Question: Suggestions to improve a suddenly missing reception

#1
Hey guys, I'm new here and I need some help.

I've been trying to switch from cable to OTA TV. I'm 23 miles from the Philly towers, according to antennaweb. My odyssey has gone like this so far:

1. Bought a Terk indoor antenna, picked up 8 channels. No good, sent it back.
2. Picked up an RCA outdoor antenna. I set it up on my kitchen table, picked up 20 channels. Much better. Installed it outside with an indoor passive amplifier. I picked up 35 channels. Exactly what I wanted.

Then here's where it went bad...

I unhooked the antenna because our cable was still paid up for the next 2 weeks. Now, 2 weeks later, I rehooked the antenna to my TV...12 channels. 12. and none of the Philly stations all of a sudden.

I've been outside trying to adjust the antenna and moving it slightly...I need to get it SSW at 197 degrees, which is exactly where it is, 8 feet off the ground.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can fix this? I know that if i had 35 channels with strong signal and good signal quality on ALL of them, that there must be some sort of issue.

Tonight I plan on removing the amplifier to see if that's the culprit. I also plan to continue tweaking the location, but if anyone can provide me with further suggestions it would be great.

If any other info is needed just ask and I will provide.

Thanks guys, I hope I can be a useful resource here.
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#2
Check all your connections. I would then try it without the amp, just bypass it with one of these:

Next suspect would be the Balun, or matching transformer, they can go bad. Get one from Lowe's or Home Depot, we generally don't trust the ones from Radio Shack. Make sure you have one designed for outdoor use - it should have a rubber "boot" on it.

Also, go to TV Fool: TV Fool and enter the info it asks for. It's like antennaweb, only better. Post your results back here.
 
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#3
I'll try the Balun, but it's brand-new and it does have a rubber boot on it.

Here's my TVFool report: TV Fool

I have the RCA ANT751 antenna.

What's really bothering me is that last week I had near-perfect reception of 35 channels, now I get crappy reception of 12. My current highest signal quality is 45%, whereas last week I was getting most of my signals at a 85-90% quality and the worst I got was about 50% and those still came in clearly. I was getting signals from Scranton and NJ, all of which are at greater range than the Philly channels and in complete opposite directions. Now I'm only getting the Allentown channels. Last night I had NBC, PHL and Fox (although very poorly).

I also just got an email from my wife and she says there are only 6 coming in, and NBC FOX and PHL are gone. I wonder if something is failing...maybe I should pick up a new Balun anyway?
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#4
Bypass the amp and see if that's faulty. then check the connections at the antenna. one wire could have come undone.
Baluns are inexpensive, and it doesn't hurt to have a spare - they do fail. If your balun got water in it during the last 2 weeks, that could be the problem.
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#5
:welcome: Brian,

When you disconnected the coaxial cable after testing and receiving 35 channels, did you put the indoor end of the coax outside? If so, is there a chance water entered it?

Jim
 
#6
no, the indoor end stayed inside, laying behind my TV. I believe it is the amp. I read some threads here about signal strength, weather and amps. At the time I tested the antenna, it was overcast and snowy. Last night, it mostly clear...this morning, when my wife reported fewer signals, it was completely clear. I am going to pick up some extra baluns tonight too.
 

MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#7
Yea, amps can cause a lot of problems due to the noise they create. If you need an amp, it would be because you're splitting the feed a lot of times. The best amps are pre-amps, they have an indoor power supply and an aplifier that sits on the mast. They usually introduce much less noise than a distribution amp, and serve the same purpose. If you find you really need one, I recommend the Channel Master CM-7777, it has very low noise.
 

dkreichen1968

Moderator
Staff member
#8
Two summers ago, when I was living with a friend during my divorce, we hooked a U-75R to a cheap distribution amp, overloaded it, and blew the amp sky high. That certainly sounds like what is going on here.

Pogi,

If I'm right, a CM-7777 won't work either. The local signals are too strong!
 
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MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#9
Just saying, IF one was needed. I don't know if he has a splitter in his setup... If he has a a lot of rooms hooked up, he *may* need one. But probably not.

BTW, Brian, has the amp been hooked up and POWERED ON during the 2 weeks? If it's been on the whole time, It could have blown anytime during those 2 weeks and you'd never know.
 
#10
So I took the amplifier out of my signal chain. My channel count rose from 12 (or 6, depending on when it was last tried) to 18. Still very shy of 35, and even shy of the 22 I got with the antenna just sitting on my table 2 weeks ago.

Now, I am running the cable through a surge protector. Later this evening, I will try it without the surge protector and see what happens.

Any other advice?
 
#14
Ok, so I tried it without the surge protector...from the antenna right to the TV. I even used a compass for some fine tuning to 197degrees as per antennaweb and tvfool. all this puts my channel total up to 24, though 3 or 4 of them are distorted. It seems moving the antenna further south had a lot to do with it working well...I may attempt to return the amp and see what happens, in addition to some more antenna tweaking.
 

dkreichen1968

Moderator
Staff member
#15
I'll almost guarantee that the amp is blown. I'm also guessing you were pulling in channels from the 330, 340 directions when it was on the kitchen table. Is it mounted above roof line?
 
#16
nope, 8 feet high under my upstairs neighbor's balcony, attached to my patio. I've got it without the amp now, pulling in 21 channels. I put the amp back on to try it but it made most of the channels unwatchable.

I can't pick up ABC, which is a VHF channel but only 20 miles away. At one point I got it but it was highly distorted, but now it's gone. Fox, NBC, CBS, PHL, all coming in fine now...watching CBS now.

I wonder why I'm still 10-15 channels short of my previous high...I'm not sure if I can get them again.
 

dkreichen1968

Moderator
Staff member
#17
Okay, I see... Do you remember what channels you were getting in the kitchen that you aren't getting now? My guess is they are the ones from the north, and the building is blocking them. Channel 6 is tough. It is low VHF, and the proper 1/2 wave length dipole would be 83" if I remember right, so the ANT751 isn't really big enough. Without being able to get above the building, and without a bigger antenna this is going to be tough.

Hey Jim, SW, or someone, would a high VHF, low VHF splitter joiner pass the UHF on the high side? If so, he could make a channel 6 dipole and hide it under the balcony and hook it to the ANT751 with the HLSJ.
 
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Tim58hsv

DTVUSA Member
#18
So I took the amplifier out of my signal chain. My channel count rose from 12 (or 6, depending on when it was last tried) to 18. Still very shy of 35, and even shy of the 22 I got with the antenna just sitting on my table 2 weeks ago.

Now, I am running the cable through a surge protector. Later this evening, I will try it without the surge protector and see what happens.

Any other advice?
I think it's the amp.

It was working fine when you first tried it and received 35 ota channels then something happened and it died. When you recently removed the amp and picked up more channels, well that tells me the amp is dead. I say that because I don't believe you are too close to the broadcasting towers to cause overload. Heck, I'm 3.5 miles from the Dayton, Ohio towers and use a CM7777 preamp and have no problem with overload as long as the antenna's not pointing anywhere near them. A good preamp like the CM7777 should solve all your problems and don't be surprised if you pick up more than 35 channels.
 
#19
But I'm pointing my antenna directly at the towers, does that make a difference? It kind of sucks...that was a brand new amp and I don't think I have the receipt or the packaging...I got it at Best Buy, but I will call them and see if they'll take it back because it's defective?

I'll look into the CM7777...it's about $50 on ebay...are there any cheaper, but similar options available?

@dkreichen...I'm interested in that idea of yours. Will it work? What would I have to build?
 

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