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Repurposing an old antenna for HD OTA reception?

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Old 10-18-2009, 02:31 PM   #1
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Default Repurposing an old antenna for HD OTA reception?

Hi all,

After some google searching I found that it's definitely possible to use an old antenna for receiving HD OTA signals. I'm thinking about dumping my cable service and using a combo of my windows home server and Playon to stream a fair amount of "cable" content to my TV's (using the internet) through my xbox. That leaves OTA for local channels.

The house we bought last year has a pretty good sized antenna on the roof (my guess is at least six feet long) and I figured I may be able to use it for OTA HD. In the event it can't be reused (or would be less than ideal) I'd be happy to get a new one. I'm more worried about the install than the $$...which is why I'd like to use the existing one if possible.

Anyhow, my zip code is 92705 and when I put in my specific address at antennaweb it was about twenty yellows, three greens, and one purple. The house is kind of in the hills (but toward the bottom), lots of trees around, but no large buildings/structures to worry about.

I've attached a few pics of the existing (old) antenna. If it's original it's 30 years old. I recall trashing the control box that went with the antenna a long time ago - so that's no longer available. You can see some damage on one end - not sure how much that matters. I'm also assuming there is a fair amount of rust on it.

If I can reuse this antenna, what do I need to buy in order to get Coax running from the antenna as opposed to that old thin antenna wire? I'd prefer if I could splice into that old thin wire in the attic (and avoid going on the roof) if that's doable.

Thanks from a rookie for any suggestions.

Derek

Edit.. Just read aka Hooper's post after my post. I can't get into TVFool dot com right now, so I can't copy and paste that report. However here are some answers:
1.) Ideally I will be servicing two TV's and one Windows Home Server - so all in all probably 3 TV's.
2.) The approximate length of the cable runs will be between 40-100feet.
3.) There are some power lines around, but I wouldn't characterize them as High Voltage.
4.) As I mentioned, toward the bottom of a hill, though my guess is most of the transmissions aren't really coming from the direction of the hill, but a different direction that isn't impacted by the hill (though I could be wrong).

Second Edit - Just got into TVFool dot com and added attachment. Based on what I'm seeing it looks like the signals in the upper left quadrant of that bulls eye picture may or may not be coming from over some hills - but those hills are about 3/4 to 1 mile away. The lower right quadrant is a wide open view besides a tree.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Antenna1.jpg (50.6 KB, 53 views)
File Type: jpg Antenna2.jpg (55.1 KB, 48 views)
File Type: png Radar-All.png (55.4 KB, 48 views)

Last edited by Stomp949; 10-18-2009 at 02:59 PM.
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Old 10-18-2009, 03:24 PM   #2
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Hi Derek and welcome to the forum!

I can't say I recognize that antenna straight out, so I'll leave the estimates of it's capabilities to others more knowledgeable.

What I can say about your situation is that if it's 30 years old the contact points of the elements and the point at which the lead connects should be cleaned up. But you'll most likely be advised to replace it with a new one... You need a VHF/UHF antenna as you have signals in both bands, a first guess would be a Winegard HD7697 or '98.

You also want to replace all the 300ohm twin lead with RG-6 coax and what they call a balun. (A 300 to 75ohm matching transformer.) It would be wise to do this from the antenna because 300ohm twin can act as an antenna itself and pick up interference that could play havoc with your reception. Get a friend to help with the roof part.

Looking at your zip code tvfool it appears almost everything you can get is at a 333 degree aim, and you wouldn't need the rotor, so I wouldn't worry about not having a control box for it. An actual location report will of course be more accurate. (Why can't you get into tvfool?) Antennaweb is all but useless, btw.

If the exact add report is similar, and you're splitting the signal 3 ways you'll also be needing an amplifier. Possibly a Winegard 8780?

There are those on this forum far more knowledgeable then myself at actual equipment recommendations, so lets see what they say.
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Old 10-18-2009, 03:42 PM   #3
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And here's a classic example of my point...

Generic zip tvfool:
http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...507c4913db3469
Compare that to the actual address report - changes everything!

Well what you're going for is over those hills, but at ~a mile away they shouldn't cause too much trouble. Lets see what others say.

You still need a VHF/UHF combo, but I would think you could drop back to a 7694 model. And scratch the amp I mentioned, you may not need one. But if you do a HDP-269 should work for you.
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Old 10-18-2009, 04:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aka.Hooper View Post
And here's a classic example of my point...

Generic zip tvfool:
(url deleted since it won't let me post)
Compare that to the actual address report - changes everything!

Well what you're going for is over those hills, but at ~a mile away they shouldn't cause too much trouble. Lets see what others say.

You still need a VHF/UHF combo, but I would think you could drop back to a 7694 model. And scratch the amp I mentioned, you may not need one. But if you do a HDP-269 should work for you.
Thanks so much for the feedback - looking forward to what other people think. One question about your suggestion - when I looked up the 7694 it said it's for 30 miles VHF and 25 miles UHF. My report (radar dot png) seems to say a number of the stations are > 30 miles away. Don't get me wrong - both my neighbors and my wife would love a smaller antenna on my roof, however I do want to be sure I get the best signal possible.

A few more questions:
1. Does the amp help push the signal around the house better or does it improve the reception of the antenna itself?
2. Do the new antennas come with everything I need to connect the coax to it or do I also need to get that stuff?
3. Should I get a powered splitter in and place it in the attic (I've got power up there close to where it comes in) or not (or is the splitter/amp the same thing)?

Thanks again!
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Old 10-18-2009, 05:05 PM   #5
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Just my opinion, but that antenna looks a lot like a 7694P already.

My opinion is that you need the rotor box because you do not want to climb up on the roof to turn the antenna. So only a stupid person would have thrown away a $40 rotor control box.

