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post #46 of 201 (permalink) Old 2010-02-19, 01:32 PM
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Thanks for link.

In Toronto, solid monophonic and often OK stereo FM from Buffalo (50 miles) possible with a "fringe" largish yagi. Does that suggest acceptable all-the-time HD reception is likely from a single-channel HD FM station like PBS-FM?

Anybody have good results in Toronto with the Sony XDR-F1HD receiver? Where to buy economically in Ontario?

Suggestions for an Ontario FM antenna source?

Guess I think best is have all audio and video ether broadcasts OTA in the UHF band, hence from your roof using a single downlead. But second best is the US FM/HD Ibiquity approach.

Annals of Stupidity: to power my FM receiver, I took a real old mega-element VHF-UHF antenna and Dremeled off each end, attached leads with paper clips... what a useless idea!
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post #47 of 201 (permalink) Old 2010-03-01, 03:26 PM
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This thread deserves more attention because as more of us get UHF/HD antennas on our roofs, there is more need to catch-up with FM reception (since we no longer have big multi-band yagi's on the roof). The case for OTA FM is even stronger than TV because the cable companies are so derelict about FM choice and quality and esp. PBS Buffalo.

I've opted for separate FM and TV antennas (on my chimney) and separate lead-ins to different ends of my house. But if local HD TV includes broadcasts in VHF band, might need something else.

Speaking about Toronto area, some kind of outdoor antenna is needed. But anything better than a bent coat hanger will do OK for nearby stations. Oakville is lucky because you can pull in Buffalo with a mid-fringe antenna while probably getting the CN Tower OK even way off the antenna beam (Winegard PR-6000 AKA Prostar 1000??). An omnidirectional of turnstile antenna is rarely a good choice - aside from loosing beam-gain, you might get terrible multipath. Stampeder has offered a contrary opinion... and it should not be hard to assess our relative authority! If you have a really high-class FM tuner and no nearby apartment towers, maybe multipath isn't a big issue for you.

I'm unable to find much FM antenna retail activity around Toronto. Aside from the good folks at Saveandreplay who carry a Winegard and at a reasonable price (they are just fine), I have found almost nobody else. There is a CM distributor in Trenton and some respected installers with retail offerings (hope I am not using "respected" too loosely). But not competitive pricing.

Anybody have suggestions for an antenna emporium? I think one should look for brand names with antennas.

i bought that Sony HD receiver. It is just as good as the reports say. "Astonishing" is a fair description but some of the goodness is from the "smart" quieting it does. But that's OK. Because I am still looking for an FM antenna (and not a good time of year to traipse about on roofs), I can't say much about ultimate reception of HD from PBS and others in Buffalo.
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post #48 of 201 (permalink) Old 2010-03-02, 09:34 PM
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Opinions on FM Radio Gear (and my intro all in one!)

Hello everyone!

I found this site doing a Google on a whim for "Pirate Radio" and came across the "almost viral" thread involving MixFM. Quite an interesting read I must say! Seeing the comments from various users in there gave me the impression this might be the forum to get some opinions and information to complement my various searches.

By way of a VERY brief introduction, I have a degree in Applied Mathematics with some EE along the way (made it through Analog Signals before I ran out of money and had to choose between a EE or a Maths degree). Mathematics, E&M, and radio all seem to go hand in hand and I've decided to rekindle some EE hobby work (such as circuit building) I've done on and off since I was a kid.

I have some rural property, more than enough for me to explore FM broadcasting on my property without violating the “<= 100 uV/m at 30 metres” rule per IC guidelines. As such, I am interested in "kit" FM transmitters that someone can assemble themselves. I am also interested in an effective field strength meter (preferable again as a kit) that I can use to measure my signal strength to comply with IC regulations.

I've been searching for various kits and the Ramsey kits caught my eye the most (probably due to the excellent documentation available on the web). In particular their FM25B and FM30B kits look fun (and lets face it the 30B's digital readout on the front is pretty cool!). The reviews I've seen of them are positive, but I'm always open to more opinions on these or any other "kit" transmitters people have tried. In particular, technical reviews on the quality of the transmission are appreciated.

Same for field strength meters. Any reviews or opinions on these would be appreciated.

Thanks for taking time to read my long post, and have a great day.

