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Post Info TOPIC: HDTV Outdoor Antennas


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HDTV Outdoor Antennas


Long time member here although I haven't posted much lately. I own a Rexhall Aerbus but will be selling it and have just ordered a Capri Maverick which I will be picking up in the Spring. I ordered a t.v. with and it does come with an antenna but I am not sure how strong it is. Which HDTV antennas do you think are best for an rv?



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I like the Winegard RVW-395 Sensar IV.

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Winnebago TT 2101DS & Silverado LTZ Z71. 300 watts WindyNation solar w/MPPT, 2 Trojan T-125s. TALL flag pole. Prefer USFS, COE, BLM, USF&WS, NPS, TVA, state/county camps. 14 year Army vet-11B40 then 11A - old MOS 1542 & 1560.



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Colorado_Kid wrote:

Long time member here although I haven't posted much lately. I own a Rexhall Aerbus but will be selling it and have just ordered a Capri Maverick which I will be picking up in the Spring. I ordered a t.v. with and it does come with an antenna but I am not sure how strong it is. Which HDTV antennas do you think are best for an rv?


Based on what's being made today probably the Wingard offering:

https://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?p=rvw-395

I prefer this one because it does have VHF and UHF elements 

Many of the newer RV TV antennas don't have the longer elements necessary to receive VHF as well.  It is a not well publicized fact a lot of TV stations are being moved from UHF to VHF.  (Thank you Federal Government - This was set up to happen a long time ago - not a current decision.)  So I would get one of these while you can.

Keep in mind there is no such thing as an HDTV antenna.  A quality VHF / UHF antenna built in 1965 works just as well as any new "HDTV" antenna.  And there is no such thing as a 4K antenna either anymore then there is a black and white or color TV antenna.  

The critical elements for good reception are:

1) It has to have elements. That is metal arms that more or less "look like" an antenna.  Size matters and the size of the elements determines a great deal the quality of the signal received.  Not the picture quality - the "purity" and strength of the TV signal called "RF" as in radio frequency signal.

2) A modest pre-amp.  That is what some call a "signal booster" to make up for signal losses through the cable from the antenna to the TV as much as anything else.  This can also improve reception at a longer distances but mostly its to make up for the small size coax from the antenna to the TV.  (Lots of loss in the small size.)

3) The ability to rotate it in the general direction of the TV station and minimize signal coming from reflections.  The TV can't "see" the reflections but the tuner (decoder) in the TV can and that impacts the decoder's ability to turn the ones and zeros from the RF into a picture on the TV.  (Reflections are called "multi-path."  They used to be call "ghosts" in analog TV days.)

 

The old style crank up antennas on RV worked well.  When stations went "digital" in 2009 the need for pre-amp became apparent and most quality RV TV antennas now provide this.

More then you wanted to know but that's why I mentioned the one I did.

Bill

 

 



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How well do the stationary antennas work? I am wanting to fill roof up with solar. That antenna takes up a panel of room.




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The stationary (non-crank up) antennas are poor performers in comparison to the Winegard Sensar crank up series. The pre-amplifier located in the antenna head has been around for many years, and is a proven performer. The current Sensar IV with the Wingman yagi elements or adding the Wingman to an older Sensar improves the UHF performance significantly. But now a number of stations are transitioning back to high and low VHF channels, and that's where the Sensar antennas really outshine the others. Those long "batwings" are there for a reason. An additional option to improve reception is the SensarPro inline amplifier and signal meter that replaces the standard power injector panel.

Oh, and just to clarify, there are no "HDTV" antennas except in marketing departments. The RF signals that the antennas receive are the same whether the programming is analog, digital, or digital HD. Your parent's old rabbit ears were just as capable of receiving HD television programming as the most sophisticated TV antennas sold today, albeit the newer antennas usually have better range of course.



-- Edited by Dutch on Monday 31st of December 2018 12:44:47 PM

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Thanks for the replies. Winegard seems to be the leading brand for RV antennas and I will look into them more.

