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Old 9-Oct-2015, 3:15 PM   #1
NashNet
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Corner of attic an issue? Choice of antenna

I've decided on cutting the cord and I feel so free already. I moved from FIOS in NJ to Comcast in Nashville. Different providers, same suckee suckee. I'm new to OTA DTV and learning but "the more I know the less I know." Essentially, I'm confused. My budget is $150-$200 but I think I can convince her about an investment that will last long - even after we move out of the condo in a year. I'd appreciate your thoughts and advice. The channels I need are PBS (ch 8 VHF), ABC, CBS, and NBC (all on UHF). (I'm going to subscribe for services that give me sports and HBO).

I know the FCC allows me to place an antenna outside but I'm not willing to fight the HOA nazis. So, I've decided on placing it in the attic. Here are some notes:

-I can hang it from the joists or screw it down in the attic. It will be about 20 feet above ground. I can squeeze in a 100" long antenna but it's tight and will almost reach the corner. Do I need something that big though?

- There's foil clad return duct to the right of where the antenna will be (just a foot or two to the right) but it won't be in the way. The area has just the ply and joists. Is it a problem if the antenna points to the corner of the attic? The photo shows the corner which is approximately 0 to 4 degrees azimuth. My channels are in the 352 to 8 degrees arc.

- I want to drive the signal to 2 rooms - an upstairs bedroom (about 35 feet away) and a downstairs living room (50 to 60 feet). I think the splitter will be located near the upstairs TV and cable to living room will go another 15 feet down to the living room TV (straight beneath the BR TV).

- There is a birch outside about 30 feet from the antenna location but its canopy is slightly to the left of the antenna direction. The peak of the next apartment block is in line of sight and is approx. 150 feet from the antenna. There are more 5 more similar buildings like that at similar height.

- My roof juts out 6 feet beyond the neighbor’s roof. Luckily, that clearance/gap between his roof-edge and the tree is exactly in the direction of the transmitter. Narrow, yes, but I think I'm clear.

- Do I need to ground the antenna if it's placed in the attic?

Is it worth it to get a separate antenna such as ClearStream 5 just for one H-VHF channel (the important PBS?) or could I use an antenna than can do H-VHF well and UHF. I have these in mind (I'm open to others, of course):
-Xtreme Signal HDB8x-NI-8 bay (or 4 bay?)
-Winegard - HD8200U or HD7698P?
- ChannelMaster CM-4228 HD

Thank you. This site has been of incredible value to me. I know at least a dozen people in central NJ who love this and aim to capture both NYC and Philly signals. In effect, they'll be better off than any fiber or cable service!

Ron

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PotentialAntennaLocation-Attic1.jpg
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Old 9-Oct-2015, 7:26 PM   #2
ADTech
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Quote:
such as ClearStream 5 just for one H-VHF channel (the important PBS?)
What about ABC, also VHF?

Quote:
-Xtreme Signal HDB8x-NI-8 bay (or 4 bay?)
-Winegard - HD8200U or HD7698P?
- ChannelMaster CM-4228 HD
None of the above.

First one is a UHF-only, 2nd and 3rd (excellent choice but too big) exceed your size limits, 4th, same as 1st Using a UHF-only design and expecting it to also perform adequately on VHF is often a mistake. It is far, far better to PLAN on specific reception than to rely on luck or chance.

Do us a favor. Go back and get the LINK for your plot, not the image of it. Change the prefix of the link in an obvious manor, then post that modified link. The "live" table allows more in depth analysis.

https://www.fcc.gov/guides/over-air-...n-devices-rule
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Last edited by ADTech; 9-Oct-2015 at 7:29 PM.
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Old 9-Oct-2015, 8:08 PM   #3
NashNet
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Thank you, AdTech!

Here's the link: http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...8e03280fdea8e9

I missed including that other VHF channel in my post - thanks for catching that. It's not ABC but NBC (ch 10).

I searched a little more after your reading your comments. If there is no elegant or effective "integrated" antenna to help me, perhaps DB8e and Clearstream 5 would cover both UHF and VHF respectively. However, I'm a little concerned the install may become more complicated not to speak of the expense going up.

