Since the best router was posted by @TabloTV and best cable modem was posted by me, I thought I’d go on and post the other piece to the puzzle - the best antenna. See http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-indoor-hdtv-antenna but like they say, there’s a lot that goes into it. The Winegard FL5500A is the best for me in Austin, TX and is better than the Mohu Leaf 50 ampled.
It’s pretty much impossible to suggest the ‘best’ antenna for everyone which is why we don’t recommend specific antennas and why we generally recommend people try 2-3 and work to optimize placement and location before settling on a setup that works for them.
That’s why I said the Winegard FL500 works best for me. If it wasn’t for wanting gettv the Mohu Leaf 50 would work. Best suggestion is start at www.tvfool.com and see what is available. Then check the call letters in Wikipedia to see the sub channels they have. Just because a station’s primary channel is not English does not mean they have no English. Univision has English Gettv and Escape in Austin, TX.
I recommend the Antennas Direct Eclipse.
Here is my review of it…
Also here is a video of me using it.
Does it get VHF as well as UHF? Not changing mine sine I’m getting everything available.
Yes, it gets VHF high 7-13 and UHF. It’s great little antenna.
I made my own following these instructions and it actually works really well. so many people have been asking me to make one for them. I used wire hangers and cut and bent them to size. was not too hard just make sure to scrape away paint where connections need to be. I got 58 channels i am 30 miles from towers. but I dont have many trees around and live on a hill. I also own a mohu sky and i get very similar results. this cost me the price of a tv transformer and was a fun project to do with my son. tv transformer(http://www.amazon.com/CNE77414-Matching-Transformer-300-Inch-Indoor/dp/B00TDMP4Q6/ref=sr_1_15?ie=UTF8&qid=1445450402&sr=8-15&keywords=Matching+Transformer )
and instructions http://www.tvantennaplans.com/
I used a 2x4 i had laying around and i did not use the reflectors. If you are cheap like me It does not hurt to try thing out.
This 4 bay bowtie antenna has been improved in the last few years. The past whisker length used to be 7 inches for the old frequency spectrum (channels 14 to 69). Since the HD cutover in the US, that range has been narrowed from channels 14-69 to 14-51. The old whisker length was to accomodate channels past 51 as higher frequency channels require lesser length whiskers. The smaller length however came at the expense of the lower UHF channels. The new model typically has 9.5 inch whiskers with 9 inches spacing between each bay. This newer 4 bay model actually rivals the 4228 eight bay in performance while being smaller and lighter! As well the 4 bay, while for UHF, actually does a good job on VHF.
I’ve since built a 6 bay for my situation. Instead of wood, I used a cheap PVC pipe for $2.
Plans for the new 4 bays are here:
One can construct a powerful antenna for less than ten bucks! BTW a reflector can add as much as 10-15% more signal strength. I built a reflector using cardboard overlaid with a kitchen roll of aluminum foil. Talk about building a powerful but cheap antenna from materials lying around the home…
Thanks for the update I just started looking into this myself and have seen your expertise in other comments. Does it matter that in my area the channels i am trying to get range from channel 2 to channel 69 would that effect what length the whiskers need to be?
Are you in Canada? Unlike the US, Canada has kept the 14 to 69 channel spectrum (as has Europe and Asia). The US cut the spectrum to resell those frequencies to mobile providers.
With the 4 bay one can customize the whiskers for the channels one wants. For example, the channels I like go from 19 to 39. I don’t need 14 to 18 nor 40 to 51. So I calculated what the average length was for frequencies between 19 and 39 and cut my whiskers for that range. Channel 19 requires whiskers of 11.8 inches (if I remember correctly) and 39 needs 9.5 inches. So I cut ten inch whiskers. The spacing is typically one half inch less than the whisker size so in my case it was 9.5 inches between bays.
Like you, I used wire hangers. If you make a mistake cutting the wrong length, another coat hanger doesn’t cost you much LOL. I bought a set of ten wire hangers from WalMart for $1.98.
What is nice about making cheap antennas, is that if you need more than one, you spend just another ten bucks. To give you an example, a friend of mine gets two thirds of his channels at one location and the other one third comes in four feet away. Who the heck is going to buy two $100 antennas for two locations? We made two db4’s; put the first in location A and the second in location B; joined them with a two dollar splitter and voila, he was getting ALL the channels at 100% for less than $20.
We didn’t have to try and finagle ONE antenna to place it in a compromise position somewhere in between the two optimum locations. Heck for $10, just build a second antenna and don’t worry about finessing the ONE location with ONE antenna. Spend the saved money on a Tablo.
Channel 2 is lo VHF. The bowtie antenna does well at hi VHF (channels 7 to 13). For lo VHF you would need a Yagi antenna that does lo and hi VHF or a DIY loop antenna. This guy has done a nice one:
If ever I need a VHF antenna, I will follow his model. Notice that last one he built also uses a solid reflector using cardboard and aluminum foil. BTW the person cited above also built two UHF antennas - one to get the Toronto stations and another to get the Buffalo ones (facing in different directions). He joins the antennas through his preamp to go to his TVs. He actually built 4 antennas - imagine if he had to pay full price for four store bought antennas?
