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Please help me pick an indoor HDTV antenna

Old 01-26-06, 03:20 AM
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Please help me pick an indoor HDTV antenna

I live in an area where it's not easy to get OTA signal and my local cable provider only has deals with CBS, PBS, and the WB. So, we don't have Fox, ABC, and NBC. With the Olympics coming up, the Super Bowl, and just hating to not be able to watch Lost in HD, I really needed to get an HDTV antenna.

So I went to BB and I got everyone in their electronics people involved and even brought in the store manager. I didn't want to make a mistake.

Oh well...I did. They talked me into a Jensen and touted the 25dB amplifier as a big reason this was the best one for me inside a condo in a tough city to get good indoor reception.

Well, this thing did nothing. My arms hurt just from all the time I've spent trying to get channels to come in. Only ABC was easy. The rest were always difficult.

I have a built in tuner, so I just need something good to plug in and the tv will scan all the channels for me but now I need something that will actually let me see those channels.

I'm looking at 2 right now after several hours of reading. There is a new Terk HTVa. The HDTVi was the old one and it did not do any amplifying. This one does...I've read about 12dB.

The other is an RCA Flat ANT537. This one amplifies at 25dB like my Jensen (is the amplication number over-rated, because it sure didn't help me get a signal with this one, which the RCA gets good reviews with the same number and the Terk gets very good reviews with half the amplification power?) but seems to not make it so hard to get the channels without constantly adjusting the antenna. I must restate, I constantly had to readjust the Jensen, but I STILL rarely got anything. ABC was easy and Fox was medium. NBC was nearly impossible and I never got CBS.

All 4 of those stations send out their signal from almost the same spot, so I'm even more confused.

Please try and help with advice about the 2 that I'm looking at unless you really know of something that blows them both away. Also, outdoor is just not a possibility where we live.

Thank you all so much.

RCA

Terk

PS-By the way antennaweb.org said this based on where we live and the stations we want:

You need a Small Multidirectional Antenna.

The smallest of TV antennas, these receive equally well from all directions. Designs include novel-shaped disks, patch antennas and antennas that attach to satellite systems. These antennas are most effective when signal strength is highest and away from reflecting structures or low areas.


We thought, based on that, that it was gonna be easy.

Last edited by dolphinboy; 01-26-06 at 03:30 AM.
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Old 01-26-06, 04:25 AM
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If Antennaweb tells you that you only need a small multidirectional, you could have been suffering from too much signal rather than too little. In the digital reception world, too much signal is as much of a problem as too little. Antennaweb tends to err on the cautious side in the first place, and if you were amplifying your signal, you could have been causing lots of multipathing problems.

I'd try everyone's favorite, the Silver Sensor. Should run you about $20. If you can't find one, try a non-amplified antenna.

One question... are any of your stations using VHF?

PS. Terk is crap.
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Old 01-26-06, 05:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Jeremy517
If Antennaweb tells you that you only need a small multidirectional, you could have been suffering from too much signal rather than too little. In the digital reception world, too much signal is as much of a problem as too little. Antennaweb tends to err on the cautious side in the first place, and if you were amplifying your signal, you could have been causing lots of multipathing problems.

I'd try everyone's favorite, the Silver Sensor. Should run you about $20. If you can't find one, try a non-amplified antenna.

One question... are any of your stations using VHF?

PS. Terk is crap.
When I would go to a channel, say NBC, which is channel 4, it would be a black screen and my tv would prompt with words like "there is not enough signal" or something like that.

The whole thing is crazy. I'm wondering if my tuner is the problem as well. When I put the antenna into ANT 1 or 2 and then scan the channels, so my tuner would pick up all the channels, including the HD channels, it wouldn't even pick up some of them.

It would only bring up an analog for almost half of the channels and not digital ending with a 1. So, I scanned and had 13.1 for CBS and 11.1 for Fox, but no 4.1 for NBC and 18.1 for UPN. So it wasn't just a problem with me not being able to getting a good signal or picture, it was like the tv/tuner was telling me those channels weren't there so that's why it was telling me the signal was weak. There was no signal to begin with.

What could that be from? Then I tried the whole setting up and scanning with the tuner through antenna 2, just to see what happened. Well, same thing, but not all the channels came out the same. Where I might have NOT gotten CBS on one antenna scan, I did get it on another.

Just now before I go to bed, I rolled the tv to the back porch, which faces north and is where all 4 of the major networks have their towers. I took the antenna outside and did the scan, hoping that the tv would get the signal and save it to the tv for when I brough it back to its normal place. Once the tuner finds a channel, you will get it, although the pic may or may not be good.

When I did the scan with the antenna outside, I got ZERO HD channels. How can that be? What could possibly be wrong? I just don't get it.

Please help if you have ANY ideas of what might be happening.

Thank you so much.

PS-how would I know about the VHF thing? thanks.

Last edited by dolphinboy; 01-26-06 at 05:37 AM.
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Old 01-26-06, 09:03 AM
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I've gotten excellent results with this kind of antenna:


http://rsk.imageg.net/graphics/produ...265499w345.jpg
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Old 01-26-06, 09:18 AM
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I just use the simple $10 "rabbit ears", though I've unscrewed the rabbit ears part, as just the small loop part is the part that gets the HD signal. The telescoping rabbit ears part doesn't work for the HD bandwidth...

