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Reception Help: Upper Gatineau, Quebec

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Old 05-04-2010, 11:56 AM   #1
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Default Reception Help: Upper Gatineau, Quebec

Hello,
My first post.
I just found this site today and can see that there are a lot of very knowledgeable people here. Please help!
My project for this spring it going to be to try to receive TV at our cottage by intalling an outdoor antenna.
HD itself is not important as we'll likely only ever have a CRT television at the cottage. I'm interested in receiving all the signals that we can reach (SD, HD, Digital, Analog, VHF, UHF, etc.).
With the rabbit ears, we only get two channels (VHF channels 4 & 9).
Here are the coordinates:

Lat: 45.937559
Long: -76.121454

The cottage is beside a lake facing roughly east. The cottage is on a hill next to the shore. The lake has a better view of the sky, but it is down the hill. Up by the road, we are higher, but there are trees in the way.
I could mount the antenna on the front of the cottage on the roof. With a normal five or ten foot mast, the antenna would only be slightly higher than ground level at the road, but there might only be a part of a tree in the way. The tree that might be in the way is at least 20 meters from the roof of the cottage. Alternatively, I could possibly mount a small antenna up a tree at road level and only might have a clear view of the sky in the direction needed, but I would be higher. If I mount on the tree, the run of cable would be significantly longer than the run of cable if mounted on the roof.
In Canada the VHF analog phase out is scheduled for 2011, but I'm not sure if some channels will have the means to make the switch so maybe things might not change as quickly as they are supposed to (perhaps some of you readers have your ear-to-the-ground on this?).
If the recommended antenna is large (eg 8 bow tie) it pobably has to go on the roof.
It would be ideal to connect two TVs but if you readers think this is a bad idea given the weak reception, one TV would suffice. In either case, the maximum run of cable from the roof to either TV would be less than 30 feet. Maybe a little more if I wanted the wires hidden but not much.
I have read the "prescription" but since this is my first day here and since the post seems to originate back to 2005, I am not sure if perhaps the prescription might have been tweaked (antennas direct db8?). Also, I notice that the strongest signals on the TV Fool report are VHF channels. I wonder if there is a decent combined VHF/UHF antenna that might work at my location. Or is it recommended that I stick with two separate antennas? Or if someone out there can assure me that all those VHF stations will be broadcasting in the UHF in 2011, then maybe I don't need the VHF in the long-run...
I'm guessing the pre-amp might help (short run of cable, but perhaps a split, and there will be some loss running the signal through a digital converter.).
Any advice to help me get it right the first time?
Can't wait to try this!!!

By the way, I'm going to do all of this in downtown Toronto at my home, too. I have not asked for advice on my home since I might have installers do it for me (lack of tools, fear of falling off roof, more complex once inside house - five tvs). I have a view of the CN Tower from my house and a from my roof a very decent line to Buffalo (almost same angle as the CN tower, I think). If anyone wishes to give their two cents on my home, the coordinates are:

Lat 43.688921 Long: -79.334885

Thanks in advance!

PS: Wanted to include my TV Fool profile, but I must have made five or more posts on this site to be allowed to post URLs. Sorry.
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Old 05-04-2010, 06:31 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toronto+KazQC View Post
PS: Wanted to include my TV Fool profile, but I must have made five or more posts on this site to be allowed to post URLs. Sorry.
Cottage: http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...cd7243287adda9

I can't tell what will happen in 2011. Today the best that you can do is a Winegard HD-5030 for VHF and a 91XG for UHF. Yet the 91XG does better on the high channels than the low channels, so an 8 bay may do well on channels in the mid 20's. The 7777 preamp is still a good choice.

You can ignore CBFT-2. Channel 9 should have the same programming.
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Old 05-05-2010, 07:46 AM   #3
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Good morning and welcome to the forum.

It appears that your situation is already well thought out and the solution is pretty simple. Instead of trying to get a lot of antenna height at the cabin and not getting any real gain above average terrain, the solution would be to put up a small tower or telescoping mast at the top of the hill and using a communications grade wire and pre amplifier to carry your reception from the top of the hill down to your cabin.

I have no qualms with using a XG 91 antenna,but with almost half of your reception presently being in the lower VHF, it is not going to produce the results that you are looking for. There is several ways of looking at your situation, one of them being that you would be a good candidate for the Channel Master CM 4228 and a good VHF antenna + the channel master CM 7777 pre amp.

According to the FCC, you already have 3 digital stations in your area on air. Sun, CBC and SRC

However it would be nice to receive the A Station and IND which is at the bottom of your list. I expect that in the summertime - if that was the only time you used your cabin that it would probably come in anyways with a good enough antenna, rotor and pre amplifier and good wire.

