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Rich 18-Aug-2011 5:42 AM

Northern Colorado Antenna: Loveland/Fort Collins

Like many others, we are ditching satellite. We will get most programming online but want to get local news. We also want to keep the cost of this as low as is reasonably possible. Also, and this is a big one, my wife is not thrileed with this change and so this needs to be easy to use and realiable for her.

The station we are most interested in (KUSA) is in Denver, which is about 50 miles south of us. Our 2 TVs are old and not digital ready so we have ordered a DTA box (Zinwell ZAT-970A) to try this out. (it has not yet arrived) We may also replace one TV with a small new, digital one.

I need help with the antenna end of things. Like I said, we are about 50 miles north of Denver. Here is my analysis:

While both Loveland and Denver are both on the plains along the Front Range, there are still a lot of hills in 50 miles.

To start, I have purchased a Mohu Leaf antenna; it arrived today. However, after doing some more reading, given the distance and teh hilly terrain, I am not sure it is going to work. In the event it does not, or if the reception is poor or unreliable, I would consider putting an antenna in one of our attics. The preferred one would be the one over the garage on the south side of the house, about 15 feet off the ground. The other, over the remainder of the house running north, is a little tighter to work in. It is probably about 25 ft above the ground.

I know nothing about antennas. We are not TV junkies; we mainly want this for one or two news stations coming out of Denver, although if we found some interesting programming on other stations we would probably watch those stations as well. Not really interested in having to turn antennas or playing around with them in anyway really. My wife is certainly not interested in this. She would like a "satellite-like" experience.

So given all of that, and based on the analysis I ran, can anybody reccomend an antenna? (on the assumption the Leaf will not work). Also, if we end up putting one in the attic, will running cable over 30-40 feet and/or splitting the signal to 2 TVs cause a loss of signal?

Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.

Dave Loudin 18-Aug-2011 2:23 PM

The Mohu may get you the first 6 or so stations listed in your TVFool report. You should get reliable reception of stations in that list down to KUSA by picking up a Winegard HD-7696P and mounting it at your garage location, pointing south.

Good luck.

Rich 18-Aug-2011 3:33 PM

Thanks Dave. I will let you know how the Mohu goes when the DTA box arrives.

I like the garage attic location as it is easier to work in.

As I thought more about this whole situation, I realized that I grew up with cable television. I have never run antenna wires through a house. How do people run wires through walls to where their TV is located? In particular, the upstairs TV is located in the corner of two outside walls, which I am sure are full of insulation. Also, from the attic the wire would have to go thorugh the upstairs walls, the footers for the wall, down into the downstairs wall. I have worked home constrution in the past so I unsderstand how walls are constructed. I just don't see an easy way to snake wires through to all locations. Any thoughts or advice anybody?

Finally, while I have some understanding of electronics (from playing with it as a kid) I don't really get why different antennas work differently. There seem to be so many models. Can anybody point me to some primer on antenna design/function/theory?


mtownsend 18-Aug-2011 4:32 PM

If the house is already wired for cable TV, then you might consider using the existing cables. You can connect the coax to your antenna instead of the cable system (don't connect multiple signal sources to the same network of cables).

If you do plan on running new cable, I've had success dropping down from above (attic) or coming up from underneath (sub-floor) by drilling a small hole to feed the cable. The main challenges are finding the exact location for drilling the hole, finding wall cavities that aren't blocked by anything, and getting around existing elements (electrical wiring, telco, plumbing, ducts, etc.).

Antenna theory is a huge subject that is not easily covered by one source. You might want to start with something like and then drill down into more detailed areas as you see fit.

For practical consumer TV antennas, you'll primarily find the following antenna designs in use:
  • Yagi
  • Log periodic
  • Bowtie
  • Dipole (a.k.a. rabbit ears)
  • Loop

You can also ask questions on the forums to learn more.

John Candle 18-Aug-2011 5:45 PM

Tv Antennas and Reception
Aim the antenna at about 170 degree magnetic compass , Here is how to aim antennas ,

Rich 18-Aug-2011 5:52 PM

Thanks everybody for all of the adivce.

The house is not wired for cable, but is wired for satellite. Is the cable the same? I know that when the satellite guy came and did some repairs, he told me satellite uses two cables from the dish, something about high band and low band. Anyway, would the satellite cables work and if so, would either the high or the low work?

GroundUrMast 18-Aug-2011 7:58 PM

The cable used in satellite installations can be reused for OTA. Many of the accessory parts are satellite system only. For example, a diplexer may look identical to a splitter, but the diplexer will not pass OTA frequencies.

