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Old 28-Jun-2020, 2:26 PM   #1
mikecandu
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VHF only antenna to pick up weak buffalo VHF stations

HI,

I have an existing UHF antenna (DB8E) with VHF "rabbit ears" and an LNA-200 amplifier. I can rotate the antenna with a rotor to fine tune for different station locations. This setup also uses an HD homerun to convert the tv signals to an ethernet stream so I can watch tv from cell phones etc. I'm basically happy with this setup and it works even better since the repack as I can get all the big US networks out of buffalo most of the time.

Two stations I'd like to get are WBBZ (real 7) and WNYB (real 5). I've never been able to get these stations with the "rabbit ears" on my antenna but RabbitEars.info show both these stations as "red" in my postal code (L8T-1P5) in Hamilton Ontario. Also I can pick up a very weak 8VSB:5 and 8vsb:7 signals using the "HD Homerun Signal Meter" App on my phone. This to me means a signal exists, it's just very weak and potential tuneable with the right equipment.

Here's the equipment I plan to use:

Stellar Labs 30-2476 Deep Fringe VHF Antenna

https://canada.newark.com/stellar-la...=VHF%20antenna

GPIO Low Noise amplifier

https://gpio.com/collections/low-noi...t-bias-tee-esd

Qty 4 Antenna Mast sections

https://canada.newark.com/easy-up/ez...antenna%20mast

HD Homerun HDHR-US

https://info.hdhomerun.com/info/dual

I plan to mount the equipment on a chimney at the back of my house. My DB8e is also a chimney mount on the other side of the house. I'm familiar with mounting using this method and I find that it's a relatively safe option and with the the right set up (ie J pole) you can drop the antenna down on a roof for maintenance.

The Stellar Labs 30-2476 Deep Fringe VHF Antenna seemed to have the best bang for the buck and that's why I choose it. I found the GPIO amplifier on e-bay and it seemed to also have a good bang for the buck factor. Gain is around 23dB at 100 MHZ with a very low noise figure of .65 dB at 100mhz which is ideal for what I need. Plus GPIO is a Canadian manufacturer so I feel like I'm helping out someone local.

The HD Homerun is a brand new "old" unit I won on an action on E-bay. From what I read online the tuner is just as sensitive as the new HD homerun units but it has two separate inputs on the outside of the case for each tuner instead of an internal signal combiner as used on newer units.

So far I've purchase the Amp and the HD Homerun tuner and I'm just waiting for delivery.

I've never used the 5 foot stacking poles but it seems to be a good option for me instead of using a steel or galvanized pole. Anyone had an experience with these stackable poles?

I was thinking of using the co-ax wiring from an old satellite dish that's mounted on the gutter side of the chimney.

Any comments on this setup?

Thanks,

Mike
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Old 28-Jun-2020, 6:19 PM   #2
Tim
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikecandu View Post
HI,

Any comments on this setup?

Thanks,

Mike
The Stellar Labs 30-2476 is a VHF-Hi antenna for channels 7 through 13. I don't know how it will perform for your channel 5. I am not aware of a dedicated VHF-Lo antenna on the market, but maybe others can comment. I do know there are a few combination VHF-Lo, VHF-Hi, UHF antennas around, but they are quite large.

Something you might try is to lengthen each element of the VHF rabbit ears on your DB8e to around 35 or 35-1/2 inches and see if that does anything for your channel 5 signal.

Can you post a link to your RabbitEars report???
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Old 28-Jun-2020, 8:06 PM   #3
mikecandu
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Here's my rabbit ears report.

https://rabbitears.info/searchmap.ph...113139&opkey=C
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Old 28-Jun-2020, 8:15 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by mikecandu View Post
Well, I'd try lengthening those elements on your rabbit ears add-on to the DB8e, but I wouldn't expect much. I think you're going to need a big antenna covering VHF-Lo for any chance to pull in channel 5 reliably.
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Old 2-Jul-2020, 12:23 AM   #5
mikecandu
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Tim,
My plan is to have a totally separate system for VHF only reception, hence a VHF antenna. WNYB was Real 26 before the repack and it was one of my strongest stations from western NY. I did read the reviews on Newark for the antenna and some users were able to pick up low VHF stations as well as UHF stations as well. Besides that even the " rabbit ears" see something on channel 5.

https://1drv.ms/u/s!AsJiko0hVbGs-muhp904yKFpt90L



My pre-amp arrived today. Its small!!

https://1drv.ms/u/s!AsJiko0hVbGs-mrr2xwj1vgOvIVE

I'll have to figure out what type of coax connector is needed for it.

