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Old 18-Feb-2016, 5:14 PM   #1
Pay_No_More
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Seeking advice for improving OTA setup - in NOVA

Requesting your advice to improve the reception of TV signals, at my Northern Virginia (NOVA) home. After living in my neighborhood for more than 26 years I have given up cable TV and desire to Pay No More for free TV! We finally realized that we watch much more broadcast TV then cable offerings. As such, I have given up paying $141.00 per month for providing HD TV service w/ a rental DVR and Internet service through the cable company. I now have the phone company providing both landline phone and internet services at a very good rate, "locked in" for the next two years. This gives me savings, out the gate, of more than $130.00 per month.

In order to watch Super Bowl 50 for free, I made a quick installation of a gable mount with a vhf/uhf antenna at the highest point on the back of my house. Prior to finding this forum I purchased a Channel Master CM-2018 antenna, and am able to receive some of my desired TV stations. My results are not yet satisfactory. I had to "off point" the antenna about 180 degrees to receive CBS (RF 9) with consistently good signal strength. Had no problem watching the game, the HD signal received was as good or better than cable. However, my current setup does not allow me to receive all desired signals and I have signal quality issues in wind and rain conditions.

Here it is - My TV Fool Report

My current setup is:
- CM-2018 antenna --> (mast is grounded with #10AWG solid copper wire to house utility ground)
- 25 feet of RG-6 cable -->
- TII network technologies TII 212 in-line coax surge protector (grounded in old cable interface box) -->
- ~10 feet of RG-6 Cable (penetrates exterior wall) -->
- 2 way splitter --> From the splitter approximately 25 feet of RG-6 to wall plate at my primary TV (with signal meter function built-in) then 6 feet of coax to TV input. Basement TV has about 40 feet of RG-6 (w/ one in-line cable to cable connector) to the TV input. (Total runs of: ~ 66 ft of cable to primary TV, ~ 75 ft of cable to basement TV)
I have attached a "photo" (Antenna Placement Options) showing the current antenna installation and the optional / alternate location. This photo shows the challenges I have with both nearby and more distant trees that obstruct signal reception. I do realize that it is currently winter and there are no leaves on these trees.

Also attached is a .pdf (CM-2018 Pointing Sig Strength Record) showing my testing results of the antenna at the "desired/current location" on the back of the house, at the highest location. The current location is my preferred location as I think it gives the least objectionable visible installation location, to those who may not care for antennas. The .pdf also identifies my most desired stations to receive (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS, MyNetwork, and ION) and other stations received plus their received signal strength. (Signal strength is determined by "meter" function in my primary TV. Steady signals above 50-60 in strength are received with good quality. If I can make an antenna work at this location, that would be preferred!

However, I do prefer a functioning antenna and will consider moving it to the alternative location (over my garage with less nearby tree blockage); if necessary to receive consistent strong signal quality. Using the alternate location would add cable length from the antenna to the "old cable interface" of at least another 25 feet.

I think my next moves are; repoint antenna at ~ 44-45 degrees, install CM 7778 pre-amp with power inserter in home where the cable currently meets signal splitter. Adding a pre-amp will also add a short cable on the antenna, and a short cable between the power inserter and the existing signal splitter.

Any ideas on steps I need to take to make receiving the desired stations consistently reliable? I will consider returning the antenna and installing a different / more capable unit. The current/preferred location does "look through" both nearby tree and distant trees. The alternate location does have distant trees to "look through" and does "look" over a cherry tree by my driveway.

