Over the Air #OTA TV antenna

So seeing that I had some time on my hands today…. well not going camping…. I decided I needed a project to work on for a bit….  The antenna idea for Sunday worked like a charm and yesterdays antenna build was a bust so….

Today would be deciding project…  Would I be at 2-1 or 1-2 as far as successful projects went?  Read on and find out….

Recently we have been having some issues with our TV at home as our Android Box content providers (we subscribe to 3) have had issues due to that crackdown in Europe.  Two of the three content providers we use just vanished…. The last one is still active but we don’t get the same quality of programming we got with other two.

We “Cut the cord” about 2 years ago when we cancelled our Bell Fibe account and switched over to a combination of OTA TV and streaming services like Netflix and Crave with some YouTube thrown in for variety.

When we lived in Ottawa our OTA content consistted of CBC, CTV 1, CTV 2, City TV, Global, Omni 1, Omni 2 and TV Ontario along with about 5 French Language stations which as I found later was exceptional for Canadian Content.  As Ottawa was too far north of the Border I was unable to receive any of the American Networks….

Fast forward a year later and we had moved to Kingston.  Still streaming but now had the choices of the Android Box and all the stations one could imagine.  However with certain Condo Antenna restrictions (you have heard me mention them before) our OTA reception was limited to Global Kingston using an inside antenna…IMG_0438

Taking my camper to various locations including Lake Ontario Park ( 4 km south of here) on a day trip we managed 18 different OTA stations using the antenna on the trailers roof.  However 4 km north and on the wrong side of a hill all I could get was Global Kingston.

However on a later trip just west of Bath Ontario I managed to receive 9 different stations OTA

Fast forward to today and a bored Bob heads over to Princess Auto in Kingston to look for a project and finds…

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This little dream was $45.00 plus tax and came with a built in Rotor with wireless control, built in signal amplifier with power supply with all parts included….  I brought it home and had it built (assembled) in about an hour….

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And after some playing with it the following was noted and I share with you

The good points

1> It does work.  The instructions were fairly easy to follow.

2>The instructions also made sense to my knowledge of antennas.

3>In addition to Global Kingston (local station) I was able to watch quite clearly the CBS Station and the Fox Station both in Watertown New York.

The bad points

4> The rotor did not work

5> Although its design is excellent along with its performance, the antenna itself is very flimsy and I doubt it would stand up to a strong wind let along a Canadian Winter especially an ice storm.

6> No matter which way I swung the antenna (by hand) I could not receive the PBS Station or the ABC Station in the vicinity of Watertown

The set up

I attached a 4 foot length fibreglass mast to the stand for my patio umbrella.  I then attached a 5 foot length of small diameter aluminun tubing to the fibreglass mast which fit into the bottom of the rotor.  The beam was fed by some (supplied) lightweight coax (RG59???)to the amplifier and then to the TV set.  The amplifier was powered by a (supplied) 15v wall wart.

My opinion

If I was living in an apartment this would be my first choice for a balcony antenna.  A fairly small foot print and lightweight enough to be installed on a Camera Tripod.  The balcony would protect it from most of the elements and also provide the altitude needed to get the further out station especially if the built in rotor was working.  

I could also see it working great as an indoor antenna (aiming it out a window) and easily out performing a set of rabbit ears or other styles of indoor antennas in the $45.00 price range.

I also think this antenna would work great for RV Portable style uses especially if your expensive RV TV antenna got damaged when you forgot to lower it before you left the Campground.  (Been there…. done that)

Disclaimer

Receiving any signals over the airwaves is dependent in being in a good location (usually high ground) to receive them.  What let me watch 3 channels at a whopping 15 feet above ground might give me much better reception if the antenna was on top of our roof at 40 feet or so above ground.  The phrases “Height is might” and “Location, Location, Location” are both especially true when it comes to receiving antennas for any band.

What I thought worked well for me might not work at all for you…. 

Or it could work better than expected….

