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Old 25-Jan-2010, 8:03 PM   #1
b2471041
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Help tuning ABC VHF station 20 miles away with indoor VHF/UHF

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I am using a Terk hdtvi antenna ($23, Very similar to the silver sensor plus 2 rather long extending poles for rabbit ear / VHF coverage) with a Hauppauge 950q ATSC tuner ($50).

I have 4 UHF and 4 VHF signals available at my address. I am currently receiving 7 of them located within 5 miles away. I am not receiving ABC, which is almost 20 miles away. It appears extraordinary to have so many VHF signals in my market, and sadly, PBS and ABC are both VHF, and my main 2 targets. ABC is the only broadcaster who has their tower located "out of town". There do not appear to be many good UHF/VHF combo antennas and the few standalone good VHF antennas are $100+.

Will I be able to easily receive ABC? How marginal is my current reception situation? Would I likely have success placing this antenna in the attic? It is extremely difficult to fine tune digital signals, as I have no clue if I am getting closer or farther away when I move the dipoles, extend them, change their angle, raise or lower the antenna, etc. With analog it is easy to see progress in tuning.
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Old 25-Jan-2010, 9:08 PM   #2
mtownsend
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Hello and welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by b2471041 View Post
I have 4 UHF and 4 VHF signals available at my address. I am currently receiving 7 of them located within 5 miles away. I am not receiving ABC, which is almost 20 miles away.
Yep. Not only is WJSU further away, they are on the opposite side of the house compared to the other stations. This channel is in the "yellow" zone on your tvfool list, which means it typically requires an attic antenna or better to receive.



Quote:
It appears extraordinary to have so many VHF signals in my market, and sadly, PBS and ABC are both VHF, and my main 2 targets.
There are actually many places that still have multiple VHF stations. A lot of broadcasters invested a lot of time and effort into the branding of their original analog broadcast channels, and they decided to switch back to those channels when the analog shutdown was completed on June 12, '09. Even large markets like Los Angeles and New York have multiple VHF channels in use.



Quote:
There do not appear to be many good UHF/VHF combo antennas and the few standalone good VHF antennas are $100+.
It is difficult to have a VHF antenna in "indoor" antenna sizes. VHF channels have long wavelengths, so the only way to make an effective antenna is to have long antenna elements. To increase gain, multiple antenna elements are needed, and they need to be spaced apart adequately. Any "high gain" VHF antenna must be quite large due to the fundamental laws of physics behind their operation.

That is why you usually won't find any indoor VHF antennas bigger than rabbit ears. Multiple sets of VHF-sized antenna elements are simply too big to fit a "set-top" form factor.

Now, if you're willing to consider attic or roof-top antenna installations, then you can use "outdoor" size antennas.

Maybe for starters, the first thing you'll want to try is to put your HDTVi in the attic. The improved signal strength and quality in the attic might be sufficient to let your HDTVi work. If it doesn't work, or if the quality is marginal (annoying breakups or dropouts), then it may be time to step up to an antenna with more VHF gain.

If you do want to try a higher gain antenna, it does not need to be that expensive. A Channel Master 3016 is a full band antenna (VHF and UHF) that can probably found for about $50 including delivery to your home. You could point the sensitive end of the antenna toward WJSU and let the other strong local stations come in through the "back" side of the antenna.



Quote:
Will I be able to easily receive ABC?
With a better antenna location (attic or roof) and maybe a better antenna, then yes, you should certainly be able to receive ABC easily. It's signal is weaker than your other local stations, but it is easily within reach of a better antenna setup.



Quote:
How marginal is my current reception situation? Would I likely have success placing this antenna in the attic?
That's the first thing I would try. It's not too hard to do and it doesn't cost anything to try. You can always upgrade to a better antenna later if you feel the need.



Quote:
It is extremely difficult to fine tune digital signals, as I have no clue if I am getting closer or farther away when I move the dipoles, extend them, change their angle, raise or lower the antenna, etc. With analog it is easy to see progress in tuning.
Yes, that is true. Some tuners or set-top boxes offer both a signal strength and a signal quality meter (most just have a signal quality meter). Without something like that, there isn't much information available to tell if you're getting close or not.

If the channel is above the channel-lock threshold, then you can usually use the signal quality meter to "peak out" the optimum aim for the antenna. If you're below that threshold, there's not much else you can do.

Based on antenna physics, your best bet with channel 9 should be when the dipoles are extended out to about half of the maximum length, and laid out horizontally.
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Old 29-Jan-2010, 2:37 PM   #3
b2471041
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Join Date: Jan 2010
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Wow, thanks so much for the detailed and quick reply. I was indeed able to pull in a partial signal in the attic, using a compass to point at the broadcast towers. I will be attempting a more permanent mounting solution over the weekend, but I think most likely my current antenna will work. Also, I was using 100' of RG-6 which seems to have a loss of 2.5-3 db at channel 9's frequency of ~190Mhz which might be enough to affect the reception so I will use a much shorter cable run for the permanent line to the attic. Sadly, the built in signal strength meter in Windows Media Center shows either 5 bars or 0 bars of signal, and is therefore totally useless. If I don't get success, I will definately try that Channel Master!
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