When the DTV switchover occurred, I bought a powered rabbit-ear antenna for the bedroom TV. It's worked okay enough, though the reception could certainly be better, and of course, there's the hassle of having to make sure you're pointing it in the 'best' direction to receive as many of the channels you want as possible.
Lately, however, I've been seeing a number of 'flat' antennas, like this one, and I was wondering if they really are that much better than the antenna I'm currently using. At least they're apparently omnidirectional, so I don't have to worry about positioning the thing as much...
(I know a roof-mounted antenna would be even better, but that's not really an option for me at the moment. I've also looked at a number of those DIY antennas online, and, well... let's just say someone would probably kill me if I tried putting any of those up in the bedroom. )
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Last edited by Ai Haibara; 4th Aug 2014 at 20:18. Reason: Trying to cut down on the size of the link.If cameras add ten pounds, why would people want to eat them?
Your "this one" link is broken by the way.
I live within 15 miles of the vast majority of transmitters in my city, which is a major metropolitan area of the USA, and OTA reception just sucks here. I've come to the conclusion that if you go OTA, you have to live with what you get. If you can't mount a roof antenna I doubt that the flat one will make much difference. I also used a powered indoor antenna some years ago and my OTA reception was so bad that in the end I just paid extra to get HD channels from my cable company. Since I can't see your link I can't comment on whether my antenna was like yours or not, but if I had to guess I'd say it probably was. I still had to point my antenna all the time in various directions to get channels. It just wasn't worth it. Some people have a stronger "cheap bastard" gene than I do. I had a friend in the past who was just a cheap bastard and he would put up with anything for OTA TV because he wasn't paying a monthly fee to anyone, but he always had problems. He just didn't care because saving money was more important to him than getting a good quality TV picture. I'm not knocking you, but if that's you, well, I'm not sure much you can do can make a lot of difference.
My expierence is flat antenas work better than rabbit ears. How well they work depends on where you live. I live in a mountainous area of west Texas and of the 4 major stations I get 2 excellent,1 poorly,and the 4th not at all.
Outdoors and higher is always better with antennas.
Hard to say. I think the topography is far more important.
Our retirement home (we haven't moved in for good yet) is on the outskirts of a medium sized city with at least a dozen stations within 40 miles. We get exactly one OTA channel with rabbit ears. We get only one with a flat HD antenna. But it's very hilly terrain with deep valleys (Johnstown, PA). We'll be lucky to get three with a large mast mounted antenna, according to antennaweb.
Our present home is in a rural area (Cumberland Valley, south-central PA) with 8 channels (not counting sub-channels) within 60 miles, according to antennaweb. We get them all with a flat HD antenna in the attic. But our house is on a mountainside, and it's a clear line of sight to the transmitters, also on mountaintops. And all the transmitters are within a 20 degree arc southwest down the valley to West Virginia and beyond to the Shenandoah Valley.
I haven't tried the rabbit ears here. I suppose I should bring it back here and try it, just to see.
Last edited by fritzi93; 4th Aug 2014 at 20:38. Reason: Corrected distancesPull! Bang! Darn!
jman98: Does the link work now? (Spending time trying to figure out just how much of the junk at the end of a URL is actually necessary, is always fun. )
It's not that I'm cheap, even though the original rabbit-ear antenna is (the better ones were all out-of-stock at that time, but it seemed to perform decently enough); I've been seeing the flat antennas a lot lately, and wondering if the claims about them I've been hearing have any truth to them. Well, that and I'm hoping to avoid clutter and what could probably end up being an even larger antenna lying around.
wulf109: I'm living in a relatively urban area with plenty of tall houses near Sacramento, California, if that's any indication.
I pick up ~23 stations as it is with the rabbit ears. Used to be a lot more with standard UHF, though.If cameras add ten pounds, why would people want to eat them?
Come to think of it, I really should check where all the transmitters are, again. I don't have any mountains nearby, thankfully... some hills, but it's the houses I have to worry about. :I
Edit: Here's the report I get (non-precise, but I didn't feel like giving my full address)
Last edited by Ai Haibara; 4th Aug 2014 at 20:37.If cameras add ten pounds, why would people want to eat them?
