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Old 29-Dec-2009, 2:49 PM   #1
shipfaced
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first post asking lots of questions - have pic of final results

Goodmorning fellow fools,

Stumbled upon this great site, hope I can get help with selecting an antenna.

The house has a metal roof so it will be outside on a mast. Height of roof is 21ft. Don't know what else to include so lets start here.

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...41055374660650


BTW final pics are in my last post at bottom - CYA

Last edited by shipfaced; 13-Jan-2010 at 9:00 PM.
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Old 29-Dec-2009, 5:22 PM   #2
mtownsend
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Hello and welcome!

Quote:
Originally Posted by shipfaced View Post
The house has a metal roof so it will be outside on a mast. Height of roof is 21ft.
With a metal roof, make sure the antenna is well above the roof (at least ~5 feet) so as not to be overly influenced by the roof itself.

It looks like a few of the West Palm Beach channels are your strongest channels to the south. Unfortunately, the rest of the WPB stations are broadcasting from a different location and will be much harder to receive.

Your better bet might be to go for the Orlando stations to the north-west. WESH (NBC) is on channel 11, so you'll need a VHF-capable antenna. A channel 7-69 type antenna (like the Winegard 7698P or Antennacraft HBU-55) would be a good fit. Pointed at a 333 degree compass heading, it should get most of the channels in the "pink" section of your tvfool report.

You'll need one of these "larger" antennas to make sure you get reliable reception from stations so far away. I would just be a little concerned about how you would secure the antenna in case of hurricane weather.
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Old 29-Dec-2009, 8:25 PM   #3
shipfaced
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Thanks for recommending model numbers of antennas, mtownsend - didn't know where to begin?
Good info about staying away from the metal roof. To keep it away from the roof, could we could use a sailboat mast that we use as a flag pole now? Does the antenna need to be stable - ei:not swaying on the end of a mast?
As far as hurricanes go your concern is warranted. One good thing about hurricanes is they don't sneak up on you, I could remove it before the real wind started.

Does an amplifier help in this case or is it best to stay away from them... same for a rotor?
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Old 30-Dec-2009, 5:18 AM   #4
mtownsend
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Quote:
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To keep it away from the roof, could we could use a sailboat mast that we use as a flag pole now? Does the antenna need to be stable - ei:not swaying on the end of a mast?
Most antennas are designed to clamp around a pole up to 1.5 inches in diameter. If your boat mast is generally round and under 1.5" across, then it should be possible to mount the antenna on it.

Then again, antenna masts can be purchased in 5 and 10 foot lengths at modest prices.

You also need a way to hold the mast. Depending on what your options are, you might consider chimney mounts, tripods, eave mounts, wall mounts, towers, etc.

It is a good idea to minimize antenna sway and rotation. If the antenna movement is too much, it might be bad enough to cause signal breakups. Antenna sway is usually not that big of a problem unless the mast is getting long or is not sturdy enough (larger diameter, thicker walled masts are more stiff than skinny ones). If the mast is getting to be over 10 feet high, then guy wires are probably a good idea.



Quote:
Does an amplifier help in this case or is it best to stay away from them...
A pre-amp is a good idea in your case. Pre-amps boost your antenna's output before all the lossy components that come later (coax, splitters, and other devices that cut down the signal quality).

There are some cases when nearby signals are too strong for pre-amps to handle. This causes amp overload that makes things worse rather than better. However, in your situation, there aren't any signals strong enough to cause concern of overload. The improvement from the pre-amp should be a net gain.

The Orlando stations are pretty weak, so a pre-amp should help you preserve as much signal quality out of your antenna as possible.

When choosing a pre-amp, be sure to select one with a low Noise Figure (NF) specification. A "good" pre-amp should have a Noise Figure of 3 dB or less. Popular "good" pre-amps include the Channel Master 7777, Winegard 8275, and Antennacraft 10G202.


Quote:
same for a rotor?
A rotor is useful if you want to grab stations from different directions. However, in your case, you should be able to get all of the major networks from Orlando. There's not much need to go after the West Palm Beach stations since most of them are harder to get and would mostly duplicate what you get from Orlando.

