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Old 28-Aug-2016, 2:12 PM   #1
bobsgarage
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Helping a friend with reception

A friend of mine wants to cut the cord and already has an OTA antenna installed 14 years ago. He had since had satellite and now has cable. He has already tried it out after not using it for years, but his reception is spotty.

He gets Virtual 50.1-50.4 (real 51) & 9.1-9.3 (real 19) and that's it. He claims he used to get many other channels. Looking at the TV Fool report, he should get many, many more:

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...e2cb8ab62580e2

2016-07-17 Rons Antenna resize.JPG

It appears to be a Radio Shack VU-120XR PN#15-1644 mid range antenna. One element is broken off close to the main beam and another was folded back, which I put back in place but couldn't secure it there as the rain started to fall.


Radio Shack VU-series:


2016-07-17 Rons Antenna resize close-up.JPG

OK, after looking at the signal meter it appears that he's about to fall off the digital cliff barely pushing 50% on 50 and 9. He said he used to get other channels, including 7.1 WLS (real channel 44) which should be the strongest. My opinion is that the broken element on the antenna shouldn't affect the bulk of channels which are UHF except for 2.1 (real 12).

Back when he first installed the antenna, I doubt the white pines directly in the signal path were in the way. They are 40-50 feet in the distance. I didn't get a picture as I was just checking his rotator. It's an old Radio Shack, in my mind, one of the better ones from the time period 2000 or so.

I find it hard to believe that real channel 51 comes in reliably but real channel 44 doesn't even move the TV signal meter.

At any rate, I think it may be an issue with the trees, plus his chimney mount puts the stainless steel furnace and fireplace very close to the antenna when aimed at Chicago.

Maybe just a new antenna, preamp (50+ feet of RG-6) and 5 feet more of mast? A new rotator if he wants Milwaukee, and I'm sure he'll want VHF too...

We haven't even discussed Milwaukee since his rotator isn't working.

Any suggestions?

Thanks, Bob

Last edited by bobsgarage; 29-Aug-2016 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 28-Aug-2016, 7:06 PM   #2
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What are these?

Also, I noticed that these little "wings" were not symmetrical, I believe the wind has moved them. They will adjust, Rivets are not too tight.

What are they? FM antennas?

At any rate should the be adjusted perpendicular to the boom, or how?

Thanks again!





2016-07-17 Rons Antenna resize crop.JPG
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Old 28-Aug-2016, 9:39 PM   #3
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The first thing I would do is get a compass out and make sure it is pointing in the right direction. The Dish guys may have moved it when they installed their hardware. Then I would run a commercially terminated piece of RG6 right from the antenna to a television and make sure the problem isn't with something between the antenna and the television.
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Old 28-Aug-2016, 10:42 PM   #4
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Then I would run a commercially terminated piece of RG6 right from the antenna to a television and make sure the problem isn't with something between the antenna and the television.
Good idea. With an installation that old, the antenna and the feed line are both suspect. You need to find out which is defective.

The trees might also be part of the problem.
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Old 28-Aug-2016, 10:45 PM   #5
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What are these?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Also, I noticed that these little "wings" were not symmetrical, I believe the wind has moved them. They will adjust, Rivets are not too tight.

What are they? FM antennas?

At any rate should the be adjusted perpendicular to the boom, or how?
They look like the shorting stubs for the UHF/VHF isolation network.



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File Type: jpg Radio ShackVU190Bowtie2.jpg (110.9 KB, 928 views)
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Last edited by rabbit73; 28-Aug-2016 at 10:58 PM.
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Old 29-Aug-2016, 12:07 PM   #6
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Isolators the problem?

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Originally Posted by rabbit73 View Post
They look like the shorting stubs for the UHF/VHF isolation network.
Hi Rabbit,

Interesting. I can tell you right now that those isolators are not as the diagram you posted shows in fact, they are at least 90 degrees off.

In your experience could that be most of the problem?

