Battle of the (cheap) antennas!

comfortably_numb

comfortably_numb

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Dogs have owners, cats have staff
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Nov 30, 2011
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Kansas City / Las Vegas
I had some free time this afternoon so I took my mobile OTA setup on the road to Topeka, Kansas.

My mobile OTA backpack includes the following:
  1. "Craig" mudflap-style antenna, $12 from Dollar General
  2. RCA rabbit ears, $8 at Walmart
  3. HD Homerun Connect HDHR4-2US
  4. TVPRAMP1Z preamp
  5. RCA VH140 distribution amp
  6. Compaq laptop
  7. Patch cables
  8. 500W DC to AC power inverter with 2 AC outlets
Now, both antennas are advertised as VHF-capable, but I am always skeptical of VHF performance on mudflaps. So, that's the reason I went to Topeka- it has 3 VHF-HI stations: KTWU-11 PBS, KSQA-12 The Country Network, and WIBW-13, CBS.

I tested in two different locations: downtown at 5th and Jackson Sts., and at Crestview Park on the west side of town. I tested the antennas with and without a preamp.

To my surprise, the mudflap did exceedingly well with all 3 VHF-Hi stations. It only registered slightly lower signal strength and quality on all 3 stations. I want to hate these mudflaps so badly for being flimsly and cheap, but this one really performs well.

Here are the downtown antenna results for KSQA from both antennas, with preamp:

Mobile OTA antennas


KSQA-12 on rabbit ears:

Rabbit ears preamp KSQA


KSQA-12 with mudflap

Mudflap preamp KSQA


KTWU on the mudflap, downtown:

KTWU mudflap


WIBW on the mudflap, downtown:

WIBW mudflap downtown
 
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Tampa8

Tampa8

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I love these kind of tests.
I used to this with AM radios and different passive and active antennas including beverage. I would go to different spots and test them, and do some Dxing. Noise plays such a big role now but then it was incredible what some antennas could pull in.

Regarding TV mudflaps I have had good luck with one of the RCA ones, as you were I was surprised how relatively well it works. (Not the "multi-directional" one the inexpensive ones around $25) I used it for awhile till I got a chance to install my aerial one a few years ago. Still use it for one of the far back rooms to get a few channels on an old TV there.
 
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comfortably_numb

comfortably_numb

Thread Starter
Dogs have owners, cats have staff
Pub Member / Supporter
Nov 30, 2011
13,914
15,759
Kansas City / Las Vegas
I love these kind of tests.
I used to this with AM radios and different passive and active antennas including beverage. I would go to different spots and test them, and do some Dxing. Noise plays such a big role now but then it was incredible what some antennas could pull in.

Regarding TV mudflaps I have had good luck with one of the RCA ones, as you were I was surprised how relatively well it works. (Not the "multi-directional" one the inexpensive ones around $25) I used it for awhile till I got a chance to install my aerial one a few years ago. Still use it for one of the far back rooms to get a few channels on an old TV there.

I get strange looks from people sometimes, they probably wonder what I’m doing with a set of rabbit ears on the roof of my car :)

The nice thing about ATSC is the ability to quantify results using real data like bitrate and signal quality. I didn’t have tools to measure signal strength correctly back in the analog days.
 
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