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tjjoiner

DTVUSA Member
#1
TV Fool Report: TV Fool

I originally posted this as a guest but then thought it might be best to just register an account.

My wife and I recently cut the cord with Comcast. Well, the cable cord anyway. We kept our internet service but would like the ability to pick up the news channels during tornadic weather. We had such weather last night and while the power stayed on, we lost our internet connection and couldn't pick anything up on the radio, so we were as good as blind. In a pinch, I hooked a spool of wire up to the TV and later improved on it but was only able to pick up WFIQ (PBS, 36).

Primary Objective:
We're not looking to get all the channels we possibly can. We're history buffs so we actually like PBS but would also like to pick up WHNT, WAAY and WAFF which are broadcasted from Huntsville about 60 miles away. We certainly wouldn't complain if we could pick up some other stations, too.

As for cost, I don't want to spend a lot -- probably no more than $50 or $60. The DIY route is also an option as I'm good with my hands, have some electronics experience and access to a lot of heavy gauge solid copper wire and building materials (we added on to the building at work so there's a junk pile full of romex, conduit and more).

Main Assembly:
The previous tenant left behind a DirecTV dish behind our apartment. I wondered if I could modify it to amplify (via the parabola) TV signals but later found out through research that it doesn't work that way.

Currently, we only have internet streaming services (Netflix, Hulu). We live in a single-story apartment with a line of tall trees about 30 feet from the eastern side of the building. The antenna will either be in the same room or possibly rooftop mounted if necessary. If rooftop mounted, it can't be obnoxiously huge (don't want the neighbors or the landlord complaining).

Interior:
There are 2 TVs (bedroom and living room) but the bedroom doesn't have a cable outlet so this will only be used in the living room. I believe the previously used dish has a line hidden behind a telephone jack plate. I'd estimate about 30 feet between the jack plate and the old dish.

Exterior:
We live in an apartment with a line of tall trees about 30 feet from the eastern side of the building. Since we live in an apartment, we don't have an attic and if we go the rooftop route, the antenna can't be obnoxiously huge. I don't want the neighbors or the landlord complaining.

I'm sure I've left out some details but ask any questions and thanks in advance for the help! :)
 
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#2
The CM 4221 would be he better choice for your location. The Huntsville signals are not real strong and will likely require an outdoor antenna. The Huntsville stations are a long shot, but you really won't know until you try.
WXFL is high VHF and might require an antenna with high VHF capability. Some low cost antenna ideas that come to mind.
Stellar Labs HDTV 60 Mile Fringe Bowtie Television Antenna | 30-2425 (302425) | Stellar Labs
Stellar Labs HDTV 60 Mile Fringe Yagi Television Antenna | 30-2155 (302155) | Stellar Labs
Stellar Labs VHF/UHF HDTV 60 Mile Fringe Yagi Antenna | 30-2440 (302440) | Stellar Labs
On the home brew side the Gray-Hoverman, Mclapp 4 bay, or Kosmic SuperQuad are proven designs. Avoid the popular board and coat hanger internet design it is what gives home built 4 bay antennas a bad reputation. A well built Mclapp 2 bay will out perform a poorly built, and designed 4 bay. I can provide links to dimensions, plans, and such.
Steve
 

tjjoiner

DTVUSA Member
#3
I'm not even sure what station WXFL is, so it's not a concern for us. As long as we can get those three Hunstville stations, our requirements are met.

I figured an outdoor antenna would be needed, though. Years ago, I lived with someone who had a large antenna (I couldn't tell you the type/design but it was your classic rooftop aerial) about 20 feet above the ground. We used that to pick up the Huntsville signals but didn't have the trees to block the signal.

And to be honest here, the board and coat hanger design is the improvement mentioned in my initial post. It bumped my PBS signal from weak to normal and we were able to watch it without any interference.

I've looked at the 4221 and the ANT751 which are right at the edge of my price limit but I'll definitely look into the homebrewed designs. If you could provide those links, I'm definitely all ears here.
 
