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Old 20-Jan-2010, 2:20 AM   #1
SoonerDude
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Join Date: Jan 2010
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Goodbye Dish. Hello OTA. Antenna recommendation please.

Hi. After 12 years of Dish Network we've decided to cancel and go OTA. Going to build a budget HTPC and use the hdhomerun tuner. I've had a few friends build the homemade DB4 antenna that's all over the web, but after some reading, I see it's only UHF. I think I'm likely going to need a decent sized outdoor antenna on my roof. Here is a copy of my tvfool report:

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...c57254f3a9c5e0

I live in a pretty heavily wooded area, not sure how much trees hurt the signal.

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
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Old 20-Jan-2010, 5:36 AM   #2
mtownsend
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Hello and welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonerDude View Post
I've had a few friends build the homemade DB4 antenna that's all over the web, but after some reading, I see it's only UHF. I think I'm likely going to need a decent sized outdoor antenna on my roof.
You're absolutely right. The 4 bay bowtie antenna is really only good for UHF. It looks like you have two high-VHF stations, KOCO (ch 7) and KETA (ch 13).

The good news is that your signal strengths are good and all of the major transmitters are clustered together west of your location. This will make it easier to get all the channels with a straightforward antenna setup.



Quote:
I live in a pretty heavily wooded area, not sure how much trees hurt the signal.
Yes, trees can have an effect on TV signals. They can absorb some signal and will also cause some signal to bounce around (which can also hurt reception). The radio properties of trees vary by type, spacing, water content, and how much they blow around in the wind, so it's really difficult to tell how much they will impact you until you actually try it.



Since all of your channels fall within the range of channels 7 thru 69, your situation is perfect for the Antennacraft HBU-22, 33, 44, or 55 family of antennas, or the Winegard HD7694P, HD7695P, HD7696P, HD7697P, or HD7698P family of antennas. These are all specifically designed to handle the limited channel range of 7-69 (helps make the antenna a little smaller) and range from small to large sizes depending on the strength of your signals.

For your situation, I'd recommend either the Winegard HD7696P or the Antennacraft HBU-44. Under ordinary circumstances, your signal strengths are good enough such that you could use a smaller antenna. However, since you mentioned the possibility of dense tree blockage, I'm recommending these slightly larger versions of the antennas. The larger you go, the more margin for error you will have to deal with the unknown variables in the environment.

Install the antenna on the roof and point it at a compass heading of about 282 degrees and you'll be set.
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Old 20-Jan-2010, 5:45 AM   #3
SoonerDude
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Thanks for the response. A couple more questions if you don't mind. There is a switch on my roof that distributed my Dish with an RG6 cable going to every bedroom and living room. Can I use a good quality splitter to distribute the antenna to all of those rooms. Would I need some kind of amplifier? Can I use my old Dish mount and extend a pole from to mount the new antenna when I remove the old dish, it's just a standard mount like this:



I'd like to get the antenna up a few feet higher from the top of the roof.

Thanks again for you help. This antenna stuff is so new to me, I've had Dish for the past 12 years, and DirecTV a few years before that.
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Old 20-Jan-2010, 8:19 AM   #4
mtownsend
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonerDude View Post
Can I use a good quality splitter to distribute the antenna to all of those rooms. Would I need some kind of amplifier?
Yes, you can. Splitting the signal will reduce the amount of power going down each branch of the split. The more ways you split it, the lower the power will be going to each branch. The length of coax will also determine how much loss will occur before the signal reaches your TV.

If you're going to split the signal many ways and/or have long coax runs, then it is a good idea to include some kind of amp early in the chain (before the signal has a chance to degrade by much). Mast-mounted pre-amps usually work best because they are usually designed with very low Noise Figures (internally, self-generated noise) and can be placed as early in the chain as possible (right after the antenna). Indoor "distribution amps" will also work.

Once the signal has been amplified, the coax length and splitters will not have much affect on your signal any more.

The only caveat with amps is that you must watch out for overload. If the input signals are too strong, the amp will start distorting the signal rather than providing a clean amplification, and this can make things worse rather than better. For your particular situation, I think you are safe. None of your signals are strong enough to create concern for amp overload.

"Good" amps will have a Noise Figure spec of 3 dB or less. Some good quality pre-amps include the Channel Master 7777, Winegard 8275, or Antennacraft 10G202.



Quote:
Can I use my old Dish mount and extend a pole from to mount the new antenna when I remove the old dish
The TV antenna will take up a fair amount of space. The antennas have built-in clamps on the boom designed to grab onto a mast (usually up to 1.5" in diameter). Those clamps are usually in the middle of the boom, which means you'll need the mast to be spaced away from the house quite a bit to allow room for the boom and antenna elements. A J-mount (which is what your picture shows) might make that difficult.



