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Old 11-May-2011, 6:25 AM   #1
Joe Siegler
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My Newbie Questions

First off, my report: http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...8d17e532c89f58

I'm a cable customer who is having to cut cable not for the reason most do, but because I can't afford it. Due to unemployment and other life issues, I have to go to OTA.

I have a one story house in an area that is pretty darned flat - I'm about 10 miles outside of Dallas, a mostly concrete jungle. My house is nothing special, brick house, and I planned on putting this inside - but not in the attic. The room the antenna will be in does not have a window on the wall it will be sitting by - but there is one elsewhere in the room. Outside, there's some trees around, but we're not talking a forest, like a tree in every other house on the block. Due to mostly cost issues, putting an antenna on the roof is not my first choice. It's most definitely something I couldn't do myself anyway - I'm one of those "can't do it myself, I'll pay someone" type of guys.

Anyway, from my report - all the channels I care about are in the green, which would bode well for me using an indoor antenna. Be nice to get some in the yellow and above areas, but I'm not gonna lose sleep over it. However, just about all of the transmitters are approaching (or a tad over) 30 miles, which seems to be a key mileage number with reception. Would that be a problem for me?

Anyway, the antenna I was looking at was this one. Read on these forums a bit, and there seems to be a prevailing opinion here that you don't want a powered antenna, you want an unpowered one. I'm not being combative here, but can someone explain that? I always thought the powered ones help when signals are weak.

I have not actually purchased anything at this point, I'm just doing research right now, so there's nothing for me to "try" yet.
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Old 11-May-2011, 7:06 AM   #2
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Btw, some of the resources on this site are badass. The tv signal locator with google maps I way cool. Really like that.

After I posted the first msg, I found a really old POS rabbit ears I had in a box. Something like 20 years old. For the heck of it, I put it up in the same spot I intend on putting the antenna I linked to above, and I got a pretty decent selection of channels. Not everything I want, but enough to tell me that I should be OK with a better antenna (hopefully anyway). There's a knob on the POS antenna, but it's so old that any of the markings that indicate what the knob was supposed to do have long since worn off.
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Old 11-May-2011, 7:15 AM   #3
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Tv Antennas and Reception

As you have read about amplified indoor antennas , they also amplify , electronic noise , electrical noise , multipath (reflected signals) , can Over Amplify Strong Tv transmissions and local Fm transmissions and be the cause of bad Tv reception. We live in the age of the amplifier , amp it up , pump it up , slam the power to it , super charge the ego , make it flashy , blast em out with the super boom box , get the super amper , make the car tires fatter with less distance between the road and the rim of the wheel , and what ever you do - do not tell any one the truth.
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Old 11-May-2011, 7:23 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by John Candle View Post
We live in the age of the amplifier , amp it up , pump it up , slam the power to it , super charge the ego , make it flashy , blast em out with the super boom box , get the super amper , make the car tires fatter with less distance between the road and the rim of the wheel , and what ever you do - do not tell any one the truth.
Uh, OK.....
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Old 11-May-2011, 7:31 AM   #5
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Tv Antennas and Reception

Here are Non amplified indoor tv antennas , http://forum.tvfool.showthread.php?t=233 , Here is how to aim tv antennas , http://www.kyes.com/antenna/pointing/pointing.html . For your location aim the antenna at about 230 magnetic compass. When placing a Tv antenna for reception , 98 % of the time - higher is better. . Also read and understand this about , REAL Digital Broadcast Tv Channels , Virtual Digital Broadcast Tv Channels , Analog Tv Channels , http://forum.tvfool.com/showthread.php?t=695
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Old 11-May-2011, 8:22 AM   #6
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Tv Antennas and Reception

If you will like to reach out for the channels in yellow then I suggest a roof top Tv antenna the Winegard HD7694P antenna. Here are places to buy Tv antennas and etc. . , http://www.solidsignal.com , http://www.3starinc.com , http://www.starkelectronic.com , http://www.amazon.com . For mounting a Tv antenna on the roof i suggest , tripod mount , chimney mount , peak of the roof eave mount .

