Question: Need advice: how to install system to receive local stations

LH7

DTVUSA Rookie
#1
Hi, am looking for advice on what I need to get to pick up local TV transmissions and how to install it. I used SWHouston's form (thanks!) to provide the answers below.

Basically, I have two TVs and would like to get local tv reception at a reasonable cost. If I can only get one TV working with an antenna, it's not ideal but I can live with it. I would like to do the work myself, and while I'm the go-to person for things like computer software issues, I don't know much about TV systems and antennas, so any advice/instructions needs to be "toddler-ready".

Also am looking for brand recommendations for any hardware I need to get for this system. Thank you!

What is your primary objective (check the line applicable) :
I don’t want to spend much, just want a few Local Stations:X - need to have.
I want as many as I can reasonably get: X - nice to have.

I want the best system I can, to replace my Cable/Satellite Service: No
I want to get EVERYTHING I can, cost is NO object: No

Main Assembly:
What kind of Terrestrial Antenna do you presently have:
(Make/Model/None): None, would like recommendations.

Is the Antenna to be/or installed:
On top of your TV (same Room), Attic, Rooftop or Pole: In the same room as one of the TVs, probably on the second floor.

If inside (same room) on which floor is the Viewing Area:
One TV is on the second floor and the other is on the first floor.

Are you presently using a Pre-Amplifier:
(Make/Model/None): No, do I need one, and if so, what brand(s).

Interior:
How many linear Cable feet is it between your Antenna and the most far TV:
Don't have an antenna yet. Second floor TV is about 8 feet from the cable outlet in the same room, then it goes downstairs to the splitter that was used for cable TV, then there's a cable of about 5 feet to the TV downstairs.

How many TV sets will be/are presently being used, on this system:
1 or 2.

How many Splitters are in use in your system:
Number & Qty of outlets for each? I used to have cable TV (still have Internet in another room). There is a splitter downstairs that used to route the cable TV feed from the cable box outside to the TV downstairs and to the TV on the second floor. All the cables are still in place - I turned the box into the cable provider but they didn't come out to remove anything.

Are you using a Distribution Amplifier:
(Make/Model/None): Do I need one, and if so, what is a good brand at a reasonable price?

Additional Information:
Are you/do you plan to integrate Cable or Satellite Services with this system:
Not immediately, but what if I wanted to use Internet with a digital TV in the future AND get local stations?

Is there anything else you would like to provide concerning construction, obstructions or geographical issues?
The rooms with the TVs are on the southeast side of the house, and the tv station antenna tower is about 20 miles away to the north-north-west.

Both TVs are analog and I don't have converter boxes (had cable when the coupons were issued, so I didn't think I'd need a box). Am thinking about getting a digital TV to replace one of them (also, see note below).

Do you have a current Chart for the Free Local TV Channels in your Area?
See link below, also I've read that in my area channels 7 and 9 are still broadcasting analog signals....

TV Fool

Thanks again.
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#2
:welcome: LH7,

Your TVFOOL report suggests you are in a very favorable area for free TV reception. An indoor antenna may work very well, but be aware they can be easily influenced (badly) by your bathtub, fridge, stove or plumbing in the walls and may not work well or at all depending on the building materials your home uses. Brick buildings block signals more than wooden structures and if there is foil-backed insulation inside the walls it can block signals as well.

We need to know if you are you planning to reuse the cable TV coax that is already present inside the walls or are you willing to add a new 'drop' from the second floor to the main floor? I ask because your existing cable wiring may be split to more than two outlets around the house and if so, you will probably have to find the existing splitter and replace it. Also, odds are you have RG-59 coax which has about twice the loss of modern RG-6. Over the short cable runs you have indicated, that shouldn't matter but others that read this response with similar plans and longer runs may need to consider replacing their old coax.

Regardless of which brand/model antenna you choose to use, I suspect you will have to rotate it to receive particular channels because you have a plethora of them coming in from many different directions. Others on the Forum have far more experience with indoor antennas than I, so I'll pass the project to them for antenna recommendations.

Jim
 

dkreichen1968

Moderator
Staff member
#3
I'm thinking that an Antennas Direct Clearstream 2 pointed northwest, due to it's wide beam angle would work well. Of course your ABC and NBC affiliates are on high VHF (real channels 7 and 9), but your signals are strong enough that they shouldn't be a problem. You could mount your antenna in the attic or in a unconspicuous part of the house, or you could use Mohu Leafs or Winegard Flatwaves with one attached to each TV. Or, you could get a RCA ANT111 and try it.
 
#4
Excellent suggestions from dkreichen1968

Indoor antennas are really hit and miss. I'm soooooo tempted to suggest you try this:
Rotating Indoor Digital TV Antenna UHF/VHF/FM High Gain NEW | eBay

Only a few hours left to snap it up! For 20 bucks, it's got everything but the kitchen sink: VHF dipoles, UHF lobes, a reflector, amplifier, a rotor with a remote control ... problem is, I don't think anybody knows much about it, except one of our moderators reviewed a very similar antenna a couple years ago and labeled it "a winner."

Actually, I just want you to try it out, so you can give us a review. ;)

Rick
 

dkreichen1968

Moderator
Staff member
#6
Indoor antennas are really hit and miss. I'm soooooo tempted to suggest you try this:
Rotating Indoor Digital TV Antenna UHF/VHF/FM High Gain NEW | eBay

Only a few hours left to snap it up! For 20 bucks, it's got everything but the kitchen sink: VHF dipoles, UHF lobes, a reflector, amplifier, a rotor with a remote control ... problem is, I don't think anybody knows much about it, except one of our moderators reviewed a very similar antenna a couple years ago and labeled it "a winner."

