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Old 30-Nov-2012, 2:33 PM   #1
greenguy
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Question New to OTA but would love to ditch cable. How is my signal analysis?

After Hurricane Sandy tore through NJ and left many of us powerless, heatless, and cableless; it was even more frustrating to get power back but have no cable!

Also looking at a $100 a month cable bill can get rather irritating as well!

So that got me searching for info on using antennas instead, and I stumbled upon TVFool.com. I used the tools here on the website to get information on my location, however since I am such a neophyte I don't understand how to interpret the results nor what my next step should be. Thank you in advance for any assistance or guidance!


Looks like I am about 20.5 miles West of most of the NY stations, here is my Signal Analysis:

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...cc493f99e2f357


Some more info about my location, my backyard faces East towards NYC and the stations I would like to receive OTA. We are approximately 250' above sea level and I am on a ridge line and the way back of my lot has a 30-40' cliff down to the valley floor where the Passaic River runs through. My backyard slopes away from my house so even though we have several large trees back there (75 footers), only a couple are taller than my house.

I am open to running an antenna in the house, in the attic, or on the roof. The only recent experience I have with OTA signals is my friend's Leaf antenna (I can't believe a laminated piece of paper looking antenna can pick up signals, however he is LOS to NYC (literally out his window) and nearly 10 miles closer to the stations.


Please let me know your thoughts on if it would be possible to ditch cable and start receiving signals OTA. Also recommendations on antenna type and location would be very helpful. I am an avid DIYer (on both the house and our cars) so I have faith in being able to handle whatever is needed as far as fabrication, installation, etc
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Old 30-Nov-2012, 4:30 PM   #2
elmo
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Well, you have a lot of signal around you. I think you'll be easily able to pick up a lot of channels.

As for antennas, if you have anything now, even an old set of rabbit ears, you can plug it in and play with it. You could even build one if you like. You buddies Leaf can about be replicated with some aluminum foil taped to cardboard; it's not much more than that really. And it's certainly nothing magic about it. It's a basic double bowtie design, which you can google to see various versions. That design doesn't excel at tuning VHF, so those VHF channels you have (look under column Real - Ch.'s 4, 7, 8 & 2) might be hit or miss. You'll want something that does VHF & UHF. I'm partial to the RCA ANT-751. It's got enough range on it to pull those NY stations. It's not large, so it's easy to mount on a pole, roof, side of the house or even in an attic. It may even pull in some other stations around you as well.

How many TV's are you going to feed? If it's a lot, you may need to add a preamp, but don't bother with that for now. You can add one later after you've had a chance to determine if and what you might need.

As for cutting the cord, it can be done. You can build a nice OTA system using the savings from $100/mth. OTA DVR's are available too, so you can record TV like w/the cable systems. And they pay for themselves rather quickly. We gave up pay TV long ago and I thought I'd miss some channels, but I don't. Granted, there's content on cable/sat that's not OTA. If you really want it, there's other ways to obtain it. So many shows are available on DVD - full seasons, commercial free too! Again, when you are pocketing $100/mth, those become pretty cheap. Sell the boxset when you're done and you cut those costs even more. Sports is the tough one - some cannot go without the live action like ESPN.

Good luck!
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Old 30-Nov-2012, 4:54 PM   #3
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thank you for the quick reply, and it is nice to here your encouraging words. I have read many of your posts here in other threads and you are exactly the type of poster I was hoping could chime in and give me some pointers.

Thanks I will look into that antenna you recommend. Is it as easy as point the antenna generally towards NYC and run coax into the house?

We currently have 3 TVs. We would probably add one more eventually and one may need to be replaced as it is old 4:3 analog or I would buy a box for it

Yes I would definitely like an OTA DVR for recording. And I would supplement the loss of cable channels using streaming to my Mac Mini and my Apple TV2.
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Old 30-Nov-2012, 5:04 PM   #4
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I Simple reception situation , Many Digital Tv stations/channels will be received.

Above the roof install a Winegard HD7000R antenna in such a manner that the roof or house is not blocking reception to the , east , south east , south , south west , north west , north east.

Aim the HD7000R antenna at about 125 degree magnetic compass direction.

Here is how to aim antennas , http://www.kyes.com/antenna/pointing/pointing.html.

Here are some above the roof antenna mounts , http://www.ronard.com/909911.html , http://www.ronard.com/34424560.html the 4560 eave mount , http://www.ronard.com/ychim.html , http://www.ronard.com.

Buy the ronard antenna mounts at solidsignal by typing the word ronard in the solidsignal search box.
________________________________________

No preamplifier is required.

