Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's All About Antennas

WWNY engineers have been traveling the North Country testing our digital signal. What we have found is the signal is great most everywhere....but...without a good reception antenna it can leave you with the impression that its weak or missing. In fact the new DTV signal is not only stronger, but travels a further distance than our previous one... further than even the predicted coverage maps indicate.

It's all about antennas. The best choice is always an outdoor antenna. It will capture a signal better because of fewer obstructions and it is less likely to receive reflected signals which can interfere with the performance of a TV set or converter box. We also have found that basic antennas seem to work the best. A good old aerial with metal rods are best, not the flying saucer or airplane wing shaped antennas that are often marketed as "HDTV Ready".

Indoor antennas may work in some locations, but are more subject to receiving reflected signals that confuse the sets/boxes. Good old rabbit ears without amplification and the long metal rods work the best.

For more info on antennas and their orientation towards the stations you might visit:
www.antennaweb.org or www.tvfool.com.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am impressed with the power of WWNY-DT. I live in Lewis county and to recieve analog 7 all you had to do was put an old piece of coax wire in the tv. And you can do that to get WWNY-DT! I think all stations should use VHF. It amazes people when i take a 20+ year old cable and antenna and get 1080i picture. Works great for catching the NCAA tourney in HD.

Anonymous said...

Jim-I phoned you from Hammond the other day (Kring Point). I rescanned (as you suggested) and picked up WWNY-DT on the VHF frequency. Point is for many..if you think you arent picking up WWNY-DT..do a COMPLETE rescan..it worked for me.

ameser said...

So, has anybody traveled the "back roads" between Canton and Potsdam? We have NO DTV reception for channels 7, 28 or 50. And we have a "basic antenna with metal rods" that we bought new last fall, mounted on a mast over our roofline. We have a rotor so we can point it exactly in the right direction. We have a booster on it.We have scanned, rescanned and punched it in manually and NOTHING. Amazing what modern technology has done for us!

Jim Corbin said...

WWNY has tested the signal throughout the North Country. We generally have found it great just about everywhere, including areas around Potsdam & Canton. That said, there can be areas affected by the terrain and upper parts of St Lawrence Co have always been consider fringe areas. Check the signal maps posted in this blog.

Anonymous said...

Hello-Just opened up our camp on the St. Lawrence near Morristown. We've always watched Channel 7 (even with the snowy picture) to get the local news. Have an HD television now and scanned. On sunny days the digital picture comes in and when it does, we get 7.2 as well. On rainy days and at night we only get a blank screen (it doesn't say No Signal, just a blank screen). Could this be an antenna issue or does the signal weaken in bad weather and at night? We're thrilled we get it sometimes, given where we're located--just wish we could figure out how we could watch all the time. Thanks for any information!

Jim Corbin said...

It does sound like you are receiving a marginal signal and whatever weather/atmospheric conditions that change in the evening may be over-some with an antenna upgrade. If you can get the signal level higher with an adjustment or antenna upgrade the occassional drop in signal may not be drastic enough to make the signal appear weak or missing.

Marty H said...

Jim- just to give you some personal experience with my reception of channel 7, digital.
Upon my return from Florida, on May 9 of this year, I live one mile north of the Ogdensburg Prescott bridge on rt. 37. I did a rescan on my Sony digital tv. My scan got me CBC channel 4.1 (digital 25) Ottawa, digital ch. 20 SUN TV Ottawa, WPBS 16.1 (digital 41) and 18.1 (digital 23), and WWTI ch. 50.1 and 50.2 (digital 21. To my surprise nothing for channel 7. With the same antenna and tv last summer when 7.1 and 7.2 were transmitting on ch. 35, I could pick up both stations solid with a signal strength in the high 80's out of a scale of 0-100. Further rescans that day gained me nothing. I turned my antenna for best reception of WWTI and could get it with a signal strength of 98. A couple of days later I did another rescan, thinking 7 was maybe off air before, and to my surprise I picked up 7 this time. But I could get only a signal strength of 62 to 65. The picture would try to come in but then freeze and drop out. As time went by I found I sometimes could get the picture to come in at 65 and lock and be perfectly good for several hours. Then for hours at a time I could get a signal strength of 65 but would not lock in or could get no signal at all. Needless to say this made watching 7.1 and 7.2 virtually impossible. It is not weather or time of day dependent, some sunny days the picture will come in fine for several hours and other sunny days I get nothing. And the same on rainy days. I tried raising my antenna from 20 feet to thirty feet but gained very little. I know there are other people in the Ogdensburg and Lisbon area who cannot get 7 anymore. So I am not convinced your reception of digital 7 in St. Lawrence co. is as good as analog 7 was. Are you currently at as high power as you ever will be? Or how about putting a translator near Potsdam that would cover all of the nothern part of the county. Sorry to say I don't get to see much of channel 7 or 28 anymore. The digital age has not been good to St.Lawrence co. No NBC, No CBS, NO Fox.
Thanks for letting me input my experience.

