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All things related to HDTV Home Antenna reception including antenna recommendations, channel listings, basic questions and more!
8 posts • Page 1 of 1
I've got a challenging reception situation where I live, and I hope someone here can recommend an antenna. I'm currently using a set of amplified rabbit ears and would like to replace them with something more effective, if that's possible.
I live near Melbourne, FL, zip code 32937. Virtually all our TV signals come from a transmitter farm about 43 miles to the NNW. Ideally, I'd like to pick up channels 2, 6, 9, and several of the UHF stations that AntennaWeb says I should be able to get, especially WMFE 24 (PBS). All of them come from that same NNW location. There are some tall trees around here (lots of palm trees, you know!), and some buildings over 4 or 5 stories tall, but most everything taller than 2 stories is lined up along the beach and not in a direct line between here and the transmitter farm. There are two airports: one to the west and the other to the north, both of which are 3 to 4 miles away in their respective directions.
The antenna selector recommended 3 rooftop antennas, which I'm sure would do the trick. Unfortunately, I am in an apartment where I cannot put up an outdoor antenna. To make matters worse, I'm on the ground floor of a two-story building that's concrete block and stucco (CBS) construction. I'm told that CBS construction is opaque to TV signals, which appears to be the case judging by my experience. To make matters even worse, I'm on the south side of the building (away from the transmitters). The TV is in a corner next to a set of south-facing sliding glass doors, and there's another two-story CBS building to the south of here, on the other side of a small courtyard in the apartment complex. I'm guessing that what little signal I do get now is bouncing off this other building and coming in through the glass doors, although that's pure uninformed speculation on my part.
Before the digital changeover, I was getting maybe 10 to 12 stations (depending on how weak a signal you want to count as "getting"!), all of them with considerable snow and static, and maybe 2 or 3 or them watchable (provided your standards weren't too high) on any given day.
Now, I'm down to 3 stations total, with maybe 1 or 2 coming in on any given day, and with lots of freezing and pixelation. (One of those is channel 6, which I could not get at all before the digital switch, interestingly enough.) There's enough freezing and "loss of signal" messages from the TV that basically none of them is watchable.
The reviews on Amazon indicated that the Winegard SS-3300 might be a good choice, although it seems to be intended for stations that are closer than 43 miles away.
1--Would the Winegard SS-3300 be a significant improvement over my current set of amplified rabbit ears (RCA brand, 10-years-plus old), or is there nothing in the "indoor" category of antenna that's going to do the job in this situation?
2--If I didn't care what the living room looked like, would it be possible to mount a small outdoor antenna by hanging it from the ceiling, and, if so, would that help?
Pretty much everybody here has cable, but as an impoverished grad student, my budget just doesn't extend that far, nor could I justify spending that kind of cash given the small amount of time I have to watch TV, anyway. I've just been doing without, basically, since I moved to this apartment, so this isn't even a burning issue, but every once in a while I get a bee in my bonnet about seeing whether anything could be done or if I ought to write the whole TV thing off as a lost cause.
Any suggestions? Thanks!
Good afternoon PBS -
At 40 plus miles and in a concrete building you are pretty much in trouble. The SS-3000 may receive some channels better than other indoor antennas but we will not be sure until you try it. Even a large antenna hanging from the ceiling will be a problem in that if we do not have a strong enough of a reflected signal we will not receive a picture. Just remember the larger then antenna the better and the higher the better and the last outside is best.
I tried this a minute ago but must have clicked the wrong thing because my post vanished--please excuse if this is a duplicate.....
Anyway, thanks, Antenna Vision and Winegard for the info and advice. This morning I moved the TV up next to the glass doors and set the rabbit ears on a chair on the patio as far outside as the cable would reach. When I scanned for channels, I found 4 to 8 stations (depending on how the antenna was positioned), with about half of those being reasonably watchable. I got 6 (CBS) and 9 (ABC), which was nice. 2 (NBC) is hard to get even with a rooftop antenna, and 24 (PBS) is the weakest one listed on Antenna Web, so those are probably lost causes.
Unfortunately, watching TV with the antenna on the patio is probably not practical, if only because leaving the glass doors open enough to run the cable through also invites the palmetto bugs and the lizards inside!