For 1 Tv connection use no splitter.

For 2 Tv's connected use a common simple 2 way splitter.

For 3 Tv's connected use a common simple 3 way splitter.

For 4 Tv's connected use a common simple 4 way splitter.
___________

Here are some places to buy antennas and etc. , http://www.solidsignal.com , http://www.amazon.com , http://www.winegarddirect.com.

___________________

As always , trees and tree leaves do a real fine job of reducing or blocking Tv reception and so do buildings and other obstructions including your own house.

It is best to install a antenna at a location that has the least amount to no amount of obstructions of any type or kind in the directions of reception including your own house.

The Tv/s Must channel scan for the Digital Broadcast Tv Channels , sometimes named the 'Air Channel' or 'Antenna Channels' in the Tv setup menu because the Tv transmissions travel through the air from the transmitting antenna to the receiving antenna.

DO NOT channel scan for cable tv channels.
___________________________________________

More practical and useful web sites.

http://columbiaisa.50webs.com/homepage.htm.

http://www.rabbitears.info.

http://www.ftalist.com.

http://www.ramelectronics.net.

http://www.sewelldirect.com.

http://www.tigerdirect.com.

http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=570.

http://www.slingbox.com.

http://www.startkelectronic.com.

http://www.dtv.gov/rescan.html.

http://transition.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/rescan.pdf.

http://wwitv.com.

Last edited by teleview; 1-Jan-2013 at 11:48 PM.
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Old 30-Nov-2012, 6:29 PM   #5
greenguy
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Thank you. Do you guys have any recommendation on DVRs?

Here is a pic from my roof facing east / south east (my guesstimate of your 125 suggestion... looking now at a compass online though I think this is more like a 140 degrees angle):




Also you can see the old DirecTV mount and dish (should I mount off of this existing mounting?)

So the only obstruction is from trees, not from the house or roof or other buildings. The largest tree there is an Elm that is dead and will be coming down, with that lean I can't believe Sandy didn't take it down. Several of the tall skinny trees will be coming down too. The conifers, however, are staying



and also how many channels do you think I might be able to pick up? Would it be possible to pick up all of the greens? Also there are several channels I would need that are in the yellow section, think I can grab those? local CBS, FOX etc
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Last edited by greenguy; 30-Nov-2012 at 6:37 PM.
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Old 30-Nov-2012, 6:46 PM   #6
teleview
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Do not use the satellite mount.

Do a chimney mount or tripod mount.

If using a tripod mount , keep the tripod mount and antenna away from the evergreen trees. Tv antennas like a nice clear view of Tv transmitters.
________________________________________________________

A simple converter box , Walmart has the RCA DTA800B1.

______________________________________

Here are some Converter Boxes and DVR's.
____

http://www.epvision.com.

The ePVision boxes are loaded with practical and useful features.
____

http://www.channelmasterstore.com

The Channel Master boxes are right in with the best of them.

Last edited by teleview; 2-Dec-2012 at 4:16 PM.
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Old 30-Nov-2012, 8:40 PM   #7
elmo
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Originally Posted by greenguy View Post
thank you for the quick reply, and it is nice to here your encouraging words. I have read many of your posts here in other threads and you are exactly the type of poster I was hoping could chime in and give me some pointers.

Thanks I will look into that antenna you recommend. Is it as easy as point the antenna generally towards NYC and run coax into the house?

We currently have 3 TVs. We would probably add one more eventually and one may need to be replaced as it is old 4:3 analog or I would buy a box for it

Yes I would definitely like an OTA DVR for recording. And I would supplement the loss of cable channels using streaming to my Mac Mini and my Apple TV2.
I am glad to help out. I'm no antenna guru, but I have installed and played with a few over the last several years. I dropped my sat service around 5 years ago in favor of the antenna. Haven't regretted it either.

As for easy to do, actually, yes. You're pretty close to some broadcast towers, so aiming the antenna in the general direction will probably work fine. However, a compass using the degree coordinates on your plot will help you zero in on the best signal for a given channel. That's your starting point. Connect to the TV over coax and have it scan for antenna channels. Most HDTV's will have a signal strength indicator of some sort. You won't typically be able to tune all at 100%, so you have to find the sweet spot that gives you good strength on all that you want to watch.

teleview has given you a good antenna recommendation and tuning advice as well. Either way, you are going to tune a lot of networks. If you don't know, most have sub channels as well; 3.1, 3.2, etc. So you'll get a lot of channels.

