Would appreciate advice on antenna choice

#1
Going back to OTA after 30 years! I have temporarily mounted a Winegard FreeVision Digital HDTV Antenna 20 feet up on my old (but in good shape) 50' tower. With that antenna pointed SE, I can get (virtual) channels 2, 5, 6, 9, 20, 28, 35, 45, and 51 MOST of the time. I have the antenna pointed that direction in order to get virtual 2, "real" channel 24, which is important to us. The antenna is connected to a HDHomeRun, which feeds Fire TV Sticks, etc.

However, on a bad day, I can get only virtual channels 5, 9, and 51. (From the TV Fool report, it doesn't make sense to me that I would get channel 9, but not some of the others.) I would sure like to know what antenna to buy and which direction to point it - I really don't want to use a rotor. Will an amplifier at the antenna be needed? I will be happy if I then can CONSISTENTLY get the channels mentioned above, anything else is just a bonus.

TV Fool

I've probably already rambled too much, but to be clear, the original big antenna and rotor are long gone. It looks like the short mounting post at the top of the tower is fine. Thank you in advance for any comments.
 
R

Rudy Blaw

Guest
#2
The original Channel Master 4228 was the clear winner in overall performance but no longer in production. If you can find one, snap it up! Compare the specs of a CM4228HD (successor to CM4228) to a DB8 and find them on eBay. Get one with the most gain on your favorite channels. Yes, install an amp on the top of your tower. It's a misconception that an amplifier will improve the received signal. But whatever is received will be amplified to overcome cable and splitter losses between the antenna and the input on your TV. I have a 70' mast in the San Diego area without a rotor. I could've used a rotor if I were not in a blind spot for signals coming in from a different direction. So, most of my viewing is from stations located on Mt. Wilson near Los Angeles. However, only a few channels are consistent due to the distance of 130 miles. I hope this helps!
 
#3
Rudy - Thank you SO much for the information. Basically, I am interested in two groups of channels. The groups are approx. 160 degrees apart, all transmitters are within 30 miles of my location. Do you think the CM4228HD would work well with this "front and back" situation? I see that the panels on the DB8e can be aimed in different directions. Perhaps that would be my better choice?

Given your "blind spot" I realize your situation is different than mine and you may have no opinion. Thanks again for making me aware of these antennas.
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#4
Rudy - Thank you SO much for the information. Basically, I am interested in two groups of channels. The groups are approx. 160 degrees apart, all transmitters are within 30 miles of my location. Do you think the CM4228HD would work well with this "front and back" situation? I see that the panels on the DB8e can be aimed in different directions. Perhaps that would be my better choice?

Given your "blind spot" I realize your situation is different than mine and you may have no opinion. Thanks again for making me aware of these antennas.
Welcome, 70decilon,

The "new HD" Channel Master 4-bay and 8-bay antennas are easily altered to become bi-directional: the screen portion (reflector) is easily removed from the 'active' bow-tie arrays. Consequently, it receives signals equally from its front or back and it rejects receiving signals from its side the same as before. However, the mast mounting clamps are part of the reflector assembly, so you would need to fabricate a new mounting arrangement if it is intended to be installed on an antenna mast. I did exactly this for a customer and it works very well.

Jim
 
#5
Welcome, 70decilon,

The "new HD" Channel Master 4-bay and 8-bay antennas are easily altered to become bi-directional: the screen portion (reflector) is easily removed from the 'active' bow-tie arrays. Consequently, it receives signals equally from its front or back and it rejects receiving signals from its side the same as before. However, the mast mounting clamps are part of the reflector assembly, so you would need to fabricate a new mounting arrangement if it is intended to be installed on an antenna mast. I did exactly this for a customer and it works very well.

Jim
That information is more than I could have expected. Thank you. I will order the 8-bay, as I assume it would be better for any weak signals - please correct me if I am wrong. I was already planning to bring down the existing mounting post that's at the top of the tower and attach the antenna to it on the ground, I'm confident I can improvise a mount.