The tvfool.com site analysis predicts that you will get a fair number of channels with an indoor antenna. It looks like 3 are VHF stations, so you need a flat antenna that is designed for UHF and VHF reception. If the distances in the report are accurate, you probably do need an larger amplified flat antenna. The RCA ANT1400 antenna is not amplified and it is probably a little small for good performance. Something larger, like the designs below, is likely to work better.
If you read user reviews for the flat antennas, you find out that placement and orientation are still very important. However, you truly won't know if a flat antenna is better until you try it.
There IS a science to this. And RF reception is essentially analog in approach, so the old-school techniques are still valid.
Line of sight -> height and lack of obstructions is important.
Frequency->Wavelength->Size of antenna is also strong factor.
Just like microphones, signal strength is improved and interference is diminished with directional formats. So, all else being equal, omni would be weaker than a directional pointed in the correct direction.
Like you I can't have an antenna on the roof (not that it would matter, I think I would need a tower), so I installed it in the attic. I have tried one of those flat antennas and I can tell you they aren't any better than rabbit ears.
This is the better antenna type, it has a wide horizontal (60°) and vertical (30°) angle of reception. Nice thing about it is it's compact enough to be not too noticeable; I installed one for a friend on the outside of his balcony railing and it performs well (he is lucky it faces in the right direction according to tvfool). It could also be mounted on an outside wall, but if it's too low it may not perform as well, shouldn't be any worse than rabbit ears (actually what's needed is the loop not the dipoles, HDTV is mostly UHF with a couple channels in the high VHF).
I tried this antenna and was surprised how good it was for the size.
If you want to play, a friend got good results with this homemade antenna.
usually_quiet: True. I'll probably end up with something quite a bit more expensive, though still flat, so I can at least make an effort to hide it behind the other equipment. I did notice that RCA antenna at my Best Buy this afternoon, but I'm not too trusting of RCA products at the moment, anyway (that it's cheap probably doesn't help). I'm guessing those supposed 'antenna amplifiers' (are they still selling those?) don't really help all that much, either.
Funny how just typing "antenna" in the Best Buy site's search box returns that antenna as the very first result, though.
Cornucopia: Would it help if I wrapped the flat antenna in aluminum foil?
nic2k4: I basically can't run anything to the exterior of the house (and unfortunately, don't have an attic in this house ). As I mentioned in the first post, I probably would experiment with some of those DIY antennas, if a certain other person likely wouldn't kill me after seeing it next to the existing clutter.If cameras add ten pounds, why would people want to eat them?
If you get a roof top antenna make sure you get one that can be rotated in the house.I think,therefore i am a hamster.
If you actually want some facts & figures rather than anecdotal info, go over to AVSForum or TVFool, or to manufacturer Winegard's or Channel Masters' sites.
Most of the indoor antennas have poor gain and selectivity as they are based on wideband dipole + amplifier with sufficiently high gain (but amplifier with high gain can easily amplify unwanted signal and it can be saturated so instead producing signal it start producing distortions).
Whenever it is possible outdoor antennas should be used, whenever it is possible antenna not amplifier should provide gain (so passive not active).
Probably best wideband antenna in consumer realities are log-periodic antennas as they provide high gain and at the same time wideband reception.
Something like this http://www.wa5vjb.com/products1.html - with additional LNA (Low Noise Amplifer with decent P1dB/IP3dB) it should outperform most of the antennas.
Outdoor antennas and attic mounts are not a possibility for me either as I am not a homeowner and have no place outside for an antenna. I use indoor antennas. The "best" indoor antennas for UHF and VHF reception are supposed to be the HDTVi and HDTVa antennas from TERK. They have a log periodic antenna (AKA fishbone antenna) for UHF combined with a set of dipoles for VHF. However, they are highly directional, space consuming, and prone to tipping. Not what you (or I) are looking for. I have a couple of TERK TV5s, and which have been OK for UHF and VHF reception and don't require a lot of headroom. However they are not compact and are somewhat directional.
