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Old 9-Jan-2013, 5:24 PM   #1
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Is a bigger antenna actually better?

I'm a lifelong OTA TV watcher and found a lot of useful info on this site when the DTV conversion forced me to upgrade my old antenna.

Two years ago I moved to the Sierra Foothills (Sonora, CA) and assumed that I would have to cave in to dish (cable won't reach me). Using the signal analysis tool I found enough hope to give OTA a try and bought a LAVA HD2805 "long range" antenna only because I found one for $30. Like I have read elsewhere it is a cheaply made antenna, however, for the last year and a half I have used it to capture signals from Sutro Tower in SF and Fremont Peak near Salinas for two televisions and less than 100' of cable. This works about 70-80% of the time which is fine since I don't really watch much TV. A couple of weeks ago it stopped working and I have concluded that the built in amplifier burned out. I would not buy this antenna again, but for a $30 investment it did convince my wife that spending more for a quality set up is a good idea.

I ran the signal analysis for different antenna heights for my location. The tvfool results are as follows:

1’ AGL:
5’ AGL:
10’ AGL:
25’ AGL:
40’ AGL:
100’ AGL:

My house is on a west facing slope near the top of a ridge at 3150' with a clear view of the San Joaquin Valley. It has a main floor with a full deck on the west side and a daylight basement. With the LAVA antenna, I found the best reception was underneath my deck about 6' AGL and 3' from the house. This was confirmed by the tvfool plots at various heights that due to my location, lower to the ground is better. I could install an antenna on my roof at 25'AGL but am subject to periodic snow and high winds.

My main question is would upgrading to a bigger antenna (Winegard 7698P or Channel Master 3020) along with a Winegard 8275 amplifier give me a better result than going with a TERK HDTVo which is similar in size and functionality to the LAVA but supposedly much better constructed? The TERK could go in the current antenna location while the others would have to be mounted on my roof.

The best reception for the LAVA was pointing it at 249°magn. This was directly at Sutro Tower (120.4 miles). At this orientation I was able to receive KSBW (Fremont Peak, 205° magn, 108.7 miles) also. I actually got KSBW stronger this way then if I pointed directly at 205° magn due possibly to some trees on my neighbor’s property.

Another question is that I would rather get TV for the Sacramento area as that's my home town. These stations broadcast from Walnut Grove (273° magn, 69.1 miles). Unfortunately I have a 3100' ridge one mile away and a 3340' mountain 5.2 miles away on the direct path. The towers are only 1000' high so I assume that the signal can't bend that much (the LAVA when it worked couldn't get any signal at all, but people a few miles away without my obstructions are getting these stations). Any thoughts on if and how I could watch these stations instead of SF stations would be appreciated.
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Old 9-Jan-2013, 5:57 PM   #2
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LAVA and other Rip Off Tv Antenna sellers are making a good living selling the bottom of the barrel cheap , cheap plastic , thin cheap aluminum , cheap little toy motors that turn the antenna , cheap amplifiers in the antennas , and Over Inflated claims of 150 mile reception.

It is amazing that the general public falls for the straight out lies of LAVA and other rip off antenna sellers.

I think I will get on the gravy train also.

The antenna I am selling looks like a antenna in a grade C 1950's SiFi film.

For only $89.95 I will sell you a antenna that receives Tv stations 100,000 miles away and is made to last 1,000 years outside in the worst weather.

Last edited by teleview; 13-Jan-2013 at 6:45 AM.
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Old 9-Jan-2013, 8:27 PM   #3
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To simplify it, I find the comparison of flood vs spot light to be similar to small vs large antenna. The beam of a smaller antenna is wider, but not as far reaching; larger antenna, narrow but far reaching. So I'd think in your case, you'd want a bigger antenna since you want to target one cluster of channels many miles away.

Personally, I'd trust the Winegard or Channel Master that you've pointed out, over the Terk. You need some good gain numbers and a bigger antenna will do that for you. It's also best to get that gain with a quality antenna vs trying to boost a lesser signal. The good thing about OTA is that it's a one-time spend vs a monthly bill. You can do it up right and still virtually have it pay for itself in no time, vs subscriptions.
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Old 9-Jan-2013, 10:59 PM   #4
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There are two reasons I'm considering the TERK at all:

1. I can install it in the current location which is protected from the elements. If it works better than the LAVA (which I believe it will), then I'm content.