Mike

Last edited by mikecandu; 2-Jul-2020 at 12:27 AM. Reason: Pictures not working.
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Old 2-Jul-2020, 5:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikecandu View Post
My plan is to have a totally separate system for VHF only reception, hence a VHF antenna.....Besides that even the " rabbit ears" see something on channel 5.


Hello, Mike

The signal is fairly strong, but the HDHR signal quality must be at least 50% with an SNR of at least 15 dB. The symbol quality must be 100%. That might be difficult on VHF-Low where the noise level is very high, which will reduce the SNR.
Quote:
My pre-amp arrived today. Its small!!


Quote:
I'll have to figure out what type of coax connector is needed for it.
The connector is SMA Female. I use an SMA to F adapter cable on my SDR:



There is a warning about powering the amp:
Quote:
Please note the following precaution since the Bias Tee is installed. When powering the device using either the DC header or the USB connector, +5 VDC will appear on the RF output. If your receiver does not have a DC blocking capacitor on its input or some other form of DC voltage protection, this voltage WILL damage your receiver.
If you find that you need the amp and want to mount it outside, it will need to be in an enclosure. If you use it inside you will not need an enclosure, but it must be powered properly. There is a USB cable available to power the amp:
Micro USB Cable for LNA power
https://gpio.com/collections/cables/...-for-lna-power

If you power it that way, you must add a DC block at the output of the amp.

The alternate way to power the amp is the same as an ordinary preamp would be powered, with a power inserter between the amp and the tuner.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg mikecanduTVFch5-SS_1.jpg (91.3 KB, 4006 views)
File Type: jpg mikecanduTVFgpioLNA_1.jpg (158.2 KB, 4034 views)
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Last edited by rabbit73; 2-Jul-2020 at 5:38 PM.
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Old 8-Jul-2020, 11:42 AM   #7
bobsgarage
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Lightbulb Preamps and VHF.

Mike you've already been helped by the best here. I can just offer an opinion about your preamp. My feelings are you need to have the preamp as close to the antennas as possible. It gets you ahead of the losses that you can have to your down lead and combiners/separators.

This will require some sort of waterproof box for your preamp you purchased which in my experience takes more time than it's worth. I prefer a preamp it is already in a waterproof box. There's a new preamp available from Kitz Tech. All his outdoor preamps are built with a rugged protective case.

The KT-700 could be exactly what you need and it also has LTE filtering and an FM trap built in. It is definitely low noise. It is a UHF / VHF combining amp with an amp for each band. The case is rugged. It is plate aluminum. The case can also help block unwanted RF / EMI.


I've been testing it off and on for a few days. I'm very happy with it.





Also, you can't beat the Stellar Labs 30-2476 for high VHF. I have one on my roof, actually several but that's another story. It has a difficult time picking up any low VHF.

The exception is RF 6 in Chicago but it is analog so you get that snowy screen. The signal is well under the strength required to overcome the digital cliff.

Here's the Kitz website:

http://kitztech.com

Last edited by bobsgarage; 8-Jul-2020 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 15-Aug-2020, 3:23 PM   #8
mikecandu
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Bob

Thanks for the info. I've had a Kitztech before (KT-200) and it died on me after about 5 years of use. I've looked up the VHF specs for the Kitztech and they do look very impressive.

I don't find it particularly difficult to create my own weather proof box. In fact I had to make one up for the Kitztech amplifier (I think the weatherproof boxes are a relatively recent addition on his site.). I did purchase a Bulkhead F type to SMA adapter on Ebay https://1drv.ms/u/s!AsJiko0hVbGs-2TT...Y6lYp?e=PMY8kB

That should cut down on the cabling and make sealing the box easier.

Mike

Last edited by mikecandu; 15-Aug-2020 at 3:54 PM.
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Old 15-Aug-2020, 3:47 PM   #9
mikecandu
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Rabbit,

Life has gotten in the way and I haven't been able to buy the antenna but I have done some experimenting. Been spending the summer doing basement renovations.