I understand where you are coming from. I have been looking at flat antennas for my mother. She dislikes the TV5 I got for her bedroom TV because it is ugly, takes too much space on her chest of drawers, and she has to adjust it from time to time to get a good signal.
The link does work now and my antenna was different to the one in the Best Buy link. That Best Buy one may be a lot better than what I used.
See second article for a review of some indoor antennas, it's from 2009, but antennas are basically the same today, but do remember that flat antennas are not identical. (I have done some non scientific tests of flat antennas, most of them were crap.)
There's also an outdoor antenna test a few pages in.
I have attended conferences where the author has presented. He knows his stuff
This one is also JUNK as manufacturer provide only Gain value (20dB) and own noise level (1dB) - there is no datasheet, no other information's and price is simply insane for product using maybe 3$ value components.
Currently one MMIC is responsible for such parameters - else it typical mambojambo marketing b....s.....t
and many more - those MMIC's have usual NF (noise) bellow 1dB and usual Gain around 20dB but for each MMIC or P1dB or IP3 is specified and this means that this is real amplifer not marketing.
Trust me - you don't need amplifier with gain 20dB close to unwanted source (CDMA,LTE, DECT etc) that will be saturated and will produce distorted signal at the output. Search for amplifier that provide highest possible values there - such as 5 - 10 or more dBm - this mean that amplifier can work with strong signals at the input and it should be immune to saturation/compression.
(10dBm for 75 ohm impedance means that output level will be over 118dBuV, this is sufficient margin where 20dB gain is considered - it means that amplifier should tolerate at the input strong signal in range 95 - 98dBuV without distorting output signal.)
As usual your suggestions in this thread are highly impractical. Posting links for electronic components that people have to assemble themselves to get something useful is not terribly helpful since 99 percent of the members here don't have the interest, ability or equipment required to assemble their own electronics.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 6th Aug 2014 at 11:23.
Sadly to you amplifiers have parameters and those parameters are specified - vendors that not specifying those parameters can't be trusted and they product have same value as cheapest China amplifier.
Search for amplifier where producer specify all important parameters then advise it to the people.
Pointed this many times - in Europe but same physics apply to whole Earth and USA accordingly on my knowledge are located on Earth - amplifiers is not magic - they have pros and cons and selection of amplifier should be done not on marketing but on specification - no specification - avoid such products even if it has Apple logo on top.
This is typical of what the big box stores sell: http://www.staples.com/office/supplies/StaplesProductDisplay?storeId=10001&catalogIden...6473&langid=-1
It is definitely worse than the Winegard amplifier I linked to.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 6th Aug 2014 at 13:18.
usually_quiet - Your post #21 (hopefully right above me if this ends up as #22) has that final quoted section mistakenly saying you said it instead of pandy. You may want to edit that. It's easy to make that kind of error when quoting - I've done it myself.
Actually... my interest in amplifiers only went so far as guessing that the amplifiers they're selling in 'normal' stores weren't at all worth it. For the moment, anyway.
I spent a while trying in vain to convince that other person that maybe an antenna mounted outside the window (only one outer wall for the bedroom) might not be a bad thing... even if I'd probably end up running cables along two of the walls and through the window.
One of the reasons I can't mount an external antenna is because we've already got DirecTV running through the house antenna line... if there was a way I could still connect regular antennas to the house jacks and use them as such, I'd probably be happier.
Just for the sake of testing, I went ahead and bought that RCA antenna (on sale at Best Buy for $20). I'll admit I was assuming that something selling for $30, normally, would be powered. It still performed better than I was expecting, though; after running it through several different positions and channel rescans, it managed to pull in 25 stations at best, once I set it against the outer wall - from among the 28 stations I normally get with the powered rabbit ears.
It also was strangely a bit weak on channels 58.1 and 58.2, no matter where I positioned the RCA antenna, where I never really had a problem with reception on that channel before.
