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Old 03-01-2012, 08:04 AM   #1
KungPaoDog OP
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School me on tv antennas

Comcast cable is the root of all evil and they know they have a captive market, so I choose not to play anymore. Good-bye cable. Unfortunately they still have the cheapest internet in our area but that's another rant.

I found a few cool sites like this: antennaweb.org but I still don't know what I need for an antenna. I'm fairly close to the towers, so I'm thinking a non-amplified antenna in my attic or behind my TV might do it, but I don't want to spend $150 on an antenna if a $40 antenna will work just fine. I tried asking a few neighbors about it, but they are all fine with paying through the nose for 250 channels of crap they don't watch

I don't really want to build a huge tower on the house we rent; an indoor or attic location would be ideal for an antenna.

So who has what antenna and how would you have done it differently? What should I know?
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Old 03-01-2012, 08:23 AM   #2
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I have a cheap digital antenae that I got from Radio Shack. It is set up on the TV armoire. I don't really like the way it looks there, and I suppose if I was industrious I could put it in the attic. That said, it has a directional dish on it, so I have to have access to turn it for one local channel. I think I paid 30 dollars for it, and the picture is much better than the HD channels on Dish Network. I think i read somewhere that the satellite companies compress the signal more than the over the air companies do. That would explain the quality.

I live about 15 miles from the towers, I think.
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Old 03-01-2012, 08:32 AM   #3
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I live 10 miles from the mountain in our town where ALL of the TV stations broadcast. I also have DirecTV as I need some of the stuff there.

For broadcast TV you need to learn whether any of your local stations broadcast on VHF or if they have all (very likely) moved to UHF. In my area we used to have the local NBC affiliate on channel 5 (or 5-1 for HD) broadcast on VHF and all of the others already moved to a UHF frequency. Now that the local NBC affiliate has also moved to UHF that makes things easier. I live in Colorado Springs.

What I have is a Radio Shack UHF antenna in my attic. It's about 6' long and made of metal. Looks like a skeleton with the arms sticking out. You can get VHF/UHF combination ones if needed but the VHF portion will mean the metal "arms" are longer. I now have just a UHF antenna. I have it pointed (in the attic) directly at the mountain 10 miles away. I have it just sitting along the roof trusses. My home had a cedar shake roof. I have the antenna connected to a RG6 coax via a pigtail connector on the antenna itself (came with the antenna) and that runs down and over to a TIVO device that I use to record all OTA (over the air) signals. You could also just run this directly to the back of your TV set. It could also be mounted outside and could also have a rotator if you needed that. I prefer to have it in the attic.

My antenna: http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...ductId=3739597

All of my local affiliates broadcast in HD and my little $50+ Radio Shack antenna gets me a signal strength of 95-99 out of 100. A very good signal. If you live further away or the broadcast towers are not all grouped together then you may need to take a different approach. I CAN use a set of Rabbit Ears (el cheapo smaller antenna) that sits behind the TV but the signal strength is reduced and I get some artifacts on the screen that are not good. So I use the attic antenna.

The TIVO Series 3 box I have costs me (IIRC) $8/month. What it does is allow me to get programming for all my local stations via a WIFI adapter connected to the Tivo box. Once the Tivo gets the programming schedule (automatic) I then use it to record any and all OTA TV shows so I can watch TV when I am available. My wife and I both travel a lot and it is very seldom that we ever watch live TV. The Tivo service rocks for doing that. You can also have the Tivo box connected to a phone line and it will just call in every few days to get a newer schedule.

If it wasn't for the fact that we need 5-6 channels we can only get via Cable or DirecTV I'd drop them tomorrow. But can't.

Hope this helps.

Tom

Infracaninophile screwed with this post 03-01-2012 at 08:41 AM
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Old 03-01-2012, 10:19 AM   #4
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Yep, that antennae that --ophile posted is what I would do if I wanted something in the attic. With Dish, you can then plug the coaxle into the satellite receiver, and it will then act like a TiVo. This way you do not have to buy a separate service for recording. Or you could always use a small cheap computer as a DVR. A lot of people are doing that now days.
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Old 03-01-2012, 10:26 AM   #5
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http://www.boxee.tv/

http://www.roku.com/

In my opinion... why bother with actual TV at all? Drag it all off the net.
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Old 03-01-2012, 10:34 AM   #6
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Infracaninophile- thanks for the ideas. I'm leaning towards in the attic if I can figure out a decent way to run coax over to the TV.

Most of what we watch on our TV is on Netflix via our PS3, streaming or disc. We're also considering Hulu Plus for the PS3 if we really want more options. Not bad for $8/month. The only reason we have basic cable is so I don't have to mess with an antenna during football games, but I'm ready to deal with that instead of Comcast.

