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Old 28-May-2010, 5:52 AM   #1
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Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 232
A noob and his antenna

Yeah, that's me. First time poster here. Finding this is a good site to get a clue about some UHF/VHF. Really like the tools. Got a lot of reading to do.

Well, let me tell you what I'm doing here. I have one of those little ANT751's sticking off a mast that used to hold a DirecTV dish. It's pointed pretty much dead north, as that seemed to be the sweetest spot, even though it's shooting straight through the trees. Signal comes in and get's amplified over a little RocketFish booster. From there, I split it 3 ways - one branch to the home's RG-6 distribution and the other two into a HDHomerun. There are two HDTV's, a Sharp and a Toshiba that feed off of the solo distribution. All the majors come in fine; 80% to 100%. The PBS stations (my zip is 29745) are a little weak, but Ch 30 still manages a 75% signal strength on the Sharp, and PBS 42 (the lone VHFer of my area) sits around 60%. Tonight I was watching 42 and there were no problems - no audio nor video breakup. Same goes for the little Toshiba panel. It's tuned only to the PBS stations, and even on a good day, PBS 58 comes in ok.

However - the HDHomerun gets totally flustered by the PBS stations. The included software can measure signal strength & quality, plus symbol quality. The strength will read 75-80%, but it will drop back to a point where the signal and symbol quality both hit 0%, then bounce back up. Right now we watch the HDHR via an HTPC running Windows 7 Media Center, connected to the big Sharp panel.

I've talked to tech support at SiliconDust. They say to get a better antenna, to get a rotator, plus they talk about multipath, etc. All good points, but it just seems that what it comes down to, regardless of the quality of setup I have, their tuners can't manage the signal like the TV tuners can. So, for what seemed to be an adequate setup at one point, well, now it's just not cutting it if I plan to keep the HDHR in the mix. I'd really like to hang on to it. I don't know of another device like it that can take two HD signals and make them easily accessible on my LAN. Being able to load up a channel on a laptop or other PC around the house is a nice feature. It's not absolutely required, as the recorded content is on the network and can be watched w/o utilizing a tuner. So potentially I could find a different dual-tuner device and hook it to the HTPC. Recordings could be shared; "pausable" TV would have to remain on the big panel. I could easily live w/that setup. But I think to myself, what's a Hauppauge or other manufacturer's tuner gonna be like, compared to the HDHomerun. Likely, not gonna be much better. I could be wrong.

The other option - upgrade the antenna situation. Sounds like the best approach, right?

I'm not really looking at anything past virtual Ch 42. On the chart, you can see the cluster just off N, the clump sitting NE and that one real ch 15 sitting nearby SSE. They're all w/in 30 miles, w/a stretch at that PBS Ch 58 which is around 40 miles; but I'm not so concerned with getting 58.

Any recommendations on what to upgrade to?

I will admit to building one of those clothes hanger antennas. It wasn't bad at all and was more of a fun project. I should attach a pic of it, the bowties screwed to a 1 x 4 plank, which was sandwiched between some OSB at the base, all screwed down in an old christmas tree base! It's still up in the attic, connected to some RG-6. But anyway, I also tried the CS-2 just because it looked interesting and was already a local store open box. It wasn't VHF friendly, so I returned it for my $80 "deposit". Kinda glad that didn't work, as I picked up the ANT751, after some rebates and other tricks for just $5 to the door! Yeah - I mean talk about cheap and easy! You see why I am reluctant to get another antenna now. But oh well. I'm sure the 751 will make good over at mom's as soon as she shuts off her Dishnetwork.

I'd rather stay away from a rotator, as that just doesn't make sense anyway for scheduled DVR work. I don't want a super antenna array on a big mast either. It seems that the bigger, the better, in most cases; more elements means stronger signal. But what about just an additional antenna to deal w/ch 30, since the 751 is basically facing away from it? I'm not up on mutiple setups at all....other than that prob won't work on a small mast. Plus that probably doesn't do much for ch 42. So in the end, I'm thinking bigger is better.

Yeah - sorry - I know - noob sure does get chatty about this stuff.
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Old 31-May-2010, 10:52 PM   #2
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Lightbulb Tv reception

Point the antenna at 36 degree compass reading and be happy. Or put the antenna on a rotor.
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Old 1-Jun-2010, 4:10 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 232
I actually started out at about 32 degrees, as I picked that as the rough center point of the two clusters in my area. Zero degrees turned out to do better though on avg for the major networks w/the 100k tranmitters. Plus the local PBS 30/15 seems to pull in better from the rear than from the side of the antenna. Probably has to do w/the trees around me - oaks, poplars, pines; all too tall to reasonably overcome. The rotor just doesn't make sense for recorded TV.

I did get an idea from Silicon Dust tech support. They suggested a 2nd antenna aimed at PBS 30/15, combined with a Jointenna. So on a whim I pointed the coat hanger antenna that's in the attic towards 30/15. I fed both antennas into a 2-1 and that went into the amp. From there it split 3 ways to the tuners. I expected the worst, figuring multipath and other issues. The result was a clear picture thru the HDHR for both of the PBS stations, 30 & 42. It used to break up every minute at least, but I watched for an hour w/o any breakup. The TV tuners are fine too and there doesn't seem to be any impact to any other channels. This won't be my final setup tho, but for proof of concept, it works pretty well. I'll likely add a 2nd outdoor antenna, and possibly use the Jointenna or other signal combining device as needed.

As long as the HDHR is working, I'm happy!
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