Quote:
I'd like to get the antenna up a few feet higher from the top of the roof.
Ideally, the antenna should be at least ~4 feet above the roof. This makes sure that the roof itself has minimal impact on the performance of the antenna.

You might consider using one of the following:
  • Chimney mount - Requires zero holes. Uses stainless steel straps to attach a mast to a chimney (e.g., Channel Master 9067)
  • Eave mount - Brackets at the side of the house connect to the eaves at the apex of an A-frame roof. Holes go into the side of the house instead of through the roof to minimize the risk of leaks. Mast can extend above the roof vertically.
  • Wall mount - Brackets attach to walls at the side of the house. Holes go into the side of the house instead of through the roof to minimize the risk of leaks. Mast can extend above the roof vertically.



Quote:
Thanks again for you help.
You're quite welcome.
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Old 21-Jan-2010, 4:20 AM   #5
SoonerDude
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Great info, thanks for everything.

If I wanted to get a stronger antenna, like the Winegard 8200U, would I be able to do the split to the 3 bedrooms and the living room without a preamp? It looks like it'd cost almost the same to buy the 8200U as it would to buy the HD7696P and the preamp, plus I might even pick up some Tulsa stations, it looks like I'm in the violet zone for Tulsa using the KMZ file for Google Earth.

Thanks
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Old 21-Jan-2010, 5:23 AM   #6
mtownsend
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonerDude View Post
If I wanted to get a stronger antenna, like the Winegard 8200U, would I be able to do the split to the 3 bedrooms and the living room without a preamp?
Yes, I think that would work too. You can go with more antenna to make up for more splits. The 8200U is wider than you need it to be because it is designed to include low VHF signals (longer wavelengths mean more longer antenna elements at the back). That antenna is about 14 feet long and about 9 feet wide.

The HD7698P (the largest of the HD769xP series) is also 14 feet long, but only about 4.5 feet wide. It has about the same performance as the 8200U except that it only covers channels 7-69. It doesn't actually do anything to save money, but it can improve the weight, size, and wind loading considerations for your mount.

If you only care about the Oklahoma City stations, then you probably don't even need to go that big. An HD7697P is probably big enough for stations this close.

Also, FYI, splitters are usually built in even powers of 2 (i.e., 2, 4, or 8) because that helps keep the power distribution balanced. Even 3-way splitters are usually 4-way splitters internally with one extra path capped off.

If you do end up using a splitter with more outputs than you need, please remember to terminate the unused ports (inexpensive F-type terminator caps are available for this). This prevents any extra signal from being reflected back into the coax and creating the potential for self-interference.



Quote:
I might even pick up some Tulsa stations, it looks like I'm in the violet zone for Tulsa using the KMZ file for Google Earth.
This depends on whether or not you install an antenna rotator. The Tulsa stations are coming from the north-east. You will be able to reach stations like this using a good antenna, but you will need the ability to turn your antenna between the two markets (or use two antennas with an A-B switch).

Sometimes it's nice to get programming from multiple metros (maybe different local news, weather, community programming, and sports), but you will also notice a lot of duplicate programming. A lot of the major network programming will simply be redundant. You have to ask yourself whether the added programming is worth the added expense/complexity of having a multi-metro antenna setup.
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Old 22-Jan-2010, 8:19 PM   #7
SoonerDude
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I found this Antennacraft model (CCS1843) at Solidsignal, seems to be comparable to the Winegard 8200U, do you know anything about it? It's quite a bit cheaper and if it'll pick up the same as the 8200U, I think I'll go that route. It's big, 15' length.

http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp...u=716079000635
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Old 23-Jan-2010, 7:05 AM   #8
mtownsend
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonerDude View Post
I found this Antennacraft model (CCS1843) at Solidsignal, seems to be comparable to the Winegard 8200U, do you know anything about it? It's quite a bit cheaper and if it'll pick up the same as the 8200U, I think I'll go that route.
If I believe the technical specs offered by both companies, it looks like the 8200U has better performance. The Antennacraft claims 9.1 dB (I believe they mean dBd and not dBi) of gain in high-VHF and 9.3 dB of gain in UHF. The Winegard has about 11 dBd in high-VHF and about 13 dBd in UHF.

These few dB of difference won't mean anything for the Oklahoma City stations since they are so close.

If you are going to install an antenna rotator for the Tulsa stations, then the extra few dB will help. Those stations are starting out with negative Noise Margin values, so every dB will help. A good pre-amp is also important when going for stations at this level.
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