Thanks, Bob
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Old 29-Aug-2016, 12:18 PM   #7
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Thumbs up Could he be picking up those 2 channels without an antenna?

Hi Wizwor,

Thanks for your input .

Quote:
Originally Posted by wizwor View Post
The first thing I would do is get a compass out and make sure it is pointing in the right direction. The Dish guys may have moved it when they installed their hardware. Then I would run a commercially terminated piece of RG6 right from the antenna to a television and make sure the problem isn't with something between the antenna and the television.
You may be right about the RG-6, but I had disregarded that because he is at least getting some channels, but definitely important to see if that is the issue.

Could he be picking up those 2 channels without an antenna? The transmitter is 40+ miles away but on the tallest building in Chicago though.

The aiming of the antenna probably isn't the issue, because he sat in front of the TV while I moved the antenna and we talked over our cell phones.

The trees, also may force him to put a taller mast up and a larger antenna with a tip up adjustment. No decisions on that yet

Last edited by bobsgarage; 29-Aug-2016 at 4:26 PM.
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Old 29-Aug-2016, 12:42 PM   #8
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In your experience could that be most of the problem?
I doubt it.

There are a number of possible causes for poor reception. It could be one, or two, or all. You will need to make some equipment substitutions, one-by-one, with known good parts to determine the cause, even if it means you end up with a completely separate antenna system with a different antenna, new coax, and a different antenna location.

Right now you are just guessing; you need to do methodical substitution troubleshooting.

If you think that what I'm suggesting is a lot of trouble, it couldn't be any worse than what you have done so far.
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Old 29-Aug-2016, 1:08 PM   #9
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Start with a new matching transformer (balun) and a new length of RG6 coax. At nearly 15 years of age, the odds are high that one or both have suffered water infiltration or corrosion.

Lowes now carries an inexpensive matching transformer (RCA brand), it appears to be identical to the one that Winegard is using on their production of RCA-branded antennas. It performs well, but the leads are very fragile and care is required to keep from breaking the wimpy spade lugs or wire leads.

BTW, is he re-using the coax from the satellite install? If so, were any sat-specific devices (multi-switch, diplexer, etc) removed first? Failure to do so is a common failure among sat-to-antenna transition projects. We get those calls all the time.
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Last edited by ADTech; 29-Aug-2016 at 1:15 PM.
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Old 29-Aug-2016, 2:01 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ADTech View Post

BTW, is he re-using the coax from the satellite install? If so, were any sat-specific devices (multi-switch, diplexer, etc) removed first? Failure to do so is a common failure among sat-to-antenna transition projects. We get those calls all the time.
Ditto: trying to reuse existing sat/cable RG6 and all their splitters, etc. has given me way more problems that all others I've encountered.

The last house I did had 3 different 3 way splitters piggy backed inline. Pulled it all out and replaced with new RG6 and a single 4 way low power broadcast amp and reception went from 15 stations to 43.
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Old 29-Aug-2016, 3:12 PM   #11
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A couple of questions: I noticed a rotator motor on the mast: is it still functional? Do you have the controller? You may want to sync up the rotator to facilitate aiming the antenna. It also appears that he can get the Milwaukee stations by rotating the antenna after the things that ADTech suggested have been tried.
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Old 29-Aug-2016, 4:04 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by rabbit73 View Post
I doubt it.

There are a number of possible causes for poor reception. It could be one, or two, or all. You will need to make some equipment substitutions, one-by-one, with known good parts to determine the cause, even if it means you end up with a completely separate antenna system with a different antenna, new coax, and a different antenna location.

Right now you are just guessing; you need to do methodical substitution troubleshooting.

If you think that what I'm suggesting is a lot of trouble, it couldn't be any worse than what you have done so far.
No Sir!

No trouble at all.

No more trouble than I already conceived. The truth is, I have already suggested that we start by replacing all the connections and the cable/satellite combiner. I would start with a coax joiner (male threads both ends) and tie off the satellite coax. AD Tech suggested a new Balun. Not a bad place to start either. I have an extra one anyhow.

