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Tool Talk Discussion Forum

Amplified TV Antennas?

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Clodbuster

01-09-2014 18:12:44




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I figured some fellow thrifty shoppers may be found here to help with my problem.

I have been running a plain "rabbit ears" antenna for a Zenith converter box hooked to an old tube type smaller TV. I pulled in all of the somewhat local channels with not much problem.

As the new DVD players don't easily work with this combo I bought a new twenty-two inch RCA flat screen LCD TV with a DVD built right in. The TV "found" all of the channels I had before but can only produce a picture on the screen for half of the channels.

I don't want to try to establish an outdoor antenna.

Have any of you had a positive experience using a powered or boosted antenna set up? The only ones I have been around in the past were for AM/FM radio signals and never had much luck getting a better signal with them.

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Edd in KY

01-11-2014 19:26:10




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
I have exactly the same RCA TV in the bedroom with an Antenna Direct unit setting on the dresser inside the house. The antenna looks like a Black plastic figure 8 About 18 inches high with a wire grid behind it. I get great reception on the TV stations that are about 30 miles away. There is one spot where the house is between the antenna and the station and it is Iffy.

Wind, snow and leaves do make a diference.

Overall though, reception is good enough that I will not put up an outside antenna.

Sorry, I can not remember the name of the antenna and it is not on the antenna.

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Edd in KY

01-11-2014 19:32:58




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Edd in KY, 01-11-2014 19:26:10  
Just checked Antennas Direct website. My antenna is a "Clear Stream 2V". Edd



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Clodbuster

01-11-2014 22:02:15




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Edd in KY, 01-11-2014 19:32:58  
Thank you for that recommendation. It sure gets good reviews on Amazon too. It has a little higher price point than the ones I have been trying but it just may be worth the extra cost the way it looks to me. I have another antenna being shipped right now so I'll try that one, but yours will be the next one on the list!

Considering that I am in a "strong" area and had almost no trouble with rabbit ears before, this is frustrating. But if this is my worst problem this week, life isn't too hard right now....sure beats frozen pipes or no electricity.

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Bus Driver

01-10-2014 18:51:29




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
I have several of the amplified indoor antennas. The only one that is any good is the older RCA ANT 200B. Sometimes they show up on eBay. Some sellers are proud of them



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Armand Tatro

01-10-2014 17:56:50




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
What are your reasons for not wanting an outdoor antenna? Armand.



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Clodbuster

01-10-2014 22:50:35




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Armand Tatro, 01-10-2014 17:56:50  
The TV is in a bad location for stringing cable and I would need to call in favors to get the job done.
I may have to bite the bullet and do it anyway.



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AG in IN

01-10-2014 17:41:08




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
You haven't really provided enough information for an antenna recommendation. Your antenna selection is not an optimal choice for Lo-V reception, and probably not for Hi-V either, but depending on many things, it is possible that it could work well for you.
Something seems fishy with the statement of "...RCA...told me...any new digital TV needs a stronger signal than a converter box needs to produce a picture". If anything, the opposite is true. Newer tuners are much better and less finicky than earlier digital tuners when it comes to weaker signals. Many converter boxes had very good tuners, but any tv manufactured since the "transition" should have as good of or a better digital tuner than any DTV converter box.
AG
This post was edited by AG in IN at 17:54:22 01/10/14 2 times.

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Clodbuster

01-10-2014 23:11:56




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to AG in IN, 01-10-2014 17:41:08  
It seems fishy to me too, lol.

I am only quoting the guy at the RCA help line. It could be that my bargain LED/DVD TV has a poor tuner but the RCA guy told me that even the high end TVs sometimes have trouble pulling in channels.

I was thinking that in the past I had read that any of the tuners don't need a full 90+% signal to have a good picture but I could be wrong on that. I have Zenith converter boxes and they had a very good rating when they were new and have worked great for several years. My converters sure got by with a 65 to 90% signal.

