Military Member needing help

w1a9c8k5

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#1
hello all,
First and foremost i am brand new to this forum and even more new to Antenna usage. My wife and I are both active duty Air Force and recently got orders from Missouri (cable was pretty cheap) to Alaska (cable cost more than my car insurance now). I am desperately hunting for an alternative to the monopoly cable company here. I live right in Anchorage (below is the TVFool report) and there are pretty many local stations here. I think i could get decent reception and a fair amount of channels. My only realy problem is like a greenhorn on the deadliest catch, I know nothing about coax, amplifiers, antennas or any of that jazz. Is there a dummy proof way to make my transition as stress-free as possible? I don;t want to spend a full saturday trying to figure this out, end up getting anger and abandoning the whole idea when all i may have needed was something simple. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

TV Fool
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#2
:welcome: W1,

Thank you for your service to our Country.

You appear to be in a good location for free OTA reception, but your survey is based upon a 'general location' that may be miles away from you. Secondly, it is based at 5 feet above ground level (by default). Please rerun your report using your address or GPS co-ordinance: that website will automatically conceal your details for your protection. Be sure to enter the maximum height above ground where you could mount an antenna.

With information based on your location, we can make far better suggestions.

Jim
 
#3
Very strong signals. Should get by with an indoor antenna. FOX, CBS, NBC and PBS; but looks like no ABC broadcast.

Do you have a modern TV with a built in ATSC tuner? I am using an older TV with an NTSC tuner so I have to use a Converter Box with it.

Probably buy everything you need from Antennas Direct and have it shipped. RG-6 coax. No Amplifier I wouldn't think. Someone will make a rec for a specific antenna.

You are practically sitting on top of the transmitters! Only 0.8 miles to the CBS transmitter. NBC and PBS only 15 miles in the opposite direction. Don't think direction matters with that sort of signal strength.
 

w1a9c8k5

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#4
General Questionnaire for an OTA (Free TV) System Installation What is your primary objective (check the line applicable) :
I don’t want to spend much, just want a few Local Stations:__X_. I don't need to go cheap but I don't need every channel
I want as many as I can reasonably get:___.
I want the best system I can, to replace my Cable/Satellite Service:___.
I want to get EVERYTHING I can, cost is NO object:___.
Main Assembly: What kind of Terrestrial Antenna do you presently have: (Make/Model/None): __NONE__. ____.
Is the Antenna to be/or installed: On top of your TV (same Room), Attic, Rooftop or Pole: I can put in on the roof or a pole. My roof is almost flat.
If inside (same room) on which floor is the Viewing Area: First, Second, which: I have 1 a story with a basement partially underground. I would like tv in the basement and main floor. Both TVs would be on the same side of the house.
If in Attic, Roof or outside separate Mast/Pole: How high above ground is your Antenna installed/proposed: I do not have a pole yet
Do you have an Antenna Rotator: (Make/Model/None): ____. ____. nope
Are you presently using a Pre-Amplifier: (Make/Model/None): ____. ____. don't know what that is
Interior: How many linear Cable feet is it between your Antenna and the most far TV: .___ft. I would say it would be about 30-40 feet. im unsure
How many TV sets will be/are presently being used, on this system: .___#. I don't have a antenna system set up
How many Splitters are in use in your system: Number & Qty of outlets for each? na
Are you using a Distribution Amplifier: (Make/Model/None): ____. ____. whats that?
Additional Information: Are you/do you plan to integrate Cable or Satellite Services with this system: Yes/No ___. I would like to get rid of the $100 a month cable bill I pay now
Is there anything else you would like to provide concerning construction, obstructions or geographical issues? I live by a lagoon so I am in a lower part of Anchorage but from the TV fool It looks like im pretty close to the stations that provide TV
Do you have a current Chart for the Free Local TV Channels in your Area? unknown
 

w1a9c8k5

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#5
TV fool should be updated.
I have a 4 year old LG LCD TV, but I am going to be purchasing a new one on Black Friday. anything specific I should look for when buying a new tv? Also if an indoor antenna would work do I need two of them for 2 tvs? Do they sell kits that have everything or is it better to buy it individually? thanks in advance
TV Fool
TV Fool
 

SWHouston

Moderator
Staff member
#6
First of all, permit me too to thank you and your Wife, for your service to our Country. :hail:

Here's your situation...

You're very close to the Transmitters. That's good.
However, the "good" stations/transmitters are spread around you in different directions. Not so good.
Antennas are like Flashlight beams, they have width, and as Antennas, it's limited. That's the way it is.
The stations around you, are spread out where a single Antenna is not going to pick up very many of the good stations. Not so good.
You need a relatively short range VHF-hi/UHF Antenna. No problem there, and they're not expensive. (about $50)
But, to get a reasonable amount of stations, you'd need a Rotator. Those are not real cheep. (about $100)
(a Rotator is a motor, mounted outside on your Antenna Mast, which turns your antenna (almost 360°) in a horizontal direction, from a control inside your house)

You're going to get the best reception from an Antenna mounted on your roof. And, to get the most stations, you need a Rotator. We're looking at a one time charge of about $200 for that setup... however...

