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Old 10-12-2017, 09:46 PM   #1
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OTA (preferably internal) antennas that actually work?

We’re currently on the road… 30 foot 5th wheel with the regular Winegard batwing (the flat thing that cranks up and down and has two arms that come off the sides), with the add-on that’s supposed to improve the signal…

And, as we’ve frequently found, we have few or NO OTA channels. Yes, if we’re CLOSE ENOUGH, we get local channels, so everything SEEMS to work, just NOT VERY WELL when you’re in the locations where we seem to spend a fair amount of our time.
Yesterday, we were about 18 miles from Terra Haute, IN, and had a couple channels. Tonight we’re between 34 and 37 miles from Terra Haute and have ZERO OTA channels. We’re 57 miles or so from Indianapolis (which is where Directv thinks the Local channels should be coming from) and of course we have zero channels from there either. The Terra Haute stations we had yesterday now have a signal strength of “7” on the AM-21 and it doesn’t matter WHERE you aim the antenna, it doesn’t change. We’ve got 3 garbage channels that have nothing to do with network TV coming from Bloomington, but that’s it.
We have Directv and a Winegard dome so we can place it where we need it (we spend a lot of time in places with TREES, so having a dome stuck to the roof isn’t much use).
We have an AM-21, so when we DO luck into getting OTA channels we get whatever Directv thinks is appropriate. It often doesn’t match what we get directly to the TV, but that’s Directv.
At the present time, I’m not going to stream TV. Or switch from Directv to Dish. Getting a straight answer from Dish is as difficult as getting one from Directv, and the price changes with every conversation, just like Directv.

I found topics in here about aiming the antenna, various topics about getting OTA channels, but I’m not finding the topic(s) that specifically talk about what OTA antennas are best for being just outside East Overshoe, 40 or 50 or 60 miles from the broadcaster.
What I’d like is a simple, amplified antenna that’ll actually drag in a good signal from at LEAST 50 miles away, preferably one that’s INTERNAL, as small as reasonable and fairly idiot-proof. If I DO have to put it outside the 5th wheel it’ll have to attach to the ladder or something – I’m not big on heights so climbing to the roof to aim the thing would be “unpleasant”.
I found some reviews that said the Clearstream worked well, but I tend to believe the folks in here more than those “unbiased” reviews. SO, what are y’all using that works?
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Old 10-12-2017, 10:14 PM   #2
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I just installed the HD adapter to our old bat wing, crank up antenna, that is original to our 96 Monaco Windsor MH. It cost around 85 dls. from a RV store.
Works great, picks up 25/30 channels everywhere we went on our last 3500 mi trip. We camp mostly in SP's, out of the way places! I do have to say, we have a antenna booster built into the MH, and it has to be on before we pick up any, or maybe 2/3 channels at the most. It is located in the overhead compartment, and has a red light on, when it is turned on!
It sounds like your booster is not on or not hooked up right, since you have a satellite, maybe you are not switching the BOMB (box of many buttons) just right?
We also have the roof mounted satellite dome, and Dish network, and this last trip I did not even turn the service, (pay as you go), on, because we got so many channels on the OTA antenna!
Good luck sorting out the problem, Rail!
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Old 10-12-2017, 10:18 PM   #3
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This site will assist you in pointing your antenna. Just type in the Zip Code where you are and it will show you where the transmitting antennas for that area are.

https://www.antennasdirect.com/transmitter-locator.html
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Old 10-12-2017, 10:27 PM   #4
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a couple of things..

- the batwing's arms are for VHF, the head in between the arms is the UHF receiver abd the extra appendage helps gather UHF signals

- if you're having trouble receiving OTA with the batwing an internal/inside antenna will be no better. TV is line of sight. but that presumes the batwing is functioning properly.

- is the antenna amplifier on? do you have one?

- how old is the RV? if more than say 5-yrs you might want to replace the short section of coax between the batwing and roof connection. 18-miles is well within reception distance assuming you're not parked in a forest or you're blocked by a large building, etc. coax does wear out...water can invade it and/or the connectors.

- you do know that you need to re-scan for channels every time you move?

