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Old 05-05-2013, 06:29 AM   #1  
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Default Solid Signal Own Brand

I was looking at Solid Signal to see what they were charging for the Antennas Direct DB8e and this
http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp...u=700112818417



Solid Signal Xtreme Signal HDB8X

came up
They're claiming 25dB for this and only claim 17.4dBi for the DB8e
(and charge 60 bucks vs 190 for the DB8e)

how might this compare to the DB8e in reality ?

they seem to have a 4-bay and 2-bay as well
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Old 05-05-2013, 10:51 AM   #2  
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In reality would require someone who owns both to say. They are generally a trusted site for OTA equipment.
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Old 05-05-2013, 11:45 AM   #3  
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If they keep selling junk like that and making ridiculous claims about it, they'll quickly loose their credibility.

The antenna shown is made in China and is also sold by DIGIWAVE (and others) as the ANT-7288. Both listings use the exact same photo.

http://www.digiwavetechnologies.com/...ge&PAGE_id=469

Solid Signal doesn't have the DB8e yet since the manufacturer is keep it an exclusive (in the US) for a while. I guess they don't want SS to whore the price out like they do on everything else....

Last edited by projectsho89; 05-05-2013 at 12:00 PM..
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Old 05-05-2013, 05:33 PM   #4  
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Projectsho - that is unfair.
The truth is I have delt with them for many years and I can firmly attest that I have never had an issue with SS.
As a matter of fact, if you read the company bio - the company started because the owner wanted to buy a antenna cheaply.
One thing led to another and the next thing he knew he was in the antenna buisness.
On my side of the buisness - I had an opportunity to display a XG 91 for our ham radio club and they gave it to me at cost.
The club asked me if I was willing to donate it to the property owner for use on their airport hanger - when I told them the price, they said that they thought that I got it for FREE and that I should have given it to them.
That was the end of my relationship with me and that club...
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Old 05-05-2013, 10:58 PM   #5  
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All,
I don't believe their dB claims either, but for $60.04 delivered, I ordered one to try. Depending on how well engineered their matching harness is, I expect it to be in the ball park with any other 8-Bay.

I have a 40 year old Channel Master CM-4228 8-Bay Bow Tie up right now on a push-up mast and a 9 month old 91XG up on a 40' tower. Solid Signal expects to ship around the 1st of June (2013?) so when I get it I'll swap out the 4228 & (unscientifically) compare performance.

I can’t tell much difference between the 4228 & the 91XG with two notable exceptions; the 91XG reliably receives channel 43 (2.1 CBS) but has a hard time with channel 36 (4.1 NBC) and the 4228 reliably receives channel 36 (4.1 NBC) but has a hard time with channel 43 (2.1 CBS). The SNR for the rest of my UHF stations is usually within 1-2 dB with slightly over half favoring the 91XG.
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:21 AM   #6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Higgins View Post
All,
I don't believe their dB claims either, but for $60.04 delivered, I ordered one to try. Depending on how well engineered their matching harness is, I expect it to be in the ball park with any other 8-Bay.
Looking forward to your results. $200 for the DB8e is a bit much for most. It's easier to recommend a $60 antenna.
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:38 AM   #7  
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That "$60 antenna" has been available for two years. No one of note has recommended it, only one-time posters have given reports about it.

It's just two generic 4-bay antennas (ANT-2086 which SS, among others, is offering) with a set of cross-members that have hinges plus a combiner made of a reversed splitter with two coax cables.

It will probably work well enough in uncomplicated situations.
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Old 05-07-2013, 08:20 AM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by projectsho89 View Post
That "$60 antenna" has been available for two years. No one of note has recommended it, only one-time posters have given reports about it.

It's just two generic 4-bay antennas (ANT-2086 which SS, among others, is offering) with a set of cross-members that have hinges plus a combiner made of a reversed splitter with two coax cables.

It will probably work well enough in uncomplicated situations.
Do you have actual experience with this particular antenna?
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Old 06-05-2013, 10:25 PM   #9  
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As promised by Solid Signal, my $60.04 delivered HDB8X 8-Bay Bow Tie Antenna arrived this afternoon. It was double boxed in a heavy duty brown corrugated cardboard outer box and a thiner white corrugated cardboard inner box. The two 4-Bay panels were stored back-to-back in the white box with the cross beams loosely assembled and tie wrapped to them. There was also an assembly & installation manual and one rubber boot in a plastic bag.

