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Old 2006-08-29, 10:59 AM
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Milton, ON
Posts: 704
Milton Results - Attic Installation

Just thought I'd share my results from a recent setup.

Location: Milton, in the city not up on the escarpment

Equipment: CM4221 with a Winegard AP4700 pre-amp

Aiming and antenna location:
1. Map out the locations of the antennas I'm interested in with Google Earth. I've exported these as .kmz files if anyone else wants to use them:

2. Draw a line using the ruler tool from my house to the antennas I'm intrerested in and make note of landmarks. In my case it's the yellow roof at the end of the street. I figured I'd try going directional between Grand Island and Buffalo, and then just try to see if I get lucky on the Toronto stations (I did).

3. Since I'm going inside the attic with the antenna, the next step was to examine the roof lines and try to approximate landmarks inside the attic. In my case, one of the diagonal peaks pointed almost exactly down my Buffalo/Grand Island line.

4. Find the sweet spot in the attic by connecting the 4221 (no pre-amp) to a small analog television tuned to channel 49. My attic access is tiny and I am not, so I left the TV on the second story and played the "how does it look now" game with my wife. I walked to several points in the attic to see which would be best (not too concerned about aiming yet, just finding any potential sweet spots). There was one spot, thankfully near the access point, that was slightly better than the rest but I doubt it'll make much of a difference. Note that at this point channel 49 was still pretty snowy so I was concerned that the attic installation might not work for me but plugged ahead anyways.

5. Measure the distance from the top rafter to the bottom and cut a piece of 1" PVC conduit to length. Mounted the conduit vertically using 1" conduit clamps. Note that I kept the flared end of the conduit on top and fastened the clamp just below the flare so that it would "hang" from the top rafter. Didn't want it sitting on the bottom rafter and putting pressure on the drywall below.

6. Mount the CM4221 to the conduit using the included U-bolts. The hardware that came with the antenna bit nicely into the plastic pipe for a good hold. Pointed the antenna in the general direction that I think I need.

7. Mount the pre-amp to the conduit using included hadware.

8. Install all the wiring. In my case I drilled a hole up from the second floor using a cold-air return. The return grill was mounted close to the ceiling, so I just removed it and used a very long installers bit to drill straight up. I then pushed some RG6 wire up into the attic, put a compression fitting on the end and connected up everything in the attic (so that at least I wouldn't lose that end of the cable in the air duct). I then fed the other end of the wire down the air duct to the basement and had my wife listen to determine exactly where in the basement it was hitting while I tapped the wire up and down (unfinished basement). Drill a small hole in the basement so that I can get access to the return duct and feel around with my finger for the RG6. Found the RG6 after wriggling the wire a few times and pulled it through with some needle-nose pliers. Pulled the cable over to the panel with all of the house wiring.

9. Installed the pre-amp transformer and connected it to the RG6.

10. Ran a short run of RG6 from the preamp to a ground block, and connected the ground block to the house ground using standard 15 AMP copper wire.

11. Ran a piece of RG6 from the ground block to the tuner.

12. Now for the moment of truth, some signal tests:

14-2 WUTV @ 50%
20-1 CBLT @ 89%
24-1 CBLFT @ 91%
27-1 WNYB @ 64%
32-1 WNLO @ 86%
33-1 WGRZ @ 90%
34-1 WNYO @ 23%
38-1 WKBQ @ 90%
39-1 WIVB @ 91%
40-1 CFTO @ 80%
43-1 WNED @ 95%
53-1 CITY @ 75%
66-1 CKXT @ 60%

I still have some aiming to do, but won't get to it for awhile. Last night I lost WUTV in the middle of Prison Break, so I think that most of my aiming efforts will be to get WUTV's signal up. I also lost CITY and SUN (CKXT) last night so some aiming may or may not help that. I mostly want to get Buffalo stations working correctly.

Why in the attic?
My wife wasn't too thrilled about the look of an antenna on the roof, nor do I think my neighbours would be. And I can do the attic install by myself easily, less confident I can do it myself properly outside.

Why no rotor?
This will all be fed into a Media Center PC, which means it could be recording any channel at any time and a rotor would be useless.

What next?
I'm having some issues with CFTO and WIVB on the Media Center. I have lots of Microsoft contacts, so I'm escalating that internally as part of the Vista beta program and hopefully will get some resolution.
The loss of WUTV last night drove me absolutely nuts, so I will need to do some tweaking to get that working more consistently.
I need to get a good distribution amp for downstairs. Ultimately I want to feed two PC tuners and one TV tuner but don't want to lose any more of that fragile signal. I'm probably going to TheSource for that, but if anyone has better suggestions I'm all ears.

Where'd I get it the stuff?
Most of the hardware, cables, and connections were from Home Depot. The grounding block I got at TheSource. The antenna and preamp I got off of eBay and picked them up in New York while on a camping trip there a few weeks ago.

Hope this post helps someone!

Oh, and none of this was original thinking, I picked up all the tips here on the forums so thanks everyone for sharing your experiences and tips as well!
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