Cutting the cord due to Roku - Now I need antenna advice

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Cutting the cord due to Roku - Now I need antenna advice

Postby Schmye Bubbula » Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:06 am

I need some authoritative advice for an outside antenna:

– Don't want to mess with an antenna rotor, so looking at omni-directional, hoping that the height of my roof (I'm on high ground, to boot) will at least partially make up for the loss of gain with a directional antenna. (The farthest UHF DTV station is 45 miles away, on a mountain, but I can not receive it at all with my rabbit ears; all the other stations come in like gangbusters.)

– I keep seeing antennas in my web research that are called "multi-directional." I gather that these aren't the same as omni-directional, but rather have separate sections of the antenna that can be twisted in two or three directions, no? If so, that would seem not to cut it, for I have too many stations in random directions, which makes me think I need omni-directional.

– I know that a pre-amp can't increase the true gain of an antenna, but rather only permits hooking several TVs to the same antenna without loss of signal strength. In the analog days, it was best for signal/noise ratio considerations to put a pre-amp on the antenna so it wouldn't amplify noise picked-up down the cable along with the signal. So my question is, with digital TV's pronounced higher threshold before noise becomes a problem (I understand that it's abrupt when it does, not increasingly more "snow" as with analog), does it still make much of a difference whether I put the pre-amp on the antenna, or will I be just fine with it inside the house?

– If omni-directional is indeed the way I can go, I'm looking at this, which is available both with and without an on-antenna pre-amp.

What do you think?
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Re: Cutting the cord due to Roku - Now I need antenna advice

Postby Brotha » Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:18 am

Schmye Bubbula wrote:What do you think?


Did you read this thread? :wink:
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Re: Cutting the cord due to Roku - Now I need antenna advice

Postby kc8pql » Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:27 am

Go here: http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/welcome.aspx
Enter all the information asked for and it will tell you what stations you can expect to receive, how far away the towers are and in which direction, and what type of antenna you need.
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Re: Cutting the cord due to Roku - Now I need antenna advice

Postby Schmye Bubbula » Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:22 pm

Brotha wrote:Did you read this thread? :wink:

Why, yes, thanks, but frankly (and no offense!), did you? I ask (with respect!) only because I observed good netiquette best practices and did a search before posting, and no useful hits on this entire Roku Forums came up for "omni," "omnidirectional," etc.

kc8pql wrote:Go here: http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/welcome.aspx
Enter all the information asked for and it will tell you what stations you can expect to receive, how far away the towers are and in which direction, and what type of antenna you need.

Again, many thanks – good lead! – and actually I had discovered that site, but my results from their custom form don't address my questions:

What AntennaWeb calls multi-directional (Small or Medium of which is what their form flagged most of my channels as calling for) is described as "...they receive equally well from all directions," and their diagrams on the same page indeed display an omni-directional reception pattern. But most of what the vendors call "multi-directional" look pretty directional to me, don't you think? And many of their websites' reception diagrams definitely show a cardioid shape (directional bias) reception pattern. So there seems to be a disconnect between the terminology of AntennaWeb and the vendors. That's why I was focusing on the explicitly omni-directional Winegard MS 2000, or others of that type.

All good advice, guys, and many thanks. I guess I'm seeking someone who's had hands-on experience with the admittedly fine distinctions I'm making. (Or am I splitting hairs and over-thinking all this?)
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Re: Cutting the cord due to Roku - Now I need antenna advice

Postby vmps » Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:37 pm

If the antenna is not extremely directional it will still receive strong signals that are off-center. If you can get them with rabbit ears indoors there's a good chance that you can get them on the side of a slightly directional antenna which is aimed at the single weak station. (I'm in a similar situation, with the antenna pointed at a city 40+ miles away but still able to receive everything from a much closer city in a different direction.) But you'll probably get a lot more feedback from a site devoted to general TV issues than the roku site.
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Re: Cutting the cord due to Roku - Now I need antenna advice

Postby Schmye Bubbula » Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:50 pm

^ A big thanks and a tip o' the hat to vmps for very useful and pertinent information. Along with the help from Brotha and especially kc8pql, I now think my options are wider than I previously had believed.

