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Old 26-Sep-2013, 6:16 AM   #1
badlocation
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Antenna advice - I have a ridge in the way, is it a lost cause?

I live in a TV hole call Pleasanton, CA. I would like some suggestions on how to get out without using a dish or cable, or moving! Will an antenna work if I get a big one.

My report is on
http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...46aeeb079b5556

All the channels I want to see are at 283 degrees (KQED, ABC, NBC, CBS) I think this is Sutro Tower.

My house is single story, so if I put an antenna on the chimney or ridge I think I could get to 15 to 20 ft.

Currently I have no outside antenna, in the past I have tried a small inside one, I got for free, I got 4 or 5 channels (from memory), but I speak English so it was not very helpful! As I remember I got a couple of Spanish channels and something in an Asian language which again I did not speak either. I think I got one minour channel I could understand from San Jose.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Would a really big antenna help or is it a waste of effort? I don't want to spend $100 or more and still be without TV.

If I go big should I go with an 8 bowtie or a old school style...or am I wasting time and effort?

For KQED this is what the Transmitter Profile looks like...does it get any worse!

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...ALLTV%26n%3d23


WARNING Rant below.
If you are wondering, I just sent Comcast back a cable box after they sent me one as they are about to scramble limited basic TV (i.e. what an antenna would get) and I found out they now want extra for the HD channels which before I got with just the cable in the wall. A great upgrade for Comcast. $3 a month extra for the first 2 years then ~$6 extra when they start charging for the cable box I don't need except they scrambled the signal.
Rant over.

Thank you in advance for help.

Colin
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Old 26-Sep-2013, 1:12 PM   #2
elmo
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Props for dropping cable. I recall having the DVR fee creep up and I thought, "it's stored on a disk here at the house - why does it suddenly cost more?!"

Anyway, not much good news for you here that I can see.

See that column that is listed as NM on your report? You take that number and typically subtract losses from cable runs, splitters, etc. More details here -> http://www.tvfool.com/index.php?opti...57#how_to_read
But the jist is, you need a value over 0 and of course, the more the better. What's actually needed for a reliable signal, likely varies but 10+ is probably where you'd want to be.

In short, those stations to the west are not likely to be received. At least not with a simple setup. More experienced people here might have suggestions beyond a typical antenna install that may work for you.

By chance do you have an neighbors with an antenna? Might be worthwhile to check around and see.

Those stations to the south are easy enough to receive, but you don't have much selection as you pointed out. There is a PBS and FOX station there that I see. Maybe better than nothing. Just need a UHF antenna - like an AntennaCraft U2000 or Antennas Direct DB2e. There are other UHF only options as well. Those are outdoor antennas. Not sure if the indoor antenna can tune those for you or not.

Besides that, there's the internet for streaming content. A Roku is an inexpensive device that can bring in various content, some free and some pay. You can find official and private channels - private channels are really public, just not offically promoted by Roku - check here: http://streamfree.tv/apps/index.php?...s&ascdesc=DESC
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Old 26-Sep-2013, 9:52 PM   #3
teleview
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-->A Simple reception situation.<--

Above the roof in such a manner that reception is not impeded and blocked by the roof and building in the directions of , North West , West , South East / South.

Install a Channel Master CM5016 antenna aimed at about 300 degree magnetic compass direction.

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

Use a Real and Actual magnitic compass to aim the antenna.

_________

Install a Winegard , LNA-200 'Boost' XL amplifier.

_________

For 1 Tv connected use No splitter.

For 2 Tv's connected use a , Holland Electronics , HFS-2D , 2 way splitter.

For 3 Tv's connected use a , Holland Electronics , HFS-3D , 3 way splitter.

Buy the HFS splitters at , http://www.solidsignal.com.

_________

Here are some places to buy antennas and etc. .

http://www.solidsignal.com.

http://www.amazon.com.

http://www.channelmasterstore.com.

