OTA Newbie with some questions... (1 Viewer)

OTA_otay!

Thread Starter
Active SatelliteGuys Member
Nov 16, 2016
18
3
PA
Hi there!
As my title states, I have recently came into the world of OTA. My household has been on some hard times just lately (I know, who hasn't, right?), and I've been unfortunately forced to let my Satelitte service lapse. For the time being, I am unable to afford the $130/mo luxury of Directv. So we went a few days with no tv broadcasts at all, but then I remembered about the old set of RCA rabbit ears stashed in a closet. The little indoor antenna had a very short cord length, so I added a run of unused RG6 coax cable to it, so I could start experimenting with placements for reception. I wound up running the coax all the way into the kitchen, up high on a shelf. That yielded me 11 stations.

I stumbled on a site where someone had mounted an outdoor yagi type antenna to their Directv dish, and thought this might be a good idea. So I went to Walmart looking for the RCA type shown on that site, but only could find one made by GE. It stated that it had a 60 mile range, so I figured I would give it a try. At least if it was a no-go, I could possibly return it. I removed the LNB as prescribed, mounted the yagi to the arm and connected it up to the existing Dtv house wiring. The line runs across and in under my bedroom window sill, to a SWM 4 way splitter that has a power pass on one port. Three of the ports are being used, with one capped off. I was able to get 11 stations on our bedroom tv, as well as my son's tv in his bedroom at about 35' more cable run. The last port runs an appoximate additional 40-50 foot around to the living room tv, so that long run only got us 4 stations. So for the moment, I had left the living room tv still hooked up to the indoor antenna.

Just recently purchased Winegard LNA200 preamp and installed on the (almost nonexistent) dtv mast. With the amp hooked up right before the splitter, I'm happily getting 23 stations to all three tv's now. As stated, I'm pretty pleased that with spending less than one month's directv bill to finally have some stations to watch. :) Now here's where some issues and questions come in. It seems on sunny days, there are signal dropouts. I've watched the signal go from 30pct to zero and back pretty steady while sunny. At night, and/or when cloudy I'm not seeing the same dropoffs in signal. I tested my theory about the dish possibly being the cause, by covering it with a towel yesterday while it was sunny. The dropouts stopped, and I had a consistent signal.

Aside from the signal dropout issue, there is also one station I am very interested in getting that is in the same range, distance, power rating, and location as another I am receiving. These stations are both listed as high vhf, about 32 miles away ssw 224degrees (mag). I have a TV Fool signal status that I could share, but I don't think it will allow me to post with the link included?

I am receiving WBAL and WMAR, but would also like to get WJZ. My other northern stations come in close to 100pct, even with the yagi turned to 224 degrees ssw, so I am thinking if I were to try a powered splitter, it may overmodulate and wind up losing those good signals. This would actually be acceptable if I were able to receive the Baltimore stations I'm looking for though. I am also considering purchasing about a six foot fence rail top post to use as an extended mast, but unfortunately this antenna's u-bolt setup will only accommodate 1 inch pipe. So then I may have to think about another antenna. I've read decent reviews on the Channel Master Stealth 50 yagi type, but wonder if I should just bite-the-bullet and try for an even better setup? Any recommendations?

Btw, there happens to be an old looking rusty antenna on the peak of the higher roof, about 20 foot up. It looks to have a rotator base, but wiring is cut off about halfway to the ground, and I don't have any of the other inside pieces. I do see that it is facing at pretty much the exact heading I would be wanting though. This would be a very precarious climb up overtop the peak of an old slate shingled roof, in order to try to install the coax adapter and then run RG6 down to the lower roof. I would most likely have to go up the side of the house to the peak, as I would not trust the nails holding those old slate shingles.

Suggestions and/or comments very much welcomed ;)
 

FTA4PA

Satellite Guys Family
Lifetime Supporter
Nov 13, 2013
4,734
2,594
Central Pennsylvania
Hi there!
As my title states, I have recently came into the world of OTA. My household has been on some hard times just lately (I know, who hasn't, right?), and I've been unfortunately forced to let my Satelitte service lapse. For the time being, I am unable to afford the $130/mo luxury of Directv. So we went a few days with no tv broadcasts at all, but then I remembered about the old set of RCA rabbit ears stashed in a closet. The little indoor antenna had a very short cord length, so I added a run of unused RG6 coax cable to it, so I could start experimenting with placements for reception. I wound up running the coax all the way into the kitchen, up high on a shelf. That yielded me 11 stations.