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MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#4
WXFL 5 is not currently broadcasting. You don't need VHF, so don't go for the ANT751, and there are less expensive options than the CM 4221.

Agreeing with Steve, I would suggest the Stellar Labs antennas, but since you don't really need VHF, the 30-2440 is an extra $10 for something you can do without. I have used the Stellar Labs HDTV 60 Mile Fringe Yagi Television Antenna | 30-2155 (302155) | successfully many times and can recommend it. If you want to go home-brew, I favor the Kosmic SuperQuad - I've built several of them. Here's the thread, somewhere in that thread are construction details. http://www.dtvusaforum.com/dtv-hdtv...9-kosmic-antennas-superquad-4-bay-bowtie.html Note that the important part is the dimensions, not the construction details.

Now, you could use the MOUNT for that old dish for your new antenna, if it has a clear shot at the transmitters. But I would say moving it to the roof as high as possible is your best bet. If you move the dish mount, make sure you patch the holes left behind and seal the new location with roofing tar. I suggest 90 degrees (East) will give you all your needed channels. PBS 22 is so strong you should get it almost anywhere you aim the antenna. CW 14 isn't far from 90 degrees so you may get that as well. So, pretty sure you could get PBS, CW, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and couple others. For the price of $20 for the antenna plus a roll of coax and a few hours work, you should get 15+ channels.
 
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tjjoiner

DTVUSA Member
#5
The dish is actually mounted to a ~5' pole in the ground about 8-10' from the back of the house, not on the roof. As for height, I could probably get away with mounting the antenna on the roof and raising it 2-3' above the highest point without attracting too much attention. Without actually measuring, I'd estimate that to be about 15' above the ground.

On the subject of that old dish, I've been thinking of converting it to a wi-fi receiver, but that's a whole different thread topic. :p

EDIT: This is definitely less than I expected to spend. With that savings, would an amplifier help any?

Or any thoughts on the Stellar Labs 70-Mile Deep Fringe Yagi (#30-2415)?
 
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#7
I found some information that would indicate that WXFL is no longer on the air. The ANT751 does not have enough UHF gain for your location. It is a good antenna for locations that have a mix of good high VHF, and UHF signals. The CM 4221 would be a better choice for your location as it is designed for UHF reception, and looking at your TV fool I see little need for VHF.
I'm not certain where to start on home built links you can find a lot of information on this forum it can take some time to chase it all down.
This might be a good start.
http://i302.photobucket.com/albums/nn88/EscapeVelo/kosmic.jpg
UHF Kosmic SuperQuad (9.75x9.5) NO Refl.
The next site contains a lot of information.
DIY TV Antennas 4 bays, 2 bays, Kits and more
mclapp's M4 (9.5x9.0) 4-Bay - NO Refl.
I got interrupted, but I see MrPogi filled in a few details.
Steve
 

Tim58hsv

DTVUSA Member
#9
tjjoiner:

Don't fear the preamp.

I use a couple of different high gain preamps (CM7777 & RS 15-321) at different times and have no problem with signal overload from the Dayton, Ohio towers 3.5 miles away. A couple of those signals have a noise margin (NM) over 76. Without a preamp I can kiss all but two of the Cincinnati channels goodbye. Those channels are 45 miles away and have some different channels than the Dayton market does so I'm keeping my preamp(s) up and running.

I say if you're not happy with the number of channels your receiving, try a preamp.
You can always take it back if it doesn't improve anything.

P.S. Stay away from the currently available CM 7777. It's not the same anymore.
 
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MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#10
EDIT: This is definitely less than I expected to spend. With that savings, would an amplifier help any?

Or any thoughts on the Stellar Labs 70-Mile Deep Fringe Yagi (#30-2415)?
If the 30-2155 is any indication of quality and reception, I think the 30-2415 would work well. It's basically the "big brother" of the smaller 30-2155. The price is right for either antenna - but if you can spend a few extra dollars for the 30-2415, do it. I would say don't use an amp unless all else fails. One drawback of an amp is that when the power fails, it blocks all signal. In a power outage you can power an LED TV for quite some time with an inexpensive power inverter running off your car battery...
 