From what I understand the A station is the only one that carries the news reports in English in the Ottowa area. The channel that really blows my mind is SexTV... I guess that is a pay per view channel eh.
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Old 05-05-2010, 07:51 AM   #4
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The Winegard 8200U would be the most logical choice, along with the CM 7777 pre amp and a roll of Belden 1829 AC wire and a good antenna rotor and the telescoping mast at the top of the hill.

With all the lakes around your location, you ought to be able to pull in stations from all directions in the summertime with little effort.
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Old 05-05-2010, 10:23 AM   #5
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Ottawa-Gatineau already has their final digital channel allocations, and there will be no low-band VHF digital channels in that area: everything will be on channel 7 or higher, so you don't need a Winegard HD-8200. The Ottawa-Carleton area has two transmitter locations: Camp Fortune ski area in Gatineau, where the majority of the VHF transmitters are, and in Manotick, the Rogers tower, about 25 km south of Camp Fortune and 15 km south of downtown Ottawa. Ottawa actually has more OTA TV stations than any other city in Canada, including Toronto! You have your choice of just about every type of programing available OTA from the Ottawa market.

Looking at your TVFool.com report: your issue is that the Gatineau hills are blocking most of your TV signals. Ottawa currently has 5 VHF stations: 4 of them come from Camp Fortune, but CHCH comes from the Rogers tower in Manotick, and will present a problem for you You are only about 55 Km from the Camp Fortune tower, but you are blocked.

Tower Guy has the right idea: you need a good VHF antenna mounted on the roof aimed at Camp Fortune: 170 degrees by your compass. Because of the hills, good UHF reception is going to be tough: An AntennasDirect XG-91, mounted on top of your VHF antenna, and tilted UP in the front about 20 degrees will probably be your best choice for UHF. The choice of a Channel Master Titan 7777 preamp is a very good one.

As for VHF, the only low-band channel that you will be concerned with is CBOT, on channel 4, (CBC) and they are already broadcasting a digital HDTV signal on channel 25, so you can forgo low-band VHF. Other digital stations are poised to sign on in the next few months, so your digital channel count will increase in a short time. You will gain CJOH 13 (CTV) when you go with an outdoor antenna: CIII (6) is getting ready to sign on their digital transmitter on channel 12 shortly, so Global will become available in digital soon.

I would recommend using a 10 element VHF yagi like a Winegard YA-1713 or an AntennaCraft Y-10-7-13 for your VHF reception. Since Wade is a Canadian company: there may still be some Wade-Delhi high-band VHF yagis available in your area, and I would use one of those is they are still available, as they are built like tanks, and last almost forever.

Here are some links to the equipment:
http://www.channelmaster.com/product...ID=74&catID=39
http://www.winegard.com/kbase/upload/ya-1713.pdf
http://www.antennacraft.net/pdfs/Y10-7-13.pdf
http://antennasdirect.com/91XG_HDTV_Antenna.html

And here is a good antenna installation guide:
http://manuals.solidsignal.com/AntInstallGuide.pdf
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Last edited by tigerbangs; 05-05-2010 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 05-05-2010, 10:29 AM   #6
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To Toronto+,

Sorry--bad post, typo in co-ordinates
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Last edited by NonMcTubber; 05-05-2010 at 01:37 PM. Reason: typo in co-ordinates
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Old 05-05-2010, 10:52 AM   #7
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Towerguy & JB Antennaman,

Thank you both for taking the time to provide me with this advice for maximizing my potential at the cottage. The advice you have both given me is going to lead me to research further. I hadn't previously considered any other antennas than the DB8 and the 4228). JB, your advice about a telescoping mast up near the road with upgraded wire was also something I hadn't considered.

After having studied the channels potentially available to me on UHF, I think I'm willing to forego the VHF antenna - at least for now. The "thrill of the hunt" is really in seeing if I can manage to pull-in those pink (TV Fool report) UHF stations. The gamble is that those good VHF analog channels will be somewhere on digital UHF by 2011. If not, I'll have a second antenna project for next year!

I'll be sure to let everyone know exactly what I did and how it all turns out.

Before I buy anything, I'm going to measure out all of my various potential wire-run distances and I'm going to get up on the roof with a compass and figure out exactly where 157 degrees is relative to the trees and the open sky (it would be a shame if some terrible "accident" were to befall the previously-mentioned aging maple tree 20 meters away from the cottage...hmm).

Since first hearing about free HD over-the-air a short time ago, that $200 bill each month to Rogers Cable keeps reminding me that I'm surrounded by free TV signals. I can't wait to see what we'll be receiving in Toronto! I think Roger's days might be numbered in our house!