________________

Last edited by teleview; 27-Sep-2013 at 9:33 PM. Reason: Clarify information and typos.
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Old 27-Sep-2013, 12:42 PM   #4
StephanieS
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Accidental double post.

Last edited by StephanieS; 27-Sep-2013 at 12:55 PM. Reason: accidental double post
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Old 27-Sep-2013, 12:45 PM   #5
StephanieS
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Hi Badlocation,

You aren't kidding. The ridge nearby is a signal killer. Frustrating when your are reasonably close to the transmission sites, only to have geography thwart you. The bay area was and is a broadcasting nightmare due to terrain.

That said, to your question - is this a lost cause trying to get the big networks out of the bay area. The answer is you'll likely have to put something in the air and try. TV Fool while valuable for it's ballpark assessment, you may have variables working for you (or against) that it cannot account for.

Teleview got you started with a nice option. You may find that you have to up to a powerhouse antenna like a Winegard HD7698P with a preamp to have a chance, especially at the negative db signal strengths at magnetic 269. KRON and KQED are going to be the biggest challenge. Luckily, KTVU and KQEH are availible LOS at either 164 or 165 degrees. I mention KQEH specifically because, since KQED is in the extremely weak category, KQEH, according to their wiki page, their second subchannel carries KQED's main programming feed. That subchannel carrying KQED is likely not in 1080i, but it's better than nothing. That leaves only KPIX as your weakest major network affiliate and will be the one you make have to experiment with to receive being it is at -3.0 db at your location. Don't get your hopes up for KRON. You may see it, but at -6.8db chances of steady reception is extremely slim.

Predictions are really best guesses, since receiving broadcast TV is kind of a black art. Each situation is unique, and has umpteen variables. I've played around with my setup several times. I have an Antennas Direct 91XG as my beam with an RCA ANT751 as my secondary antenna. Both run separate leads and are switched in the house on an A/B switch. The ANT751 is strictly locals and a Idaho PBS translator at @ 55 miles LOS, while the 91XG is pointed at KLEW TV on RF 22 @ 56 miles, 1-edge, and 7.0 db signal strength.

I can tell you working with weak to very weak signals is tough. With a preamp, my reception of KLEW RF 22 is mostly stable, but due to being 1-edge, I get a few drop outs here and there.

I do think with a powerhouse like a Winegard HD7698P and a preamp pointed at 269 degrees magnetic, you will see KNTV (NBC) and KGO (ABC). KTVU (FOX) will serve you from 164 degrees magnetic. KQEH will serve you KQED's main feed also from 164 degrees magnetic. KPIX (CBS) at -3.0 is possible, but be ready to do much tweaking. KRON and KQED are in the very slim category.

Good luck and remember, this isn't an exact science. You may have to change strategies once or twice (and antennas). Or, decide to have a high gain antenna pointed at your weakest signals, while having a smaller separate antenna pointed at your easier catches with an A/B switch in the house.
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Old 28-Sep-2013, 8:09 AM   #6
badlocation
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Should I try bowtie or traditional?

Thank you all for the advice.

Do any of you know if a traditional like the Winegard HD7698P or a 8 bowtie type is my best chance on Sutro Tower...I suppose I could get both with the money I will save on cable!!!! Use one for the southern stations and which ever is better for Sutro Tower.

Colin
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Old 28-Sep-2013, 9:04 AM   #7
StephanieS
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One of your issues out the gate for 261 and 269 magnetic is that you need VHF capability (RF 7 - 13) for KNTV RF 12 and KGO RF 7. Thus, I wouldn't go the 8 bay "bowtie" route as they are primarily UHF. Some "bowties" do pull in VHF if they are fair to good in signal strength, but at the signal strengths of KNTV and KGO and the 2-edge conditions you are in, you are going to want something that is designed specifically for the VHF and UHF band and has good gain in both bands. So, a 8 bay bowtie, no, not for Sutro (261/269 magnetic). Traditional VHF/UHF combination directional is your better bet.