One other question from this amateur regarding an antenna preamp. I am attaching only a HDHomeRun tuner to the antenna. The HDHomeRun is located on the second floor close to the tower, so there will be at most 40' of RG6 between the antenna and the HDHR. One station has a tower less than 5 miles away and I was concerned about sending too much signal to the HDHR. I was therefore not planning on using a preamp. What do you think?
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#6
70,

It took me about an hour to fabricate a new mount and its survived three winters with no problems. Another advantage of removing the reflector is it reduces the wind-loading by about half.

You would be amazed how little signal it requires for a good quality digital tuner to detect and 'decipher' a signal, but it must be a 'clean' signal. All amplifiers add some 'noise' or distortion to a data stream so that plus any multipath signals received can confuse a tuner. Every situation is unique, but I receive a station (dependably) 75 miles away from me using an RG-6 coax run of about 115 feet, split to 4 rooms using no pre-amplifiers or amplifiers.

Be aware that TV signals arrive at your antenna at different heights, something like a stack of pancakes: this is to say you may have no reception, poor reception or great reception at a given height -- but better or worse reception two or three feet higher OR lower. For best results, try your antenna at a variety of heights above ground level.

Please keep us posted on your results and photos are welcome. Good luck!

Jim and the DTVUSA Forum Staff
 

SJMaye

New member
#7
Compare the specs of a CM4228HD (successor to CM4228) to a DB8 and find them on eBay.
I assume by DB8 you are referring to the antennas direct DB8e. This is the one I have been considering myself as my broadcast towers are Southeast and Southwest of my home. Can someone share their experience with these antennas.
 
#8
Jim-

More great information that I did not know! It also gives me an excuse to gradually work my way (courage) up the tower (I have not been to the top - yet).

Planning the mounting, do you think I might expect signal interference (or possibly even help) from the tower when the antenna is mounted part way up such that the tower is blocking the middle section of one side of the antenna? In other words, should I make a bracket that offsets the antenna out away from the tower so that both sides of the antenna have a "clear view"?
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#9
70,

I would side-mount the antenna away from the tower to get the 'clean view' you wrote above. You can find lots of antenna mounting ideas online from Amateur Radio (Ham) operators websites. As a reminder, test it at a variety of heights before you select a permanent location.

Jim
 
#10
In case of possible future "looks" at this thread, I wanted to briefly describe my final solution, and once again thank Rudy and especially Jim.

I now have a Channel Master CM-4228HD with the reflector (re)installed mounted at approx 34ft, and a RCA ANT751E (much less expensive) at 24 ft. The antennas are pointed about 160° apart, and each feeds separate HDHomeRun tuners.

This has turned out to be an ideal solution for me. I have the tuners individually set to not process channels which come in stronger on the other tuner. I use a Fire TV Stick 4K on each of my televisions, so each TV behaves exactly the same as the others. Both the HDHomeRun and Channels DVR apps seemlessly combine the output of the two tuners, so there are no additional steps involved
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#11
Congratulations,70!

We're happy to have helped. How many free channels are you currently receiving? Just a reminder, in the near future many stations will be required to move from their current channels to lower number/lower frequency channels, so you will have to rescan to capture them and unfortunately, you may have to rework your antenna setup to be able to receive some of those stations. You can research your local channels future at the following link: Searchable Clearinghouse | National Association of Broadcasters

Jim
 
#12
The Channel Master reliably gets 6 channels (17 subchannels), which include the Gainesville Florida ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and Fox stations, up to 28 miles away. I use the RCA for the WESH (NBC Orlando) channel broadcast from a nearby Ocala relay station. The RCA will also clearly receive the Gainesville ABC and Fox signals, and surprisingly, almost always clearly receives WKMG (CBS Orlando), which TVFool shows to be 88 miles away.

Thanks for the “Spectrum Repacking” link. I do not now see anything that I would expect to cause problems for me, other than to rescan. I will look at it more as the phases progress.
 
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