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Built $9 Fractal Antennna, 21 Digital Channels
Old 06-13-2009, 07:42 AM   #1
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Built $9 Fractal Antennna, 21 Digital Channels

I built a very small fractal antenna and this morning tuned my computer TV Tuner using it, bingo 21 perfect quality stations.

Amazing.
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Old 06-13-2009, 08:39 AM   #2
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Those women look a little distorted. No, wait, it's the food channel.
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Old 06-13-2009, 08:51 AM   #3
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I can hear it now. "Honey does that fractal antenna make my butt look big?"

EDIT: By the way, I put an impedance transformer ($5.99 from Radio Shack) and I'm convinced it does not help much. So I tried drawing this on a piece of cardboard with metallic paint and it works even better.

Just called and cancelled my $29 basic cable.
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Old 06-13-2009, 10:37 AM   #4
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We got all the stations w/o any change to our antenna at all.

It depends on your current set up, distance from stations etc. I did need to rescan this AM, some Chicago stations had to wait until some others actually shut down before they could move to their long term home.

In a tie to the "retirement" theme, NBC had a little piece with a retired technician/engineer shutting down the old analog transmitters that he installed and maintained for most of his career. Truly an end to a (technical) era.

There are actually a few analog stations still broadcasting. Most are repeating the instructions on what to do to get converted to DTV. This is one of the few things they have done that makes sense in this transition (though I didn't listen to the details, they probably flubbed those).

I've been amazed at all the misinformation that comes from the media about the transition, esp considering that this in right in their own field! Just last week, a podcast started with "Next week, you'll need to trash your rabbit ears!", 20 minutes in, someone corrected him that rabbit ears can work just fine in a strong signal area. Yesterday, I saw "recycle your old TV" articles, they didn't mention the most obvious - those old TVs will work fine for someone with cable/satellite. One long running PSA actually showed a cartoon version of adjusting the antenna to avoid a fuzzy/distorted (wavy lines) picture after connecting your converter box! You don't get wavy lines, you either get a digital picture or not (if you are right on the hairy edge, you might get big blocks of broken up rectangles, but not wavy lines).

Crazy.

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Old 06-14-2009, 02:13 AM   #5
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We had been getting some of the local tv stations digitally for some time, but now after the switchover, we get almost none. We have a big honking antenna on the roof and two different converter boxes DH (former electronic tech) has been trying to make work.
In between this and the next-door-neighbor who moved in and started transmitting morse code that comes in over all our audio equipment, I'm ready to turn Amish. Except I don't want to give up my computer.
A friend who lives closer to the tv transmitters gets the stations ok using rabbit ears, but only sometimes, if she tweaks the rabbit ears just right.
PX4sc40sw, did you make up your antenna from your own idea or see it somewhere? I'm not a hardware engineer. Do you think it is an improvement over rabbit ears I might buy at, say, Radio Shack? But then I'm reputedly too far from the transmitters for rabbit ears to work. Hence the big honking antenna.
I think I'm going to be doing a lot more reading, now that I can't watch tv or listen to music in my home anymore.
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Old 06-14-2009, 03:38 AM   #6
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One thing to realize is that, as I understand it, most of the digital stations are coming in over UHF, not VHF, even if it looks like a traditional low VHF number. Check DTV Stations in Operation in your area. For example, for WABC in New York you tune into channel 7.1 for the main ABC programming, but it's really UHF channel 45 you are picking up over the air, not VHF channel 7. So it's the loop part of the antennae you need to adjust, not the long rabbit ears part. Someone correct me if I'm wrong on this.
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Old 06-14-2009, 08:27 AM   #7
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One thing to realize is that, as I understand it, most of the digital stations are coming in over UHF, not VHF, even if it looks like a traditional low VHF number. Check DTV Stations in Operation in your area. For example, for WABC in New York you tune into channel 7.1 for the main ABC programming, but it's really UHF channel 45 you are picking up over the air, not VHF channel 7. So it's the loop part of the antennae you need to adjust, not the long rabbit ears part. Someone correct me if I'm wrong on this.
You're right, but after Friday's transition a lot of the stations in the channel 7-13 range that did have UHF digital signals have moved back to the VHF frequencies they used to use for analog. For example, here in the Austin area the Fox affiliate had its digital signal on channel 56 but moved it back to 7 on Friday.
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Old 06-14-2009, 09:48 AM   #8
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We had been getting some of the local tv stations digitally for some time, but now after the switchover, we get almost none.
Did you tell the box to RESCAN?

Some stations moved their frequencies as part of the switch. They couldn't do it before, because they had to wait for others to free up the spectrum. IF they moved, you need to rescan to get them. Also, if they moved to a different part of the band, it's possible that the antenna isn't sensitive in that range, but rescan first - if that's the issue no amount of antenna tweaking will 'fix' it.


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Old 06-14-2009, 10:07 AM   #9
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I'm shocked that anyone is shocked that 300,000 people called yesterday, shocked that they did not have TV. Uhhhh, that TV has been squawking at them for over a year. Shocked, not really, but it never ceases to amaze me.

