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Olympia WA antenna question

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Old 06-21-2010, 09:02 PM   #1
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Default Olympia WA antenna question

Hi:

I've been reading this forum pre-digital switchover and have tried to use the information given to figure out what kind of antenna to buy. I haven't had much luck, and I'm having to fight off family members who want to defect to cable.

I live near the top of a hill in Olympia Washington. I currently have a large and ancient Radio Shack all-channel antenna (model unknown) with a Channel Master 7777 amp about 2 feet above the roof line. There are plently of trees around, but fortunatley there's a bit of a hole towards Seattle. I have about a 50 foot cable run into an extensive internal cable system with 5 outlets. I realize the run is long, but I did a test with a straight 40 foot run directly into the amp power then to the tuner and the results were exactly the same.

My TV fool report is here:
option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3d9fbec52ffe3eb8

Channels 13, 14, 19, 27 and 33 come in reliably
Channels 11, 25, 31, 44 and 50 come in at least half of the time
Channels 48 and 39 have periods where they'll come in for days, then disappear for a while.
38 comes in sometimes but is never reliable.

Channel 34 is listed as another frequency for KIRO (CBS - 39) that has a strong signal, and I've always assumed it's a repeater, but I get no signal from it (even when I point the antenna that direction.)

I'd like an antenna that would:

1) Be able to reliably receive all the stations above, including the 3 VHF channels.

2) Be fairly flexible as far as direction. Right now, pointing in the 195 seems to get in the most stations. I'd rather not use an antenna rotator.

3) Be lightweight. I'd like to put it on a fairly short mast (maybe 5ft?) at the top of my roof. I want to keep it lightweight on a shorter mast so I don't have to worry about guy wires (I'm not real nuts about running around on a fairly steep roof.

I considered the Winegard HD-7697P, but that looks like it's pretty heavy. Same with the Channel Master 4228, and it's VHF abilities seem to be in question. A combo of the 91XG and a VHF would probably need a taller, guy-wired mast and might be too directional.

Any ideas, or are there no easy answers?
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Old 06-21-2010, 09:32 PM   #2
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To oly TV, welcome to the forum.

To get everyone on the same page, this seems to be your TVFool report.

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...9fbec52ffe3eb8

First reaction, KIRO TV at 3.3 miles away may be overloading your CM7777 amp.

After that, you may need an antenna rotor to do better at your location. And an aged antenna system is hard to rely on.

Just dominant first impressions and I do not have time tonight to say more.

But I do think you are wise to limit things to just one TV for now,
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Old 06-22-2010, 12:29 PM   #3
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Good morning forum, and after a good night's sleep I took a look in more detail.

And given the fact the OP gave us the channels he gets and does not get reliably, there is a lot of data to analyze.

But as a general comment, our OP has two main cluster of gettable channels, one set lies in a 8 degree arc between 195 to 212 degrees, and the other set lies in a 53 degree arc between 1 and 54 degrees. And those arc centers are almost 180 degrees apart.

So without an antenna rotor, no one fixed aim will maximize reception for all channels. Second, highly directional Yagi antennas tend to see a plus minus 15 degree arc on main aim very well and also lose the ability to see to their rear very well.
Or put it better, they have a high front back ratio.

As someone who also owns a rat shack antenna that came with the house when I bought it, it leads me to believe that a less direction antenna with a lower front back ratio is what you need, if you rule out a rotor. And that seems to describe my rat shack antenna and probably yours. Simply because you are grabbing fairly weak channels off the back.

As for that close Kiro, that should be overloading your amp, if you look at the terrain profile, the terrain profile seemingly changes dramatically worse in that 8 degrees of arc.

But in my mind, to do better, what you may really need is another UHF antenna pointed at 194 degrees, a XG-91 perhaps, and then point the rat shack at 40-50 degrees, combine the signals using forum recommended practices, and if you don't want to stack them, use two low masts spaced some distance apart.

