Total Newbie Looking to get a rooftop antenna

Grumbles

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#1
Hey folks, I am in desperate need of help. I am moving away from cable tv and am looking for a roof antenna. For some background, I was paying way too much for a bunch of channels that I wasn't watching. My wife decided to downsize us to the "lifeline" package, this means that currently I am paying 16 bucks a month for the channels I can get for free, a handful of other channels I don't watch and a bunch of shopping channels... Lifeline indeed...

Anyway, I am planning on putting up a rooftop antenna which will be fed into a Tivo HD (act as a converter for my old standard tv as well as a dvr). I am excited about this because I will also be subscribing to the cheapest Netflix which can stream video on demand via internet into the Tivo. In other words, via Netflix I can get a TON of old shows, new movies, etc for 9 bucks a month and also pull in all of my local networks for free. I am pretty pumped about this scheme. The problem of course is the upfront costs and knowledge required.

I am trying to figure out exactly what antenna I need and what I should expect as I look into all of this. My TvFool report:
TV Fool

I have my tv setup in the basement, which is why I am avoiding rabbit ears. I am looking at something like this: Antennacraft® HD1800 Heavy-Duty VHF/UHF/FM Antenna - RadioShack.com for my antenna.

I live in a typical 1950s house and, I realize this is stupid, I want an old school antenna which would match the style of the house. If this can't be done, so be it. But, I always liked the look of the older antennas and would like to keep that style if possible. Again, I know that is stupid and really immaterial to the goal of getting a good signal. The other consideration is that I live in Fargo, ND. We can get some harsh winters and nasty wind, I want to make sure that it is as "tough" as it can be. Any suggestions as far as that goes?

Finally, is the installation of the antenna difficult or is it something that a normal guy can do over a weekend? I don't want to spend unnecessary money, but I also want to make sure the job is done well. Any help or advice would be GREATLY appreciated!
 

Eureka

DTVUSA Member
#2
Please go back to TVFool and re-enter your address and proposed antenna height. On the results page, you'll see a bolded link to share the results. Copy & paste that link back here.
 

Grumbles

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#3
Please go back to TVFool and re-enter your address and proposed antenna height. On the results page, you'll see a bolded link to share the results. Copy & paste that link back here.
Hmm, I previously inserted the link (or attempted to)... Let me try again.

TV Fool

How do I even know the exact antenna height? I am going to be doing a rooftop installation on a 1 story home.
 

Aaron62

Contributor
Staff member
#4
Hmm, I previously inserted the link (or attempted to)... Let me try again.

TV Fool

How do I even know the exact antenna height? I am going to be doing a rooftop installation on a 1 story home.
For a 1 story, I think most people put about 15' but that's if your antenna mount is about 3-4' long. A guess should be fine. By the way, :welcome:

I'll let the antenna pros here comment first, but I will say that there have been discussions of older style antennas here before like the type that you're talking about.
 

Don_M

DTVUSA Member
#7
The OP is a good candidate for two band-specific antennas, each feeding signals into a combiner for sending the signals down to the Tivo on a single cable.

The first component is a four-bay UHF antenna -- Antennas Direct/Eagle Aspen DB4, Channel Master 4221HD, etc. -- with its reflector screens removed, and the broad side of the bowties facing northwest and southeast. While most of the UHF stations are to the northwest, Fox affiliate KVRR (plus K35HD, if there's anything there) are basically in the opposite direction. Screen removal makes the antenna bi-directional. Four-bays look like this DB4:



Second antenna is an AntennaCraft Y5-7-13 VHF high-bander, aimed toward the northwest to capture PBS on channel 13:



The combiner is a UVSJ. It's similar to a splitter, but used in reverse:



Mount the UHF antenna four feet higher than the VHF antenna; run 3-foot legths of RG-6 coax from each antenna to the VHF and UHF inputs of the UVSJ; connect the downlead to the "line" output of the UVSJ; and route the coax to the Tivo. The Y5 VHF antenna will need a coax transformer, also known as a balun, for connecting the coax cable; each of the UHF antennas mentioned already has a built-in coax connector.

The rationale:

• The channel 2 broadcast listed in the TVFool report is redundant, if it exists at all. It's a translator for MyNet affiliate KCPM, which also broadcasts on channel 33 in Fargo. Therefore, a VHF-low-capable antenna such as the CM 3016 isn't needed. (At less than 3 miles away, channel 2 might come in on the Y5 antenna, anyway.)

