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Old 16-Feb-2015, 5:01 AM   #1
eden
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Unhappy Antennas Direct C2 outperforms DB8e. Alternatives?

I live in central North Carolina, very near the Virginia border. Here is my signal analysis for my location and antenna height: http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...2c1573a1a67363

I moved here in October and originally had my Antennas Direct Clearstream C2 (UHF only version) indoors. The results were much, much better than that analysis led me to believe. Depending on how I turned the antenna...

I could consistently receive (real) channels: 14, 19, 51, 29, 33, 31 and 17
I could intermittently receive channels: 35, 18 and 30

My main complaint was that there is no PBS. My solution was to put the antenna up on the roof, of course, with roughly a 115 ft. total coax length in my system and a PA-18 preamplifier. I knew I'd lose the Roanoke, VA stations since I wouldn't be able to turn the antenna easily, which was fine. I live on the side of a pretty good hill. I found a sweet spot pointing roughly southwest where I could receive almost all the full power stations between 170 degrees (magnetic) and 263 degrees (magnetic), a much wider arc than I expected from the antenna.

I can consistently receive channels 14, 19, 51, 29, 33, 31 and 43
I can receive channel 32 solidly about 90% of the time (1-3 bars)
I can receive channel 35 about 70% of the time despite usually only having 1 bar of signal strength

I was thinking about the DB8e so, as an experiment, I turned the C2 to 345 degrees with these results:

I could receive channels 18 and 17
I could receive channels 14, 19, 29, 33, 31 and 47 off the back of the antenna
I could receive channel 51, but with a weak signal, off the back of the antenna
I could receive channel 30, but with a weak signal

My thought (which was wrong) was that a DB8e would receive what the C2 could receive, but from two directions. The gain figures advertised by Antennas Direct were slightly better. My goal was to solidify reception on channel 32 (PBS) and hopefully channel 35. I really wasn't looking for more channels. Should work, right? Nope, not hardly.

I originally pointed the DB8e panels at my sweet spot and at 345 degrees. I lost channels 31, 32, 35, 43, 47 and 18 entirely. Channel 30 was suddenly strong. Channel 17 was weak. I find this really odd because 31 and 17 were five bars with the antenna indoors. (Yes, I know where channel 17 is on my signal analysis. That analysis is just plain wrong on that station.) I tried adjusting the panels incrementally and really didn't get any improvement. I could only make things worse, like losing channel 51.

I decided to give up on Roanoke, point one panel right at Pinnacle (263 degrees magenetic) and another an Bunn Level/Randleman (193 degrees magnetic). If I could get solid signals on 31, 32 (Pinnacle) and the Greensboro stations I'd be happy. Well, absolutely nothing I tried gave me any signal from the Pinnacle tower, just 32 miles away. I gave up.

I took down the DB8e, put back the C2 where it had been, and everything was back to where I started: 10 stations, 30 channels. Same coax, same preamp, and the C2 seriously outperforms the DB8e.

Before I box the thing up and send it back, does anyone have any suggestions? Also, what alternatives do I have to improve the signal strength on channels 32 and 35? I thought about the C4 but I doubt it would reproduce the 93 degrees of arc I'm getting on the C2, which would mean losing channels, most likely channel 35. There is only one way to point the antenna and get 32 and 35 at the same time. I fear they'd be too far apart (69 degrees) with the C4. Both are weak signals here.

Last crazy question: given how well I've done with the C2 compared to that signal analysis, is there any chance a C5 at 30 feet will pull in channel 13? I'm a big fan of classic Doctor Who, and channel 13-3 is the closest Retro TV affiliate.

Thanks in advance for thoughts and suggestions.

Last edited by eden; 16-Feb-2015 at 5:05 AM.
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Old 16-Feb-2015, 12:10 PM   #2
ADTech
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Send me your precise GPS coordinates via a private message and I'll analyze your situation for you and see what recommendation I might be able to make.
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Old 16-Feb-2015, 3:08 PM   #3
rickbb
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I'm about 40 miles due south of you and get the Roanoke channels no problem. I have a DIY DB4, (no reflector), roof mounted and pointed at 130 true to get the Raleigh and Durham channels.

I'm getting 51 channels on one TV and 54 on the other, (includes sub channels).

You should be getting much better with both of those.
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Old 16-Feb-2015, 3:49 PM   #4
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Comparing reception at a point 40 miles from you to yours isn't useful. Reception analysis and predictions are extremely specific, right down to the section of a specific rooftop, to a very specific location due to all the potential variables involved.
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Old 16-Feb-2015, 7:50 PM   #5
eden
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Performance with C2 vs. DB8e, coordinates

ADTech: I just PMed the coordinates to you. This is based on an Android app and while I was directly below the antenna (currently the C2) I'm not sure if the app is that precise.

rickbb: The terrain 40 miles south of here (south of Greensboro) is very different from here. We have more and larger hills than you do. I can't get the Raleigh stations because I'm on the side of a hill. I am blocked to the east. The WGPX (channels 14 and 47) tower between Reidsville and Gibsonville is no problem for me. Anything further east is blocked. Channel 27 (FOX for Roanoke) is in the pink (roof antenna required) in my analysis and yet I can get it with my C2 indoors. What makes you think I should be doing better than that?