Last edited by John Candle; 11-May-2011 at 8:27 AM.
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Old 11-May-2011, 8:58 AM   #7
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Tv Antennas and Reception

The truth is that for Many people a down turn in finances has given them the extra push to make the break from pay cable tv and pay satellite tv.
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Old 11-May-2011, 4:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Read on these forums a bit, and there seems to be a prevailing opinion here that you don't want a powered antenna, you want an unpowered one. I'm not being combative here, but can someone explain that? I always thought the powered ones help when signals are weak.
Your question is certainly not combative.

The signals in your area are not weak. In fact the combined signal strength of the more than two dozen stations will likely overload most amplifiers including those built into antennas.

Amplifiers become useful and appropriate when there are significant losses due to signal splitting and long cable runs.

You are correct, amplifiers are intended to increase the amplitude (strength) of signals. However all amplifiers, even the best, add noise to the signals. Amplifiers also have a limit to how strong a signal (or combination of signals) can be at the input. If the input signals are too strong for a given amplifier design, the output will be a distorted mess.

You are in a location were OTA reception is very easy. The Winegard HD7694P JC has suggested will provide more than enough signal strength to deliver strong signals through a 4-way passive splitter and 100 feet of coax. If your old rabbit ears fail to receive well, it raises a question about the construction of your home. Walls with foil faced insulation, metal siding, metal studs, stucco wire or similar materials will make indoor reception difficult. In such conditions, amplifiers will not correct the underlying problem.

You have made it clear that you want to avoid an outdoor antenna if possible. The Terk HDTVi is one option. But I would recommend you re-try your rabbit ears near a window with a view to the SW. You may find you don't need to spend a dime.

For some reason, amplifiers are easy to sell... http://forum.tvfool.com/showthread.php?t=1514
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Old 12-May-2011, 7:51 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by GroundUrMast View Post
You are correct, amplifiers are intended to increase the amplitude (strength) of signals. However all amplifiers, even the best, add noise to the signals. Amplifiers also have a limit to how strong a signal (or combination of signals) can be at the input. If the input signals are too strong for a given amplifier design, the output will be a distorted mess.
Fair enough. I get that.

Quote:
You are in a location were OTA reception is very easy. The Winegard HD7694P JC has suggested will provide more than enough signal strength to deliver strong signals through a 4-way passive splitter and 100 feet of coax.
But that is to me, a "roof" antenna. That's not the kind of thing I can sit on top of my bookshelf in the room. If I was going with an attic antenna, I might as well go on the roof. The reason I wanted to do indoor is to avoid the expense of hiring someone to do all this work. It's beyond my capabilities, so if someone had to go into the attic to put an antenna up there, they might as well do it on the roof, since they'd have to do drilling to run wires and all that. This is all stuff I'm incapable (or unwilling) to do myself.

Quote:
If your old rabbit ears fail to receive well, it raises a question about the construction of your home. Walls with foil faced insulation, metal siding, metal studs, stucco wire or similar materials will make indoor reception difficult. In such conditions, amplifiers will not correct the underlying problem.
That's a valid point too, but we're the fifth owners of a 25 year old house. I have no idea what's on the inside of the walls, and no way to know how to find out short of cutting into the wall.

The rabbit ears work for the channels they do pick up, but the old rabbit ears have a dial which let you go back and forth between VHF & UHF, but as I said earlier, it's so old and worn, I have no idea what turning the dial is actually DOING as such. On top of that, I want an option that doesn't require me to turn a knob to get different channels.

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You have made it clear that you want to avoid an outdoor antenna if possible. The Terk HDTVi is one option. But I would recommend you re-try your rabbit ears near a window with a view to the SW. You may find you don't need to spend a dime.
Terk HDTVi is amplified, isn't it? What's the difference between that one and the one I suggested myself earlier in the thread, a Winegard SS-3000, then? Unless you're suggesting using them without their amplifiers plugged in, which I think is possible, isn't it?

The problem with the room that I'm putting this in is that there's no window save on the total opposite side of the room. Rearranging to get to a window is not an option, so unless I wanted to run a cable along the inside of the room over to that window and mount the antenna upside down in the window area, I don't see how I'll be able to get it near a window at all.