Your mileage may or will vary and if you choose to purchase one you do so at your own risk and expense.

However due to the non functioning Rotor and the flimsy materials used in the construction I will be returning the antenna tomorrow for a refund.  Don’t feel like running outside in the winter time to hand rotate the antenna or to pick up the pieces after freezing rain hits.  I have no issues with its cost or performance…. Just in its quality and quality control.

So at the end of the day I would call todays project a success.  I learned some stuff…. I got to watch some TV not normally accessable from home and I also proved a point (that it could be done) as well as realizing that even though it works today it might not survive the harsh elements.  Lets come back with a new plan for OTA

Safe Travels/73bob

“Murphy” goes #Boondocking

For those of you who follow the blog

—>  This is a non amateur radio post <—

Boondocking is not really a good term, but has somehow come into common use. Dry Camping (parking anywhere without or with limited amenities) is more accurate. Independent Parking is the preferred term. It means that you are prepared to dry camp but, make use of amenities when they’re available.

For those of you who don’t know “Murphy’s Law:

Murphy’s Law basically reads that…”If it can go wrong…. IT WILL!!!!!!

So given the above statement you can see where this post is going…..

The planning for this trip started 2 weeks ago….  I knew the area that I wanted to camp at and first did a Google Map Satellite view search and found a few choice locations….  All of these locations were west of Kingston Ontario on CR 33 or HWY 33 which is also known if you are heading west from Kingston as the Bath Road.

I found the following locations and decided to check them out when Trisha (youngest daughter) and my self were driving back from Picton Ontario.

The furthest location was a small “Historic Plaque” location just across the 33 highway from the Greater Napanee Power Plant. It was a great location but had a small parking lot. There was a gate but there were no warning signs that restricted access or overnight parking.

 

The Next location was at the “Finkle Shore Park and Boat Launch. The Picnic area at the west side was a bit crowded and we did not see much hope in parking the trailer there without upsetting quite a few visitors. However on the boat launch side at the east end of the park there was a fair bit of room as boaters launch their boats and then park the tow vehicle and now empty trailers while boating. So the parking lot had room for longer rigs but as it was a busy day on the water…. we kept heading east

 

The site I liked the best was a two part pull off….  The west side had a private property sign but the east side had no restriction and they had some benches close to the water.  I checked this one fully and decided that we had a winner.  I would return to this location with the camper.

The private property would be on the left of your screen and the by my defination open property would be on the right of the screen

Now back to the present time….  Its now a week later and I have left Kingston heading west on the Bath Road

I stop at the closest location (private and public site) and pull down to the east side of the public side and find that I have to pull a 25 point turn with the truck/trailer so I can get facing the right direction without getting the rig stuck on what I would call “soggy ground”.  So turned around and in the right direction I find out why the ground is soggy….  The wind is fairly strong and the waves are breaking on the shoreline and the water is splashing onto the ground where I was planning to set up….  Time to move on….

The score is Murphy 1 and Bob 0

Next stop was at the Finkle Park.  The boat launch side had a few trucks with empty trailer so this would not be that quiet and so I headed over to the public park side.  Unfortunately the park was fairly busy and there was no where to put the trailer where I could easily exit after.  I wont score this one as this would be a great day use facility and they actually now have signs up to restrict overnite parking (camping)

The score remains at Murphy 1 and Bob 0

The next attempt was at the Historic Site across from the Napanee Power Facility.  The lot is empty and after about 5 minutes or moving around I get the rig safely in the North east corner without hitting any of the rocks you saw in the Google Maps shot.

I am able to put my Champion 1.5kw generator on a flat rock just behind my camper and my BBQ on a flat rock beside my camper…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The score is now all tied up at Murphy 1 and Bob 1

The generator is now running,  The BBQ is lit and inside I am getting 9 channels OTA (Over the Air).  Global Kingston, 4 PBS stations, Fox and ABC from Watertown/Syracuse and a couple of specialty channels….  Once again proving that location is a big thing in RF reception and that Lake Ontario does a great job of reflecting signals.