Since my area of expertise is not in multiple antenna set ups, I may be off base here, but lets see what others on this forum say.
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Old 06-22-2010, 09:28 PM   #4
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I'm inclined to think that multiple antennae might be the way to go, too. I should be able to couple 'em through the CM 7777?

Figure the VHF could point at 35 to aim for channels 9 and 11. I'm guessing that 13 would be strong enough to still come in.

If I went with the XG-91, I'm thinking I could point it ~40, hoping it could get in the two clusters of stations. Looks like they're up to 22 apart. Is that too far apart for the XG-91? Would there be a better UHF choice? I'd miss out on channel 14 to the north, but I have no interest in that station.

As for all the stations to the south, I don't need 'em. I don't even know what they are, since I don't think I've ever seen a signal on them, with the exeption of one that has been broadcasting the same static channel banner and 15 second music clip for the past year.

And that extra KIRO station is also some kind of ghost. I've tried to get it in with a bowtie UHF antenna in a southern window and nothing shows up. I've written the station to ask about it, but like all my other queries to local stations about their signal, I never hear back. It's kind of odd how little stations care about their signal's reception here on the edge. Guess they figure we should all be getting cable.

Anyway, thanks for you interest and any hardware recommendations...
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Old 06-23-2010, 12:02 PM   #5
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If you don't want anything at the 184 degree aim then the choices get easier. All your VHF stations are basically at either 6 degrees of 35 degrees, or 29 degrees of arc. Normally, your best aim to get everything would be 6+35/2= 20.5 degrees, but because real channel 13 and 14 are so strong, they may well come in even with a 35 degree aim.

In terms of UHF, you have clusters at 35 degrees and 54 degrees, or 19 degrees of arc, again it may be better to split the difference. And yes a Xg-91 is a good small inexpensive antenna for UHF but not the only option.

In terms of a VHF only antenna, you might look at what Tiger bangs recommends on his deep fringe thread, or I hope someone else on this forum might join in, because I mainly like combo VHF/UHF antennas that are not an option in your case without a rotor, and hence have not extensively studied VHF only antennas.

I really am hoping others on this forum will jump in also.
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:14 PM   #6
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Oly, I really don't think you need a separate VHF antenna - your VHF signals are so strong I'm sure you'd pick them up with most anything. If you're handy at all, I think it would be worth your while to throw up a hastily built 4-bay without a refelector - I think you'd be surprised at how well it does at picking up your signals from the front and behind. Personally, I use a 4228 with a 7777, but my TV Fool numbers are all below -10 on the NM reading. Before I went this route I tried a lot of the builds and was able to get some of my channels, but not as good as the commercial antenna.

As an example, I gave one of my old (and first) builds to my brother, which was a 9.5" (whisker length) by 9" (whisker spacing) 4-bay. He only has 3 VHF high stations to pick up, all below 20NM from TVFool - this antenna picked them up no problem. The performance on UHF will be significantly better and I think would work out well for you.

If you wanted commercial though, I would bet that a 4221HD would work very well, and would also likely pick up those VHF blow torches you've got. If you were a little closer (I'm 5 hours north of you), you'd be welcome to try/ have a couple of my builds as they need a worthy home .

Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 06-24-2010, 01:01 PM   #7
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Welcome to the forum Oly TV

Quote:
Originally Posted by Oly TV View Post
... I currently have a large and ancient Radio Shack all-channel antenna (model unknown) with a Channel Master 7777 amp about 2 feet above the roof line. There are plently of trees around, but fortunatley there's a bit of a hole towards Seattle. I have about a 50 foot cable run into an extensive internal cable system with 5 outlets. I realize the run is long, but I did a test with a straight 40 foot run directly into the amp power then to the tuner and the results were exactly the same.
Firstly, I'm sure your 7777 has more than enough gain to compensate for the distribution losses even if you have a lot of cable inside the house, thus the fact that you saw no difference when going thru only 40' to 1 TV.