The problem with replacing the coax it appears is that the coax tucks into the chimney enclosure and goes in through the walls of the house. So, that would be the last move even after antenna replacement.

I can however, get a 50 foot piece of coax and throw it over the roof and through a window for testing and eliminate that question.

He needs to update the antenna anyhow, since his is old technology already has a broken element.

I'll let you know what I find.

Thanks, Bob
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Old 29-Aug-2016, 4:24 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerbangs View Post
A couple of questions: I noticed a rotator motor on the mast: is it still functional? Do you have the controller? You may want to sync up the rotator to facilitate aiming the antenna. It also appears that he can get the Milwaukee stations by rotating the antenna after the things that ADTech suggested have been tried.
Excellent questions.

I may have mentioned in the original post that the rotator doesn't work. The indoor part seem to work, the dial moves when turned, and the motor in the control unit moves and audibly sounds like mine at home. I pulled the cover off the bottom, all wires are intact. I wiggled the mast while the owner actuated the rotator control, nothing happened. He needs a new one. Maybe. I have a voltmeter but don't know what to look for. He could just need new 3 wire lead.

Milwaukee would be a bonus.

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Old 29-Aug-2016, 4:35 PM   #14
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Existing RG-6

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Originally Posted by rickbb View Post
Ditto: trying to reuse existing sat/cable RG6 and all their splitters, etc. has given me way more problems that all others I've encountered.

The last house I did had 3 different 3 way splitters piggy backed inline. Pulled it all out and replaced with new RG6 and a single 4 way low power broadcast amp and reception went from 15 stations to 43.
Yes, I will see to it that we use a substitute RG-6 downlead before we try and replace it since it goes through the chimney enclosure and through the house. To be honest, if the RG-6 is bad we'll have to find another way of it getting in through the house. That was installed when the house was built.

Also, I took the satellite coax off the combiner already thinking that the satellite lead cant be helping at all. I wanted to just eliminate the combiner but I didn't have a connector and the rain came.

Thanks, Bob
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Old 29-Aug-2016, 4:54 PM   #15
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Intial repairs and observations

Quote:
Originally Posted by ADTech View Post
Start with a new matching transformer (balun) and a new length of RG6 coax. At nearly 15 years of age, the odds are high that one or both have suffered water infiltration or corrosion.

Lowes now carries an inexpensive matching transformer (RCA brand), it appears to be identical to the one that Winegard is using on their production of RCA-branded antennas. It performs well, but the leads are very fragile and care is required to keep from breaking the wimpy spade lugs or wire leads.

BTW, is he re-using the coax from the satellite install? If so, were any sat-specific devices (multi-switch, diplexer, etc) removed first? Failure to do so is a common failure among sat-to-antenna transition projects. We get those calls all the time.
I'll start with a new balun and possibly new RG-6 but that would be a project due to fact it was installed when the house was new.

On a single antenna system, does polarity matter on the balun? Also, I just found out from the owner that there is some sort of board with all the connections in his basement that the satellite installer rigged up.

I'll take a look at that first. Maybe, in order to run one coax cable to support both systems, that here is a splitter or combiner or diplexer that is pulling the signal down.

I really like my 91-XG. I should ask you, is there a VHF kit for it for his set-up?

I don't think he'll go for a 2 antenna solution... I want to suggest 91XG to him or at least a HD7698P.

Would you suggest something else?

Can he can get Chicago and Milwaukee off one antenna? Maybe he can dump the rotator since they are approx. 180 degrees off. (Chicago 166 magnetic and Milwaukee 2 degrees magnetic).


Rabbit has suggested removing reflectors on other antennas on my project, I should have tried that.
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Old 29-Aug-2016, 6:15 PM   #16
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I frequently recommend a bi-directional arrangement for the area close to both the lake and the WI/IL state line. Usually works out well enough provided there are no complications. Trees and buildings blocking the signal path are the usual ones, followed by multi-path or electrical noise.

