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Old 20-Nov-2014, 10:20 PM   #1
vbatech
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I see "CEA-Certified" all over the web. Is there such a thing?

I recently filed for a patent on an outdoor condo/apartment UHF/VHF/FM antenna (http://cordcutters.vbatech.com), and from what I can tell, each manufacturer determines their own product color according to the CEA standards and pays CEA $1000 to apply a logo. Am I missing something?
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Old 23-Nov-2014, 11:28 AM   #2
Stereocraig
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Well, if you're missing something, then I am too.

I have always been under the impression, that mfrs. send a sample product to these types of labs, for certification.

The way you describe it, is that you pay the fee just for the right to display their logo?

Last edited by Stereocraig; 23-Nov-2014 at 11:31 AM. Reason: addendum
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Old 23-Nov-2014, 4:02 PM   #3
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The manufacturer/seller self-certifies their products in accordance with the guidelines in CEA-2028, CEA2032A, and CE774B. There is no follow-up testing or verification unless a validated complaint is received. The vendor pays the annual fee and promises to follow the rules.


http://www.ce.org/Standards/Product-...-CEA-2032.aspx
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Old 23-Nov-2014, 5:51 PM   #4
vbatech
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@Stereocraig. I decided to file for a patent because my (relatively) small omnidirectional antenna receives channels antennaweb (and even TVFool) classify as requiring a large directional antenna. With the patent filing complete, I wanted independent certification of what I am experiencing... which led me to my CEA surprise.

Since I live in a condo (and developed the outdoor antenna for my environment), I am concerned that condo and apartment dwellers are being locked into paying cable (or dish) TV bills because "CEA-certified" ratings mislead them into believing they have to have access to the attic or roof to receive desired channels.

@ADTech. I note that the CEA is dominated by manufacturers of large directional antennas, so I assume they are the ones who set the standards. Do any of the standards allow for an outdoor omnidirectional "blue" rating?
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Old 23-Nov-2014, 6:45 PM   #5
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Thanks, guys!
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Old 23-Nov-2014, 6:57 PM   #6
ADTech
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Quote:
Do any of the standards allow for an outdoor omnidirectional "blue" rating?
No, in my experience, there really isn't such a thing as a long range omnidirectional antenna.

You'd need to get a copy of the CEA specs to see what the color definitions actually represent.
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Old 24-Nov-2014, 5:17 PM   #7
vbatech
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@ADtech. My ham radio buddies would disagree with your range assessment of omnidirectional antennas, but that is for another forum.

Let me give you and the CEA standards board the benefit of the doubt: you are protecting consumers with a "bigger is better" philosophy that ensures viewing satisfaction, but what happens when the FCC takes away the 600Mhz UHF punchbowl, and all the antenna industry has to offer apartment and condo dwellers is attic and rooftop yagis for viewing the "repacked" VHF channels? The cable and dish TV companies must be salivating, while the National Association of Broadcasters is suing the FCC.

Trust me, channels that are rated "blue" at my address on antennaweb come in just fine on my omnidirectional antenna. TVFool has a much more realistic assessment of those stations than antennaweb, but is still stuck in the indoor-attic-rooftop consumer options dictated by the CEA standards.

At least, I am no longer confused by the term "CEA-Certified". I thank you for that.
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Old 24-Nov-2014, 6:23 PM   #8
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An omni antenna can only achieve higher gain by focusing the beamwidth to a narrower set of dimensions. That's moderately easy to do with a vertically polarized omnidirectional element and when dealing with vertically polarized signals such that the main lobe is focused on the horizon to maximize T/R range. However, the default North American polarization is horizontal (some stations do include a vertical component to make a circular or elliptical polarized signal) which makes most of the methods that worked for a vertical element not very useful anymore.

When dealing with ATSC signals, an omni has a distinct disadvantage in that it cannot discriminate between desired signals and undesired multipath signals (which have been found to be the bane of the current ATSC system) nor can they reject undesired noise from off-axis directions. Generally, omnis will be low-gain, usually less than 4-6 dBd. Uni-directional antennas, OTOH, can readily achieve peak gains in the 12-16 dBd range in the UHF band, up to perhaps 10-12 dBd on the high-VHF band (174-216 MHz).

Still, if it works, it works, so the desire for an omni reception pattern is certainly understandable for folks in many areas where broadcast towers are not co-located. San Diego is one such metro area with three main transmission locations (La Jolla - VHF only, Mt San Miguel, and Tijuana) which, depending on the receiving location, can call for very antenna configurations to have the best odds for success.

While the specter of a spectrum auction and re-pack is certainly looming, there is little to no interest in the major broadcast groups relocating to VHF from UHF. If the process goes through, there will be some migration, but it won't likely be very many stations that do move as most will more likely utilize some sort of channel sharing arrangement. Of those that do move, most will be in markets where the spectrum is already full and there are no opportunities for channel sharing or a more desirable broadcast channel. Given that the administration has already twice postponed the auction and that there are continued legal challenges to to, it may turn out to be a long, drawn out process that takes substantial time to get through, if at all. Time and politics will tell.


It would, of course, be interesting to see pertinent details of your antenna such as gain, VSWR, beamwidth, and polar patterns.
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Last edited by ADTech; 28-Nov-2014 at 3:20 PM.
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Old 24-Nov-2014, 8:37 PM   #9
vbatech
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@ADTech. Thanks for your time and perspective. I have measured gain at 4.3dBd, but was hoping the CEA certification process would fill in the rest of the details.