Unless you have a specific need to get stations from both directions, then you can probably skip the rotor.
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Old 5-Jan-2010, 9:57 PM   #5
shipfaced
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Learned alot this past week, one thing learned is that (good) antennas don't come small and cute. If you need to pull in a short DB gain from long distances, I mean.
Thanks to mtownsend and after much deliberation we're going with a winegard 8200 platinum series antenna and the recommended winegard 8275 pre amp to go with it. Because we live within 25 ft of salt water I figured the better build of the platinum would last longer.
If it wasn't for that one damn NBC station using VHF I could have gone smaller and saved lots of bucks.

great site great help.
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Old 5-Jan-2010, 11:29 PM   #6
mtownsend
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Just so you know, the HD8200U is a full band (all VHF and all UHF) antenna. It will work in your situation, but it is also bigger than what you need.

The lowest channel number you need to deal with is WWCI, channel 10. You could go with a Winegard HD7698P for channels 7 thru 69. Since the HD7698P skips the lowest channels (2-6), it doesn't need to have the very long antenna elements at the wide end like the HD8200U.

The performance of both antennas is good on the channels you need. The smaller antenna has the advantage of being less of a wind load, lighter, and cheaper to ship (if you're purchasing online). Both are made by Winegard and are well built.

They are both "big" antennas, so I highly recommend having a friend or two to help with the installation.

Either way you go, it looks like you're on the right path to getting a good OTA setup.
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Old 5-Jan-2010, 11:50 PM   #7
shipfaced
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I'm glad to hear that because of wind load, will get the next smaller size. I thought the 8200 was a better quality. Curiously winegards' site mentioned the 8200 but nothing about needing a pre amp? do you think it could be eliminated?
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Old 6-Jan-2010, 12:10 AM   #8
mtownsend
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I think a pre-amp is beneficial in your case. It overcomes any of the signal loss that occurs after the amp (like long cable runs, splitters, etc.). It will give you some extra margin for error (like interference, seasonal changes, stormy weather, etc.) and make your overall system more robust.

It's some added peace of mind for a modest cost. It's really not that much if you consider that the average monthly cable/satellite bill is about the same amount of money.
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Old 6-Jan-2010, 1:32 AM   #9
shipfaced
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would you suggest that i hold off on the amp to see what the signal performance is first or will it be needed because of the long distance from the tower? You are right it isn't much of an overall cost.... on the other hand every engineer says simple is best.

Last edited by shipfaced; 6-Jan-2010 at 1:34 AM.
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Old 6-Jan-2010, 2:13 AM   #10
mtownsend
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Sure, you can always try it without an amp first and then add it later. It's likely that things will work, but you'll be that much closer to the edge of failure (the so-called "digital cliff"). The amp merely give you a bigger buffer so that natural signal fluctuations (which inevitably will occur) do not turn into visible channel drop-outs or video break-ups.

The other way to look it is that if you know something will help (and I think the amp will help), and it doesn't cost that much, why not just do it right on the first try. I'd rather save myself the trouble of going up on the roof a second time to mess with cables, connectors, masts, and making everything tidy again.
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Old 8-Jan-2010, 3:30 PM   #11
shipfaced
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mtownsend, Ok I built this antenna while doing my homework to buy a "real" antenna.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDRoTujiAw8

On the first scan we got 22 channels, getting some that I did not know were there? Naples and Ft Meyers Bch on the west coast to name two. The home built antenna is laying flat on a table on our deck which faces south. All northern stations would be shielded from the house right now. I'll wait til it warms up to get up on the roof for a better all around signal. This can actually be kinda fun, might not be buying anything.

Some 5-6 of these channels are useless of course but the networks are there including NBC which I thought was out of the question? Why do we pick up Naples to the SW ... using Google earth it looks to be about 135 miles away??