Let me summarize: The C2 picks up the entire Greensboro/Winston-Salem market. The two stations that are weak are in that market and in the pink (roof antenna required) in my signal analysis. The channel I care about most, channel 32 (WUNL, PBS), is deep in the pink, just above the pinkish grey. The TV Fool analysis does indicate that these stations are weak in my area. All I really care about at this point is getting WUNL 100% of the time without sacrificing any other full power Greensboro channels. Roanoke was a nice bonus, but if I can get channels 32, 31, and 35 consistently the money I spent on the DB8e will be well spent.
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Old 16-Feb-2015, 9:15 PM   #6
ADTech
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Quote:
is there any chance a C5 at 30 feet will pull in channel 13?
The math says "Not really". However, the simulator has a statistical probability of error and may or may not be precise enough. I'd suggest, that if you want to go for that station, that a 10-element high-VHF only antenna will give you your best shot.

Did you by chance, try the DB8e with both panels aligned and aimed towards the southeast to see if you could pick up WUNC on UHF channel 25? I think that's actually your best chance of getting a PBS station.

Unfortunately, the PA18 may be ill-suited for your location due to the proximity to the ION station on UHF 14. I just use the general rule of thumb of "Green? No PA18" around here to keep our inside sales folks out of overload trouble. You'll need to try the DB8e without the PA18 in the above test.

Reception from Roanoke is likely due to a fortunate signal reflection off a hill in a southerly direction. Direct line of sight signals would be quite unlikely to be present at your location.
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Old 16-Feb-2015, 9:35 PM   #7
eden
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WUNC is blocked by the hill. I get no signal at all from that station. I can try both panels that way but I'm not hopeful.

Without the PA18 I don't get channel 32 at all. With the PA18 I get it 90% of the time. It's doing a good job for me. I can try without it, of course, but, again, I'm not hopeful. I'll have to wait until after the snowstorm.

I didn't try the antenna flat (two panels pointed in the same direction) at all and that certainly is worth trying. What have I got to lose?

Last edited by eden; 16-Feb-2015 at 10:03 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 19-Feb-2015, 1:43 AM   #8
eden
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This project is on hold due to weather. Wind chills of -15 are forecast for the morning, a high temp of 17 degrees and wind chills around 0 for the afternoon. We have more winter weather moving in on Saturday and it snowed today. Next week looks promising.
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Old 19-Feb-2015, 2:28 AM   #9
ADTech
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Yeah, it's <bleep>ing cold this week, alright!

Let us know what happens when you have the chance to give it a shot.
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Old 18-Mar-2015, 11:45 PM   #10
eden
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I've only been able to do a little experimentation due to the back injury but: both panels southeast, adjusting 5 degrees or so at a time, and still no channel 25. That signal just doesn't come in at all where I am. I did try point both panels right at Pinnacle (Sauratown Mountain) where channels 31 and 32 have their towers as if it was line of sight. That worked. There is a tiny, narrow window where channel 32 comes in rather strongly, as in 4 bars. The C2 does no better than 2 bars, so yes, the antenna works. However, I lost a bunch of other Greensboro area stations. My next attempt will be to try and slowly separate the two panels without losing channel 32. That will be my last attempt with the DB8e.

I pointed the C2 at that same spot as the DB8e sweet spot and I am doing better than ever with channel 32. Still not 100%, and I will keep the DB8e if I can get 100% without losing too many other stations. Otherwise I will give up on it. FWIW, channel 35 must reflect off of something in that direction. I now get it almost 100% of the time in addition to the other nine stations in my market.

Oh, and these results are with the PA-18 inline. Take it out and I lose a lot of signal strength and lose channel 32 almost entirely.

Last edited by eden; 18-Mar-2015 at 11:46 PM. Reason: More info
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Old 1-Apr-2015, 10:12 PM   #11
eden
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After spending way too much time on my roof today I made the decision to stick with the C2. The DB8e, particularly with the two panels pointed in the same direction, does have more gain. You can't argue with math and physics. However, it doesn't if I separate the panels significantly. The data on the Antennas Direct web site shows that clearly. If I don't separate I lose too many channels. The trade off isn't worth it. Most of the time I get channel 32 (PBS) with the C2 so I guess that will have to be good enough. In my current configuration (C2 + PA18) I can get 11 stations, 33 channels of programming most of the time. I can live with that.
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Old 2-Apr-2015, 2:12 PM   #12
Jason l
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In line amp

thsnks for sharing your results preamps are working for me too without Them I get significantly less channels. high gain amps work and yes db8E is useless to me as well.
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Old 2-Apr-2015, 6:12 PM   #13
eden
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Glad to know I'm not the only one. Thanks for letting me know, Jason.
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Old 10-May-2015, 7:04 PM   #14
eden
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Smile PBS problem solved

I've solved my PBS problem. I now receive channel 32 (virtual channel 26) 100% of the time. I bought a new (better?) combiner and went back to combining a C2 and a C2V, one pointed straight at Summit (Sauratown Mtn.) at 263 and the other pointed at roughly 193 for Bunn Level and Randleman. Since I did this all the Greensboro and Winston-Salem stations are a full five bars except for channel 32 (two or three bars) and channel 35 (virtual channel 8) which is one bar and still hit and miss. I'm very happy with this result even if it's not a textbook way to solve the problem. Anyway, each antenna feeds the combiner, which goes to the VHF/UHF diplexer on the C2V, which in turn goes to the PA18 preamp.

Once a friend cuts down a tree that's on the north corner of my roof I plan to put a C4 there pointed at Roanoke with a separate feedline for the VA stations and an A/B switch. As I've noted before channel 17 actually has a very strong signal here contrary to the TV Fool report, and that will give me FOX. Right now if I really want to watch that channel I use an indoor antenna. Yes, the signal is that strong but it doesn't come in off the back of the existing antennas.

Despite the DB8e not working for me I'm still a fan of Antennas Direct. The antennas I have do a great job and are small enough for me to handle easily.

Last edited by eden; 10-May-2015 at 7:48 PM. Reason: correction
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