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Old 18-Dec-2014, 11:48 AM   #1
ETMegabyte
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Join Date: Dec 2014
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Question OTA Newbie

Let's start with the important stuff... My report:
http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...d24352e8c0e556

Let me start by saying that while I'm fairly technical overall, I have very little experience in OTA TV reception. In fact, it never really occurred to me that it was still possible. I don't have cable or dish because they're all ripoffs. Their "packages" boast 300 stations, but only like 10 of which I care about, yet I have to pay for the rest. Forget that. I'd rather go without TV entirely, and for the last few years I have done just that...

A couple weeks ago I stumbled upon a blog post about a person who gets his local channels over the air. In high def. This appealed to me, so I started reading around for basic info. What I ended up doing was picking up a GE Amplified Indoor antenna. Model 24775. It supposedly has about 20db of gain. Ultimately I know I want to get a roof-mounted setup, but it's winter, so that can wait.

Anyway, I hooked it up and ran the scan on my tv. As the report shows, I should get around 5 networks, but I only got 2. I got the ION stations, and the PBS (WENH) stations. The two stations that are northeast of me, yet the antenna is on a windowsill on the south side of the house... I was REALLY hoping to get WMUR at least. I would think at a supposed 7.11kW and only 15 miles from me it would come in. Guess not.

http://www.antennapoint.com/antennas...&commit=Search

In fact, if I do a signal search on channel 9, I get nothing. No signal at all. nada. zip. zilch. zero. This worries me.

Ultimately my goal is to get all the ones in red in my report. ABC, CBS, WBZ, etc. CBS would at least let me watch Football <hehe>... They're all pretty high powered stations (lowest is 550kW and highest is 1000kW)

Here's the issue...

I don't want to spend a ton of money to buy and put up a rooftop antenna, and an amplifier and all the other stuff needed if I'm not going to get the stations I want. And I can't find out what stations I'll get without putting up the antenna...

Is there a way around this? Is there someone I can call that has a portable setup that can (in the spring) be temporarily strapped to my chimney just to see what comes in? Then I'll know if I should spend the money or not.

And I suppose while I'm here I should ask the next newbie question. If I do decide to put up an antenna, how many TVs can I realistically hook it to? There are currently 4 digital TVs in the house... And an unfinished family room in the basement that could potentially have a 5th...

Last edited by ETMegabyte; 18-Dec-2014 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 18-Dec-2014, 5:32 PM   #2
StephanieS
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Greetings ETMegabyte,

Welcome to the mystical magical land of over the air (OTA) reception! This plot is only the beginning as there are dozens of factors at your location that can work for you, or, work against you.

In regards to your indoor amplified TV antenna. Never rely upon those as a barometer of the best reception possible at your location. They will often only pick up the strongest of the strong. Remember, TV signals have to penetrate walls and as they penetrate walls they weaken substantially. It is no surprise to me you see ION and the PBS as they have barn burning signals. It is also no surprise ABC doesn't decode. You are in 2 -edge conditions (2 obstruction + your walls) along with a nearly 25 db less signal. In short, ABC will likely require an outdoor antenna.

This is where the bad news kicks in. While ION, PBS and ABC are very do-able with a moderate outdoor antenna, the other "big" 5 have considerable difficulties. NBC, FOX and CBS are in very poor signal. Additionally you have the misfortune of affiliates being spread out over several headings. This puts you into a very large antenna to even have a chance at all. Add to that, if you are in an area that is surrounded by trees it becomes even less likely for reception success of NBC, FOX and CBS as trees reduce signal strength greatly due to reflection.

Signals once they start to hit about +10db signal strength (red shaded), they become prone to atmospheric variances. The result is that you may see them some portions of the day, while other times they may drop out. Boston is in this category, however it's more severe as many are around 0db or negative signal strength. This adds up to challenges.

At the end of the day though, Boston yields you the best chance at CBS, FOX and NBC due to all being at one heading. An antenna will be able to focus all its reception power in one specific direction. If I were to attempt Boston I would purchase an Antennacraft Super-G 1483. It can be found here. This is a deep fringe unit, for use in extreme fringe like you are located. Orientate antenna to magnetic heading 190.

Your plot doesn't have a height, however, I'd make sure to get the antenna mounted outdoors above the treeline (if present).

I would expect your local ION off the back. ABC *may* decode. With UHF designs, many times they can receive stronger VHF signals if present. If ABC doesn't decode you may need to add a small supplemental high-VHF for ABC reception.

This isn't a slam dunk. Far from it. If you embark on this attempt, I'd put your chances at Boston in optimum settings at 50/50.

In the world of OTA TV, sometimes you just don't know until you put something in the air and try.