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

Harper
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Old 05-05-2010, 11:34 AM   #8
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Wow! I got more replies while I was typing my response to TowerGuy and JB!
Thanks NonMcTubber and Tigerbangs for your advice as well.

NonMcTubber:
Thanks for your advice on my home. I'm wondering how exactly to handle the extremely strong signal I get from Toronto and the distant signals from Buffalo that will need amplifying. My house is in an excellent location for an antenna (I wish I had thought of all this five years ago when I moved in). I'll definitely read about the antenna you suggested (7694P) before doing anything. For my house in Toronto, until now, I have been considering the DB8 pointed straight at Buffalo. I figured that all of the CN Tower stations in Toronto are so powerful that it might actually be beneficial that the antenna not be directly pointed at the tower given that I'll be using a ?Channel Master 7778? preamp to amplify the Buffalo stations. Am I being lazy or cheap to think I might not need the rotor? Without the rotor, I'm at risk of losing two Hamilton stations and one Barrie station that I should be able to get, but I could live with that. My gut is telling me that the Hamilton stations might just still come in also. Don't be shy to tell me I'm crazy, lazy, and/or cheap. I'll consider the rotor if readers really think it will be necessary. I would especialy consider a rotor if a reader indicated that it would better my chances of getting more stations from the Buffalo area (there are several towers there but they are all at similar angles from my house, I figure).

Tigerbangs:
Thank you so much for your response and advice about my cottage. After reading your detailed explanations about my topographical challenges and after reading about the fact that my low and high VHF stations might actually be remaining on VHF after their digital switchover, I guess I will have to take JB and TowerGuy's (and your) advice and spring for a high VHF antenna in addition to the UHF. I guess it will be needed next year and beyond, after all.

Ottawa indeed has a good number of Canada-based OTA stations. I'd venture to guess that the reason why Ottawa has more OTA stations than Toronto is because Ottawa would have more French-language OTA stations than Toronto. I would speculate that Ottawa and Toronto probably have the same number of Canada-based English-language stations. Toronto is lucky to be so close to Buffalo so they can get the full wack of US-Networks. My guess is that from downtown Ottawa, people would be lucky to receive PBS from Norwood NY. They probably wouldn't guess much else. Readers, correct me if I'm wrong (if so, I'll be running wires from the roof of my parents' house, too!!!).

Thank you for the advice regarding the direction and angles to point my two antennas. I will definitely try it. I will review the difference between True North and Magnetic North (I incorrectly referenced 157 degrees in my previous message). I'll read-up on the antennas you recommended.

By the way, I'm not going to be greedy. I will not attempt to split the signal between two TVs as I mentioned in my last message.

I can't wait to report back on how I did.

Thanks again everyone!
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Old 05-05-2010, 01:34 PM   #9
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OOOOOOOOOOOOPs,

I was a full degree south with the other TV fool report for your house.

Here is the correct one.

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...cd72874466827a

For Toronto, you are in easy rabbit ear range, for Buffalo, you are still not out of range for even a half way decent outdoor antenna. So an amp might be poison to you. And something like a 7694P pointed at about 170 degrees with a fixed aim should do well for a both cities. Your channel assignments might completely rejigger when Canada goes digital at the end of 2011 so I would advise sticking to a single VHF/UHF antenna. I picked the 7694P because its a good inexpensive antenna with decent gain.

If you also want some of those much weaker stations at 240-253 degrees and some of the stations to the northeast, you could maybe get some of them but then you would need a bigger more expensive antenna and an antenna rotor.

But other people might have other suggestions for your house. Lots of ways to skin that cat with an attic install also possible.
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Old 05-05-2010, 03:51 PM   #10
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In my haste to get out the door this morning, the report that I did was on one of the coordinates and not on the other. I think it was the bottom number and not the top.

In doing the report, I had looked up several channels and the one channel - did say that it was going to relocate temporarily to the UHF while the transition took place on the VHF, once the new transmitter was up and running, they were going to switch back to the VHF. It must have been a channel 48 or 68 or something. So my assumption there was that since they were going to go back to the VHF that a good antenna with a strong VHF would work wonders in that situation.

As I had said, the coordinates for that location that I looked at was near a lake and you said that you home is down in town and only a couple of miles away from the transmitters so the coordinates location must have been for the cabin also because they were more then just a couple of miles.

The only experience I have up that way is putting up a CB antenna at the lodge at possum lake, about 30 miles from Port Asbestos.
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Old 05-05-2010, 04:25 PM   #11
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Hi JB Antennaman,

Hey! I think I saw your handywork at Possom Lodge. How many rolls of duct tape did you need to secure that cb antenna to that flag pole?

