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Old 11-Mar-2011, 5:21 AM   #1
dsmguy7
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Antenna Newbie

Hello everyone. I post on a few other gun and flashlight forums and have heard how good you guys are. I am sick and tired of paying outrageous directv bills (and only watching 5 channels) and have decided to try over the air and streaming netflix and other such programs through either a roku or blue ray player. I am brand new, so please take it easy on me. I am going to list my current situation, report, and my current idea of a future set up. Feel free to constructively criticize or add new ideas.

TVFOOL report: http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...597912d2aa14a4

I believe that I did this right, but let me know.

My house was built in 2001 and the first owner was supposedly a home theater expert and wired every room with at least one (sometimes two) cable jacks. He supposedly used "cat5" cable. I am not sure on the splitters, but there are two lines coming into my home. I have 2 tvs (one is like 20 years old and only has a RF input and the other is like 7 years old and has RF, RCA, and component inputs). The two tvs are hooked to directtv boxes which in turn are hooked through the cable to the satellite on the roof.

My idea is to add an antenna (I know attic would be easier and look better, but I am more concerned about performance.) outside on a mast (as high as needed). I don't want to mount anything to the roof and hate guy wires. So according to some plans I found here, I was going to dig a hole 2 ft.^3 and fill it with concrete to mount the mast and then mount a bracket on the eave. This would be on the rear of my home for looks and convenient access to the cable box without being too close to power lines. Now, I have a hip style roof and the only two gables are on the front. So, the bracket will only be about 8-10 ft. off of the ground. I was going to choose a telescoping mast for ease of maintenance. From what I've read a Winegard HD7697P or HD 7698P would work well, but I want the best which is why I am asking you guys. I am not sure about preamps or distribution amps. I know that I will need converter boxes for the two tvs. My house is at the bottom of a 5 ft. hill and the houses behind me (the direction I believe that the antenna will be pointed in) are therefore setting 5 ft. higher. I haven't measured but my single story roof is about 15 ft. at the peak. There is also a privacy fence and trees behind me. There is a large water tower and an airport near by. I am hoping a 30 ft. or smaller mast will work. There is an alternative antenna sight behind a shed which is on the hill. The old owner ran cable to the shed but I'm not sure of the condition it is in; plus it is about 75 ft. from my house. I only have two tvs now but may add up to 2 tvs later.


Questions:

1.) How hard is all of this? I am pretty mechanically inclined and believe that I can do it.

2.) Can I get away with an attic mounted antenna or do I need an outside one?

3.) Which antenna?

4.) Can I use the house wiring?

5.) Should I use the existing splitter and add terminations or just get a 2 way splitter for now and get a larger one later if I add tvs?

6.) How expensive are field strength meters and are they necessary to find a good signal? Is it worth paying to have someone "probe" my yard?

7.) If I have to use the other antenna site should I trust the old wiring? It is ran underground and the idiot directtv guy cut off the ends of the cable at the box and the core is rusting.

8.) Pre amps / distribution amps needed?

9.) A few stations seem to be strong in my area. If I use a pre amp will the strong stations cause problems?

10.) From what I can tell I can get most of my stations from the mobile, gulf shores, and pensacola stations. Is there any reason to try to get the Mississippi stations? CBS is CBS right? So will I need a rotor?

11.) Do you guys give advice about media players and such?

12.) Which mast and how tall?

I'm sorry for so long of a post. I am very OCD about doing things and I want this to be right. I am trying to save money, but I don't mind paying for quality. Please let me know if you need any more info. Thank you in advance.

Brantley
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Old 11-Mar-2011, 1:37 PM   #2
Tower Guy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dsmguy7 View Post
From what I've read a Winegard HD7697P or HD 7698P would work well, but I want the best which is why I am asking you guys. I am not sure about preamps or distribution amps.

Brantley
Use the smaller antenna, as your azimuths vary from 95-102 degrees.

No need for extra efforts to get very high. A wall mount on the east of the house with the mast extending above the soffet, but lower than the top of the hip roof should work.

Use a modest gain preamp such as the AP8700.
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Old 11-Mar-2011, 6:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
1.) How hard is all of this? I am pretty mechanically inclined and believe that I can do it.
There are several general guides available. This Installation Guide by Channel Master is typical, somewhat dated, but gives a good idea of the tools and skills needed. Antenna installation is well within the skill set of most do-it-yourselfers.

Quote:
2.) Can I get away with an attic mounted antenna or do I need an outside one?
You may get away with attic installation but an outdoor antenna will most certainly out-perform.

Quote:
3.) Which antenna?
I agree with TG

Quote:
4.) Can I use the house wiring?
The cables you are using for cable or satellite now, should be fine.

