Please help a new Dad get the right antenna.

mazeroth

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#1
We just had our first baby and needless to say, free time is almost nonexistant. I've done a bit of research but my time is limited as I work full-time, go to college full-time (new degree) and now watch our child on the weekends when my wife is working. So, I'm asking if you guys could please help me out and in somewhat of a hurry. We're expecting quite a bit of visitors in the coming months (some very soon) and our indoor antenna isn't going to cut it. We lived with it for almost 2 years in our townhouse and now that we own a ranch home I want to install something since I'm allowed to. The antenna we currently have is the Radio Shack 15-1880 and was well rated when I bought it. I'll post a pic at the end.

So, we live about 8 miles from all of the major networks in Columbus, OH where the land is flat. There are some large trees (40 feet high or so) directly east of our house that are about 70 feet away, so they are in our line of site. With the Radio Shack we can get all the major stations but every once in a while channel 6 and 28 will give us troubles and I will have to fine tune things. I want an antenna that I will never have to fiddle with and one that I can use a splitter with to go to three rooms. In the attic, facing east is a side vent at the peak of our roof. I was thinking of possibly installing the following Radio Shack antenna up in the attic near the vent since it has less obstruction at this point. Or, am I going to have to run it on the roof since I plan on splitting the coax and running to three televisions? The runs will be less than 25 feet, each.

40" Boom Length, 17 Elements Outdoor Antenna for UHF-Only - RadioShack.com

Lastly, should I run RG-6 for this or is there a better cable? Do you recommend a good splitter for this? I'll likely be going to Radio Shack to get the goods unless you feel there is something better out there for me. If I can get everything at Radio Shack would you mind showing me exactly what to get?

Thank you so much in advance. Again, just finding the time to research some tonight and type this was tough. My wife is mad at me for not helping her get our little one in bed!

Here's my TV Fool info:

TV Fool

Current Radio Shack antenna:
 

IDRick

DTVUSA Member
#2
Great first post! Congratulations on becoming a new Dad!

You have two nearby high vhf channels. Given those stations, I would recommend a HBU-22 or EZ HD antenna (also sold as RCA Ant751 at Walmart).
 

mazeroth

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#3
Ah ha! No wonder 6.1 gives me a headache all the time! I didn't realize some stations that were digital HDTV broadcast over VHF. So, the Radio Shack one I linked to is a no-go because I need to pick up channel 6.1 in VHF, right? The ones you linked to, do you think I could get away with an attic mount and a three way splitter or should it be an outside mount? Where it would go outside would look kind of hideous as we have a very nice brick patio directly below and entertain out there frequently. This would only be a problem if I used the side of the house mount like the pictures shows:



One last thing. 38 and 46, which are in the green on the all channels circle graph, are channels I would like to get but are the least important. All the major stations are due east from here. To get 38 and 46 (which are 34.1 and 53.1) would I want to point the antenna in the midpoint between those two, which would be a little SE of the major stations? I'm sure I'll get the major stations that are downtown and close just fine but am wondering the best way to do this? My TV (only one now, getting more) only has a four color bar indicator for signal strength and not the percentages to determine if moving one way or another is actually increasing or decreasing signal strength. Or, am I thinking too far ahead and just see what I can do?

Thanks!
 
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EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#4
Full disclosure, I am the seller of the Tune-A-Tenna.

If I may be so bold, you are a perfect candidate for the Tune-A-Tenna. Youve got channel 13 to worry about on VHF High, and you have 2 channel 8's which are going to be problematic no matter what.

Furthermore you have about 3 powerful stations that would overload a preamp, so that is out of the question. You could possibly use a distribution amp down the line a bit.

The Tune-A-Tenna has ripping gain on UHF and a fairly wide beamwidth. I would point it at about 70 degrees and pic up everthing from 46 degrees to 130 degrees and pick 174 degrees off the backside lobe. Even with 3 splits its should get you pretty far down into the yellow on the first 2 splits....with NO AMPLIFIER.

Pretty compact for an attic mount as well.


 

IDRick

DTVUSA Member
#5
Yes, WSYX (6.1) is a high vhf station (real channel number is 13, high vhf = real ch 7 to 13). Your signal strengths are very strong and an attic install may work. What type of roof do you have? Roofs with a plywood deck covered with asphalt shingles are best for tv reception. Tile or metal roofs greatly attenuate the signal and would suggest a no-go for an attic install. Locate the antenna where is well away from any metal ducting or electrical wire in the attic. Are there lots of trees in the area? Trees in full foliage can significantly reduce your received signal.

