Finally, 100% HD OTA Success 32 Miles Outside Chicago

Discussion in 'DirecTV TiVo Powered PVRs & Receivers' started by SpankyInChicago, Feb 6, 2006.

  1. Feb 6, 2006 #1 of 13
    SpankyInChicago

    SpankyInChicago New Member

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    May 13, 2005

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    Well, after spending about $800 in total over the last 9 months, I finally have 100% OTA success.

    32 miles outside from the Sears Tower and John Hancock (far western edge of zip 60103), I now receive the following digital stations at the specified HR10-250 signal reading:

    - WBBM (CBS), 3: 85
    - WGN (WB), 17: 95
    - WYCC (PBS), 21: 90
    - WCIU, 27: 80
    - WMAQ (NBC), 29: 90
    - WFLD (FOX), 31: 95
    - WTTW (PBS), 47: 80
    - WPWR (UPN), 51: 90
    - WLS (ABC), 52: 85

    I also get WYIN (PBS) on channel 17 out of Merrillville, IN at a somewhat fluctuating 60-65. I may get other stations too (WGBO, PAX, Univision, etc.) but the ones above are the ones I care about.

    All-in-all I spent:

    - $220 for first antenna (Winegard PR7015) and first install (April, 2005)
    - $10 for FM trap (Radio Shack) (April, 2005)
    - $190 for second antenna (Winegard HD7200P) and install (May, 2005)
    - $80 for preamp (Channel Master 0064) and install (June, 2005)
    - $20 for line amplfier (GC / Waldom) (July 2005)
    - $25 for variable gain line amplifier w/FM trap (Leviton) (August 2005)
    - $15 for amplified 4 way splitter (GC / Waldom) (August 2005)
    - $30 for new diplexers (Channel Master) (September 2005)
    - $80 for install of dedicated OTA runs to two of three receivers (Septmber 2005)
    - $10 for attenuator (Radio Shack) (December 2005)
    - $150 for antenna rotator (Channel Master) and install (February 2006)

    $830 total

    Final setup:

    Winegard HD7200P antenna (no preamp) aimed at 125 degrees (antennaweb.org says 104 or 106 depending on the station). Antenna feeds into the basement, passes through grounding blocks, surger suppressor, and then into the FM trap. From the FM trap the line feeds into the amplified 4 way splitter which has just enough gain to overcome the signal loss associated with splittin the signal 4 ways. 2 of these lines are direct feeds to HR10-250s. One run is about 15' and the other is about 60'. 1 of the remaining two lines feeds a diplexer that goes to an HR10-250 about 10' away. The final line feeds into a 5x8 MS that feeds the rest of the house.

    Between when I started with my first antenna last April and this final setup there have been dozens of different configurations and combinations tried. Around September it got to the point that OTA was about 90-95% reliable. I was satisfied. Then in December problems again arose even though nothing in my setup had changed. I lost one channel (47) entirely. I could reconfigure things a bit so that 47 would come back, but then I would lose 31. And there were random outages with other stations including powerhouses like WGN.

    Most of my problems come from the fact that I had massive multipath issues relating to high tension towers 300' to my northeast and southeast.

    Adding the antenna rotator was my last attempt. I knew it would allow me to slowly move the antenna through the sky a few degrees at a time, stopping at each location, checking each station's strength on the HR10-250, and adjusting gain, turning the FM trap on / off and other tinkering until I got the best reception.

    I spent three hours last night sweeping the antenna through the sky on my new rotator and playing with all the variables down on my panel. I even brought one of my HR10-250s down into the basement with me and connected it to a small TV to make the configuration easier. It sure beats me by the TV with a walkie-talkie talking to the installer on the roof telling him to "move it to 2 o'clock, oh, okay, wait, nope, hold on, okay, move it back to 2:30, oh, can you swing it further towards 3 o'clock but not all the way to 3."

    So, this is by far the best reception I have had and all the numbers are rock solid, no fluctuation and both tuners reading almost exactly the same reading.

    We will see how long it lasts, but for now I have 100% OTA reception and I couldn't be happier. Who needs MPEG4? :)
     
  2. Feb 6, 2006 #2 of 13
    newsposter

    newsposter Poster of News

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    Amen....OTA is best. Congrats! You beat my 500 bucks by a lot!
     