I stumbled on a site where someone had mounted an outdoor yagi type antenna to their Directv dish, and thought this might be a good idea. So I went to Walmart looking for the RCA type shown on that site, but only could find one made by GE. It stated that it had a 60 mile range, so I figured I would give it a try. At least if it was a no-go, I could possibly return it. I removed the LNB as prescribed, mounted the yagi to the arm and connected it up to the existing Dtv house wiring. The line runs across and in under my bedroom window sill, to a SWM 4 way splitter that has a power pass on one port. Three of the ports are being used, with one capped off. I was able to get 11 stations on our bedroom tv, as well as my son's tv in his bedroom at about 35' more cable run. The last port runs an appoximate additional 40-50 foot around to the living room tv, so that long run only got us 4 stations. So for the moment, I had left the living room tv still hooked up to the indoor antenna.

Just recently purchased Winegard LNA200 preamp and installed on the (almost nonexistent) dtv mast. With the amp hooked up right before the splitter, I'm happily getting 23 stations to all three tv's now. As stated, I'm pretty pleased that with spending less than one month's directv bill to finally have some stations to watch. :) Now here's where some issues and questions come in. It seems on sunny days, there are signal dropouts. I've watched the signal go from 30pct to zero and back pretty steady while sunny. At night, and/or when cloudy I'm not seeing the same dropoffs in signal. I tested my theory about the dish possibly being the cause, by covering it with a towel yesterday while it was sunny. The dropouts stopped, and I had a consistent signal.

Aside from the signal dropout issue, there is also one station I am very interested in getting that is in the same range, distance, power rating, and location as another I am receiving. These stations are both listed as high vhf, about 32 miles away ssw 224degrees (mag). I have a TV Fool signal status that I could share, but I don't think it will allow me to post with the link included?

I am receiving WBAL and WMAR, but would also like to get WJZ. My other northern stations come in close to 100pct, even with the yagi turned to 224 degrees ssw, so I am thinking if I were to try a powered splitter, it may overmodulate and wind up losing those good signals. This would actually be acceptable if I were able to receive the Baltimore stations I'm looking for though. I am also considering purchasing about a six foot fence rail top post to use as an extended mast, but unfortunately this antenna's u-bolt setup will only accommodate 1 inch pipe. So then I may have to think about another antenna. I've read decent reviews on the Channel Master Stealth 50 yagi type, but wonder if I should just bite-the-bullet and try for an even better setup? Any recommendations?

Btw, there happens to be an old looking rusty antenna on the peak of the higher roof, about 20 foot up. It looks to have a rotator base, but wiring is cut off about halfway to the ground, and I don't have any of the other inside pieces. I do see that it is facing at pretty much the exact heading I would be wanting though. This would be a very precarious climb up overtop the peak of an old slate shingled roof, in order to try to install the coax adapter and then run RG6 down to the lower roof. I would most likely have to go up the side of the house to the peak, as I would not trust the nails holding those old slate shingles.

Suggestions and/or comments very much welcomed ;)

Welcome to Satellite Guys OTA_otay! Sounds like you are making excellent progress in cord-cutting already. The site will only allow links once you have a certain number of posts. Try changing the http to hxxp when posting your link. :)
 

OTA_otay!

Thread Starter
Active SatelliteGuys Member
Nov 16, 2016
18
3
PA
Thanks alot, FTA4PA!

Here goes:

hxxp://www(dot)tvfool(dot)com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3ddfaf2d01765e2a
 

OTA_otay!

Thread Starter
Active SatelliteGuys Member
Nov 16, 2016
18
3
PA
DO NOT USE THE DIRECTV SPLITTER! My experiences have not been that great.

Thanks for your response, Tylorert! =) I do have a different 4 way splitter that I can use in it's place. Btw, what happened when yours was on there?
 

FTA4PA

Satellite Guys Family
Lifetime Supporter
Nov 13, 2013
4,734
2,594
Central Pennsylvania
I will say that location and height are just as important as the antenna you use. This is particularly so when you are dealing with 1 or 2 edge signals in a mountainous area like Pennsylvania. Moving the antenna up/down/left/right a few feet can make all the difference. When I set up my antennas I was able to receive a troublesome channel while holding the antenna while standing on my front porch. When I mounted the antenna on a mast at the side of our house I lost it completely. When I moved the antenna to a location behind our house a few feet lower I was able to get the channel. There can be a lot of trial and error until you find a location and height that gives you acceptable results. :)
 
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harshness

SatelliteGuys Master
May 5, 2007
16,617
2,702
Salem, OR
I stumbled on a site where someone had mounted an outdoor yagi type antenna to their Directv dish, and thought this might be a good idea.
You would likely be better off removing the DIRECTV dish altogether and mounting the antenna on the DIRECTV mast (assuming it will fit the 2" tube). The dish really doesn't contribute anything to OTA reception.
 
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OTA_otay!

Thread Starter
Active SatelliteGuys Member
Nov 16, 2016
18
3
PA
Thanks for your input so far, guys. I most definitely intend to remove the antenna from the dish, but the current antenna has mounting holes drilled only for a 1 inch u-bolt clamp. I could possibly drill another hole in the antenna for a larger mount, but I would likely also have to ream/drill out one of the existing mounting holes as well. I'm worried about the structural integrity of the thin unit, with that many/large of holes into it.