Maybe the TV manufactures have been slacking off on tuner performance since so many of them are hooked to cable. This seems to be true of the reviews on the speakers on the newer TVs as they want to sell you surround sound or at least a sound bar. My picture is excellent but the speakers are embarrassingly bad and "tinny" even compared to the small 20 year old Quasar it is replacing. They are passable at best after using the equalizer function to tune them.

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ss55

01-11-2014 11:15:54




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-10-2014 23:11:56  
An alternative to a new sound bar is computer speakers. An inexpensive ($30 to $40) set of 2.1 speakers with a small subwoofer can be a big improvement over some build-in TV speakers. CA is one brand of speakers that worked for me.



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Clodbuster

01-11-2014 14:49:50




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to ss55, 01-11-2014 11:15:54  
Thank you too! I was wondering if that setup would be compatible .

I have some cheaper "Monsoon" (HP brand?) ones for my computer and they will sure fill up the room 500% better than my new TV. They really crank for no bigger than they are.

I will shop for some of those on sale......



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Diydave

01-10-2014 17:11:39




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
This is the one I am Watching Hawaii-50 movie on, right now:



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Clodbuster

01-11-2014 14:42:12




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Diydave, 01-10-2014 17:11:39  
I bought one of those today. So far, it has been the best of the ones I have tried by a good margin.

I have to get a slightly longer coax hooked on and I think I can get all of my channels at the same time.

Thanks!



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Clodbuster

01-10-2014 12:43:51




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
I tried two different GE boosted antennas from Wally World and while both of them improved the signal strength according to my converter box indicator, they could not pull in more channels when hooked to the new digital TV. My new TV does not have a signal strength indicator of its own. Even getting an 80% signal on the box isn't enough for a picture on the new TV.

I have added a link to the antenna that I am ordering. It can be used either indoors or outdoors if I have to go that way. I hope it will bring in enough to get the job done.

According to the internet maps I am in a pretty strong area for a signal but am equally and centrally located from the towers and not very close to any of them.

I called RCA about my new TV and they told me that any new digital TV needs a stronger signal than a converter box needs to produce a picture. New is not always better, easier, cheaper, or more fun!

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ss55

01-10-2014 08:29:29




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
Most of todays indoor amplified antennas do work pretty well. Look up how far you are from the transmitter towers and get an antenna appropriate for that distance and your terrain.

www.antenna.com is one site, there are many others. This topic has been discussed many times, maybe you could run a search for HDTV antenna discussions.



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buickanddeere

01-10-2014 06:45:30




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
An FM trap on the antenna pre-amp is vital. FM radio stations will wipe out channels 2-6 and overload the tuner on CH 7-69.



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jdemaris

01-10-2014 07:10:57




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to buickanddeere, 01-10-2014 06:45:30  
I'm not convinced that is true anymore. Since the FM band got stolen from Mr. Armstrong - it is inbetween VHF low and high and used to cause a lot of problems with analog TV tuners. Not so sure anymore with digital tuners and their advanced selection and rejection. FM used to cause a lot of "herringbone" interference on TVs during the analog days. With digital, it would just cause signal rejection (I guess). So far, I've tested at three different sites with 10 different antennas and four different amps. I haven't found any degradation yet due the FM band. That includes VHF low, high and UHF.

I can say for sure that at my place in NY - I get two RF channel 7s (Utica WXXA and Binghamton WBNG) and RF channel 6 (WRGB from Albany. They are all weak "fringe" channels and using the FM trap on the preamp makes absolutely no difference. The co-channel thing with two channel 7s is more of a problem.

In northern Michigan - same results. I've got weak distant signals for RF channels for 8 (WGTQ), 10 (WWUP) and 11 (WBKB). I also get analog channel 3 from Ontario, Canada (CICI). Again, they work the same with the FM trap on or off. But I do have all modern TVs. All my preamps have switchable FM traps. Channelmaster CM777 and AntennaCraft 10G222.