Thank you for looking at this setup!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Antenna Placement Options.jpg (107.5 KB, 388 views)
Attached Files
File Type: pdf CM-2018 Pointing_Sig_Strength Record.pdf (51.6 KB, 368 views)

Last edited by Pay_No_More; 18-Feb-2016 at 7:46 PM.
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Old 21-Feb-2016, 4:03 AM   #2
shoman94
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So let me understand this...... You had to point your antenna 180 degrees opposite of Real Channel 9 to get a good signal? I'm not so sure that antenna is the right option for you. Can you return it?
Your TVFOOL report looks great. Wish mine was that nice....lol
I think your on the right track with moving the antenna to a better line of site. IMO a better antenna such as the Antennas Direct C2V might be a better option. It could be tested in your current location and without a preamp but if those trees are going to fill up in the summer I'd strongly recommend moving the antenna to a better LOS option either now or when summer comes. I'm not sure that inline surge protector is helping you out. I personally don't have experience with one but I have never seen to recommended to be used. The COAX should be grounded before it comes in the house. You could also add a ground wire from your splitter inside to a ground in your electrical panel. You internet COAX may already be connected that way.
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Old 22-Feb-2016, 6:02 PM   #3
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shoman94

Appreciate the response!

- Yes, I did "OFF Point" to favor the CBS VHF signal. I was installing this antenna in the week following a large snowstorm, and only had access to the mounting point via a 24 foot ladder. There was about a foot of snow on the rooftop. So, each time I tested the received signals by adjusting the antennna pointing for best signal reception, the ABC VHF signal was strong but the CBS signal was weaker and of poor quality (pixelating). The UHF channels desired were generally coming in strong when pointed at 44-45 degrees. With the Super Bowl approaching, I just needed a strong CBS signal. I know that antennas will pick up signals on their back side, and I was running out of daylight. I did a quick test of pointing about "180 out" and "WOW" CBS was one of my strongest received signals. I locked this position down, and my helper left with his ladder. CBS worked fine throughout the big game.

- I have already learned that the large tree in my front yard does indeed obscure the antenna in its current location. This is even without leaves on it! So, I will move the antenna to the alternate location over the garage. Just need to do this on a warmer / dry day. This is why I chose not to even try an attic installation, as the front of the house (where attic installation would make sense) is beneath the large tree.

- I know my TVfool report does look great. But, the house site is "OTA challenged" as it sits down in a slight valley with trees all around. You can see the distant trees sit up on a ridge line. Beyond the ridge (high ground with a roadway), lies nice and clear shot to the towers of interest.

- The antenna location over the garage will have a much less obscured view from nearby trees (in my yard). However, there is a distant tree line behind the houses across the street. Those trees are on ground that slopes "upward" / and are slightly elevated from my house. My rooftop is probably at the same elevation as the driveway of the home (you can see in the attachment) directly in the aim-point angle. Those trees "fill in property" between the homes and are not a thick forrest. But, they are large oaks and poplars that will fill out with leaves. These more distant trees are in my LOS/path to the desired TV towers. See question below.

- I have 90 days from purchase to return the Channel Master, if required. ~ Mid-April. Time to play.

- I will route the RG-6 from the new antenna location by the shortest possible route. Perhaps adding ~15 feet to my total runs. To do so, I will get a length of quad shield RG-6, exterior grade connectors, the appropriate stripping / compression tools. I will make sure all interior cables are of this quality.

- Should be able to keep the "runs" below 100 feet. Will make a decision on a pre-amp subsequent to testing the reception after relocating the antenna.

- I listed the in-line coax surge protector, as this seems like a reasonable protection. Please let me know if this will negatively impact an OTA installation. I think it nominally presents zero signal attenuation, but will short out excessive currents on the signal/conductor line. From the TII Technologies web site / data product sheet:
KeY proDUCt BeNeFIts
- Ideally suited to protect Broadband CATV subscriber’s “COSTLY” HDTV receivers, DVRs, cable modems, home networking components and interfaces from potentially damaging surges
- Will reduce “out of warranty” repair expense caused by surge lightning damage. Reduces service outages by protecting against induced high‐voltage surges that may appear on the center conductor of a coaxial drop cable
- Unique In‐Line® design is impedance matched to 75 ohms and is virtually transparent to all analog or digital bi‐directional signals transmitted from DC to 1.0 GHz
- Here is a link to the manufacturer datasheet: http://tiitech.com/repository/datash...ry/210_212.pdf
Question:

I have read in several locations that "tilting the antenna up", may improve reception, when "looking" towards an obstruction. I am wondering is something I can try, if the distant trees present a problem to reception? If yes, is there a TV antenna to mast mounting device (clamp) that has an elevation angle adjustment?
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Old 22-Feb-2016, 8:17 PM   #4
tclearinghouse
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I think with those lengths of cable and a splitter involved the preamp is going to make a noticeable difference.