So now that we know what we are dealing with here, here is my assessment.

Your antenna is too close to the main roof of the house and there is damage to the UHF portion of the antenna.

In my opinion, there is no reason to discuss trying to repair this antenna.

Buy a 7698 P and you might get away with no preamplifier.

Remember, this is UHF and the only experience you have is with VHF.

The wire is a critical part of the equation. But a crappy signal up to some crappy wire and try to amplify it and all that will come out is a louder crappy signal.

You need to get your new antenna 10 feet above the main roof of your house and get it properly orientated to greet the signal with the main part of the antenna boom where it is strongest.

You have signals the whole way down to channel 8 and in my opinion a 7694 will not get it done.

A person who buys the cheapest antenna they can find, just so they can save some money - from the cable bill, only to find out that the reception is not up to par is more then likely to also find out that if they bought the wrong antenna, their reception will probably force them back to the cable once they discover that they bought the wrong antenna and have no more money in their budget for a new one that costs twice as much.

I like to spend my money once and spend it wisely and do the job once. After all - you already said you don't even want to climb up on the roof if you didn't have to.
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Old 10-18-2009, 05:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stomp949 View Post
Thanks so much for the feedback - looking forward to what other people think. One question about your suggestion - when I looked up the 7694 it said it's for 30 miles VHF and 25 miles UHF. My report (radar dot png) seems to say a number of the stations are > 30 miles away. Don't get me wrong - both my neighbors and my wife would love a smaller antenna on my roof, however I do want to be sure I get the best signal possible.

A few more questions:
1. Does the amp help push the signal around the house better or does it improve the reception of the antenna itself?
2. Do the new antennas come with everything I need to connect the coax to it or do I also need to get that stuff?
3. Should I get a powered splitter in and place it in the attic (I've got power up there close to where it comes in) or not (or is the splitter/amp the same thing)?

Thanks again!
Pay no attention to the mileage ratings on antennas, they are all but meaningless.
1. An amp will amplify whatever signal it receives, and will compensate for line losses, splitters, etc. It cannot make a signal that your antenna did not receive.
2. That depends on the antenna. Worst case is you have to buy a balun, ~$5. And they also usually come with mounting hardware.
3. This is a question I'll leave for someone else. But I am of the belief that a "pre-amp" (an amp that is weatherproof and is placed outdoors) at the antenna is usually the best placement to start. (As opposed to a distribution amp/splitter.)

And you're quite welcome!
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Old 10-18-2009, 05:54 PM   #7
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The HD7696P is generally used in the 30-40 mile vhf-uhf range.

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Old 10-18-2009, 06:00 PM   #8
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JB,
You may well be right about a 7698 and no amp.
As well as that it does look close to the roof, but I'm sure a 5' mast would suffice.

And it does look like a 7694, but without the UHF corner reflector elements.
(Which I'm sure make quite a difference.)

But don't rag on the guy for tossing the rotor control, it was years ago.
Besides, where's he turning it to anyway?
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Old 10-18-2009, 06:11 PM   #9
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Default Has anybody looked at this?

http://cgi.ebay.com/Tune-A-Tenna-UHF...3D10%26ps%3D63

Basically the old Channel Master 4221, only better!
Higher gain in UHF with usable gain in VHF.

Might work for him, as his VHF's are at pretty high NM numbers.

Thoughts?
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Old 10-18-2009, 11:04 PM   #10
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It seems to me, that from the OP's point of view, try the existing antenna first, then if it does not bring in as many channels as expected, then and only then is it time to try the various plan B's. Because there are always ways to get more channels, with the object being, to get the best bang for the buck.
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:37 AM   #11
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Norm's rotor service has replacement parts and control boxes. I use the Alliance U110 rotor system at my home with the clunk clunk clunk control box. I bought a replacement rotor (new) and a few parts there a few years ago when I reworked my system at home.

here is the web site if you want to do something with the rotor.

http://www.rotorservice.com/new%20rotors.htm

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Old 10-19-2009, 09:45 AM   #12
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NonMcTubber makes an excellent point!
Easy enough to try what you have first.

Get yourself an outdoor balun, & some RG-6, re-wire the house and get the antenna on a 334 degree aim - the cabling is necessary regardless of what antenna ends up on the roof. Try it hooked directly to the TV with the shortest run first, if you're not getting all your channels then you need to replace the antenna. If you are getting all your channels then add in the 3-way splitter and see if they all work. If not, that's where adding an amp will get you there. (I would guess if you can get everything down to KTAV 46 you'd be in great shape.)

As a note: A 3-way usually splits the signal unevenly, one leg at -3.5dB the other two at -7dB. Connect the stronger signal (-3.5dB leg) to the furthest TV if possible.

And if it were me I'd take the rotor off and put it on craigslist - might pay for your wire. By your tvfool all you have on a different aim is a couple of dup networks and an Ind station, and at very low NM numbers, which will be tough to come up with anyway - why bother?

BTW, you did an outstanding job of giving a clear picture of your situation - bravo!
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:02 PM   #13
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I, too, see no reason for a rotor, and you are going to need to replace ALL the old wire, so whether you like it or not you will need to get up on the roof, maybe even pull the antenna down to do a little straightening and attach a balun to the two connector points.

I'd bet the old antenna will work OK at only 36 miles away from Mt. Wilson transmitters.

If you want to spend the money go for the 7694P, you have line-of-sight.
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Old 10-29-2009, 11:45 PM   #14
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Thank you all for the feedback...sorry I didn't respond sooner but work & family stuff have been crushing me & my time. I'm thinking of going with the 7694p and following some of the great suggestions offered here. I'm sure I'll be back w/ more questions later, but for now I think I'm in good shape!
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