Your point that if it works, it works, is well made. I am only focusing on the San Diego market where, as you say, I am dealing with multi-point tower locations, as well as varying broadcast frequencies and power. It is a market where my omnidirectional antenna works well, and my biggest marketing hurdle is convincing landlords and condo associations that 1996 FCC rules grant tenants the legal right to install an antenna. Despite all the benefits of uni-directionals, they are considered freakish, unwelcome building protuberances, and even dangerous to have on a patio or balcony. (By the way, the VHF channels on Mt. Soledad in La Jolla are the antennaweb "blue" channels I have no problem receiving 20 miles to the south/southeast without an amplifier.)

I agree with you that channel repacking is likely a long way off, but I wouldn't count on politics turning back the telecom lobby. My goal is to limit the impact on condo and apartment dwellers to having to periodically rescan channels once the repack begins.

Best regards.
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Old 28-Nov-2014, 3:18 PM   #10
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The color ratings guide is in CEA2028 which can be purchased for around $50-60. I bought a copy on Techstreet a while back.

The color coding system is extraordinarily conservative (and of coarse resolution) in it's signal calculations and antenna recommendations. That your antenna has picked up "blue" classification signals is more a comment on the lack of precision of the color coding system rather than any special attributes of your antenna design. I've used a simple loop and rabbit ears without an amp in some "purple" locations, but then, I've got the advantage of experience and some special toys that help me.

CEA2028 uses the combination of gain, beam-width, and F/B ratio to classify the antennas. The only acceptable method of quantification of these attributes is via measurements at an antenna test range operating to IEEE parameters or in a GTEM test cell with measurements on the channels that CEA2028 prescribes and for which qualification is desired.

Cheers!
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Old 28-Nov-2014, 7:59 PM   #11
vbatech
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@ADTech. I started this thread because I was surprised that "CEA-Certified" did not involve the types of measurements you describe at a CEA-operated IEEE test range.

For my gain test, I fabricated a 183Mhz half-wave dipole from RG-59 COAX and compared tuner results for the 183Mhz VHF station on Mt. Soledad. It is testament to how bad the CEA color coding system is, if a half-wave dipole hanging on the facia of a first-floor roof overhang has no problem receiving a "blue" coded station.

At best, "CEA-Certified" is misleading, and at worst, it is costing consumers (especially renters) a lot of money if they rely on the ratings and determine they cannot cut the cord because the recommended antenna will not fit (or is not allowed) on their balcony. Down the road, it will cost them even more as available UHF spectrum shrinks and small indoor antennas become even less effective.

Antenna physics alone does not determine the results the consumer experiences, but I feel a little like Don Quixote in pushing the issue.

Hope you had a great turkey day!
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Old 5-Dec-2014, 7:07 PM   #12
vbatech
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@ADTech. Just to follow-up, I was able to get polar plot, beam width, and gain readings of my antenna using a 665Mhz sub-channel test signal that is being sent out by XHTJB from their Tijuana tower. I overlaid two un-smoothed readings, one taken on the north side and the other from the south side of my home (the test signal is coming from the south). The north side is in yellow, reflecting the calculated 21.87dBi gain.



Seeing these details (no amplifier was used), are you still convinced that the CEA is correct in its classification of omnidirectional antennas as "short range"?
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Old 23-Dec-2014, 2:40 PM   #13
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I don't know what you fed into your calculations, but almost 22 dBi of gain is implausible. You'll need to either model it in NEC (or similar) or use a calibrated reference antenna to make comparative readings against in order to determine gain.

I wouldn't call an antenna with a 20 dB difference in "gain" at different azimuths to be omnidirectional although with your scaling that was selected, it would appear to be so. If you adjust the scaling from 10 db/div to 3 or 5 dB/div, the directionality will be more pronounced. Additionally, since the antenna under test isn't highly directional, the readings from a "live" TV signal may also included components of reflected signals which can add or subtract from the field strength at any given azimuth. Also, when measuring the power of a single frequency within the 6 MHz bandwidth of the ATSC signal, you're going to get variations in the power readings due to the effects of signal multi-path and the bandwidth of your power measurement tool. That's one of the vagaries of testing in a location that is not tightly controlled and it's exacerbated by using a live, OTA signal that may or may not be of the signal power you believe it to be.

As for the CEA classifications, my opinion is irrelevant as I don't have any input to their decision making and my employer is not a participant in their rating scheme. I'm just an observer.
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Last edited by ADTech; 23-Dec-2014 at 2:51 PM.
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Old 26-Dec-2014, 9:17 PM   #14
vbatech
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@ADTech. All I did was attach my antenna to a KWORLD hybrid USB tuner on my laptop, tune in to the audio (and video) test signal being broadcast by XHTJB-2, then let PolarPlot collect data as the antenna rotated 360 degrees.

I have no insight into how PolarPlot calculates dBi from the test signal, but just to be sure I was not picking up ambient noise, I did the same thing using a 665Mhz dipole fabricated from RG-59 COAX. This was the result:



Your point about multi-path potentially impacting the PolarPlot results is well made. In fact, I DEPEND on multi-path to deliver OTA TV service in apartment complexes. LOS is simply impossible in high-density locations, so tuning into the strongest signal (wherever it is coming from) is best served with an omnidirectional antenna.

Just so you are aware, for marketing purposes, I only claim 4.3dBd VHF and 9.17dBd UHF, not the 20+dBi shown in PolarPlot. I have EZNEC Demo version 5.0, but my attempts to model my antenna with it produces errors stating that I have incorrectly connected some of the wires. Perhaps it is those "incorrect connections" that give my antenna its performance?

For me (and my clients), on-the-ground real-world results are a lot more important than clinical test numbers. I guess I will just continue tilting against the CEA windmills.

Cheers, and Happy 2015!
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