Remember that the OTA antenna on the camper was state of the art back in 1999.  20 years later the amplifier has failed so now I basically have a set of rabbit ears on the roof… Old Rabbit ears at that

Supper is cooked and finished along with a couple of brews…..

Score is now Murphy 1 and Bob 2 (Sounds of crowd cheering)

And then it started to cloud over quickly and the wind picked up….

and then the sound and light started……

And look at the size of those Lightning Rods just across the street from me…..

The sound and light continued for about 30 min or so and there were a couple of real close instant Flash/Booms that did get my attention but I already had supper and the camper and I survived so eventually the storm passed on its way east

But Murphy has tied up the score at 2-2

Once the storm passed the sun peeked out from the clouds again and it was a great evening…. with some great views…..

Although my skills as a photographer do not do the area justice you can see the wind turbines on Amherst Island turning….  The visability had cleared up and you could see for miles….

The score is now Murphy 2 and Bob 3 (and the crowd goes wild…)

And as the sun sets on our hero…. we now have more “issues” to deal with.  The first one may seem minor to you but…. not to me…..  The plan was to tether my Android Box to my cell phone and watch the Football game later in the evening.  It was a CFL (Canadian Foot Ball League) Double header with the early game in Montreal and the Late game in Calgary.  As it turned out the Montreal Game was called after the 3rd quarter due to a very severe storm with lots of thunder and lightning.

Remember that storm that I had talked about earlier????  Well the storm was tracking east and Montreal is East of where I was camping…. The storm ran right up the St Lawrence River and hit them harder than it hit us here on Lake Ontario…..  Bad enough that the game was called due to dangerous weather.  Montreal has an outdoor stadium…

However by not checking my Streaming capabilities earlier to make sure all was in order I gave Murphy an easy point

And we are tied back up at 3-3

At this point I am thinking that Murphy might actually win this one…. and then….  Its dark…. no one around…. and I am hearing noises…. I grab a flashlight  and check around the site….  no one in sight…  no  eyes in the flashlites beam…. I’m all alone here….  Then it hits me….  In all my years of camping this is the first time that I’ve been camping in a non-campground  situation without family/friends/neighbors/other campers…

Many a night has been spent in Rest areas, Walmart lots, Truck stops and the like but there was always someone around….  Security at the stores, Staff at the truck stops and in Florida an armed Deputy at the rest stop just outside Orlando

So between things that go bump in the night (or could go bump in the night), thoughts about what happened a couple of weeks ago in Western Canada along with  quite a few mosquitoes that found me when I was out checking the site the decision was made to concede this trip to Murphy

In the  end the final score has  Murphy winning 4 to 3 and the crowd is hushed….

60 minutes later I had arrived back in Kingston and was fortunate to find a street parking space close to the house.  I transferred all that was in the box of the pickup into the trailer for the night.  Saturday morning the trailer is safely back in the storage yard and life goes on….

But just wait till next time…. Damn you Murph!!!!

Safe Travels

Bob

 

 

Living on the “wrong side” of the hill

Both the RV community and the Amateur Radio community should like this one

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In yesterdays post I mentioned that we were parked for the day at Lake Ontario Park in Kingston.  I forgot to mention that I decided to play a bit with some HDTV reception to compare signals from my home 5km to the north to what I would receive at the park.

From my backyard (facing south) I get Global Kingston which is about 6 km to the south south east and thats it….

From Lake Ontario Park I got signal locks on 18 different stations  (Global Kingston was the only Canadian station)  and 17 other US stations between Watertown and Rochester NY.  Between those 17 stations I managed to get ABC, CBS,NBC and Fox along with several different shopping channels and a few special interest channels.  

Why the big difference?…..  at home I’m blocked to the south due to a hill between me and the lake….  I did not really think it would make that much of a difference but it did….

Proving that “Location, Location, Location” comes into play in more that real estate and thats its all about the antenna (and the antenna location)

Safe Travels & 73bob