Actually, I just want you to try it out, so you can give us a review. ;)

Rick
Rick,

Your joking right? I wouldn't recommend that anyone spend $0.50 on that at a garage sale.
 
#7
Not really. Look at the Quantum FX ANT-102 Indoor about a quarter way down the page here:
EV's Recommended & Top Rated DTV Indoor UHF/VHF Set Top Antenna Review Round-Up Guide

EV said:
The Q FX ANT-102 includes a remotely controlled light duty rotor that works well....can be useful for people with multiple direction transmissions....however even if you dont need this feature, this antenna is one of the elite indoor antennas in current distributino (along with the Silver Sensor, and Terk HDTVa, RS 1892 UFO). Snap one of these up, youll be glad you did. Recommended. UHF and VHF.
If appearance is any guide, it's the same antenna.

Rick
 

LH7

DTVUSA Rookie
#8
First, thank you Fringe, dkreichen, and Rick for replying to my original question.

The existing cable drop thru the wall was installed by the cable company about 15+ years ago. The cable upstairs (from the wall to the TV) is more recent, maybe 2 years old. They ran another cable through the garage for Internet, but not sure if the phone line (VoIP) downstairs is also split from the downstairs TV cable outlet.

As far as the house goes, there is no plumbing directly in the line of sight to the antenna towers. There is brick on the lower half on the NW side of the house. The rest is masonite-like (non-metal) siding. The garage is on the NNW side. (Two cars in there most of the time, wish I could turn them into antennas ;)

So, as a follow-up question, does this additional information lower the chances that an indoor antenna would work on the ground floor? If so, then maybe I need to get someone to do an attic installation.

Off topic, but I also need to get a digital converter - any recommendations by brand/model?

Thank you.
 
#9
So, as a follow-up question, does this additional information lower the chances that an indoor antenna would work on the ground floor?
Not especially. I think the toughest thing about your situation was revealed in your first post: "The rooms with the TVs are on the southeast side of the house, and the tv station antenna tower is about 20 miles away to the north-north-west." which means the signal has to go through several rooms/walls/possibly electrical appliances to get to the antenna, if you want it in the same room, right?

Here's what I would do. Can you put the TV on a dolly of some kind, to wheel it around? I'd get the cheapest antenna I could find and try it where the TV sits, then wheel it to the north west corner on the second floor and try it as high as you can get near the roof. See how much difference that makes. That should also give you an idea how much stronger an antenna you need. Do that much, and bounce it back off of us, with feedback on how satisfied/ecstatic/disappointed you are.

El cheapo antenna: http://www.ebay.com/itm/250682428622

900 people can't be all wrong!

Then you'll probably (not for certain) get a bigger antenna, and see if THAT works right near the TV. (Not sure why you need the antenna in same room as TV.) If not, THEN work on getting a long run of coax, or getting some help. It's a multi-step process.

Or you could always try this:
[video=youtube;huaNWZQL6Nw]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huaNWZQL6Nw[/video]

Can't hurt to try!

There are some threads here on good converter boxes. Poke around and you'll find some good info.

Rick
 
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LH7

DTVUSA Rookie
#10
lol the video - is that setup dangerous? Otherwise - must try.
The reason I wanted the antenna(s) in the same rooms as the TVs was so I didn't have to route cable around the house, since it's not something I've done before. Was just looking for something easy, that works and is relatively cheap. That eBay antenna is definitely cheap btw - $4.99 and free shipping.
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#11
LH7,

I have tried several different brands of converter boxes and I prefer my Channel Master CM-7000 over the others. It has never overheated and shut down as my first box, a Dish DTV Pal was famous for, its made in Bulgaria rather than Red China and it has a steel case than can be grounded rather than a plastic box.

Its output is SD so if you need a converter box that offers HD, Channel Master has a new version that was introduced last April, the CM-7001. I don't have experience with that box but I have read it is electronically identical to a Centronics ZAP 502 and a Digiwave 5000HD. I read a review that says the Digiwave is problematic and the writer returned it to the store where he purchased it and was told every one they had sold had been returned. Bad batch?

Jim
 
#12
lol the video - is that setup dangerous? Otherwise - must try.
Not dangerous at all. Don't hook it up to the AC, fergawdsake. In some old houses, the screws that hold the AC plate in are connected to ground. It's a ground antenna. I get three Milwaukee stations on mine, rock solid. Never goes out. Course, there are 24 other stations I get with a real antenna.

Sometimes the cable outlet plate has screws that are grounded. You can try that too. Don't even need a balun. A regular 4:1 balun kills it.

R.
 

n2rj

Moderator
Staff member
#13
Not dangerous at all. Don't hook it up to the AC, fergawdsake. In some old houses, the screws that hold the AC plate in are connected to ground.
It's not just old houses. It depends on the switch plate and whether the box is metal or plastic. Especially in places that ban romex and require conduit (i.e. Chicago) you will find metal boxes. Switches are required to be grounded per the NEC.
 

LH7

DTVUSA Rookie
#14
Just wanted to give an update on what I ended up doing :) I got a Mohu Leaf Plus (amplified) and it worked great from the start. It picks up about 50 stations, although only about 15 are ones I would ever watch. This solution was inexpensive, easy to install, and works as promised. Picture quality is fine. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions!
 
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