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#11
I've used amplifiers, and have gotten some very good results. I also know that a pre-amplifier is of most use when mounted close to the antenna and is the most likely part to fail during a storm. Which also puts it in a difficult to replace location after the storm. I've got some interesting simple antenna ideas that would require a pre-amp to work correctly similar in concept to one very over hyped, over priced antenna currently on the market.
Steve
 
#13
Thanks for all the info, everyone!

Between the CM 4221 and the Stellar Labs 30-2415, I think I'll go with the 2415 as it's $25 less (Amazon has the CM for $60 and the 30-2415 is $35) and add a J-pole. As for the amp, I'll pass on it for now and see what I can with just the antenna. I just hope the assembly can stand up to the nasty north Alabama weather!

And Mr Pogi, I thought of the battery idea, too. We have a 40" LED in the living room and a 26" LED in the bedroom.

EDIT: Also, instead of mounting it on the rooftop, I'm considering using the mount from the existing satellite dish and attach a pole to the dish's 5-foot post to extend it to the desired height.
 
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MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#14
Thanks for all the info, everyone!

Between the CM 4221 and the Stellar Labs 30-2415, I think I'll go with the 2415 as it's $25 less (Amazon has the CM for $60 and the 30-2415 is $35) and add a J-pole. As for the amp, I'll pass on it for now and see what I can with just the antenna. I just hope the assembly can stand up to the nasty north Alabama weather!

And Mr Pogi, I thought of the battery idea, too. We have a 40" LED in the living room and a 26" LED in the bedroom.
I think you will be pleased with the results, and I've used the similar setups in northern Utah, and never had a problem with the winter weather damaging anything. Advice on the Stellar labs antenna: DO NOT OVERTIGHTEN THE COAX, FINGER TIGHT ONLY. It is the only weakness I have found in the design.

Your 40 inch will draw about 80 watts, and the 26 inch about half that. An inverter rated 200 watts should be enough. You can run for quite a while on a car battery at 40 watts for the 26".
 
#15
...never had a problem with the winter weather damaging anything.
It's not so much the winter weather but the spring and fall (tornado/severe storm season) weather I'm worried about.

Your 40 inch will draw about 80 watts, and the 26 inch about half that. An inverter rated 200 watts should be enough. You can run for quite a while on a car battery at 40 watts for the 26".
And I believe I was incorrect about the 26" TV. I'm pretty sure it's LCD while the 40" is LED.
 
#16
I took the plunge and placed the order for the Stellar Labs 30-2415.

The misses is concerned about it attracting lightning and setting the building on fire. :p
To calm her worries, I'm still open to the idea of reusing the post and mount from the the previous tenant's abandoned satellite dish, adding a pole to raise the antenna up to around 15-20 feet above ground level.
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#17
Just ground it per this diagram:


A copper grounding rod, copper wire and a few grounding blocks are all thats needed, and a good surge supressor power strip for each TV. You may be able to scavenge some of the ground blocks from the dish mount - if it is properly grounded!

And of course, make sure your homeowners insurance is paid - because lightning can hit your home whether you have an antenna or not!
 
#18
Looks and sounds more complex than I thought! I know where a grounding rod is behind the building under the electrical meter. That's also where our cable TV service (and probably the old satellite service) is connected.
 
#19
The finger tight only suggestion also applies to the back of televisions, converter boxes, and amplifiers. I once saw a Zenith DTT901 damaged by MR wrench it. The owner of the converter box did not believe that's what went wrong with his reception. He just tightened it up a bit.
While I don't know if it's the right thing to do I use a bit of silicone sealant on out door connections, but not so much that the connection is difficult unhook if need be. I know in the past I've worked with coax seal, but it can be a real head ache to remove when you need to make changes or replace something.
Steve
 

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