You have some trees, but if they're a good ways away, you'll be fine. The conifers are consistent, so you can tune most any time of year and be done. Summer when the deciduous are in "full sail", that can change things. Just like the dish, the clearer the view of the sky, the better. The dish only needed a hole to peek through where the antenna likes a clean horizon, so typically height helps you.

As for DVR's, I use Windows Media Center on a PC that connects to my TV over HDMI. I put my TV signals on my network using HDHomeruns. Any PC in the house can watch TV using an included app. That's a bit more technical for the average house, but it works pretty well for us. Other DVR options are available from Channel Master & Tivo. I don't have any experience with those devices. I think the Tivo is cheap, but it has a monthly fee. The CM I think is more expensive, but no monthly required. There's also something I saw not long ago called SimpleTV. It can record and then stream to popular devices. It's got a $5 monthly fee I think. And solutions keep coming too.
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Old 30-Nov-2012, 8:47 PM   #8
greenguy
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I am glad to help out. I'm no antenna guru, but I have installed and played with a few over the last several years. I dropped my sat service around 5 years ago in favor of the antenna. Haven't regretted it either.

As for easy to do, actually, yes. You're pretty close to some broadcast towers, so aiming the antenna in the general direction will probably work fine. However, a compass using the degree coordinates on your plot will help you zero in on the best signal for a given channel. That's your starting point. Connect to the TV over coax and have it scan for antenna channels. Most HDTV's will have a signal strength indicator of some sort. You won't typically be able to tune all at 100%, so you have to find the sweet spot that gives you good strength on all that you want to watch.

teleview has given you a good antenna recommendation and tuning advice as well. Either way, you are going to tune a lot of networks. If you don't know, most have sub channels as well; 3.1, 3.2, etc. So you'll get a lot of channels.

You have some trees, but if they're a good ways away, you'll be fine. The conifers are consistent, so you can tune most any time of year and be done. Summer when the deciduous are in "full sail", that can change things. Just like the dish, the clearer the view of the sky, the better. The dish only needed a hole to peek through where the antenna likes a clean horizon, so typically height helps you.

As for DVR's, I use Windows Media Center on a PC that connects to my TV over HDMI. I put my TV signals on my network using HDHomeruns. Any PC in the house can watch TV using an included app. That's a bit more technical for the average house, but it works pretty well for us. Other DVR options are available from Channel Master & Tivo. I don't have any experience with those devices. I think the Tivo is cheap, but it has a monthly fee. The CM I think is more expensive, but no monthly required. There's also something I saw not long ago called SimpleTV. It can record and then stream to popular devices. It's got a $5 monthly fee I think. And solutions keep coming too.
awesome, I will look into HDHomeruns, quickly searching I see it works with Macs so I should be ok (pretty much Apple only household at this point, although I have 3 old PCs and 2 laptops I could still use if need be). Do the TVs have to be relatively new to work with your Media Center PC and HDHomeruns? Or by included app do you mean the app runs on your MCPC and not on a new TV with App functionality
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Old 1-Dec-2012, 5:33 AM   #9
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I would suggest getting started with an antenna install, then once you have a reliable set of signals to work with, turn your attention to accessories such as the PVR/DVR and perhaps the convertor box for an older analog TV.

I like the suggestion made by @teleview, to use your chimney as the base for your antenna installation. A good quality chimney mount kit will easily hold a 10' mast section with no guy-wires needed. Putting the antenna up high, clear of smoke from the chimney will make the antenna last longer and improve your reception compared to a lower mounting.

If you are intending to record at some point, you'll want to err on the side of reliable signal quality. The HD7000R suggested earlier is a good antenna, but if you opt for a bit larger antenna such as the HD7080P (or even larger 7082 & 7084), you'll add insurance against signal dropout caused by close-in foliage.

As far as mixing computer and TV goes... The input of the HDHR is a coaxial antenna connector, the output is a 100 Mb/s Ethernet Port. The interface between the HDHomeRun tuner and a traditional TV is a computer with enough processing power to handle HD video. I have found through professional and personal experience that Wifi connected devises don't perform nearly as well as the same components connected via wired Ethernet.

As an example of the PC 'horsepower' needed, my wife's laptop (a Gateway NV59C) is able to handle the task. I would expect most computers that originally shipped with HDMI output from the video adapter, and especially those that included a Blue-Ray drive, would be up to the task.

My wife's laptop shipped with WIN-7 Home Premium. That includes the Windows Media Center which is able to act as a PVR/DVR. It knows how to use the SiliconDust HDHR as well as other PC attached tuner such as Hauppauge products. Sorry, I have no personal experience with the MAC version of software, though I'm confident that it's also quite capable.

