Antenna Advice - Suburban Pittsburgh

Lifterguy

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Dec 3, 2003
104
9
Pittsburgh, Pa.
I dropped Dish and went with OTA/Netflix a couple of months ago. I have a Tivo Premier and I'm currently using a Winegard Sharpshooter (indoor) antenna that is on top of a tall cabinet in the living room of my 1 story house. It worked fine in the winter, but as I expected, I'm getting some break-up on some channels now that the leaves are starting to come onto the trees. I'm looking at putting an outdoor antenna on a 5-foot mast attached to the gable end of my roof - which would put it roughly 20 feet above the ground. Right now I'm getting all of the full power Pittsburgh TV stations, and several of the lower power independents with my antenna pointed west-northwest. I would be satisfied with getting the same channels with a roof antenna - without the breakup I'm getting now. It would be gravy to pickup some of the more distant stations (Steubenville, Morgantown, Johnstown) but I don't want to use a rotor - since most of our viewing are programs recorded when we're not around.
I was considering an 8-Bay bowtie antenna, such as the Xtreme Signal HB8X because it has two panels that can be pointed in two different directions - but I'm concerned about the wind resistance and the increased chance of multi-path issues. So, now I'm thinking of lowering my expectations and going with something simpler, like the Winegard FreeVision FV-30BB - a bowtie style antenna - or a Winegard HD7694P VHF/UHF - more of a traditional antenna, with a Yagi style portion for UHF. Most of the stations I want to get are in the general west-north direction - but they are spread out enough, that I need something that will cover about a 90-degree wedge. Some other notes: The Winegard Sharpshooter is amplified and I'm feeding not just the Tivo, but 5 other TV's as well (using amplified splitters). I'm assuming that whatever I get will need to be amplified as well. TV Fool plot is attached.
Thoughts?
 

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FTA4PA

Satellite Guys Family
Lifetime Supporter
Nov 13, 2013
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Central Pennsylvania
I'm looking at putting an outdoor antenna on a 5-foot mast attached to the gable end of my roof - which would put it roughly 20 feet above the ground. Right now I'm getting all of the full power Pittsburgh TV stations, and several of the lower power independents with my antenna pointed west-northwest. I would be satisfied with getting the same channels with a roof antenna - without the breakup I'm getting now. It would be gravy to pickup some of the more distant stations (Steubenville, Morgantown, Johnstown) but I don't want to use a rotor - since most of our viewing are programs recorded when we're not around.
That's a pretty nice tv fool report. Since you wouldn't mind getting stations in other directions but can't use a rotor because of unattended recording, you might want to give this a try (4 of 5 stars in reviews): http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?mc=03&p=MS2002&d=Winegard-Metrostar-VHFUHF-Amped-Omnidirectional-HDTV-Antenna(MS2002)&c=TV Antennas&sku=1579830649
 

boba

SatelliteGuys Master
Dec 12, 2003
11,335
1,019
Dorchester, TX.
Another recommendation is an Eagle Aspen EASDTV2BUHF under $30 UHF only but your so close to broadcasters I suspect your few VHF channels may come in. Very small size and wide angle of view. I am using it at 63 miles from Dallas and on the back side I can pickup Sherman/Denisons 2 broadcasters at about 40 miles.

You might also try eliminating amplifiers I have found on some digital signals they are degraded by too much amplification. Try running your Winegard directly to the TiVo and see what your reception is like. Then run to a 2 way splitter and if that works split it again till you see signal loss. By reports your premier does not have the best OTA tuner so you want as strong a signal as possible to it. I know my series 3 works with this antenna.
 

larrykenney

SatelliteGuys Pro
Mar 16, 2004
548
209
San Francisco, CA
My only comment on what FTA4PA and boba offer is that non-directional antennas in hilly areas don't often work that well, and the area around Pittsburgh is very hilly. You might try the antennas they suggested, but multipath could cause problems due to reflections off the hills. I'd suggest going with the Winegard HD7694P, pointing it where you get the best reception on those stations to the northwest. Your signals are strong, so you should do fine like that.
 