(I'm new around here, and to Roku, and man, Roku Forums rocks!)
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Re: Cutting the cord due to Roku - Now I need antenna advice

Postby renojim » Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:58 pm

I don't think you're splitting hairs. It could be argued that an antenna with rotor is mult-directional, and that's not what you want. I don't have any experience with the omnidirectional antennas, but a lot of those so-called multi-directional antennas look a lot like what I built with four coat hangers. I think I'd try to build my own before I bought one of those.

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Re: Cutting the cord due to Roku - Now I need antenna advice

Postby A.J. » Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:14 pm

vmps wrote:But you'll probably get a lot more feedback from a site devoted to general TV issues than the roku site.


There are several forums which specifically address OTA digital reception and selection of the best antenna. One of the best I have run across is:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=381623

Almost 400 pages.

BTW, I cut the cord recently after getting a Roku and subscribing to Netflix. An antenna in the attic worked for me. My local stations range from 15 to 37 miles, with a 62 degree spread. With the antenna pointed midway between the two extremes I get all the stations nicely, splitting to 2 TVs, with no pre-amp. The antenna I chose is:

http://www.amazon.com/Winegard-FV-HD30- ... 394&sr=1-8

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Re: Cutting the cord due to Roku - Now I need antenna advice

Postby Saqqara » Wed Feb 09, 2011 1:18 pm

Another good companion for cable cutters is a smartphone based channel guide application. I missed the digital channel guide on DirecTV until I got in the habit of this. Laptop would work too, but I find the smartphone more convenient.
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Re: Cutting the cord due to Roku - Now I need antenna advice

Postby Schmye Bubbula » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:24 pm

The plot thickens: vmps' earlier helpful post, that a moderately directional antenna often still can receive nearby stations from other directions perfectly well, may be even better advice than for a truly uniform omni-directional antenna than I had first supposed. After poking around the web some more, it looks like there's another trade-off at work with digital TV. Whereas DTV is less susceptible to noise than analog TV, DTV can be more susceptible to multi-path problems. With analog TV, multi-path signals — reflections off buildings, mountains & other objects of the same signal that arrive to the antenna at slightly different times — appeared on the screen as "ghosts." But with DTV, multi-path interference can have more serious effects, sometimes preventing a station from appearing at all. So a multi-directional antenna could suppress spurious multi-path signals, and very well could work out much better than a completely omni-directional antenna.
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Re: Cutting the cord due to Roku - Now I need antenna advice

Postby kumasuki » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:41 pm

Schmye Bubbula wrote: DTV can be more susceptible to multi-path problems.

Where did you get this information? There are no "reflections" with DTV - nor are there any multi-path issues with other HDTV transmissions - unless a particular HDTV signal is on the edge of its allotted frequency and some other (non-TV) signal is also on the edge of it's frequency and the two interfere with each other. However FCC mandated separation between allotted frequencies should keep that from happening. There are other factors which may cause interference with DTV transmission (even though they're much more robust than analog signals) but none of a multi-path nature.
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Re: Cutting the cord due to Roku - Now I need antenna advice

Postby Schmye Bubbula » Wed Feb 09, 2011 5:00 pm

kumasuki wrote:Where did you get this information?

Lots o' info vis-á-vis deleterious effects of multi-path interference and digital TV here.
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Re: Cutting the cord due to Roku - Now I need antenna advice

Postby rjdriver » Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:47 pm

Schmye Bubbula wrote:I need some authoritative advice for an outside antenna:

– Don't want to mess with an antenna rotor, so looking at omni-directional, hoping that the height of my roof (I'm on high ground, to boot) will at least partially make up for the loss of gain with a directional antenna. SNIP



OK - so why are you so against a rotor? I cannot vouch for any multidirectional antennas, but I can vouch for the ease of use of modern rotors. My situation is similar to yours. I am on high ground at 265 feet above sea level. This allows me to easily receive channels from the Boston market which is 65-70 miles away. Because of my location south west of Providence, RI, all the stations but one are generally from the north east, so I hardly ever need to use the rotor. But if I want to get the ION network, which is to the south west, I have to rotate my antenna.