It's possible, that you may be able to do quite well with an Indoor Antenna. ($15- $40)
They're not expensive, and given the possibility that it just may work well for you, the cheapest way out.
IF one will work, then just buy another when you get your new TV.
If it doesn't, then you haven't spent much, and may just be able to return it and get your money back. ? (keep packaging and all that stuff)
Those Antennas are very simple to connect, and you're able to turn them yourself from inside your house !

Now, here's the hitch about an Indoor Antenna...
I have NO idea how the Houses in your Area are constructed. Probably very well, and they may use construction materials, which may attenuate TV Signals. But as stated, if an Indoor doesn't satisfy you, return it and go with the Outdoor type.

Now, let's talk about what is a "good" station...
You don't have very many of those (not like a major metropolitan area), and what I'm talking about are...
FOX, CBS, NBC, PBS, ION, MyN. You'll be able to get other stations too, but, they're not Nationally affiliated, and may not have very good material to view.

So, your choices are...
Go with an Indoor and take the chance of limiting your reception.
Go with an Outdoor/Rotator, which cost more, but will provide the best reception.
Forget all this, because you'll only be getting about 6 good channels, and that's not enough for you.

Have a good Day ! :D
 
#7
I'm guessing that Anchorage is more than a bit different than Warrensburg! Thanks for doing your part!

I think you can do with a single antenna (no rotor) if you do it right. You can usually pick up an Antennas Direct C2-V-CJM at either Walmart or Best Buy down here for about $100 plus a suitable length of RG6 (not Quad Shield) coax cable. When you get the antenna home, remove the black metal screen by whatever means necessary. Last I saw, you had to drill out one or two rivets. When there is no grid, the antenna is purely bi-directional. Mount it so that the rods point east-west in a good spot and you should be okay. An attic or indoor location, depending on your immediate surroundings and your building's construction, will likely work.

Very strong signals. Should get by with an indoor antenna. FOX, CBS, NBC and PBS; but looks like no ABC broadcast.

Do you have a modern TV with a built in ATSC tuner? I am using an older TV with an NTSC tuner so I have to use a Converter Box with it.

Probably buy everything you need from Antennas Direct and have it shipped. RG-6 coax. No Amplifier I wouldn't think. Someone will make a rec for a specific antenna.

You are practically sitting on top of the transmitters! Only 0.8 miles to the CBS transmitter. NBC and PBS only 15 miles in the opposite direction. Don't think direction matters with that sort of signal strength.
1. ABC is on KYUR operating on VHF 12.
2. Antennas Direct only ships directly to the lower 48. For Alaska, you need to purchase from either a B&M retailer with a local presence or from an online retailer who will ship to Alaska.
3. TV sets sold in the US since early 2007 should have the ATSC tuner.
4. No amplifier. Don't need one and it will only overload and cause reception failure.
5. Direction usually matters, especially if multi-path reflections rear their ugly heads.


anything specific I should look for when buying a new tv? Also if an indoor antenna would work do I need two of them for 2 tvs? Do they sell kits that have everything or is it better to buy it individually?
1. You'll either have to get your hands on the remote in-store (hah!) or research the candidates beforehand by finding their online owners manuals. Two features in particular are most useful for OTA reception with TV tuners. The first is a built-in diagnostic screen that gives as much details as possible about the incoming signals. Signal-to-noise ratio readings are very useful if available. A basic signal meter is the minimum. The second feature is to have the ability to "Add" extra channels, either manually, or via an add-on scan. This feature is handy if you ever have to resort to a rotor or if you find that your indoor antenna requires a specific adjustment for a specific channel.

2. Individual antennas are more convenient provided they actually work at each TV set's location. Otherwise, you will need to use a common splitter and extra lengths of RG6 to route the signal from a common location, whether indoors or outdoors, to each location. Since most homes are already cabled for either satellite or cable service, you can usually re-purpose existing coax provided certain rules are followed.

3. You'll have to buy individual accessories separately on an as-needed basis. The C2-V-CJM I suggested above has the antenna plus a generic 20" mount in the box already.

Let us know how it turns out!
 
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w1a9c8k5

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#8
haha I actually lived in the smaller town Knob Noster :)
Ok this is sounding a little better. I am not to upset with only getting 5-10 channels. As long as I get the main ones (fox nbc cbs abc and such) My next questions would be;
if it did end up getting a rotar would that be ok in extreme cold temps that Alaska gets? is it possible to just buy two antenna and point one north and the other southeast?
Does Tivo work with an antenna if so would I be able to DVR shows? how does tive know what shows are coming up?
 