That's the main reason I wanted to not do an outdoor antenna. Cost. I'd have to pay someone to do all that, and I just do not have the $ for that being unemployed at the moment.

Here's a visual look at the room in question. The first picture was taken right before my HDTV got delivered. The intended place for the antenna is on top of the DVD rack you see in this picture.



If you turn around 180 degrees, you see the only window in the room, which is in this second shot. I took the first shot standing inbetween the window and the sofa in this second shot. The second shot was taken the night before we had new blinds installed, which is why there's nothing in the window in this picture.



There's no easy way to get an antenna for this TV near a window, save for running line through the room over there, and that won't look too pretty, IMO.
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Old 12-May-2011, 8:24 PM   #10
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There are two versions of the Terk, one amplified the other not. The photo on Amazons website is of some Philips product, quite confusing. Another inexpensive option is the RCA ANT-111.

I don't envy your predicament. My best suggestion would be to try one of the simple non-amplified antennas. If you can purchase from a retailer with a friendly return policy, all the better.

If you can't get satisfactory results indoors, then I think you have proven sufficiently that your building construction is a problem for reception. An outdoor antenna would be the next option to consider. The RCA ANT-751 is a fairly small outdoor antenna that can be wall mounted... a big plus over the larger roof top options.
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Old 12-May-2011, 8:45 PM   #11
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I actually have an ANT111 inbound from Amazon as we speak, plus the antenna I suggested. If they don't work, Amazon will let me return them, which is fine. We'll see what happens. Tkx for info.
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Old 16-May-2011, 2:02 PM   #12
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Update.

Good News:

On Friday, I got the Wynegard SS-3000 and the ANT111R in from Amazon.com at the same time. I hooked the ANT111R up in the bedroom, as it was going straight into the TV set, no splitter, DVR, or anything else. The old POS rabbit ears I talked about above were on this, and they found at most 12-15 channels. ANT111 found 40! I was shocked. Not all came in terribly good, but it found a lot.

Moving back to the main room (the one pictured above). I was operating under the assumption that the Wynegard would be better, so I put it together and hooked it up (but without the amplifier, I just ran it into the TV). It worked OK, but didn't get all the VHF channels I wanted (here in Dallas, that's 2(PBS2), 4(FOX), 5(NBC), 8(ABC), 11(CBS), & 13(PBS)). I could get some, but none. Was mildly disappointed, and was sitting around trying to figure out what my next step was. Trying to think if I wanted to get into the amplifier or not.

For the hell of it, I disconnected the ANT111R from the bedroom TV and hooked it up to the main living room TV. Holy crud! The thing worked amazingly well. It does a great job at picking up all the VHF channels I wanted. It also picked up a decent selection of the UHF channels. However, here in Dallas, the majority of them are some sort of Spanish language something or other. The ones that are not I can get pretty well, so I just deselected the weak or blocky spanish channels.

I was absolutely STUNNED at how well the ANT111 worked for me. That an $8 antenna worked better than the $50 powered, much sexier looking antenna was a talking point for me most of the weekend. This all worked so well, I went out to Best Buy on Saturday morning and bought another ANT111, so both my living room and bedroom TV's are using one now. I'm no fool. A proper roof mounted antenna would work better than this. But, given my financial limitations and whatnot, the $8 is doing far better than I had hoped for. The Wynegard was boxed up on Friday night, and an RMA requested from Amazon - they'll be taking it back today via UPS for a refund.

Now I realize that YMMV for antennas and rabbit ears - they're enormously susceptible to a ton of variables that would make it not work at all for you. But for me, in my circumstances, the ANT111R worked brilliantly.

Some Break Up Issues:

Having said all this, there's two channels that I get breakup with. Their signal is strong (at least I think it's strong based on my overall channel signal strength). They're usually 70-80. Yet sometimes I get breakup. Is there anything that can be done? When they work, they work well - and that's most of the time (in my time watching, I'd say it's about 75% no problems). But I would like to do something if possible. I've already tried moving the antenna a little, but moving it too much causes problems elsewhere.