- tv station reception range has decreased somewhat with the change to digital. digital signals are either there or not whereas analog wiuld slowly fade. and many stations are now transmitting in the UHF portion of the band. everything else being equal a UHF signal will not travel as far as a VHF signal.
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:42 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies.....

The antenna amplifier works fine as long as we're "near" the source. With it off, we get very little through the antenna. 5th wheel is just turning 5, and I was recently on the roof, so I checked the short cable, but it's been this way since day 1, so IF the cable is bad it's always been bad.

And we DO get the garbage from Bloomington, so everything works, just not at any great distance.

As I said, when we were 18 miles from Terra Haute, we had a couple channels. But at 35, none. And certainly none from Indianapolis at 55 miles. And yes, we go through the scan every time we set up.

We don't HAVE a BOMB. The antenna into the amplifier to the TV is COMPLETELY SEPARATE from the Directv stuff. So, I don't have anything to switch or fiddle with. Antenna goes into AM-21, Directv goes into HR-24 or whatever the Directv DVR is. I CAN switch the antenna in from the AM-21 to the TV to go direct and see what I'm getting, which is nothing.

According to the transmitter locator we're pointed correctly for Terra Haute or Indy, depending on where we aim, and Terra Haute is 27.x miles, but we're getting nothing...

Update: Just for giggles, went to the Best Buy and picked up a Clearstream 4, which is SUPPOSED to work out to 70 miles. With it IN the trailer, which is where I'd like it to be, we get ONE station, the same Bloomington PBS one we get from the roof antenna. Using the aiming sites, I tried Terra Haute and Indianapolis, and I get more stations (though they're all garbage) form the batwing on the roof than the Clearstream. It went back.
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Old 10-13-2017, 04:52 PM   #6
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dkperez,

I noticed you did not mention rescanning every time you move. OTA markets change depending on where the major market for that area is located.

Weve been in places where moving just 30 miles up the road took us out of any local area. It happens.
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Old 10-13-2017, 05:03 PM   #7
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By the way, you already have one of the the best OTA antennas there is, so there may be something wrong with it or the power supply. I had a batwing on our Itasca and it worked much better than the antennas being installed now. If you have the inside single button switch to turn on the power, then you may want to upgrade to the Winegard SensarPro power panel and signal strength meter. That allows you to fine tune to the strongest signal.
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Old 10-13-2017, 05:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dkperez View Post
Thanks for the replies.....

The antenna amplifier works fine as long as we're "near" the source. With it off, we get very little through the antenna. 5th wheel is just turning 5, and I was recently on the roof, so I checked the short cable, but it's been this way since day 1, so IF the cable is bad it's always been bad.
you generally can't tell if the coax is good, bad or anything else just by looking at it. UV rays can break down outer shield over time and water can seep in at the connectors. so that should be an EZ and relatively inexpensive thing to replace. if you do decide to replace buy quality TG-6 coax and just a hint...quality coax is not for sale at wally world, camping world, etc. Belden 9117M would be, IMO, a good choice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkperez View Post
And we DO get the garbage from Bloomington, so everything works, just not at any great distance.

As I said, when we were 18 miles from Terra Haute, we had a couple channels. But at 35, none. And certainly none from Indianapolis at 55 miles. And yes, we go through the scan every time we set up....According to the transmitter locator we're pointed correctly for Terra Haute or Indy, depending on where we aim, and Terra Haute is 27.x miles, but we're getting nothing...
18-miles and 35-miles are certainly doable; 55-miles depending on the terrain between you and the transmitter is iffy. when you point the batwing be sure the head is pointing at the transmitter and the arms should be oriented 90-degrees away from the transmitter. for example, lets assume the transmitter is due north of your position. the arms should be pointing east and west.

fyi, the appendage on your batwing is called the 'Wingman' and is designed to capture and focus UHF TV signals at the UHF receiver in the batwing's head.