I use an old XP box to record to disk. It has no HDMI, but handles 1080i video at the highest broadcast rate when I choose to watch recordings or live TV on it. http://forum.tvfool.com/showthread.php?t=820

http://forum.tvfool.com/showthread.php?t=12717

http://forum.tvfool.com/showthread.php?t=2882

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Old 4-Dec-2012, 1:59 AM   #10
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Oh brother when Sandy hit the east coast, we all got hit hard, I thought i was ready to lose my antenna when I saw the top of the trees in 45 degree angle. I recomend a anodized antenna in Jersey the HD7000r is not, i work with aluminium canisters.
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Old 1-Jan-2013, 6:55 PM   #11
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HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Wifey wants to get rid of cable too, but she is less than thrilled about 8' wide by 8' long antenna being visible from the street like the dimensions for the HD7084P. Think it would look like we went back 3-4 decades tech wise lol

Do you think it would be possible to mount it in the attic and still get reception?

Or maybe mount it so that it is below the peak of the roof so it's not visible from the street? note the back side of our house and roof points roughly east and towards the signals from NYC to my own roof wouldn't be blocking it (see pic above)



having great luck with XBMC so not concerned about losing cable channels nor sports as most of the stuff I want is accessible. And her Housewives bs will 'unfortunately' not be available

Last edited by greenguy; 1-Jan-2013 at 6:57 PM.
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Old 1-Jan-2013, 9:40 PM   #12
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HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Wifey wants to get rid of cable too, but she is less than thrilled about 8' wide by 8' long antenna being visible from the street like the dimensions for the HD7084P. Think it would look like we went back 3-4 decades tech wise lol

Do you think it would be possible to mount it in the attic and still get reception?

Or maybe mount it so that it is below the peak of the roof so it's not visible from the street? note the back side of our house and roof points roughly east and towards the signals from NYC to my own roof wouldn't be blocking it (see pic above)



having great luck with XBMC so not concerned about losing cable channels nor sports as most of the stuff I want is accessible. And her Housewives bs will 'unfortunately' not be available
Well, that decades old technology is still bringing you the best picture available. That's what's really sad about cable/dish, but they're in the business of showing you commercials so more compression = more channels = more commercials.

The top of the house doesn't have to be the location. My antenna is mounted on the lower roof on the back, as it has to point across the back yard. Only my next door neighbor can see it. He told me I could get basic cable (locals plus some junk) for $25/mth. I said "I can get it and more for free, with better picture quality too."

You can try the attic as well. Just test it out - no harm - but signals will be compromised of course. Just go as high as you can. I have a little DB2 in the attic that picks up a nearby signal for one station, which is good enough.

XBMC is cool. I've been playing w/it and now use it for Amazon videos, and likely more in the future. Next step is to setup some DVR software for it.
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Old 1-Jan-2013, 10:51 PM   #13
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Well, that decades old technology is still bringing you the best picture available. That's what's really sad about cable/dish, but they're in the business of showing you commercials so more compression = more channels = more commercials.

The top of the house doesn't have to be the location. My antenna is mounted on the lower roof on the back, as it has to point across the back yard. Only my next door neighbor can see it. He told me I could get basic cable (locals plus some junk) for $25/mth. I said "I can get it and more for free, with better picture quality too."

You can try the attic as well. Just test it out - no harm - but signals will be compromised of course. Just go as high as you can. I have a little DB2 in the attic that picks up a nearby signal for one station, which is good enough.

XBMC is cool. I've been playing w/it and now use it for Amazon videos, and likely more in the future. Next step is to setup some DVR software for it.

Wonderful news! I still have a couple months on my TV contract to figure everything out and purchase equipment (any recommended vendors? I like to support vendors that support communities such as this one over just the cheapest option). But with those mounting options being ok I think I'll be cutting the cord in 2013!


also the antenna you first recommended to me, RCA ANT-751, seems smaller (can't find good specs on the size yet) and cheaper but with less range (but I am halfway through it's range so prob ok?). I may get that and try out it. If it doesn't work well here my mother in law could definitely use it and she is much closer to the city

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Old 14-Feb-2013, 10:17 PM   #14
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SUCCESS!