Last edited by NashNet; 9-Oct-2015 at 8:34 PM.
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Old 9-Oct-2015, 11:23 PM   #4
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This is a good well-built VHF high antenna, equal to the old AntennaCraft Y5-7-13 antenna: http://www.mcmelectronics.com/produc...-2475-/30-2475

Only $20. Get a UVSJ, and combine it with a UHF antenna. I had it modeled by Holl_ands at the Canadian forum: http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/186-...ml#post2584354

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/186-...ml#post2585162

Then again, most of your main channels are all in the same direction, so a combo UHF/VHF antenna may work fine for you.
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Old 10-Oct-2015, 3:59 AM   #5
NashNet
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Thank you, MikeBear. Nice to know about the UVSJ. And I'll consider them. Your inrto to the Candian forum is also going to be useful. I'll have to admit most of the string between you and Holl_ands is Greek to me, really esoteric but I'm dumb on the Physics side...well, too lazy to try to understand. Did Holl_ands provide this service to you for a fee or was he just helping out? I don't mind either if I go that route of course. But it does look like I gotta get some fundamentals straight including your very simple but complex :-P proposal of using a UHF/VHF combo. That was my challenge and it remains so. Perhaps I gotta acquire something and fiddle around and return if doesn't work. Cheers!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeBear View Post
Then again, most of your main channels are all in the same direction, so a combo UHF/VHF antenna may work fine for you.
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Old 10-Oct-2015, 5:10 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NashNet View Post
Thank you, MikeBear. Nice to know about the UVSJ. And I'll consider them. Your inrto to the Candian forum is also going to be useful. I'll have to admit most of the string between you and Holl_ands is Greek to me, really esoteric but I'm dumb on the Physics side...well, too lazy to try to understand. Did Holl_ands provide this service to you for a fee or was he just helping out? I don't mind either if I go that route of course. But it does look like I gotta get some fundamentals straight including your very simple but complex :-P proposal of using a UHF/VHF combo. That was my challenge and it remains so. Perhaps I gotta acquire something and fiddle around and return if doesn't work. Cheers!
Holl_ands LOVES antenna modeling and modifications, and seems to do it every chance he gets. I believe it's basically an advanced hobby to him, and he's very good at it. I simply posted my original questions about my antenna situation at the time, he asked some questions back, and asked me to provide the antenna specs. He then did the rest, and there's no charge at all.

My situation is slightly more complicated than yours, as I for sure needed 2 separate antennas (Vhf and UHF) for my various main local channels. My stations are spread over slightly more than a 60 degree arc, and the station I cared about most at the time is VHF, and at the far South-West of that arc. All the rest are UHF. Ultimately, Rabbit's work and help here at TvFool did the most to basically help solve the majority of my issues.

Neither you nor I could afford to pay for the kind of time/advice/help/charts they (especially Rabbit!) provides for free! Trying to understand it all, and following their advice isn't always easy, but sure can save a lot of time and money.

They know what they are talking about. Digital tv is far more voodoo/fragile for many people compared to the old analog system, and the "bad" thing is that we now have to fight against 25 years of stagnation of OTA equipment availability, due to most people going with cable/satellite, etc for the last several decades.

Last edited by MikeBear; 10-Oct-2015 at 5:15 AM.
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Old 10-Oct-2015, 11:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeBear View Post
Ultimately, Rabbit's work and help here at TvFool did the most to basically help solve the majority of my issues.
Thanks for your kind words, Mike. I found your reception problem interesting and challenging, and am glad that my ideas were able to help you improve your reception.

You are a good student who is willing to try something new with no guarantee that it will work. I learned from you during the improvements.
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Old 11-Oct-2015, 12:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NashNet View Post
I know the FCC allows me to place an antenna outside but I'm not willing to fight the HOA nazis. So, I've decided on placing it in the attic.
The FCC probally would not help in your case because the roof is usually considered a common area. However, if you have an "exclusive use" area like a balcony, you are covered.

Quote:
So, I've decided on placing it in the attic.
The signal loss for an attic location is difficult to predict because of differences in construction. You need to be prepared to make some tests with a temporary setup.

Thanks for the attic photo. I see the foil clad duct. See attachment 1 for my questions.
Quote:
- Do I need to ground the antenna if it's placed in the attic?
The NEC does not require a ground for an attic antenna, but I have found that it is a good idea to ground the coax with a grounding block connected to the house electrical system ground for personal electrical safety. I have had several close calls with electrical shock.
Quote:
My budget is $150-$200
I will try to keep that in mind. Start simple and build on it.
Quote:
The channels I need are PBS (ch 8 VHF), NBC (ch 10 VHF), ABC and CBS (on UHF).
Quote:
- My roof juts out 6 feet beyond the neighbor’s roof. Luckily, that clearance/gap between his roof-edge and the tree is exactly in the direction of the transmitter. Narrow, yes, but I think I'm clear.
Have you used the green signal lines in the tvfool interactive map browser? See attachment 2 for an example.
http://www.tvfool.com/index.php?opti...pper&Itemid=90

Quote:
Is it worth it to get a separate antenna such as ClearStream 5 just for one H-VHF channel (the important PBS?) or could I use an antenna than can do H-VHF well and UHF.
Because your signals are in the same general direction, you can use separate VHF and UHF antennas or a combo antenna.

