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Discussion Starter #1
First I want to say... You guys rock! I'm not electronics geeky, so a lot of it make my head hurt, but I just think it's so cool you're using data to make design decisions.

The TV towers I'm shooting for are all less than 25 miles from me and all are clustered together. It's pretty flat here in Oklahoma and no tall buildings or hills between me and the towers, typically just single story houses and trees, so I won't need something beefy. Antennaweb says I need a small multidirectional antenna. So what I'd like to do is use the element design for the Gray-hoverman and make something seriously simple and cheap for inside use. Either that or the biquad or the stealth Hawk design. It would be mounted about 8 foot up on a wall on the tower side of the house with that wall and a garage door between it and the outside.

If I used good quality speaker wire (copper I think) and taped it to something flat (preferably plastic) in the correct configuration for the antenna:
1) Can I make the dimensions smaller while maintaining the aspect ratio without serious degradation of performance?
2) Will the unstripped speaker wire seriously degrade its performance?
3) Would a reflector help significantly with performance?

There are 8 UHF and 3 VHF (13.1, 9.1 & 5.1) channels, so I'd like to be able to pick up both UHF and VHF channels.

Which design should work better?

Thanks,
Betty
 

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If you could post your tvfool information that would help in answering some of your questions. For example, tvfool will give us a better idea of the direction and strength of the various transmitters.
 

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You've got a nice tvfool report with all the major networks in one direction and in the green colored zone. I would focus on receiving all the channels that are shaded green with the exception of channel 11 KUOK-CA which is in a different direction and apparently is not broadcasting anything right now anyways.



If you look at the column labeled Real you will see the real frequency the channel is actually transmitting on and the the column labeled (Virt) will be the channel that shows up on your tv. Digital tv allows broadcasters to broadcast on the different frequency than what is displayed on the tv set.

There are only two VHF channels in the green zone - KETA (PBS) and KOCO (ABC). These are quite strong channels so it is possible to pick these channels up with a UHF antenna.

A good directional antenna will work just great for your needs, no need for a rotor because all the channels are in the same direction. I would use tvfool again but this time click the Start Maps feature. It will show your location on a google map. Check the box marked show lines to transmitters.

Now zoom in on your house and it will give you a really good idea of how well your walls line up with the transmitters. If it lines up square then it's quite possible that hanging an antenna on the wall indoors will work just fine. If it doesn't then the antenna will have to be pointed in that direction and you might want to consider alternatives such as putting the antenna outside or in your attic and having it pointed towards the tv transmitters.
 

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1) Can I make the dimensions smaller while maintaining the aspect ratio without serious degradation of performance?
No. At minimum, youll lose the low channels.

2) Will the unstripped speaker wire seriously degrade its performance?
It will hurt. The covering changes the velocity factor of the wire and speaker wire is very hard to keep straight, which will degrade performance. Stripped solid house wire is a much better cheap choice.

3) Would a reflector help significantly with performance?
Yes, but it doesnt look like you really need it.

There are 8 UHF and 3 VHF (13.1, 9.1 & 5.1) channels, so I'd like to be able to pick up both UHF and VHF channels.
A reflectorless SBGH with NARODs would work well for you with minimum space. Your VHF stations are so strong, you may be able to receive those even without the NARODs.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Cool. That's very helpful. I'll try the full sized single bay GH with stripped solid house wire and see how it does first. I'm almost tempted to do pvc or lumber so I can make a stable base for it but I think I'll do rigid plastic first since I have that (a big rubbermaid lid) and clear packing tape laying around. Tho I do have a pvc T I could drill instead of taping it. and I could attach that to a board I have laying around and use the rubbermaid lid lined with foil as the reflector. If I did that I'd use a screw and washer to hook the balun to the elements right?

I bought two types of baluns (I hope that's the right word!), one with the screws for wires and one with the little Y connectors. When using the stripped house wire, what's the best way to connect the balun to the antenna element if I don't do a wood or pvc base? Can I use speaker wire and electrical tape since I don't currently have a soldering iron? The GH plan image I have places the two bent wires about 3 inches apart.

