The often overlooked indoor antenna

#1
I've wanted to post this for sometime now. I'm well aware of all of the problems one faces when trying to use an indoor antenna. Sometimes one of the oldest designs can still be one of the best when there are VHF signals involved. There are locations where the simple rabbit ear loop combination is still one of the best indoor antennas built, and often the last one tried. I came across a Canadian public service announcement that I thought was worth sharing. I know DTV reception is not always this simple. I still like the message this video presents. Rabbit ears still work. I wish the digital transition would have went as smoothly as in this video.
[video=youtube;0kCBG4iK4ho]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kCBG4iK4ho[/video]

Steve
 
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#2
Steve, I have an indoor setup myself and I've been roundly dissed by the cognoscenti on this site for recommending any such villainy. :boxer: Most experts on antenna installation are (guess what) antenna installers! And if you set up indoors, there's little need to hire one of these experts.

There are several very important advantages to setting up any antenna indoors, starting with ease/cost/safety of installation, aiming and upkeep. I would go so far as to suggest that a cheap rabbit ear / loop combination, inside, with a single run of coax, is the first thing to try in any virgin OTA location. It's a poor man's substitute for signal meter / locator.

New Rabbit Ear TV Antenna UHF VHF Digital Ready HDTV Compatible Dual Loop | eBay

Rick
 
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MrPogi

Moderator, , Webmaster of Cache Free TV
Staff member
#3
I never say you can't use an indoor antenna - only that an outdoor antenna location is better.

Sure, if you live in a wood frame building close to the transmitters, an indoor antenna is often all that's needed. Many times posters come to the forum wondering why their indoor antenna doesn't work, and we find they are 20+ miles from the transmitters or they live in a building that blocks the signal. Add to that the fact that most users place the antenna right next to the interference the pile of electronics that surround their TV causes, all the poorly designed antennas and exaggerated performance claims, and you have a recipe for disappointment!
 
#4
Rick you made me look up a big word. I don't plan to add cognoscenti to my vocabulary. First I would have to study the definition, then learn how to pronounce it, and spell it. I like the analogy you made about poor man's signal meter / locator.
MrPogi you made several very good comments.
I made the original post because no one seems to think to try a simple rabbit ear loop antenna they do still work, and the price is right.
I found a link to the complete set of videos that one came from. I enjoy watching it.
Tv Antenna | Surviving The Digital TV Transition – Complete Canadian PSA Series
I wish it was as simple as the videos make it look.
While I like coat hangers and rabbit ears don't take me wrong. I still have a 30' push up mast, a 40' tower that need to be put up, and 2 eight foot satellite dishes that are already set up, plus a collection of various shorter masts and antennas. My current health and budget prevents me from getting back to the big toys I enjoy. So for now I play with a few small scraps of wire, and try to help and advise those who are trying to receive signals.
Steve
 
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#5
I never say you can't use an indoor antenna - only that an outdoor antenna location is better.
See, that shows bias, and you don't even realize it. An antenna location isn't "better" just because it gets a stronger signal. It's only better if it works better overall for human beings, and that equation includes safety, cost and convenience factors.

You can say an outdoor location is usually better. You can say outdoor installations almost always get better reception. But to say flat out: "an outdoor antenna location is better" is inaccurate, IMHO. I'd wager that 30% of all OTA users are better off with indoor setups. We normally don't hear from that crowd, because they have no reason to look for better solutions. The urge to strive for optimal reception is a mystery to me. Until they start transmitting optimal programming I'm not going to worry about it.

Steve, "cognoscenti" is a cool word; you should use it. I'll admit I had to look it up to know how to spell it, but nothing new about that. ;)

Rick
 

James

DTVUSA Member
#6
Question. I remember when I had a Samsung HDTV receiver for OTA. I had an indoor antenna that was shaped like a jet wing. It was very directional. I had to get it just right for it to pick up the signals from Phila or more North toward Bethlehem. It was like something out of the Waltons. Gather round the TV and grandpa will turn the gizmo. The Samsung had to rescan for channels if I changed position of the antenna. Are HD signals directional?
 
#7
Question. I remember when I had a Samsung HDTV receiver for OTA. I had an indoor antenna that was shaped like a jet wing. It was very directional. I had to get it just right for it to pick up the signals from Phila or more North toward Bethlehem. It was like something out of the Waltons. Gather round the TV and grandpa will turn the gizmo. The Samsung had to rescan for channels if I changed position of the antenna. Are HD signals directional?
Of course they are! They come from a transmitter, and a given transmitter can only be in one geographic location. You can get an "omnidirectional" antenna, but they are generally a ripoff. They are limited to about 5 dB of gain. For multiple directions, sometimes you need multiple antennas, or one antenna with a rotator. Or a grandpa.

Rick
 
#8
When grandpa gets it right have him stand right there. In door reception can be affected by room objects including humans. Google Mr Bean TV aerial. Very funny video. I have seen the human body reception effect with both indoor TV, and radio antennas. The human body can become the needed reflector, director, or tuning element.
Steve
 

James

DTVUSA Member
#9
Makes sense. I also tried putting one of those long plastic bar-looking antennas in my attic. I think they were sold through Radio Shack at the time. Maybe Terk? It had some kind of powered amp built into it. That antenna worked ok but not great. The directional thing!
 
