Improving 811 OTA reception


Supporting Founder
Original poster
Supporting Founder
Oct 11, 2003
I was lucky enough to have a customer come into my shop who is involved with the digital transmissions of many of the digital stations in my area. They provide the uplink for most of the stations to the digital antenna site. Some interesting things came out of our discussion.

First, information is not entirely correct for my area (Raleigh, NC). It lists the digital signal for ABC comming off the wrong tower and at the wrong location. This explains why I could not receive ABC and the rest of the stations. Most of the people I talked to were under the impression that the ABC tower was 100' away from the HD tower carring most of the stations here. The ABC digital tower is over a 1/2 mile away -- this makes a tremendous differance when pointing the antenna. Could it be that is wrong on other locations around the country?

Second, I had placed a signal power amp before the 811. This gentleman (Jim) infomed me that for digital signals it is best to put the amp in the middle of the run of your cable from the antenna to the receiver. He said that putting it next to the antenna or next to the receiver did not improve the signal enough. Next to the antenna would improve the signal but with runs over 30' to your receiver you would start to have signal loss. Next to the receiver and you would just be improving a weaker signal that already had loss from the cable length.

By putting it in the middle of the run (mine is 75' and the amp is in the attic at 40' from the antenna) would do the best. By doing that you would receive the best possible signal from your antenna and be able to deliver the strongest signal possible to your receiver.

Third, he suggested that I forego a rotor and just use a second antenna. He also suggested that I get a lockout/passthrough splitter from Channelmaster. This product has to be ordered for the one channel you want to receive and it blocks out all other signals so as to not interfere with your other antenna. It is called the Chanelmaster Joiner/Tenner. I will be ordering one on Monday.

So, by using his information how did the 811 work? Most of my signal went from the high sixtys and low seventys to the mid eighties with the one antenna. I also received two digital stations (one from 45 miles away with a 74-76 constant signal) that I could not receive before. When I hook up the ABC antenna my nominal signal strength drops about 3 to 5 %. I lose two digital stations. This is the reason for the Joiner/Tenner. The 811 cannot find the stronger signal to lock onto.

Now, with one antenna, the 811 locks onto and holds within 2 seconds!! Unbelievable-- I could not believe how quick it locked. It even had a more stable signal lock with movement of only about .5%! That's right, 1/2 of a percent of signal strength! I did not know the 811 could work this well.

With the second antenna the 811 cannot pick up the digital signals that are the farthest away (45 and 37 miles). And signal lock can take up to 10 seconds but it does happen and once again with no signal loss once the lock is permanant. It shifts between 49 and the top of the signal (lets say 78) and goes back and forth about 5 to 6 times then locks.

That is why the Joiner/Tenner is comming. To lock out all other signals except for the ABC channel from the second location. This will end the interferance from the second antenna and allow the 811 to see the one antenna only.

One more thing, the weakest digital station is WB in the low 70's with one antenna hooked up. With two antennas hooked up we go through the aprox 10 second routine and then the 811 locks at 61 solid! Thats right, at 61 %. It does not move!. No loss of video or audio. The signal strength meter does not move. I was very surprised by this. I have never seen the 811 lock and not have some signal strength movement. Needless to say, I am now very happy with my digital OTA experiance with the 811.

FYI, my house sits about 32 miles from the main HD antenna and about 33 miles from the ABC digital tower that is 5 degrees east of the WRAL digital tower.

Information shared with me by Jim also included that one antenna for everyone is not going to work. This was confirmed by a call to the local Channelmaster distributor in my area, their statement was that when they go out to a house they take four or five antennas with them. They have no idea which one will do best until they put it up.

My conclusion about the 811 OTA reception is that E* is alot closer to putting the polish on the 811's OTA reception than most of us had thought.
Good info. Would like to hear about the Joiner/Tenner when you get it. In my area, FOX is the station that is hard to pick up and would be interested in the Joiner/Tenner if it has good results.
I've got one OTA digital (not currently doing anything in HD) channel that will not come in under my normal setup. I get my ABC station it the mid to upper 80s, and my CBS is in the mid to low 60s. None of the other networks is offering HD at this time (although PBS is slated for this summer sometime and NBC by the end of the year.

The weird thing is that at random times late at night (11PM to 12:30AM or so), both of the channels I get go dead. It happens at different times, so I can only assume that they are not broadcasting digitally 24 hours a day.
Using a Winegard preamp at antenna and amp about 20 foot from antenna mounted to a 66" channelmaster i pick up vhf digital about 60 miles distant and uhf digital about 30 miles distant with 2 multipath stations between. Both stations come in mid 70s and the antenna is mounted upside down UNDER the roof
I live in Rock Hill, SC, bout 30 mi south of downtown Charlotte, NC. Luckily with just a small Zenith Silver Sensor indoor antenna I get all of the Charlotte Local Digitals into my 811! Been tickled to death with this setup compared to the local cable monopoly that I was stuck with before I switched to Dish!
I just wanted to share myt experience with the Winegard SS-1000 (Square Shooter). I got one off of EBAY for $75 (I know its expensive). I live in a subdivision with hundreds of 40-50' tall pine trees and the towers are about 25-30 miles away on the other side of the city.

I originally got a Radio Shack monster outdoor style antenna and pre-amp (20db adjustable) I put it in the attic and was able to get all of my digitals at one time or another, its just that when I would get 4 of them, the other 2 were ify at best and multipath was a bear. I would constanty get the 49% bug. If I moved the antenna, I could get the other 2 with 2 of the originals and then 2 I had before would be iffy and the multipath still drove me (and my wife) nuts.

I got the SS and put it up in the attic at the same spot and amplification. Now I get all of my stations right off the bat. The cool thing is that I get 91% for NBC and ABC, and in the low 70's for FOX,UPN,PBS and CBS, but they are rock solid. Almost no signal jumoing at all, only 1% here or there, but absolutely not one drop out.

Multipathing is a definite problem with the 811 and this antenna (SS) does a heck of a job at eliminating it. If your are frustrated about the 49% bug, and have a similar condition as mine, I would recommend giving this a try.
I also once needed to hook a second antenna up and it improved my signal. I found though that the reason it was helping is because the splitter I was using was attenuating the signal a few dB. I took the 2nd antenna off and bought a variable attenuator from Radio Shack. I attenuate the signal between the 811 and the amp. I got about 10% increase in signal. With the variable attenuator you can tune it until it helps. If it doesnt help for you you can return it. It seems weird, to amp the signal and then attenuate it back but it works. Its especially important for those that live close to the towers. I live about 40 miles away.


2 Receivers 2 ONE TV?

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