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Old 21-Jun-2014, 10:07 PM   #1
ptgOTA
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Antenna upgrade time? - recommendations

I've been using two antennas on my balcony at my apartment for the last 5 years and they've worked ok, but not great, and it seems like everything has died out. I used to get some stations clear for a bit sometimes and then interference would ruin everything completely. Whether the interference was from a passing car or a neighbor using some electrical device like a hair dryer or vacuum or something else. It's hard to tell if the problem is that I'm not getting enough strong and consistent signal or if I need to just upgrade everything(antennas, preamp, and cables) so that I would have more gain and much less loss.

Here's what I have right now...
ClearStream 4 from Antennas Direct
ClearStream 5 from Antennas Direct
Older normal RG59 coax cables
Winegard Preamplifier MODEL AP 8700
Low Pass Filter from Radio Shack
FM Band Rejection Filter from Antennas Direct

Here's my signal report...
http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...e1c6a28eb0d94b


I really only want to get channels 2-11.
I was also debating on getting RG6 Quad Shield cables to maybe also help cut down any interference I'm picking up since the majority of the cables are outside on my balcony.

I wish I wasn't in the deep-fringe area.
Let me know what you all think that I should do or change.

Thanks for your time
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Old 21-Jun-2014, 11:56 PM   #2
tluxon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ptgOTA View Post
I've been using two antennas on my balcony at my apartment for the last 5 years and they've worked ok, but not great, and it seems like everything has died out. I used to get some stations clear for a bit sometimes and then interference would ruin everything completely. Whether the interference was from a passing car or a neighbor using some electrical device like a hair dryer or vacuum or something else. It's hard to tell if the problem is that I'm not getting enough strong and consistent signal or if I need to just upgrade everything(antennas, preamp, and cables) so that I would have more gain and much less loss.

Here's what I have right now...
ClearStream 4 from Antennas Direct
ClearStream 5 from Antennas Direct
Older normal RG59 coax cables
Winegard Preamplifier MODEL AP 8700
Low Pass Filter from Radio Shack
FM Band Rejection Filter from Antennas Direct

Here's my signal report...
http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...e1c6a28eb0d94b


I really only want to get channels 2-11.
I was also debating on getting RG6 Quad Shield cables to maybe also help cut down any interference I'm picking up since the majority of the cables are outside on my balcony.

I wish I wasn't in the deep-fringe area.
Let me know what you all think that I should do or change.

Thanks for your time
In my experience and from what I've read, I think a high percentage of problems with reception stems from the cabling. You might want to remove that from the checklist by replacing any questionable runs with solid-core RG6.
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Old 22-Jun-2014, 12:36 PM   #3
StephanieS
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Will your landlord allow you to install something on your roof?

The balcony only makes it rough.
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Old 22-Jun-2014, 2:05 PM   #4
Flint Ridge
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You are not in a deep fringe area.

Have you tried your setup bypassing the amp? Simplest place to start. I would try that first and remove any splitters etc and plug into one tv, rescan and see what if anything you have.

With the signal you have you should be good. Then report back. Then, I would change out the cabling to RG6 with compression fittings. You can get the stuff at Lowe's for example. If you want to do both, that would do no harm, then you should have confirmed good connections.

How many tv's are you running?
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Old 22-Jun-2014, 2:57 PM   #5
ADTech
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Quote:
I think a high percentage of problems with reception stems from the cabling.
A far, far greater number of problems is due to a poor antenna location or aiming, either due to unavailable prime location access or from poor site selection due to either lack of knowledge or from pure lack of initiative in finding the right spot.
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Old 22-Jun-2014, 3:51 PM   #6
GroundUrMast
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While I certainly wouldn't suggest RG-59 in a new install, it can serve well in short to medium length cable runs. The difference in loss between RG-59 and RG-6 is not dramatic. Presuming there is no damage or corrosion, that it's in serviceable condition, it would be hard to justify replacing the cable.

Having said all that, if there is any possibility that the cable has failed in any way, swap it out for a good piece of RG-6. And as ADTech has pointed out, on average, the factors he cites are more likely to account for unreliable reception.

Getting water out of the ground, to a tap depends first on getting a hole dug in the right spot and deep enough. Pipes and pumps alone won't produce water. Reliable TV reception depends first on the antenna, it's location and aim.
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If the well is dry and you don't see rain on the horizon, you'll need to dig the hole deeper. (If the antenna can't get the job done, an amp won't fix it.)

