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-   -   Cutting the Cable ang using only OTA... (http://forums.sagetv.com/forums/showthread.php?t=48146)

PiX64 05-03-2010 05:38 PM

Cutting the Cable ang using only OTA...
 
I am currently in the process of evaluating all of my TV options, and have come to the conclusion that i am sick and tired of paying comcast 70 a month for TV that i can get for free OTA.

I have been looking at antennaweb.org as well as tvfool.com to try and figure what the best antenna is for me. I am in 60545 -- Plano IL and it seems that a large directional antenna would be the best for me..as i am sure it is for everyone. I really don't want this HUGE antenna on my roof, so i have been looking for an antenna that will give me the most coverage while being in my attic. I live in a 2 story home with a pretty large attic. I am mainly concerned about the following channels

WBBMDT
WFLDDT
WMAQDT
WLSDDT (ABC)
WPWRDT
WGNDT
WCIUDT 1 - 4

I was hoping that some of you might be able to put your thoughts and comments in as to which antennas you like, and which have worked well for you with an HDHOMERUN and HVR2250...

I am currently looking at the following antenna to mount in my attic:

http://www.compusa.com/applications/...411&CatId=2767

Let me know what you all think....All comments, pointers, suggestions welcome.

Thanks all,

Pix64

rmac321 05-03-2010 06:57 PM

If you have any DIY skills, go the home-made route. Check out the thread over on AVSForum which will help you size a you-tube style antenna for the stations you are trying to get. The thread is pretty long, but there is a ton of useful information and a lot of helpful people:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=798265

I'm in central IL with a 9 1/2" mclapp antenna in the attic using a wineguard AP8700 preamp to feed 2 HDHR's. mclapp is one of the guys who has posted a bunch of antenna designs as well as actual data for the various designs he has built. I've been planning to build a 10" mclapp, but the 9 1/2" has been working so well that I haven't gotten around to building the next one.

FWIW, we've been OTA only for years. Now that OTA is digital the quality is so much better than SD cable it will blow you away. With an HD200, even a regular SD TV looks amazing.

ranger 05-03-2010 07:27 PM

I went OTA for a year and really didn't mind. The ONLY reason I put cable TV back in is because Comcast offered a one year price on the triple play that essentially gave me phone, Internet, and TV for the price I was paying for Internet and phone.

Who knows, next year I may be back to the antenna in my attic. I still use it for some recordings as the OTA HD quality is better.

I had 2 problems I had to overcome with OTA. One station was 90 degrees away from my other stations so I had to beef up the antenna a bit, and the other problem is that another station is VHF hi-band, so a UHF only antenna didn't work well.

PiX64 05-03-2010 07:48 PM

Awesome. Thank you and i will def. check out the DIY thread. I actually would prefer to do it that way because well i like most people around here like to tinker, build, make good, tear down and rebuild :-)

its a sickness really ;-)

thank you guys for your input.

~Pix64

pjpjpjpj 05-04-2010 05:48 AM

Pix,

If you are into the DIY thing - it's really easy and works great - also try the antenna threads here:
http://lumenlab.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=9613
and here:
http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=186

and I recommend using www.tvfool.com for your reception data, rather than antennaweb. Tvfool.com has better topographic info with regards to things (i.e., hills) which block reception. Be sure to put in the approximate height above outside grade that your antenna will be when mounted in your attic.

For attic mounting, be aware that the aluminum-faced insulation board that is used in many houses can act as a reflector and prevent reception. So if you have that in your attic on the side between the towers and you, you may have difficulty. On the other hand, if you have (as I do) the board on sides of your attic that are 90 degrees from to the direction of the towers, it acts as nice "protection" from signal multipath (signal waves that reflect off of stuff (buildings, trees, hills, house structure, etc., and create interference in reception). In general, plywood/OSB roofing wood and typical asphalt shingles do not create much problem.

Remember that you want as short as possible of coax cable runs, because you attenuate signal in the coax. I highly recommend using the HD Homerun and mounting it either in your attic (depends how clean/protected your attic is), or else in a closet just below the attic (what I did). You get a shorter run of lossy coax, and once you are in the HDHR, the network cable run back to your system is basically lossless. If you use the 2250, you either have a long run of coax (and losses), or else need to put your server up near the attic.

Feel free to PM me if you want (or just post your TVfool "plot" here) and I can give you more advice. I'm not claiming to know all, but I really got into this stuff a few years ago when I set up my system and I am happy to share the info I learned.

PiX64 05-04-2010 07:01 AM

1 Attachment(s)
awesome PJ, i will def. post my tvfool plot to get some of your feedback.

Hope this is what you were looking for:

Skirge01 05-04-2010 08:12 AM

While I love to tinker, I didn't want to be messing with an antenna in the attic or on the roof on any sort of regular basis, so I had one professionally installed on the roof. According to TVFool, the majority of the towers were about 30 miles away from me, in a single direction.