I have a Channel Master Model 9537 rotor. It comes with a remote control, which I have easily programmed into my Harmony One. The 9537 allows you to program into it the optimal direction for each channel. This of course takes a little time when you first set it up, to determine the best position, and set it into memory. But once done, it's a piece of cake. When I need to tune in the ION network, which is channel 69, I switch to Rotor on my remote, punch in 69 on the number pad, and the antenna moves to the optimal position.

By all means, experiment with multi directional antennas if you want. But if that doesn't work out for you, the alternative is not so bad.
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Re: Cutting the cord due to Roku - Now I need antenna advice

Postby kc8pql » Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:02 pm

Schmye Bubbula wrote:
What AntennaWeb calls multi-directional (Small or Medium of which is what their form flagged most of my channels as calling for) is described as "...they receive equally well from all directions," and their diagrams on the same page indeed display an omni-directional reception pattern. But most of what the vendors call "multi-directional" look pretty directional to me, don't you think?

All good advice, guys, and many thanks. I guess I'm seeking someone who's had hands-on experience with the admittedly fine distinctions I'm making. (Or am I splitting hairs and over-thinking all this?)


This is the sort of antenna you're looking for:
http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?mc=03&p=MS2002&d=Winegard-MS2002-Metrostar-VHFUHF-Amplified-Omnidirectional-TV-Antenna-%28MS2002%29&c=TV%20Antennas&sku=
I've been using and building antennas, TV and amateur radio, for 40 years. Yes, you are over thinking it. Multi-path is possible but I wouldn't worry about it.
By the way, I use a Winegard directional antenna. Great quality, compact size and performance for a reasonable price. Check Amazon.

Edit: Some OTA stations still broadcast in the upper half of the VHF frequency range. My local ABC station is still on channel 6. If any a in your area are still down there you'll need an antenna that covers those frequencies as will as UHF to receive them.
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Re: Cutting the cord due to Roku - Now I need antenna advice

Postby Schmye Bubbula » Wed Feb 09, 2011 8:18 pm

rjdriver wrote:OK - so why are you so against a rotor?

Oh, just because I've had cable so long that the last one I ever used was an old Alliance Tenna Rotor, which was a pain in the ass. Your description of modern rotors, programmable & with remote controls, sounds like they're much, much better these days.... I think it'll probably turn out that I'll be just fine with either a fixed multi-directional or omni-directional antenna in my area, just because my rabbit ears works so well except for that one station the rabbit ears doesn't pick up at all, which I hopefully will once I get something up on the roof.

kc8pql, thanks for your great link to the omni-directional Winegard MS2002 — the nearly identical Winegard MS2000 I was looking at in this thread's original post is $36 more expensive! ... And since you say you're a ham, "old man," I perforce take your word without question and sight unseen that multi-path should not as a practical matter be a significant problem for me. (kumasuki seemed to categorically dismiss it above, which raised my suspicions in light of all the Google articles I read on it — some raising dire warnings, but others saying modern DTV circuitry can minimize, but not completely eliminate it — and now I apologize to him for my snide reply, for he very well may be just as authoritative as you, for all I know.)

And thanks for your afterthought about VHF. Luckily, my custom local AntennaWeb profile shows all of my surrounding stations as UHF.

- -
When the DTV changeover occurred, and all our VHF stations switched to UHF, it reminded me of the old Married with Children episodes when Al Bundy periodically announced, "OK, everybody assume Fox viewing positions," and the family members would simultaneously break out tin foil and take various contorted positions in the living room, to help get better reception.
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