Jim Corbin said...

DTV reception has been frustrating for many, including the station. We moved to VHF channel 7 because VHF signals travel further distances using less power and are less affected by weather & terrain. We now utilize a top-mounted omni directional antenna, where channel 35 was side-mount and directional. WWNY applied for and received a boost in power over our original channel 7 assignment before we even signed-on 2/17/09. We are operating full-power at that assignment. We have heard from folks 100 miles or more from the station receiving the signal.

Unfortunately the VHF frequency seems to be more affected by the phenomena called multi-path (reflected signals interfering with reception.) We have found antennas are extremely important as is the orientation towards our Champion NY tower.

WWNY is investigating a potential repeater site in St. Lawrence County. Unfortunately the economy and Federal licensing regulations etc does not make this such an easy task.

Roger1818 said...

Marty H.

What type of antenna are you using? I susspect your problem may be that you have a UHF antenna. All the other stations you are listing are broadcasting in UHF, but WWNY-DT is now on VHF. If you aren't sure what type of antenna you have, check to see how well you receive CJOH 13.0 or CHCH 11.0 in analog as compared to say TVO 24.0 or CITY 65.0.

Adding a VHF antenna (or even a VHF-HI antenna which will be much smaller) to your setup should fix this problem. Make sure you use a VHF/UHF band combiner/separator (built into many pre-amps) to combine the antennas though.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim--Keep us posted on your efforts to get a repeater site in St. Lawrence County. I live in Morristown and I'm not able to get Channel 7 in at all. I agree with Marty H. that the digital age hasn't been good to St. Lawrence County. At least with analog, I could get the local news and weather(in Fahrenheit)on Channel 7. Your comment about multi-path was interesting. Is there something folks can do about these "reflections"? Also, has Channel 7 considered doing a webcast of the news either during or after the TV broadcast? Sure miss watching you guys.

Jim Corbin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Corbin said...

The best attack against multi-path is to make sure you have an antenna well suited for VHF frequencies and aligned towards the station. An outdoor antenna is best. We have found basic UHF/VHF antennas best, not any of these so-called DTV/HDTV ready antennas, which are really better suited for UHF. A good old antenna with long metal rods works best and extra height might also help.

Marty H said...

roger1818
My antenna is an Antennacraft HD360 Mini-State VHF/UHF. It is not your normal antenna as it is round and rotates within the round case. It is used a great deal on Rv's and boats.( I went with this antenna because of the bad weather and storms that come up the St. Lawrence. I have lost many traditional antennas over the years to ice and wind.)This antenna picks up VHF 4 CBC Ottawa, 11 Kingston, 6 Global, 13 CTV perfect, the only station in the area I cannot get good is 7 Watertown. When WWNY 7 was on analog, this antenna would pick it up fine here in Ogdensburg. I do pick up digital 7 sometimes, but it is hit or miss with a signal strength of 65 out of a 100. It may come in 3or4 hrs. fine then break up and digitize for several hrs.

Jim Corbin said...

As previously reported in this blog, we have found the most basic of antennas to be best for DTV reception. The so-called DTV/HDTV antennas that are shaped like flying saucers or airplane wings seem better suited for UHF DTV signals than VHF ones. They may have worked OK for analog channel 7, but so not for DTV channel 7.

WWNY has applied for and been granted a power increase already...we are preparing another application for a power increase. Channel 7's across the country are experiencing problems.

We have found with a good reception antenna (again a basic one with the long metal rods) the signal is less likely to break-up and have problems.