As for my OP, I should have emphasized that the fractal antenna was a way to get rid of the rabbit ear/loop and the rooftop, by making a very simple/very cheap, hobby quality fractal that locks in every VHF/UHF transmission in my area. The rabbit ears ($49 at Shack) got less channels to lock up and several were patched out.

Sooooooooooooooo, again, as a retiree, if you want the same channels that a basic cable package provides for FREE, building this fractal requires little effort or skill level. And every station in your area should lock up easily.
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Old 06-14-2009, 10:22 AM   #10
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I'm shocked that anyone is shocked that 300,000 people called yesterday, shocked that they did not have TV. Uhhhh, that TV has been squawking at them for over a year. Shocked, not really, but it never ceases to amaze me.
Yes. There is this entire population of people who are totally oblivious to most of the things that go on in this world. I figure that these people just listen to music, never read anything (maybe romance novels), don't watch the news, and automatically tune out anything unrelated to the cave in which they live.

Another example: I was in the post office the other day, and heard the clerk telling someone about forever stamps. The patron was amazed -- had never heard about them.
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Old 06-14-2009, 10:35 AM   #11
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Guess the question for you Al, do you think you will ever become a cave man? To the point that widely publicized information has escaped notice.

Like, "Dewey has now been declared the loser".

I quit watching TV about 30 years ago and I mean "QUIT", have not owned a TV for more than 1 year of the last 30. I have seen adverts, etc, but I have no idea what a "reality show" is. And I feel OK with myself. Although others let out an audible, "gah" when I reveal that.



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Yes. There is this entire population of people who are totally oblivious to most of the things that go on in this world. I figure that these people just listen to music, never read anything (maybe romance novels), don't watch the news, and automatically tune out anything unrelated to the cave in which they live.

Another example: I was in the post office the other day, and heard the clerk telling someone about forever stamps. The patron was amazed -- had never heard about them.
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Old 06-14-2009, 12:58 PM   #12
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Sooooooooooooooo, again, as a retiree, if you want the same channels that a basic cable package provides for FREE, building this fractal requires little effort or skill level. And every station in your area should lock up easily.
I've got cable but I have helped a number of old folks around here to set up digital over-the-air TVs. How about some DIY instructions for your fractal antenna?
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Old 06-14-2009, 01:53 PM   #13
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Unfortuneatly, I live in the boonies and even with a good antena can't get anything but the local universities PBS station. I get it in normal and HD.
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Old 06-14-2009, 02:02 PM   #14
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Sure, I got the plan from here.
Ruckman Fractal
Template

I built them like this ( bit more professional):
1 Each stiff backing 7"x7" (heck, even stiff cardboard works well enough)
6 Brass bolts w nuts of small size 3/32 x 1/2 is what I used ($1)
1 Brass rod 36" if you make no mistakes (get 2) $3
1 Impedance matching transformer 300-75 ohm ($5.99 at Shack)

BTW, I made one with two 7"x7" plexiglass backing board and captured the antenna between them and it's indestructable. Oh, each element is 8" of brass folded at 1"increment, so get thin brass rod, easier to bend. Took me about 45 minutes to build it.

Best thing about this is that it's so easy to find space to hide it. The one in the picture below was a prototype and I had just a small piece of plexi so the elements stick out the sides.

Good luck, nice of you to help other people.


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I've got cable but I have helped a number of old folks around here to set up digital over-the-air TVs. How about some DIY instructions for your fractal antenna?
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Old 06-14-2009, 04:10 PM   #15
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I just borrowed a rabbit ear antenna and it works pretty well for most channels with only 1 that pixelates out. Time to cancel the $11 month basic cable.

Where did you buy the brass bolts and brass rod if I can ask?
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Old 06-14-2009, 04:16 PM   #16
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I've got cable but I have helped a number of old folks around here to set up digital over-the-air TVs. How about some DIY instructions for your fractal antenna?
I've had good luck with this :

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Old 06-14-2009, 06:04 PM   #17
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At a regular hardware store, they have all kinds of tubing and solid rod stock and 3 or 4 type of bolt/washer/nut metal. Any conductive metal would work.

So far the fractal antenna has been able to pick up all the available channels and does not need orientation or adjustments like a rabbit ear setup.

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I just borrowed a rabbit ear antenna and it works pretty well for most channels with only 1 that pixelates out. Time to cancel the $11 month basic cable.

Where did you buy the brass bolts and brass rod if I can ask?
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Old 06-14-2009, 06:10 PM   #18
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So far the fractal antenna has been able to pick up all the available channels and does not need orientation or adjustments like a rabbit ear setup.
You must be located reasonably close to the transmitters. How far are you from the towers? AntennaWeb
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Old 06-14-2009, 07:14 PM   #19
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All the stations are transmitting with 2-3 miles. Most on hills. So yeah, I'm getting best performance.

It's funny to see people still trying to "amplify" the signal, gonna jack that 1 up to a 1.5 I guess.

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You must be located reasonably close to the transmitters. How far are you from the towers? AntennaWeb
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Old 06-14-2009, 07:27 PM   #20
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Since I'm 25 - 40 miles away, I think I'll stick with my big @ss antenna up in the attic.
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