An Antenna is an Antenna, Right? Page 3
This was as close as I dared get to the business district of Chicago. The city has very strict policies about parking, standing, loitering, or looking like a techno-weenie on the street. I didn't want to risk getting the Home Theater test vehicle towed to the pound in a test of the First Amendment right to free press.
I set up in a direct line of sight from the transmitter's location and was immediately surprised at how bad the ghosting was on the analog TV. There were at least five ghosts at almost the same amplitude of the primary picture. The analog TV kept losing horizontal sync and breaking up. All of the images from the digital television, on the other hand, were flawless. This to me really proves one of the greatest strengths of DTV—the signal's ability to work under the worst conditions.
At this location, I was so close that none of the antennas needed a preamp, so I tested them without one. They all performed very well. Even with their differences in design, no one stood out above the others.
The Terk HDTV60 seems designed specifically for locations like this. Its directional bit has a large beam width. It can receive any signals coming to it straight-on or to about 60 degrees to the left or right.
2 Miles from Transmitter
Four-story buildings surrounded our site 2 miles from the transmitter. Our antennas were dwarfed, meaning they didn't have a direct line of sight to the transmitter. For some of the antennas, this was the hardest site at which to perform well. The multipath was severe, and antenna placement down below the rooflines was poor. For these reasons, the Terk HDTV60 and the Channel Master StealthTenna, with their large beam widths, needed a bit of tweaking to receive a steady picture. The most directional antenna, the Magnadyne, worked the best with the least amount of fussing.
4.5 Miles from Transmitter
Our 4.5-mile marker was much like the last site, with three-story buildings and an elevated Chicago Transit Authority electric-commuter-train structure 100 feet away thrown in for a little ambience. Here, again, our antennas were below the rooflines and didn't have a direct line of sight; nonetheless, each one performed well. The Terk and the StealthTenna required a little more tweaking than the Magnadyne, once again. We switched on the HDTV60's internal preamp. If you install one of these antennas on your own, be sure to drag a signal meter or a TV up to the roof to assist you with the aiming.
Having spent a grueling morning traveling around Chicago, I rewarded myself by stopping at White Castle for a sack of Slyders for lunch.
10 Miles from Transmitter
Near the edge of Chicago, on my way to the suburbs, I chose a spot 10 miles from the transmitter that had some two-story buildings and a pretty good line of sight for our antennas. However, the HDTV60 took quite a bit of adjusting to get a good signal. This goes to show that flush-mounting the antenna to the side of a house is a fairly poor solution in most instances. At this distance, the StealthTenna needed the preamp to receive the signal, while the yagi was still going strong.