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hoggs222

HD Antenna? Do I need one?

13 posts in this topic

I'm looking to get my wheelhouse ready for this winter. I've got an HDTV and I'm wondering come February, Am I going to need an HD antenna on the house?

I currently have a retractable antenna on the roof. Otherwise, do they make any of the plug-in HD antennas that are 12 volt?

Also, does anyone know of a site that lists the state of MN and the HD channels that you get in a certain area?

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No you will not. The change in February is the switch from analog OTA (over the air) signals to a digital signal. This doesn't mandate people to get HD televisions or HD service. All cable and satellite systems will not be affected by this change and only older televisions without a built in digital tuner will need a converter box to pick up the digital signal now being broadcasted. The broadcast range is also going to be cut down to 50-70 miles of the broadcast tower. The smaller market (sister stations) are not mandated to make the switch right now, but some will. So if you aren't sure, check to see if the station will be switching and it is also a good idea to get a digital converter with the analog passthrough. Your TV should be just fine as it more than likely has a built in digital tuner.

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Cool, that's what I was thinking, but wasn't 100% sure.

I fish Mille Lacs the most and we never got good reception out there. Do you think that the digital signal will be stronger?

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There is no such thing as an HD or digital antenna, although it's a common misconception.

What you will need is a standard UHF/VHF antenna to receive the digital signals. One thing to remember with the digital transition is that line of sight to the broadcasting antenna is crucial, and as LakeDocktor mentioned the distance is going to be quite a bit shorter than it has with the analog system we've used for decades.

What is going to be tough is that when ice fishing you are at the lowest elevation (lake level) so getting a good line of sight won't be as easy as if you were just putting an antenna on the roof of your residence in town. If you're lucky you'll be fishing very close to a broadcast tower and it'll be easy to aim the antenna and pick up the signal.

So while the pop-up antenna may work, it still may not have the height to get a good line of sight with the tower unless it is fairly close. I've never had luck with those pop-up antennas for analog TV, so a better UHF/VHF antenna on a short mast may be a better idea for you. It'll all depend on where you are in relation to the nearest tower.

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BTW, what area of ML do you fish? Just general area such as north, south, west, or east sides.

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Interesting.....thanks for the input! I always thought the HD antenna's would pick up a better signal. What do you think about the antennas with a booster? Would that make any difference out on the lake? Of course, depending where you are.

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Here's the digital station data for Garrison, MN. As you can see at the top of the chart a few channels are within a reasonable distance. It appears they get further away in a hurry so there aren't too many digital channels available near Garrison.

Radar-Digital2-1.jpg

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My house is roughly 60 miles from the broadcast tower in Shoreview. The antenna is on the peak of the house (two-story) and mounted on a 6' mast and I need a powered booster to receive the various channels, so yes, a booster can be helpful. It is one more thing to draw battery power in the ice house though.

If my situation is any indication, I have my antenna mounted that high and still need a booster at 60 miles out. The elevation of a fish house antenna is going to be much lower and that 60 mile distance will get reduced in a hurry being that low to the ground, therefore you will have to be closer than 60 miles to get a signal.

It looks like there are a handful of analog channels you can pull in after the digital transition. Channels 16, 35, 48, 54, 33, 39, and 14. So you'll definitely need a UHF antenna for those.

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From my experience, picking up digital HD broadcast at Millelacs will be marginal at best, and then only from local stations. I have my home set up for broadcast digital reception in Buffalo, and my antenna is pointed at the Shoreview towers. The old VHF/UHF yagi antenna would not reliably keep the signal to my receivers and I added a UHF specific antenna on a 10' mast in parallel with the old antenna which has made reception much better but still not perfect. I am on the fringe for reception at this distance even with the better antenna. I suggest that you invest in a UHF specific antenna at least if you want to receive signal on Millelacs and be sure you know what direction to point it. All antennas that use a bar with reflector plates will be directional. Check out a manufacturer called Winegard for the antenna, they have a good HSOforum that will help. Also check Antennaweb for recommendations on how to receive signal at your location.

After what I have seen trying to get decent signal at 40 miles from the Shoreview broadcast point, the new digital broadcast is going to be a nightmare for rural homes that do not have satellite or cable access. Their old VHF/UHF antenas will just be rooftop decoration.

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I'm surprised you are having problems at 40 miles out. As I mentioned, I'm near 60 miles and get all of the channels. I'm using a Winegard UHF-only with a powered booster from Radio Shack. Without the booster, nada. I have some height on the antenna though, so that helps too.

Be careful about the UHF only antenna though. KARE11 and FOX9 are moving back to the VHF band and it may be pretty tough to get those channels with a UHF only antenna. If I would have known three years ago they were moving back to the VHF band I would have purchased a different antenna.

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I can get all of the channels and I do not have a booster on the antenna. My VHF antenna is stll up on the mast as well. I think it will be interesting when the switch happens and people suddenly find out that they no longer have reception due to distance and antenna problems. There is going to be quite a fuss.

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My house is roughly 60 miles from the broadcast tower in Shoreview. The antenna is on the peak of the house (two-story) and mounted on a 6' mast and I need a powered booster to receive the various channels, so yes, a booster can be helpful.

I am 5.1 miles from this same tower, live on the 3rd floor of an apartment and needed to buy a booster. Needless to say I am not a big fan of the forced change over..

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