  3. Feb 6, 2006 #3 of 13
    ebonovic

    ebonovic has gone his way...

    11,164
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    Jul 24, 2001
    Tinley...
    Gosh... I count my self very lucky then....

    $75 for a Radio Shack Xt-120 installed in my attic.

    I get all the above with pretty much teh same signal strenght, with the exception of WBBM-DT.

    For that I have to unplug my Son's computer, then I get it in the 70s
     
  4. Feb 7, 2006 #4 of 13
    SpankyInChicago

    SpankyInChicago New Member

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    May 13, 2005
    Would have been a lot less money had I wanted to get up on my roof, but 30' to the peak where the antenna is on a pretty steep roof is not my cup of tea. Plus I couldn't take the first antenna back as the place it was purchased has a no return policy on antennas which I can understand.

    I suppose I could sell some of the stuff on eBay to get back some of my money, but that seems like a pain.
     
  5. Feb 7, 2006 #5 of 13
    newsposter

    newsposter Poster of News

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    SE PA

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    I'm sure there are others that would pay 75 or 800 even to get a signal :) Money well spent
     
  6. Feb 7, 2006 #6 of 13
    SpankyInChicago

    SpankyInChicago New Member

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    May 13, 2005
    Some pics of the beast on my roof and the offending high tension wires in the background. This frame is facing due east (90 degrees). The antenna is facing about 125 degrees. The massive multipath inducing high tension towers are out of frame to the north-east (left of frame) and south-east (right of frame) of me about 300' in either direction.

    --pics no longer available. sorry. --
     
  7. Feb 7, 2006 #7 of 13
    newsposter

    newsposter Poster of News

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    SE PA
    wow next to all those wires..cancer.... :) at least all your neighbors now know the exact setup that will work in you area. Heck looks like you can throw some rg6 across the roof and charge your neighbor a dollar per month for a feed.
     
  8. Feb 7, 2006 #8 of 13
    SpankyInChicago

    SpankyInChicago New Member

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    May 13, 2005
    Hey, I need all the dB I can get. I can't afford to give half of my signal strength to my neighbor. Don't give him any ideas.

    And don't start with the cancer stuff. My mom is a breast cancer suvivor and all she ever does is blah blah blah about the power lines.
     
  9. Feb 7, 2006 #9 of 13
    pjdoogie

    pjdoogie New Member

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    Jun 14, 2005
    I live pretty close to you in Palos Park, and have the same antenna in my attic pointing through dense trees and high tension lines. I get WBBM at 85, and have no logical explanation given all the problems that I read about in this forum and over on AVS.
     
  10. cobra5wood

    cobra5wood New Member

    25
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    Jan 6, 2005
    St....
    I have a $39 antenna from Radio Shack that looks like a portable fan. It is in my dining room window aimed at Chicagoland from 45 miles away in Elburn, Il. I get all Chicago HD stations and even some from Rockford! All signals are usually in the 80 - 90 range!!!
     
  11. SpankyInChicago

    SpankyInChicago New Member

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    May 13, 2005
    BASTARD! :)
     
  12. BlankMan

    BlankMan I'm the Kettle

    2,142
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    Mar 30, 2002
    WI
    Wow, I'm pretty lucky then too (in Milwaukee), $40 for a Channel Master 4228 mounted in the attic and $60 for a Radio Shack 30dB amplifier (15-2507). I know the RS amp isn't the greatest but I wanted it that day and didn't want to wait for one to be shipped to me. The SN is only about 1dB (I think) worse then better ones, but with a digital signal I didn't think that would matter too much in my case.
     
  13. mr.unnatural

    mr.unnatural Well-Known Member

    4,861
    180
    Feb 2, 2006
    Ellicott...
    $100 for two ChannelMaster 4228 8-bay bowtie antennas. I get all but one or two OTA stations from both Washington and Baltimore with signal strengths in the 80's and 90s. I'm located almost exactly midway between both sets of broadcast towers (approx. 30-35 miles in either direction). My Baltimore UPN station dropped off the grid but since it wasn't in HD I don't miss it.
     

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