Just did a quick install of an RCA ANT-751 mounted in my attic and pointed @ 125 degrees. Picked up 50 digital channels. I haven't gone through them all but I made sure all the channels we need worked! Who knew flawless pixel perfect HD could be so easy to get so cheaply?!? I am kicking myself for paying for cable for years and years and years now

I bought this antenna because it was smaller and I knew if it didn't work at my house, I could install it at my mother in laws who is much closer and has almost a direct line of sight to Manhattan. However even installed in my attic it worked perfectly. For only $50, 4 screws, some scrap coax cable and ALL OF YOUR HELP I've proven the concept that I can ditch cable in 2 months!!!

We will see when the leaves come in if I need a larger antenna or one mounted outside but so far so good! When I have that part of the equation locked down I will do a pro in wall cabling job to all 3 of our TVs. In the meantime I will research DVR options (would love to somehow combine it with a Mac Pro which will host our Plex Media Server for streaming my library of content as well as IceFilms / 1Channel (Let Me Watch This) so we don't miss any of our cable shows... that way everything non-OTA would be run through Plex clients on iPad, Apple TV2 and maybe 2 Rokus)


THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR YOUR HELP!!! What a great resource this website is and you are all so helpful, I have been telling everyone about this to help spread the word about this site!

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Old 15-Feb-2013, 12:41 AM   #15
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Awesome!

Google "HDHomerun." Connect it to your coax and your router. Then any computer on your network becomes a TV. There's quite a few software solutions now that can do DVR duties w/the HDHomerun too.
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Old 25-Feb-2013, 4:01 AM   #16
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ok I have a Tivo Series 3 HD 2 Tuner (only requires 1 feed from the antenna however) on it's way to serve as my DVR. Should have this in the next couple of weeks and be able to test everything prior to the cord cutting in 1.5 months!

Also I believe Plex has the ability to pull my recordings from Tivo box and stream to my Plex clients so it may wind up like a whole home DVR!!!

Thanks so much for your help thus far, here's my next question:

Do I ground my antenna and what is the best way to do so?

Last edited by greenguy; 25-Feb-2013 at 4:25 AM.
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Old 25-Feb-2013, 5:21 AM   #17
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...

Thanks so much for your help thus far, here's my next question:

Do I ground my antenna and what is the best way to do so?
It's 'best practice' regardless of where the antenna is mounted. It should not cost much in time or cash in most cases.

A summary of the basic steps are listed in post #20 in this thread: http://forum.tvfool.com/showthread.php?t=901. And here's a well written article with graphics: http://ecmweb.com/code-basics/articl...sion-equipment
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Old 25-Feb-2013, 8:17 PM   #18
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It's 'best practice' regardless of where the antenna is mounted. It should not cost much in time or cash in most cases.

A summary of the basic steps are listed in post #20 in this thread: http://forum.tvfool.com/showthread.php?t=901. And here's a well written article with graphics: http://ecmweb.com/code-basics/articl...sion-equipment
thank you for the informative links. I plan on reusing some coax that DirecTV installed at the house previously and that coax already has a ground wire attached/bonded to the coax. Will that ground wire be sufficient? How can I tell if it is #10?
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Old 25-Feb-2013, 8:43 PM   #19
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For an attic install that will be fine. If there is a little extra wire sticking out of a connector, you could cut a bit of the extra off, then take it to a big box home center and compare it to their #10 wire. I own wire strippers that have specific notches for each common wire size, the tool makes a good gauge. If you have a machinist caliper. #10 AWG is 0.1019" in diameter. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_wire_gauge

If the satellite system was installed using the smaller #12 or #14 ground wire you're better off than most (though the installation would not conform to NEC 810.21).

If you mount outside, I'd encourage you take the time to ground both the mast and the coax shield using a minimum diameter of #10 AWG copper.
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Old 25-Feb-2013, 8:50 PM   #20
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For an attic install that will be fine. If there is a little extra wire sticking out of a connector, you could cut a bit of the extra off, then take it to a big box home center and compare it to their #10 wire. I own wire strippers that have specific notches for each common wire size, the tool makes a good gauge. If you have a machinist caliper. #10 AWG is 0.1019" in diameter. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_wire_gauge

If the satellite system was installed using the smaller #12 or #14 ground wire you're better off than most (though the installation would not conform to NEC 810.21).

If you mount outside, I'd encourage you take the time to ground both the mast and the coax shield using a minimum diameter of #10 AWG copper.
good idea on the caliper and the correct measurement to look for! I think my stripper has ranges like 8-10, 12-14 so that may not be accurate enough. I'll use the caliper to be sure.

I didn't notice a ground mounting point on the antenna, do I just use one of the nuts that I attach the antenna to the mast? or maybe where the coax leads attach to the antenna?
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