Quote:
Channels 13, 14, 19, 27 and 33 come in reliably
Channels 11, 25, 31, 44 and 50 come in at least half of the time
Channels 48 and 39 have periods where they'll come in for days, then disappear for a while.
38 comes in sometimes but is never reliable.
Secondly, an old RS combo is most likely fairly weak on UHF, so it doesn't surprise me that you're having trouble with many 2-Edge signals. (I would expect you to be able to land RF 11 with the RS if your aim is ~35 tho.) Channel 25 may be suffering from co-channel interference from the analog transmission, and there is little you can do about that.

Quote:
Channel 34 is listed as another frequency for KIRO (CBS - 39) that has a strong signal, and I've always assumed it's a repeater, but I get no signal from it (even when I point the antenna that direction.)
This may be because you have already scanned in a 7.1 for KIRO from RF 39, so the tuner won't accept a second, identical virtual channel.

Quote:
I'd like an antenna that would:

1) Be able to reliably receive all the stations above, including the 3 VHF channels.

2) Be fairly flexible as far as direction. Right now, pointing in the 195 seems to get in the most stations. I'd rather not use an antenna rotator.

3) Be lightweight. I'd like to put it on a fairly short mast (maybe 5ft?) at the top of my roof. I want to keep it lightweight on a shorter mast so I don't have to worry about guy wires (I'm not real nuts about running around on a fairly steep roof.
1) zapperman's solution of a DIY 4-Bay w/o reflector may get you there, but w/o a reflector you are: #1 giving up much of this antenna's VHF-Hi capabilities - the VHF is captured by the reflector and coupled to the driven elements. And #2 you will be giving up gain on UHF as well. But it may be worth a try just the same. Worst that happens is you add the reflector to add gain for the stations from the north, and add a VHF antenna. Since The only strong VHF you have is RF 13 (I'd hardly call 12.1 & 16 dB NM "blow torches") I think you may benefit from a VHF-Hi antenna such as a Winegard YA-1713 or the Antennacraft Y10-7-13 aimed @ 35 (RF 13 is strong enough it will come in regardless.)

2) Your trying to overcome 2-edge signals from the north, and the old RS just isn't up to it, thus your better results from the south, which are LOS. Since they are fairly strong, the zapperman solution even with a reflector aimed @ 43 may work for you on the UHF @ 194 off the back - the F/B of a 4-Bay w/reflector is only 7~10dB IIRC.

3) I think you may be a bit paranoid about the height & weight. Going with a 10' mast shouldn't require guy wires if properly mounted, and will provide adequate separation for 2 antennas. I would say use a 10' mast wall-mounted to the side of the house. (Which you can use a 10' length of 1-1/4" galvanized electrical conduit from HD or Lowe's for ~$9, and should be cheaper and stronger than a purchased mast.) Just be sure to catch the wall studs, or add reinforcement internally if you have attic access. (And then you don't even have to get up on the roof.)

Quote:
I considered the Winegard HD-7697P, but that looks like it's pretty heavy. Same with the Channel Master 4228, and it's VHF abilities seem to be in question. A combo of the 91XG and a VHF would probably need a taller, guy-wired mast and might be too directional.
I agree with NMT that separates are probably your best shot at success, but zapperman's solution is also a good route that can be done both cheaply, and in stages - w/o reflector, add the reflector, and lastly if you need more for your VHF, add the VHF-Hi antenna. I would guess a well constructed mclapp 4-bay will work well for your UHF.
http://m4antenna.eastmasonvilleweather.com/index.html

A 4-bay will have a wider beamwidth than either the 91XG or the 4228, which will serve you well in your situation. (A 91XG only has a half-power beamwidth of ~20 meaning if the gain is rated @ 12 dB for a given frequency it will only be 9 dB, 10 off aim.)

Another thing to consider is that a 4-bay is taller, and when dealing with 2-edge signals that will "drift" on you, the height span should be an advantage for you over the narrow vertical profile of reception of the 91XG. (Which is probably why some in deep fringe applications have had more success with the 8-bays over Yagi's.)

