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HD Antenna - Need a Better One

Last response: in Home Theatre
January 29, 2011 9:38:45 PM

So I just purchased a new TV. Upgraded from a Hitachi 42" 1080i Plasma to the new Samsung 46" 3D LED HDTV (UN46C7100WF). It's pretty amazing. However, I had my old TV in a different location in the room and was using an antenna to receive local HD Broadcast signals. It worked fine in that location.

The new TV has to be in a different spot, and therefore the antenna moved with it. Unfortunately, I can't get all the channels to come in anymore (NBC isn't even detected when scanning). So, I'm in search of a better antenna hoping I can get better reception. I realize I might just have to put my current antenna back where it was and run a coaxial cable across the room, but I simply don't want to do that.

Antennas generally suck, but I'm hoping someone might have some expert knowledge on what's worth a darn. I live within city limits, and in a small town. Likely no more than 5-7 miles from the broadcast towers (which is pretty sad considering only amplified antennas provide a decent signal).

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January 31, 2011 12:55:48 AM

if you want an expert to help.. you need to tell us the shape of your current antenna.

an expert should then be able to tell you if the antenna location is capable of reception at all .. regardless of antenna shape.
it would result as dead space at the location, and that no antenna is going to help.

if i was setting up an antenna.. i wouldnt care where it needs to be, because it NEEDS to be there.
no desire to move the antenna should amount to no desire to use an antenna.

i am not an antenna expert.. but i would like to explore your unwilling desire to NOT have a run of cable.
why cant you run a cable along the wall?
you dont have any carpet that you can lift the edge and tuck the wire underneath so you dont see it?

most people that dont want to run a cable will drill a hole in the wall and add a cable outlet.

do you have an attic or are you living in a building of multiple units?

i am all about keeping the wall from filling up with holes.. which means doing things right the first time and not changing the furniture around so drastically that the outlet is in an obnoxious position.
i think its decent to have all the holes in the wall that are needed hidden behind an entertainment center.

maybe you can use an existing cable outlet.. you just need to find the other end of the cable and unscrew it from cable and screw on the antenna.

i tried using an HD antenna and couldnt get a signal during the day with the antenna inside.
so i had to run a long cable from my living room out the door and up the stairs.. out the front entrance and to the antenna.
it was a little embarassing to have my cable in public view.
and i'm sure i could have drilled a hole in the wall if i asked.. but my situation was rather ugly and experimental.
the antenna i was using was an amplified INDOOR antenna.. i duct taped the amplifier housing to keep it water proof.
then i simply placed it in a window ledge outside.
i couldnt afford to have a pole installed.. and the landlord said i couldnt mount anything to the building.

i gave up on it because i couldnt afford a proper antenna.. antenna amplifier.. and antenna mast.

you know.. if you are handy with a rotory tool, you might be able to take the baseboard off and sand out a spot for the cable to fit.. it would depend on how thick your baseboard is.. but if there is room for the thickness of the cable, you could use a dremel or something to sand out a notch and lay the cable inside so that the baseboard lays flat on the wall.

i think that is the ideal choice for me.
its better than putting holes in the wall and i can just drill a hole to mount the male to male cable adaptor.
that way if i want to re-arrange the furniture, i can just use a new cable and change the location of the cable outlet.
its cheaper than having drywall with a bunch of patched holes.

if you know you are gonna put the television on the opposite side of the room, you can buy extra baseboard and keep them in storage.
that way every time you move the television and have a cable outlet exposed, you can remove that baseboard and replace it with a piece that doesnt have a hole in it.
(a spare for each side of the room)
it keeps things very clean looking and has all the pro's of keeping the drywall fresh without any holes.

you can hide speaker wires in the baseboard too!

its a lot easier than moving things out of the living room so you can tear down the wall and replace the drywall.
and if you are in an apartment that doesnt want you to damage the drywall.. doing the baseboard thing might be a reasonable alternative.. especially if you are willing to pay for the new baseboard (or if the baseboard is thick enough and the landlord allows you to etch a notch in the backside of the baseboard that is already there)
it saves your security deposit and keeps things looking extremely neat and organized.

my apartment has water heaters.. and the pipe is run along the wall on the outside.
i have the ability to run my wires behind the pipe rather than being forced to look at them.

i cant attach anything on the walls.. so if i want to put up acoustic paneling, i have to make a frame out of pvc pipe to hang all the panels from.

i hope you get your reception better.
but you said that you live 5-7 miles from the broadcast towers.. that makes me think your antenna isnt up high enough, regardless of where it is located.
but you might get better reception with the antenna closer to the ground.
depends on the radiation pattern of the broadcast tower and the nature of the signal.

i have seen better results with my antenna on the ground compared to the antenna 4-5ft off the ground.
i think the choices are either on the ground or way up in the air for the best reception.
the only problem with having the antenna at the ground is the inability to receive a signal from distant towers.

these results are from a distance of about 50 miles from the broadcast tower.
February 4, 2011 9:08:15 PM

This is the antenna I'm using now.

Here's a picture to demonstrate where my old TV is and where the new one is located.

The antenna used to sit at the lower left corner of the old TV (above fireplace). Now the antenna sits just below the new TV. The cable TV jack is located above the fireplace, which is partly why the old TV was placed there. The living room really isn't conducive to a proper home theater experience due to poor planning on the builder's end of things.

Anyhow, with the antenna where it is now, I can pick up 4 or 5 PBS stations and CBS perfectly without error or anything. However, NBC and Fox are not even detectable when scanning. This sucks because the Super Bowl is on Fox this weekend! When the antenna was up higher I could pick up all stations, but we had to move the antenna (turn it) depending on what we wanted to watch.