since the switch to digital one of the problems we now have is that stations that identify as 'channels 2-13' (VHF stations during the old analog days) have moved their transmitter signal to the UHF portion of the band (channels 14-83). these stations can continue to identify as 'channels 2-13 when in reality they are broadcasting on a channel between 14-83. confusing, huh? all things being equal a VHF signal will generally travel farther than a UHF signal. a lot of stations did this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkperez View Post
Update: Just for giggles, went to the Best Buy and picked up a Clearstream 4, which is SUPPOSED to work out to 70 miles. With it IN the trailer, which is where I'd like it to be, we get ONE station, the same Bloomington PBS one we get from the roof antenna. Using the aiming sites, I tried Terra Haute and Indianapolis, and I get more stations (though they're all garbage) form the batwing on the roof than the Clearstream. It went back.
as I mentioned the other day these indoor antennas are basically worthless unless you're in an urban area like Chicago, Nashville. they're really designed for apartment dwellers and not for use in RVs. TV signals are line-of-sight and if the two antennas...yours and the transmitter...can't "see" each other you might as well grab a book. antenna height is your friend...the higher the better.
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Old 10-13-2017, 05:34 PM   #9
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Have you checked all connections, or tried by passing internal trailer wiring......coukd have faulty connections on any splitter for ota side
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Old 10-13-2017, 06:18 PM   #10
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I would remove the coax at the antenna head, and check for the presence of 12V DC at the coax cable. If no voltage is present, either the coax is bad or something is wired wrong or defective. No voltage, no boost, and maybe an open circuit.. I get 150+ channels 50 miles from the LA transmitters with a batwing and wingman. And 150+ with the now-discontinued Razor paddle antanna. (NOT the automatic Rayzor.)

BTW, the above poster meant RG-6, not TG-6. And he is right about the quality. Use compression connector fittings that are weather tight.
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Old 10-13-2017, 09:10 PM   #11
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Yes, any time we move we rerun the scan 'cause depending on how far we go, they're NEVER the same channels.

We're going to be here for another couple days, then down to Townsend, TN. There, we're supposed to be within 25 miles of Knoxville (if I recall correctly). I'll see what we get for channels there. If it still sucks, I'll replace the coax on the antenna - I've got a piece of RJ-6 I can use for that. I don't have any of the super-duper stuff, but if this cable makes a difference I'll get some.
I'm not sure it'll make any difference, but one thing I'd LIKE to do is move the antenna booster to where the TV is. We don't use the second TV in the bedroom, and the output from our booster goes through 2 outputs and a splitter to feed THREE TVs, which we've never used.
I may also get the other booster you mentioned. I've seen it talked about before and it would be convenient to have signal strength though if I DO move things I wouldn't be able to see it since the antenna is in the "bedroom" and the tv is in the living room...
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Old 10-13-2017, 10:05 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim A View Post
I would remove the coax at the antenna head, and check for the presence of 12V DC at the coax cable. If no voltage is present, either the coax is bad or something is wired wrong or defective. No voltage, no boost, and maybe an open circuit.. I get 150+ channels 50 miles from the LA transmitters with a batwing and wingman. And 150+ with the now-discontinued Razor paddle antanna. (NOT the automatic Rayzor.)

BTW, the above poster meant RG-6, not TG-6. And he is right about the quality. Use compression connector fittings that are weather tight.
X-2, best piece of advice you have gotten so far! It still sounds to me like the booster you have is not working as it should! Rail!
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Old 10-14-2017, 10:16 AM   #13
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If the power goes through splitters before it gets to the antenna, I would DEFINITELY check for voltage at the head. Many splitters won't pass the voltage.
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Old 10-14-2017, 10:22 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Jim A View Post
I would remove the coax at the antenna head, and check for the presence of 12V DC at the coax cable. If no voltage is present, either the coax is bad or something is wired wrong or defective. No voltage, no boost, and maybe an open circuit.. I get 150+ channels 50 miles from the LA transmitters with a batwing and wingman. And 150+ with the now-discontinued Razor paddle antanna. (NOT the automatic Rayzor.)

BTW, the above poster meant RG-6, not TG-6. And he is right about the quality. Use compression connector fittings that are weather tight.
yup, RG-6. typo on my part or what i like to call FFS...fat finger syndrome.
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