• UHF gain on the 3016 is such that the OP might need a rotor to turn the antenna for reliable reception of Fox and K35HD. Removing the screen from the UHF antenna eliminates the need for a rotor.

If you have no interest at all in the PBS station, omit the Y5 VHF antenna, balun and UVSJ. These components can be added easily later on if you change your mind about this.

The suggested UHF antenna might not be very "traditional" looking -- even though the design is almost a half-century old -- but the Y5 is, and a two-antenna solution will provide set-it-and-forget-it reception at reasonable cost.
 

EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#9
It certainly is a good solution.

I think he will be able to pick up Fox19 off the side of the CM 3016....and nothing beats the classical V VHF design for the historical period look! ;)
 

Grumbles

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#10
Thanks everyone for some great ideas. Could you guys go further in explaining why I would want the two band solution rather than the 3016? The prices seem pretty comparable both ways, but the two band solution looks like it would be trickier for me to install if I am doing it myself. Would the performance of Don's setup be better than the 3016? Also, do those four bay antennas hold up well in the wind? I imagine they must because they are being suggested, but some additional comments on this would be great.

I have to say, this is a great forum and I am so thrilled to have found it. I am not an idiot, but I definitely feel like it when trying to figure all of this out!
 

EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#11
Don's suggestion is clearly a superior suggestion.

I think you can aim one of the back lobes and pick up Fox 19 off the backside of the the CM 3016 antenna. However that might prove tricky or less than satisfactory.

How many times are you going to split the signal (How many TVs?)



You also need to consider mounting hardware and location. But these guys are champs at stuff like that, so the advice will be rock solid.
 
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Grumbles

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#12
Don's suggestion is clearly a superior suggestion.

I think you can aim one of the back lobes and pick up Fox 19 off the backside of the the antenna. However that might prove tricky or less than satisfactory.

How many times are you going to split the signal (How many TVs?)



You also need to consider mounting hardware and location. But these guys are champs at stuff like that, so the advice will be rock solid.
We currently only have 1 main tv in our basement. That said, we would likely eventually have up to 3/4 more if we go TV crazy (you know, small one in kitchen, office, bedroom etc). We will need at least 2 hookups though, I don't see us going nuts splitting the signal though. (Depending on performance, there are always indoor antennas for the other less important rooms (eg kitchen...).
 

EscapeVelocity

Moderator, , Webmaster of EV's Antenna Blog
#13
If the backlobe trick works, you may want to look into the Winegard 76** series antennas. The smallest on is the 7694p (you can find them for a bit cheaper than that).



It offers quite a bit more power without being too much bigger than the 3016. Its longer but narrower. Those Winegard 76series antennas are well made too. The extra power will be beneficial for splitter losses. But that all depends on if you can get Ch. 19 Fox off the backside lobe.
 

Eureka

DTVUSA Member
#15
I think the combo setup would work better, for the reasons Don M posted. It's more likely to work as a fixed setup for the channels most likely to be easily received. The 3016 might require a rotor, which is a hassle and doesn't allow some DTV tuners (that don't have a manual or subsequent scan option) to find all available channels.
 

Eureka

DTVUSA Member
#16
EV, I have installed a couple of 7694P antennas. They are very sturdy and have solid gain for a small antenna. And from the street, the 7694 is much smaller looking than the 3016. One I installed made it through a 2 INCH ice storm with no bent elements.

But (at least in the instances I've seen) they won't pick up much UHF off the back side of the antenna.
 

Don_M

DTVUSA Member
#17
Thanks everyone for some great ideas. Could you guys go further in explaining why I would want the two band solution rather than the 3016? The prices seem pretty comparable both ways, but the two band solution looks like it would be trickier for me to install if I am doing it myself. Would the performance of Don's setup be better than the 3016? Also, do those four bay antennas hold up well in the wind?
Gain from the two-antenna setup would be about the same as a CM 3016 or HD-7694. As Eureka and EV have suggested, though, neither antenna will pick up signals from the sides or rear very well. You can try one of these all-channel antennas, but with signals arriving at your home from opposite directions, odds are that reception won't be very reliable on one or more stations without a rotor. You won't need a rotor with the two-antenna setup. Your signals are strong enough that reception will be trouble-free from the VHF-high antenna and UHF "bowties" without the reflector screens.

Four bays are fine in the wind. In your case, screen removal would mean even less stress (we call it "wind load") on the mast and mount. It's not an issue because the UHF antenna is so small, even if your area gets frequent gales. (If well installed, these antennas will endure minor hurricanes.)