Quote:
5.) Should I use the existing splitter and add terminations or just get a 2 way splitter for now and get a larger one later if I add tvs?
Expect to remove or replace satellite specific parts, such as matrix switches and diplexers. Some of the satellite system parts look identical to OTA/CATV splitters but will not pass OTA signals. If you only need to split 2 ways, splitting more will reduce the available signal needlessly.

Quote:
6.) How expensive are field strength meters and are they necessary to find a good signal? Is it worth paying to have someone "probe" my yard?
TV Fool has not probed your yard but has already provided a service that is nearly as effective. Keep your money. The least expensive ATSC field metering function I have found is $300 retail. If you have consumer grade metering built in to your converter box or DTV set as most do, keep your money.

Quote:
7.) If I have to use the other antenna site should I trust the old wiring? It is ran underground and the idiot directtv guy cut off the ends of the cable at the box and the core is rusting.
Once water has been inside coax, it's done.

Quote:
8.) Pre amps / distribution amps needed?

9.) A few stations seem to be strong in my area. If I use a pre amp will the strong stations cause problems?
TG's suggestion is fine, another preamp to consider would be the HDP-269 by Winegard.

Quote:
10.) From what I can tell I can get most of my stations from the mobile, gulf shores, and pensacola stations. Is there any reason to try to get the Mississippi stations? CBS is CBS right? So will I need a rotor?
Some folks are sports fans looking to receive out of market station so they can view blacked out games. You know the answer better than we would. With two or more sets connected, a rotator can be frustrating to the people who don't get to aim the antenna.

Quote:
11.) Do you guys give advice about media players and such?
Look through the Special Topics / Reception Devices section. I use Silicondust network attached tuners and record to hard disk. For real time viewing, I've been fairly happy with the Media Center packaged with Win-7 Home Premium. I currently do all of my recording with my XP desktop PC using my own batch files and the scheduling utility native to XP. I don't have first hand experience with the standalone internet appliances, PVR boxes or internet enabled TVs. I expect that others here do though.

Quote:
12.) Which mast and how tall?
Rerun your TVF report using 30' or 35' as the antenna mounting height. If you see the path profiles change to LOS and the NM numbers increase, consider the cost versus benefit of mounting higher. It's possible that you may be able to eliminate the need for any amplifier. Rohn is a highly respected name in the tower and mast business. Their H20 - H50 series would be worth looking at. The link I've provided also shows wall brackets with various standoff. I use this type bracket and a single 10' section of mast to support a mid-sized combination antenna. In my situation there was no need to extend the mast to the ground, the lower bracket includes a brace to carry the weight of the mast and antenna. If you decide to mount higher than 8' above the top bracket you are going to need a mast or tower system designed for the purpose.
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If the well is dry and you don't see rain on the horizon, you'll need to dig the hole deeper. (If the antenna can't get the job done, an amp won't fix it.)

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Last edited by GroundUrMast; 11-Mar-2011 at 11:51 PM.
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Old 11-Mar-2011, 11:39 PM   #4
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It looks like you live pretty close to the Gulf of Mexico as do I .With hurricane season around the corner do you plan to take down the winegard 7697 ? More importantly do you have place to store it when you take it down because it it nearly it is nearly 13 feet long! Take a look at this antenna ,i've had mine nearly a year and very satisfied with its performance. http://forum.tvfool.com/showthread.php?t=239
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Old 12-Mar-2011, 12:02 AM   #5
John Candle
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Tv antennas and Tv reception

The hd stacker antenna restricts reception to the UHF part of the antenna because of the VHF high antenna that is directly on top of it. There is a loop wire in between the two parts of the antenna that is a phasing loop. It is held in place by plastic supports , when the plastic supports break the wire will hang down , this will effect reception. If the wire or wires break , this will effect reception. If the wire is hanging down , do not tape the wire to any metal parts as this will effect reception. If the phasing loop of wire breaks and is missing , do not connect to short wires between the two antennas , this will effect reception. . I Never Recommend the hd stacker.
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Old 12-Mar-2011, 5:31 AM   #6
dsmguy7
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Thank you all for your help.

@Towerguy and Coco-You are right. I didn't realize those antennas were so big. What about the Winegard HD7696P? It's about 9 ft. long. Would that work ok? I also would rather not use a preamp unless I have to. I also would rather leave the antenna up in a storm unless I have to. Any way to make it more sturdy?

@Groundurmast--10-4 and thank you. HD7696P? Any recomendations on coverter boxes? As I mentioned I have 2 old tvs so no hd capability and if I buy new tvs later they would have the tuners built in, so I don't need anything special; right? I am not a sports fan so any other reasons for me to get the MS stations? Wow, 30 ft. does make a huge difference. Don't think that I can justify any higher though. http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...597908dbceb009 Also which azimuth should I point the antenna to (weakest channel, split the difference, etc.)?