Your antenna doesn't look too bad it's just really odd that a direction antenna you can point ~100 degrees off to actually get a reliable signal.
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Old 23-Feb-2016, 1:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tclearinghouse View Post
I think with those lengths of cable and a splitter involved the preamp is going to make a noticeable difference.

Your antenna doesn't look too bad it's just really odd that a direction antenna you can point ~100 degrees off to actually get a reliable signal.
tclearinghouse,

Thanks, appreciate your input.

I will go ahead and purchase a pre-amp and install it in the next go-around.

Related questions:

Is a mid-power pre-amp what I need, since I am not trying to get edge signals?

When selecting a pre-amp is there a model that is known to be less likely to be "over-driven" by a single strong received signal? ( Note in my tvfool report that real channel 30 is nearby and is my strongest received signal.)

Any pre-amp recommendations?
.
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Old 23-Feb-2016, 2:11 PM   #6
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If you are going to try a pre-amp you should get a low to mid power model as you have many strong signals that can overload your tuners.

As for pointing the antenna 180 degrees off, are you certain about which is the front of the antenna? It's a common misconception to point LPDA style antennas like an arrow with the tip of the arrow aimed at the tower.

That's backwards, you point what looks like the back of the arrow in the direction of the tower(s).

Look here and scroll down to the Log-Periodic Dipole Array antennas, (which is what you have).

http://www.hdtvprimer.com/ANTENNAS/types.html
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Old 23-Feb-2016, 3:14 PM   #7
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The "narrow" end of an LPDA (or a Yagi) is the "front". It's what gets aimed at the broadcasting towers. However, the CM2018 is NOT strictly an LPDA, it's a UHF-band conventional Yagi combined with a three-element high-VHF LPDA. It's design is commonly referred to as a "Log-Yagi".

Aim it like any other Yagi.
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Last edited by ADTech; 23-Feb-2016 at 3:34 PM.
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Old 23-Feb-2016, 4:04 PM   #8
shoman94
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pay_No_More View Post
tclearinghouse,

Thanks, appreciate your input.

I will go ahead and purchase a pre-amp and install it in the next go-around.

Related questions:

Is a mid-power pre-amp what I need, since I am not trying to get edge signals?

When selecting a pre-amp is there a model that is known to be less likely to be "over-driven" by a single strong received signal? ( Note in my tvfool report that real channel 30 is nearby and is my strongest received signal.)

Any pre-amp recommendations?
.
Yes pointing up slightly has helped some people. Every situation is unique for sure.

Channel Master 7778 I've heard is good and the one I use is the Antennas Direct JUICE preamp. The Juice has a built in LTE filter and I purchased the FM filters separately. The Juice is also very resistive to overload. I'm sure you'll benefit from having one.

I still think that aiming the antenna without a preamp first gets you close on alignment. Also it will help you know if adding the preamp gives problems with certain channels. This helped me with aiming my antenna with multi-path problems.
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Old 24-Feb-2016, 12:36 AM   #9
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rickbb,

Yes, I am definitely currently pointing this antenna in the "wrong direction". However, I am getting "decent" reception. Some desired uhf signals are not being received. It really did cause the CBS signal to come in stronger. I guess I had not really found a good position to pull in that signal. All in all this gives me a good feeling that the corrected/finished installation will give a decent, reliable, and stable reception of the desired signals.

