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OTA Antenna upgrade?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by Laughs Brightly, May 17, 2018.

  1. Laughs Brightly

    Laughs Brightly Member

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    Jan 23, 2016
    Ohio
    Question for those of you serious about antennas.

    I've got a 30' TV tower in my backyard that came with the house. It has a 22 element antenna on it that is probably a million years old and runs 300 ohm wire with a non-functional turn unit and something on top that looks like a 2' x 2' square mesh. I get 26 channels reasonably okay running the 300 ohm into a 300/75 converter and a $30 Radio Shack amplifier. That powers 5 Tivos.
    There is 1 channel about 25 away to the NW (opposite direction of my city's antenna farms to the SE) that we can't get and a housemate wants so he's putting in one of these (HDTV TV outdoor Antenna LPDA Professional Grade 10dBi VHF-UHF Log Periodic | eBay) which if the link doesn't show is a $40 eBay 10dbi VHF-UHF antenna that "provides a constant gain across the band from 170-213 and 450- 800MHz for the HDTV bands in USA. US Channels 7-13 plus 14-69. VHF UHF TV in Europe. (reaches 790MHz)." Since he is paying to put up the one he said he'd pay the installer to replace my current antenna with one of these as well. I just need to pay for the antenna.
    I like the idea of new antennas. My only concern is a station that's about 50 miles away to the North that I somehow which has Heroes and Icons which I can't get locally...

    Is it worth the money to replace the existing 300 ohm antenna with the newer one? Any chance I'd still get that north channel if one of these is pointed NW and one is pointed SE?
     
  2. eherberg

    eherberg Active Member

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    To really answer that question we would need a TVFool report (and possibly a zip code to check against RabbitEars due to TVFool not handling repack stations correctly at the moment).
     
    wizwor likes this.
  3. netface

    netface New Member

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    Apr 26, 2018
    Toronto, ON
    I would if the person is paying for it. The antenna isnt that expensive its the hastle of getting it up
     
  4. Sparky19053

    Sparky19053 New Member

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    Jul 6, 2015
    Lower Bucks PA
    I just replaced my 7 foot long 30 year old RTA with the same model you are looking at. Not the best quality unit, There is a power amp built in the outdoor unit and the weather proofing is not the best. I opened the unit and added bead of silicone sealant before installing outdoors. I get 42 channels now but a lot has to do with location. Given a second choice I would look for something where the power amp was indoors.
     
  5. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    I'd get something from AntennasDirect. They make the best antennas for HDTV reception. Not that there's anything special about HD versus old analog, except that HD is more susceptible to multipath, and is much more dependent on UHF than analog, which was mostly VHF.
     
  6. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp South Alabama

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    30' antenna tower? 300ohm lead-in? Million years old antenna? Is this a 3-legged tower? Just be careful if you decide to crawl to the top of it. They can look fine from the outside but be rusted badly on the inside resulting in a very unsafe situation. At the very least get a hammer and starting at the bottom start tapping on the legs going up to maybe six foot high...on all the legs. Be sure they all at least sound solid...and that's no guarantee. I dropped one a few years ago here at my house that had rusted through. Had it not been for the brace attached to the house it would have long ago fallen but I managed to do a controlled fall. Life comes at you fast but the ground can come at you faster...you *don't* want to find yourself riding one down. :eek::confused:
     
  7. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp South Alabama

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    I reread and see you're having someone install the antenna, good move. Hopefully it's an experienced installer and not a "handyman". Anyhow, build-quality means a lot for an antenna. I would imagine that the million year old antenna that is still there is there because of the quality of things when it was manufactured. The antenna that you linked to pretty well would not have survived the climate and weather for all of these years, though it states it can survive for 12 years.

    If the old antenna is in fairly good condition there are some things you could do to tweak it.

    *Simply flexing/moving the driven/active elements (the ones that actually attach to the lead-in will freshen up the contact points at the rivets helping to remove years of oxidation at those spots.
    *Cleaning up the actual antenna connection point where it connects to the lead-in.
    *Replace the 300ohm twin-lead with a 300-to-75ohm balun and a good RG6 coax cable.
    *Tweaking the direction of the antenna.