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buickanddeere

01-10-2014 09:20:33




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to jdemaris, 01-10-2014 07:10:57  
I used to receive analog then digital across Lake Huron from Michigan until the local 98 The Beach set up their broadcast tower four miles away. The yagi antenna will null the FM half decent when aiming for Flint and Saginaw. Unfortunately the FM transmitter is inline with the antenna tail for Detroit and the head while aiming for Apena or Saulte Ste Marie. Ice wrecked the antenna last March for the next unit will be a CH 7-69 . Need a new amp with the FM trap and maybe new RG-6 cable. The existing has been in service for 15 years. It should at least be meggered to find shorts or moisture.
Just too much FM power, too close.

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jdemaris

01-11-2014 06:08:55




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to buickanddeere, 01-10-2014 09:20:33  
My longest run is 1000 feet (antennas to house) and I wound up using RG11, along with a line "booster" amp at the half-way mark. The rest is RG6 which is cheap when bought in bulk. Home Depot even stocks it in reels.



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js305

01-10-2014 05:45:33




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
I know you don't want to put an antenna outside but if you were getting most of the stations with rabbit ears you would be most pleased at the increase in stations and quality with the smallest antenna outside. Or, if you have an attic (without a metal roof on the house) you can put one up there. It doesn't take much.
A booster amplifies whatever it sees. If you are getting a crappy signal to start with you will only amplify the bad part with the good part. The key is getting a clean, although weak. signal to amplify. Move your antenna that you have been using around to different locations first. Moving it just a few feet might make a lot of difference. It's not rocket science but sometimes it feels like voodoo instead.

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jdemaris

01-10-2014 06:00:23




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to js305, 01-10-2014 05:45:33  
What you said about the amps is not true. It can be true for a line-amp but is not true for a pre-
amp. A signal may be "weak" and not "crappy" as you put it. If very weak - it will be totally lost through connectors and the coax before it gets to the TV. The purpose of a low-noise signal preamp is to mount it ON or as close as possible to the antenna and it can make a night-and-day difference in reception. Adding a "line" or "distribution" amp further down the line or at the TV will not do the same job. Once that weak signal is lost - no amp will get it back. I don't know what the "crap" is in the signal you refer to. Preamp transistors make some unwanted noise but they usually make up for that in 15-30 dBs in signal gain.

I've got a tower with three 12 foot long TV antennas (VHF low, VHF high, and UHF). Nearest transmitter towers are 60 miles away with mountain tops in the way. With no preamp I can get just one channel. With a 30 dB preamp - I get over 30 channels.

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PJH

01-10-2014 07:37:31




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to jdemaris, 01-10-2014 06:00:23  
"I've got a tower with three 12 foot long TV
antennas (VHF low, VHF high, and UHF)."

John, I'm curious - your three antennas are in one location? Sounds like you're using fixed position antennas, all on one tower, - no rotor. I've heard that the modern TV's don't work well with a rotor - that they go into "search mode" every time the rotor is tweaked. Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions about your setup? Could you explain exactly what you have?

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jdemaris

01-11-2014 06:05:08




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to PJH, 01-10-2014 07:37:31  
To be more accurate - we've got 9 TV antennas set up at 3 different locations. Our house is built into the side of a mountain and we have no line-of-sight to any TV towers anywhere. There are signals available from three different directions. Albany, Utica, and Binghamton. The reason why we have three different sites is because there is no one spot on our 100 acres that can "see" all the signals. So, three different spots and each spot has three antennas. The closest antenna site is 300 feet from our house and the furthest is 1000 feet. I had to use RG11 coax and a few line-amps to make it work at 1000 feet.

No rotators. The reason is - I've yet to find a rotator that works when it's below zero F. Years back we had two rotators. Both new. One a Channel Master and the other an Antenna Craft. Neither would work when it got down to zero F. There is also the issue of having a TV tuner that allows multiple channel scans and remembering previously added channels while adding new while rotating. Some TVs allow it and some do not.

The antennas I have now work like this. Each one of the three separate areas has all three antennas on a preamp and run to the house through one coax. I.e. all antennas are connected together. At our house we have an A-B-C coax switchbox. So, there is only one set up antennas hooked to our TVs at any given time. All our TVs allow mulitple channel scans so switching from A to B or C is never a problem. All the possible channels are already registered.

