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Old 01-20-2015, 10:11 AM
powerking powerking is offline
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Nice performing ATSC/DTV antenna

So, I was searching reviews of various amplified DTV antenna's a few weeks back and found that this Winegard FL-5500 had received some good praise. I bought a factory re-furb off eBay and tested it out and I must say it works quite well. I also really like that it takes power off the USB port on the TV (or the supplied wall wart). It actually pulled in more watchable stations than my other rotating yagi-type rotating amp'd antenna, so the amp part being extremely low noise must be part of the reception "key". So for $30 delivered, I consider it a very good deal and performer. The refurb'd product number is FL-55YR. Stated range is ~~ 50 miles, but it picked up a Vermont PBS station which is 75+ miles which I could never receive before.

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Old 01-23-2015, 10:57 PM
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Wish that little toy antenna would work for me.....

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Old 01-24-2015, 12:31 AM
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I just purchased, on eBay, a Zenith amplified VHF-UHF indoor DTV antenna. Looks like a set of garden-variety all-channel rabbit ears, but this antenna also has a built-in amplifier, with a wall-wart power supply. I am purchasing this antenna in hopes of remedying a pesky reception problem I have here: two Cleveland TV stations that transmit their DTV signals on high VHF channels. My small ClearTV antenna picks up all Cleveland TV stations, except the two that operate on VHF channels 8 and 10; wouldn't you know it, these channels are the two I watch the most, as their subchannels are AntennaTV and MeTV, respectively. I am about 35 miles east of the TV stations' towers. I don't want to go to the trouble of erecting an outdoor antenna, and would like to "cut the (cable) cord" once and for all, if at all possible.

My question: Will an antenna actually designed for high VHF and UHF (two 39-inch active dipoles for VHF and a UHF loop), combined with the amplifier in the antenna's base, bring in the two VHF channels my other indoor DTV antenna does not? I am hoping for the best, considering that I get all the other Cleveland stations amazingly well using the ClearTV antenna. I think my biggest problem with receiving the two high-VHF signals I mentioned is that the ClearTV antenna is not designed for reception of signals below 470 MHz (or whatever the low end of the UHF TV band is today), whereas the Zenith amplified DTV antenna has two 39-inch dipole elements for high VHF. I realize I may not receive the station that transmits on channel 10 due to geography and/or other issues (many people living in far-suburban areas east or west of the city have reported, on the station's website and elsewhere, being unable to receive the station's digital signal OTA), but since this little antenna only set me back something like $7, I feel I have little to lose by trying it. If the problem is simply that the channel 10 signal is too weak, the amplifier in the antenna base should take care of it in short order.

I don't know how much gain (in decibels) this amplifier has, but if it is any appreciable figure (more than a few dB), I would think it should bring in both channels; if not perfectly, I should at least receive something with a proper antenna. As I said, for $6.59 I can't go far wrong. I'll post my test results when the antenna arrives and I've had a chance to check it out.
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Old 01-24-2015, 02:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeffhs View Post
I just purchased, on eBay, a Zenith amplified VHF-UHF indoor DTV antenna. Looks like a set of garden-variety all-channel rabbit ears, but this antenna also has a built-in amplifier, with a wall-wart power supply. I am purchasing this antenna in hopes of remedying a pesky reception problem I have here: two Cleveland TV stations that transmit their DTV signals on high VHF channels. My small ClearTV antenna picks up all Cleveland TV stations, except the two that operate on VHF channels 8 and 10; wouldn't you know it, these channels are the two I watch the most, as their subchannels are AntennaTV and MeTV, respectively. I am about 35 miles east of the TV stations' towers. I don't want to go to the trouble of erecting an outdoor antenna, and would like to "cut the (cable) cord" once and for all, if at all possible.