@JohnCandle--Thanks for the advice and I am shying away from that antenna.
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Old 12-Mar-2011, 6:04 AM   #7
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Regardless of which antenna you choose, you will find that extreme precision when aiming is not possible or necessary with antennas of these types. Point at about 100 per your compass to start, then pan left and right to verify you have the best signal quality. You may need someone to watch the signal indicator as you make small adjustments either way.

Looking at you 30' TVF Report, I see no need for a large antenna.

The signal levels and noise margins are such that a small antenna will serve you better than a large high gain antenna. An RCA ANT751 or Antennacraft AC9 would give you enough signal aimed east. But those antennas also tend not to block signals from the rear as much as the higher gain antennas do. The three most powerful stations to the west should be received on the back side.

Quite frankly, I would expect either of those antennas to do fairly well if you mounted at 5' above your roof peak, (20' AGL by my understanding of your OP).

I don't object to anyone overbuilding. In your case, any of the Winegard HD769X series would be slight to moderate overbuild.

I've owned a Zenith DTT901 since pre-DTV transition... I've been happy with it. I still see them available through Amazon, but at rising prices. The Zinwell ZAT-970A is also there on Amazon at a more reasonable price... the reviewers are fairly positive about it.
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Last edited by GroundUrMast; 12-Mar-2011 at 6:47 AM.
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Old 12-Mar-2011, 6:15 AM   #8
dsmguy7
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@Groundurmast--10-4. I gave 30 ft. as an arbitrary number. I don't know if I can get that high. I want the smallest antenna/ shortest mast that I can get that will do the job. A huge mast and large antenna is an eye sore, but I live in a hole and I am willing to do whatever is necessary. I would rather not get into guying though. I am concerned with looks, but more concerned with performance. You are saying aim the antenna at 90 deg.? Converter boxes? Rotor?
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Old 12-Mar-2011, 6:42 AM   #9
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Recheck my previous post... I edited it.

This combination of mast and gable bracket could put you at 7' above roof peak.

http://www.nsccom.com/dura-tubemast10x1-14x16ga.aspx

http://www.3starinc.com/telescopic_t...t_bracket.html
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Last edited by GroundUrMast; 12-Mar-2011 at 6:55 AM.
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Old 13-Mar-2011, 12:36 AM   #10
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Converter boxes to buy

http://forum.tvfool.com/showthread.php?t=380
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Old 13-Mar-2011, 7:56 PM   #11
dsmguy7
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@ John Candle--10-4 and thank you.

@Groundurmast--10-4 and thank you. On the links you provided I see a wall mount bracket. Can that be used on an eave or gable? Also my only gables are on the front (west south west side) of my home and I didn't really want an antenna there. Am I to assume that this 10 ft. mast will only get 7 ft. above the peak because 3 ft. has to be below the bracket for stability?

My mother in law brought over her old rabbit ears antenna (RCA unknown model vhf/uhf) and a Dish Network tuner (DTVPAL). I hooked it up for fun and was amazed to receive the following stations (including sub channels) at listed strengths (according to the tuner).

WEAR 88
WKRG 83
WLOX REGISTERS BUT POOR QUALITY
WPMI 78
WMAH 69
WMPV 83
WXXV 63
WFGX 56 (POOR)
WEIQ 76
WJTC 71
WFNA 69

I am now more excited about what all channels I will be able to get. For a 20 year old tv and free crappy antenna and dtv tuner; the picture quality is pretty darn good (better than DirecTV!).
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Old 13-Mar-2011, 8:54 PM   #12
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Am I to assume that this 10 ft. mast will only get 7 ft. above the peak because 3 ft. has to be below the bracket for stability?
Correct.

Tripods can support a 10' mast section with no guy wires. There are also self supporting masts available. etc.

There are a wide variety of mounting techniques / options. In the end, it's your home and the FCC says you can mount an antenna of reasonable dimensions without your local government or neighbors interfering.
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Old 13-Mar-2011, 10:04 PM   #13
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@Groundurmast--10-4 and thanks. With being able to get all of these channels with the indoor antenna, what if I replaced the Directv satellite dish with the RCA ANT751? The wiring is already there and the bracket would put the antenna about 10 ft. off of the ground (though below the roof peak). (Thinking of going a minimalist route).
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Old 13-Mar-2011, 10:16 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by dsmguy7 View Post
@Groundurmast--10-4 and thanks. With being able to get all of these channels with the indoor antenna, what if I replaced the Directv satellite dish with the RCA ANT751? The wiring is already there and the bracket would put the antenna about 10 ft. off of the ground (though below the roof peak). (Thinking of going a minimalist route).
A very reasonable idea... If you have problems with some channels you can still consider higher mounting options later.
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Old 3-Apr-2011, 7:31 AM   #15
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Update

I'm sorry that it has been so long since I have posted, but I have been very busy. I finally put the RCA ANT751 where the Directv dish was and bought a Tivax STB-12. I also bought a PS3 and I am running Netflix via an old wireless router which my dad couldn't get to work (so I got it for free). So far I am very pleased. The following are the signal strengths now according to the DTV PAL (though I forgot to account for the signal being split to two TVs).

