it's way too hot?

Good luck with your antenna. I'm envious of anyone with a working antenna right now.
 

Ray In Florida

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#9
Back again!

I have been away from thinking about my TV reception problems for a while, but I am back thinking about it again. We have been getting some work in our studio, so have been busy working. There has been a real problem getting 9.1 and 12.1 for the last few days. If I wiggle the indoor amp and coax it seems to make the reception go in and out. Probably a short in the amp or coax? I hope I have the photo attachments figured out! The first photo is of my current antenna/rotor. It is about 25 foot off of the ground.

Taking your suggestions, I would like to try replacing the coax to start with. Do you think I should take the old amp out of the loop? It is a job doing anything to the antenna. Florida weather does not allow me to be on my roof in the middle of the day in the summer. The roofing gets so hot it will damage by walking on it....plus it is way too hot up there for an old guy like me!:grin: If I change the coax should I try to change out the 75-300 ohm transformer? Things have really changed, I just called my local Radio Shack and they had no idea what a 75-300 ohm transformer or a balun is or if they could order one. They are probably in the business of selling telephones now. I looked at Solid Signal, but the shipping was more than the balun! I wonder if my local Lowes would have such a thing, I know they carry some coax cable.

I was also very interested in trying to build a VHF TV antenna. That project 9 looks great. I have a couple of old antenna in my "its got to be good for something" pile. One is ( I think but not sure ) a old FM antenna. When I lived in Chicago I was into hearing classical music on FM radio. I think the second photo is a FM antenna. The main beam is 93 inches long and has 4 pairs of straight elements and 2 pairs of oval elements. The straight elements are 12 inches to 33 1/2 inches long on each side. The oval elements are 22 1/2 and 30 inches long on each side. Each side measured from the center of the beam to the outside edge of the elements. This is a pretty nice antenna as it is mainly metal with only one little piece of plastic. So it would be easy to modify. The third photo is an old standard TV antenna with a center beam length of 70 inches. Both antennas do not have the elements out straight in the photos. They are hard to fold back up if they are out straight past the clips. Do you think either one of these would be adaptable to a VHF TV antenna tuned to channel 11?

Jim In Seattle, I took a look at your link: Martin E. Meserve - K7MEM - VHF/UHF Yagi Antenna Design and it is way out of my league. This is me - :dunce: when it comes to that type of information. I guess I don't know where to start. If you think either of the above antenna would work, I will need to ask you a LOT of questions!

Thank you again for all of the information and help!
Ray

......edit....

Sorry for the small photos...how do I make them show up larger?
 

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Fringe Reception

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

I reviewed your TVFOOL report and I suggest a two-antenna solution: you currently don't have trouble with your UHF channels (I bet you can capture more of them) but VHF reception is the issue.

Here is a simple setup I did for a customer last summer (before the guy wires were installed). The top antenna is an old-style Channel Master 4221 and the lower antenna is a 'high-band' 7-13 Yagi of unknown origin (most likely designed for real channel 10, so its good for 9 and OK for 13) The antennas are combined into one RG-6 coaxial downlead using a UVSJ combiner from Radio Shack. UVSJ combiners are inexpensive and also manufactured by Pico Macom, Blonder-Tongue and Hollands and are available from Solid Signal dot com. (UVSJ means UHF/VHF signal joiners)

I purchased the top antenna on Craigslist for around $30 and the VHF antenna was already installed on his roof. 33 free channels on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Unlike your situation, they don't need a rotor at their location, but one of your photos shows (I think) a Radio Shack rotor identical to one I have and it should be easily able handle two antennas. One rule is to seperate two 'different' antennas apart from each other so they don't interact with each other, per my photo link: 35" seperation to receive channel 35 is in the math. Less seperation for higher channels and more for lower channels. *This 'axiom' may be a straw dog as I have personally not had any antenna interaction issues with receiving antennas.

For testing, first I'd run a high-band VHF antenna up the mast and determine what height it needs to be located at. If its practical to install a UHF antenna above it, good. If not, it can be located under your VHF antenna but you may need a higher gain UHF antenna if mounted much lower than your currently functioning UHF receiving antenna.

I think you could alter your (possible) FM radio antenna pretty easily for high-band VHF: since (real) 12 is your focus, it could be rebuilt specifically for 12, or you could 'hedge your bet' and build it between channels 9 and 12. I think I'd build it for channel 11. You will need a hand drill or a drill-press, a tape measure, some new fasteners, a new balun and an afternoon. If you zap me the length of the antenna's boom, I'll use the K7MEM website and get you the particulars. It's easier than you think it is to alter an antenna!

