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Old 30-Jun-2020, 6:09 PM   #1
BigBean
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Question What Kills Preamps?

So, been enjoying OtA viewing for six years now.
To all, especially GroundURMast, thanks for the information.

Now ... per members here, I bought the RCA TVPREAMP1Z,
which worked well for a number of years. Then it died.

So I bought another. Then it died too. The second lasted
maybe two years. That seems to be the record – four years.

Last week I bought the Winegard Boost XT for about twice
the price of the RCA. Similar specs; slightly weaker. We'll
see how this goes.

Now, I grounded the mast AND cable when I originally put
the antenna up ( TV connector ). The setup is the same.
Aside from the elements and cheapness, what tends to
kill these things and what to do about it?

In the case of the Winegard, I siliconed the rim of the
cover in the hopes this would protect the circuitry. I
realize some will say this won't help, as heat won't
readily escape. I figgered doing this would help
save me another trip to the roof, which I loathe.

Thanks!

Last edited by BigBean; 30-Jun-2020 at 6:12 PM.
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Old 3-Jul-2020, 8:53 PM   #2
BigBean
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Allow me to rephrase my original question:

I'm now on my third inexpensive preamp. Two RCAs, one Winegard.
Should the Winegard fail, what would you recommend replacing it?
Perhaps one with a little more power AND longevity. My real issue
here has less to do with expense vs the danger or going up a roof
with a 30 pitch. Yeah, I'm scared of heights, too.
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Old 3-Jul-2020, 10:04 PM   #3
OTAFAN
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Hello BigBean:

I would think UV rays and heat from the Sun along with other weather conditions, all contribute to shorten the life of preamps. I don't think you're going to get any longer life out of the preamps you mentioned. You might get longer use out of commercial grade ones if you look around the Net, such as Antennas Direct, Channel Master and others; reviews are good for these. But I've had no experience with those higher end preamps. However, others on this forum have used commercial preamps and have posted their findings.

From all that I've read on TV Fool, the majority of opinions would recommend using stronger gain antennas with feed lines shorter than 100' (50' optimal), to pull in the channels you want. But for some folks because of their more challenging locations, they need a preamp/amp to reliably receive the stations in their markets.

I know you said you don't like to climb up on your roof that often, but unless you can find a longer lasting preamp that has a proven history, you might have to stick with what you have, since it's been working for you.

I would look over the various threads that mention preamps on TV Fool, check out the above websites and others on the Net, to see what might have some promise for you. I'll keep my eyes open regarding your issue and post anything else that might be of interest.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help. But there are others here with experience in such matters that might help you hit "pay dirt."

All the best.....

https://store.antennasdirect.com/ant...cessories.html

https://www.channelmaster.com/Amplif.../cm-7777hd.htm

https://www.solidsignal.com/c.asp?c=...Pre-Amplifiers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSuBS1OgtFE

Last edited by OTAFAN; 3-Jul-2020 at 10:43 PM. Reason: additional
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Old 4-Jul-2020, 3:45 PM   #4
BigBean
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Smile

OTAFAN, thank you for replying. I think you're right.
I was wondering if folks here enjoy hacking their wares
such as hanging a heat shield or something as that to
deflect the worst The Sun has to offer.

I think our line is less than 50' and perhaps the antenna
is just under our requirements but that's another issue.
Generally we've been satisfied with what we've pulled in.
Currently we can pull 46 channels which is real good in
consideration of our topography. Trees are a problem
but I'm not going crazy; it is what it is.
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Old 4-Jul-2020, 7:58 PM   #5
OTAFAN
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Here's another post on TV Fool that might be of interest to you, BigBean:

http://forum.tvfool.com/showpost.php...6&postcount=75

What antenna are you using now? Generally speaking, a higher gain (larger boom & elements) with a better commercial grade preamp/amp might give you a more reliable viewing experience.

Check out this preamp he mentions in his above post. Several others on TV Fool have given it "thumbs up."

http://www.kitztech.com/KT200.html

Hopefully, you'll find a better solution to your issue. Let the forum know how you come out with all this.

Thanks and best July 4 holiday to you!