The tvfool google map says my north wall is indeed pointing north. the fireplace wall is pointing more north east tho. Looks like a 30 degree angle. I have a large fireplace mantle, so I do have some leeway on how it's oriented, tho the central air unit may be in the way since I need to point it N and a little W. If I do end up having to climb up in the attic (ick), can I run the cable down into my existing cable distribution center in the closet? Would this be able to provide a decent signal to two rooms? Then hook it in via a dvd player to be able to route the audio to my receiver and the tv signal to the tv?

I'm really hacked at our local cable company. I was paying $80 a month and the only way to cut that down was to remove groups of channels. So that's left me with 24 channels that cost around $40 a month. given I can get quite a few of those OTA (at higher quality), I see no reason to pay them anything. especially since I can buy a Roku box to get netflix for less than $10 a month to fill in the movie aspect and also get pandora.
 

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If I did that I'd use a screw and washer to hook the balun to the elements right?
Yep. But see below.

one with the screws for wires and one with the little Y connectors. When using the stripped house wire, what's the best way to connect the balun to the antenna element if I don't do a wood or pvc base?
Small bolt, nut, washers is easiest.
One end of the balun should have twin lead you can split to reach the 3" feedpoint.
If I do end up having to climb up in the attic (ick), can I run the cable down into my existing cable distribution center in the closet?
I dont know, can you ? heh. If you havent already bought a distribution amp, I would get a quality preamp instead and use a splitter.
I'm really hacked at our local cable company. I was paying $80 a month and the only way to cut that down was to remove groups of channels. So that's left me with 24 channels that cost around $40 a month. given I can get quite a few of those OTA (at higher quality), I see no reason to pay them anything.
Absolutely, theyre insane.
especially since I can buy a Roku box to get netflix for less than $10 a month to fill in the movie aspect and also get pandora.
Yep, and you can rent DVDs for $1 that are way newer than on cable. And with a decent high speed internet connection, you have Hulu.com, Crackle.com, PBS.org, Natgeo.com, TheWB.com, CBS.com, Fox.com and many many more places to watch full length movies and shows with less commercial interruption. And the best part is, you choose the time to view.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I dunno if I can or not and I don't particularly want to get up there and see. LOL

I think what I have is a likely a splitter in the hall closet to distribute the coax to each room from back when the house was built. It's pretty close to the attic access ladder, so I don't think it should be a huge deal to run the cable to the box. The whole goal was to do this for cheap, so the only thing I've purchased so far is the balun. Thanks for the tip on the preamp.

I really appreciate your advice. :)

So is the solid house wire fairly easy to shape?
 

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To shape copper house wire this is what I do: Cut the wire to length (add a little bit to the exact measurement). Put one end in the chuck of an electric drill the other end in a pair of vice grips. I have my wife hold and pull the vice grips while I pull the drill and turn the wire slowly with the drill. As the wire spins it becomes super straight.

When it's super straight I just bend it into the shape of the antenna with some pliers.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
That was an experience. lol
I made a very very ghetto GH. Only thing I ended up buying was the balun.
I ended up using some wire I had for my electric fence.
Didn't feel like digging out the drill and listening to my daughter complain about having to hold the wire while I straightened it, so I just straightened it by hand.
Got it bent pretty close to shape using a shoe box top for the 90 degree angles.
Used foam board insulation I had laying around and a little electrical tape on the top and bottom to hold the elements in place.
(I'm pretty convinced at this point I'm geometrically "challenged" because I had the darndest time getting it situated on the foam board.)
Connected it using speaker wire and taped that.
Sat it on the Mantle pointed slightly NW.
Ran the speaker wire and screwed it on the balun.
Then after trying to get the tv to scan the channels rather unsuccessfully, I finally broke down and read the manual and it's working! :D
The picture quality is just downright amazing!
I haven't counted the channels or looked to see if I'm picking up the VHF channels yet.

Tried hooking up the receiver using the analog audio out from the tv and the sound is horrible.
I'm guessing that means I need to buy a digital audio cable?
and hope that my way old receiver's dolby is compatible with the newer tv?

So what's the best way to deal with no longer having a scrollable cable company tv show times/list?
 