My
Sorry if I got a little long-winded
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Last edited by aka.Hooper; 06-24-2010 at 01:44 PM.
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Old 06-24-2010, 03:04 PM   #8
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Excellent post Hooper! You filled in a lot of gaps I inadvertently left and provided some very good supplemental info (and the why). My point was basically just to give the 4-bay (or similar) a shot and see where it left the OP, since it's quick, easy and quite good, comparatively speaking (and easy to do in stages, as you've pointed out). I admit that when I see TVFool with results above 10 NM, I tend to characterize that as "blow torch", only because it's in comparison to mine (all negative) and I can get them all reliably.

In any case, you've left Oly in good shape - we'll see how he fares...
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Old 06-24-2010, 10:14 PM   #9
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Hmmm. That recommended 4-bay antenna kit looks okay, but I'd like something ready-made, if possible. I tried a quickly tossed together Gray-Hoverman a while back, and it's complete lack of success kinda turned me off of DIY.

Are there any store-bought UHF antennae out there that would fit the bill? Is that what the 4221HD is? It's listed as a short-medium range antenna, and I've got stations 53-miles away that I'd like to get in. Not too expensive, though, so I might be willing to give it a try.

As for that mysterious local KIRO repeater (?) I did a test a while back by deleting the standard KIRO from my tuner, but it still couldn't detect anything on that frequecy. I was then looking at the TV Fool report, and noticed that there's no 'Real' vs. 'Virtual' number for it, so I was thinking it might still be analog. Still got nothing.

Zapperman, where are you at? I'm guessing maybe BC? I got hooked on watching CBUT off of that Radio Shack antenna, until I had to move it for roof-work. Never came in again, I'm afraid.

At any rate, this is an excellent and informative discussion. Thanks for all your help!
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Old 06-24-2010, 11:59 PM   #10
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I can understand the reluctance for the DIY thing - RF is a weird science that I truly have no clear grasp on, other than you model to death, then build and hope for the best. I only build them (not model) and I have yet to see results come anywhere near what's modelled. They are a fun past time though. That's why I kind of lean toward trying something to see what works in your situation without breaking the bank (or requiring a lot of install time in your trials).

The 4221HD is an excellent UHF antenna. If you can get one where you can return it, it's worth a shot. It is actually much improved over its predecessor (the 4221) and has a very low loss built in balun (one less thing to worry about for signal losses). Its gain on UHF is almost as high as its big brother, the 4228HD, but it has a higher beamwidth. However, I really don't know how it would work out for you on your VHF stations. I actually have an extra original 4228 (My 4228 stacking experiment didn't really pan out....) that I am trying to trade for a 4221HD as I would really like to try one out (and use it travelling). If you can get your hands on a used original 4228, they are actually pretty good on VHF. Mine actually picked up your KCPQ on 13 intermittently (110 miles, not even on my TVFool), which led me to build a channel cut yagi for KCPQ. I now currently use that to feed into my 7777 for VHF 13, with my 4228 for UHF for the Vancouver stations. I'm rambling now...

Yes, I am in BC, but in Chilliwack so even getting the Vancouver stations require some heroic efforts. If you're interested, I put a few photos in my album - you can see some of my builds for ideas if you want...Good luck!

Last edited by zapperman; 06-25-2010 at 12:06 AM.
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Old 06-26-2010, 06:46 PM   #11
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Well, looks like I'll take the 4221HD option. Found it online for under $35 delivered, so I won't be out much if it doesn't work out. And if it does get in the UHF stations I want while not picking up the three VHF stations, I'll give the Winegard YA-1713 a try.

And Zapperman, those are pretty impressive antennae you've built. I'm afraid I'm not anywhere near that level of handyman ability. Pretty cool that you get to live in Chilliwack and still get in lot of TV stations.

Again, thanks for all your help. I'll be sure to report my results, although thanks to my tendency towards procrastination, it may not be real soon.
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Old 06-27-2010, 07:57 AM   #12
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The hardest people to help is the ones that starts out a sentence that says - I don't WANT!

Your problem - like most people is that you do not understand how UHF and digital reception works.

