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As an early birthday present, I recently added an AntennaCraft HBU-44 to my collection of antennas. My purpose was to compare it with the Winegard HD7696P which I've had for some time. The HBU-44 appears to be a close match in the AntennaCraft line to the HD7696P in terms of boom length and element count, although the published gain figures for the HBU-44 are lower.

Here's the obligatory TV Fool report for my location:

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id=8d1735f05e796a

I'm in a hot signal area and since there's no radiant barrier, an attic mount was used in both for the head-to-head comparison. Measurements were made within 20 minutes of each other on a day when tropo was nil. KPFW/18 was off the air on the day of the shootout.

Initially, I thought the subpar performance on VHF and the upper end of the UHF band on the HD7696P was due to a faulty balun cartridge. The folks at Winegard (Hans Rabo in particular) were kind enough to send me a replacement at no charge. Unfortunately, it made no difference in the measurements. As you'll see in the charts below, the HD7696P appears to have its peak gain in the lower portion of the UHF band but then drops off toward the higher frequencies (with 50 and 51 not decoded by the Sencore).

The supplied balun (black and stamped with "MATCHING TRANSFORMER") with the HBU-44 was used for the testing. The "new" balun cartridge from Winegard was used on the HD7696P. The same 183 cm length of Monoprice RG-6/QS was used for both antennas.

1). Sencore SLM-1456 measurements

HD7696P
Code:
+----+-----+-----+------+----+
! CH.!LEVEL! MER ! BER  !DIG.!
!    !POWER! CCN !      !QLTY!
!    !dBmV ! dB  !      !    !
+----+-----+-----+------+----+
!  8 ! 10.2! 35.2! <10-9!PASS!
!  9 !  3.7! 33.8! <10-9!PASS!
! 11 ! 11.1! 33.8! <10-9!PASS!
! 14 ! 22.6! 32.6!2x10-8!PASS!
! 19 ! 24.1!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 20 !  2.4!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 23 ! 22.3!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 25 !  0.4!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 27 !  2.1! 35.8! <10-9!PASS!
! 29 ! 22.1! 35.9! <10-9!PASS!
! 30 ! 19.9!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 31 ! -3.0!>36.0!2x10-7!PASS!
! 32 ! 14.4!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 34 ! -4.5!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 35 ! 15.3!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 36 ! 18.4!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 38 ! -5.9! 35.2!4x10-7!PASS!
! 39 ! 23.5! 33.5! <10-9!PASS!
! 40 ! 22.0! 34.4! <10-9!PASS!
! 41 ! 21.1!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 42 ! 17.3!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 43 ! 12.4!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 44 !  3.7!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 45 ! 13.3!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 46 !  9.5!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 48 ! 13.4!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 50 ! -9.3! MOUT!  MOUT!MOUT!
! 51 ! -8.8! MOUT!  MOUT!MOUT!
+----+-----+-----+------+----+
HBU-44
Code:
+----+-----+-----+------+----+
! CH.!LEVEL! MER ! BER  !DIG.!
!    !POWER! CCN !      !QLTY!
!    !dBmV ! dB  !      !    !
+----+-----+-----+------+----+
!  8 ! 14.3!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
!  9 !  8.6!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 11 ! 15.0!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 14 ! 20.1! 35.0!2x10-8!PASS!
! 19 ! 22.5!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 20 !  2.1!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 23 ! 20.3!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 25 !  0.2! 35.4! <10-9!PASS!
! 27 !  1.9! 34.7! <10-9!PASS!
! 29 ! 21.3!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 30 ! 23.3!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 31 ! -0.8!>36.0!1x10-8!PASS!
! 32 ! 19.4!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 34 !  4.2!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 35 ! 20.8!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 36 ! 20.1!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 38 !  0.2!>36.0!6x10-8!PASS!
! 39 ! 25.5! 35.7! <10-9!PASS!
! 40 ! 22.3! 35.5! <10-9!PASS!
! 41 ! 22.6!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 42 ! 19.6!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 43 ! 15.4!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 44 !  8.9!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 45 ! 16.6!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 46 ! 11.5!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 48 ! 17.4!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 50 !  0.0!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
! 51 ! -2.7!>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
+----+-----+-----+------+----+
2). Silicon Dust HDHR readings

HD7696P
Code:
CH  SS SNQ SEQ
-- --- --- ---
 8  92  95 100
 9  86  81 100
11  96 100 100
14 100  79 100
19 100 100 100
20  86  81 100
23 100 100 100
25  86  90 100
27  80  89 100
29 100  88 100
30 100 100 100
31  72  65 100
32 100 100 100
34  79  83 100
35 100 100 100
36 100 100 100
38  73  68  80
39 100  92 100
40 100  97  93
41 100  98 100
42 100 100 100
43 100  96 100
44  91 100 100
45 100 100 100
46 100  86 100
48 100  95 100
50  72  74 100
51  72  81 100
HBU-44
Code:
CH  SS SNQ SEQ
-- --- --- ---
 8  98 100 100
 9  93  98 100
11  99 100 100
14 100  78 100
19 100 100 100
20  86  80 100
23 100  90 100
25  86  95 100
27  82  97 100
29 100  95 100
30 100 100 100
31  78  84 100
32 100 100 100
34  86  89 100
35 100 100 100
36 100 100 100
38  79  71 100
39 100 100 100
40 100 100 100
41 100 100 100
42 100 100 100
43 100  98 100
44  92 100 100
45 100 100 100
46 100  97 100
48 100 100 100
50  86  91 100
51  81  86 100
 

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Yep, it's a tossup: the differences between the Winegard 769* line and the HBU line are pretty small and in some cases one is a bit better than the other. To me it seems that a consumer only needs to decide on the best price and the availability. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Looks close to a toss up. Whats your conclusion?
I generally just post the data and let others decide. In this case, I'll make a few observations.