ADTech,

Yes, I will point the Yagi end at the aimpoint for my desired signals. That's about 44-45 magnetic.

shoman94,

Appreciate the insight about the Juice model having an LTE filter, and being overload resistant. That is a good tip to aim first, then hook up pre-amp. Where in line would an FM filter be placed? Between the antenna and the pre-amp? Is there any reason to install an FM filter. My FM report showed strongest signals at -31 dbm?

Thanks all!

Last edited by Pay_No_More; 24-Feb-2016 at 12:54 AM. Reason: Bad link
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Old 24-Feb-2016, 12:45 AM   #10
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That's not an FM report, it's only the page where you enter your information. FM repots don't link the same way as TV reports.
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Old 24-Feb-2016, 12:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rabbit73 View Post
That's not an FM report, it's only the page where you enter your information. FM repots don't link the same way as TV reports.
OK, I see that now. Made an edit.
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Old 24-Feb-2016, 1:40 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pay_No_More View Post
OK, I see that now. Made an edit.
You can save the image and then attach it to your post.

But yea the FM traps go between the antenna and the preamp. But that depends on what you have around you. For me I have 2 FM stations less then 5 miles away and it caused some major fluctuation in my signal when adding a preamp. I had to install 2 of them.


31dbm I would say is strong enough to likely need one. But you'll know when you try it. I got mine at radioshack.

Last edited by shoman94; 24-Feb-2016 at 1:43 AM.
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Old 24-Feb-2016, 1:54 AM   #13
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Your report should look like this that I did from an estimate of your location, which puts you a few blocks west of the Old Bridge Elementary School:
http://www.fmfool.com/modeling/tmp/4...6/Radar-FM.png

That doesn't look like a serious threat to TV reception.
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Last edited by rabbit73; 24-Feb-2016 at 2:02 AM.
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Old 26-Feb-2016, 7:28 PM   #14
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Getting parts together. . .

OK, thanks folks! Attached is an image of the FM Report for my location.

Now I have ordered some parts to hopefully make this an improved installation. Stuff ordered:
- Juice Preamplifier
- Radio Shack FM Trap (#1500024)
- 200 ft of quad shield RG-6 (replacing all old runs, not quad shielded, minimizing connection points)
- Both RG6 Cable Stripping and Connector Compression tools, and extra connectors (pretty sure I will be assisting others to do this in the future)
- Couple of F Male to F Male couplers (to eliminate short cables at the trap/preamp & power inserter/splitter connection points
- Coax Seal tape (to weather protect exterior connectors).
Since I am relocating the antenna to my alternate location I will install a new ground rod much closer to that location (for mast/ground connection). I will install an electrical A/C outlet above the existing drop ceiling as power source for the power inserter, this is where the cable enters the interior of the house. I will connect the power inserter case to the house electrical ground.

I appreciate your inputs. When this installation is completed I will update this thread with my results. Depending on deliveries, weather, and my helpers' schedule it may be a few weeks before I report back.
Attached Images
File Type: png Radar-FM-2.png (113.7 KB, 250 views)

Last edited by Pay_No_More; 26-Feb-2016 at 7:30 PM.
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Old 26-Feb-2016, 10:08 PM   #15
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Sounds good. Looking forward to an update.
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Old 11-Mar-2016, 5:29 PM   #16
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Progress Update - Looking Good!

Mother Nature gave us some unseasonably good weather, with three days near 80 degrees in this area. So, I could not make any excuses to not get this work completed. I successfully moved the Channel Master CM-2018 to my alternate mounting location, without a helper too!