    I'm confused about your RS amplifier...is it inside at the television set? A mast-top amplifier is definitely what you want. But you mentioning 300ohm wire. Old amplifier?

    The feedpoint impedance of most common tv antennas is 300ohm. Some antennas have a 300ohm-to-75ohm converter/balun built into them and some require an external balun, 300ohm twin-lead on one end of a cylinder and a 75ohm coax connection on the other end. I like the cylinder-type of baluns, they're pretty well weather-tight...if the antenna has a built-in balun that's pretty much what you have to go with, though.

    I would think that simply replacing the twinlead with a good balun and coax cable would probably help a good bit...and you need it anyhow if you go with a new antenna so it wouldn't be money ill spent. I'm not sure about your amplifier situation, so you might want to replace your current one (is it as old as the antenna?). BUT, not replacing the antenna to start with might involve two trips for the installer...one to replace the cabling and maybe the amplifier and later if you decided that you still wanted a new antenna then there would be another trip.

    The 2'x2' mesh square is most likely a UHF bow-tie antenna...maybe a four-bay unit? Good antennas that help with multi-path issues, in my book. They're mostly for UHF but usually have a bit of high-VHF capabilities.

    Anyhow, some food for thought...
    Best wishes,
    Ed
     
  8. fredi

    fredi Member

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    Apr 1, 2017
    Maryland
    I would install a programmable antenna rotator.
     
  9. Laughs Brightly

    Laughs Brightly Member

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    Jan 23, 2016
    Ohio
    TV Fool
     
  10. Laughs Brightly

    Laughs Brightly Member

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    Jan 23, 2016
    Ohio
    3 legged tower. Was attached to the house, but has come loose. It is anchored on concrete. My best guess is it has been there at least 20 years. The guys who will be doing the climbing are the local TV/Sat company. They know their stuff.

    To answer some of your other questions: the antenna wire goes in the house and I have a year old Radio Shack $30 amp for it. Then I distribute to 5 Tivos around the house with coax and splitters.
    The square mesh at the top is in 4 segments with little bow ties in each segment.

    The antenna itself looks in pretty good shape from the ground - only 1 element is gone.

    It sounds from your other post that you are suggesting just having the installer convert the existing antenna to coax, clean it up a little bit, and keep it because it's more durable? If there is a better brand sub-$100 antenna out there I'm interested. I won't be spending the money on a rotator just to get 1 channel as every other channel I care about is in the antenna far 13 miles to the south east. I'm really only looking into the new antenna since everything would be paid for by someone else.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2018
  11. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp South Alabama

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    Roger that on the local pros doing the job. Mine had been up around 35 years, maybe more. I probably need to get mine up higher than 10', but it's doing what I need it to do. :)
     
  12. JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

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    Ashland, PA...
    Your report looks good, depending on your viewing habits.
     
  13. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    Pretty useless with a 4-tuner TiVo, and TiVo can't control them anyway.
     
    Intheswamp likes this.
  14. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp South Alabama

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    Yeah, I'd try cleaning up the existing setup. Ditch the 300ohm twinlead for some good coax cable. Twinlead has lower losses than coax cable in really good conditions...twinlead in close proximity to metal objects injects odd signals/noise...rain affects it...etc.,. Coax cable is shielded and prevents most interference from invading the transmission.

    4-element bowtie is good for UHF and *maybe* high-VHF which two of your network channels are using. I'm not sure how they're combining it with the big yagi-type antenna. You are so close to most of the transmitting towers that I would think just new cabling would be a big improvement, it shouldn't take too big of antenna. Apparently you are getting pretty good reception with your current setup so I really think going with the coax would make a big difference. It looks like your closest FOX station is in the opposite direction from the rest of your towers, is a 2-Edge station, and is on VHF. Not really much to do about that...do you receive it sometimes (or all of the time)?