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Old 23-Jun-2014, 1:08 AM   #7
ptgOTA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flint Ridge View Post
You are not in a deep fringe area.

Have you tried your setup bypassing the amp? Simplest place to start. I would try that first and remove any splitters etc and plug into one tv, rescan and see what if anything you have.

With the signal you have you should be good. Then report back. Then, I would change out the cabling to RG6 with compression fittings. You can get the stuff at Lowe's for example. If you want to do both, that would do no harm, then you should have confirmed good connections.

How many tv's are you running?
I'm like right in the middle, distance-wise, of San Diego and Los Angeles, and the signals that I want are in LA(50 miles away). I thought I was at least in a fringe area, oh well, it's nothing to be proud of, the signals aren't the best. There's a toll road very close by that probably limits my reception a bit.

I tried everything out without the preamp and just went straight to the convertor box and I couldn't get anything from both antennas combined. I then tried each antenna by itself without the preamp and I could barley get 1 channel. The preamp certainly helps me.

So I went out and got some new RG6 Quad Shield cable this afternoon and hooked everything back up. Signal came in much more consistently and I was able to pull in 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 11 which was exactly what I was going for. Signal is not perfect and I notice I still get a tiny bit of interference now and then but it's much much better.

It looks like for me the ClearStream 5 was able to pull in the most by itself compared to the ClearStream 4 by itself. Only 1 or 3 channels separately, but 6 combined with the preamp and diplexer.

I was thinking of maybe checking out the Antennas Direct DB4e since the gain was about +2dBi more than what I get now and that might help the consistency for everything that I do get.

And I'm just running 1 TV

Do you think a better or lower-noise preamp might help things as well?
I only have the preamp connected to the ClearStream 4.
Wasn't sure if a preamp like the PA18 might help things since I could connect both antennas.

Quote:
Originally Posted by StephanieS View Post
Will your landlord allow you to install something on your roof?

The balcony only makes it rough.
No, they won't. If it's within my balcony it's ok, like everyone else with their DirectTV antennas.

Last edited by ptgOTA; 24-Jun-2014 at 3:06 AM.
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Old 24-Jun-2014, 3:26 AM   #8
ptgOTA
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Thanks for everyone's input.

I was thinking of maybe checking out the Antennas Direct DB4e to replace the ClearStream 4 since the gain is about 2dBi more than what I get now, and that might help the consistency for everything that I do get.

Do you all think a better/more powerful or lower-noise preamp might help things as well?

I only have the older/discontinued Winegard AP 8700 preamp connected to the ClearStream 4.
Wasn't sure if a preamp like the Antennas Direct PA18 or something else might help things since I could connect both antennas to separate preamps.
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Old 24-Jun-2014, 11:20 AM   #9
ADTech
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Before considering a different antenna, it would be wise to first determine why your existing equipment is not getting the job done. Based on your TVFool plot and the equipment list, your equipment is perfectly suitable for your area.

What floor are you on?
Does your balcony face Mt Wilson (NW)?
What is in front of the balcony (buildings, trees, doghouse, etc)?
Are the antennas above any metal railings?
Are you using the combiner provided with the C5 to combine the two antennas then feeding the signal into the pre-amp?
Who advised you to install the two filters and why?
Where are they installed and do they make any difference?

When the two antennas are used in tandem and properly combined, the C5 would have the job of getting channels 7, 9, 11, & 13 while the C4 would be expected to get everything else. If used individually, the C4 would likely suffer on 7-11 while the C5 would most likely suffer on everything else. There may be some crossover, but it is not predictable.
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Old 29-Jun-2014, 6:10 AM   #10
ptgOTA
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I'm on the 2nd floor of a two-story building.
My balcony faces SW, so I will try and point the antennas as much as I can more-towards Mt Wilson.
If I do change the antenna direction to point directly where my compass directs me to, I would need to point them to the walls out on the balcony where my water heater and extra storage space is.
I was trying the keep the antennas out in the open and not pointing towards anything that may block a signal. I guess it is worth a shot to try. Once I did update and change my RG6 cables things got a little better signal-wise.

Do you think I should combine both the C4 and C5 cables together before I send one combined cable through the preamp so both antennas get preamped? Because right now only the C4 is going into the preamp and after that I combine both the C4 and C5.

I'm going to go out and see if I can switch things around and combine it all before I preamp tomorrow.
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