Over the Air TV Antenna H-E-L-P!

pequafrogJanuary 27, 2009

I'm sick of all the monthly's that we have to pay. Plus, there are way to many channels that we never watch. So we have this antenna in the attic that I finally hooked up our SONY HDTV to and voila! The picture was amazing. Even better HD than we get on cable if you can believe that! So we got the usual channels: (2,4,5,7,9,11,13,21...and a few more) But here's something interesting: we also got 2.1, 4.1-4.2-4.3, 5.1-5.2 etc etc etc. It seems like all the channels are providing off shoots of their channels with programming about sports, 24 hr. weather things like that. So cool, right?

But how do I feed all 4 TV's in the house? Rewire? Yikes? How about I use the existing splitter that comes in from cable outside of the house? I tried that but I'm losing too much signal! All of the tv's look either pixely, or nothing digital at all. What am I missing? Some kind of signal booster or increaser? If so, what kind, where does that go? Outside the house before the splitter? After the splitter? Inside the house? Any help in this discussion would be greatly appreciated.

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davidandkasie

yes, get a GOOD preamp and hook teh antenna to it. then hook teh splitter to teh preamp and away you go.

word of advice, if you have 1 splitter outside, then another inside, then another, you will come out much better by getting a single properly sized splitter. each port only gives 1/x signal level, so on a 2port splitter you get a hair under 1/2 signal at each output. not saying you have multiple splitters, but if so you should check into replacing them.

and yes, the digital sub channels are available OTA, but many cable companies don't carry them.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2009 at 3:01PM
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pequafrog

Does the pre-amp require power? Because I have no way of plugging one in. Also...are they 'weather-safe' for outdoors? Also is the quality of splitter important? I do have multiple splitters (unfortunately)

thanks!

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 10:27AM
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davidandkasie

first thing would be to get rid of all teh splitters and see how much that helps.

think about it. you have a splitter outside feeding line A and line B. then on line A you have another splitter feeding C&D. line A had only 1/2 the original signal, now C&D each have only 1/4 the original. and when you figure in the little extra loss of the lines and each splitter(beyond the 1/2 power), you have even less than that.

yes a preamp will need power. and for best operation it should be either at the antenna or before the first splitter. yes, spend the little bit extra for a high quality amp. cheap ones can throw a lot of noise on there or amplify unwanted noise and actually make things worse! as far as outdoor models, i am sure you could get one designed for a tower top antenna though it will cost more.

you may want to check into getting the house rewired to bring all feed to a central location. if you do this make sure they use a good quad shield RG-6 for minimal loss.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 12:24PM
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wws944

To add to davidandkasies excellent post, for best results the preamp should be as close to the antenna as possible. For a 4-way splitter, you will want something with at least 8 db of gain. Also look for a low noise figure (3 db or less), and doesn't easily overload (100k microvolts or more.) Considering your splitter, coax, and connector losses and such, a Winegard HDP 269, at 12 db of gain might be ideal. More typical is something like a Winegard AP-8700 - which has about 17-19 db of gain. It would also work, but might require a bit of attenuation to avoid overloading your TV sets.

A preamp designed to be mounted outdoors on a mast has a separate power supply. The power supply is remotely mounted somewhere out of the weather and sends DC up the coax to power the preamp. You could use something like this. But as davidandkasie says, the power supply will probably want to be on the antenna side of the splitter - since many splitters won't pass the DC through.

OTOH, since your antenna is in the attic, there should be a junction box around somewhere were you can install an outlet for an indoor preamp.

As far as coax goes, use RG-6 everywhere you can. The new compression connectors are really neat - much better than crimps. But they require an investment in tools. (About $75.) Don't even bother with those stupid 'twist on' connectors.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2009 at 8:54PM
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pequafrog

Hmm...okay, I'll start with a preamp. I know there are lights in the attic, maybe I'll get one of those screw on thingy's to give me an outlet near the antenna. Then I'll install the preamp. I wonder if I'll need to recable everything. Run a 4 way splitter then 4 new home runs to my tv's. That's a lot of work. Hmm...
I have my cable outlet outside but I think it's such a crap job. I guess I can try theirs first. Can you all recommend a good splitter? Are there some that are better at saving the signal?

thanks!

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 8:32AM
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davidandkasie

as far as the splitters go, each port will be labled with Xdb loss. the lower that number, the more signal it passes. you also want a good wide band splitter. look for one that says at least 50mhz-950mhz. out of band of the splitter will have little to no signal out on certain channels. but most any off the shelf splitter will work fine in your case.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2009 at 12:30PM
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pequafrog

I'll probably go online and order today. I need a preamp right after the antenna. (any model # suggestions?) and a good splitter that passes the signal without loss. (again, suggestions) The main splitter has to be weatherproof and have 4 "outlets" if that's what it's called. Do you guys have and vendors that you order from? Radio Shack employees either don't know, or just don't want to help.

thanks!!!

-Andy

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 8:42AM
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davidandkasie

most splitters are made for indoor/outdoor use. just mount it up under the eave where it won't get soaked all teh time.

RS has the stuff you need. you just have to find it yourself, cause if it ain't a cell phone or a satellite they have no clue!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2009 at 11:31AM
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dennisgli

You can't go wrong with something like the Channel Master Titan amp's.

You won't find a splitter with no loss. For outdoor installation make sure you use drip loops to keep water out and they should be fine.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2009 at 6:47PM
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