Earlier today you gave me a very helpful report on how I can get started at the cottage. After reviewing all of the advice I conclude that I'm in need of a good high VHF and good (miracle-working) UHF antenna. I'll go to the cottage with a compass to scout out the best location before settling on the best place.

The second set of coordinates were for my house in downtown Toronto - about four miles from the CN Tower, where all of the transmitters are. Buffalo is almost straight across Lake Ontario from my south-facing house. My challenge at home is going to be finding a way to amplify the Buffalo signals and split to five TVs while not overloading the Toronto signals. My thought was to go with UHF-only (e.g. Antennas Direct DB8) pointed straight at Buffalo and use a 7778 preamp. I don't know how to split to five TVs in the most efficient way.
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:34 PM   #12
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To Toranto +,

Who worries, "My challenge at home is going to be finding a way to amplify the Buffalo signals and split to five TVs while not overloading the Toronto signals. My thought was to go with UHF-only (e.g. Antennas Direct DB8) pointed straight at Buffalo and use a 7778 preamp. I don't know how to split to five TVs in the most efficient way. ( At least regarding his Toronto main home )

1. Your possible error may be in assuming you need to amplify the Buffalo stations in any way. They are basically line of sight and almost all are fairly strong.

2. Amplification gets very tricky for you after making the 5 way split because 4 mile away Toronto stations are likely to overload your tuner after being amplified. If nothing else, if some split 5 way Buffalo channels are too weak, think in terms of a weak low noise adjustable gain distribution amp just strong enough to make up for downstream coax losses and an antenna aim of something like 140 degrees, thus close enough to be on main aim for buffalo, yet its likely far enough off of Toronto aim so you are in a weak reception node for Toronto. Or an a/b switch, unamplified rabbit ears for Toronto, and a weak distribution amp for Buffalo stations. Since the Buffalo stations are mainly UHF, a homebuilt attic install may do the trick.

Your Toronto stations are so strong, you will get them no matter how your antenna is aimed.
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:59 PM   #13
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Hi Non-McTubber,
Thank you for your latest post. All of these antenna/reception/amp/etc. concepts are new to me. I start to get overwhelmed when trying to understand splitters and distribution amps.

It's only in the last couple of days that I started learning about all this. Tonight I took a notion to look up at the houses in the neighbourhood. So far I've only spotted two modern UHF antennas (4221s, I think). Strangely, they were pointed at the tower, not at Buffalo. My neighbourhood is approx 80-100 years old so there are tons of old tower-style antennas still standing. I can't tell if those antennas are still working but they're all pointed straight at Buffalo. That could be because the Toronto signals are so strong. Or it could be that back in the 60's there was one Toronto channel and in Buffalo three big networks and other channels.

I think I just read in another thread that it is possible to "cap" unused distribution amplifier ports. Does that mean that if I plug the unused port, there is less signal wasted and therefore the unwasted signal gets redistributed to the remaining active ports equally? When I look at a local store's web site, they have 2-way distribution amplifiers, four-way distribution amplifiers, and eight-way distribution amplifiers. If I need to supply five TV's what is the right configuaration? Is getting an eight-way and plugging the three unused holes the same as buying a two-way and a four-way splitter and plugging one hole?
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Old 05-06-2010, 11:21 PM   #14
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Mini Update:

I borrowed a pair of rabbit ears today and placed it in the 2nd floor window today in Toronto, and received about 20 stations.

This bodes well for when an antenna is installed on the roof. Some important Buffalo stations were missing, though.
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Old 05-07-2010, 05:17 AM   #15
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I think I just read in another thread that it is possible to "cap" unused distribution amplifier ports. Does that mean that if I plug the unused port, there is less signal wasted and therefore the unwasted signal gets redistributed to the remaining active ports equally? When I look at a local store's web site, they have 2-way distribution amplifiers, four-way distribution amplifiers, and eight-way distribution amplifiers. If I need to supply five TV's what is the right configuaration? Is getting an eight-way and plugging the three unused holes the same as buying a two-way and a four-way splitter and plugging one hole?
Capping unused ports with 75 ohm terminators is done as a preventative measure to avoid signal reflections that might otherwise cause distortions in the signals provided to the in-use outlets. The same power is available at all ports regardless, none is redistributed.

A typical 4-port and 8-port DA from the same vendor will have the same amplifier module with the only difference being one has a 4-port splitter on the output while the other has an 8-port splitter on its output. If you look at the gain specs for each, you'll probably note a difference in around 3-4 dB less on the 8-port vs. the 4-port.

If your distribution scheme is such that you have both short and long cable runs, it often makes sense to buy a 4-port DA and use a 2-port splitter to service the two shortest runs (up to approx 50-70') and use the three remaining outputs to service the longer runs (up to 125-150').
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