Last edited by OTAFAN; 4-Jul-2020 at 8:10 PM. Reason: additional
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Old 5-Jul-2020, 11:11 PM   #6
BigBean
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Cool

Thank You, OTAFAN. Hope you had a fun and safe 4th as well.

I'll stick with what we've got for now, 'til the shoe drops again.
I'll definitely come back and post any changes to our setup per
site recommendations. Big Help in cutting the cord 6yrs ago.

Thanks!
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Old 6-Jul-2020, 1:08 PM   #7
jrgagne99
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You could consider moving the pre-amp down to a more serviceable height or location. As an example, my antennas are 55' up in a pine tree. I used a large man lift to do the installation, but knowing the difficulty of access in the future, I made the decision to put the pre-amp down at the bottom of the tree in case it fails. To compensate, I bought lower-loss RG-11 coax to carry the signal down to the tree. I think RG-11 it has 30-50% less loss than RG-6, depending on UHF or VHF (easy to look up). Also, I bought a Kitz-tech KT-200 extremely low noise pre-amp to preserve as much SNR as possible. From the base of my try, it is about 200 feet back to the house and TVs. Equipment costs were a bit more expensive up front, but I am happy with my decision. FWIW, the Kitz-tech has been working flawlessly for about 4 years at the moment.
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Old 8-Jul-2020, 5:25 PM   #8
BigBean
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Thumbs up

Jr: True! However, everything I've read is contrary to that position.
Closer to the antenna is best.

Gotta hand it to you, that's very impressive. I've seen towers built
and so forth but the dang tree is already there so why not use it?
Plus, it gets rid of any possible competition from FM reception or
just the appearance. Funny, my nephew had to ask WHAT that
thing was on our roof.

But yeah, again, quality is everything. Back in the day it was easier
to get reliable electronics. Park it and leave it alone. Nowadays it's
"Park in on the curb." Besides ... I HATE waste.
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Old 8-Jul-2020, 5:33 PM   #9
jrgagne99
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Smile

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBean View Post
Jr: True! However, everything I've read is contrary to that position.
Closer to the antenna is best.
Mounting the preamp closer to the antenna cuts down on the signal loss, but I viewed the ~1.5dB of loss over 50-feet of down-tree coax as an equitable trade for easier access to the pre-amp. I suggest getting a Kitztech rather than trying another RCA or CM. They are more expensive, but you "gain" 2-3 dB due to the lower noise figure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBean View Post
Gotta hand it to you, that's very impressive. I've seen towers built
and so forth but the dang tree is already there so why not use it?
Thanks! That was my thinking as well.
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Old 17-Aug-2020, 5:20 AM   #10
BigBean
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Well, I'm back. The Winegard failed as well.

I'm gonna return to a thread I started in 2017; you guys had
some great tips on how to test a coax for shorts, among other
things. I've got a voltmeter so now's the time to really test it.

But I also stumbled upon a YouTuber, Tyler, who goes by the
handle "Antenna Man". Turns out he dislikes both my pre-amps.

So if my test does not nail the coax, he suggested the CM-7777,
as that or a Radio Shiek model with adjustable gain may be a fix
for my difficult topography.

I also neglected to indicate my antenna: an Antennas Direct DB8e.

To test tomorrow.
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Old 17-Aug-2020, 11:01 PM   #11
OTAFAN
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Hey BigBean:

How did your test turn out? Here's a link to a Klein Pocket Coax Tester that might be of help to you now and any future coax issues you might encounter:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Klein-To...dalType=drawer

I think that either the CM-7777 that Tyler the Antenna Man recommended or the Kitztech I mentioned above and others have recommended on this forum, would serve you better.

Keep the forum posted on your outcome as it would be of interest to me and others.

All the best.....
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Old 18-Aug-2020, 4:23 AM   #12
bobsgarage
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Hi guys, mind if I join in?
I'm not sure what's killing your preamps but I wouldn't trust the coax cable anymore. Or is it just a question of quality and a coincidence?

You asked about protecting your preamps? Let me show you what worked for me.

I wrapped both of my RCA PREAMP1Rs with foil tape and they made it 5 years:



Here is the Winegard LNA-200 wrapped in foil tape, which I foolishly bought a few years ago. I guess I believe the hype and I believed that "LNA" actually meant Low Noise Amplifier" which is misleading:




I have been using Kitz Technologies pre amp and am extremely satisfied.