My question: Will an antenna actually designed for high VHF and UHF (two 39-inch active dipoles for VHF and a UHF loop), combined with the amplifier in the antenna's base, bring in the two VHF channels my other indoor DTV antenna does not? I am hoping for the best, considering that I get all the other Cleveland stations amazingly well using the ClearTV antenna. I think my biggest problem with receiving the two high-VHF signals I mentioned is that the ClearTV antenna is not designed for reception of signals below 470 MHz (or whatever the low end of the UHF TV band is today), whereas the Zenith amplified DTV antenna has two 39-inch dipole elements for high VHF. I realize I may not receive the station that transmits on channel 10 due to geography and/or other issues (many people living in far-suburban areas east or west of the city have reported, on the station's website and elsewhere, being unable to receive the station's digital signal OTA), but since this little antenna only set me back something like $7, I feel I have little to lose by trying it. If the problem is simply that the channel 10 signal is too weak, the amplifier in the antenna base should take care of it in short order.

I don't know how much gain (in decibels) this amplifier has, but if it is any appreciable figure (more than a few dB), I would think it should bring in both channels; if not perfectly, I should at least receive something with a proper antenna. As I said, for $6.59 I can't go far wrong. I'll post my test results when the antenna arrives and I've had a chance to check it out.
For VHF bigger is almost always better. (Or at least longer.) The flat panel type like your ClearTV are really designed for the UHF end of things. I'd be willing to wager that a non-amplified pair of normal rabbit-ears at full extension can do a better job on the high VHF than the amplified ClearTV. For VHF I stick with rabbit ears, and UHF you really can't beat a "bow-ties and an oven-rack" style unit. Overall I think your latest acquisition will outperform the ClearTV. Amplification isn't the end-all-be-all, especially with ATSC signals. Because of the spectral distribution the transmitter power is spread out over the whole damned 6MHz slot, versus a "visual carrier, aural carrier" distribution used in the analog days. These days amplifiers tend to amplify the noise as much as any remaining signal. The real place for amp use is when you have one big sky-rake on the roof and are trying to feed multiple TVs, or if you have to cable more than about 70 feet from antenna to tuner. (Or if you're unable to upgrade some old lossy crappy RG59.) Placing the amp up at the antenna means that the losses in the cabling are offset by increased signal. The adage that states: "You can't polish a turd." applies here.
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Old 01-24-2015, 01:21 PM
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I believe it is Shango 66 who has a good video on youtube on making VHF transmit antennas for blonder tongue agile modulators (an optimal transmit antenna is also an optimal receive antenna). You could probably build a better one your self than you could buy. Thicker diameter wire gives better band width, and if you make a folded dipole you can use a 300-75ohm matching transformer to better match it to your coax connection lead. You would probably need to make 2 dipoles (one for each of the tricky channels), but that should be a better option than an indoor multichannel antenna.
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Old 01-24-2015, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Username1 View Post
Wish that little toy antenna would work for me......
You must be located in a fringe or deep-fringe TV reception area, in which nothing short of a high-power roof-mounted antenna with a mast-mounted preamplifier and possibly a rotator, if the stations you want to receive transmit from different directions or areas, will work. This is similar to the antenna setup most people had to use in television's early days, although if you were close to a major city you could get by with rabbit ears.
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Old 01-25-2015, 06:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerking View Post
So, I was searching reviews of various amplified DTV antenna's a few weeks back and found that this Winegard FL-5500 had received some good praise. I bought a factory re-furb off eBay and tested it out and I must say it works quite well.....
for $30 delivered, I consider it a very good deal and performer. The refurb'd product number is FL-55YR. Stated range is ~~ 50 miles, but it picked up a Vermont PBS station which is 75+ miles which I could never receive before.
It will be interesting to see what you think of the antenna a year or so from now, after going through the seasons.
My sad story:
A couple of summers ago I "installed" a 32" HDTV in the "quilting room" for my wife. Being only about 12 miles (and line of sight, except for a few trees) from the the towers, I decided to use a "high gain" amplified indoor antenna in the room. This saved me the effort of running coax to the room from our outdoor antenna. Picture on all channels looked great but signal strength on some channels was less than 80%. Things were fine until a wind/rain storm hit during a football game that she was watching. There was at times more "dropout" than picture! Hastily, I ran some coax down the hallway from the living to keep her happy. Even at this short distance, I find that indoor antennas offer me only "most of the channels, most of the time in most of the rooms". Phooey!

jr
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Old 01-25-2015, 10:21 PM
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dtvmcdonald dtvmcdonald is offline
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At 12 miles you could be overloading the "high gain" amp.


