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Is there an indoor antenna out there better than my $40 Radio Shack one?

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11 replies to this topic

#1 of 12 OFFLINE   David Paden

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Posted April 15 2003 - 07:59 AM

I recently purchased an HDTV w/tuner built in. I live in an apartment complex on the bottom floor, kind of surrounded by 3-story buildings. Not ideal for OTA reception.

I bought this $40 antenna from Radio Shack and was able to pick up a couple of spanish channels, one SD Fox channel, and HD CBS went in and out. Not enough juice I guess. I tried the Zenith UHF thingy and got nothing. I bought the Terk TV55 for $99...worse. According to the signal meter on the TV, the Radio Shack antenna averaged 10 points higher on reception strength (scale 1-100). Conclusion: Terk is junk...should've listened to everyone on these boards about it, but I was hopeful.

Surely there's got to be some super-expensive, "why would anybody ever need this much reception?" mega super turbo charged indoor antenna out there, right? Is there some kind of hard limit where antennas just can't get any stronger?

OR...is there a good outdoor antenna that can be mounted on a balcony as unobtrusively as possible? I tried running the Terk outside and it didn't seem to help much. I'm thinking that sitting at the bottom floor surrounded by 40-foot tall buildings...I'm screwed for OTA.

Please tell me there's something that can do better than my $40 Radio Shack antenna. Thanks for any advice.

#2 of 12 OFFLINE   Paul_Fisher



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Posted April 15 2003 - 09:42 AM

Is there some kind of hard limit where antennas just can't get any stronger?

No, but the FCC regulates how much power an antenna can put out, however I don't know what that is.

I would search google for stronger antennas and see if you come up with anything.

#3 of 12 OFFLINE   SeanA


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Posted April 15 2003 - 01:20 PM

I am having good luck with the Jensen TV940 indoor antenna, but than I live in the bottom half of a 2-story and not many taller buildings around me. With the TV940, you can rotate and translate the elements with the remote and than program the position for individual stations... and this does make a difference with the strength of the signal I am able to receive. The TV940 also has individual amplifiers/boosters for UHF and VHF. I found that this made the difference as to whether or not I was able to pull in the one digital VHF station in my area.

Just FYI, I have the Sony KV-34XBR800 and the Samsung SIR-T151 digital receiver. The only HD station I have not been able to pull in is Fox, but I know they are putting out a very weak signal.

Out of curiousity, what TV do you have ? Not many come with built-in digital receivers.

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#4 of 12 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool



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Posted April 15 2003 - 04:30 PM


Which HD tuner did you get? That could make a difference. The Samsungs are supposed to be good, and the Zenith 420 is supposed to be even better according to the ROAM review although it has its own flaws. Check out the reviews (along w/ some good related articles) here:



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#5 of 12 OFFLINE   David Paden

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Posted April 16 2003 - 03:15 AM

My TV is a Hitachi 65XWX20B with built in receiver. I'm taking the Terk back tonight and I think I saw that Jensen at BestBuy, so I'll give that a whirl.

I can get 2-4 digital stations (2 in Spanish), so I know the receiver is working.

A little more information for those familiar with Northern California... I live in Fairfield. It's exactly in the middle of San Francisco and Sacramento; about 40 miles to either one. So I've picked up a spanish channel in SF, a spanish channel in San Jose, and Fox out of Stockton. According to the antennaweb thingy though, the Sacramento stations should all be easy pickups (dark green I think...the first tier).

Thank you again!

#6 of 12 OFFLINE   Chris Moe

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Posted April 16 2003 - 04:15 AM

I am in northern CA as well (Berkeley) but my location is a polar opposite of yours, I am in the attic and I can see Sutro tower from my room. I use a Zenith silver sensor which it looks like you already tried. This maybe a stupid question but have you tried moving/pointing your antenna around to different locations in your room? Some apartment complexes have an antenna on the roof that anyone can plug into, have you seen if this is a possibility? Good luck.

#7 of 12 OFFLINE   Bob McElfresh

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Posted April 16 2003 - 05:14 AM

I've also heard bad things about Terk antennas, but good things about the Zenith Silver Sensor. The inexpensive Radio Shack "bowtie" antennas often work.

www.titantv.com usually has a color-code to tell you what type of antenna you need for your address.

#8 of 12 OFFLINE   David Paden

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Posted April 16 2003 - 05:30 AM

I tried pointing the various antennas in different directions, moving across the room, and even taking them outside on the balcony and pointing around.

According to titantv, I can get all of the stations I really want out of Sacramento using the lowest level antenna. Again, I think it's the tall buildings preventing this from happening.

I checked with the apartment complex about an antenna. They have a DirecTV satellite that is wired into all the buildings and no antenna anywhere. I asked if I could mount one and they said I could, BUT...I have to insure it, have it professionally installed, pay a deposit, can't put holes in anything, and a slew of other conditions that made it not very economical or simple. It seems the DirecTV satellite can't pick up the HD channels either...I think it has 2 receiver thingies instead of the required third (forgive my ignorance here). So, I'm going to inquire about maybe getting that antenna upgraded so I can at least get DirecTV HD...have to buy a receiver of course.

Can't I just hook up a car battery to a coat hanger and tape it to my antenna input? Sheesh. Posted Image

#9 of 12 OFFLINE   Erik_C


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Posted April 17 2003 - 11:46 AM

I use the RS double bowtie, with a RS signal booster. It's a $35 small black box with coax input and output on the top. Provides extra oomph that lets me get great ota HD in the middle of Washington, DC.

#10 of 12 OFFLINE   Steve Berger

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Posted April 17 2003 - 03:45 PM

If you're not concerned about looks then the 4 bow-tie UHF outdoor antenna has the second highest gain of any passive antenna , the highest being the Channel-Master 5 foot parabolic dish. The dish is directional while the 4 bow-tie is very broad beamed with excellent ghost rejection. You'd probably want to try it in an inconspicuous location if you put it indoors.
The best indoor UHF is the double bow-tie with a 10-12 inch grid on little legs. The grid blocks reflected signals.
This info was found from the old spec sheets and the Zenith engineers from Chicago who came down to Peoria to solve TV complaints in the 60's and 70's. We are in an all UHF broadcast area with reflective river bluffs within a few miles of the transmitters so we have been dealing with these problems for many years.
There are two old sayings we have here.
1:Antennas are magic, you can do everything right and get nothing or everything wrong and do great. There is one isolated spot that can receive a UHF station from St. Louis on an indoor antenna. (over 200 miles away)
2:A million Watts of VHF goes 100 miles , a million Watts of UHF goes 10 miles. That's why they won't even allow a low power VHF station in our area.UHF is considered line-of-sight reception only and increasing the power dramatically increases bouncing and ghosts. I guess they are hoping that digital noise reduction will overcome these conditions. Personally , knowing UHF characteristics , I doubt it.

#11 of 12 OFFLINE   David Paden

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Posted April 18 2003 - 02:19 AM

Okay, going to try the double bow-tie with amp next. If that doesn't work, I think I may officially throw in the towel.

My next battle is trying to get DirecTV HD. The apartment complex has one satellite with 2 receivers (instead of the required 3 for HD) that feeds the whole complex, so either it will be a cheap upgrade for the whole community or it will be entirely too expensive to re-wire the whole complex. I hope it's just an easy swap of the satellite.

I'll keep you posted. You guys are the best. Thanks!

#12 of 12 OFFLINE   SeanA


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Posted April 18 2003 - 04:45 PM


Before just going UHF, make sure none of the stations you want OTA are VHF.
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