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Clodbuster

01-11-2014 10:26:24




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to jdemaris, 01-11-2014 06:05:08  
I will declare that you "Win the Internet" for today!

That is some serious engineering and a really good explanation of it too.

I shouldn't complain about maybe needing to put one up on my house......



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PJH

01-11-2014 09:35:58




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to jdemaris, 01-11-2014 06:05:08  
Thanks for the explanation John. 1000 feet is impressive.

I've been putting off erecting a tower and new antenna, but the wife's patience is wearing thin, and it's quickly moving to the top of my list.



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Dick2

01-10-2014 05:17:01




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
I put up a large Channelmaster antenna on a pole above the house because we were 60 miles from the broadcast towers. Also installed an antenna amplifier, which drives the signal through to cable to the TV sets - needed it for the TV set at the opposite end of the house from the antenna.

The antenna amplifier does not pull in more stations; it's sole purpose it to drive the signal from the antenna through the cable to the TV sets.

Putting up a large antenna will pull in more channels with a better signal.

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AG in IN

01-10-2014 05:02:11




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
Amplifiers only help if you have some signal, but not enough. They can help make up for losses from long cable runs. If a channel will decode in a scan, but you can't get a watchable picture, an amplifier may help.

Sometimes noisy amplifiers can do more harm than good, especially with VHF. Amplified indoor antennas seldom receive praise for having great built-in amplifiers. Amplifiers can be detremental if a signal is already powerful without an amp. Indoor antennas seldom receive praise for their ability to receive VHF signals.

Use TV FOOL: http://www.tvfool.com/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29 or

RABBITEARS: http://rabbitears.info/search.php
to see what stations you should be able to get with a quality antenna.
AG
This post was edited by AG in IN at 05:14:39 01/10/14.

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old bc

01-09-2014 20:45:12




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
There are a lot of small amplified antennas out there. Some are made for indoor use some are made for the attic. See the link.



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BOB85355

01-09-2014 20:08:19




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
eight or ten years ago saw plans on the internet for building a TV antenna out of wire coat hangers. Didn"t need it as I have an antenna on top of house but built in anyway and put it on a pole in the back yard. Got good reception on a small TV on the back porch. Some people said it won"t work, course they weren"t there to see the TV picture.

Bob



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Clodbuster

01-09-2014 19:43:41




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
I may try a GE one from Wallyworld for $30. It has the best reviews of any that I have read so far.

I hope it does the job as I pulled in the stations with my cheap rabbit ears with a circle in the center.

From what I understand, the signals are only UHF in my area but I need to double check that.



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Clodbuster

01-09-2014 19:53:50




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 19:43:41  
Upon further study, I need UHF and Hi and Lo VHF too.



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buickanddeere

01-09-2014 19:30:38




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
All the amp does is makeup for losses in the cables and connections. The amp can't amplify a signal that a low gain antenna can't detect. Both Winegard and ChannelMaster make a powered omnidirectional antenna that will mount on a chimney, attic or eve. Pretty decent performance for the price and effort. Makes rabbit ears a joke of years past.



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Tramway Guy

01-09-2014 19:19:08




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
Radio Shack has amplifiers for TV antennas. I bought one a few years back and it works fine.



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BAnNC

01-09-2014 18:58:48




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
My antenna is a motor home model mounted upside down in the attic space over the garage. Has a rotor on it for tuning. Downstream of that is a signal booster to turn it up just a little bit. We can see 12 or 13 channels. Not cable, but good enough to get the news and weather.



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moresmoke

01-09-2014 18:41:55




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 Re: Amplified TV Antennas? in reply to Clodbuster, 01-09-2014 18:12:44  
I have a booster hooked to a homemade antenna for my TV. The booster came from the local home improvement store. The antenna I got ideas for off the web, and is some bent wire attached to a piece of cardboard. It hangs on the wall behind a painting. The booster made the difference of getting 1 channel or 4.



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