NOTES:
  • My report
  • TV is a Samsung LN46A650A1F
  • Problem occurs on two channels (4-1 & 5-1). The rest are fine.
  • Antenna is an RCA ANT111R
  • There's a non powered $3 splitter inbetween the antenna and the TV. That's so the Antenna can go to both the TV itself and my TiVo.
After posting the picture below, I wondered. The basket to the right of the antenna holds my spare cables and controllers for the video game systems you see in the picture below. That wouldn't cause a problem, would it? What about the speaker above the antenna in the corner of the room? It's not turned on - those speakers are actually not hooked up to anything (my receiver broke awhile ago), but it is physically still in the room.

Edit:

Here's that corner of the room again. Picture taken this morning:


Last edited by Joe Siegler; 16-May-2011 at 2:11 PM. Reason: Added Picture
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Old 16-May-2011, 5:21 PM   #13
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Virtual channel 4.1, KDFW is broadcast on real channel 35. VC 5.1, KXAS is broadcast on real channel 41. Therefor, both are UHF channels. The antenna choice has no relationship to virtual channel numbers.

Quote:
A proper roof mounted antenna would work better than this. But, given my financial limitations...
So I don't need to beat that point any more. Can you try the ANT-111 in your attic?

Quote:
The basket to the right of the antenna holds my spare cables and controllers for the video game systems you see in the picture below. That wouldn't cause a problem, would it?
That close... yes. Are the picture frames metal? If so, they can affect the antenna also. Metal within 4' will affect the UHF signal quite a bit, For signals on real VHF channels, it's nice if you could keep metal objects 10' or more from the antenna.
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Old 16-May-2011, 6:14 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by GroundUrMast View Post
So I don't need to beat that point any more. Can you try the ANT-111 in your attic?
No, because that would require running cables through the wall to do so. I'm unwilling to do that myself, nor can I afford to pay someone to do it. If I was to do that, I would have just paid someone to put something on the roof. The entire reason I'm doing ANT111 in the first place is because of lack of funds to install a proper roof antenna.

Quote:
That close... yes. Are the picture frames metal? If so, they can affect the antenna also. Metal within 4' will affect the UHF signal quite a bit, For signals on real VHF channels, it's nice if you could keep metal objects 10' or more from the antenna.
The smaller of the picture frames is metal. The larger one I don't remember - I think it's plastic. However, there's a decent amount of metal in the controller basket. I'll give that a try tonight and see if it affects anything. Thanks for the suggestions.
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Old 18-May-2011, 12:23 AM   #15
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Tv Antennas and Reception

The tv antenna needs to be directed/pointed at the tv transmitters about 230 magnetic compass. . Splitting the indoor antenna to 2 tv's will reduce the signal strength at both tv's. Here is how to point Tv antennas , http://www.kyes.com/antenna/pointing/pointing.html . . When standing in front of the tv and looking at the tv , what direction is that??
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Old 29-Jun-2011, 10:10 PM   #16
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Update. I replaced the ANT111R with an ANT121. The dial in the front lets me get some of the "Old UHF" channels which I couldn't easily get with ANT111.

Also since I last posted here, I removed the splitter from the line, and just run the ANT121 to my TiVo, and the ANT111 goes straight to the TV. I don't often use that way, so I don't much care how well it gets the signal that way - I only want one channel for the direct to the TV antenna, and that's NBC in Dallas.
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Old 30-Jun-2011, 6:04 AM   #17
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Tv Antennas and Reception

Here is my last and final suggestion. Install a Winegard FV HD30 outside and aim it at 230 magnetic compass.
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Old 26-Aug-2011, 9:52 PM   #18
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http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...9e7403cf57edca
(This is a different report than the one higher up in the thread - this one has a bigger height value due to the fact that I have something in the attic now).

NOTE: This is in Garland, TX, right outside of Dallas.

I'm bumping my own thread, as I have an update to all of this. I have been operating for a couple of months with the getup in the pictures above. It mostly worked, but I could never find that one sweet spot that would get me every channel I wanted (let alone everything that I know was available). I could get several channels at once well, but others, not at all, or too blocky to be worth it. I've put up with it for awhile, mostly because I couldn't afford to run cable (nor do I have the skill). My wife's heard me swear at the rabbit ears on several occasions.