Now, 164/165 magnetic you have different options. Being everything in that direction is strictly UHF (channels 14-50) you don't need to worry about VHF. If I were plotting a set up out at your location, I might jump for the RadioShack U-4000 4 bay antenna. It's not a super high horsepower UHF antenna, but for signals 25 db and up, you should be plenty good for KTVU RF 48 and KQEH RF 50. If you want something a little more nondescript, a RCA ANT751 would work nicely too. The ANT751 is also nice that it supports VHF along with UHF in a small well performing antenna (which could be handy in the future if you moved and were in a good signal area with everything in one direction - the ANT751 could do it all). (Note, you could probably do this direction with a 2 bay UHF antenna, but I always prefer to have a little bit better antenna than the minimal one that can do the job)

These are just my thoughts if I were concocting a set up at your location. Good luck!

Last edited by StephanieS; 28-Sep-2013 at 6:00 PM.
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Old 30-Sep-2013, 4:38 AM   #8
badlocation
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ordered an antenna - will post the result when I get the stuff installed

Thank you for all the help, I ordered a CM-5020 (aka the big mother), preamp CM-7778 and some mounting hardware cable etc. I will post what happens. I expect it will be a week before I get the antenna and maybe a week before I get time to install it, so don't hold your breath!

If I don't get TV from Suto tower I will point it at one of the locations that will give me some minour broadcaster channels.

Once again thank you for all the help and again I will report back.

Colin
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Old 30-Sep-2013, 7:48 PM   #9
elmo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badlocation View Post
Thank you all for the advice.

Do any of you know if a traditional like the Winegard HD7698P or a 8 bowtie type is my best chance on Sutro Tower...I suppose I could get both with the money I will save on cable!!!! Use one for the southern stations and which ever is better for Sutro Tower.

Colin
If your reception is viable, you can indeed spend quite a bit on a good antenna setup w/o concern for being over budget because you'll pay for it quickly since you aren't paying for cable anymore. One-time vs recurring is nice!

New services like Aereo could be a solution for your sort of situation. Aereo basically provides you with a streaming TV solution for $8-12/mth of your local stations. Think of it as renting an off-site TV antenna. It's not a subscription free model, but it's currently well below the price of basic cable. How long it will stay there, who knows. As for now, it's not made it out to the west coast yet. A physical antenna farm installation is required in the cities for their subscribers.

Good luck w/the install!
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Old 8-Oct-2013, 7:06 AM   #10
badlocation
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first round of result, from antenna with a stick in the garden!

Today the antenna turned up. A wise person would have waited till the weekend and got on the roof, but where's the fun in that!

Given getting the gable mount installed after work was not practical, I just found an 8 foot piece of PVC pipe in the garage, clamped it to the gazebo and pointed it where TVfool said Suto tower is. Then I looked at signal strength and moved it a little looking at ABC (Sutro tower) and then NBC (not on Suto Tower but close).

I use a DVICO USB gold 5 TV tuner on a laptop, and the dB number come from this. It seems like it needs 15 -20 dB to get a picture. The antenna is a channel master 5020 with the 7778 pre amp pole mounted.

Oddly pointing straight at a tree seems the best result...enough of this. The data.

I am ignoring the excellent HD signal I got on a number of Spanish channels as this just irritates me.

ABC HD from KGO I get good reception and 25 dB
NBC HD from KNTV most of the time was 20 dB and good reception but sometimes dropped out to 6 dB. I notice when finding the right angle it was VERY sensitive to angle.
TV36 or KICU a local channel was very good at 29 dB
42.1 and .2 This TV and retro TV also came in at 20 dB
54.1 KTEH now KQED+ and its sub channels came in at 19 dB with some drop out.