I have stations from 11 to 40 miles, and need a modestly high gain (16 dB at peak) amp for my indoor (but second floor) antenna. Cheap
high gain ones overload badly due to the 11 mile station with
the antenna necessarily facing right at it. The 11 and 40 mile stations
are in the same line. I had to buy a GaAsFet preamp.
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Old 01-25-2015, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by dtvmcdonald View Post
At 12 miles you could be overloading the "high gain" amp...
Possibly, but as soon as the wind stopped blowing, reception on the UHF channel(s) returned to "normal". Rain soaked wind-blown trees are apparently *not* good for UHF DTV reception.

jr
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Old 01-27-2015, 09:04 PM
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Zenith indoor amplified DTV antenna test

The new Zenith indoor DTV antenna arrived here yesterday, January 26, 2015. I spent much of the day testing the antenna, and was very diasppointed in the results. Without the amplifier, this antenna is even worse than my ClearTV flat one. Even with the separate VHF dipoles, I still do not receive channels 8 (RF channel 8) and 19 (RF channel 10). I was hoping the reason I wasn't receiving those channels was that my ClearTV antenna is for UHF DTV channels only, not VHF (although one ad I read online for the antenna did state that it would receive high VHF as well as UHF), and that the channel 10 signal was getting here but was just too weak (the reason I bought this particular antenna, which has a variable-gain amplifier in the base; the gain control is an illuminated thumbwheel control located at the lower center portion of the antenna housing).

The Zenith antenna's performance on UHF is comparable to the ClearTV; however, I still need the amplifier to get every station in the area. I was able to receive every local TV station except 8 and 19 with excellent picture quality. I'm sure the reason for this is that most Cleveland TV stations now transmit on UHF DTV channels, while the two I do not receive are still on VHF channels. There are no plans, that I am aware of anyway, for either station to move to a UHF channel, although channel 19 (RF channel ten) does have a UHF translator on channel 36, IIRC, designed to cover an area about sixty miles southwest of here. (I am about 30 miles east of downtown Cleveland, and perhaps another 10 miles or so further from the area's TV transmitters.)

The Zenith antenna does not receive the channel 36 signal at all, even with the amplifier, but then again I was not expecting to pick up that station from here since it is a low-power translator, designed to cover an area that lost channel 19's DTV signal after the transition in June 2009. It was never intended to cover any other area, especially anywhere as far east as where I live. I am about one mile from the southern shore of Lake Erie.

I am not surprised, however, that the Zenith amplified DTV all-channel antenna does not receive the channel 19 (RF 10) DTV signal. I read not too long ago on the station's web site that it would be almost impossible to move the signal from channel 10 to a UHF assignment (even though I'm sure they wish they could, as there is a real possibility of co-channel interference between that station and a channel 10 station in Canada), and that Cleveland's channel 19 is now receivable in most areas only on cable or satellite. The Canadian station will not move its signal from RF channel 10; the channel 19 website had an explanation for that, but I don't recall it right now. Probably has something to do with international frequency assignments or agreements. When I finish writing this I'll look at the station's website again, and reread the section dealing with OTA reception problems; there may be a way I can get the station's DTV signal using an indoor antenna after all.

One other problem I had with the Zenith antenna is that the coax lead-in cable is only 48 inches long (and the coax itself is very small in diameter; in fact, I have my doubts as to whether it is actually coax, or just cheap shielded wire). This prevented me from placing the antenna near a window, as is usually suggested for best results with antennas of this type; I'm sure if I were able to put it near the front windows in my apartment, I would probably, even likely have better reception, and I might even see a bit of a picture from channel 8 and/or 19.

I will try the Zenith DTV antenna again this spring and summer, hoping for better results. While I probably will receive more stations from Detroit and southwestern Ontario, as I did with the ClearTV DTV antenna last year, I'm not expecting miracles as far as my two missing Cleveland stations are concerned. I'm almost convinced that the reason I am not receiving those stations has to do with distance, geography, or both.
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Last edited by Jeffhs; 01-27-2015 at 09:08 PM.
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Old 01-27-2015, 10:25 PM
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According to the FCC, the low power WOIO translator that covers Akron transmits on channel 24 *not* channel 36: http://transition.fcc.gov/fcc-bin/tv...=0&facid=39746