Anyway, this past week I was talking to a friend of mine at church about his TV setup, as he is antenna only. He has one of those big ol rooftop antennas, but in his attic. When I asked how he ran cables up there, he said he didn't. When he bought the house he never activated the cable TV that was already in the house. He just disconnected the cable that runs to the TV's and plugged it into the antenna he stuck in his attic. He says he gets everything that way - just the odd channel problem when there's really high winds around.

I didn't think anything of it until today when I was thinking about the way my house is wired. When my wife and I first bought this place, we hooked up DirecTV. We had two cables running to the living room and the bedroom from a splitter that used to be up there. When I switched to Time Warner Cable, I didn't need all those cables, so one of the two going to the living room was disconnected, and just sat there. I thought of that cable this morning, and went up to the attic and looked. Sure enough it was just hanging there connected to nothing.

So I took one of my rabbit ears I wasn't using at the moment (RCA ANT111R), and stuck it on the other end of the cable, and just sat it up there. Pointed it in the general direction I believe most of my transmitters are coming from and went back to the TV and did a rescan.

I figured it would pick up just a few channels - I was mostly doing that just to test the idea of the cable working. I was QUITE surprised that it picked up every channel I was interested in, some I was marginally interested in, and a ton that I don't care about, including a handful I didn't even know existed! I was quite stunned by that. Every important channel is rock solid. No loss, no nothing. $8 rabbit ears in the attic. I wouldn't have thought that would work.

I then went to the signal strength meter on my TiVo's diagonstic's menus, and the big network channels are surprisingly strong:

4.1/Fox - 68
5.1/2/3 - NBC - 83
8.1/2/3 - ABC - 66
11.1 - CBS - 77
13.1/2 - PBS - 48

The one "UHF" channel that I cared about comes in as 73, so I'm quite pleased with this. I checked out the rest of the channels out there, and everything else is anywhere between 45 and 73. There's a couple that are lower than that which I have problems with, but I don't much care about them.

I'm going to stick with this for the time being, wait and see what happens when there's a storm (bah, if you know Texas weather, our 100 degree record is legendary this year), or wind or something and see how it's disrupted. I'll probably look at some sort of larger antenna up there to help with strength before too long. It's not bad with the rabbit ears, but at least one channel I care about (PBS) is lower than I'd prefer signal strength wise.

There's also this:

There's also a few oddities. Several channels it found were blank. Including one (19.1) which had a strength meter of 77, but no content - just a black screen. That channel doesn't show up on the tvfool report, any idea why I'd get such a strong signal, but no programming? Just curious, it's not a huge deal.

Last edited by Joe Siegler; 27-Aug-2011 at 3:54 PM. Reason: Typo
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Old 26-Aug-2011, 11:32 PM   #19
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... any idea why I'd get such a strong signal, but no programming?
There are stations coming and going all the time. It sounds like a new station in testing mode.
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Old 2-Sep-2011, 8:48 PM   #20
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OK, I have a final solution to all this. I wrote about it in detail over at Amazon.com where I bought the antenna that is currently installed in my attic.

------

I had to cut cable TV earlier this year due to money issues, and from about May till September I was operating with good old rabbit ears in the house. When they worked, it worked great. But I was getting fed up of the constant moving of the rabbit ears, or the twiddling of the dial to get this channel or the other. There was some sort of interference inside my house preventing them from working well enough. Once in a blue moon, I'd get lucky, find a sweet spot and get everything, but it didn't last long. I was unwilling to go on the roof for an antenna, so I was thinking about the attic.

I've been around TV for a long time, and my "head" tells me that to get better reception, you need to get a bigger antenna. I figured with a large tree in my neighbor's house, as well as it being an attic, I was looking at something large up there. Specifically this (Antennas Direct DB8 Multidirectional HDTV Antenna). I was looking at getting the DB8, when a friend of mine who was going to help me by mounting it in the attic suggested I might get by with something smaller. He recommended the antenna I'm writing about now. I was initially skeptical (again, the bigger is better) attitude. But I read through a ton of reviews, and there were a lot of happy people. At the time I bought it, there were 220 reviews on Amazon with an average star rating of 4.5 out of 5. That's actually a higher review than the DB8 I was looking at. So I started reading, and was thinking perhaps I'd go with this.