First I went with the KT-200. Amazing results.





Then, as soon as they became available, I got the KT-700 UHF VHF COMBINING Preamp:

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Last edited by bobsgarage; 18-Aug-2020 at 4:35 AM.
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Old 18-Aug-2020, 12:45 PM   #13
jrgagne99
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I can also recommend the Kitz-tech pre-amps. I have the KT-200 and it has been working fine for 3 years. Supposedly very low noise at 0.4 dB.

Would the KT-700 have lower noise than a "generic UVSJ --> KT-200"?

Last edited by jrgagne99; 18-Aug-2020 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 18-Aug-2020, 11:20 PM   #14
bobsgarage
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrgagne99 View Post
I can also recommend the Kitz-tech pre-amps. I have the KT-200 and it has been working fine for 3 years. Supposedly very low noise at 0.4 dB.

Would the KT-700 have lower noise than a "generic UVSJ --> KT-200"?


No, unfortunately the KT - 700 is a tiny bit noisier but it also has a built-in FM filter and LTE filter which raised the noise level up by about .5dB on VHF and .8 dB on UHF which is still lower than any commercially available preamp. Extra filtering will raise the noise up , it's unavoidable.

I was using the KT-200 with a UVSJ. I went with the KT-700 because I wanted dual inputs and did not want to leave the UVSJ up high on the mast. I would have had to create another enclosure. Plus the UVSJ does have a little bit of loss about .5dB which increases the noise.

The KT-700 was exactly what I wanted. Plus, I felt I was pushing my luck with my RCA PREAMP1R due to their high failure rate. I had already replaced them anyhow.

And cost wise, it's on the same price level as the Channel master 7778 dual input.

Shipping was also very fast.




http://kitztech.com/kt700.html
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Last edited by bobsgarage; 20-Aug-2020 at 9:05 PM.
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Old 21-Aug-2020, 3:58 PM   #15
BigBean
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by OTAFAN View Post
Hey BigBean:

How did your test turn out? Here's a link to a Klein Pocket Coax Tester that might be of help to you now and any future coax issues you might encounter:

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Klein-To...dalType=drawer

I think that either the CM-7777 that Tyler the Antenna Man recommended or the Kitztech I mentioned above and others have recommended on this forum, would serve you better.

Keep the forum posted on your outcome as it would be of interest to me and others.

All the best.....

OTA: All I could do was test for undesired continuity between the
positive center wire and the negative outer sheath. Passed. But since
I can't get to the opposite end, unless I'm not paying attention, I can't
do the rest of the tests.

Which makes the Klein gadget a must-have! FINALLY a manufacturer
gets it! Plug in one end, instant results! I just may get one. Thanks!

But in the end, I'm convinced it's NOT the coax, just crap preamps.
Very bummed to read that into the RCA and Winegard ... they make
great antennas. NO EXCUSES!

OTOH, I've been reading about CM's non-existent customer service.
WHAT IS UP WITH THESE COMPANIES? That said, no minor miracle
CM remains in business at all, what with the explosion of cable.

I'm going up on the roof today to make my connections. Killing two
birds by doing some roof maintenance as well. If you don't see a
reply back, assuming The Worst, Lulz.

BTW ... all you DiYers out there, Remember: If you're too uncomfort-
able walking your roof, DON'T DO IT. It's OK to be a little risk averse,
that's healthy. 30 is my limit. I also installed a shower bar up there
to grab to ease me up and down. ALWAYS have a person holding the
ladder. I've heard too many horror stories and have SEEN people fall
to say it ain't worth it. Call an installer. I'm too cheap.

I'm also going to experiment with an FM splitter, even though I've got
an FM antenna up there now. That's another topic altogether.

Last edited by BigBean; 21-Aug-2020 at 4:01 PM.
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Old 21-Aug-2020, 4:05 PM   #16
BigBean
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobsgarage View Post
Hi guys, mind if I join in?

Bob, please do! Anyone can play here.

That's very interesting. And I thought I was slick
for siliconing the lip on my Winegard! Didn't do a thing.

Thanks for the Kitz recommendation, I'll bookmark their
page for future ref if and when the CM dies.
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