I went with a Channel Master CM-3016, with a CM-7777 pre-amp and a CM-3410 distribution amplifier (just in case I had long runs). The intent was to pull in the strongest signal I could from the furthest tower around and be done with it. To give you an idea of just how well this worked out, the first idiot (supposed professional) installer had the antenna pointing AWAY from the towers (even after I mentioned it to him and he ignored me), but it was still pulling in decent signals. After about a month like this, we lost just about all our channels and got a real professional to point it the right way and couldn't be happier. Even with 70mph winds, we have never lost any channels. It did get pixelated a couple of times, but it was fine to watch.

Owen Brent 05-04-2010 08:55 AM

Definitely check out the Digital Forum mentioned above. This forum helped me significantly. They will recommend that you do not put the antenna in the attic because of signal loss. Depending on your location, a DB-8 could be a good choice. I use two Channel master 4228HD antennas. If I was to do it again I may have went with two DB-8, or two ch-4221. I point one towards towers east of me and the other towards the south. I pick up about 25 HD channels perfectly. I admit that a attic mount would be nice and clean and easy and you would never have to worry about wind, but you will still have to ground it to a grounding rod that is in the ground. Place your preamp as close to the antenna as possible. Mine is mounted inches below the two antennas. If you combine the signal from two antennas, use equal lengths of coax to a combiner (splitter in reverse). Buy yourself a coax stripper, and connector crimping tool. That way you can make your own cables and keep the length to a minimum. I have about 200' of cable running through my house and have plenty of signal strength on most channels. Since I also had a rotator, I can rotate one of the antennas the same direction as the other in order to increase my signal from one of the weaker towers. I rarely have to do this however. Good luck, you will enjoy saving all that money (and picture quality).

rmac321 05-04-2010 09:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Owen Brent (Post 421267)
I use two Channel master 4228HD antennas.

If you combine the signal from two antennas, use equal lengths of coax to a combiner (splitter in reverse).

Use caution when combining antennas. You can introduce or even exacerbate problems like multi-path. Try to find an appropriate single antenna solution first. If you go multiple antennas, you could consider feeding them to different tuners so the antennas don't interfere with each other.

pjpjpjpj 05-04-2010 10:43 AM

It appears that all the channels you are trying to get are in the same direction (unless I missed one). That's good... as long as you have a clear shot in that direction from your house (without, I dunno, a high-rise building or something directly in-between). Get/build a "directional" antenna (with a reflector on the back - more on that later) and aim it in that direction.

The other good news is that all of those channels are UHF, so you don't need a combination antenna. Most of the DIY antennas are designed for UHF reception.

From the distance that you are located - and elevation, with "line of sight" to the towers (I'm assuming your 30' input is true), you should be able to get all those channels from your attic. I receive several channels from approximately that same distance, some even being "1 edge" (meaning there is one hill between the towers and my antenna).

I would start out with the infamous "youtube video" antenna -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWQhlmJTMzw
or
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8jsDxNgHn4
These are really the same "4-bay" antenna, just one is made with coat hangers and the other with copper (which I recommend!). The second one also offsets the wires from the wood with PVC, which is not really needed. I didn't watch the second one to see if the spacing is the same, but if you basically space the "elements" (V's) 7" from each other, and the center screws about 1/2" to 3/4" apart, you'll be fine. Frankly, you could tape wire to a piece of cardboard, as long as it's rigid and everything is touching where it should be (and NOT - don't let the crossed rods touch).

The antenna in the videos is "omnidirectional", but since all of your channels are in one direction, add a reflector to make it "directional" (narrowing the field from which is receives). This makes it more touchy when installing (you have to aim it more precisely), but also typically increases the reception quite a bit. The reflector can be a piece of cardboard covered with aluminum foil, some chickenwire or hardware cloth (mesh), or even baking cooling racks. I used the wire grids that make up the sides of "yaffa blocks". Mount that reflector 3.5-4" behind the antenna, parallel to the plane of the elements (V's). A convenient way to do this is to build the antenna on the short side of a 2x4, and then mount the reflector to the other side. Just make sure the reflector is at least 3" larger in each direction than the outer dimensions of the antenna wires, and that it is nice and flat.

Read up on those websites linked above, to learn more... though there is probably more info there than you really need.

If you do indeed have a clear shot at those towers, you probably would not need an inline amp on your coax, if your run was, say, 30' or less. However, you can save that trouble by following my suggestion above about using the HDHR and putting it near the antenna. As far as the indoor/outdoor issue, you always get much better reception outdoors, but if you can get every channel you want with the antenna in your attic, you avoid so many issues, from grounding, to installation, to not having to build it water- and wind-proof (and not needing to occasionally replace/maintain parts), to leakage issues with cable/wall penetrations, shorter runs of coax, and, of course, aesthetics. ;)

PiX64 05-04-2010 01:55 PM

PJ,

When I use coax out of the balun, and short run to the HDHR, can i just use a regular splitter to utilize both tuners on the HDHR, or do i need to do something fancy?

Also, using an antenna like this theoretically how many multiple signals can i receive from it? I.E. if i bought another HDHR would i be able to get 4 simultaneous signals from this antenna?