To meet your requirements you will need WTVF CBS on real channel 25, because CBS on real channel 5 is VHF-Low that would require a very large antenna. Your CBS channel is much weaker than your strongest channels, there is the attic loss to consider, and there is a hill and other buildings in the signal path, all of which indicate a need for extra UHF gain in the antenna. Your tvfool report is a computer simulation that assumes your antenna is outside and in the clear, with no trees or other buildings in the signal path. The hill:
http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...dALLTV%26n%3d6

Here is another terrain profile that shows the hill is in the signal path:



See also attachment 3.

Possible choice: DB4e with VHF add-on dipole kit, but I want ADTech to double check my analysis if he has time.

The DB8e and CS 5 would give more gain, and might make it possible to receive down to ION, but would be more expensive. You would probably need to stack the CS 5 above the DB8e. The CS 5 comes with a UHF/VHF combiner AKA UVSJ.

Try it just with one TV in a temporary setup; don't drill any holes yet. If your TV has a signal strength indicator, that will help with finding the best location in the attic.

If it's OK with one TV, add a 2-way splitter. If there isn't enough signal for 2 TVs, replace the splitter with a Channel Master 3412.

Please tell us about your test results on this same thread instead of starting a new thread.

You have some strong local FM signals that might interfere with TV reception and require an FM filter in the coax line.
http://www.mcmelectronics.com/produc...-FM-88-/33-341
Attached Images
File Type: jpg NashNetTVFattic (3).jpg (168.9 KB, 365 views)
File Type: jpg bebo189TVFgreenlines.JPG (100.6 KB, 325 views)
File Type: jpg NashNetTVFhill.JPG (79.3 KB, 306 views)
File Type: jpg NashNetTVF FM est.JPG (104.8 KB, 337 views)
File Type: jpg NashNetTVFp2WTVF.JPG (126.9 KB, 1419 views)
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Last edited by rabbit73; 12-Oct-2015 at 2:46 PM.
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Old 11-Oct-2015, 10:57 PM   #9
NashNet
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Thank you, Rabbit, for the meticulous and clear response and your sage advice. Yes, I did start from the green lines on the map. The responses to your question re:the attic are in the attached picture. I'll steer clear of the duct. It will be to the right of the antenna placement - I'm assuming that proximity is ok as long as it's not in the path of the signal. I'm going to have to go with an in-attic installation. Yes, I'll test the config out first before nailing everything down.


I like the iterative approach. It's prudent and a good learning experience for me. Hopefully, I'll be better equipped in every which way when we eventually get a home next year. I'll wait for ADTech and others to add their thoughts before deciding on the antenna(s).

From what I understand so far--thanks also to MikeBear and ADTech--, it's best to go in this serial fashion (along with the add-on Antenna Direct dipole for H-VHF, preamp, UVSJ, splitter, FM filter as needed):

1. (a). DB4e + VHF dipole
2. DB8 + VHF dipole
3. DB8 + ClearStream 5

Also, what would you folks think of these alternatives in place of #1 (a) as a starting point?

(b). ClearStream 2V (CS2 + the VHF dipole integrated)
(c). Winegard FreeVision FV-30BB
(d). Xtreme Signal HDB8X-NI 8-Bay or the 4-Bay version + either VHF dipole or the Stellar Labs VHF 30-2475 suggested by MikeBear?

Couple of other questions:
1. Is it best to locate the splitter near the antenna (south of the UVSJ) and take two long cables to the respective TVs (50' and 60') approx? Or, put the splitter near the 1st TV (upstairs BR) - about 50' from the antennaand drive the other cable 15' straight below?
2.If I do use the FM filter, where should I place it? After UVSJ?

Thank you!

Last edited by NashNet; 12-Oct-2015 at 12:36 AM.
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Old 12-Oct-2015, 1:10 AM   #10
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The link for your image doesn't work; you started the http again at the end. I think I corrected OK:

https://app.box.com/s/phgqckgg2h8cnnikkeoomqjav7p6dbhf

Thanks for answering the questions in a clever way.