Overall, it was an unexpectedly decent antenna, compared to my older $15 powered rabbit ears, but still doesn't perform as well as that older antenna. It'll probably be going back to the store tomorrow.If cameras add ten pounds, why would people want to eat them?
Amplifiers for antennas improve the gain sensitivity, yes, but that also results in an increase in the noise.
My experience with the amplifiers (part of the antenna or a separate unit) that I have tried with indoor antennas is that they don't perform miracles, but help if a channel breaks up intermittently. If the channel doesn't come in at all or never produces a coherent picture without an amplifier, they didn't help. If it rains heavily or there are high winds (there are many tall trees between me and the transmitters), my weaker channels break up even with an amplifier.
another example Axing
So my advise for you before you start advising other on this area (strictly technical especially antenna selection and amplifier selection as you don't know anything about environmental condition of OP and OP can be not aware - sometimes to improve reception you need to use special solutions due of some limitations) - first check companies that specialize in this kind of equipment (CATV installation)- that's all.
And for example http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?p=pure20&d=solid-signal-pure-20db-digital-tv-ante...u=700112818424 your amplifer have this kind of paramters:
Gain: 20 dB
Noise Figure: 1.0 dB
Output IP3: +35.5 dBm
Power Out (P1db): +18.4 dBm
So this is possible to have parameters and compare amplifiers based on something else than color, box and sticker and this amplifier have very decent parameters - it should deal well with strong signals but you are just lucky.
But once again advise should be based on knowledge and experience not mambojumbo marketing hype.
Last edited by pandy; 7th Aug 2014 at 05:17.
Posting links to component parts from catalogs as examples of what to look for and then proclaim that the cost of a finished product sold in the USA is too high based their price is idiotic, unless you expect people to supply the labor themselves and build their own electronics. Only an ignorant person living in the third world would think that the price of a finished product should mainly be determined by the cost of its component parts. Labor costs are high here. I am glad to buy quality products made in the USA, if I can find them. (My neighbors need jobs too.) [Edit]$40-$75 is typical of the prices charged for a good consumer grade OTA/Cable amplifier made in the USA. I have shopped for them and purchased three in the past 5 years. [End Edit]
Posting links to distributor catalogs is not so great either unless you know for a fact that they sell to the general public in single quantities and have a very reasonable minimum purchase requirement. [Edit] Spaun products sold here don't appear to be consumer products sold to the general public. They are probably for commercial installations given the prices I'm seeing in the few links I have found for retail outlets selling them. One example: http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?p=hlv40-30fpe&d=spaun-hlv40-30fpe-catv-multi-purp...r-(hlv40-30fpe)
[Edit]Techno-babble written in garbled English by a self-proclaimed electronics "expert" who refuses to provide explanations even if asked is also not helpful to most members here, who are without the right technical background to understand it themselves and may not be able to find a good reference online. You appear to be posting here mainly to steer threads in a direction that interests you, not to provide help to the person asking for it. For that reason I think you belong on everybody's ignore list. You are on mine now, so I won't be reading any more of your useless posts here.
Last edited by usually_quiet; 7th Aug 2014 at 21:52. Reason: added to post
I've been OTA only for about 5 years now. Two un-amplified Terks, one amplified Terk, Zenith silver sensor, (Mant-10), two cheap rabbit ears, one amplified, one not, and recently the smaller amplified RCA flat. Three different locations in the same city.
The only one which I would absolutely not recommend would be the flat RCA, only because it costs more that the el-cheapos.
The best, IMO, were the three Terks and the Mant-10. Pick any two of all of them and I can move one a single foot, or rotate less than 20 degrees, and make it look better, or worse, than any other one. Some deal with one kind of interference better but not another, and some are the other way around.
The price on the Un-amplified Terk is now $39.95 at my local Tiger Direct, same or slightly more than the RCA flat. If I needed an antenna today, that is the one I would buy, no question whatsoever. Ugly is not a problem and I'm no longer married (there may, or may not, be a connection there).
I've also experimented with two antennas connected to a coax splitter, this does seem to help even with un-matched units. My next purchase will be a second Terk with no amp and try the matched pair.