OTA antenna upgrade - preamp opinion?

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bhelms

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Feb 26, 2006
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OK, so after some unavoidable delays I finally installed (temporarily) my new CM4228 over the weekend, but unfortunately there was almost no improvement over my 25 y.o. RS VU-160 antenna. With either antenna I'm receiving my "local" PBS HD/SD channels (actually 35 miles away!) very well on my Sony TV but with heavy pixelation on my 622, and neither can receive the 4 other channels I'm trying to get from a different heading at about 25 miles distance. Terrain/trees are the culprit. At one time in early Feb. I received those channels very briefly on both my TV and my 811 (picked-up with auto-scan and for about a week thereafter) but since then they have been almost non-existent. My 622 installed in early May never received any of those channels, just the PBS ones. I think I'm "close" to a solution, I believe I need just a little extra push to make the difference...

I hoped the 4228 alone would be the answer. I wired the two back grids together and set it up temporarily on a mast that also holds an old inactive CB base antenna about 2' above the 4228 and the 4228 is about 10' off the ground. In this position it is about 6' lower than the VU-160 and separated by about 15'. I did not have enough RG-6 for this setup so I used two links of RG-59 with barrel connectors to get the signal to my equipment location in the basement. I know that 59 is more lossy but over the 30' length I didn't think it would matter much. I also checked ch10 - the 4228 is indeed receiving it but not nearly as well as the combination antenna. Ch 23 (analog, TV only) comes in with the 4228 a bit better than with the combination antenna. I use that channel as a test to get the antennas pointed correctly since the 4 ATSC channels I'm trying to get (24.1-24.3 and 32.2) are co-located with 23.

I'm of course planning to replace the 59 with 6 (QS?) and all new connectors, grounding blocks, etc. But I think the next step is to add a new preamp. I was planning to order the Winegard HDP-269 low-noise amp from Value Electronics ($55), but then I see the AP8700 for $85. It appears to be one step up in Winegard's line at 19 dB UHF gain vs. just 12 dB for the 269, and an even lower noise figure (2.8 vs 3.0dB). It does not however have the high overload protection capability as the 269 (93,000 vs 350,000 uV).

Do any of you have experience with the AP8700? I didn't see this specific model critiqued in the threads. Which would you choose?

Thanks in advance for any advice and BRgds...!
 
Last edited:
styxfix

styxfix

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Oct 7, 2003
634
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Pacific Coast
Your antenna might be located in a dead spot. I would experiment with moving it around on your roof. You may be able to pick up a better signal in a new location without getting a pre-amp.
 
B

bhelms

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Retired & lovin' it!
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Tks both of you.

styxfix - I considered the "dead spot" possibility and I will make some moves. I need to come up with some kind of portable mast in order to do that. I think I have an old 15' telescoping mast rusting away somewhere - I need to dig that one out. I can lean it against the house for simple trials. First I'll replace the cable and leave enough slack for experiments. Once I find a good location / height then I can replace everything with something shiny and new (and better able to be grounded!) Fortunately there are no power lines within 100'.

Rick0725 - Tks again for your input. I guess I went with the crowd on the 4228. If I can't get it to work out well, I have no problem unloading it and trying something else, like one of the numerous Winegard 'tennas you work with, or perhaps that 91XG from AntennasDirect ralfyguy likes so much. That one would be last on my list due to its price, but given my investment so far, what's another couple C-notes? And I definitely need HD OTA. I won't get it from E* (or D* for that matter) for quite some time!

I definitely have interference problems with the old analog signals - from nearby electric fences! I actually have two V/U antennas up. The original CM one (no model no. known) is wired with no preamp and RG-59 and it has the most interference. The RS I added with a high-gain B-T preamp wired with 6QS has less noise in the analog signals. I know it's not apples-to-apples, but it does make me think the QS is probably better for my OTA system. Besides, it's only a 1 time hassle getting the connectors on.

Regarding the distances, well I'm kinda right on the edge of the figures you mentioned. I'm definitely not suburban, more rural! With the exception of a couple of low-power repeaters in the opposite directions, my closest towers are those located on Wopsononick Mountain at about 245 deg. magnetic and 25 miles. The channel 10 antennas are there: 10 analog, 32.2 digital; I get the analog channel reasonably well if a bit ghosty and I have so for many years. So multipath is an issue where I am and I thought the 4228 is a bit more selective based on others' comments. Apparently your experience is different. I can fine-tune the RS antenna with the rotator, but that doesn't currently help with the 4228.

I think I will get the 4228 higher on a movable mast and connect a UHF analog TV to tune it for best reception on Ch 23 (same origin), then fix it to try to get the digitals I mentioned in my OP. A real bonus would be if I can get ch 6 (I get the analog very poorly) which is 34 digital and about 55 miles at almost the same bearing (243 deg.?)

Regarding my "system", well it's quite convoluted. My HD set-up is located on the opposite end of the house from where all the antennas and dishes are located. The cabling runs through the rafters in the basement to about the middle where I have power and the PS for the B-T preamp and two distribution amps. (The 44 switch is closer to the outside wall where the sat. cables enter.) From there cables go all over the place, including one sat. and two OTA cables (all RG-6QS) through conduit to the location where the HDTV/622 system is. The run from an antenna or dish to the equipment is about 40', and from there it is another 40' to the HDTV/622 location. I eliminated all splits and amps, etc. for the initial trial (using 59/59/6). I will replace the 59 so I have just two lengths of 6 and a single barrel for the next experiment. Then I will splice-in a preamp if needed, as I expect.

Since my closest channels are 25 miles and 35 miles away (PBS is at about 320 deg. magnetic) - do you think I really need the high-overload capability of the 269, or can I benefit better with the higher gain of the 8700? (I have a variable attenuator available if I need it.)

As always, your input is greatly appreciated...!
 
B

bhelms

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Retired & lovin' it!
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Feb 26, 2006
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Central PA
Tks again, Rick! Your suggestion about the tripod, at least temporarily, makes a lot of sense. My house is a ranch so the highest peak is still only about 16' off the ground, but I could go at least another 5' above that with the tripod and a single mast section and that would almost equal the height of my current V/U160. Most of my peak is almost in line with my intended bearing, but the garage part is 90 deg. to that.

I was hoping to get a new 30' or 40' telescoping mast from my local Radio Shack but apparently they no longer carry those, only the single-piece masts. But they did have a tripod in stock.

I guess I'll order the 8700 and RG6 today, get the rest from Rat Shack, and plan to work on it some time next week. I'll certainly report back. I'll also be interested to 'hear' how you make out with the 91XG. BRgds...
 

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