Jim
 
#12
Ray,

I think you could alter your (possible) FM radio antenna pretty easily for high-band VHF: since (real) 12 is your focus, it could be rebuilt specifically for 12, or you could 'hedge your bet' and build it between channels 9 and 12. I think I'd build it for channel 11. You will need a hand drill or a drill-press, a tape measure, some new fasteners, a new balun and an afternoon. If you zap me the length of the antenna's boom, I'll use the K7MEM website and get you the particulars. It's easier than you think it is to alter an antenna!

Jim
The boom length on the old FM antenna is 93 inches. Do you need to know the cross section size of the boom or the Elements. Sounds like fun, plus I get to resurrect the old antenna!! The two VHF channels that I would like to get are 9.1 and 12.1. They are REAL 9 and 13.
 
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Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#13
Ray,

To rebuilt your antenna I need the diameter of the boom, the parsitic elements and the driven element because they are critical for the online calculator to work. I assume the elements are supported/attached to the boom electrically isolated from it using plastic supports. Correct? What channel do you want to redesign this for? If (real) 13 is the reason for this build, it should be designed either for 13 or 12, hoping (real) 9 sneaks thru it as well.

Jim
 
#14
Ray,

To rebuilt your antenna I need the diameter of the boom, the parsitic elements and the driven element because they are critical for the online calculator to work. I assume the elements are supported/attached to the boom electrically isolated from it using plastic supports. Correct? What channel do you want to redesign this for? If (real) 13 is the reason for this build, it should be designed either for 13 or 12, hoping (real) 9 sneaks thru it as well.

Jim
The main boom on the FM Antenna is a 1 inch by 1 inch square tubing. All of the other elements are 3/8 inch round tubing. Nothing is electrically isolated there are no plastic supports. I just checked with my meter and everything is electrically connected.

There are two sets of oval elements that are connected to each other. They are shaped like this:

__________________ ___ _________________
l__________________l___l__________________l <-- Rounded ends here both ends

The top part of the half loops are not connected to the boom, but are connected to the other loop. That is difficult to explain. I will try to attach a photo of these two elements. I guess these are the "driven elements"??

Let me know if I need to explain more.
Ray

.....edit....
I guess I would shoot for real 12 that way I would be closer to the weak 13 and maybe also pick up 9.

My drawing above gets changed when it is posted....sorry if does not work. Maybe a combination of the drawing and the photo will help.
Ray
 

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Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#15
Ray,

Here's the plan for a channel 12 Yagi designed by the K7MEM website based on your plan to reuse parts from your old antenna: 1" square tubing boom and .375" diameter elements. This uses straight elements, not the dipole 'loop' types you currently have, but if your old elements are long enough, they cut easily with a tubing cutter.

You can use a split dipole as the driven element where the overall material lengths total 27 1/4" plus a 1" gap between the two halves of the element, like this: ------ ------ The gap is where your balun attaches, represented here as a two small "i"s: -----ii----- All elements on the antenna will be electrically bonded (bolted/rivetted) to the boom except for the driven element: it must be insulated from everything else (the boom).

Jim
 
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#16
Ray,

Here's the plan for a channel 12 Yagi designed by the K7MEM website based on your plan to reuse parts from your old antenna: 1" square tubing boom and .375" diameter elements. This uses straight elements, not the dipole 'loop' types you currently have, but if your old elements are long enough, they cut easily with a tubing cutter.

You can use a split dipole as the driven element where the overall material lengths total 27 1/4" plus a 1" gap between the two halves of the element, like this: ------ ------ The gap is where your balun attaches, represented here as a two small "i"s: -----ii----- All elements on the antenna will be electrically bonded (bolted/rivetted) to the boom except for the driven element: it must be insulated from everything else (the boom).

Jim
I went over to the K7MEM design page and was playing around with the figures. I think I have a grasp on how to make it work with the help of you doing first!! Anyway it looks like I need a longer beam. My old TV antenna pictured above might work. It has the same size boom tubing as the FM antenna. It also has plastic mounts to keep the elements away from the boom.

Could I just cut some off of my TV antenna and join it to the FM antenna making sure they are electrically connected to each other? That way I would have a longer boom. Also could I use one of the plastic clips from the old TV antenna? It would make the driven element about 1/4 inch above the level of the other elements, would that reduce the signal in any way? I Googled around a little and found a wavelength calculator. It gave me a figure of a little over 57 inches for the 207 wavelength. I multiplied it by 2.2 and added a little and used a length of 130. That gave me a gain of 11.78 that does not seem to be much difference. The antenna calculator suggested a length of 2.2 to 39 wavelengths, but the difference in added gain does not seem to be worth the trouble to lengthen the boom....or am I way off (as usual )?

I did find a nice looking exterior balun locally, so I am ready to give it a try.

Thank you for your time and knowledge,
Ray
 

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