I have tested the EZ HD in two different locations. Here is the tvfool plot for one of them: TV Fool At this location, there are channels in three different directions. The EZ HD was aimed at 335 degrees (compass heading). The first seven channels are all received at 88% or higher signal strength (only 1 below 93%).

The EZ HD has a wide beamwidth. I would start by splitting the difference between ch 38 and 46. Aim the antenna at 112 degrees (compass heading). You may find you need to favor ch 46 a little since it has a lower NM than ch 38. If so, move in small increments, say 5 degrees. My guess is you will receive the first seven stations very well and may receive down to ch 48 (assuming not a lot of trees in the area).

The color bars on your tv will be somewhat helpful for aligning the tv. The best aim will optimize strength on both ch 38 and 46. The optimum will be somewhere between 112 and 132 degrees.

Will you need a distribution amp? Depends on how much attenuation from the attic, local trees, aiming off axis, and number of tvs. You should be okay with one tv and a modest cable run (50 ft). The distribution amp may be needed when you add two more tvs. We'll know more once you install and get some first hand experience at your location. Your best reception will occur now, during the late fall through early spring. May see a moderate drop during spring and summer due to tree foliage.

IMO, one of the nice features of this antenna is it's small size. It could easily be moved to the roof using a satellite j mount, if needed.

HTH. Good luck! Let us know how it works for you!

Rick
 

IDRick

DTVUSA Member
#6
mazeroth,

EV's 4-bay is also a good choice for your location. It has a higher gain than the EZ HD. If you choose to go with EV's antenna, I would suggest adjusting the reflector to 5-1/2 inches behind the elements and sweeping the elements back 1 inch. These changes give the 4-bay a wider beamwidth and reduce signal loss when towers are well off direct aim.

Rick
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#7
re: new HD Dad

mazeroth wrote:

... "Lastly, should I run RG-6 for this or is there a better cable?" ...
----------------------------------------------------------
mazeroth,
Two of the engineers on my Seattle HD forum strongly recommend against RG-6 from Radio Shack, because it is lossy and leaky. If Belden RG-6 is available near you it would be a better choice, and factory crimped-on 'F' fittings are said to be best.
Jim
 
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EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#8
I also include 2 extra PVC blocks so that you can in fact increase the spacing between the screen and the elements to 5.25 inches very easily, if you so desire.

Its very versatile and dare I say it, tune-able.
 
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mazeroth

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#9
Thanks to everyone for all the replies. I've slowly been digesting all this over the last couple of days and am still trying to figure things out.

EV, you have a PM.
 

mazeroth

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#12
Posting to hit 5 post requirement for PM.

EDIT: 5 posts and it still won't allow me to PM.

My house is a ranch with vinyl siding. Roof is typical plywood with asphault shingles.

I'm very interested in the Tune-A-Tenna and was going to ask the questions in a PM unless it's cool to just do it all on the boards?

I'll throw one out there. I like what you've made but there's no way that's going to fly with my wife for me to mount on the roof. There are houses directly to our sides and a few in our backyard and everyone keeps their properties in pristine shape. Mounting that thing on the backside of our house is going to be a real eyesore so I'd much rather mount it up in the attic. As I mentioned earlier, I can mount it at the end of the house next to the siding vent, or, I can mount it about 10 feet back into the attic which would allow a 10 feet closer distance to the drop I plan to do to the basement, which would be almost right below it. If that was the case, the first run would be about 10 feet into the basement, which it would feed into a 3-way splitter. The first run would be about 5 feet, the second 15 feet and the third roughly 20 feet. Do you feel it would be powerful enough to handle the three runs without any type of amplification? Or, is this something I need to test first and work on later? The splitter will be in the middle of our crawl space so I really wouldn't have access to power anywhere near it. Not sure how I would do that to code if I needed to.
 
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EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#13
Yes, I would get a balanced 3 way splitter. It will probably cover most of your Yellow stations for all TVs. Line losses will be minimal....but do get a quality RG6 cable. I recommend Belden. Of course nothing is garaunteed until you try it out, but the numbers and info available would suggest great success. That plywood/asphalt is about as good as it gets in roofing materials as far as RF penetration to the attic goes. You can try both locations in the attic...or more, walk the antenna around an look for a sweet spot in the attic if you can....at least try it in the 2 alternative locations you mentioned.

I dont forsee any major problems. Can you post up you FM Fool?


Here is a nice Regal example...

Premium, all purpose 3 way balanced cable splitters for cable TV, high-speed internet and digital telephone networks are ideal for indoor and outdoor installations. This digital ready 1GHz (5-1000MHz) cable splitter features insertion loss as low as 5.5dB per port. A balanced 3 way splitter is unique in that it has the same insertion loss across all ports. Blocking capacitors on each splitter port produce low intermodulation distortion figures
 
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EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#14
I punched in your zip code (which isnt an exact address location) and youve got a lot of FM close by. I would add an FM Trap before the splitter.