Our experience has been that extending the "rabbit ears" has little to no effect. In fact, reducing the rabbit ears to their contracted position actually seemed to pick up the best signal in all cases.

Here are my complications:
1) I don't have a ladder to get me on the roof (which is covered in snow/ice).
2) I don't like heights (roofs).
3) I live in a condominium / townhouse, so I don't necessarily have the ability to put a mast + antenna on the roof anyhow.
4) The wall behind this TV is a shared common wall (i.e. neighbors on other side) so I can't do too much demolition.
5) As close as the new TV is to the old TV, there's really no place to hide the wire if I run a cable up there. And obviously I don't want a coaxial cable hanging in the air, or stapled to the wall! LOL

I was hoping to find a better indoor antenna before I go through the work to run a cable under the base boards and through an exterior wall. The other problem is, I don't want to run a cable through a wall and mount an outdoor antenna only to find that it doesn't work any better in the first place.

Also, the reason for not having DirecTV, Dish Network, or Digital Cable is to keep monthly bills down until we can pay off debt. So I'm not necessarily looking to invest in a high end, or large outdoor antenna. Besides, I'm so close to the broadcast towers you'd think reception wouldn't be a problem anyways!!
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February 5, 2011 4:32:00 PM


i would suggest going to this website to make sure you know the other antennas you are dealing with.

looking at the picture.. it appears your walls are dense enough to block radio frequencies.
its not really uncommon to move the antenna that far away from a window and see degradation.
i think you should be made aware about the knob on that antenna.
its supposed to be a variable resistor that changes the resonance frequency of the antenna.
depending on the build quality of the antenna.. the metal might be heavily optimized and wont make a difference other than simply not receiving anything at all.
that would make that knob a 'dummy' knob and only serves a purpose to turn the amplifier on/off.

i did some reading when i was trying to use my antenna.
and i came across something that said the 'loop antenna' is to be used for UHF signals.
the 'rabbit ears' are to be used for VHF signals.

trying to find that same information just now, i cant find a webpage that states the same.

you could try removing the rabbit ears to place less electrical load on the amplifier.
it might help, it might not.

if you are willing to purchase a different antenna.. you should run the wires for the antenna out of the window (remove the screen)
this will help you realize the signal strength outside on that side of the house.
the difference should be significant.. because if it isnt, that means you would be best putting an antenna up in the air, which would be a real mess for you and your security deposit.

its best to know the radiation pattern of the signals you are trying to pick up.
because you use that to add an antenna that will grab the signal and continue to reflect it for other people to receive it.
but this generally only applies to antennas that go way way up in the air.
the antenna can affect the signal in the air for other people or actually boost it.

having the right shape of antenna will have the biggest benefit.
using a simple loop might not be the best when compared to a rectangle 'grid'
its physics and electrical properties.

i'd say take that antenna outside and see how much better it is.
or put the antenna in the window and see if you can receive the channels.

you might want to simply put a small pole in the ground with an antenna on it.

i know you dont want to have a wire run.
but the only way for somebody to help you with that is to visualize the radio frequencies in the house and pick a new shape.
i'm hoping you have tried placing the antenna in every position possible on the table it is sitting on.

i must say..
they make these things that you stick a cable inside and you lay them on the floor so you can walk without tripping on a cord layed out across the room.
the trick here is to find one that is heavy enough to sit there without moving.
you can lay it across the fireplace without one of those babys messing with it because it should be too heavy for them to lift it 3-4 inches off the ground.

i am not experienced with radio frequency patterns.
but i know walls arent helping indoor antennas.
windows make the signal stronger.
i couldnt tell you if the antenna is too close to the television.. or if it has the possibility of helping.

i am thinking you are gonna have to run the wire if you want to continue saving money.

this website shows the difference covers.. they have the benefit of informing you how heavy the strip is.
obviously if its heavy, the babys wont be able to pick it up and knock over your television (or antenna)
there will be no yanking the cord and breaking the cable jack on the television.
(could probably just re-solder it back together anyways)

this place is super expensive and i would suggest looking for something similar for cheaper.

i mean.. they want over $100 for something heavy enough.
i'm guessing those pieces of rubber are capable of being walked on for years and years.
something you would see laying across the floor in a room full of construction going on.
they make those things nice and heavy so they dont move if you kick them with the toe of your shoe.
you probably want something just as heavy.. but you dont need the durability since you wont be walking on it.

your biggest problem is probably going to be.. how are you going to put the wires outside the window while keeping it air tight.
if you put the antenna in the window.. the babys might grab it constantly.

i would avoid putting the antenna outside unless it was necessary to get the stations.
you might find more stations available when you go to the website that lists all of the broadcast towers in your area.
that could mean more viewing options.
and pulling the furniture a foot away from the wall will make grabbing the antenna much harder.

your situation may be as silly as trying to breathe in a room with no air.
that is why they have equipment to help visualize the radio frequencies.
perhaps you need something to 'mirror' the radio frequencies from the window and bounce them to the direction of the indoor antenna.
February 11, 2011 10:59:01 PM

Got my problem fixed. :) 

Using the same antenna. I bought a longer coaxial cable and put the antenna on top of a nearby bookcase. The height difference appears to have solved my issues entirely. I now have ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS (5 channels), CW, and Fox via Digital HD Broadcast.

Explains why I had some reception from the fireplace and none down lower. All is well now.