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Old 25-Sep-2012, 3:01 AM   #1
oldsmobile
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Join Date: Sep 2012
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Harrisburg, PA, with a homebuilt antenna. Can I get one more channel?

Harrisburg, PA.

Here is my tvfool report:
http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...2df97cd833c5c7

Basics: Homebuilt bowtie antenna in my attic. Home is a Cape Cod with a partial second story, which is up on a slight hill, a couple hundred feet from the Susquehanna River. The antenna is affixed to a stud in the attic with approximately 25 feet of RG6 going down through the wall where it connects to a Magnavox DTV converter box attached to an old tube TV. Antenna and TV are both on the north side of my house. There is only one TV, and there are no splitters attached, and no plans for any additional TV sets.

Channels I do receive with their real channel assignments: WHTM 10, WITF 36, WHP 21, WGAL 49, WLYH 23, W07DP (7, which I do not need), WPMT 47.

Channel sought: WGCB 30

Area: residential, most homes in the neighborhood being one or two stories.

Background:
Presently, I am using a homebuilt bowtie antenna in my attic. I started with fixed-length copper wire as per http://www.tvantennaplans.com/ and I had some success with WHP, WHTM, WLHY, and WITF but not WGAL or WPMT. WPMT is a necessity for me. I started thinking about wavelengths and such, and although am by no means expert in such things, I wondered what would happen if I used copper wire cut to a 1/2 wave length.

So I built another version, with eight bowties, intending to pull in all of the local channels I wanted. This antenna is built with #12 copper wire on a decking board made of plasticized wood product (I don't know what the official name for it is; I just know it's marketed as more weather-resistant than plain old wood). This antenna receives WHTM, WITF, WHP, WGAL (repeater in Harrisburg), WLYH, W07DP-D, and WPMT.

For the heck of it during the build, I also put in the bowties to try to grab WGCB and WHAG, which were the next closest stations. This antenna has been tested on my roof and inside, and had no better reception outside so it went back into the attic where it's safe from the elements. I am well aware that height is a huge factor in clearing obstacles, but I do not have a tower or mast for this experiment.

I'm not terribly surprised that WHAG is not obtainable with what I have, given the distance and terrain, but I would like to get WGCB. My attempts for WGCB include aluminum-foil reflector and bending the WGCB elements of my antenna to face 149 degrees. No luck either way. And as I said, putting this antenna on the roof at my chimney made no difference.

I suppose I should mention that I'm looking to do this on the cheap. My gotta-have-it channel, WPMT, comes in nicely and I was able to evict Comcast from my life, which pleases me immensely. Anything else is bonus. I do get all but one of the local channels in my market.

Further research on this site and others leads me to a couple of questions for knowledgeable denizens.

1) From what I can gather, a preamp is not going to help me get WGCB with my present setup. True or false?

2) In layman's terms, how does one measure signal strength at an antenna? If I cannot even get my DTV box to acknowledge any signal at virtual channel 49, how can I tell whether there's signal to be had or not?

3) If I build a Gray-Hoverman (http://www.digitalhome.ca/ota/superantenna/), could I expect significantly different reception than with my present setup? I suspect I would not.

4) Suppose I bite the bullet and purchase a commercial antenna for rooftop mounting. Which one or ones would be appropriate in my goal of getting everything I presently have plus one more channel, and could any of them also double as a good FM antenna? I would be reluctant to spend money on a commercial antenna for TV only as I have more in the way of FM aspirations.

I truly appreciate any thoughts on the matter. I have studied what I can by my admittedly amateur self and feel it's now time for me to state what I know and ask for help.
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Old 25-Sep-2012, 5:55 AM   #2
GroundUrMast
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldsmobile View Post
...

1) From what I can gather, a preamp is not going to help me get WGCB with my present setup. True or false?

2) In layman's terms, how does one measure signal strength at an antenna? If I cannot even get my DTV box to acknowledge any signal at virtual channel 49, how can I tell whether there's signal to be had or not?

3) If I build a Gray-Hoverman (http://www.digitalhome.ca/ota/superantenna/), could I expect significantly different reception than with my present setup? I suspect I would not.

4) Suppose I bite the bullet and purchase a commercial antenna for rooftop mounting. Which one or ones would be appropriate in my goal of getting everything I presently have plus one more channel, and could any of them also double as a good FM antenna? I would be reluctant to spend money on a commercial antenna for TV only as I have more in the way of FM aspirations.

...
1) If you have only 25' of RG-6 between the antenna and lone tuner, a preamp is unlikely to help much... unless the noise figure of the tuner is particularly bad. The cheapest way to find out is to buy a preamp and try. (I assume you don't have the tens of thousands of dollars worth of lab equipment needed to measure tuner noise figure.) An amplifier serves to overcome the losses in the cable and splitters that are connected to the amplifier output. An amplifier is not an antenna and can not make an antenna better.

2) Few people own signal strength meters. You can buy a tuner such as a SiliconDust HDHomerun for less than $90 and have a tuner with signal strength (uncalibrated) and quality functions along with manual direct entry tuning of real channels. You could get the $300 HDHomerun-Tech version which has signal level metering calibrated in dBmV. These tuners are intended to connect to a computer via Ethernet and not an analog TV.

3) The GH10n3 is an amazing bit of antenna development work. The computer modeling predicts it to be capable of competing against the largest available consumer grade antennas. If you have the skills, tools and desire... give it try. However, it's too directional to expect reliable reception of all your stations of interest unless you rotate it.

4a) I think you'll need a high gain antenna such as the Antennas Direct 91XG mounted outside in the clear to make WGCB reliable. That antenna is far too directional to simultaneously receive the signals to the sides and rear. Your existing home built antenna 'gets' the rest of the signals of interest already, so an A/B switch and two TV antenna system look like a viable solution to me. There are other options: http://forum.tvfool.com/showthread.php?t=2882

4b) I would buy or build an dedicated FM antenna, and cable it separately. By using a TV antenna that is not designed to receive FM, you reduce the potential of FM interference to TV reception. A dedicated FM antenna can be aimed at the intended signal rather than a compromised aim if you used a combination antenna. You also avoid splitter losses by using separate antennas.

Last edited by GroundUrMast; 25-Sep-2012 at 6:25 AM. Reason: gramar
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Old 25-Sep-2012, 2:03 PM   #3
signals unlimited
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Simple, effective DTV reception solutions

I have an antenna that I designed to receive your channels, including 49/30.
It is omni-directional and listed on my site as the "Sidewinder".

If you want to try it I can come by on my next trip to Harrisburg and try it from my test van. No charge for the trip. www.tripleplayantenna.com.
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