Since this thread is about small indoor antennas, and you mention the DIY route, check out this smart DIY two bay:
Thanks for the info I am in the US So I will try the 4 bay you recommended. I am not getting channel 11 which is NBC so i will see if the longer whiskers will get it or if i need something more designed for VHF. Is there a way to have both a 4 bay and VHF in the same antenna or you just have to combine them with a splinter/combiner?
I’m in Atlanta and get NBC (WXIA channel 11 VHF) perfectly with my M4 (9.5 inch whiskers with 9 inch spacing between bays). It comes in at an SNR of 28 out of 30 which is over 90%. I’m 31 miles from the broadcast tower.
A reflector would help immensely so it may be that your 4 bay would benefit from a reflector on VHF. It is easy to make your own reflector. Cut out a piece of cardboard from a box and overlay it with kitchen aluminum foil. Tape the foil over the cardboard. For VHF through an M4, the best reflector size should be 40 inches tall by 36 inches wide. Position the reflector 4 to 5 inches from the antenna. BTW the reflector does not have to be attached to the antenna. My reflector is on a separate pole behind the antenna. The ChannelMaster 4228 antenna was known to be good at VHF BECAUSE of its reflector even though it was marketed as a UHF antenna. The reflector was essential to the 4228 for VHF reception.
Take a look at these YouTube videos on how to add a VHF component to a UHF 4 bay:
They basically add a long dipole at the top of the antenna and join it to their M4. Also visit this website - has good plans for adding the VHF dipole to a UHF 4 bay (scroll down to see the picture towards the end http://www.loopy.org/pictures/galleries/Dixon%20Ranch/November%202009/_thumbs/700x500-DSCF5310.JPG):
Here is a picture of a solid aluminum foil reflector (and instructions):
BTW I used a roll of extra heavy aluminum foil (thicker and stronger) from WalMart. My guess is that you may not need to add the dipole to the antenna if you add a reflector. However the reflector will block any signals you may be receiving through the back of the antenna. In which case the added dipole will be the solution rather than the reflector.
It occurred to me what you meant when you said that you were receiving channels 2 to 69. If you are in the US you will get 7 to 51. The channels you mean by “2” or “69” are the virtual IDs, not the real channel frequencies. For example ABC in Atlanta is channel 2 but in reality is 39 (“2” being a holdover from the olden days). FOX is channel 5 but in reality is 27. The real channel numbers, based on their frequencies, run in the US from 7 to 51 (14 to 51 UHF). So the new 4 bay model based on larger whiskers will be valid in your case. In the olden days, the 50’s, the channels went from 2 to 83 and ABC actually did broadcast on 2 in days of yore. These stations changed their frequencies in the digital cutover period but kept their “names” (which however no longer reflected their frequency assignments).
Some older TVs get confused by these mismatched numbers. A friend’s ten year old TV assigned channel 46 to ABC though 46 is CBS in Atlanta because ABC broadcasts from Gainesville as 46 as a repeater station and consigned CBS to 19 (its true frequency). He could never find CBS since he was looking for it at 46 until we realized what was going on… TVFool shows both real and virtual channel numbers in its charts.
Although not many there are still stations a few stations (in various cities) that broadcast on the 2 to 6 VHF frequency
Personally my idea of the best “INDOOR ANTENNA” is an OUTDOOR YAGI ! LOL
Tried a ton of indoor antenna’s at my location and none worked well. Put a 4 foot wide Yaga and TAH DAH! Every channel with perfect clarity.
Then fought with my Homeowners Association and its attorneys for about 8 months till I won.
As an aside, don’t let your Homeowner/Townhome/Condo Associations stop you from outdoor installing Outdoor Yagis. Federal FCC Laws prohibit this!
I have fought (as an attorney) numerous Associations on this one, and have yet to lose (to their dismay). Further, when they lose, they have to pay your cost of your defense and attorneys fees (this one really jacks their jaws)!
Also, don’t let your Association make you believe your Yagi must be no larger than 1 meter. That is a Satellite Dish or Cable TV type antenna rule only. Yagi antennas can be as large as necessary to pull in the OTA signal.
That said there are some rules you have to be wary, but that for another time.
If a Homeowner’s Association harasses you about your lawn or door color, the best revenge is to put up a big, ugly ass Yagi antenna on your roof…which as Joelgilb points out is absolutely legal! Will drive all those hoity toity subdivision “inspectors” nuts. Will give the property that ole redneck look and feel…LOL
The reason antennas are perfectly legal is that the FCC regards antennas as a safety matter. The government considers television to be essential in times of crisis to communicate with the populace.
My experience has been to identify the direction of the broadcast towers and then do your best to aim your antenna in that direction. I have a cheap $10 antenna that initially wasn’t producing good signal strength, but after moving it 2 feet and adjusting just a few degrees, I have 35 channels with max green signal strength. I thought for sure I’d need a roof antenna to get these results!
That’s not truly 100% signal strength, just a visual indication and doesn’t include signal quality. But, for you it’s not an issue. (note: you antenna doesn’t produce a signal strength, it receives a signal.)