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“More then you wanted to know but...”

No it wasn’t. Good explanation, Bill.

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Winnebago TT 2101DS & Silverado LTZ Z71. 300 watts WindyNation solar w/MPPT, 2 Trojan T-125s. TALL flag pole. Prefer USFS, COE, BLM, USF&WS, NPS, TVA, state/county camps. 14 year Army vet-11B40 then 11A - old MOS 1542 & 1560.



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"no such thing as a 4K antenna either anymore"

4K over the air is coming - https://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/atsc-3-0-ota-broadcast-standard-4k-dolby-atmos/.   It will require a whole house converter box.  Phoenix AZ is supposed to be a test area.



-- Edited by bjoyce on Tuesday 1st of January 2019 10:43:04 AM

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bjoyce wrote:

"no such thing as a 4K antenna either anymore"

4K over the air is coming - https://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/atsc-3-0-ota-broadcast-standard-4k-dolby-atmos/.   It will require a whole house converter box.  Phoenix AZ is supposed to be a test area.



-- Edited by bjoyce on Tuesday 1st of January 2019 10:43:04 AM


 Let's say the ATSC 3.0 voluntary standard is (sort of) coming.  But not real soon in mass.  And just like the change from analog to digital, no TV stations have the studio infrastructure for 4K to speak of.  Some have pieces operating at lower resolutions (bad way to put it) but not end-to-end 4K plants.  (Netflix is just a server.  It's not a TV station.)

Like HD conversion from SD and analog, it will take quite a bit of time.  Streaming movies on Amazon is easy to build in comparison to full 4K production and distribution via the in-plant infrastructure of nationwide local TV stations.   The conversion to digital and HD was an economic and operational nightmare due to the extensive and intertwined nature for local and network TV facilities. I know, I built 'em.  4K will be very similar except for aspect ratio and up-conversion.  At least the aspect ratio of 16:9 is more or less a production standard for both HD and 4K except for feature films which are pretty easy to integrate with "theatrical" aspect ratios.  4:3 SD to 16:9 HD was hard esthetically and infrastructurally.

But the key point is a good antenna designed in 1955 with a pre-amp for the appropriate frequencies (almost exclusively VHF and lower UHF now) will work just as well as one made in 2019.  Those laws of physics for RF haven't changed.  Just the marketing hype  :)

FWIW

Bill

 



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Dutch wrote:

The stationary (non-crank up) antennas are poor performers in comparison to the Winegard Sensar crank up series. The pre-amplifier located in the antenna head has been around for many years, and is a proven performer. The current Sensar IV with the Wingman yagi elements or adding the Wingman to an older Sensar improves the UHF performance significantly. But now a number of stations are transitioning back to high and low VHF channels, and that's where the Sensar antennas really outshine the others. Those long "batwings" are there for a reason. An additional option to improve reception is the SensarPro inline amplifier and signal meter that replaces the standard power injector panel.

Oh, and just to clarify, there are no "HDTV" antennas except in marketing departments. The RF signals that the antennas receive are the same whether the programming is analog, digital, or digital HD. Your parent's old rabbit ears were just as capable of receiving HD television programming as the most sophisticated TV antennas sold today, albeit the newer antennas usually have better range of course.



-- Edited by Dutch on Monday 31st of December 2018 12:44:47 PM


 Posted that before I gave a lot of thought to it. I can just move mine to center of roof and make way for the panels. 



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Filling the roof with solar may not be necessary. What does your energy use survey say?

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Winnebago TT 2101DS & Silverado LTZ Z71. 300 watts WindyNation solar w/MPPT, 2 Trojan T-125s. TALL flag pole. Prefer USFS, COE, BLM, USF&WS, NPS, TVA, state/county camps. 14 year Army vet-11B40 then 11A - old MOS 1542 & 1560.