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post #49 of 201 (permalink) Old 2010-03-03, 03:38 PM
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No one here with experience in building/using any of the many kits out there? I'd welcome any input people have on kits and/or signal meters.
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post #50 of 201 (permalink) Old 2010-03-03, 05:27 PM
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I can tell you that I built the Ramsey FM30 and found it to be top quality. I've had to turn the output power way down even though I'm on acreage. Stereo output is excellent.
Building this unit is straight forward if you're good with a soldering iron; instructions are clear.
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post #51 of 201 (permalink) Old 2010-03-03, 05:45 PM
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I looked at the specs in more detail, and my calcs match your experience; I will have to turn it WAY down to keep it legal, but I don't mind running it low. What I was glad to hear is that the quality (both construction and stereo output) is excellent. It's always nice to hear something "first hand" that matches the one review of the FM30 that I found.

I'm was a little out of practice with a soldering iron, but I unpacked my trusty 15w/30w switchable iron and practiced a little bit. Should be no worries!

Do you have a recommendation on a field strength meter, kit or otherwise?

Thank you very much taking a second to reply to my query. I appreciate it!
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post #52 of 201 (permalink) Old 2010-03-08, 08:21 AM
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i have played around with various fm tx's for along time.Ramsey stuff is ok.Fm25
drifts a bit.I like the EDM tx output is ajustable between 10mw and 100mw.Keeping the unit on 10mw will keep you legal.Just a word on 100mw setting with a 6db gain omni antenna you get about a 1km coverage.have fun.Maybe one day we could have a hobby broadcast band
76 to 88mhz once all tv goes digital.Now that would be fun...Peter
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post #53 of 201 (permalink) Old 2010-03-10, 11:54 PM
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Thanks for the reply!

I found the edm site too a day after I made this post. It looks like a cool transmitter and you can get the RDS option for it too.

I'll have to do some searching for the omni antenna and its specs. might be an interesting project to see how it performs.
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post #54 of 201 (permalink) Old 2010-03-11, 05:21 AM
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With a Winegard mid-fringe 6000 antenna-in-waiting in the basement (their factory standards are inconceivably lousy, be prepared to repair the stuff that tumbles out of the box), I fooled more with my existing antenna resources. These are the Sony FM-HD dipole (with built-in transformer at end of lond downlead) and some kind of bent metal on my roof connected to a 35 foot RG6 downlead.

1. I finally remembered that twin-lead downlead of the Sony-provided antenna is not shielded and so with masking tape you need to keep it a bit away from anything metal. Makes a difference. You'd think a guy my age could still remember what he once knew about twin-lead. (I wonder if twin-lead will ever come back? I'm saving my roll of shielded twin-lead just in case.)

2. Using an ordinary one-into-two backwards at the radio end, combined the indoors and the outdoors antennas. No kidding, they really add materially to one another for most stations despite the 4 dB loss in the unifier, after a lot of comparisons, although not for all stations.

Most of the time, I now get 94.5-HD (PBS-HD... sometimes broadcasting also 94.5-2) and 102.5-1 and 102.5-2. I think there are more HD stations in Buffalo but no others received in HD yet. The FM-stereo is far better too (when the Sony logic isn't able to pre-empt it with HD at that station).

The FM-HD is fabulous, as good as a CD and with some "fresh" festival recordings, rather better in many respects. Hard to believe. The Sony with adaptive noise control provides great FM-stereo on a whisper of a signal and super once even a modest signal can be grasped.

Being a classical music fan, I'd say the whole FM antenna endeavour is worthwhile just to get PBS, esp. since CBC now is providing so little good music and 96.3 is 55% commercials (many of which are just promotions for Znaimer's businesses).
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post #55 of 201 (permalink) Old 2010-03-17, 02:07 PM
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Yaamon (Mark) installed my Winegard 6000 yesterday. Good installation, of course.

But the 6000 at 33 feet and maybe 40 or so feet of RG6 is still only marginal for HD broadcasts from PBS FM (about 80 miles to the town of Boston, south of Buffalo), even with the fabulous Sony. Stampeder predicted that a small antenna would be insufficient in another thread. But cosmetics, risk of wind damage, and optimism for the Sony shaped my decision.

Frankly, I thought the modest 6000 antenna would get Buffalo FM-HD strong (esp. when I thought the broadcast antenna was Grand Island, 52 miles), at least with the Sony tuner. But now I feel Toronto OTA-FM-HD people like me should aim for a better antenna even if largish for your roof.

