Posts Tagged ‘antennas’

OTA Antenna FAQs

Friday, September 15th, 2017

Here are some Frequently asked questions I get about TV Antennas in my town:

  • What is the best antenna?
  • Can I go bigger?
  • Can I pick up channels from both Madison and Cedar Rapids?

What is the best antenna?

The best antenna is the one that fits your budget. Here is my handout I give folks who ask. I have it broken into three budgets. < $50 / $120 / $200
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1x113jqeepDhK4VtcKPQecNvcxV7hLQJXG0ZTiL3sqp0

Can I go bigger?

Short answer, no. Long answer, it depends but probably is not worth it. You can explore this page which describes running multiple DB8 antennas. Midway down the page you will find “Why this 16-bay antenna might not work”. Take a read through.
http://www.hdtvprimer.com/antennas/16bay.html
http://www.hdtvprimer.com/ANTENNAS/32bay.html

Can I pick up channels from both Madison and Cedar Rapids?

Again, short answer no. Long answer, maybe. Antennas like the DB8e have multiple elements that can be pointed in different directions. Aside from halving your antennas efficiency by splitting it in two, the next problem is that some of the signal picked up by Side A is then radiated out of Side B. This results in your received signal dropping by more than 50% !
If you are thinking about adding a second antenna to overcome these losses, see above “Can I go bigger?”

Shullsburg is full of Smart People

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

I took a drive through Shullsburg last weekend, keeping my eyes out for home antennas and towers. Unlike Platteville, I found that nearly every home I saw in Shullsburg had a bow tie reflector type antenna that I recommend. Most were the 4-way ones (DB4 and Clearstream2). While in Platteville I still recommend 8-way type such as the DB8 or Clearstream4.

A quick review of tvfool for Shullsburg shows that they have 40 dBm more signal than Platteville. So I imagine that they can get away with a smaller 4-way antennas and no powered pre-amp.

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OTA Secrets

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

What is the secret to good TV antenna reception?  Using the right Hardware and Aiming.

Hardware

You have to look at every part of the chain from the antenna to your TV. They all affect signal quality.

- Antenna – Collect as much signal as possible
- Balun – Older baluns can be less efficient
- Amplifier – Low noise and mounted near antenna
- Cables – Length is the important number.  However, older cables can be leaky and may need replacing
- Splitters & Connectors - 
Limit your number of splitters and connectors. Use exact cable lengths wherever possible.

http://www.hdtvprimer.com/antennas/basics.html

Aiming

The success of your antenna reception is highly dependent on good aiming strategy.

Go to tvfool.com and find the angle you need to aim. Walk around the outside of your home and determine a location where you can point in that direction and have a clear line of sight. Aim into fields, aim between houses, aim around trees, aim above houses.

If you have a clear line of sight and that angle just isn’t reliable enough, try spinning the antenna 180 degrees in the OPPOSITE direction to receive the bounced signal instead. If you have a lot of structures behind you, the reflected bounce can sometimes be stronger than your primary direction.

Remember: If your antenna has a built in electric rotor (like the cheapo chinese one), use it. The procedure to use the cheapo antenna’s rotor is:
1. Press the red rotor button on the power box and count to 1. This will rotate the antenna for approx 20-30 degrees in a direction.
2. Wait 5-10 seconds for your tv’s signal indicator to refresh. If you have a channel lock, you may have to wait up to 20 seconds for the picture to return.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2, varying the duration that you hold the button. Example: Press for 1 second, release, and press for 2 seconds – will rotate in the other direction. Allowing you to “home in” on a signal.

http://www.hdtvprimer.com/antennas/fixes.html

OTA: Antenna Class!

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

Last fall, I taught an over-the-air antenna class at the local library.  I broke down each step of how to receive free TV broadcasts from Madison.  Over 75 miles away !  The first half of the class was a slide show, the second half was the interactive portion. I asked for addresses and we pulled up the reception maps for the attendees to discuss real world reception and aiming strategies.

What is the secret to Platteville TV Reception?
• Have a good aiming strategy using tvfool.com and a Sighting Compass
• Choose an appropriate mounting location.
• Route your coax cable through your home’s ground block for static and lightning protection.
• Every step between your antenna to your TV can affect signal quality, reduce where possible!
• Cable Length / Splitters / Connectors

This is the handout that I gave to those who attended my class last fall.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1x113jqeepDhK4VtcKPQecNvcxV7hLQJXG0ZTiL3sqp0

Follow this link for the slideshow presentation for my antenna reception class. Missing is my handwritten notes that accompany this presentation.
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1uEA5j9wCnowlhbRawDde0W1ldsf4nr2IoWRPw_-TmBs/