#10
Makes sense. I also tried putting one of those long plastic bar-looking antennas in my attic. I think they were sold through Radio Shack at the time. Maybe Terk? It had some kind of powered amp built into it. That antenna worked ok but not great. The directional thing!
Yup. But don't get us started on the built in amps -- on indoor antennas, no less!!

Rick
 

dkreichen1968

Moderator
Staff member
#11
During my divorce I lived with a friend. Educating him on TV signals was interesting. He had his antenna under the eaves pointed toward the mountains (since the signals were "coming from the mountains"). He was about 70 degrees off since the mountain that he needed to be pointing at was southwest of him (rather than west like "the mountains" were). He also had several "antennas" he had picked up at thrift stores that had internal amps without the power supply and the like. We hooked up my Radio Shack U-75R, pointed it toward the right mountain, and overloaded and blew his cheap distribution amp he was using as a pre-amp. He is less than 10 miles LOS from the transmitters. He hasn't had any issues with not having enough signal since.
 

dave73

DTVUSA Member
#12
Based on my own experience, I have found that outdoor antennas work better. I have an Aunt that has refused to get an outdoor antenna to improve her reception, & every set of rabbit ears she's owned don't pick up all her stations, & wants to blame the TV stations, instead of going with an outdoor antenna. I even offered to install her antenna for her. Being in NW Indiana (for her, Griffith), she doesn't get CBS (WBBM-TV), but she did get WLS-TV (ABC) when they were on RF 7. For UHF, she gets WYIN (the strongest station in the area, & the local PBS station), WGN-TV (next strongest), WFLD (Fox), WLS-TV on RF 44, & WPWR-TV (MNT) the most. WCPX (Ion) varies from day to day, as well as WYCC (PBS), WTTW (PBS), & WCIU (Ind). I don't know if she ever watched Bounce, but before November 1st, Chicagoans who relied on OTA had to get WWME-LD's signal in order to watch Bounce, & WWME-LD's signal varied in parts of NW Indiana, & almost always required an outdoor antenna to pick it up. She never picked up WWME-LD or WMEU-CD (WMEU-CD is now the HD version of The U Too, which is mostly time-shifted programs from WCIU 26.1, though a widescreen SD version is available on WCIU 26.2).

As for my home, I can't get a single TV station in my home with rabbit ears. So I have no choice, but to use outdoor antennas. For me, it wasn't as hard, as I mounted my antennas on 20' poles, & have it mounted to the side of the home. Since switching my UHF antenna from the Winegard HD9032 to the Antennas Direct DB8, it was easier to hoist it up, & I get more stations with it, as the DB8 is less directional than the Winegard HD9032 is (the only LPTV stations I got with the 9032 were WDCI-LD on RF 30 & WMEU-CD on RF 32, because their signals are stronger in my direction, & got WWME-LD on RF 39 with the help of an RCA TVPRAMP1R pre-amp). I'm using an Antennacraft CS600 antenna for WOCK-CD & the same RCA pre-amp helps get that station, & I get WBBM-TV with the same antenna, but I don't need a pre-amp to get it, as I got it without one, & with my older combo antenna, I got WBBM-TV on RF 3 without a pre-amp. I even got WLS-TV on RF 7 with the same antenna, & no pre-amp. Almost no one got WBBM-TV on RF 3 with rabbit ears, even in the city of Chicago.
 
#13
dave73, you are talking about outdoor antennas versus rabbit ears. We are talking about the location of any given antenna, whether it be sold as outdoor or indoor. I tried to make that clear in the wording.

I have the classic CM-4221HD 4 bay antenna in the corner of my living room. No law saying you can't do that. Looks fine and works great. I get most of your Chicago stations up here in Kenosha, through 2 tons of concrete!

Since 2009, WBBM comes to you through RF12. You probly knew that; just thought I'd mention it. :cheers:

Rick
 

dave73

DTVUSA Member
#14
dave73, you are talking about outdoor antennas versus rabbit ears. We are talking about the location of any given antenna, whether it be sold as outdoor or indoor. I tried to make that clear in the wording.

I have the classic CM-4221HD 4 bay antenna in the corner of my living room. No law saying you can't do that. Looks fine and works great. I get most of your Chicago stations up here in Kenosha, through 2 tons of concrete!

Since 2009, WBBM comes to you through RF12. You probly knew that; just thought I'd mention it. :cheers:

Rick
It doesn't matter where I place a set of rabbit ears in my home. I can not get any TV reception inside my home with rabbit ears. Even trying an outdoor antenna inside doesn't work either. I'm lucky that my Verizon Wireless works in my home. My mobile home has aluminum siding, & despite plenty of windows, no reception. So I had no choice, but to go with outdoor antennas.