Last edited by shipfaced; 8-Jan-2010 at 3:51 PM.
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Old 8-Jan-2010, 4:35 PM   #12
mtownsend
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shipfaced View Post
I built this antenna while doing my homework to buy a "real" antenna.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDRoTujiAw8
Just so you know, that antenna works pretty well for UHF channels, but does not do a good job with VHF channels. This means that it's not going to be very sensitive on channel 11, WESH (NBC). If you are getting WESH now, I'd say you're lucky.



Quote:
Some 5-6 of these channels are useless of course but the networks are there including NBC which I thought was out of the question? Why do we pick up Naples to the SW ... using Google earth it looks to be about 135 miles away??
Can you tell what is the callsign and channel number is for the NBC station you're picking up? WESH (RF 11 / 11.1) serves the Orlando area and is the closest NBC affiliate at about 70 miles away. WPTV (RF 12 / 5.1) serves West Palm Beach and is about 83 miles away. WBBH (RF 15 / 20.1) serves Naples and is about 105 miles away. WTVJ (RF 31 / 6.1) serves Miami and is about 125 miles away.

Are you sure you're picking up channels from Naples (~105 miles away)? It's usually very difficult to get channels reliably from so far away. Are you still getting those channels today?
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Old 8-Jan-2010, 5:45 PM   #13
shipfaced
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had to call home, they were listed on the back of an envelope ... get WBBH and WINK too from over on the west coast. Yet another channel had FT Meyers weather, they posted the NBC logo but all they did was weather and news, nothing else. Have no idea if these channels are still up now?

EDIT: this is later in the day, channels are gone only 10-12 left. I was giddy with my previous luck. Oh well back to living with fewer channels.

Last edited by shipfaced; 8-Jan-2010 at 11:38 PM.
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Old 9-Jan-2010, 2:45 AM   #14
mtownsend
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If you want to stick with your DIY antenna for serving UHF, you might want to consider adding a high-VHF antenna like the Winegard YA6713 and a pre-amp like the Channel Master 7777 (which can take separate UHF and VHF antenna inputs). This might help you recover some of your lost channels.
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Old 9-Jan-2010, 12:05 PM   #15
shipfaced
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Once again I'm thanking you for your help mtownsend, was the incredible reception due to tropospheric conditions?
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Old 10-Jan-2010, 2:17 AM   #16
mtownsend
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That's possible.

There are multiple ways the atmosphere can help or hurt reception. Tropospheric enhancement is mostly weather related in the lower layers of the atmosphere. The most regular of these effects is caused by thermal inversion, which occurs most evenings as the air cools and the warm ground radiates heat. Much stronger effects can be observed when weather fronts move through the area.

There are also events that happen in the upper atmosphere (like meteors and solar flares) that can have a dramatic effect long distance reception.
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Old 12-Jan-2010, 3:14 AM   #17
shipfaced
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Quick update.
Finally got something up in the air, have properly mounted the DIY antenna on the 22ft. S.B. mast. It peeks over the roof by maybe 10ft. giving the antenna a vista to the North. With a bit of hit and miss tuning (the antenna still faces South) we scanned a total of 53 CH (including NBC's WESH 70 mi N.)

Got a cheap POS walmart pre-amp just to see what happens. WOW the superior reception that mtownsend predicted has convinced us that a better quality pre-amp is definitely in the cards! A CM-7777 is coming.

The mast is located on the south-facing deck, out back of the house, we moved the mast so it reaches another 5-6ft higher (but still at the south). We were going to make another copy of my DIY antenna to equal an 8 bay bowtie antenna but there really is no sense in that. We get all the networks and many local channels .. there is very little to be gained now except needless duplication. In review we ended up with a cheaper and better solution than the 14 ft long Winegard that we were going to get. The tough little DIY antenna has a much smaller wind profile plus I made everything from items we had on hand ... total out of pocket $55 for pre-amp.

BTW I still have an analog TV and you can easily see the HD difference, better than satellite and much better than cable. To the other noobs out there .... it's not that hard.

Last edited by shipfaced; 20-Jan-2010 at 7:20 PM.
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Old 12-Jan-2010, 4:24 AM   #18
mtownsend
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Sounds wonderful. Congratulations!
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