1). Using SolidSignal as a baseline, the prices are close. The HD7696P goes for 78.99USD and the HBU-44 is 75.99USD.

2). The VHF gain on the 7696P was a real letdown for me. I was expecting it to match the YA-1713 since the published figures are so close between those two. (That's why I had Winegard send me a new balun cartridge). I was surprised that the HBU-44 did measurably better on that band.

3). Although the SiliconDust HDHR did decode channels 50 and 51 on the Winegard, the dropoff in gain at the high end of the UHF spectrum on the 7696P caused those not to lock on the Sencore.

4). As seems to be the case with AntennaCraft, the published gain figures are conservative.

5). The Winegard unit is nigh impossible to fold back up once opened. I tried my best but the elements lock so tightly that I feared breakage by applying any more pressure.

In short, based upon what I found, I think the HBU-44 is worthy of consideration as a serious contender. It would be interesting to compare the next step up in both product lines (7697P or 7698P to the HBU-55). That won't come from me...I dun spended all meh dough! :)
 

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4). As seems to be the case with AntennaCraft, the published gain figures are conservative.
Yes, I totally agree. The only thing I find lacking in AntennaCraft antennas is the quality of some of the parts of the build. But I have a tendency to beef them up on my own, heh.
 

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It would be interesting to compare the next step up in both product lines (7697P or 7698P to the HBU-55). That won't come from me...I dun spended all meh dough! :)
I've got a new (June 2011) Winegard hd7697p on my tower. I might pick-up an Antennacraft HBU55. If/when I do, I'll do the same comparison that you just did with your 7696 and HBU44.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I've got a new (June 2011) Winegard hd7697p on my tower. I might pick-up an Antennacraft HBU55. If/when I do, I'll do the same comparison that you just did with your 7696 and HBU44.
I think we'll all be looking forward to another shootout of the next step up in the respective lines from those manufacturers.

As noted in the thread concerning the Winegard phasing lines, the performance on VHF of my HD7696P was a real letdown (leading to me wrongly surmise that the Winegard unit was defective -- thanks 300ohm for setting me straight).

For what it's worth, I did a head to head comparison last night with the combo HD7696P against a portion of its high-VHF cousin, the YA-1713. Here are the Sencore results measured in my living room (that location was selected for convenience since a TV is close at hand).

No amount of manipulation could get the HD7696P anywhere near the gain figures of the rear-boom only portion of the YA-1713. I also tried the YA-1713's balun cartridge on the HD7696P with no better results.

When I connected each antenna to the nearby TV, channel 9 was noticeably worse with the HD7696P with occasional intervals of signal loss.

That said, the UHF side of the HD7696P performs well. It's the VHF portion that was a real shock since the published gain figures had heightened my expectations.

HD7696P
Code:
+----+--------+-----+-----+-----+------+----+
! CH.!  TYPE  !LEVEL! A/V ! MER ! BER  !DIG.!
!    !        !POWER!     ! CCN !      !QLTY!
!    !        !dBmV ! dB  ! dB  !      !    !
+----+--------+-----+-----+-----+------+----+
!  8 !8VSB    !-19.9!     ! 30.3! <10-9!PASS!
!  9 !8VSB    !-27.8!     !M.OUT!2x10-5!FAIL!
! 11 !8VSB    !-16.1!     ! 31.2! <10-9!PASS!
+----+--------+-----+-----+-----+------+----+
YA-1713 (rear boom only, 6 elements)
Code:
+----+--------+-----+-----+-----+------+----+
! CH.!  TYPE  !LEVEL! A/V ! MER ! BER  !DIG.!
!    !        !POWER!     ! CCN !      !QLTY!
!    !        !dBmV ! dB  ! dB  !      !    !
+----+--------+-----+-----+-----+------+----+
!  8 !8VSB    !-14.7!     !>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
!  9 !8VSB    !-18.8!     ! 35.2!1x10-5!PASS!
! 11 !8VSB    !- 9.1!     !>36.0! <10-9!PASS!
+----+--------+-----+-----+-----+------+----+
 

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http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id=03f36bddb62af0

I'll wait until after transition on Aug 31 for the shoot-out because by then I'll have four digital channels on high-vhf.

rf7 WNGS (very far, transmitter is low on the tower)
rf9 CFTO (very close)
rf10 CKVR (very far and over a hill)
rf11 CHCH (medium distance but straight behind CFTO)

Refer to my TVFool for a closer look at the details. Don't be confused by the double-listings. The transitional frequencies are still shown on the list. The analog signals will have been removed from the picture by the time the shootout occurs.

Each of these channels broadcasts from a different tower and each presents its own individual challenge.

I have to say, I have been very happy with my Winegard hd7697p up to this point but I have had no basis for comparison. I was thrilled to be the first of anyone that I know about that has managed to pull in a reliable all-day signal from WNGS in my part of the Greater Toronto Area.

My reception so far, has not been good enough on WNGS so far to shout from the rooftops that everyone in Toronto should go out and get a high vhf antenna. I don't want to exaggerate how well or poorly I get WNGS at present. It's pretty reliable for most of the days and nights. But it does fade out at times. The HDHomeRun always notices WNGS in the air whether it's showing on my screen or not, though. That's why it lifts my spirits to think that maybe the specs on my antenna might be wrong and that there might be other affordable antennas out there that might give me those extra couple of dBs that I need to make WNGS a full-time channel.

I have an HDHomeRun, two HDTVs, and I have downloaded the free version of TSReader but I don't really know what to do with it. These will be my comparison tools.

I might install a rotor prior to the shootout. and I may do the tests twice - once with a pre-amp and once without.
 
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