a digital tv q

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  #1  
Old 07-29-17, 04:04 PM
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a digital tv q

I ditched Comcast for numerous reasons and want just to use signals by air.

My UHF stations are coming in but not the VHF.

Do I need an antennae just for them?

Thanks!!

BTW, I have a 2 year old RCA hdtv.

Chuck.
 
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  #2  
Old 07-29-17, 04:13 PM
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You need a single antenna as you only have one antenna connector.

How are you differentiating UHF from VHF channels ?
There is no more VHF channels 2-13.

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  #3  
Old 07-29-17, 04:53 PM
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Hey PJ,

By the old school method 2 thru around 20 were vhf and the higher channels were uhf.

I live in what's informally known as 'tv hill' here in Baltimore and it's called that because it's the highest point here and all of the tv stations have their antennas here.

Thanks for the link.

I made my tv go through a search for channels again and I'm now getting the three WMAR channels but aren't getting any of the WBAL, WJZ, WUTB or WMJF channels. I'm not getting any of the MPB channels either.

Do you recommend an antennae?

Thank you.

Chuck
 
  #4  
Old 07-29-17, 05:54 PM
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Actual channels 2-13 use the long (2 to 3 foot) bars or the rabbit ears of an antenna. Actual channels 14 and up use the short (6 inch and smaller) bars or the bow tie or ring shaped part of an antenna. You would have to find a lookup table showing the actual channel number for each station in your area. The actual channel may or may not be (usually is not) the number in the station's logo.

Most so called HD antennas have only the short bars.

Some antennas have separate cables for the short bars and the long bars. You would need to buy a combiner with three ports, one to connect to the TV and the other two, usually labeled UHF and VHF respectively, to connect to the two antenna cables.

In my area, one station, WMUR-9, continues to use (VHF) 9 as its actual channel.
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 07-29-17 at 06:10 PM.
  #5  
Old 07-29-17, 07:52 PM
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I'm a little confused. If you live almost on top of the transmitters you can use anything for an antenna and it should pick up well.

Did you set your TV to scan the over-air channels available ?
 
  #6  
Old 07-29-17, 10:25 PM
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High band VHF channels most certainly DO exist with digital signals. In the greater Seattle area we have two such stations; PBS on channel 9 and CW on channel 11. Both have secondary channels as well. You DO need a VHF antenna to pick up the VHF stations. Some so-called "digital" antennae (no such thing in reality) are UHF only and some are combination VHF-UHF.
 
  #7  
Old 07-30-17, 08:12 AM
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I stuck an old coax cable in as an antenna and am now getting all the channels within a mile. That was a simple fix!!

There are couple of stations 35 miles away that I can't get and I would like to get Washington DC stations that are within a 50 mile radius.

Can you recommend a good antenna for this?

THANK YOU ALL!!!!!
 
  #8  
Old 07-30-17, 01:27 PM
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I've been making myself notes for a Cut the Cable/Ditch the Dish thread I intend starting. It's not done so this is a rush-job to try to give you some of what you need.

The first thing to understand about the new HD format is that your television is lying to you. When you're watching the station on Channel 10, that doesn't mean that that station is broadcasting on Channel 10. It might be being broadcast on Channel 10, but chances are it isn't. The channel you tune your set to is called the "virtual" channel, while the channel it's actually being broadcast on is still known as the "broadcast" channel.

The reason that's significant is that you're expecting (virtual) Channel 10 to be on VHF, but it doesn't have to be. In Washington DC, for example, the NBC affiliate WAVY is on virtual Channel 10.1 but its broadcast channel is 31, which is UHF. And that makes a YUGE difference to your antenna requirements.

This sounds like a goofy thing to do but they did it to accommodate the old TV networks so the traditional viewer still got the same station on Channel 10 as they were watching 30 years ago, but the people who own/run Channel 10 could change their broadcast channel, even switching it to UHF if they wanted to.