The new location involved installing a new 8 foot grounding rod (much easier and cheaper than I thought), plus installing an a/c outlet to accommodate the power source for the preamplifier. The antenna location required approximately 60 feet of cable to run to the house interior cabling interface. I pointed the antenna in the correct direction ~44-45 degrees and locked it down, then I ran my ~60 foot or RG-6 Quad Shield from the antenna balun directly to the tv tuner input (temporarily moved the TV). The results were very good. Then I connected the FM Filter, and Preamp plus this required using a couple of short cables. The results were better yet! Then I finalized the installation by connecting the 60 foot cable to the interior cabling and put the power inserter just ahead of the splitter. The results were outstanding on both TVs!
My current setup is:
- CM-2018 antenna --> (mast is grounded with #8AWG solid copper wire to house utility ground)
- short coax (the black coax that came with Juice Preamp) -->
- FM Filter -->
- male to male f type connector -->
- Juice Preamp -->
- 60 feet of RG-6 QUAD shield cable -->
- TII network technologies TII 212 in-line coax surge protector (grounded in old cable interface box) -->
- ~10 feet of RG-6 Cable (penetrates exterior wall) -->
- Power Inserter for preamp -->
- male to male f type connector -->
- 2 way splitter --> From the splitter approximately 25 feet of RG-6 to wall plate at my primary TV (with signal meter function built-in) then 6 feet of coax to TV input. Basement TV has about 40 feet of RG-6 (w/ one in-line cable to cable connector) to the TV input. (Total runs of: ~ 101 ft of cable to primary TV, ~ 110 ft of cable to basement TV)
Attached are two photos of the installation. The close-up photo best shows the one "tree variable" that I control; and that is a cherry tree next to my driveway. That cherry tree can/will be trimmed if necessary. The more distant trees can be seen in the other photo and are about 150 feet distance. These trees are my main concern going forward. I am anxious to see how these will impact my reception. We will see over the next couple months. . .

With this antenna relocation and the addition of the Juice Preamp I can say "awesome" improvement was achieved. Attached is my pointing and testing results record. This record shows the preamp is boosting the received signal strength as seen by the television. This record shows that I currently have very good quality reception on all of the desired channels. Now, I am missing "cable TV" very little. The total cost of this installation is completely covered by less than 4 months of the old cable bill.

I will continue to work on the interior cabling, to ensure Quad shielded runs throughout. I suspect this will/may limit some transient interfering signals. Any thoughts?
Questions:
- Should I have used a Quad Shielded Cable between antenna balun and FM Filter?
- I installed a Radio Shack FM Filter #1500024 and did not pay attention to direction (in/out). Did I just get lucky and by chance correctly connect the antenna feed to the "input port" of the FM filter? Are these filters directional?
I would like to thank you folks for your insight and suggestions. This forum is a great resource for those who want to receive their TV without paying exorbitant Cable TV Fees, or for those that do not even have that option. For those who contribute regularly and occasionally to this "discussion", Thank You!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Close-up Tree.jpg (119.8 KB, 262 views)
File Type: jpg Distant Trees.jpg (112.1 KB, 284 views)
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Antenna Testing Record 3_11_16.pdf (55.7 KB, 278 views)
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Old 11-Mar-2016, 6:45 PM   #17
shoman94
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Excellent! We'll see what spring brings.
If you have a great picture and nothing you operate is creating havoc on your signal, you should be all set with not replacing everything to Quad-shielded. Not sure how much of an advantage they have to be honest.
I don't know what installing the FM filter backwards will do. Maybe someone else knows. I did however notice that once I installed the Juice preamp in place of another preamp, I did not need the FM filter any longer. The Juice is very resistive to overload. You could find the same thing and it may help your VHF channels slightly as long as there is no interference. It did for my but I did have 2 filters. Worth a try.

I'm a little confused on your chart. I thought RF-23 was a worship channel and IND is actually broadcasted at RF-14?
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Old 11-Mar-2016, 9:50 PM   #18
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Individuals rarely (if ever) need quad shield. It won't hurt anything, just don't pay extra for it and expect anything in return.
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Old 12-Mar-2016, 5:11 PM   #19
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FM trap will work the same either way. You probably don't even need one, but won't hurt.

No need for quad shield cable either. Really only needed for cable TV applications where egress is a concern.
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