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Old 26-Jan-2010, 1:26 AM   #1
Michael-60
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Smile New LCD TV - Looking for Good Local Antenna

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...c723d31a428af0

Hi - We just bought a 46" LCD HDTV. We had a 25 inch tube TV which we use basic cable ($15) now (and used an antenna before). We would like to get better reception or HD from our local channels without paying $50-80 month. We really only want the local stations and to rent DVD's, but we do want better reception than basic cable (a little fuzzy). We both wear bifocals and eyes are getting a little weak. I checked with Radio Shack and they said a 85-120 inch fishbone with a rotor to change direction at 30 feet above ground ($150-200). I wanted to talk with the experts to see what they think. We live in Livermore, California, in a single story with a fireplace, our readout looks like 40-66 miles is the farthest station we would ever watch. We would like to recieve some of these channels, 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,30,36,38,44,48,54. FOX, CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS. Thanks for any advice, Michael
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Old 26-Jan-2010, 2:40 AM   #2
mtownsend
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Hello and welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael-60 View Post
I checked with Radio Shack and they said a 85-120 inch fishbone with a rotor to change direction at 30 feet above ground ($150-200). I wanted to talk with the experts to see what they think. We live in Livermore, California, in a single story with a fireplace, our readout looks like 40-66 miles is the farthest station we would ever watch. We would like to recieve some of these channels, 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,30,36,38,44,48,54. FOX, CBS, ABC, NBC, PBS.
From where you're at, there are channels available from three major groups:

1) Monument Peak - This is located near Milpitas and is where your strongest channels are coming from. This includes KTEH (PBS), KICU, KSTS (Telemundo), and KDTV (Univision).

2) Sutro / San Bruno - This is where most of the other Bay Area channels broadcast from. This includes KGO (ABC), KOFY, KPIX (CBS), KNTV (NBC), KQED (PBS), KCNS, KMTP, KRON (MyNetworkTV), KTVU (Fox), KCSM (PBS), KBCW (CW), KFSF (Telemundo), KTSF, and KKPX (ION).

3) Walnut Grove - This is located near Stockton and is geared to serve Sacramento and the central valley. This includes KXTV (ABC), KVIE (PBS), KOVR (CBS), KMAX (CW), KCRA (NBC), KTXL (Fox), KQCA (MyNetworkTV), KTFK (Telemundo), and KSPX (ION).



It looks like you're only interested in clusters 1 and 2, which is a good thing. Cluster 3 is behind a taller set of mountains, is harder to receive, and would duplicate a lot of what you get from the other two clusters anyway.



The issue with the rotator is whether or not you'll be able to get channels from both cluster 1 and 2.

If you DO get a rotator, it will make sure that you are able to get the optimum signal from both clusters by turning the antenna.

I'm guessing that you can do without the rotator. It looks like the channels in cluster 1 are so strong that even if you do not point the antenna at these transmitters, the signal will get through the antenna anyway. I would just point the antenna at Sutro to optimally get signal from cluster 2, and then hope that there's enough signal getting through from cluster 1. The way I see it, you can try it this way first, and if it's not good enough, the rotator can be added later.

Either way, you'll still need an antenna and mounting hardware. The only difference might be the cost of the antenna rotator.



I think the preferred antenna would be either the Antennacraft HBU-44 or the Winegard HD7696P. Smaller versions of these antennas might work, but they might be more prone to pixellation/dropouts, especially during bad weather conditions.

If you plan on having a long coax distance between the antenna and your TV (more than say 50 feet), or if you plan on splitting the signal to multiple rooms, then I'd also recommend getting a mast-mounted pre-amp like the Winegard AP-8700. Pre-amps do not do anything to change the performance of the antenna, but the do help overcome signal degradation / loss caused by long cable runs and splitters that come after the amp.



Overall, I'd say that the recommendations from the Radio Shack employee were not too far off. I think it's debatable whether or not a rotator is needed, but they are not wrong for suggesting one.

Radio Shack sells Antennacraft and Winegard products, both of which are pretty good. Some of the Radio Shack branded items are not so good (like amps and mounts), so be careful which items you're getting. RS's ratchet chimney mounts are terrible, if you have any plans for a chimney mount (try the Channel Master 9067 instead). RS's mast poles are actually pretty good.
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Old 26-Jan-2010, 5:51 PM   #3
Michael-60
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Local Antenna Livermore

Thanks Mtown.
your advice is very welcome.
another question is what height should the antenna be at. My roof peak is 15feet above ground with a location of maybe 50 feet to TV. The other location is my chimney at 80 feet.

Also my coax is 20 years old.

The pre-amp gives the signals a boost for longer runs or splits.

I see on the chart after the station name is a DT, which I assume means Digital TV?

One confusing item is that KTVU has two listings at 48 (FOX) and 44(2) with a 77 degree spread. We watch 'American Idol' and '24' on our Channel 2 (KTVU-FOX) in Livermore. How can I tell which one it is?

I will be researching the antennas you suggested and where to get them.
thanks - Michael
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Old 26-Jan-2010, 7:15 PM   #4
mtownsend
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael-60 View Post
another question is what height should the antenna be at. My roof peak is 15feet above ground with a location of maybe 50 feet to TV. The other location is my chimney at 80 feet.
If you have an existing mast or mount that is still in good shape, then you can just use it. If you are installing a new antenna mount, then choose whatever you feel most comfortable with. There are many mounting options available depending on the kind of roof you have and whether you have a chimney or not.