The brand new "old stock" HD homerun device came in from E-bay. It doesn't have some of the fancier features of the newer models but one advantage is that it does have is individual F type connectors for each tuner. https://1drv.ms/u/s!AsJiko0hVbGs-2PG...agUrr?e=l0CmBH

I have an old UHF antenna kicking around and split the signal between an amplified and unamplified one. I used my old Kitztech "Bias Tee" to power the amplifier through the coax cable with 6VDC power supply. See the screenshots below (if they work from Onedrive)

https://1drv.ms/u/s!AsJiko0hVbGs-17p...MJpSg?e=hFL341
https://1drv.ms/u/s!AsJiko0hVbGs-2LP...L6hVL?e=3yhcDT
https://1drv.ms/u/s!AsJiko0hVbGs-2GM...P2BU3?e=NeW9wo
https://1drv.ms/u/s!AsJiko0hVbGs-2AR...VA4e6?e=szdbjj
https://1drv.ms/u/s!AsJiko0hVbGs-1_b...wm1KK?e=nBN71C

As you can see the amplifier seems to work good. The issue I think I'll have is with signal quality and noise. Signal strength on channel 17 (digital 41) is boosted from 65 to 94. Pretty impressive! The SNR ratio doesn't change though. In one way that's a good thing as my amplifier isn't adding to the noise.

I'll probably make the decision over the next couple weeks if buying a dedicated VHF antenna is worth it.

Mike

Last edited by mikecandu; 15-Aug-2020 at 3:51 PM.
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Old 16-Aug-2020, 6:55 AM   #10
AKADAP
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Having had both the HDHR-2 and the HDHR4-2, the HDHR4-2 does a significantly better job with less breakup on the same signal.
The power supplies that came with the HDHR-2 will fail after a few years.
I have retired my HDHR-2s because I don't need 10 tuners distributed across 3 antennas, and MythTV no longer supports the two separate inputs of the HDHR-2 It assumes that all tuners in an HDHR box are all connected to the same signal.
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Old 13-Aug-2023, 1:10 PM   #11
mikecandu
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All,

After a 3 (?!) year delay I've finally gone ahead and purchased the Stellar Labs 30-2476. I did some experimenting to determine if the LNA I purchased could be powered via a Bias T. The spec sheet says it can and I verified that it does work and also provides decent amplification to a small indoor antenna. I used an old Homerun HDHR-US to verify I was getting a picture and using the software as a signal meter.

Goal with High VHF antenna and what I get with existing DB8E

It's a little late but here are some comments on people's posts:

Rabbit73

With my testing I used a dogs breakfast of SMA to BNC to F type Coaxial. I finally found what's in your picture attached to your SDR radio, SMA pigtail to bulkhead F coaxial. That should allow the pre-Amp to fit into a small aluminium die cast enclosure that I can mount outdoors close to the antenna.

The signal quality is low (but the signal strength is decent) but I was using the rabbit years on my DB8E. I should get much higher VHF gain with the new antenna and pre-amp.

AKADAP

THE HDHR-US tuner I'm using is old. It doesn't seem to have a web interface like the newer ones. I use Windows Media Center as my DVR not MythTV. Integrating the VHF tuner with my original HDHR tuner that my DB8E is connected to might be a challenge, but I think it's doable. It's seems possible as you use multiple HDHR tuners.

Bobsgarage

It seems like you've had some good luck with the Stellar Labs 30-2476. I've seen good reviews online. I'm not expecting miracles but I think there is some hope. My existing "rabbit ears" pick up a weak VHF 13 out of Kitchener Ontario and rabbitears.tv does show (weak) coverage in my area for both WBBZ (7) and WNYB (5). In the worst case I'll consider it a science experiment and I'll be out $200 and some time.

Will post more later when I get the antenna.

Mike
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Old 20-Aug-2023, 11:38 AM   #12
mikecandu
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Antenna is mounted

All,

The Hi gain hi VHF antenna arrived last week. I put it together and placed it on my deck till I figured out how to mount it.

On Deck

In the end I repurposed a J-pole for an old satellite dish and added a 10Ft pole on top of it. I supported the pole with two brackets I made from 1/4 threaded rod and some antenna clamps. The chimney is no longer used so I don't need to worry about heat damaging the antenna. In hindsight I probably should have used 3/8 threaded rod but the pole seems pretty stable supported with the J pole and 4 tie rods.

Mounted to chimney

My SMA to F type coax adapter still hasn't arrived so I haven't hooked up the preamp yet. I purchased a small diecast aluminium box with a sealed lid on amazon.

The adapter is supposed to arrive today. I'm looking forward to seeing if I can get these two channels!

Mike

Last edited by mikecandu; 20-Aug-2023 at 11:43 AM.
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