~Pix

pjpjpjpj 05-04-2010 02:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PiX64 (Post 421335)
When I use coax out of the balun, and short run to the HDHR, can i just use a regular splitter to utilize both tuners on the HDHR, or do i need to do something fancy?

Yes, you can use a splitter - in fact, the HDHR comes with a splitter for just that reason, or at least it did when I bought mine. I used 2 short pieces of coax (about 18" each) that I had laying around, to connect to the two inputs.

Quote:

Originally Posted by PiX64 (Post 421335)
Also, using an antenna like this theoretically how many multiple signals can i receive from it? I.E. if i bought another HDHR would i be able to get 4 simultaneous signals from this antenna?

I've never heard of a limit, other than perhaps the bandwidth that a coax cable can carry (?). Realize that splitters do cause signal loss - quite significant, in fact, and worse if you use cheaper splitters. I can't remember the specs of the splitter you should always use (check one of those antenna forums for advice, it's a Hz range, I believe), but I know that "not all splitters are equal". I also don't remember about the signal-loss difference of using three two-way splitters (one into two, each into another two) vs. using a single four-way splitter - I believe the two-way scenario would be worse because you also have losses at the cable connections, and that way would have significantly more. But I could be mistaken. Again, ask on one of those antenna forums, someone will be happy to answer. Be aware, though, that some people on those forums think splitters are the devil and that you can't afford to use even one - these are often people who have big outdoor rigs in the country and are trying to pull signals from 100 miles away. :) As I said above, I believe you should be okay to get your stations, even with a splitter and an attic installation, so don't let them scare you off.

Also, you should try to use the same length of coax on each of the two pieces connected to the "double" side of the splitter (don't use a 2' piece to one tuner and a 10' piece to the other!).

bastafidli 05-04-2010 03:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pjpjpjpj (Post 421343)
Yes, you can use a splitter - in fact, the HDHR comes with a splitter for just that reason, or at least it did when I bought mine.

I just got HDHR and it doesnt come with splitter any more.

PiX64 05-04-2010 04:07 PM

Yeah i don't think mine came with one eaither, but im pretty sure i got a decent one from the evil cable co laying around somewheres....

Thanks again to ALL for their suggestions. ill report back when i finally get a chance tonight or tomorrow to put this together and test 'er out!

Thanks,

Pix

Rico66 05-04-2010 05:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pjpjpjpj (Post 421343)
Yes, you can use a splitter - in fact, the HDHR comes with a splitter for just that reason, or at least it did when I bought mine. I used 2 short pieces of coax (about 18" each) that I had laying around, to connect to the two inputs.

Just to add that you need an additional blocker, if you intend to amplify the signal and split it (to keep the DC power from going back down to the TV without the amp power supply)

Menehune 05-04-2010 07:36 PM

A 2 port splitter has -3db (in a perfect world) of loss. A 3 port splitter should have the ports labeled, but generally one port will be -3db, the other two will be -4.5db each.

If the antenna puts out -40db at the channel of interest and the splitter loses -3db, the cable loses -3db (per 100 foot at the channel's frequency) and each coax connector loses -1db (assume 4 connectors), you wind up with a maximum of -50db input to the tuner card.
Check the specs on the card to see what the minimum receive signal level is.

Generally, you want to amplify the signal up on the pole at the back of the antenna where the maximum signal is present and where the noise is minimum.

pjpjpjpj 05-05-2010 05:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rico66 (Post 421370)
Just to add that you need an additional blocker, if you intend to amplify the signal and split it (to keep the DC power from going back down to the TV without the amp power supply)

I don't think this applies here, but I also don't think Pix will need an amp at all, anyway. Pix, it sounded like you are putting the HDHR right near the antenna, right? I doubt you will need an amp. But as Menehune said, if you do, put it at the antenna end, and not at the tuner/splitter end.

Interesting that the HDHR does not come with the splitter anymore. As I think about it, I believe it came with a splitter and two short pieces of coax, too. My guess is that they stopped providing it when they began making the single-tuner unit, so that they didn't have to differentiate in the packing/shipping of the boxes (the single-tuner unit obviously not needing a splitter and extra coax).

PiX64 05-05-2010 07:37 AM

Im on the fence...i woudl really like to keep all of my equipment for the TV along side the servers and such in the basement. I have a 3" pvc pipe that runs from the attic to the basement, so getting a coax run isn't a problem, nor is the ethernet run for that matter....decisions decisions....

if i were to use an amp, any suggestions? the run would be about 50' give er take of course

~Pix

pjpjpjpj 05-05-2010 10:35 AM

Since you have that pipe (lucky you, BTW - my wire-fishing story is bad), I'd try coax with no amp first. See what you get. Then get an amp (I'll let others here suggest, I don't need one so I can't recommend) and try that. If that's still messy, move the HDHR upstairs.

scott2020 05-05-2010 11:11 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pjpjpjpj (Post 421285)

The other good news is that all of those channels are UHF, so you don't need a combination antenna. Most of the DIY antennas are designed for UHF reception.

I think WBBM (CBS) is on VHF 12 (?)

Unfortunate. My VHF 10 here is terrible during bad weather, lights turning on and off, washing machines going, etc...


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