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Just to chime in on the RF thing, I'm using old, really old, rabbit ear style antennas for both of my "digital" (HD??) TVs at my sticks and bricks. I live a ways out in the country and except for some directionality issues they seem to work just fine. A rotating antenna won't have the directionality issue. In fact I'm still using one of the free boxes that you got when the switchover happened a number of years ago so it's a digital signal being converted to analog for my TV. Ya, I'm really parsimonious. I didn't see any gain specs for the antenna that Bill spec'd but I may be able to sell you an old Winegard A-215 amplifier I took out of my apartment building to help in that department. I don't know if it still works, but the tubes light up. Heck for an extra $5 I'll even throw in the mass antenna distribution block. How can you pass up a deal like that?

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arcaguy wrote:

 I didn't see any gain specs for the antenna that Bill spec'd but I may be able to sell you an old Winegard A-215 amplifier I took out of my apartment building to help in that department. I don't know if it still works, but the tubes light up. 


 For the VHF elements there is no gain to speak of, if any.  Never actually seen a spec.  Its really just a dipole at VHF.  When the little "Wingman," as it is marketed for UHF, the added the gain is about 3db.  Not much but the directionality of the UHF elements is helpful in reducing interference from multi-path ("ghosts") as I commented.  Wingard added the UHF add on back when TV stations converted to digital and most that were on VHF moved to UHF.  It was an inexpensive improvement.

Back in the day there was actually a crank up true Yagi antenna with collapsing VHF elements along with UHF.  They did a very good job.  Airstream used these as a standard and they would work well today.  They nestled into a support when lowered and traveled very well.  Airstream also included a pre-amp in the trailer.  Nothing new here today.  Just costs more.

I would forgo the tube pre-amp. :) The noise figure in that is probably pretty high and mostly likely has way too much gain if it came out of an apartment complex.  With "digital" actually too much signal can be as bad for reception as too little.

 

 



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I wouldn't classify a 3dB gain as "not much" since it does represent a doubling of the signal strength. Winegard tells me that the residential version of the Sensar antenna uses the same 12 dB pre-amplifier in the head as the Sensar III and IV used on RV's. Add the SensarPro in-line amplifier and signal strength meter for up to 10dB additional gain.

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How well do signal boosters work? I have heard that they aren't worth the money and others say they are great.

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Dutch wrote:

I wouldn't classify a 3dB gain as "not much" since it does represent a doubling of the signal strength. Winegard tells me that the residential version of the Sensar antenna uses the same 12 dB pre-amplifier in the head as the Sensar III and IV used on RV's. Add the SensarPro in-line amplifier and signal strength meter for up to 10dB additional gain.


 3db is considered in TV RF engineering, as far as reception is concerned, to be the minimum amount "worth it."  3db would also be the same if one increased the transmitter's power from 100,000 watts to 200,000 watts.  3db is a doubling, true.  But from someone who has built TV transmission systems for a living and participated in the field testing of the digital transmission system and reception before it was implemented nationwide, 3db "isn't much."  But as I commented, the directivity improvement from that 3db does indeed help with reducing multi-path and hence reception issues.  So it helps in that regard and is "worth it" but not because it doubles the signal strength.  I know this sounds strange, but that's just the laws of the disciple so to speak. 

As far as the pre-amps are concerned, yes indeed,10-12db is significant.  A 10db increase would for comparison be an increase at the transmitter end, power wise, from 100,000 watts to 1,000,000 watts.  (Digital TV stations do transmit 1,000,000 wats ERP.  'Built 'em.)  That 10 db makes a difference at either end of the transmission system - transmitter or reception end.  But the reason pre-amps and antennas can only do so much on the reception end is another discussion.



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I agree that from your perspective then, 3dB would indeed not be much. From the receiver end though in this digital age, it can be the difference between a pixilated and a clear TV picture. And yes, there's no point in going into amplifier noise floors, etc, in this discussion. From a user perspective, end use amplifiers can make a significant difference, no difference, or even degrade the signal if over done. Fortunately, the SensarPro has an adjustable gain that properly used can mitigate those issues.

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