If weight and size are concerns, the two antennas plus a mast won't be any heavier than one of the single, all-channel antennas mentioned earlier. I have a Y5-7-13, and it's about three pounds; a four-bay without screens would be a bit less than that. Their combined size is definitely smaller than the CM 3016, but larger than an HD-7694. The latter antenna is the same width and about half a foot longer than the Y5 by itself.
 

Grumbles

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#18
I think that the two antenna method is what I am going to pursue. Are their any retailers that you all would suggest for getting the relevant hardware? I see that the prices on these antennas range from 70 down to 30, I would obviously prefer 30 but not if it is going to be some scam...

As far installation goes, is this a do it yourself project or should I just pony up the bucks to have someone do it? My roof is relatively flat and I am not worried about falling off, but I do want to make sure that I am getting the coax into the house properly without destroying my roof, etc...


Gain from the two-antenna setup would be about the same as a CM 3016 or HD-7694. As Eureka and EV have suggested, though, neither antenna will pick up signals from the sides or rear very well. You can try one of these all-channel antennas, but with signals arriving at your home from opposite directions, odds are that reception won't be very reliable on one or more stations without a rotor. You won't need a rotor with the two-antenna setup. Your signals are strong enough that reception will be trouble-free from the VHF-high antenna and UHF "bowties" without the reflector screens.

Four bays are fine in the wind. In your case, screen removal would mean even less stress (we call it "wind load") on the mast and mount. It's not an issue because the UHF antenna is so small, even if your area gets frequent gales. (If well installed, these antennas will endure minor hurricanes.)

If weight and size are concerns, the two antennas plus a mast won't be any heavier than one of the single, all-channel antennas mentioned earlier. I have a Y5-7-13, and it's about three pounds; a four-bay without screens would be a bit less than that. Their combined size is definitely smaller than the CM 3016, but larger than an HD-7694. The latter antenna is the same width and about half a foot longer than the Y5 by itself.
 

Don_M

DTVUSA Member
#19
If you're not afraid of heights and reasonably handy with basic DIY electrical, carpentry, mechanical and plumbing tasks, raising the antennas should be a fairly easy day's work. To get an idea of what's involved, have a look at Ken Nist's Erecting an Antenna.

A tripod mount at the peak of the roof would be a good, strong choice. Tripods come with pitch pads to seal up the three holes needed for the legs' lag screws so that the roof doesn't leak. Holes through shingles and the roof deck make some people squeamish; if that describes you, a good alternative in a wood-frame home is a wall mount -- two brackets screwed into the framing on one end of the house, with the mast extending above the roof. You may also use a chimney mount since the two suggested antennas are very light. (If you go this route, be sure the antennas are a minimum of two feet away from flues exhausting wood smoke or heating-oil fumes, either of which will corrode antenna aluminum quickly. Five feet would be much better. Natural-gas exhaust is cleaner, though two feet is still a good idea.)

I'm partial to Solid Signal, but there are plenty of other reputable dealers online, including Summit Source, Warren Electronic and Stark Electronics. They're good sources for the antennas, balun, combiner, coax cables and such. Masts, mounts and grounding equipment tend to be heavy, bulky or both, making shipping rather expensive on this gear. It's frequently cheaper to look for these items at the local big-box home centers or Radio Shack stores. (Got a Menards nearby? We don't, but I've read more than one online post praising them for carrying quality antenna gear in local stores.)

BTW, it's almost always more practical and much, much easier to run the coax down the side of the house and into the basement just above the foundation sill rather than through the roof, attic and main floor. The downlead is secured to the house with coax standoffs, which screw into the siding. The basement will also be the ideal location for future installation of a splitter and cabling to feed TVs in rooms on the main level.
 

Grumbles

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#20
Thanks everyone for the great advice. I have decided to go with Don's suggestion (which most of you "dittoed"). In looking at Solid Signal, I noticed that there are price differences between the channel master and the antennas direct models (about 8 bucks, not a big deal). Is there any quality difference between the two or should the Channel Master 4221hd be just fine? Is there any reason why the build quality of the Antenna Direct D4 would be a better choice?

And Don, we do have Menards here as well as Lowes, HD, etc as well as Radio Shack. I will have to go and see what sort of mounting kit options there are. (Maybe will check to see if they have the antenna themselves, though I doubt the prices will be as good...).
 

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