Rich 18-Aug-2011 8:32 PM

Thanks, this sounds promising. The point at which I would patch "splice, cut, ?) into the satellite cables in the house is well past the diplexer thing, which I assume is the little junction box on the outside of the hosue with cables from the dish coming in and numerous cable going out to parts of the house.

If I cut into a line already in the attic, and add some sort of splitter device so that the line from the dish is maintained but the antenna signal can get into the line, will the splitter interefere with the dish signals if we ever go back or if I sell the house to someone else who wants dish? I am guessing a splitter is a splitter, no matter the origin of the signal?

GroundUrMast 18-Aug-2011 9:22 PM

If you are going to cut existing cable in a satellite installation, expect to find 'quad-shielding', two foil layers combined with two braided layers of shielding. The connectors will need to be selected based on the cable. Fortunately, the big box home improvement centers usually carry the connectors and tools.

If the existing dish is active, you can usually insert an OTA/Satellite diplexer. One port accepts the signal from the dish, the other input port accepts the signal from the OTA antenna. If the dish is not active, don't worry about it, let the next person put a connector and 'F' barrel in to restore the satellite connection, presuming they want it.

coco 18-Aug-2011 11:32 PM

There is a lot of usefull information on this site:

Rich 19-Aug-2011 3:02 AM

Arrrggghhh! The Zinwell converter box arrived today and as far as I can tell, it is defective. I tested it out on an old, spare TV we have in storage (very old). The power button on the converter does not seem to work; the power light stays on no matter what I press. When I plug it in, it sends some sort of signal to the TV because the screen goes from snow to a conastant blue. However, no start menu appears like it says in the instructions (which I had to look up online. Not inlcuded in box). I have unplugged it several times and no change. The set is old enough that here is not any kind of digital or cable setting. Its a basic set. I tried it out on the two sets in use and no difference.

I will be returning it tomorrow for a refund. New plan: get a small, 20 inch digital enabled TV for upstairs and try out the Leaf antenna. If reception is not good, we will move on to tbigger antennas.

Thank you all for your help thus far.

John Candle 19-Aug-2011 4:36 AM

Tv Antennas and Reception
New small to medium size digital flat panel tv's are not much money now days.

Rich 19-Aug-2011 12:08 PM

One of the whole points of doing this is to save money, thus we are trying to keep the costs as low as possible. However, the set we will replace is at least 18-20 years old. It has a single, screw-in type connector for coaxial cable. So right now the sattelite and dvd player all connect through an adaptox box I used to use to transfer video from our camera to our computer. It's a mess of wires back there. I think it wou ld be ok to spend a few dollars to replace it.

Rich 1-Sep-2011 7:30 PM

OK, so I went to look into the reccomended antenna. I went to the Winegard site. While there I saw a form for an antenna reccomendation and figured I would double check before ordering. Here is the response I received from the Winegard technical folk:

"Normally I do not reccomend an indoor antenna at your distance. They only receive signal within 30 to 35 miles and almost all of your stations are beyond 35 miles. Please fill out another antenna request if you are interested in an outdoor antenna."

My station(s) of interest are all 45 miles away. Any experience with this? Any thoughts?


Rich 1-Sep-2011 7:32 PM

I should mention that I really do not want to put up an outdoor antenna.


John Candle 1-Sep-2011 7:42 PM

Tv Antennas and Reception
You can try a Non amplified indoor Tv antenna , . Aimed at about 170 degree magnetic compass. Here is how to aim indoor Tv antennas , Here are places to buy antennas and etc. , , , ,

Rich 1-Sep-2011 7:51 PM

So you suggest buying the Winegard and trying it even though the manufacturere says it might not work? Does the wall of a hosue really make that much difference in signal?

Finally, is there a small, non-obtrusive outdoor antenna that would work? I would still prefer to mount it in the attic.

John Candle 1-Sep-2011 7:55 PM

Tv Antennas and Reception
You are saving money because the antenna and Tv are a one time cost. Cable and Satellite are money month after month.

Rich 1-Sep-2011 7:59 PM

I get that. But Winegard says my antenna needs to be outside. People here have previously suggesetd that the Winegard HD-7696P should. Folks here seem rather knowledgable. However, Winegard makes the thing. Just trying to clear up my confusion. I want to believe the folks here because I don't want to mount an antenna on my house. However, I figure the manufacturer must know something about product performance. Help!

TheEmrys 2-Sep-2011 4:10 AM

I'm in Greeley, and I pick up 50 channels with a pretty small Terk HDTVO. It fit on my old Dish mast. Might be an option. It is considerably smaller than anything my neighbors have. But my signal isn't as strong as I would like, but it does come with a preamp (12 db). I may get a bigger one, depending on the results from my post in the same forum.

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