So step 1 to selecting the proper antenna is to forget "virtual" channels and think instead in terms of "broadcast" channels. So the first problem is figuring out what your local broadcast channels are. IMHO, the best (consolidated) resource for figuring this out is TV Fool -dot- com. Here's what their listing looks like for DC:



I didn't include it all in this image but this one page gives you all the details you need to determine the capability requirements for your antenna.
1. broadcast channel (goes to antenna selection)
2. compass direction to the transmitter (from the location I used for this, which was the White House, 1600 Pa. Ave.) (goes to antenna coverage arc and antenna orientation)
3. expected difficulty to receive that particular signal (again, from the White House) (also goes to antenna selection and orientation)

As to #1, antennas these days break down reception into three broadcast bands, Low VHF (broadcast stations 2-6), High VHF (7-13) and UHF (14-83). Using the TV Fool chart, decide which bands you'd prefer your antenna be suited to.

As to #2, there can be a lot of show-stoppers here, depending on your location. All antennas have a certain degree of directionality, and the further apart any two transmitters are, the more difficult it will be for a single antenna to receive them both. And by "further apart," I'm referring to the angular difference in the compass headings from your location to them, not the how far apart they are from each other.

In general this is more of a problem if you're "in the city" and surrounded by antennas versus living in the 'burbs with the majority of the antennas clustered in one direction from your home.



This is an overhead view of the locations of the different TV transmitters surrounding the White House. The most obvious detail is that cluster of transmitters to the NNW (toward Bethesda?). The arc covering all of those would be very, very narrow and any antenna you select would be capable of that sort of a fan width. Moving clockwise from there, that cluster plus 23, 25 and 50 all are in an arc of about 45, which is do-able. Now go even further clockwise to the cluster of antennas for Channels 11, 38, 40 and 46. That's nearer 70, by which point you're pushing the bounds of what's possible for a single antenna.

But what if you wanted all those, plus that one lonely little station down to the SSE, Channel 16? Now you're well beyond the breaking point of a single antenna. At which point (and to the best of my meager knowledge) you've got three options. 1) Put your antenna on a rotating mast, 2) install multiple antennas, which will require some fairly sophisticated electronic wizardry to merge all those signals into one, or 3) Compromise. Give up on the possibility of some of those channels.

This is to better illustrate what I mean by "arc" or "fan width":



My yellow lines are a little wide of the mark so as not to obscure the locations of the transmitters, but what I've tried to illustrate here is that the difference in the compass heading from those transmitters in this group that are furthest to the left, around clockwise to those that are furthest to the right, covers an arc of about 45. A "slice of the pie" covering 45 out of the entire 360.

As to #3, the signals on the list at top are color-coded. Green means you can expect a signal so strong that rabbit ears probably will work. Yellow means an antenna in the attic, minimum. Red means the antenna probably will need to be outdoors. And gray means it will take extreme measures to bring in that signal.

So by the time you reach this point in the process, you should have figured out your ideal antenna's requirements: 1) What is my ideal minimum arc (fan width), 2) Which of the three bands do I need reception on, and 3) How far away is the furthest transmitter I would hope to receive?

Now that you've got your "pie-in-the-sky" laundry list of antenna "wants," we're on to the realities of what the antenna manufacturing market can support. From the research I did when I Ditched the Dish myself this past spring I learned that most over-the-air TV antennas are crap. Only a relatively few of those on the market are worth spending on. Far and away the best source of information I came across in that regard was in a Canadian based forum, Digital Home -dot- Ca That link is to the thread in which you can find a "decision chart" by an individual who goes by the screen name of "Stampede." His current list is on the second page of that thread. This chart is based on reviews, recommendations and opinions from TV hobbyists and enthusiasts. AFAIK there is no hidden commercial motivation in its content. I bought my OTA antenna based on this chart and I am thrilled with the outcome.

Two caveats to Stampede's chart. His data is three years old and I could not find a source for some of the antennas he lists and which I otherwise would have considered best suited to my needs. I presume those particular models no longer are available. And some of the ones on his list might be Canadian-market only. The second caveat is that his chart lacks some critical details. In order to find which of the antennas on the chart filled my laundry list wants, I had to resort to searching manufacturer's web sites and details listed among product specifications at online outlets to, particularly for maximum arc/fan width.