#9
Use the one antenna trick, it's easier.

Yes, a Tivo Premiere or Rovio will work. There is a monthly fee for the Tivo Service. The Tivo must be connected to the internet or via a phone line for it to get its guide data.

There are also other DVR systems that are not subscription-based but I haven't played with any of them.
 

w1a9c8k5

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#10
I think I would end up purchasing the entire TIVO program and lifetime usage outright. I have Tivo already set up with the cable I currently have. It has a TiVo mini in my main room upstairs. I am assuming the set up would be identical. I was looking at the RCA ANT751 and Antennas Direct C2-V-CJM on amazon. Could I put that in my house here (pic below is my kitchen living room or would it be best outside: or should I just forget it all and just go for an indoor antenna?
IMAG0662.jpg
 
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SWHouston

Moderator
Staff member
#11
The Antennas Direct C2 is UHF only, so it won't pick up your PBS. The RCA would be ok if used outdoor. I'm uncertain if it would be sensitive enough to be used inside for reasons* previously stated, IF that's what you meant. However if inside, you could manually point it for additional channels.

Ice Storms usually are caused by Rain which freezes on our stuff. If your location has a history of those, then yes, they screw up everything. But, just using a Rotor in very cold weather is not a problem.

*= The unknown construction materials used in your dwelling, give pause to the ability of any antenna used indoors.
 
#12
With signal levels as high as what the TV fool report shows, and a mix of VHF, and UHF signals a simple rabbit ear loop combo antenna would be a good starting point. The rabbit ears are needed for the VHF signals. Could be a good place to start to see what kind of signals you have inside the building. You will need a barrel connecter and an extra coax to experiment with location. Metal siding, brick, or a radiant barrier in the walls can wreck indoor reception. As can room objects:RCA ANT 111 Overview & User Reviews - A/V Antennas - CNET Reviews Extend the rabbit ears to about 15" a side with them pointed east and west. I really liked the idea of using the C2-V with the UHF reflector screen removed and VHF dipole left in place. You really need a bi-directional VHF-UHF out door antenna. The problem is no one builds one that comes out of the box that way. A heavy duty out door rabbit ear loop antenna would be great. I have a similar situation here I use a 4 bay antenna with no reflector to catch strong VHF and moderate UHF signals from opposite directions. I can not recommend a rotor. I have used one on an antenna a few years back it worked for my needs at the time when the temperature was above 20 degrees. Frequent re-alinement was needed year round, but cold ice and snow really screwed things up. Your predicted signals are very strong, but keep in mind TV fool can't predict what kind of trees or buildings might be in the way.
The C2-V does come with a VHF dipole. The C2 does not:http://www.antennasdirect.com/store/ClearStream-C2-VHF-Long-Range-Combo-Complete.html
Steve
 
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#14
I agree every effort should be made to avoid a rotator. They are very inconvenient for channel surfers and they're the first thing to break, especially with the modern plastic gears. You might wind up on the roof in a snow storm.

You have many strong signals coming from several different directions. If there ever was a situation calling for an omnidirectional antenna, this is it. Let's look more closely at your lineup. I'll reference the Real RF channel numbers, in order from the top down on your TVFR.

20, 28 -- These two stations are so close and strong they're going to come in with any antenna, pointed in almost any direction.
38 -- Analog. Just what you need, right? More snow. ;) Luckily, this is rebroadcast as a subchannel on KDMD RF 33 below.
10, 8, 12 -- Your three VHF stations, all from the same tower, dead north.
35, 33, 22, 45, 6, 14, 18 -- 6 is low power analog. Appears to be primarily a radio station. (KNIK is a ghost town in Alaska -- wonder if there's any connection...) This is OK, cause it means you don't have to worry about low VHF. 33 and 14 are your two problem stations at 54 and 216 degrees. All the rest will come in with almost any antenna pointed at 141 degrees, as long as it's not highly directional like a Yagi.

Everything below these on the TVFR are either repeated with stronger signals higher in the report, or low power retransmitters not worth worrying about. (Lots of retransmitters in Alaska! And lots of analog.)

That leaves you with 10 UHF and 3 VHF stations you can definitely get with any 4 bay bowtie on the roof pointed south-east at 141 degrees, and a separate VHF antenna angled for straight north (the dipoles would point east and west). You would combine the two antennas with a UVSJ connector with no signal loss. The problem with a combination UHF/VHF antenna is the elements are usually firmly attached to one another, and your VHF stations are ina completely different direction.

I would research the stations where no network affilation is listed. Wikipedia is one good source. It's possible there are sources for MyN and ION TV among them (your problem channels). ABC is the other major network I don't see listed. Antenna TV is also a popular one to look out for.

If your problem channels become an issue, you could add one or two more UHF antennas. Your signals are strong enough you could probably combine them with a common splitter/combiner and not notice any difference.