WEAR 88 (same)
WKRG 83 (90)
WLOX REGISTERS BUT POOR QUALITY (66)
WPMI 78 (64)?
WMAH 69 (78)
WMPV 83 (76)?
WXXV 63 (58)?
WFGX 56 (POOR) (66)
WEIQ 76 (74)
WJTC 71 (74)
WFNA 69 (88)

Plus I added:

WDPM 64
WALA 69 (The one I was really after)
WSRE 76
WHBR 81

Most of these come in ok, but I am tempted to do a roof mount due to the current setup being pointed at an outbuilding that is on a hill and higher than my home. Also I found a gold RCA splitter that says 5-900MHz. This is what I am using. Should I use something else? The Tivax is nice but it has a signal strength and quality. Most of the channels are 80-100 on quality, but lower (20-30's) on strength. My wife wants me to leave well enough alone, but it is interesting to see what all you can get. Are there any other stations I should try for? Also since I didn't have a compass, I used the magnetic north setting on the compass on my iphone to point the antenna. Is this ok?

Thanks for all of your help.
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Old 3-Apr-2011, 4:22 PM   #16
John Candle
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Tv Antennas and Reception

Here are some roof top antenna mounts , tripod mount , chimney mount , peak of the roof eave mount , http://www.3starinc.com , http://www.solidsignal.com , http://www.starkelectronic.com , http://www.amazon.com , Here are free on line Tv guides , http://www.titantv.com , http://tv.yahoo.com , http://tv.entertainment.excite.com , http://television.aol.com , http://zap2it.com , http://www.tvzap.com

Last edited by John Candle; 12-Apr-2011 at 8:40 AM.
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Old 7-Apr-2011, 8:04 AM   #17
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Thanks John. Anyone else care to answer my questions? Also, can we link pictures here? I have a weird situation with being in a hole and trees behind me (to the east) where I need to point the antenna. I'm debating on a roof mount versus a telescoping pole mast concreted into the ground and bracketed to the eave. According to the install instructions that I have read you are supposed to keep the antenna away from power lines by twice the length of the mast plus twice the length of the antenna. Is this just for distribution lines or the line coming into my house because that line is insulated. I would like to keep the antenna close to the house ground, but if I have to follow that rule a 30 ft. mast with the RCA ANT751 would have to be kept about 66 ft. away from the house ground. Can a 10 ft. roof mount mast not be guy wired? My roof peak is 15 ft. above ground so that would put me at 25 ft. If I do the roof mount how do you run the ground wire (just along the roof and off the eave with a stand off?)? I also found out that the house does not have cat 5 cable and that that is a network cable. The previous owner had said that there was cat 5 and I saw CATV on the line and thought it was cat 5. I have some sort of Comm-scope Tri-shield rg6 (model #: F677TSVV) UL CATV 18 AWG. Is this good?
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Old 7-Apr-2011, 10:04 AM   #18
John Candle
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Tv Antennas and Reception

All the stations are being received now. The starting point and ending point. If you will like to put a antenna on the roof then put it on the roof , if you will like to put a pole on the side of the house then do that. Choices , choices and more choices. Holly smokes.

Last edited by John Candle; 7-Apr-2011 at 10:11 AM.
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Old 7-Apr-2011, 10:56 AM   #19
dsmguy7
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here is a list of unanswered questions:

1.) Can pictures be posted here?
2.) In keeping the antenna and mast away from power lines; does that include an insulated line going into the house?
3.) Can a roof top 10 ft. mast not be guy wired?
4.) If I do the roof mount how do you run the ground wire (just along the roof and off the eave with a stand off?)?
5.) I have some sort of Comm-scope Tri-shield rg6 (model #: F677TSVV) UL CATV 18 AWG. Is this good?

Last edited by mtownsend; 8-Apr-2011 at 10:39 PM. Reason: Edited to remove off-topic comments
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Old 7-Apr-2011, 4:25 PM   #20
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Quote:
...Most of these come in ok, but...
...I used the magnetic north setting on the compass on my iphone to point the antenna...
If your antenna is not aimed well, you may be able to improve your situation without spending any more money.

If you don't own a compass, use the Interactive TV Maps tool to zoom into your location, use the Satellite or Hybrid view, put the pin/pointer on the spot where your antenna is. Below that image, set the antenna height to a realistic value and check the box labeled "Show lines pointing to each transmitter".

You should see lines radiating from your antenna location. Use the neighboring landmarks as reference points to align your antenna.
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