Mission Impossible?

Cadet

DTVUSA Rookie
#1
Hi everyone! Newbie here. Got a question that may well be a mission impossible, but you guys seem to know your stuff and if there's a way for this to be accomplished, you'd probably know how.

Here in the Mid-West we're heading into tornado season. I'd purchased a new digital portable TV (Haier HLT71) since my analog portables were going to become boat anchors. When the sirens go off, we head for the basement and the old analogs were pretty darn handy to keep abreast of the situation. However, being below ground level and behind a six foot hill to the north I'm afraid the Haier just isn't going to get a signal. An external antenna would get me over the obstruction, but come the first good wind gust will probably be headed to Kansas. What do you think my best options would be?

Right now, with the Haier and an RCA ANT111 I get exactly 1 station. (KRCG) This is on the second story of the house and it doesn't necessarily concern me as I don't know if all the stations are using their permanent antennas now or if they're just making due. But, I'm afraid the combo will fair worse in the basement. I have a Terk HDTVa on order which I hope will pull in more stations, but again I'm not sure how well that will work below ground level. I'd like to receive the signal from KMIZ if possible since they have better radar coverage of central Missouri. I've included the TV Fool plot for my location based on an antenna 4 feet above ground.

Your thoughts would be appreciated!

 

Piggie

Super Moderator
#2
But if you loose power and wonder if it's safe to leave the basement an powered antenna won't help. When the power goes out a powered antenna is no antenna.

If you can figure out how to power it with a battery and it works good. I too wonder if it will even work under ground.

The other option for emergencies would be to put a outdoor antenna hung from the basement ceiling. One you could turn by hand. If the signal is there with that antenna but very weak, you could try using a CM7778 amp because you can modify it to run off 12 volts somewhat easy if you know how to solder, etc and go in the amp to add direct power. Actually if you are really good at figuring out circuits you can modify other amps to run on DC. Most use 24 VAC up the coax, but convert that to about 16 VDC inside the amp.

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All that said, what are you using for an outside antenna now and how does it work if you have one?
 

Cadet

DTVUSA Rookie
#3
But if you loose power and wonder if it's safe to leave the basement an powered antenna won't help. When the power goes out a powered antenna is no antenna.
I'm going to show my ignorance here - I don't know that the Terk has an external power source. From the product description, it doesn't sound like it, but I don't see how that can be. It should be here in a day or two and then I'll know for sure. At any rate, I have a power inverter which will provide AC for both if need be for a couple of hours. Hopefully we won't be hunkered down longer then that - grin!

I too wonder if it will even work under ground.

The other option for emergencies would be to put a outdoor antenna hung from the basement ceiling. One you could turn by hand. If the signal is there with that antenna but very weak, you could try using a CM7778 amp because you can modify it to run off 12 volts somewhat easy if you know how to solder, etc and go in the amp to add direct power. Actually if you are really good at figuring out circuits you can modify other amps to run on DC. Most use 24 VAC up the coax, but convert that to about 16 VDC inside the amp.
That's the rub. As you can see by the TV Fool attachment to my original post, all the stations in my area are to my North. And, of course, I live in a brick house whose North side is solid brick - no widows, just brick. (Yippee!)

Mounting an outdoor antenna in the basement just might be the trick. I'm also toying with an attic mount and running a cable down to the basement. Not sure if that'd be better, and it might raise the power issue again, but it would place the antenna higher then the small hill to my North. Are any of the attic antennas of any count?

All that said, what are you using for an outside antenna now and how does it work if you have one?
Right now, no outside antenna - just the indoor RCA ANT111 mentioned earlier and the Terk when it arrives. The house is wired for cable and all the sets are connected to that except the Haire. I've been using the Haier as an OTA set to watch the news and weather when I get ready for work - another reason just getting the one channel is OK at this point. I could connect the Haier to cable, but that sort of defeats the point of having an emergency, portable TV. Plus the sirens have a habit of going off at Oh Dark Hundred and disconnecting from a cable with a fuzzy head and stumbly fingers after being rousted from bed is a scenario I'd rather not consider - LOL!

Like I said, this may be a mission impossible...
 

Don_M

DTVUSA Member
#4
You may be better off getting a dedicated weather radio that picks up National Weather Service broadcasts, which are available 24/7/365 throughout the "lower 48." Many of them today can be left on standby mode, so that if NWS issues a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning for your area, it will sound a loud alarm for 15 seconds before the warning announcement starts. Best of all, most are battery operated. I know for a fact that they'll work in a basement on all but the weakest battery, because I use my 20-year-old, transistor-radio-sized Weatherradio frequently in our basement.

Radio Shack stores carry a good number of weather radios. If you have any Kroger supermarkets nearby, they might have a model in stock right now as well. Kroger's Denver subsidiary has teamed up with a local TV weather guy to offer cut-rate Midland weather radios from prominent store displays. They cost anywhere from $25 to $100 most places; the Midlands run $30 here, and have the standby mode.
 

Cadet

DTVUSA Rookie
#5
You may be better off getting a dedicated weather radio that picks up National Weather Service broadcasts, which are available 24/7/365 throughout the "lower 48." Many of them today can be left on standby mode, so that if NWS issues a severe thunderstorm or tornado warning for your area, it will sound a loud alarm for 15 seconds before the warning announcement starts.
I have several, including two with alarm notification. Very handy, but not as useful as a radar picture to track the storms. Ours are updated out of St. Louis, 125 miles or so East. They lag a bit. But thanks!
 

Cadet

DTVUSA Rookie
#6
Update: The Terk antenna came in the mail yesterday. Pretty slick little rig. Coming as no surprise, it does need a power outlet. These lines in the product description led me to believe it didn't: "Simplifying your installation, the HDTVa uses Terk's Power Injector to derive power via its coaxial connecting cable. The result? One cable is all you have to connect, making it easy to install the HDTVa atop or near your television."

Now, what DID surprise me was the scan result. I managed to get KMIZ, which is a station I wanted to receive, but LOST KRCG. KMIZ is broadcasting UHF from about 22 miles away and KRCG is broadcasting VHF from about 10 miles away. Even with the Terk's' rabbit ears extended the set wouldn't pick up KRCG. (Joy of joys, I'm now also getting KNLJ, a 24 hour religious channel. Yippee!! And, yes, I'm being facetious.) Wonder why that is?

Back to my original question, I haven't tried this yet in the basement, but I'm not holding out hopes. One of the FAQ's in the manual asks if it can be used in basements and their answer is No. But I'm hoping that's just legalese for "Don't get your hopes up."
 
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