RE: how many TVs can you hook up. There are currently distribution amplifiers that work with OTA signals that allow you to split your antenna feed to eight TVs. A mast mounted preamplifier you are not a candidate for with the presence of 70 db signals nearby.

Best of luck.

Last edited by StephanieS; 18-Dec-2014 at 5:43 PM.
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Old 21-Dec-2014, 6:16 AM   #3
ETMegabyte
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There are a couple concerns I still have....

First, the only place I can mount an antenna without drilling into the roof is the chimney, and from the chimney, magnetic 190 degrees goes right through a pair of pine trees

Also, my original concern still exists. I don't want to buy a bunch of equipment (particularly a high end antenna designed for maximum reception) only to find out I still can't get the Boston stations...

Does anyone think there may be an installer or someone who can come out and give me an actual idea of what I can expect to get? A temporary set up to see what comes in from my actual location? I've never heard of an OTA antenna installer, so I don't even know if they exist...
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Old 21-Dec-2014, 12:26 PM   #4
timgr
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Location: Medford MA USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ETMegabyte View Post
There are a couple concerns I still have....

First, the only place I can mount an antenna without drilling into the roof is the chimney, and from the chimney, magnetic 190 degrees goes right through a pair of pine trees

Also, my original concern still exists. I don't want to buy a bunch of equipment (particularly a high end antenna designed for maximum reception) only to find out I still can't get the Boston stations...

Does anyone think there may be an installer or someone who can come out and give me an actual idea of what I can expect to get? A temporary set up to see what comes in from my actual location? I've never heard of an OTA antenna installer, so I don't even know if they exist...
One possibility is to buy an antenna and return it if it does not work out. Supposedly Walmart stores carry the RCA ANT751, which is a good antenna for urban/suburban locales. The Radio Shack stores distribute the Antennacraft line. There's also the Eagle Aspen, which looks like a knock-off of the Antennas Direct DB2, for about $15 on eBay plus shipping. Get a cheap/returnable antenna and a long cable and try out some locations on your property.

Also, there are a lot of different possibilities for mounting an antenna, including non-penetrating mounts for the roof. I ended up screwing a roof bracket and eye bolts to my shingle roof... you have to drill through the shingles, but that's why they sell the pitch pad kits.

You're going to have to spend some time and effort to scope out your local conditions. It isn't really "free" TV when you add in your start-up costs... everyone is in the same boat as you when they decide to go OTA. That's one of the reasons the cable companies have captured so much of the market.

Also RE your GE antenna, the smaller the antenna, the higher frequency its peak gain will be. WMUR is VHF 9 so it's less likely to be heard by a little antenna. And the direction may not be favorable - all antennas are directional, some less than others. If the GE antenna claims 20 dB gain, that includes the amplifier gain, which is really a meaningless spec. My 10' long VHF high antenna has a passive gain of about 9.6 dB. It may be that WMUR is so strong at your locale that it is overloading the amplifier. A cheap passive antenna will tell you more about local signal conditions.

Last edited by timgr; 21-Dec-2014 at 1:05 PM.
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Old 21-Dec-2014, 12:42 PM   #5
timgr
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Location: Medford MA USA
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Maybe it would help to post a little about my installation. I am in the Boston metro area and I receive stations from three markets, Boston, Providence and New Hampshire. I get WENH reliably from here using an Antennacraft Y10713. If you run another report at a much higher elevation, you might get an idea of how likely you are to get the Boston stations. In my case, WENH should be impossible at the height of my antenna (33', ca -5 dB NM) but the report shows that WENH signal strength increases quite a lot or even change to 1-edge then LOS with added antenna height. Those negative single-digit NMs are dicey, but may improve a lot with some added height. Try it at 50'. There is something called the principle of reciprocity... I get WMUR too.

Note that all the Boston metro stations are UHF, so if you want the Boston market you should concentrate on the biggest UHF array that you can muster. I'm not familiar with the 1483... another alternative is stacked antennas. You can stack 2 or 4 identical Yagi antennas on a single mast with proper spacing and signal combining. Google it.

This is a case where risk is clearly proportional to reward. If you make the up-front investment, if it pays off, you will recoup monetary benefits every month. Up to you ...

There is a thread for installers at the top of the forum. Again, Google is your friend - https://www.google.com/search?q=ante...utf-8&oe=utf-8

Last edited by timgr; 21-Dec-2014 at 5:26 PM.
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Old 21-Dec-2014, 11:19 PM   #6
StephanieS
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Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 442
There is an installer section above this forum. If you are unlucky, the next best thing is calling a local TV repair shop to see if they know anyone who would be willing.

In your case, Granite State TV based in Concord might be worth the time to have a chat with.

http://www.granitestatetv.com/

For curiosity sake, post a plot at 75' and 100'. That'll give you the roughest or rough idea if your Boston signal access improves.

Cheers.
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