The assembly & installation manual “What's Included” section lists:
(2) Mast Clamp Braces
(2) Regular Braces
(2) Sections of Antenna
(3) Weather Boots
(I only received one boot but that is all that is needed. Each length of 4-bay panel BALUM to combiner coax came (loosely) attached to their respective panel's BALUM and had a boot installed on each end.)

If you know how the antenna goes together assembly is straight forward, tool-less and easy. As with a lot of assembly manuals, however, the three listed steps (A, B & C) were not intuitively obvious. Fortunately, the manual listed a link to an assembly video: http://www.xtremesignal.com/hdb8x.html that can also be found on YouTube @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=BWfW1ncmOr4 (Thank you Mike!). I would strongly suggest that anybody assembling this antenna for the first time watch the video. FYI, to make mine look like the one in the manual & video I had to unscrew the combiner, rotate it 180 deg. and reattach it. Also, to have all the wing nuts on the back side of the antenna I had to reverse a number of the lower brace bolts. Fortunately, both sides of the metal mounting brackets (square tube clamps) have square cutouts to keep the plated carriage bolts from turning.

I am impressed with the way this antenna is designed. First off, the 16 individual 8” elements appear to be stamped from 1.66 mm (~0.065”) sheet aluminum. The matching harness inter-connecting the 16 elements appear to be formed from a relatively heavy 3.88 mm (~.153”) aluminum wire. Each element is held in place and in contact with the matching harness by a Phillips head screw into the plastic stand-off. This means that after a few years service when oxidation forms, unlike my Channel Master 4228 that has the wire elements riveted to plastic brackets, I should be able to remove the screws and clean all the contact areas. The element to harness contact area is a generous 11.12 mm (0.437”) wide. The BALUM is also bolted to the harness making all pressure contact areas accessible for cleaning. The 32 round through boom reflector tubes are 8.18 mm (0.322”) thick X ~19 ½ long. They are capped at the outer ends by a curved plastic extrusion that may mask progressively longer (~1”) rods at the center of each 2-Bay panel. The square supporting tubes measure 18.38 mm (0.723”). There is a lot of hardware provided to build this antenna that appears to result in a relatively robust design.

When fully assembled, the overall antenna is 32 1/2” tall X 47 7/8” wide X ~5 1/4” deep.

Hopefully, this weekend I'll have time to get it mounted and on the air.
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Old 06-06-2013, 11:11 AM   #10  
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Default Need a stronger arm!

OK, I got the HDB8X together last night & couldn’t resist trying it.

By holding it up @ ~4’ AGL in my downstairs dining room, hooked to my computer’s Hauppauge HVR-1800 tuner I am able to watch two UHF channels from San Diego, channel 19 (69.1 KSWB) and channel 40 (39.1 NBC). These channels are both 88 miles @ ~166 deg. which means the signal is coming through the whole house. Pointed it towards LA (51 miles away) and got channel 36 (4.1 KNBC) with a SNR of 22.1, channel 31 (5.1 KTLA CW) with a SNR of 15.6 and the few others that I tried until my arm got tired. Maybe tonight’s just a fluke, but truthfully from down here, I didn’t expect to get anything other than channel 26 (24.1 KVCR) the PBS station 3.5 miles away.
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Old 06-06-2013, 11:32 AM   #11  
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Hey Pete,

Interesting report and observations! I'm looking forward to reading your real world test results!

Best,

Rick
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Old 06-07-2013, 10:58 AM   #12  
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Default HDB8X vs CM-4228

I do not claim to “scientifically” test or even fairly compare multiple antennas. I can, however, report my real world results, recognizing the constraints I’m faced with. Make what you will of the information. I can confirm that lugging antennas and climbing ladders was a lot easier 50 years ago. It must be something in the water?

Since I can’t raise or lower my pushup mast by myself, I fixed mounted the new Solid Signal HDB8X on it below the rotor. The bottom of the HDB8X is @ 21’ 7” AGL, 5’ 9” below the bottom of the 40 year old Channel Master CM-4228 (not a new “HD” model). For the last several weeks, the CM-4228 has been connected through a new white 17’ RG-6 cable to the base of the pushup mast, an F-81 F-F barrel, 50’ of new white Magnavox M61210 RG-6 to a coax switch in the garage. My Winegard YA 1713 was similarly connected through a new black 17’ RG-6 cable, an F-81 F-F barrel to a 32 year old piece of RG-6 that also ran to the coax switch in the garage. During amplifier testing I verified there was no SNR variance @ UHF frequencies between using the new white vs using the old black garage coax runs.