Vertical tubing usually doesn't cause a problem.
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Old 12-Oct-2015, 3:36 PM   #11
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FWIW, I consider attic reception to be something akin to a Forrest Gump's mother's box of chocolate (http://www.wavsource.com/snds_2015-1...ocolates_x.wav) .
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Old 12-Oct-2015, 4:10 PM   #12
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Quote:
If there is no elegant or effective "integrated" antenna to help me
Quote:
or could I use an antenna than can do H-VHF well and UHF
There are antennas that combine VHF-High and UHF like the Winegard HD7694P, 7697, and 7698 series. They try to match the VHF and UHF gain of each member of the series, but since 8 and 10 are much stronger than 25, you need more help with CBS on 25 because of the impediments of an attic location, other buildings, and hills.

The 7694 has about the same gain as a DB4e with a CS 5, but the UHF section of the 7694 is a yagi and we have found that a bowtie antenna like the DB4e performs better than a yagi in an attic.

Quote:
1. (a). DB4e + VHF dipole
2. DB8 + VHF dipole
3. DB8 + ClearStream 5
1. is the lowest cost of the three and favors UHF because 25 is weaker
2. a little more gain for 25
3. more gain for 25 and more for 8 and 10

Quote:
(b). ClearStream 2V (CS2 + the VHF dipole integrated)
(c). Winegard FreeVision FV-30BB
(d). Xtreme Signal HDB8X-NI 8-Bay or the 4-Bay version + either VHF dipole or the Stellar Labs VHF 30-2475 suggested by MikeBear?
b. C2V not quite enough gain for 25. OK for 8 and 10
c. very inadequate for 25, probably OK for 8 and 10
d. that would work, and keep the cost low, but I don't have any personal experience with them
Quote:
1. Is it best to locate the splitter near the antenna (south of the UVSJ) and take two long cables to the respective TVs (50' and 60') approx? Or, put the splitter near the 1st TV (upstairs BR) - about 50' from the antenna and drive the other cable 15' straight below?
The signal loss is about the same for either approach. I favor plan B because it uses less coax and it would be easier to add a preamp near the antenna if necessary with only one downlead.
Quote:
2.If I do use the FM filter, where should I place it? After UVSJ?
Code:
      DB4e >
            \
            UVSJ > FM filter > coax > splitter > TVs
            /
VHF dipole >

The AD VHF dipole kit contains an integrated UVSJ; 
other brands would require a separate UVSJ
If you need more signal for splitting, replace the splitter with a Channel Master 3412 distribution amplifier which combines an amp and splitter in one unit:

Code:
UHF antenna >
             \
             UVSJ > FM filter > coax > CM 3412 > TVs
             /
VHF antenna >
If you need even more gain because the signal losses are more than average, use a preamp at the antenna, with its power inserter and a splitter down below:
Code:
UHF antenna >
             \
             UVSJ > CM 7778 > coax > power > splitter > TVs
             /                       inserter
VHF antenna >

The 7778 contains an FM filter that should be ON. If it is not sufficient,
add an external FM filter before the preamp input.
What I have told you is just my opinion based on my experience; I can't give you a guarantee because there are so many variables. If I were there with you I would be able to make some measurements with my signal level meter (SLM). Hopefully, your TV has a signal strength indicator to help you. You need to take ADTech's reference about Forrest Gump seriously that you don't know until you try it.
http://www.wavsource.com/movies/forrest_gump.htm

Tom Hanks: "My momma always said life was like a box of chocolates – you never know what you're gonna get."
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Last edited by rabbit73; 12-Oct-2015 at 4:34 PM.
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Old 12-Oct-2015, 7:21 PM   #13
NashNet
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Excellent, thank you, Rabbit! Of course, I understand and accept (even before I joined the forum) that each situation is unique and there's no hard and fast solution that addresses all problems.
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Old 12-Oct-2015, 7:26 PM   #14
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Thank you for the comment, ADTech. The metaphorical reference to Forrest Gump's mom's chocolate delivery is understood and appropriate, I agree. It's funny too and would have been hilarious but for the fact that I just cannot do outside/roof-top installation. Honestly, it's not about $ or elegance/aesthetics or any of that. The HOA just won't allow it. They allow such things on a balcony or private use real estate but not on any commons-area such as the roof. So, that's how I'm stuck. I want something for the next 10 months and when we buy a house (we just moved from NJ), I'm going to go for the kill better equipped.

All that said, are you suggesting that there is no hope in my case? Given how two important channels are VHF (PBS-8 and NBC-10) and CBS is bad in UHF, would the only way I can get anything decent is if I go to the rooftop? Is there a solution at all that I could experiment in the attic or should I just forget this whole thing and just stick with the blood-sucking cable provider.