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FTA4PA

Satellite Guys Family
Lifetime Supporter
Nov 13, 2013
3,960
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Central Pennsylvania
Since most of the stations he is looking to get are nearby and LOS it probably won't be an issue. Definitely worth a try if he can get the 'gravy' of other stations as well but you do make a good point larrykenney. Living in PA myself, the mountains make my stations 2edge reception at 42 and 57 miles away and I need the 'big guns' for that. :)
 

boba

SatelliteGuys Master
Dec 12, 2003
11,335
1,019
Dorchester, TX.
With 28 broadcasters LOS and most of those under 15 miles away he should have good reception. I found an Aspen Eagle on ebay for $14.95 plus ship so I would give it a try if eliminating amplifiers doesn't give desired reception.
 

Lifterguy

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Dec 3, 2003
104
9
Pittsburgh, Pa.
Thanks for all input. I had not considered the omni-directional, because I've always been skeptical of how well they work, but I'm giving that a little more consideration now. I need to make a final decision within the next few days, then it will probably take me another week or two to get it installed. I'll post an update on what I get and how well it works. The comments also got me to thinking more about reducing the loss from all the amplification/splitting. I think the new roof antenna will be connected only to the Tivo (the primary source for most of our viewing). I'll use my existing indoor Winegard Sharpshooter to continue feeding the other TVs - and that should be adequate for the occasional live TV viewing done on those sets. By the way. I've seen the comments about the less than stellar performance of the tuners in the Tivo Premier, but so far mine has performed fairly well. I think it has actually been better than the off-air tuner that was in the Dish VIP 722 that I used to have, and is as good or better than the tuners in the four TVs with digital tuners (of varying age.)
 

Lifterguy

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Family
Dec 3, 2003
104
9
Pittsburgh, Pa.
So, for anyone who cares, here's my update in my adventures with OTA reception and antennas:
Before going to the trouble of mounting an outdoor antenna, I decided to try out some candidates in my attic first, where it would be easier to swap out and adjust antenna. I took one of the coax cables off of my unused sat dish and pulled it back into the attic - first attaching it to an old double bow-tie antenna (and indoor model that I used up until a few year ago.) I then used that line to feed five of my TV's (secondary viewing) and used the line from my Winegard Sharpshooter exclusive for the Tivo (primary viewing). With no longer splitting the the signal from the Winegard, my reception improved a little bit on every channel on the Tivo - but I was still experiencing some signal loss on a couple of the UHF channels, which varied with weather conditions. The signal strength also improved on some channels for the TV's attached to the bowtie antenna in the attic - but one or two channels - including a VHF channel were not coming in at all.

Next I made a trip to the Home Depot and bought the Winegard Free Vision antenna. I attached an old broom stick to a board with a screw, and used it for a base to attach the antenna. I put that in the attic, replacing the bowtie antenna. I had high hopes but ended up disappointed. VHF reception improved, but some of the UHF channels that I got with the other antennas did not come in at all on the Free Vision. Fortunately, it was easy to take down, put back in the box and return to HD. I then started looking at what else was available to buy locally - figuring it would be easier to return if it didn't work. I tried Radio Shack, but inventory is really spotty at the Shack these days, and I couldn't find anything that I thought would do the job at a price that was reasonable. That's when I ended up at Walmart and bought the General Electric Attic Mount antenna. Unlike the Free Vision, this thing arrives in a couple dozen pieces and take about 20-minutes to assemble. Fortunately, I have not had to return it, because it's working great. I now have it connected to the Tivo, and the Winegard Sharpshooter is serving the secondary TV's. I'm getting a strong signal on all of my local channels - with just occasional break-up on the UHF Fox station (I think that mostly happens when it's raining and the leaves on the trees are wet.) Every other station has been rock steady. The antenna claims a range of 60-miles, which I think is overly optimistic. I was able to get a measurable signal from the VHF (Channel 9) station in Steubenville, Ohio, which is 42 miles away, but it was completely unwatchable. But for the money (about $35) I'm pretty impressed with the GE antenna and I'm even considering getting a second one just to feed the secondary TV's.
 
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