I disconnected the black garage RG-6 cable from my YA 1713 and used that piece for testing the new HDB8X. The garage coax switch was used to switch between the CM-4228 & the HDB8X. The single output of the garage coax switch is connected to a new ~75’ thru-wall RG-6, run to my office computer and Hauppauge HVR-1800 tuner card used for this comparison. In other words, everything from the coax switch in the garage to the point of measurement was common for both antennas.

Using the rotor, I “bump” aligned the CM-4228 for maximum SNR on LA channel 36 (4.1 KNBC) and then, by eyeball, “fix” aligned the HDB8X to match. I purposely did not try to introduce the variance of two separate amplifiers although looking at my TV Fool report amplification is certainly called for: http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...1dda169109ca5c

The HVR-1800 was tuned to a channel & the SNR recorded, I then ran to the garage to throw the switch, returnd and record the new reading, tuned to the next channel, record it and repeated the process. Measurements were alternated between antennas so that each antennas value was recorded 20~30 seconds apart.

I also included measurements from my <1 year old Antennas Direct 91XG/Antennacraft Y10-7-13. These antennas are tower mounted @ ~40’ AGL and have individual +15 dB PCT MA2-M drop amplifiers connected via either an F-71 M-M barrel for the 91XG or a 300 ohm to 75 ohm BALUM and short piece of RG-6 for the Y10-7-13. The output of each amplifier connects to a UVSJ feeding ~125’ of new RG-6 that connects in my garage to a PCT MA2-4P +8dB/output per leg distribution amplifier one leg of which feeds a separate new run of RG-6 into my office. A different HVR-1800 tuner card & computer were used to take these readings. This is clearly an apple to oranges comparison, but is in-part justified by the fact that when I swapped the 91XG & CM-4228 last summer there wasn’t a significant difference in amplified performance. If nothing else it should be predictive of what I might achieve by adding a +23 dB amplification chain to the HDB8X and mounting it on the tower.



If it were still made, I would certainly recommend the Channel Master CM-4228 over the HDB8X if for no other reason than its High VHF capabilities. Within its design frequency range the unamplified HDB8X average UHF SNR of 13.975 compares favorably to the 13.7429 of the unamplified CM-4228. .23 difference is well within my margin of reading error since the tenths digit for both antennas was constantly changing. Had I been able to align the HDB8X with a rotor I may have been able to improve its SNR, especially for the San Diego stations. Last summer when I swapped out my brand new tower mounted 91XG with the CM-4228 I was really surprised when it matched the 91XG SNR’s within 1-2 dB on all channels. The 91XG was better on slightly over half of the channels but the CM-4228 definitely held its own. For that test I replaced the 91XG’s F-71 M-M barrel to PCT MA2-M connector with an ~18” piece of coax to the CM-4228’s 75/300 ohm BALUM keeping the amplifier, UVSJ and coax paths to the measurement computer fundamentally the same for both antennas. Extrapolating those results to today’s tests leads me to conclude that at my location there isn’t a significant UHF performance difference between the three antennas.
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Old 06-08-2013, 08:36 AM   #13  
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So, Pete....would you consider the HDB8X a 'best buy' for the price? It has a rather reasonable price compared to many of the other antennas of its type.

I haven't looked to buy an antenna in a few years and it sure seems like the price of them is tied to the price of gasoline! I bought a Channel Master 4221HD 4-bay 6 or 7 years ago and I remember paying less than $30 with shipping for it from Amazon. Now that same antenna is $60. Yikes.

I have yet to purchase anything from Solid Signal but they are on my 'A-list' when the time comes to buy an new antenna. They are actually in my home state....but almost 3 hours away by car. My only complaint with them so far is I wish they would remove all the 'discontinued' items from their website to make searching/browsing a bit less cluttered.
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Old 06-08-2013, 10:17 AM   #14  
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Default HDB8X 'best buy'

slong115,

Quote:
So, Pete....would you consider the HDB8X a 'best buy' for the price?
Yes, No & Maybe! See my next post. Just depends on your individual situation.

