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View Full Version : Looking for a good VHF-Low Antenna



Crazy Monkey
04-22-2015, 02:35 PM
I'm wondering if anyone has had experience with a good VHF-Low antenna. In looking for ones online, and I came across the Antennas Direct V15 and the AntennaCraft CS600. My hope is to find one that isn't too bulky that I can place outside in an attempt to capture e-skip when the season begins soon. My FM-6 just isn't going to cut it... the net gain isn't good for VHF-Low on the FM-6 because of an impedance mismatch. That's what I'm worried about in buying an antenna is that the real net gain won't actually meet the typically exaggerated raw gain (in dBi) published by the manufacturer.

I don't want anything gigantic, maybe just a dipole with reflector and director elements... 3 elements max. to keep it small, an antenna that has decent gain on channels 2-6.

dtvdxer
04-22-2015, 04:20 PM
I use a Winegard YA-6260 VHF-Lo antenna, which unfortunately has been discontinued. I do see, however, Summit Source still has it listed for sale. It has 6 elements, and has done well for me with E-skip. You can see specs here: http://www.winegard.com/kbase/uploads/Ya-6260.pdf

Crazy Monkey
04-22-2015, 04:44 PM
I use a Winegard YA-6260 VHF-Lo antenna, which unfortunately has been discontinued. I do see, however, Summit Source still has it listed for sale. It has 6 elements, and has done well for me with E-skip. You can see specs here: http://www.winegard.com/kbase/uploads/Ya-6260.pdf

I've checked out your E-skip screenshots, and the amount that you've logged is impressive. Just what do I need to expect if I'm going to attempt this? I am already aware of the e-skip map, which I've used in the past for FM e-skip... http://www.dxmaps.com/spots/map.php?Lan=E&Frec=MUF&ML=M&Map=NA&DXC=N&HF=N&GL=N

What is the level of difficulty of catching VHF-low e-skip? I've heard it's a lot harder with digital, but with the low-VHF channels sparse, doesn't that make it easier with hardly no cochannel interference? Do you sit and wait by the TV, or can I just leave the tuner on while away to see if it decodes any PSIP?

I'm worried I may have to use an FM filter which could attenuate the VHF-low channels. I live too close to an 88.1 and 89.7 which would probably need attenuated, therefore losing the possibility of catching channels 5 or 6.

Gary Hickerson
04-22-2015, 05:52 PM
Check out starkelectronics.com. They list a 5 element Low-band VHF antenna (#BTY-5-LB SINGLE CHAN. LB VHF ANTENNA 5 ELEMENT). Suppose tobe, still available !

Gary H.

Mike-CT
04-22-2015, 06:56 PM
The difficulty of receiving DTV Es...it varies. I have seen stations like WMC-5 decode for 10 minutes at a time for half an hour. Then again, I've seen others decode for 2-3 seconds and that's all. And again, sometimes all you see is their PSIP and no video.

I already know what's available to me within single hope range and you'll need to find the same for your location. My goals are KOTA-2 and...this is a real stretch...Las Vegas on ch2. KOTA regularly makes it to central NY. For me, it's that last 200 miles here that's the killer. Las Vegas is probably a dream :-)

Use DXMaps to see if there is any Es floating around from your area to somewhere else. Then check our email list or BBs to see if anyone else is hearing/seeing anything. If you have any digital 2s or 3s within single hop range, leave your TV or box tuned to 2 or 3. Also...if you have any kind of tuner (even one of those RTL2832 dongles) that tunes 55mhz and higher, check 54.310 for the DTV Pilot signal for ch2, 60.310 for ch3, 66.310 for ch4, 76.310 for ch5 and 82.310 for ch6. If any of those pilot carriers is very strong, tune your TV or box to the appropriate channel and video may decode. Checking for pilot carriers works and is much better than flying blind!

Crazy Monkey
04-22-2015, 09:10 PM
The difficulty of receiving DTV Es...it varies. I have seen stations like WMC-5 decode for 10 minutes at a time for half an hour. Then again, I've seen others decode for 2-3 seconds and that's all. And again, sometimes all you see is their PSIP and no video.

I already know what's available to me within single hope range and you'll need to find the same for your location. My goals are KOTA-2 and...this is a real stretch...Las Vegas on ch2. KOTA regularly makes it to central NY. For me, it's that last 200 miles here that's the killer. Las Vegas is probably a dream :-)

Use DXMaps to see if there is any Es floating around from your area to somewhere else. Then check our email list or BBs to see if anyone else is hearing/seeing anything. If you have any digital 2s or 3s within single hop range, leave your TV or box tuned to 2 or 3. Also...if you have any kind of tuner (even one of those RTL2832 dongles) that tunes 55mhz and higher, check 54.310 for the DTV Pilot signal for ch2, 60.310 for ch3, 66.310 for ch4, 76.310 for ch5 and 82.310 for ch6. If any of those pilot carriers is very strong, tune your TV or box to the appropriate channel and video may decode. Checking for pilot carriers works and is much better than flying blind!