I think I may need/want a large multi-directional antenna for where I am. Stations in our area (Lafayette) are listed as a mix of UHF/VHF, so I think I need a combo antenna. I just don't have a clue what will give me decent reception with minimal fussing. Should it be amplified? Are multi-directional antennas a waste of time?
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Old 03-01-2012, 10:38 AM   #7
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I went through the same questions as you, and tried several different powered antennas, from ~$25 to ~$135, figuring not buying cable would make it worth it even spending more than $100 on an antenna. Tried a couple 'rabbit' antennas and a couple panel antennas.
They all sucked, no matter where I put them, up in the attic, wherever.
Did some digging, and built this:
http://www.tvantennaplans.com/
My total cost was about $10, and I used copper wire instead of hangers & I had a long coax so I could put it in the attic (where the other antennas were, apples to apples comparison). Took me about 45 minutes.

It beats all of the powered antennas that I tried hollow. No comparison. I get 9 more channels on the autoscan than I did before with even the expensive guy up in the attic, this has no electricity, no more digital chopouts due to marginal signal.. Its just all around better, and I didn't even put on the backing screens. I'm very surprised at how much better it is, and even more so for its cost and effort input.

Build one. Worst case you are out a couple bucks and learned something.
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Old 03-01-2012, 11:10 AM   #8
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That's not a bad idea, to build my own. I might see what I have laying around. I'm also a bit busy (OK, and a little lazy) this week so I might try out something from radioshack as long as I can return it.

Dismount- we are pulling most of our tv from the net via netflix. We don't really watch a ton of tv, so while I like the idea of the Roku/Boxee type devices, I just wouldn't use them that much.
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Old 03-01-2012, 11:19 AM   #9
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Bought this from Amazon. Works mint, its called a leaf antenna and in Waltham Ma I get about 20 free channels, four of which are PBS. Pretty good IMO.

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Old 03-01-2012, 11:45 AM   #10
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There's no such thing as an "HD" or "digital" antenna, by the way. Broadcast is digital now, but it uses the same frequencies that formerly were analog. So don't pay more for an antenna just because it says digital or HD in the product description.

We have two TVs in the house...one fed by a roof antenna and the other fed by a small indoor amplified antenna. We're about 40 miles from the towers. The roof antenna picks up more channels than the indoor antenna, but I'm surprised at how well the indoor antenna works. I have it aimed at the towers through a patio entrance.
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Old 03-01-2012, 01:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Achtung View Post
Bought this from Amazon. Works mint, its called a leaf antenna and in Waltham Ma I get about 20 free channels, four of which are PBS. Pretty good IMO.

I also saw those on Amazon and I wondered about them. Thanks for the review.

Klay, I do know about the HD antenna difference, or lack thereof.

I just dropped off the stupid cable box at the local comcast office and I asked why my bill went up, and what the new bill will be now that I am dropping cable.

"Your promotional deal expired, and now your bill will go up again since you are dropping cable."

"You mean it's cheaper to have basic cable & internet than just internet?"

"Yes."
First I
Then I

She said "well I don't think it is funny."

I've done this dance with them long enough. They raise the price, you go to the office, say you don't like the new price and the will give you the current promo deal for another six months. Repeat for five years. Saves about $30 a month, but I'm over it.

Fine. I'll keep the package deal for now. But I'm still getting an antenna and shopping around for internet. Oh, and that girl's boss is getting a call.
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Old 03-01-2012, 01:38 PM   #12
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I just ordered this one from Amazon.



I'll let you know how good it is after I get it installed.

I've been using an amplified set top antenna for a couple months. I get 25 over the air channels, including two PBS channels I can't get anywhere else.
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Old 03-01-2012, 02:01 PM   #13
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I built one of these out of some left over romex.
Works better than either of the powered antennas that I bought.
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Old 03-01-2012, 02:56 PM   #14
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here's the place to ask:
http://www.dtvusaforum.com/dtv-hdtv-...na-discussion/

but the answer is going to boil down largely to what channels you're trying to get, how far they are away, and their relative directions. go here and get that info:
http://www.tvfool.com/index.php?opti...pper&Itemid=29
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Old 03-01-2012, 07:07 PM   #15
Infracaninophile
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dismount View Post
http://www.boxee.tv/

http://www.roku.com/

In my opinion... why bother with actual TV at all? Drag it all off the net.
Because that's not what he was asking. My wife has a Roku HD box downstairs in the "Girl Cave" so she and some of her friends can watch some chick shows that are no longer broadcast OTA or cable. For $8/Month she really likes it. Some movies as well. Rides the Wifi from the house and works great.

But if you need local news, sports, or such then it doesn't work as it doesn't do that. Roku and Netflix are fine but the OP was asking how to make his OTA TV reception work better.

Tom
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