A C2V without it's reflector ought to do the job, barring those potential complications.
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Old 29-Aug-2016, 9:14 PM   #17
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OP, this might be a good time for you to step back and review your objectives. Run down the list of channels, check each against wiki for digital subchannels, and consult with titantv.com for programming. Decide if you want/need any of the vhf low channels or the ones that are off the 162-359 line of broadcasters. No need working to pull in channels you will not watch or compromising reception of the channels you want to get those you do not. For instance, WBBM is a vhf-high CBS affiliate with no subchannels. WRME is essentially a radio station. I don't know how to politely describe what WOCK airs. WMVS is PBS, but WTTW is a UHF PBS station which is closer and carries subchannels like create/world. WIWN is religious/shopping. I don't think you need to concern yourself with VHF at all.
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Old 30-Aug-2016, 2:48 PM   #18
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Channels

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Originally Posted by wizwor View Post
OP, this might be a good time for you to step back and review your objectives. Run down the list of channels, check each against wiki for digital subchannels, and consult with titantv.com for programming. Decide if you want/need any of the vhf low channels or the ones that are off the 162-359 line of broadcasters. No need working to pull in channels you will not watch or compromising reception of the channels you want to get those you do not. For instance, WBBM is a vhf-high CBS affiliate with no subchannels. WRME is essentially a radio station. I don't know how to politely describe what WOCK airs. WMVS is PBS, but WTTW is a UHF PBS station which is closer and carries subchannels like create/world. WIWN is religious/shopping. I don't think you need to concern yourself with VHF at all.
Thanks for the tip on Titan TV, I want to look into that for my purposes.


1) VHF Hi & UHF only.
2) Milwaukee & Chicago only.
3) VHF Low not needed.
4) PBS important. Milwaukee, Chicago, Gary all have different programming. Madison probably too far

AD Tech suggested a CSV 2 and remove the relectors and that would eliminate the rotator.
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Old 30-Aug-2016, 3:13 PM   #19
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I frequently recommend a bi-directional arrangement for the area close to both the lake and the WI/IL state line. Usually works out well enough provided there are no complications. Trees and buildings blocking the signal path are the usual ones, followed by multi-path or electrical noise.

A C2V without it's reflector ought to do the job, barring those potential complications.
AD Tech,

Thanks for the suggestion. I had never previously considered a C2V. I always thought it was one of those antennas that was more of a supplement to a Sat dish. That's how I usually see those.

No offense intended, I just never took that design seriously. But now, as I look around I have seen several of them in my area. I always wondered "what is that loop for?"

I went on some websites and found the C2V. There is also a 2 antenna design,(C4V) will that be OK ? I'm worried that the white pines may affect his reception for the future, so will a little overkill hurt??

The price difference is hardly worth worrying over.

Thanks, Bob

Last edited by bobsgarage; 30-Aug-2016 at 3:17 PM.
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Old 30-Aug-2016, 3:35 PM   #20
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You can do the same thing with a C4V. For either model, you'd' still have to mount the VHF dipole separately to the mast so you would also need a taller mast. I've suggested these two models since omitting the reflector is all that's necessary to make the antenna bi-directional.

If I was doing it for myself, I'd use the DB4e as the basis and remove it's reflectors even though that involves drilling out several rivets. It's still a lot more performance for a lower price, it's just that the Db4e isn't sold in retail stores since it's so much larger than the compact ClearStream models. You can easily pick up one of the ClearStream antennas at a local store same day.

Quote:
No offense intended, I just never took that design seriously.
A lot of folks do just that, but we sell a lot of them every year, the C2V is our largest seller. It's also my most-recommended antenna since is serves so well in so many situations where the "big iron" simply isn't mandatory. There are, of course, enough of those situations around whre the really large antennas are absolutely required, you just pretty much have to order them in. That simply isn't the segment of the antenna market our company has chosen to participate in.
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Last edited by ADTech; 30-Aug-2016 at 3:39 PM.
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