I'm thinking I should try to find an antenna that has good gain for channels 2-6 but then the gain drops off into the FM band. I think if I can find that in combination with an FM trap that allows channel 6, that would be enough to block out unwanted interference from the nearby FMs.

Speaking of channel 2 in Las Vegas, you would probably be in the double hop range. Here in Ohio, I'm over 1800 miles from Las Vegas, so for me, that's too far for single hop. There are definitely some potential candidates I could receive, from what I've researched... KOTA, WLBZ, KSNB, KNOP, KDLO, CKPR, WOI, WMC, KNHL, KIVV, KCWX, CHAU are possible.

I have only casually DXed in the past. It wasn't until I purchased a home where I had the freedom to put up as big of an antenna as I wished. Here is a photo of KIII-3 from Corpus Christi Texas I received when local WKYC-3 went off the air temporarily...
16742
That probably wouldn't be enough to decode on digital, but that was just with indoor rabbit ears. Here is another I picked up with the FM-6...
16743

dtvdxer
04-26-2015, 03:26 PM
What is the level of difficulty of catching VHF-low e-skip? I've heard it's a lot harder with digital, but with the low-VHF channels sparse, doesn't that make it easier with hardly no cochannel interference? Do you sit and wait by the TV, or can I just leave the tuner on while away to see if it decodes any PSIP?


I will say it's not really easy, but the best part (as with all DTV DX) is that you only need reception for a second and you will know who it is. As Mike says, VHF skip DX can be very fleeting. If you have a TV/STB like the Zenith/Insignia's that lots of DXers use, that shows the signal bar when the signal is too weak to decode, then look around for a sub-decoding bar and hang-out on that channel. What I do is every few minutes check for the "most likely" signal to decode, leave my STB tuned there and go back to FM DXing at the other end of the house (if there is FM DX coming in). I record from the STB so I will have video of each decode. It's a bit easier for me, because most VHF-Lo DX is generally from the west, where you have more diverse directions to deal with. As you get more and more VHF-skip you'll find out what process works the best for you.
There is a lot less co-channel interference compared to the analog days... but still on some channels, especially ch 5, co-channel interference can occur that sometimes will squelch all decodes even though there is a good skip opening.
Part of my DX hobby involves getting the best screen shots I can of all DX, including all subchannels. That helps keep my interest up when receiving the same stations from year to year. Even though I received WGVK DT-5 twice (2010, & 2011) I have never gotten a screenshot of any of the subhcannels. The same for WCYB DT-5 which I got only once.
Looking over my 15 VHF-Lo skip logs, I find the average distance is 941 miles, median is 875 miles, and most common / strongest stations are WMC-5 at 977 miles and WHBF-4 at 856 miles. Stations at comparable distances from you should be the easiest.
Here's hoping for a great 2015 E-skip season!

Crazy Monkey
05-04-2015, 09:39 AM
I use a Winegard YA-6260 VHF-Lo antenna, which unfortunately has been discontinued. I do see, however, Summit Source still has it listed for sale. It has 6 elements, and has done well for me with E-skip. You can see specs here: http://www.winegard.com/kbase/uploads/Ya-6260.pdf

I just ordered the Winegard YA-6260 from Summit Source. I have a spot on the roof that would be perfect for it. With the e-skip season approaching, I'll keep it pointed west and leave the tuner on to see if it decodes KOTA or KNOP. I figure that channel 2 is probably more likely decodeable since the lower frequencies see e-skip more frequently.

dtvdxer
05-04-2015, 06:27 PM
I expect you'll do well with the YA-6260. From what I've seen posted, KOTA is actually a bit of a pest in the mid-west, so I'm quite sure you'll log them this summer. KOTA at about 1125 miles and KNOP at around 1000 miles are both in the e-skip 'sweet spot". Keep your eyes open for KIVV-5... With their tower located beyond Rapid City, almost in Wyoming, they've been just out of reach for me... but they should be quite doable for you. Good luck... and here's hoping we get a nice skip opening soon!

Robert Grant
05-04-2015, 09:28 PM
Keep in mind that there are still some true all-channel antennas out there, that receive VHF-low (in addition to VHF-high and UHF)

Antennacraft:
http://www.antennacraft.net/Antennas/AntennasAllChannel.html
(Believe it or not, even that little AC-9 could get DTV Es in a good opening!)

Winegard:
HD7084P and HD8200U (Sadly, Winegard trimmed their once comprehensive line of all-channel antennas to these two behemoths - they really should have kept the 7080 or 7082 in the line and left out the 7084).

Channel Master:
Advantage Series (45, 60, 100 - actually the CM3016, 3018 and 3020 renamed, respectively) These are "V-beam types" that are not quite as good as the LPY designs offered by Antennacraft and Winegard.

@Crazy Monkey: Your location slightly favors KNOP over KOTA, but the latter should not be too rare, either.
For short Es, see if you can bag WHBF 4 from the Eastern edge of Iowa.