As I was saying in my (super long) original post, I want to purchase a long mast to replace the little stubby Dtv mast. I'm just fairly certain that a different antenna would be best for this type of mount I have in mind. I'm curious as to if anyone has recommendations as to if the Channel Master Stealth 50 could be a good option, or should I look at another type (IE clearstream 2/4v)?

Btw, as per Tylor's suggestion; I've removed the Directv splitter and switched to a normal 3 way splitter. Two ports were listed as -7db and one listed as -3db. I chose to use the -3db port for the longest run. I re-ran a channel scan and picked up an extra channel. 33.1 all the way from Harrisburg! =D
 

navychop

Member of the Month - July 2014!
Pub Member / Supporter
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Jul 20, 2005
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Northern VA
I'm surprised you got what you did with a dish mounted OTA antenna. That tells me a coat hanger can pick up a few stations where you live.

I once used a CM StealthTenna. Worked, in my strong signal area.

You can get by with a UHF antenna today. After the repack, maybe not.

If you want a good, safest route, mount a combined VHF/UHF antenna on a pole on perhaps a gable mount. And a rotor would be nice.

A preamp will strengthen weak reception, but may well also increase noise. A distribution amp is for splitting a signal amongst a few TVs with minimized signal loss.

Which VHF/UHF antenna? Well, how much do you want to spend? I'd say $60 low end, and double that for a really nice one. They can be big. I don't think you can go wrong with a Channel Master, and most of the Winegards will be good, in the range you're looking.
 
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harshness

SatelliteGuys Master
May 5, 2007
16,617
2,702
Salem, OR
At the $60 price point, I suggest that Channel Master CM3016. The CM3020 is twice as big and about twice as much money.

Given that WGAL is in the VHF range, I'd recommend against a UHF-only antenna. You might be able to get away with a CM4228 for now, but as navychop points out, the repack will likely bring some VHF low broadcasts near the larger markets. The RCA ANT-3036 series is also pretty good and a good value at under $75.

It may be worth concentrating on the Baltimore stations since Harrisburg doesn't appear to be the best shot at ABC and CBS that would make OTA almost sufferable IMO.
 
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Voyager6

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Nov 30, 2005
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I see that you are in the Delta, PA area. All of the stations that you want to receive do come in with a CM4228 antenna. Any 8 bay antenna should do a good job in your area. However, if you can reach the existing antenna, use it. The antenna that you just bought may work just as well if you mount it higher. I live in Cecil County and can pick up all of the Baltimore stations, as well as Philly, with a CM4228 and a pre-amp.
 
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harshness

SatelliteGuys Master
May 5, 2007
16,617
2,702
Salem, OR
All of the stations that you want to receive do come in with a CM4228 antenna.
If you're going to drop almost $100 on an antenna today, it should probably be able to do VHF low (almost certain if there is an ATSC 3.0 transition).

I think it is foolish to ignore the repack as it is one of the mandates that the FCC is currently working under (currently in stage 3 reverse auction for 108MHz -- 31 RF TV channels left standing).
 

OTA_otay!

Thread Starter
Active SatelliteGuys Member
Nov 16, 2016
18
3
PA
Thanks again guys for all your great suggestions. Since I'm off today, I've been out on the roof removing the Directv mount, and installing the included j-mount that came with the GE yagi. It's only 1" thick, but just for kicks I put an old broom handle in the end to give me some height. I've gone up about four more feet, and now have no dish or dish mount. Aimed the yagi approximately 224 degrees ssw and now getting a (very weak) signal from WJZ 13.1 :)

It's not a great signal, and keeps winking out, but at least it's progress. After my channel scan, it came up with 30 total stations now! So now aside from needing a more permanent (and taller) mast, I'm wondering if a distribution amplifier should be next? I am aware that with further amplification wgal and a few closer stations could overmodulate, but I would be okay deleting them in order to pickup my desired Baltimore stations.
 

Tylorert

SatelliteGuys Family
Sep 14, 2016
118
12
Grayeslake
I'm surprised you got what you did with a dish mounted OTA antenna. That tells me a coat hanger can pick up a few stations where you live.

I once used a CM StealthTenna. Worked, in my strong signal area.

You can get by with a UHF antenna today. After the repack, maybe not.

If you want a good, safest route, mount a combined VHF/UHF antenna on a pole on perhaps a gable mount. And a rotor would be nice.

A preamp will strengthen weak reception, but may well also increase noise. A distribution amp is for splitting a signal amongst a few TVs with minimized signal loss.

Which VHF/UHF antenna? Well, how much do you want to spend? I'd say $60 low end, and double that for a really nice one. They can be big. I don't think you can go wrong with a Channel Master, and most of the Winegards will be good, in the range you're looking.
You know the antennas behind a Dish 512? You know for the remote? I get 25 channles in decent signal with it
 

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