In as much as CN Tower is the same direction, I wonder if an FM bandpass filter would help? It has with previous multi-band big yagi. (BTW, the Sony tuner is somewhat less susceptible to front-end blasting than other designs because it tunes/sharpens before amplifying the signal. But still, I must be getting a million times the radiation from the CN Tower VHF and FM stations as compared to Buffalo.)

A funny bit of mangled old yagi antenna isn't a lot worse than a 6000.

Some really good news: the US regulators are allowing FM-HD broadcasts to increase their power. PBS engineer is guessing they'll complete that change is maybe a year, budget permitting.
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post #56 of 201 (permalink) Old 2010-03-17, 02:54 PM
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Distance Toronto to PBS FM antenna

Correction... and some 'net sites have it wrong.

PBS 94.5 broadcasts from the little town of Boston, New York. That's about 80 miles away (rather than the TV antenna which is on Grand Island about 52 miles away). From mid-town Toronto, the compass direction is just a few degrees west of Grand Island, which is just a few degrees west of the CN Tower. Results may vary with your location (duh) but also antennas need individual fine-tuning.


They run a 64 kps hd-1 and a 32 kps hd-2. Doubling-up doesn't reduce power per channel but it does inevitably compromise the bandwidth. Some say the "64" channel has no audible compromise.
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post #57 of 201 (permalink) Old 2010-03-27, 12:04 PM
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FM Bandpass - DIY help needed

My Winegard 6000 antenna isn't quite bringing 80-mile PBS FM-HD to Toronto, even for my fabulous Sony XDR-F1HD tuner (but it has excellent FM-stereo).

With the CN Tower in a straight line with Buffalo, would an FM bandpass filter help, as it has in the past with other tuners? I gather than a tuner-end 75-75 ohm filter works not much worse than an antenna-end filter?

I have in the toolbox a Finco outdoor FM bandpass filter, 300-300 ohm. It comes apart, as things often did in days of yore, and contain the familiar ladder of series and parallel LC circuits.

Now it would be silly to attach baluns at each end. But is there any practical way to re-wire the unit (and without touching the delicate tuned coils) for 75-75 ohm operation... if with some losses, it might make sense as a test? Any difference between air-core transformers and ferrite core?

I'd appreciate any guidance from forum gurus. Thanks much.

Tech note: yes, I tried 300-75 baluns at each end at the tuner connector. Signal strength and music seemed unchanged. From that finding I concluded that filtering does help because this silly set-up worked OK despite losses from the two baluns and the filter.

Cost note: yes, nice guys like Microwave Filter Corp in Syracuse, NY, have spiffy 75-ohm FM bandpass filters for $75 and up. TimLee has quality stuff too.
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post #58 of 201 (permalink) Old 2010-03-27, 01:04 PM
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I understand that PBS Buffalo on 94.5 is your desired target station, but without my digging through the IC database is there a Toronto station or two sitting nearby on the dial causing interference?
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post #59 of 201 (permalink) Old 2010-03-27, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by stampeder View Post
I understand that PBS Buffalo on 94.5 is your desired target station, but without my digging through the IC database is there a Toronto station or two sitting nearby on the dial causing interference?
Good question, thanks.

For FM, CBC-2 is 94.1 (and seems to be moderately clear on 94.2!... and maybe 94.3). Likewise, somebody at 94.7 (and leaking into 94.6). I think I remember the Sony is exceptional in every parameter except basic front-end noise.

As far as filterable TV, powerful CBC-5, weak 7, powerful 9, and up and down, of course.

In analog times, we had to filter CBC-5 (Filtrap for Ch 5, about $15, 75 ohm) to get 4 from Buffalo. Using that filter with the Sony FM didn't have a discernable effect - but not easy to judge. The Filtrap decreases the signal as well as eliminates Ch 5; it doesn't eliminate any other strong stuff.

What do you think? Waste of time fussing with an FM bandpass? Should I buy an RF signal generator and trim coils in the FM passband filter?
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post #60 of 201 (permalink) Old 2010-03-27, 04:42 PM
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FM Antennas are generally designed to have a rapid, steep falloff above and below the FM Radio band, so using a bandpass filter is usually overkill. A low-noise preamp might make the difference in getting the Buffalo HD Radio streams locked in.
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