Robert Grant
05-05-2015, 07:10 PM
Scratch all those Antennacraft antennas - Radio Shack Online and Solid Signal are sold out of most models, and it seems they went out of business

See thread I am starting after I type this.

Crazy Monkey
05-06-2015, 08:54 AM
I received the YA-6260 antenna yesterday and hooked it up. I tried testing it out, but I'm not sure how well it performs yet. I used WLFM-LP channel 6, a local Franken FM, to test the antenna but the TV didn't show any video or audio. Unfortunately it appears that 88.1 WZIP and 89.7 WKSU, 2 miles away are interfering with WLFM which is about 25 miles away. I tried a couple different FM traps, a Radio Shack and an MCM Electronics trap, but none seemed to bring in channel 6. I think the MCM Electronics FM trap brought in a really bad video of channel 6, but that was it.

Crazy Monkey
05-06-2015, 09:45 AM
My idea is that I should probably use the FM trap from MCM Electronics if my goal is to receive VHF-low e-skip. It attenuates channels 5 and 6 to an extent, but I don't think it would hurt channels 2, 3, and 4. I noticed that I could hear FM audio interfering on channels 4, 5, and 6. So it's probably a good idea to attenuate the FM stations that are causing problems. Am I right??

Here is my FM Fool report... 16757

Crazy Monkey
05-07-2015, 10:08 PM
I received the YA-6260 antenna yesterday and hooked it up. I tried testing it out, but I'm not sure how well it performs yet. I used WLFM-LP channel 6, a local Franken FM, to test the antenna but the TV didn't show any video or audio. Unfortunately it appears that 88.1 WZIP and 89.7 WKSU, 2 miles away are interfering with WLFM which is about 25 miles away. I tried a couple different FM traps, a Radio Shack and an MCM Electronics trap, but none seemed to bring in channel 6. I think the MCM Electronics FM trap brought in a really bad video of channel 6, but that was it.

I've only had the antenna up for two days, and I've already noticed some activity on channel 2. So I now know the antenna is working. I still haven't gotten any PSIP though. But I'm excited!!

16761

Crazy Monkey
05-10-2015, 12:44 AM
I tried the Winegard YA-6260 on a different TV, an RCA 12" black-and-white TV manufactured in August 1984, and it was able to pick up WLFM-LP 6 which the other TVs could not. The video was okay in quality, but the only audio I could hear was 88.1 WZIP. I noticed that removing the FM filter helped. Here is a photo.

16776

cd637299
05-10-2015, 02:27 PM
I saw that subdecode on DT 2 there. It should come very soon for ya, CM!

cd

Robert Grant
05-10-2015, 06:50 PM
Don't forget to make good use of your new yagi when all of the skip is to the south to DX the analog stations from Cuba, Central and South America and Mexico (the latter in their last year of analog) with an analog TV.

If you have an amateur radio or scanner that covers 54-88 Mhz, make use of it, too)

Crazy Monkey
05-11-2015, 08:38 AM
Don't forget to make good use of your new yagi when all of the skip is to the south to DX the analog stations from Cuba, Central and South America and Mexico (the latter in their last year of analog) with an analog TV.

If you have an amateur radio or scanner that covers 54-88 Mhz, make use of it, too)

I'll be sure to keep an eye out for Cuba. It looks like that's my best chance on analog. Mexico is nearing the limit for regular e-skip (not double hop) for me, since the Yucatan Peninsula part of Mexico is about 1300 miles away. I'm a bit anxious to see my first e-skip on digital. That channel 2 subdecode was quite a teaser.

cd637299
05-12-2015, 12:34 PM
If this is any help, ch 2 in Havana is Tele Rebelde, which has become a sort of "ESPN" for Cuba. Much of the time, there will be a green "star" logo bug in the upper right.

But Robert is right. Cuba should be in analog for at least another 6 years, and I still think it's a stretch that they'll be 100% digital by 2021.

Don't forget Danny's excellent site www.tvdxtips.com ---I wrote a little something there about Cuba TV to help.

cd

Crazy Monkey
05-12-2015, 03:31 PM
If this is any help, ch 2 in Havana is Tele Rebelde, which has become a sort of "ESPN" for Cuba. Much of the time, there will be a green "star" logo bug in the upper right.

But Robert is right. Cuba should be in analog for at least another 6 years, and I still think it's a stretch that they'll be 100% digital by 2021.

Don't forget Danny's excellent site www.tvdxtips.com ---I wrote a little something there about Cuba TV to help.

cd

Thanks, I'll keep on lookout for Cuban e-skip. I have a Ku satellite dish in my backyard that receives the Cuban broadcast stations on Hispasat 30W (except Tele Rebelde and Multivision).

The only OTA Cuban DX I've done was on a Caribbean cruise...
16779

Raymie
05-12-2015, 04:20 PM
Nice. That's the midday newscast with the stopwatch ribbon logo.