OR you could try an omnidirectional antenna, and possibly get all the UHF and VHF in one shot. The danger here is multipath. In the analog days, this would cause ghosting, but today you might wind up with a blank screen. Still, if you get it high on the roof, away from any reflective surfaces, I don't see any strong channels at your location that are extremely close to one another in frequency.

CM-3000HD SMARTenna
- Receives High VHF and UHF
- panel design
- Gain: VHF/UHF 5-8dB Min
- 75 Ohm output
- Size (LxWxH): 13.38 x 11.25 x 1.5 in
- multiple mounting options
All other outlets are out of stock, but try:
Channel Master CM3000HD Suburban Indoor Outdoor Omnidirectional SMARTenna TV Antenna (CM-3000HD) from Solid Signal
Read some reviews here:
http://www.channelmasterstore.com/SMARTenna_HD_Antenna_p/cm-3000hd.htm?Click=24176

There's also:
Winegard MS 1000
Winegard MS 1000 Metrostar Omnidirectional Non-Amplified TV Antenna (MS-1000) from Solid Signal

I would trust the SMARTenna (no relation to the old Smart antenna technology) more because they list gain figures. 5 to 8 dB is reasonable for an omnidirectional antenna, and should work fine for you.

Hope this helps.
Rick
 
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#15
I'm very hesitant to make mention of omnidirectional antennas because in most cases they turn out to be an absolute disaster. This is one case where it might work as the signals are very strong.
5-8 db on an omnidirectional? I don't believe it. It wouldn't be the first time antenna specs were written by the marketing department. Rick I agree with your evaluation, and comments. I normally would warn people against omnidirectional antennas, but in this case it could work.
Steve
 

SWHouston

Moderator
Staff member
#16
I apologize for my abbreviation, but I'm sure the OP understood my statement. Also, if it had been me that pointed that out about you, I'm sure I could have worded it where it didn't sound so condescending.
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#17
I'm very hesitant to make mention of omnidirectional antennas because in most cases they turn out to be an absolute disaster. This is one case where it might work as the signals are very strong.
5-8 db on an omnidirectional? I don't believe it. It wouldn't be the first time antenna specs were written by the marketing department. Rick I agree with your evaluation, and comments. I normally would warn people against omnidirectional antennas, but in this case it could work.
Steve
I agree, its worth a shot in this situation.

Jim
 

w1a9c8k5

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#18
GUYS! YOU HAVE MENTIONED SO MANY THINGS I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT THEY ARE! its great though give me things to research. My wife is complaining that I am spending more time looking at antennas than her! (its true in the past week) hahahaha I think I will go with the cm 3000hd to start with. hopefully it'll work great. I will try to put this indoor first. if not good I will get on the roof! Does it matter how it faces? should I mount it on the side of my house, top of my chimney, upsidedown in my house hanging on the ceiling like a light?
 
#19
I think I will go with the cm 3000hd to start with. hopefully it'll work great. I will try to put this indoor first. if not good I will get on the roof!
In theory, it's especially important to put an omni on the roof, away from any reflectors. But I admit I wouldn't be able to resist trying it indoors to start. I saw one guy who claimed success inside a motor home! It will depend on how much metal is in your house as well as brick, shingles, electrical equipment, etc., and where it lies in relation to the signal. My first instinct would be to go as high as possible, and close to a south or east facing window.

If you mount it outside, again the object is to get as far away from any metal reflectors as possible. That might include the side of another building, metal drain pipes, or a neighbor's antenna. If there are tall buildings surrounding you, the SMARTenna might be the wrong choice.

Rick
 
#20
Thanks for the likes, guys.

5-8 db on an omnidirectional? I don't believe it. It wouldn't be the first time antenna specs were written by the marketing department.
Well, it can't be zero, can it? That's what you sometimes hear as if it's a law of physics or something: (No directionality) = (no gain). But I have an (amplified) omni and I can tell you for sure it works much better than a paper clip.

I can't find any straight gain figures in dBi or dBd other than from Channel Master, but I did find some old data we might be able to work with,
HEAVY METAL, PART 1
HEAVY METAL, PART II

If we can find solid gain figures for any of the antennas listed, then it should just be a matter of adding and subtracting to get to dBi. At first glance, it doesn't look like the answer is zero though. Look at Table 4 in the second link. Compare the CM 3000a with the dipole no amp and the helix no amp.

I realize this is long before the digital transition, and the figures for channels greater than 51 no longer relate. Bear in mind, this is the ooooold SMARTenna. The 3000HD should be much smarter for current range of freqs. :cheesy:At least, that's what they meant with the HD part of CM-4221HD.

But might be able to get some insight on whether 5 - 8 dB is reasonable or complete horse hooey. Or could just send an email to Channel Maestros.

Rick
 

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