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Old 26-Oct-2015, 11:17 PM   #1
themanuel
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Join Date: Oct 2015
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Directional or omni-directional?

Hello, all.

Iím in the process of dropping cable TV, since most of the programming watched at home is from the national networks. I may complement OTA with Sling TV but still havenít taken the plunge. To help get the family with the program, I ordered the Channel Master DVR+ and seems to be doing a good job of replacing the cable provider DVR. Thatís the background, anyway.

What I am working on now is antenna options. I built this inexpensive DIY antenna while I decide on a more permanent solution. It is surprisingly good, compared to a Walmart rabbit ear antenna I bought and returned, and gets all the major networks. However, on some channels, including PBS (main HD one) reception can sometimes struggle.

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Iím considering going the attic route. A friend of mine a couple of miles east of me bought a Mohu Sky 60 and was able to tune in ~40 channels from the attic. I get 27-28 channels with the DIY indoor antenna. My main goal is to achieve signal stability, get CBET (CBC), and attempt to pull in any further HD channels that may be within reach, so to speak.

Amazon offers an ďAmazonBasicsĒ branded version of the Sky 60 for $99 including shipping. On the other hand, the RCA ANT751R is recommended often and itís only $42. The main difference I see is that the Mohu antenna is omnidirectional whereas the RCA one has to be aimed at the towers. Iím assuming that both are equally capable of capturing UHF and HiVHF channels. The tvfool report above for my location shows a cluster of stations towards the NE, with a number of green yellow and red stations all around.

The question is, would I gain much from buying the Sky 60 compared to just getting the RCA antenna and pointing it towards the NE?

If all Iím going to get with the more expensive antenna is a few SD channels showing 60ís movies, then Iíll be happy to pass on it but if the RCA antenna will force me to choose between the main cluster of channels and CBET, which is oriented E to SE, then I wonít be better off than with the DIY indoor antenna Iím already using.

While waiting for access to the website to post this, I also found this alternative: the ďStealthtennaĒ from Channel Master, for $29, if anybody has an opinion on that one.

As a side question, I plan to use my existing coaxial cable runs to connect the antenna. Is there a rule of thumb for how much cable length or how many splits would require and amplifier?

Thank you very much in advance.
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Old 27-Oct-2015, 12:46 AM   #2
ADTech
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The Mohu Sky is not omni-directional (their marketing is flat out wrong in that regard), it's bi-directional and low gain. They then trow an indoor amp on the wrong end of the cable.

I would suspect either the RCA or the CM to perform well enough as would our C2V.

Quote:
Is there a rule of thumb for how much cable length or how many splits would require an amplifier?
Not really a rule of thumb, you have to do some math.

Pick the weakest desired signal on your chart. Get the noise margin figure.
Subtract some value if in an impaired location like an attic (-12 dB average) or a forest (-20 to -30 dB). Add the antenna gain for that channel. Subtract coax loss based on 6 dB/100' worst case. Subtract 4 dB for each time the signal is split in two. A 4-way splitter is -8 dB, an 8-way splitter is -12 dB. These are worst-case signal budget numbers.

If the result of all that is still above +10 to +15 dB dB, then you probably do not need an amp.
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Old 27-Oct-2015, 12:58 AM   #3
themanuel
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Thank you very much for your advice. In that case, I'll start with the cheapest one and work my way up if necessary. I'll do the math on the signal path.
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Old 31-Oct-2015, 1:16 AM   #4
skatingrocker17
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themanuel, your TVFool is almost EXACTLY the same as mine. I'm in Canton so I may be able to be of some help. For our bedroom, I use the "AmazonBasics Ultra-Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna - 35 Mile Range" and am able to receive most stations (Fox 2, NBC 4, ABC 7, CBC 9 (intermittent), MyNetwork 20, Ion 31, WADL 38 (intermittent), PBS 56, CBS 62).

For our living room, I have an Antennas Direct DB4e out on our patio (2nd story) with the VHF reflector kit (to get Fox 2 and CBC 9). I am able to get all of the Detroit/Winsor stations with this as well as MyNetwork out of Lansing/Jackson stable. The antenna is facing right into the apartment building too and I still good good, consistent strong signal levels.
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Old 1-Nov-2015, 1:04 PM   #5
themanuel
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Join Date: Oct 2015
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Thank you for your feedback, skatingrocker17 and it's good to hear from a fellow Cantonian.

I ended up ordering the Channel Master antenna and expect to receive it by Wednesday. In the meantime, I'm setting things up in the attic. I'm reusing an old RG-6 coaxial run that went to a satellite dish the previous home owners left behind. All I have to do is re-route the last few feet to go into my attic instead of the dish. It so happens that the dish was in the north east corner of the hosue which is the direction from which I'm getting most channels.

From my perspective, since most sub-channels are not that good, I'll be happy if the antenna will allow me to get all the important HD ones with a robust signal. Last week there were a few days with bad weather and strong winds where my little DIY antenna struggled and most channels were sputtering every several seconds. I hope the new antenna helps with that allows me to get CBC (at least in time for the Olympics )

I also approximately calculated the run length and longest distance from the antenna to a TV set will be about 80 feet. So far I only plan to use one 2-way splitter. This is the part that concerns me, whether some of the signals I get now will be too attenuated but I'll have to wait and see which, if any channels I care about will degrade. For testing purposes, I'll test the antenna closer to the TV first and note channels and signal strenghts. Worst case, I'll try a signal amplifier on the antenna side.

I'll post the outcome when get the antenna and install it.

Best regards,

Manuel
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Old 1-Nov-2015, 4:13 PM   #6
skatingrocker17
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Manuel, I posted a question on the forums a few months ago about a problem I was having on certain days with my signal being 100% and suddenly dropping to nearly 0% for a few seconds then back to 100%.

Someone mentioned it could have something to do with us living near the airport. On certain days with wind direction changing, it could cause more air traffic over Canton. So while my signal is nearly 100% all the time, on some days it will shoot down to 0 and back up to 100 within seconds. I think the air traffic could be causing this.

Also, with a split run of 80' from your antenna I would definitely looking getting a distribution amp. Either a 2 or 4 port depending on if you want to hook up more TVs in the future. If you look on Amazon, The PCT branded one and Channel Master one are different prices, but they are exactly the same. The description on the Channel Master listing on Amazon even says "Channel Master distribution amplifiers, manufactured by Channel Master's former parent company, PCT International". So I would buy the cheaper one.
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Old 1-Nov-2015, 4:37 PM   #7
themanuel
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Join Date: Oct 2015
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Nice find about the airport traffic. I would have never guessed that would be a problem. With weather being so unpredictable here and the propensity for heavy wind and electric storms, this could be a problem frequently.

At any rate, let's see what my signal looks like and I'll bookmark the amplifier you recommended.

Thanks for the suggestion.
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