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Discussion Starter #12
of the stations listed as indoor or attic (with NM(db)>0)
I'm getting 3 of 8 analog stations (one of those I'm not getting is expected.. wrong direction).
I'm getting 10 of 13 digital stations, tho one was quite pixilated.
It's not picking up ION tv and that's one I want darnit. NM(db)=45.3 and it's in the right direction. Do you think rescanning the channels again would help? I'm going to have to rescan each time I dink around with how the antenna is aimed?

I'm also getting 8 stations not on the list that have #.2 or higher in the channel number. Those are digital right? What's up with that?

Do you think it would be worth it to break down and get the house wire? or figure out a way to mount the elements on something and use foil on the foam as a reflector? I really don't want to do either, but if you think it will help significantly I will. lol
 

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So what's the best way to deal with no longer having a scrollable cable company tv show times/list?
If your receiver doesnt have EPG, then use the web at sites like zaptoit.com or TVGuide.com.

I'm also getting 8 stations not on the list that have #.2 or higher in the channel number. Those are digital right? What's up with that?
Yep. With digital, a single station can have many sub-channels. In one case in California, there is a station with 15 subchannels.
It's not picking up ION tv and that's one I want darnit. NM(db)=45.3 and it's in the right direction. Do you think rescanning the channels again would help? I'm going to have to rescan each time I dink around with how the antenna is aimed?
You probably should get NM(db)=45.3. Rescan. A full rescan isnt necessary if your TV receiver has an add channels function.
Do you think it would be worth it to break down and get the house wire? or figure out a way to mount the elements on something and use foil on the foam as a reflector? I really don't want to do either, but if you think it will help significantly I will. lol
Post pictures of what you have now.
 

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First, congrats on getting free digital OTA channels!

If I understand you correctly, you are running speaker wire from the antenna to the TV and the balun is connected to the TV? If that's correct, first thing I would do is get some coax cable. Connect the balun at the antenna and run the coax cable to the TV. Speaker wire is not the best wire for TV signals and you might have too much loss of signal connecting it that way.

The #.2 channels are sub channels from the same tv station transmitter. Sometimes different programming appears on these sub channels - depending on the tv station that is transmitting it.

Some tv's will let you add the digital channels manually. On my TV I can add a channel manually by entering the real frequency, followed by the . or - on the remote and then 1. So for Ion on 62.1 real frequency 50, I would enter 50.1 on the remote. The TV then knows that is a digital channel adds it to the list and you can adjust your antenna. Your TV might be different.

I miss on screen guide, it was a nice perk of cable. Right now I'm using zap2it.com to display the tv guide for the channels I get on my computer.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Cool. thanks!

I'll get some pics before I mess around with it some more.
It is truely ghetto. lol

Would the old timey flat 2 strand antenna wire work as well as coax?
(I *may* have some in the garage if the daughter hasn't thrown it away). if I do have that, is it ok to put the balun on the tv end? or should it go on the antenna end?

I'm going to have to scheme on some screws to use the other balun with coax. I suppose I could just use a couple of screws and washers to compress the Y connectors against the wire. hmmm or see if I can manage to screw the inside V's to a board. I really did have quite a time getting the elements shaped right and in the correct orientation with each other yesterday. but I suppose that should help keeping it in the correct shape if I can manage to get the screws in the correct places. roflmao

I could run it into the front entry way to where it'd only have the front wall to go thru. I think there's enough room above the front door. What kinda loss do you get by lengthening the cabling? I think I only have two coax cables laying around. one is short and one is long.

Any ideas on dealing with the audio quality when cabling the TV to my audio receiver? I was picking up a great local channel last nite with various local artists and it sure would have been nice to get that coming out of the stereo and my big cerwin vega speakers and the other surround sound speakers. I'm not going to be totally happy until I figure out how to do that. Must have good sound! :D
 

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What kinda loss do you get by lengthening the cabling?
With RG-6, figure 1db every 18 ft. With the older RG59, the loss is a bit more.
Any ideas on dealing with the audio quality when cabling the TV to my audio receiver?
Youll have to study your TV manual for the audio outputs it has and study the audio receiver manual for the inputs it has.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
OMG, I found some old rabbit ears. Would that help with analog channels if I added those to the mix? or is that just silly? lol
 

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You mean hooking it up with the SBGH ? No, thats not a good idea, unless using an A-B switch to switch between the two antennas.
 
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