I brought the antenna back inside but set it on a chair in front of the glass doors, which was not as good as outside but a little better than having it on top of the TV in the corner. Channel 6 was just about watchable like that.
I read your other posts about the legalities of outdoor antennas in apartment complexes, Antenna Vision--thanks for the info! I'm afraid it's still not terribly practical in this case, however, even if I manage to convince the management here. Being on the ground floor, I probably couldn't get the antenna up over the roof line of the building without involving my upstairs neighbor, and there's (again) the question of getting the cable inside the apartment, which would probably mean drilling a hole in the wall, which I'm unlikely to get permission for. We get a lot of lightning here, too, which concerns me.
(I have toyed with the idea of getting one of those mushroom-shaped omni-directional antennas and hanging it upside down from my upstairs neighbors' balcony, but the above problems stopped me from going through with it.)
I'll give the SS-3000 some more thought. It looks like, if that antenna is even a little bit better than what I have, and if I can set it in front of the glass doors while the TV's in use (which is not very often in any case, so that's doable), I might be able to get at least a couple of channels. That would be a substantial improvement over the current situation, and the SS-3000 costs less than even a single month of cable service (not an option in any case), so it might be worth taking a chance on.
Next time I move I'll definitely keep the TV reception potential in mind! I continue to be amazed that a county with a population of 500,000 doesn't have even a single major network affiliate, but proximity to space launches and etc. is a fair tradeoff for no TV in my book. The sonic booms from the space shuttle landing this morning rattled my glass doors--so cool.
Working as a installer, I have seen all sorts of problems with over the air television reception.
The time has to come when you have to say, ok - if I want to watch tv for free, I have to be willing to do some work and I have to be willing to spend some money.
Even in my case, I own a half of a house.
The house is a duplex that was built by a coal company for their employee's, 120 years ago!
4 family's lived in one house.
When the coal mines closed, the town was sold to a slum lord. The slum lord ran the town into the ground.
When it was of no value to him anymore, he sold it to the people and everyone bought their own house.
My grandparents on my dad's side lived in this half of the house for 74 years before my grandmother died and I bought the half a house. The other side of the house, my grandparents could have bought for $900 back in the 70's - but didn't because they felt that they was old and they were not going to live forever and they didn't want to spend their money. They had lot's of money, they just didn't want to spend it.
So now I have idiots that lives on the other side that has dogs that barks and kids that does dope and steals.
There is nobody out there that can tell me that I can't climb up on my roof and put what ever type of antenna I want on the roof of my half a house.
You have to be willing to buy a antenna and pay someone to put it up properly and make a deal with the landlord that says that you will leave the antenna on the roof when you leave. Not to any property damage putting it up and use care when installing it and the wires.
I could install a antenna for you, that was UHF only that you wouldn't even be able to see from the ground, that would have good reception with a antenna rotor and would probably get you all of the UHF signals from one market.
Even if you had the Dish Network, they still would have to drill a hole to put a cable TV wire through the wall someplace. Even the local cable television company must have access someplace to run a wire.
Saying that you can't do something, doesn't make much sense.
If the landlord tells you you can't put up a antenna, move!
That is the only advice I can give you.
Wow, that's a great story about the house! People can be so short sighted, can't they? Sorry about your neighbors. We have no shortage of drug dealers in this apartment complex, judging by the police blotter in the newspaper, but at least none of them lives next door to me. (At the moment!)
I'm actually staying right now with some out-of-state relatives in the break before school starts up again, so we're watching their cable. 200-some channels and there's nothing ever on! Amazing. It does clarify my TV situation at home, though.
I'm sure you're right about the professionally installed antenna. All in all, though, that's just more time, effort, and money than I'm willing or able to spend on this project. I've been in this TV-free apartment for five years now, and I'll probably be in it for four or five more, until I finish my degree and become (hopefully) gainfully employed and have enough saved to buy a condo or townhouse. I think the best thing to do for now would be to continue to live without TV (which, as I'm sure my committee chair would remind me, would only be a distraction from schoolwork, anyway--even if there were ever anything on worth watching, which apparently there isn't).
When I've got my own place, I'll put up a rooftop antenna.
Thanks for the advice and info, everybody. At least I can cross "investigate improving TV reception" off my to-do list now and move on to other things.
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