So in summary I get the really strong signals from south even though I am pointing WEST and I get the strongest signals from Sutro Tower. The antenna must have a weak side lobe I suppose.
ABC and NBC are new to me so this is good. I still need to mount the antenna ~10 foot higher, and I expect this will help with what I can see, or at least variability. I did notice some channels at 5 dB too low to watch...I am hoping I get one or more of these when I get the antenna on the roof. I also think maybe the TV tuner will be better than a USB tuner.

I should also say I got good reception on a Christian channel notable as it shows up as -0.9 NM(dB) in TV fool, so either TV fool has old data on the transmitter, or that's the limit of visablity for me. Sorry but I filed this channel with the Spanish language channels as a waste of good EM radiation.

More data when I get it mounted on the roof.

Colin
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Old 8-Oct-2013, 8:28 AM   #11
StephanieS
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Good to see you testing the set up. The thing I'm watching is if KPIX gets enough signal to you for the CM-5020 to work with. Speaking of KPIX, too bad they aren't VHF. That longer wavelength would've helped out tremendously.

Also, don't be surprised if the signals at 164/165 magnetic drop out from time to time if you keep a single antenna option without a rotor. I didn't find the CM-5020 beam width specifications for reception off the front, I can tell though that even with a fair to good signal off the backside, it doesn't always mean stable reception of those backside or side signals. My 91xg does good with most of the locals off the left side, however I get drop outs on LOS local with 54 db of strength hitting the antenna. That is why I have the ANT751 in place, to be the local antenna shooting 85 magnetic while the 91xg works on the weak signals at 141 magnetic. Getting most of the locals of the left side of the 91xg was just a bonus.

Regards.
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Old 9-Oct-2013, 5:01 AM   #12
badlocation
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KPIX numbers

Dear StephineS,

To answer your question, I did look at KPIX with the "back yard mount" and the system I was using could see signal but not enough to be useful. It reported 5 dB signal, it seems to get an image at between 15 and 20 dB. Now if going into the air from 8 feet to 15 ft doubled the signal ( I have no reason to believe it will just a wild guess) that would get me only to 11 dB so still not enough. I have a hard time believing going on the roof will get me an extra 15 dB but if it did I would not say no to it!

I looked at my gable mount this evening and I will need to build a support, my roof has only a 20 degree pitch, so the 5 ft spreader is just not wide enough. I will need to attach a 2x4 to spread farther...this is turning into a big project...but hey I feel so good having dropped cable and I need something to do this weekend.

Colin
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Old 11-Oct-2013, 8:08 AM   #13
badlocation
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Success whoo hoo!!!!!

Once again thank everyone for the help, but above all encouragement to just try it.

I got my mast on the roof and setup the antenna, pointed it and just ran the cable from the amp loose down the side to see what I got and if I needed to change where I am pointing. (I will tidy it up at the weekend) The result was dramatically better than the backyard mount. In the back yard using a 8 ft pipe as a mast I got 5 dB on KPIX (-2.7 NM from the report). On the roof with a ~ 8 foot above the ridge line so may be 25 ft in the air I get 17 dB AND a clear picture rather than black...
but it gets better....KQED, what I wanted to get but with a -6.9 NM so tough comes in at 20 to 21 dB, a clear picture (HD) and it does not break up. KQED is on RF channel 30 and I think that is optimal for the antenna, I assume the quoted gain is somewhere in the middle...like ch 30!

So despite what everyone in Pleasanton say you can get TV, infact all the major channels from Sutro tower in glorious HD for FREE, all you need is an extreme fringe antenna and stick it as high as you can.

In summary
report is http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...46aeeb079b5556

I used a Channel master CM 5020 Extreme Fridge Antenna with a CM 7778 amplifier on a pole ~ 8 ft above the ridge of the roof using a gable mounting kit...and a few 2x4.
I get all the major stuff I care above from Suto Tower including KQED with has a predicted noise Margin with a reference dipole of -6.9 dB but with the BIG antenna I get 20dB signal.

Once again thank you for all the help and encouragement.

I know 2 other people that were waiting for my result to cut cable, and they were both at locations that are predicted to be a little better.

Colin
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