Money is definitely one reason but I also want to go with OTA because of the personal satisfaction of ditching the big gorillas. I know this Joe Bloe won't make a dent in their side. Am I sounding (looking) like the Don charging the windmills? That's how my wife depicts my antics in select, large get-togethers. I'll settle for that :-)

Anyway, back to the subject, if I'm ok with a trial and error approach, what system/solution would you suggest I start with? Rabbit has some prudent ideas. One of them was a DB4e with a VHF dipole add on. Of perhaps, the best I could do is a DB8e with CS 5? Where would you start? As I said, there's a cost to pay to learn and that's how I see this investment. Needless to say, I'll report back to this forum on my trials and tribulations.

Thank you and look forward to hear of potential hacks. Cheers!


"Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after." Thoreau

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Old 12-Oct-2015, 8:56 PM   #15
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Quote:
Is there a solution at all that I could experiment in the attic or should I just forget this whole thing and just stick with the blood-sucking cable provider.
You will never be happy until you try the attic. Success is possible if you do; failure is 100% certain if you don't. Even if you can't return the antenna if it doesn't work, your peace of mind is worth the money spent and you can take the antenna with you when you move.

I don't watch the TV show Roseanne very often, but I recall her saying: "It's important for a wife to let her husband have his dreams so that he doesn't notice that she is running his life."

I'm very lucky that my wife tolerates my antenna experiments. She knows that I will stay at home to do that, instead of wandering off somewhere else. And she knows that I get depressed if I don't have a "project" to work on. She has been supportive to the extent that she even bought a signal level meter for me.

I have described the possible signal impediments and listed the possible antennas to try. I can't do it for you because I'm too far away; you must do it for me so that I will know what works. My advice is based on feedback.

Quote:
Where would you start?
It doesn't really matter where you start, as long as you DO start. It doesn't have to be perfect because you are doing an experiment to see what works. The results of the experiment will tell you what direction to take next.

You have reached the point with your project that also gives me trouble because of so many options. I deal with it by starting anywhere and the results tell me what to try next.
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Old 12-Oct-2015, 8:59 PM   #16
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Quote:
All that said, are you suggesting that there is no hope in my case?
Nope. Just pointing out that, despite planning everything as best one knows how, there are these little things called "gremlins" that can bite you in the back side.

I've also learned (the hard way) that, when you're on the back side of a hill, any signal prediction made by the simulator ought to be marked "for entertainment and speculative purposes only", kind of like a home value estimate on Zillow....

Patience and persistence will be your virtues when getting up in the attic. Be (very) happy if it works the first. Don't be surprised if you have to try multiple locations and that you may have to separate the VHF unit significantly from the rest of the UHF antenna. It happens.

If convenience and local availability is a plus for you, either the C2V (Walmart or Best Buy) or the C4V (BB only) would be my suggestions since you could pick one up today. If you're in no hurry, then the DB4e/VHF kit would be my suggestion. If you should go with BB, keep a very close eye on their very restrictive return policy.

Quote:
The HOA just won't allow it.
I didn't catch it if you are in a condo or a single family residence. If it's a condo or similar, they control the roof and the rest of the exterior (except your private use areas). If it's a private, single family residence, they usually can not.
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Old 12-Oct-2015, 9:02 PM   #17
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Quote:
The CS 5 comes with a UHF/VHF combiner AKA UVSJ.
Oh, BTW, that's no longer the case. The EU385 combiner has been 'de-contented' from the C5 SKU as of this spring's production. These units have been shipping since late this summer. Distributors may still have the SKU with the combiner in their stock, or they may not. We have only the newer version in stock now.
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Old 12-Oct-2015, 9:27 PM   #18
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Thanks for the update on the diplexer.

He said "even after we move out of the condo in a year."

He hasn't given me his exact address by PM, but it is probably one of these:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg NashNetTVFcondo.JPG (115.4 KB, 303 views)
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Old 12-Oct-2015, 9:58 PM   #19
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Okay, scanned through it several times, still missed that.... Thx.
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Old 12-Oct-2015, 10:03 PM   #20
NashNet
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Nashville
Posts: 8
Thank you again, Rabbit and ADTech. I've decided to go ahead with it. I'll start project after I return early next week from a trip. I'm close to deciding on a DB4e or DB8e/DB8 with the VHF add on kit.

Is there a significant difference between DB8 and DB8e other than the extended range, particularly in the context of an attic installation? (The furthest station is no more than 23 miles away). Does the difference in gain - 15.8db vs. 17.4db make a difference?

Last edited by NashNet; 12-Oct-2015 at 10:52 PM.
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