I usually consider the following:

1) Chimney Mount - Uses stainless steel straps to wrap around an existing chimney, and has a bracket designed to hold a vertical mast. It does not require any holes in the chimney nor the roof.

2) Eave Mount - Attaches at the side of a house at the apex of an A-frame roof. Holds a vertical mast that can extend above the roof level. Holes go into the side of the house instead of the roof for reduced chance of leaks.

3) Wall Mount - Attaches at the side of the house on the wall. Holds a vertical mast that can extend above the roof level. Works with flat roofs as well as pitched roofs. Holes go into the side of the house instead of the roof for reduced chance of leaks.

4) Tripod - Three feet attach directly into the roof. Bolts go into the joists that support the roof. Gives greater flexibility in choosing a location for the antenna and is very sturdy. Holes go directly through roofing material, so may not be suitable for some roofs, and may increase the risk of leaks in others.



Quote:
Also my coax is 20 years old.
You can inspect it for any wear and tear, especially on any outdoor exposed sections or areas when there may be bends/kinks/cuts. At the very least, you might consider replacing the connectors on the ends if they are showing any signs of being loose or having corrosion.

If it's not too much trouble, it's probably better to replace the coax now just so that you don't have to worry about it for the next 20 years. RG6 is the preferred cable type since it is relatively inexpensive, shielded, durable, and relatively low loss. RG6Q (quad shield) is a little better, but is not required (will not make any difference in most situations).



Quote:
I see on the chart after the station name is a DT, which I assume means Digital TV?
The -TV and -DT suffixes do not actually mean anything. These are simply the call letters that the FCC uses to track these records in their database. The actual channel type is stored separately in the database. Ever since June 12, 2009, the majority of US transmitters have switched to digital operation only. A few low power translator and booster stations still operate with analog signals, but you usually don't see very many of them any more.

In the tvfool reports, the digital stations are printed using "blue" text while analog stations are printed using "purple" text. Most of us will pretty much only see digital stations from now on.



Quote:
One confusing item is that KTVU has two listings at 48 (FOX) and 44(2) with a 77 degree spread. We watch 'American Idol' and '24' on our Channel 2 (KTVU-FOX) in Livermore. How can I tell which one it is?
Fox has been granted a construction permit for a secondary transmitter in the south bay for "fill-in" coverage. They are trying to improve coverage in areas where their Sutro transmitter doesn't reach. For now, only their channel 44 transmitter is active.

Their channel 48 construction permit was granted by the FCC on June 30, 2009. I'm not sure when the new transmitter is planning to go on the air. When it does go live, you will be able to use either signal to get KTVU. The channel 48 broadcast may end up being stronger for you because it comes from Monument Peak.

Both broadcasts will automatically map themselves to channel 2.x through the magic of "virtual channel mapping". Regardless of what frequency the signal is broadcast on, the data in the channel tells the TV what channel number to display on the screen.

If you ever want to check the real broadcast channel of any station, most TVs have the ability to tell you which one it is. You'll just have to figure out how to get your TV to show the RF channel number through the menu or info screens.

Last edited by mtownsend; 26-Jan-2010 at 7:20 PM.
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Old 26-Jan-2010, 9:56 PM   #5
Michael-60
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3 Antennas to choose from

I did some searching for antennas and found the HD7697P at Frys Electonics for $99, the HD7696 at Summit on line for $91 and the HBU44 at Summit for $68. Summit includes 50 feet of coax.
I know you listed the HD7696 but Frys only has the 7697.

Radio Shack has a HBU33.

Any experience with Summit?

is the HD7697 too big?

thanks
Michael
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Old 26-Jan-2010, 10:27 PM   #6
mtownsend
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael-60 View Post
Summit includes 50 feet of coax.
I believe the free coax they give away is RG59, which is not very good cable (poorly shielded and twice as much loss per foot compared to RG6). If you need more cable, you should make sure you get RG6 instead.



Quote:
Any experience with Summit?
They seem to have a decent reputation if you know what you're looking for. SolidSignal.com is another reputable source. WarrenElectronics.com is yet another.



Quote:
is the HD7697 too big?
From a signal standpoint, you can't get too big of an antenna. The signals are not strong enough to make me worry about getting too much signal (overloading). More antenna should give you more margin for error (signal-wise) so that your signals are very reliable and have very few instances of pixellation or drop-out.

Big antennas can get a little difficult to handle / install. I recommend having a friend or two over to help with the installation when the antennas get big. The HD7697P is about 11 feet long and 4.5 feet wide, and it weighs about 13 pounds (can you hold 10 pounds over your head with one hand for 5 minutes?).

As the antennas get bigger, you need to be more mindful of the strength of your mount. High winds and bird landings will stress the mount if not installed well. Best thing to do is to keep the mast as short as possible. The antenna should be about 4-5 feet above the roof. No need to make the mast any taller than that. Make sure nuts and screws are snug to minimize antenna movement / rotation in the wind. Strap down loose coax (without crushing the cable) to prevent unnecessary blowing / fatigue / tugging in bad weather.

And while we're on the subject of installation hints/tips... Also be sure to weather-proof any exposed connectors. If any moisture gets into the connectors or coax, it can create water droplets inside that will interfere with the signal.

A few simple precautionary measures can make the system last a very long time.
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