    Antenna amplifier... I wouldn't think you need a mast-top pre-amplifier being as the towers are so close to you...amping them could cause problems. But, splitting off to five different Tivos means you are cutting the power five different ways. If we say the antenna cable going into the splitter is 100% then splitting it five ways means only 20% of the power at the coax connection is going to each Tivo. In that case the distribution amp that you are using is a good thing. I'm taking it that the distribution amp is between the antenna and the splitter.

    So for the nearby stations I wouldn't think a pre-amp (mast top) is needed. You should have a good, strong signal at the feedpoint of the antenna. if you decided you wanted to shoot for the 2-Edge FOX station then a mast top pre-amp would be very useful and the new antenna could be directed in that direction...probably an antenna selector switch would be needed to switch between that antenna and the old antenna. BUT, I *think* for the low-VHF FOX station you might need an antenna with more gain than the one you linked to. The FOX channel could be a challenge.
     
  15. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp South Alabama

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    I agree. I have a Frankenenna, of sorts....a 4-bay Antennacraft (aimed NW), an 8-Bay Antennas Direct DB8e (north), a 2-bay bowtie (east), and a VHF dipole (east)...all feeding to a Antenna Direct Juice pre-amp....the lowest antenna is sitting at around 4-5 feet, the highest at 10'. Most stations are 20 and 38 miles away. The DB8e is used to acquire a single channle...a low-power station that is 47 miles away and is a 2-Edge. It feeds a Roamio OTA and the kitchen TV (which also has a Mini Vox). It's working.<grin>
     
  16. Bigg

    Bigg Cord Cutter

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    I'm kind of surprised that mess actually works! I have a Clearstream 2v right now, next time I move, I think I'm going to go for a DB8e (UHF) and a Clearstream 5 (VHF) with a VHF/UHF combiner just to have as solid of a signal as I can, plus see if I can get some out of market stations just for kicks, especially for PBS, since sometimes they run different programming.
     
  17. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp South Alabama

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    It was a gradual process. As you stated, with Tivos there is really no sense in having rotator. But my problem was that the networks are scattered in two opposite directions, almost 180-degrees...two in one direction and another two in the opposite. To the northwest is around 30 miles while to the east is 20+ miles. Interestingly, the needle-in-the-haystack is an independent station, but one I had to have for wife-approval for cutting the cord. The 2-Edge, low-power station. This one station requires careful aiming of the DB8e to receive it. To add to this wedding of aluminum bird perches are a couple of simple splitters installed in reverse...no Jointennas, no combiners, just splitters.

    I installed a CS 2v at my daughter's house. It has worked well for her in a more rural area than I'm located in. I do have an old model CM7777 dual-port pre-amp inline and had to add a basic 2-bay bowtie to pull some stations in from the south. The Clearstreams are good, under-rated antennas.
     
    Bigg likes this.
  18. Laughs Brightly

    Laughs Brightly Member

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    Jan 23, 2016
    Ohio
     
  19. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp South Alabama

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    Ok, I was going by the TV Fool report in regards to the FOX channel. It looks like you're good-to-go on all the networks. I would think changing over to a balun and coax cable would be a big improvement BUT...things sometimes aren't as they seem. Pulling in the FOX channel from 55 miles is good reception! It could be that the twinlead is acting as some type of antenna for you. Stranger things have happened! ;)
     
  20. wizwor

    wizwor Active Member

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    There is no such thing as HD or Digital or Analog antennas. Antennas receive radio frequency signals at specific frequencies. So, there are UHF, VHF-high, and VHF-low antennas. Antennas also have characteristics such as gain and beam width which affect signal reception. Gain is how much the signal is amplified and beam width is a measure of how many degrees off center a signal will be received.

    This is why it's important to understand what stations you are trying to pull in before buying an antenna or two. I happen to live about 35 miles from local broadcasters. All of the UHF stations are due south of me. All of the VHF stations are northwest of me. All of the VHF stations are also VHF-high (real channels 7-13). I couple a DB8e pointed due south with a Stellar Labs 30-2476 pointed northwest.

    Run a TVFool report. Starting at the top of the channels list, google each station's call letters, open the wiki for the channel, and note which channels are available. Make a list of the channels you would like to receive along with direction and frequency. Once you do that, we can help you think about antenna options.
     

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