Once I got the antenna on the pole, I shot a compass azimuth at the mid-point between the "hoped for" transmitters that were furthest to the left and those that were furthest to the right. I found the compass on my smartphone inadequate to the task and bought a cheapo from Wally World for $5 that did the trick. Later I had to rotate the antenna about 5 because there was pixellation occurring on one of the "important" channels in that direction. The adjustment cured the pixellation without noticeable degradation of the reception from the antennas that now are 5 further off-center than they were to begin with. You might need to experiment/compromise to get your best result.

One last detail. Ignore advertising claims that a certain antenna is "HD-ready" or "digital-ready." For the most part, it's pure marketing hype. Over-the-air television still uses an analog broadcast signal, same as it always has. It might be carrying information that can be decoded into digital, but the radio waves themselves are still analog. Which means that, depending on your circumstances, the same TV antenna you were watching I Love Lucy on 60 years ago might be adequate to your needs today. However, the new focus in OTA is on the UHF band for the simple reason there are more channels available in UHF. And based on my experience with changing antennas, I *think* receiver antenna technology has advanced to support the larger UHF market.
 

Last edited by Fred_C_Dobbs; 07-30-17 at 02:13 PM.
  #9  
Old 07-31-17, 06:22 PM
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Fred, Thanks for the reply...That's a lot of info.

I can get most of all of the channels here in Baltimore now but want to get the DC channels so I think I will go with the Channel Master CM-4228HD High VHF, UHF and HDTV Antenna...I already own a booster from years past to help with the Comcast signal..

I am curious...what did you decide upon?

Thanks again.

Chuck
 
  #10  
Old 08-01-17, 03:18 PM
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I don't know how enthusiastic the old "big 3" networks were about continuing their free over-the-air broadcasts but the FCC insisted on it, otherwise they wouldn't have supported the change to HD. But I don't think they were interested in doing any more than absolutely necessary to satisfy the FCC, and what they ended up with is not exactly "user-friendly." But now OTA is having a resurgence, probably because the cable and dish companies have abused their market dominance.

My first antenna choice (from Stampede's list) is no longer on the market so I went with #2, a Winegard HD7694P. It's rated for High VHF and UHF bands, claimed range is 45 miles and beamwidth is 34-65, depending on the channel. The direction I'm aimed in, there's nothing within the beamwidth that's more than 35 miles away, so I'm not really testing the 45-mile range, but there are some stations in that arc that TV Fool rates as "red" and I'm picking up every one of them in.

I forgot to mention the Set Top Box. When HD first came on line, the standard still wasn't settled and you needed a set top box to decode the signal. But the standard now is settled and all new TVs effectively have the set top box built into them. I don't know when the change-over happened but the only TV I've bought since the 2009 change-over was earlier this year and it does not need a set top box. All the rest do. So depending on the age of your TV, you might need one, too. The ones I bought for the old sets were Homeworx HW-1050PVRs. They're nothing special, very elementary, but they do the basic job. You can get them off eBay for ~$35. One of the three died in just a couple of years (but after the warranty had expired), so I don't think too highly of their reliability.
 
  #11  
Old 08-01-17, 07:21 PM
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Thanks so much for your help, Fred, as well as everyone else.

My tv is 2 years old.

Thank you all again!!!

Chuck
 
  #12  
Old 08-01-17, 07:27 PM
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Come to think of it I have another question.

Currently, using over the air channels, to change channels I have to scroll up the channels one at a time in order. (very slow) Using a cable box I could put in the channel number and skip around.

How can I skip around the channels using over the air channels?

Thanks again!!!
 
  #13  
Old 08-01-17, 08:04 PM
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Every television I have seen allowed for the user to key in channel numbers with the remote. You might have to look hard to find the . or - key to use between the main channel and the sub-channel numbers. Also, at least with my Samsung, you have to complete the entire key entry in a short time or else it is ignored.
 
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