We live in an area where the over the air TV Signals are marginal. We are about 45 miles from the nearest tower. Certain times of the year, we cannot receive any over the air channels or they are very intermittent. I wanted to upgrade the antenna and amplifier to see if it made a difference. Our original system had an antenna we purchased 15 years ago and an in line signal booster. As part of an experiment, I changed one component at a time to see what made the most difference.This Instructable will describe what I did and what worked for me.
Step 1: Tools and Materials
For this project, I installed a Solid Signal HBD91X antenna with a Winegard Preamplifier. Tools required were a Philips and a Straight screwdriver, Wire strippers, adjustable wrench, and Coax crimping and stripping pliers. I also used a few wire ties to tidy everything up.
Step 2: Assemble the HDB91X Antenna
Remove the parts from the box and check that they all are there. The process is pretty easy to follow and requires basic tools.I am not going to go into too much detail on the assembly process because it may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Make sure to tighten all components securely, but do not crush the aluminum tubing or snap off the bolts. This particular antenna had a video on it's website with assembly instructions. Make sure to check out and use those resources if needed. This antenna is around 7 foot long when assembled.It is a Yagi antenna and it picks up UHF signals. All of the stations within 70 miles of us are all UHF. It is directional and must be pointed in the general direction of the towers. There are several websites which will give you the location of the towers and stations in your area. I used them when setting up my antenna.
Step 3: Baseline Test
Before I installed the new antenna I took a signal strength reading of the existing antenna and signal booster. As I said earlier,this antenna is about 15 years old and designed for the old Analog TV Signals. The signal booster was a unit from Radio Shack that is in the basement and boosts the signal after it comes into the house. The system was showing a maximum of 52% signal strength on this station with my existing setup.
Step 4: Test 1 - Preamplifier on Existing Antenna
I was curious to see how effective the Preamplifier was. This device is connected up by the antenna. I kept my original antenna on line and installed the preamplifier at the antenna. A device called a power inserter is placed in the coax cable. In my case, I installed the power inserter in the basement in where the old signal booster was installed. The purpose of the power inserter is to provide power to the preamplifier. This little device did make a bit of a difference. Using the same antenna the signal would go as high as 58% signal strength. This was a little higher than the 52% with the original system.
Step 5: New Antenna and Preamplifier
For the final test I installed the new antenna and the Preamplifier and Power booster. The signal strength on the same station went as high as 70%. There was a significant difference with the new system.
Step 6: Conclusion and Path Forward
My signal went from 52% signal strength to 70% signal strength. I was able to go from 12 stations on a good day to over 20 stations on a good day. It is reliably picking the stations 45 miles away. These tests were done all on the same day within 2 hours of start to finish. I realize the signal conditions vary with the weather, but during the testing, everything was pretty consistent.
My next steps are to add a 2nd antenna and combine the signals. I also want to try to put some terminating caps on the unused coax outlets to reduce signal loss. I have a signal booster to add to see if it enhances the signal. As soon as my parts come in and I run the tests, I will post another Instructable on the results.