The Tune-A-Tenna is likely about as good on FM as it is VHF High, pretty decent. Which means strong FM might give you problems with 2nd harmonics on VHF High television.

There is a possibility of using a Winegard HDP 269 preamplifier if you need some extra help after the main install....but you probably wont need it. The pre amp can be powered from a wall socket by one of your TVs and it feeds power up the RG6 cable to the mast mounted preamp....so no electrical wiring is needed up in the attic. If you eventually get a preamp, you will need a POWER PASSING 3 way splitter and 2 voltage blockers for the 2 tuner/tv runs without the amplifier power supply inline.
 
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EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#15
I highly doubt you will need an amplifier to get satisfactory service from the antenna, with the 3 way balanced splitter and the short cable runs. And an amp may not work in your situation anyways.

One more thought. If the attic vents are wood or vinyl and they are kind of in the direction of most of the signals, then that may be a prefered location if you are in a snow and ice prone area. Thick snow and ice on the roof can have significant deliterious effects on RF penetration into the attic.
 

EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#16
The major stations in green would be pretty much an absolute given to work. The only question is how far down into the yellow can you get with solid reliable reception.
 

IDRick

DTVUSA Member
#17
Hi Mazeroth,

If you're a DIY'er, you could consider building your own antenna. I have attached images of a two bay and a four bay DIY mclapp antenna. I have also attached a bill of materials for both designs. You could significantly lower costs if you use an aluminum foil covered piece of cardboard for the reflector. This would be adequate in your attic and based on my testing, there is no difference between foil lined cardboard and fencing material reflectors.

EV's antenna is based on the mclapp design and I would expect similar performance between his antenna and the pictured DIY 4-bay which utilizes electrical conduit pvc. If you google search for mclapp 4-bay, you can find many other DIY versions. Mclapp's information is available here: Index of /~mclapp/Antennas

Just another alternative if you're a DIYer and would like to give it a try... You could build the 2 bay for less than $10 and use an cardboard reflector + aluminum foil to test what is receivable in your attic. Gain on the two bay is only 3 dB less than the 4 bay and would give you a good indication of reception possibilities...

BTW, my 4-bay looks raggedy because it is a "traveling antenna" and a test antenna. It has been borrowed to six different individuals that used it to test reception at their homes plus has made several trips up in the attic and out on the roof... Still performs as well as the day I built it, just not as pretty... :) BTW, the 4-bay in the picture has a 2 ft wide reflector rather than a 3 ft wide reflector. VHF reception is better with a wider reflector.

***Updated the BOM to include cost for elbows and tees***

HTH,

Rick
 

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mazeroth

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#18
Wow, thanks for all that info. I've been looking for a good place to buy Belkin RG-6 that also has a 3-way balanced splitter and can't find any. Would these items work well? My brother has an RG-6 crimper he used when he wired his house so I won't need one of those. I would buy the Regal from that site but they want $6 just to ship it. If you feel it's a superior product I have no problems getting it there.

https://www.markertek.com/CATV-Head...tters/Blonder-Tongue-Laboratories/DGS-3.xhtml
https://www.markertek.com/Cables-Co...ectors/TecNec-Cables-Connectors/25-7160.xhtml
https://www.markertek.com/Cables-Co...ideo-Cable/Belden-CDT-Inc/1189A-010U500.xhtml

Lastly, any recommendations on an FM trap? The site you linked and Markertek don't seem to have them. Also, we do get a good amount of snow and ice so the attic does seem like the best bet. :thumb:
 

EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#20
Im not specifically recommending that site to purchase any products. In fact I know nothing about them. I used them only for an example to show you what a Balanced 3 way Splitter was.

Belden wire is good. Belkin products are pretty good too, but I think Belden is one of the kings in the wire world.

I think I have heard of markertek before, as a reputable dealer, on the East Coast I believe. (not that it matters but specifically in reference to the Pico Macom Tru-Spec UVSJ)

I recommend Quad Shield RG6. PPC EX6XL and Thomas & Betts Snap & Seal RG6 or RG6 Quad Shield are widely regarded the best F connectors. PPC EX6XL will fit both Quad Shield and regular RG6 wire.

Make sure you get a BALANCED 3 way splitter and not a regular 3 way splitter. Brand doesnt really matter.

Good places for this stuff are

Solid Signal
Summit Source
Stark Electronics
Warren Electronics

There are others, of course.
 
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