50 years ago when I worked in a TV shop (as a kid) 8-Bay’s were very popular for the limited number of UHF stations. Like then, I think Yagi vs Bow-Tie has been debated ever since. With my limited testing capability I’m not seeing a significant UHF performance difference between my 40 year old Channel Master 8-Bay and this new HDB8X. That’s not meant as a slam; last summer I didn’t see much difference between my 40 year old Channel Master 8-Bay & my brand new 91XG when mounted in the same location.

Whether intentional or by accident I’m seeing a lot of HDB8X design features that I really like. The construction seems very robust. When I read in other posts that it was a cheap knock-off I envisioned tinfoil elements & pop-rivets’. The elements are thick aluminum, all the hardware is plated carriage bolts, the plated wing-nuts are big and the brackets have square holes to facilitate tightening. The mast clamp bolts are long and one side of each clamp bracket is slotted so you don’t have to remove the wing-nuts to install the antenna. This is really handy when you’re standing on top of a ladder holding the antenna in place with one hand and trying to juggle all the pieces and snug everything down with the other hand. Every bolt had a rubber “O” ring installed to prevent the wing-nut from spinning off the end. As I mentioned previously, the elements and BALUM’s are removable so you should be able to clean the contact points if needed.

As far as I know, the laws of Physics haven’t changed recently, so I don’t like seeing the exaggerated gain claims. If you buy it expecting a miracle antenna you’ll be disappointed. If you buy it expecting a competitive 8-Bay design, I think you will be more than satisfied.

I’ll try to report back in 40 years and let everyone know if it held up as well as my old Channel Master!
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Old 06-08-2013, 10:27 AM   #15  
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Default HDB8X multi-directional?

A compelling advertised feature of the HDB8X is its ability to align the 4-Bay panels to receive broadcasts originating from different directions. Since I predominately watch UHF stations coming from San Diego @ ~169 deg. (True) and Los Angeles @~292 deg. (292 – 169 = 123 deg.) I thought I would see how well it performed when configured with the panels orientated at a 123 deg. angle.

Similar to what I did yesterday, using the rotor, I “bump” aligned the CM-4228 for maximum SNR on San Diego channel 30 (15.1 KPBS) and then, by eyeball, “fix” aligned the non-movable HDB8X panel to match. I then “bump” aligned the CM-4228 for maximum SNR on LA channel 36 (4.1 KNBC) and then, by eyeball, “fix” aligned the movable HDB8X panel to match.
FYI, I had to tighten the wing nuts on the mast clamps until they were vertical to align the movable panel. To go more than ~130 deg. you’ll probably have to shorten the mast clamp bolts on the moveable panel side.
While I got my normal 3 San Diego UHF stations, I thought I had a bad panel pointing towards LA. Other than my local channel 26 (24.1 PBS TVFool @ -15.6) I couldn’t receive any LA stations. After several trips to the roof to check connections & alignment I decided to disconnect the LA panel from the combiner and use it like a standalone 4-Bay. I connected the combiner end of the HDB8X harness through an F-81 F-F barrel to the black coax used for testing yesterday. Configured standalone, I got channel 38 (30.1 ION) with an SNR in the 15.x range. Usually anything below 16.x isn’t watchable for very long. Clearly to be useable I was going to have to add an amplifier.

I connected the combiner end of the HDB8X harness through an F-81 F-F barrel to a 15’ section of RG-6 coax. I connected this new length of coax through a Channel Plus NF-471 55dB channel 24-29 notch filter to my Winegard AP-2870 amplifier’s UHF input. Configured this way I got 13 of the 19 channels I had yesterday. As expected, I lost the San Diego channels and all but one (PBS) of those in the NF-471 notch.

Pleased with the amplified single panel results, I reconnected the HDB8X harness to its combiner input and connected the 15’ section of RG-6 coax to the combiner output.



Combining the two antennas resulted in the total loss of 9 LA stations and dramatically reduced the others. Based on today’s testing results, for my location, the HDB8X is a competitive 8-Bay Bow Tie when used in its “flat panel” configuration but is nearly useless for leveraging its advertised multi-direction feature.

I suppose one advantage it still has over a conventional 8-Bay like my CM-4228 would be the ability to use it as 2 separate 4-Bays and run separate cables to a coaxial switch?

I also ran a series of tests substituting a PCT MA2-M +15 dB cable drop amp for the Winegard AP-2870. The Channel Plus NF-471 notch filter was not used with the MA2-M.
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Last edited by Pete Higgins; 06-08-2013 at 11:03 AM.. Reason: Add attachment
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