2. We have psychotic birds living up here. Last summer a woodpecker was trying to poke a hole in the electrical transformer on the power pole by my house. During Christmas break it was trying to tear off the screens on my bathroom vents. We also have a lot of large birds (hawks and vultures). I'm concerned that they would try to roost on a large antenna and break it.

I am more than likely going to go with a large roof mounted antenna, just wanted to get an opinion from the experts on my options.
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Old 10-Jan-2013, 2:18 AM   #5
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Above the roof in such a manner that the roof or house is not blocking reception to the , north west , west , south west , install a Winegard HD7084P antenna with a Antennas Direct CPA-19 preamp aimed at about 240 degree magnetic compass direction.

Here is how to aim antennas ,

Here are some Strong and Sturdy antenna mounts , , , , if using the eave mount then use the #4560. ,

Buy the ronard antenna mounts at solidsignal by typing the word ronard in the solidsignal search box or buy from ronard.

Here are places to buy antennas and etc. , , ,


For 1 Tv connected use No splitter.

For 2 Tv's connected use a , HFS-2D , 2 way splitter.

For 3 Tv's connected use a , HFS-3D , 3 way splitter.


As always trees and tree leaves do a good job of , reflecting , reducing , blocking , Digital Tv reception and so do buildings and other obstructions including you own roof and house.

It is best to locate the antenna at a location that has the least amount to no amount of obstructions of any type or kind in the directions of reception including your ow roof and house.

The Tv's Must Channel Scan For the Broadcast Tv Channels , often named the 'Air Channels' or 'Antenna Channels' in the Tv setup menu because the Tv transmissions travel through the air from the transmitting antenna to the receiving antenna.

Some Digital Tv's will automatic channel scan for cable tv channels.

Go into the Tv setup menu and select 'Air Channels' or 'Antenna Channels'.

DO NOT channel scan for cable tv channels.


Digital tuners can develop - Digital Glitches - that are not cleared out with a simple channel scan.

Do a Double Channel Scan.

And also in the future ,
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Old 10-Jan-2013, 11:03 AM   #6
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Posts: 472
Winegard 7698P.

Many birds will avoid areas that have pieces of fishing line dangling around.
A good quality antenna will last many years in many environments.
It's the connections, that suffer, if not protected.

Totally unrelated, but the woodpecker reminds me of my youth, when a neighbor shot at a pole transformer w/ a rifle. That was a truly spectacular sight.

BTW. Your old antenna may have been deteriorated, but was not affected by the DTV conversion.

Last edited by Stereocraig; 10-Jan-2013 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 10-Jan-2013, 5:00 PM   #7
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Tower or eave mount?

After looking into this more, I am going to install the Winegard HD8200 with Winegard 8275 pre-amp since the specifications state a much longer range than the Winegard 7698P for only six dollars more.

My last question is on mounting. On my previous house I used a chimney mount which is not an option now. The best location for an antenna is on the roof ridge at the north end of the house. I would prefer using an eave mount (Ronard 4560) because I do not like any type of roof penetration. Both the 7698 and the 8200 are 14' long and would be pointed roughly parallel with the eave of the north side of the house. The heaviest winds come from the south so the antenna would take the most wind load along the 14' axis. Just looking at a picture of the eave mount, it would appear that the weakest support direction is perpendicular to the eave (the direction of the highest winds in my case).

Are these mounts beefy enough to compensate for a large antenna?
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Old 11-Jan-2013, 4:07 PM   #8
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The ronard antenna mounts are Heavy Duty.


Here are 'Lay Over' - 'Push Up' towers that are made of light weight aluminum , Free standing - no guy wires.

Do Antenna install and adjustments standing on the ground.

Last edited by teleview; 14-Jan-2013 at 6:20 AM.
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Old 12-Jan-2013, 7:42 PM   #9
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Yes... and No

Back to the title of your OP...

A larger antenna is generally better at gathering signal from a narrow range of azimuth. If all the signals you desire to receive are within that range, you get more desired signal while getting less interfering signal from other directions. In this scenario, the big antenna is 'best'.

Small antennas generally have less ability to gather signal and they tend to be able to receive from a wider range of azimuth. In some situations (ex. the desired signals are strong and widely dispersed.) the smaller antenna is 'best'.

In situations were there is a mix of strong and weak signals, the antenna(s) need to be large enough to receive the weakest signal. That can make the antenna forward beam (range of azimuth) too narrow to receive all available signals if the stations are scattered around the compass. Multiple antennas or a rotator may be needed in such cases.

So the best antenna for you is not necessarily the best for someone else.
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