If that doesn't work for you, I agree with the earlier poster, not from experience, but from many folks praising the silver sensor ($20, supposedly at Frys and the like). I've also heard good things about Red Dog's double-bowtie, but more about the silver sensor.

I'm not at all familiar with the Jensen product. But if this is what you got, I'm pretty sure you'll be happier with the less expensive silver sensor.

Do you know the correct direction for your stations? Is the Jensen omni-directional? My cheap antenna works great, but it's gotta be pointed the right direction... Luckily for me, the antenna-farm for all the transmitting antennas is in the same spot.
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Old 01-26-06, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Y2K Falcon
My cheap antenna works great, but it's gotta be pointed the right direction...

Absolutely. When you are setting up the antenna, pull up the signal strength meter on your tuner menu and look for the sweet spot. This is assuming you can directly tune in to a previously unscanned station - I've heard you can't do this on some tuners. On mine, you can.
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Old 01-26-06, 11:27 AM
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Yes, only use antennaweg.org as a starting point. When I look up my exact address it basically says I can't get anything. When I look up zip code, it says I can get them all. I put one of the wing looking antenna's that came with a HD STB I won on ebay in the attic and pointed in the right diection and get all local HD channels and loving it!
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Old 01-26-06, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by dolphinboy
PS-how would I know about the VHF thing? thanks.
antennaweb.org will list wether the HD channel is UHF or VHF.

If it is UHF-only, you cannot go wrong with the Silver Sensor that others are mentioning. It does a terrific job for such a low-footprint (and cheap) antenna.

If you need VHF also, I'd just try out some old-school rabbit ear antenna. It'll likely work.

Oh, and as someone else said... avoid Terk at all cost. Their antennas are pure overpriced garbage. Sort of the Monster of antennas, yet their antennas not only cost a lot, but also work less well than rabbit ears.
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Old 01-26-06, 09:15 PM
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At least on my TV, you have to switch between analog and digital tuners with a button on the remote. And it has two antenna inputs, one for the analog tuner, and one for the digital. Not sure if yours is the same, but you may need to do some instruction book reading. You may need to get the antenna on the right input and use the right tuner.

It sounds like you are only a few miles (<15) from the towers, and almost any antenna should work. I use a Siver Sensor and it works pretty well for me.

Another issue is you may need to know what channel a digital channel is REALLY on. They all broadcast on a different channel, and in text information called PSIP (I don't know what it means) remap the physical channel number to a virtual number which is the channel their analog broadcast is on.

That probably isn't clear, so as an example: In Detroit, NBC is channel 4. Analog channel 4 is really on channel 4. Digital channel 4 is on physical channel 45, but calls itself 4.1 in PSIP, so my TV indicates it as 4.1. If I use manual channel edit on my TV, I have to know the "real" channel number, 45, not 4, to add it in. (In auto scan, the tv sorts it all out). AntennaWeb should give you the physical channel numbers; try adding them manually.

I have to say that hdtv has had a fairly high "learning curve" for me before I had any sense I knew what I was doing.

Edit: As for VHF/UHF, tv uses 3 frequency bands (based on real channel number):
VHF-Low: 2-6
VHF-HIgh: 7-13
UHF: 14-69
The Silver Sensor is only a UHF antenna, although mine gets a snowy picture on strong VHF-High channels (nothing on VHF-low). In Detroit, all the digital channels' REAL frequencies are UHF.

Edit2: If you are pretty close to towers, you DON'T want amplified antenna, and are probably overloading the tuner. You may even need an attenuator to reduce signal if very close.

Last edited by OldDude; 01-26-06 at 09:21 PM.
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Old 01-27-06, 01:15 AM
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Originally Posted by dolphinboy
When I did the scan with the antenna outside, I got ZERO HD channels. How can that be? What could possibly be wrong? I just don't get it.
Simple. Too much signal. Get rid of the amplified antennas and try it again. If you stilll have too much signal, pick up a $10 adjustable attenuator from Radio Shack.

Originally Posted by dolphinboy
It would only bring up an analog for almost half of the channels and not digital ending with a 1. So, I scanned and had 13.1 for CBS and 11.1 for Fox, but no 4.1 for NBC and 18.1 for UPN. So it wasn't just a problem with me not being able to getting a good signal or picture, it was like the tv/tuner was telling me those channels weren't there so that's why it was telling me the signal was weak. There was no signal to begin with.
As OldDude mentioned, your channel 4.1 isn't really on 4.1, 11 isn't on 11.1, etc. For Tucson (right?), NBC is really on 23, Fox on 25, CBS on 32, etc. When you go to antennaweb, look at the Frequency Assignment column. That will tell you what channel it is really on.

Originally Posted by dolphinboy
PS-how would I know about the VHF thing? thanks.
The Antenna Type column will show you whether a channel is UHF or VHF. For you, the major channels other than WB are all UHF.
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Old 01-27-06, 08:12 AM
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Here's another vote for the Zenith silver sensor. I found them at Sears for under $30 and it has done a good job for me in a building without a clear view to the transmitter. I live in Manhattan with a 20+ story building separating me from the transmitting antenna, but I can get 6 of 7 local HD channels in with no problems. The other channel (Fox) takes a little fidgeting but I can usually get it in fine.
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