You might want to splice in some longer coax and try again nearer windows, making sure that you try ch 24. Good luck!

jr
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Old 01-28-2015, 12:21 AM
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Why not just put the DTV box and antenna near the windows (or better yet try it in various locations to see if there is a signal sweet spot someplace in your apt.), and run the video out of the box to your TV...It is the next best thing to moving the TV and the rest of the works to the best place for reception.
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Old 01-28-2015, 03:44 PM
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Why not just put the DTV box and antenna near the windows (or better yet try it in various locations to see if there is a signal sweet spot someplace in your apt.), and run the video out of the box to your TV...It is the next best thing to moving the TV and the rest of the works to the best place for reception.
I do not use a DTV box, as my TV is a flat panel which has a built in DTV tuner. (BTW, my CRT sets do not work at all with my Zenith antenna; I tried it with my RCA CTC185 set, and the tuner just went from channel 2 to the highest channel it can receive and looped back to 2, repeating the cycle, without stopping.) I am just about ready to give up on this experiment, since everything I've tried has not worked, well or at all.

The translator I mentioned is not intended to cover the area in which I live. That translator, as I mentioned in my previous post, was installed to cover the Akron, Ohio area, which is about sixty miles southwest of here. Channel 19 even increased its ERP transmitter output power so that its signal will reach that area, until such time as the station can move to a UHF channel. I read some time ago (not long after the DTV transition) in a TV technology newsletter I get in my email that there was a similar problem with a station in Philadelphia. The station's owner finally had to apply for a power increase so that the station's DTV signal would cover the entire metropolitan area.

I wonder why DTV stations cannot transmit at the same high ERP power level as when those stations were operating as NTSC analog stations. Channel eight in Cleveland, for example, had a 312-kW ERP NTSC analog signal. Channel 19 had a 3.7 kW ERP analog signal, but even before DTV that station had problems reaching some far-suburban areas east and west of the city, including the Cleveland suburb in which I lived at the time. The problem was made much worse, IMO, when a lightning strike took the station off the air six months after it initially signed on; the station's signal was never the same after that.

Now the station is having the same problems with its DTV signal's coverage area. No, the DTV transmitter was never struck by lightning that I was ever aware of, but the nature of DTV signals is such that they are much weaker than analog ones ever were. This means better antennas and/or cable or satellite must be employed to receive a decent signal from any station transmitting in this format--meaning every TV station in this country, including translator stations later on this year.

I would think that, since channel 19 is a CBS network affiliate, they would have had a commanding signal from the first day they hooked up with the network; after all, CBS is a major U. S. TV network viewed by tens of thousands of people every day. CBS, indeed, every U. S. television network, should have a requirement that any station affiliated with that network must have a signal that covers the station's entire broadcast area, or else it won't get the affiliation in that station's area.

On the other hand, channel 43, the other UHF station in Cleveland, had a 5-megawatt ERP analog signal and had a chance to affiliate with CBS after channel 8 dropped that network in the mid-'90s and went to FOX, but for some reason they turned it down. I believe this was a terrible mistake, considering the fact that 43 had a much stronger analog signal and would cover a larger area (including Akron and the surrounding area) than 19 could ever hope for. I don't know how powerful 43's DTV signal is, but I think it must be much more so than 19's 3.7 kW ERP one.

Where is it cast in stone that a UHF DTV signal cannot be at least as powerful (in the millions of watts) as the VHF analog NTSC signal it replaces? Television broadcasting, after all, is a big-money business; the networks depend on their affiliates reaching the largest possible audience, which translates to more advertising revenue. The networks cannot afford to have affiliates that cannot, for any reason, reach every corner of their viewing area; in fact, some stations have lost network affiliations because of signals that are far too weak to cover their entire broadcasting area.
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Old 01-28-2015, 04:00 PM
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Well perhaps you should get a good DTV converter box such as one of the Zenith/insignia/LG boxes. I've heard that most sets with built in DTV tuners have crappy ones. So it may be your set's tuner holding it back. You already have a DVD player and VCR connected to it IIRC so connecting an outboard DTV box should not be an issue.
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Old 01-28-2015, 06:14 PM
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Plug your information into www.antennaweb.org and make sure that the channel you're having issues with isn't a "Violet" signal.
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