As for WBBM, I'm aware that they're now on RF 12, & I should have mentioned that RF 3 was in the pre-transitional digital days that I got without a pre-amp, & a decent sized all channel combo antenna. Had WBBM-TV stayed on RF 3, I'd still get them on my Antennacraft CS600 antenna, as I'm getting WOCK-CD on RF 4 with pre-amp at the moment. I do hope this station moves over to RF 41, so I can move the UHF antenna up higher, & move my VHF antenna to a lower part of the pole. For me, the difference between WBBM-TV on RF 3 (pre-transitional) & WOCK-CD on RF 4 has to do with power. WBBM-TV was at 2.8kw on RF 3 from the John Hancock (RF 12 is at 8kw on the Sears Tower), while WOCK-CD is only 300 watts. In the summer, WOCK-CD's signal is affected by the heat more than WBBM-TV's signal was on RF 3 or their current RF 12.

But back to my Aunt Dawn & her rabbit ear setup. What makes it difficult to get all Chicago stations besides the rabbit ears themselves, is that her house is on a busy street, & a semi passing by knocks out the signal (wouldn't be affected as much if in the attic or on the roof), & her living room only has south & east windows. Her TV is in the SE corner of the living room, & the only electronic items near the TV are: DVD player, VCR, & her amplified set of rabbit ears. She has no CFL or LED lights in her house (she refuses to get them). I had offered to set up an attic antenna for her, but she makes excuses that I can't get into the attic (I know she can't because her butt & gut won't fit thru the opening). I don't believe using an outdoor antenna inside her living room would improve reception much, & she still wouldn't get WBBM-TV, due to it being VHF, & her house makes it difficult to get with any antenna inside her home (she barely got WLS-TV when they were on RF 7).

For where I work, I can't get VHF inside, regardless of type of antenna, & I can't get any UHF with rabbit ears. I can get some UHF stations with a traditional outdoor antenna inside. WYIN comes in with no problems, due to my employer being about 15 miles or less from WYIN's tower. I can get WPWR-TV WTTW, WSNS, WLS-TV, WGN-TV, & WMAQ-TV with few problems. I sometimes get WYCC, WCIU, & WCPX. I however did not get any LPTV stations in the building, & surprisingly, didn't get WHNW-LD inside either, as it's 15kw from Gary Indiana, & have a strong signal outside of the building.
 
#15
The purpose of my original post was not to advocate the use of indoor antennas, but to point out that the simple rabbit ear loop antenna still works, and in some locations may be a better choice then the latest $50+ semi scam antenna to come on the market. I have never lived in a building where an indoor antenna would receive all easily available TV signals. I have had the opportunity when helping others receive indoor signals to work in buildings where a simple indoor antenna was all that was needed.
I do live in an area where all full power broadcast transmitters are high band VHF. I am fully aware that there are areas where VHF reception is not needed, but where it is a full size dipole is an inexpensive starting point, and can sometimes be the solution to VHF reception problems.
Steve
 
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dave73

DTVUSA Member
#16
For those in Chicago or New York City, rabbit ears will work in most cases. For those who can have outdoor antennas need antennas with less gain, since the signals are already strong. VHF will always be a problems for rabbit ears in the dense downtown areas of Chicago & New York City, regardless of antenna. On a few other boards, a guy named Mark (don't remember his usernames on the other boards) always had problems with most full power stations at 3 miles from downtown Chicago. He can get WWME-CA 23 with no problems & had no problems with a few other analog LPTV stations when they were on. When nearly all stations went digital, he could not get a single station, & can't even get WWME-LD on RF 39. He lives in an apartment, & he's not allowed to have an antenna in his apartment (I don't believe he has a balcony), & the landlord refuses to allow any antennas on top of the building, forcing residents into cable if they want TV. Away from the immediate downtown area, rabbit ears will work in most cases. One bar I go to from time to time in the Bucktown neighborhood has an outdoor antenna. The bar is in a much older building, while most buildings surrounding the bar are much taller, & multipath is an issue in that part of Bucktown. The Sears Tower & John Hancock are SE of the bar, but the antenna has to be pointed not only more toward east, but with the UHF end angled upward to receive a signal. Rabbit ears would work for most UHF stations, but due to only 1 window in this bar, & not a large window either, WBBM-TV's signal could not properly get through the window. Once I'm out on my own, I'll probably be forced to use an antenna indoors, because a few places I'm looking at in another city have no balconies, & won't be able to use an antenna outdoors as easily. At least if I look at Milwaukee, I could get a 2 or 4 bay UHF antenna to use indoors, & get everything, including WMVS on their UHF translator. For Chicago, I'm not sure how long WBBM-TV will take at getting their UHF translator up & running for those in the city of Chicago.
 
#17
The purpose of my original post was not to advocate the use of indoor antennas, but to point out that the simple rabbit ear loop antenna still works, and in some locations may be a better choice
Sure sounds like advocacy to me. Hey Steve: GET OFF THE FENCE! We need all the antenna advocacy we can get. Advocating indoor antennas does not equate to disparaging outdoor antennas.

Rick
 
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