People stuck back in the mind set of analog television, where they could put one antenna - almost anywhere and point it in almost any direction and get some reception - does not work in the digital age.

Just think of your antenna set up like a flashlight. If you point the flashlight towards the sky, it does not shine down onto the ground.
If you shine it north, it does not shine south also.
Now think of the beam on a Maglight Flashlight. When you focus the beam narrow, it shines a longer distance. When you screw the lens in the other direction, it floods the ground with light, but does not shine far.

The same holds true with a two antenna set up.

Even if you ran two wires and installed a A/B switch, the power from the one antenna would re radiate into the second antenna and you would loose half of the reception capabilities.

The third problem is like others has said, the Rat Shack antenna you presently own - even if it was the VU190 - was only rated for 40 miles, and that was due to the fact that 40 miles is usually the longest line of sight that you could get reliably in most locations.
They did not want to advertise something they could not back up.

In your situation - where you don't want to turn the antenna, your best bet is to pay the cable bill and quit being so cheap.
I'm sure that if you had cable in the past, there was more then the big 4 networks that your family enjoyed watching and now misses because you are unwilling to pay the cable bill.

In your situation a antenna rotor is a must, along with the fact that you could probably pick up KIRO by just holding a piece of coax out the window.

The fact that it is third on the list of signals in your area tells me that it is not a full power station or that there is something between you and it. That is a LD CP channel that only has a output of .5 KW

The effects of the output of that transmitter would be minimal.
It only has a 17 mile contour and even a sheet of aluminum would probably block it, if it was placed in a strategic location about 12 feet from the antenna.

That is the problem I speak about so often - about how the radar plot fools you into believing that all you have to do is be close enough to something for it to work.

http://www.rabbitears.info/contour.p...1301843&site=2

47.016 / -122.916

Here is the address for the transmitter.

It''s antenna is only 131 feet tall and is disguised as a tree.
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Old 06-27-2010, 09:21 AM   #13
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Oly,

Another thought that I forgot to mention since I thought you were rolling your own is the Kosmic SuperQuad by EV: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...m=180497357059

This is basically a re-tuned 4221, or a commercial mclapp, and will outperform a 4221 in several ways...

#1. Since the elements and bay spacing have been resized it has more gain over the UHF range as well as the VHF-Hi, and so should get you UHF a little deeper in your tvfool than a 4221 will.

#2. It comes with a curved reflector, and (IIRC) the elements are swept forward to match. Now in your situation you can reverse the reflector so it is curved rearward instead of forward, and bend the elements back to match, thus widening the beamwidth of the antenna. You can also replace the stock reflector with a wider one for even more VHF-Hi gain if necessary.
And
#3. It is very well constructed, more like the old 4221 before they outsourced it overseas, so it should hold up better over the long haul.

It is however a bit more costly than a 4221, @ $59.95 + $19.95 S/H... The good news is you can contact EV and ask him to review this thread and see what he thinks - if he feels it will work for you he will offer you a money back guarantee.
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Old 06-27-2010, 10:09 AM   #14
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From what I've seen, I've only seen the Kosmic compared to the old 4221. The 4221HD will certainly outperform the Kosmic on UHF anyway. See the attached post:

UHF Antenna Gain Comparison Charts

Personally, I'd have a hard time paying $80 for a 4-bay homebrew antenna with similar performance. Possibly if it, too, was in the $30 price range though.

Last edited by zapperman; 06-27-2010 at 10:26 AM.
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Old 06-27-2010, 10:57 AM   #15
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Actually zapperman I think we're both wrong.

For some reason I thought the Kosmic faired as well as an mclapp M4, but if you look at this post: http://www.dtvusaforum.com/dtv-hdtv-...html#post32857
it would seem it is on par with the 4221HD as far as gain goes, and doesn't quite match an M4.

Even tho it is well constructed I kind of agree with you about the price. (Tho I would just build my own M4 anyway. Which I probably will do at some point... But don't hold your breath - my middle name is procrastinate! )
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