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Old 09-16-2012, 11:41 AM   #1
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Comparing TV antennas- my results

For a while now I have been faced with a dilemma; what to do about TV reception. I have been researching the different TV antennas out there; and have yet to find a good comparison. So much of the info out there doesn't quantify the differences. They just say "picked up more channels" or "I saw no difference." Many of them are comparing differences in their driveway; which also isn't fair because most people live in populated areas that would have good TV signal coverage. As well, many of the results are from well populated and/or flat areas; which means there are more signals available. For example, there would be more channels available in the eastern US than in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. My issue I often find when camping is that I cannot pick up any channels.

Due to my frustration and my determination, I decided to compare antennas and produce a fair performance comparison. Here's what I did:

- Obtained 3 of the most popular antennas; the Sensar III, Sensar IV, and the Jack antenna. I wanted to try both the Jack upgrade as well as the full Jack antenna; however my dealer told me he couldn't allow a return of the full Jack system.
- Went out to an area that I knew had "fringe" coverage. It was a few hundred yards from a place I had camped before with my Sensar III as well as my Jack upgrade; and about 60 feet higher. Where I had camped I had better performance with the Sensar III than the Jack; however I had two different sites. I wanted to rule out that slight difference in location for this test.
- These are the TV Fool results of the location where I tested. Ignore the three analog signals that it says are in range; they have all been switched off.
- Each antenna was tested 3 different times. Partly to ensure that the results didn't change as a result of changes in battery power available, and partly because the results surprised me a little bit.

So, you can see my results below. I was plesantly surprised at how well the Sensar IV performed. I even took it to the campground and pulled into a few sites to see if I still had reception. Being lower down and in thicker tree coverage the worst that happened was City-TV went from "strong" to "good", and CTS went from "good" to "fair." This was in the campground where the Sensar III only had a good, a fair, and a poor, and the Jack upgrade had one "very poor."

The other thing that surpised me was that I couldn't pick up CTV with the Jack. That was with 3 attempts. In case anybody is wondering; I was careful with my tuning. The first attempt at tuning was to "sweep" the antenna; which would catch anything that was "strong" or "good." Then I would move the antenna one notch, wait 5 seconds, then another notch, etc. The entire testing process took about 2 hours; so I wasn't rushing.

One other thing to note; even though no channel scored "poor"- I left it on there. I had the scoring figured out before I went out testing.

Hope this helps anybody else who is in the same position as me.
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Old 09-17-2012, 11:03 AM   #2
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Did the Sensar antennas have the leading elements or the "Wingman" installed?
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:17 PM   #3
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I'm not sure what you are asking. Are you asking if I used a true Sensar IV antenna; as opposed to just putting a Wingman on my existing Sensar III? If so- yes, I had a brand new Sensar IV head. I considered getting the Wingman, but my local parts guy offered the Sensar IV head at "cost." Worked out to be about $20 more.

I know you had previously mentioned you thought that was a waste of money, but I don't mind having a spare antenna kicking around. Especially if I want to buy a new trailer; I can just put the old head back on my trailer.
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:28 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ken0042 View Post
I know you had previously mentioned you thought that was a waste of money, but I don't mind having a spare antenna kicking around. Especially if I want to buy a new trailer; I can just put the old head back on my trailer.
Not sure what you mean. The Wingman or Sensar IV (with the leading elements) are required to get any kind of decent reception in the UHF band these days. I am a big proponent of the Wingman upgrade and have also recommended the Jack if you do not have room for the Wingman (bigger leading elements than the Jack).
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:56 PM   #5
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Sorry. Previously when we talked about this you said that buying the entire head was a waste of money as opposed to just buying the wingman. Yes- you did tell me to upgrade, but you had recommended the lower priced upgrade.
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Old 09-17-2012, 08:24 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ken0042 View Post
Sorry. Previously when we talked about this you said that buying the entire head was a waste of money as opposed to just buying the wingman. Yes- you did tell me to upgrade, but you had recommended the lower priced upgrade.
Ah! I remember that now. Yes, the replacement, (upgraded Sensar IV) head is only required if your old amp is bad. The Sensar III with Wingman is the same as a Sensar IV as far as I have been able to determine.
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