Then while we were thinking about how to run cable, I remembered when my wife and I got the house 9.5 years ago (as of Sep 2011, when I'm writing) it was wired for Cable TV. I dropped the Cable TV, but the wires were all still there. Which meant that there was a cable run there already. So I decided to run a test. I took the same stupid $6 rabbit ears I was at the time using (RCA ANT111R Basic Indoor Antenna), and took 'em into the attic. I found the cable that went to the jack by my TV, and plugged the rabbit ears into it. Rescanned, and wow. Not only was my interference gone, it was picking up a lot more channels than I knew about. The most I got with the rabbit ears inside the house was about 35-40. It was more here. So I figured with the rabbit ears doing that much better, perhaps I didn't need the overkill DB8, and opted for this antenna, the ANT751R.

Did my research beforehand. Hit up antennaweb as well as tvfool for compass directions. Personally I think tvfool has way better antenna resources than antennaweb, but that's a side story. I got it installed in the attic (you can see a picture of my installation in the photo gallery here on Amazon). The mounting was fairly painless, although I will say what others have said. It's quite a value that the antenna comes with the mounting brackets and the pole in the box. Not all antennas do. The one thing that was missing was the wood screws needed to actually bolt the bracket to whatever you're attaching it to. The instruction manual even says to use a couple of wood screws (not included). Given they gave you the more expensive pole in the box gratis, you'd think they'd throw in a few wood screws, but that's a minor quibble.

Once I got it up there and hooked up, I reran a scan on the TiVo. I was bloody well amazed at what it found! The total number of channels it found was 79. Granted, several of those are inactive, or are otherwise things I don't care about. There were also a couple of channels it found which were on neither antennaweb's or tvfool's reports. Since I live right outside of Dallas, the majority of these kinds of channels are spanish speaking something or other. Given that's not my language, they're of little interest to me. What WAS of interest to me are the major networks (PBS, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, & one local "old UHF" channel that broadcasts Texas Rangers games).

All of these channels are quite strong. Even with the large tree outside and being in an attic, the average signal strength of these channels (according to the signal strength meter on the TiVo) is around 80-85 or so. PBS is a bit low (mid 60's), but the same friend who lives about 3 miles away from me says that PBS is his weakest signal too, but it's not an issue unless there's some epic storms out, but we're probably not watching much TV at that time anyway. At least one or two of the channels that are of lesser concern to me are quite strong - I had a couple of them as high as 98 on the meter Oh, before I forget, in the Dallas area, the majority of the antennas (especially the major networks) are in the same general area, as it's the highest point in the general D/FW metroplex. According to tvfool, I'm anywhere from 28.2 to 30.7 miles from the transmitters (except for a few rogue close ones that are about 8 or 14 miles), and they all are 80-85 or so in an attic mounted, non powered antenna.

There is no signal booster on here. It's just the antenna that was in the box hooked up through a cable run that used to be used for Cable TV into my TiVo box, and then on into my HDTV, which is this, BTW. The quality is astounding. The signals are rock solid, and I have to say, I'm quite happy with my purchase of this antenna.

While the old rabbit ears worked "OK" enough (especially for $6), it wasn't quite a universal solution. I'd have to fiddle with the antenna depending on what I wanted to record. Given I TiVo everything, having to worry about where the antenna was pointed meant I was back to the pre-TiVo days of caring what the broadcaster's schedules were. Didn't like that, so I looked into what became this choice of antenna. I'm quite happy with it. I suppose the only negative I could say is that the antenna is sold as an outdoor antenna. When I was putting it together, I felt like it wouldn't hold up to extreme winds, and things of that nature outside. It works great, but if left outside to the elements, I'm not sure how well it would hold up. But as an attic antenna, it won't have to deal with any of that, so it should last a good long time up there.

I was initially concerned that this being a "cheaper" antenna wouldn't function well enough as one that was into the $100 range or so. I was wrong. This works really quite well for me.
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