New Antenna Technology

Channel Master has a new antenna which conceptually sounds interesting. Reminds one of the “beamforming” technology being applied to routers.

The idea behind it of “Active Steering” is described here:

If someone has not been getting acceptable results with existing “passive” antennas this may be worth a try.

BTW the built-in amplifier has an excellent less than 1 db noise figure (Channel Master has always had very good amplifiers).

I wonder if this might help with the Tablo reboot problem on weak channels if this antenna can truly “switch” to a stronger radiation pattern in a nano-second to maintain a good signal level… I’ve often wondered if dips in signal level are not caused by a “vanished” RF wave (since energy doesn’t just disappear) but due to simply a displacement of the signal in space around the antenna.

If this could be the case, then the antenna can be redesigned to be an active receptor, not simply a passive element (i.e. just a configuration of metal leading to a wire).

Interesting but there isnt a lot of published technical specs … I had to dig quite a bit to find its 50 miles or under … and they talk about 7 operating modes but provide zero details on whats different between them…

Interested but Id like to see a lot more specifics…

This “Active Steering” technology by Ethertronics has been included recently in certain Dell laptops. It got its start in the WiFi world. Dell claims it has 40% improvement in reception. CNET says it will thoroughly test this antenna when it becomes available in the spring and thought the demo CM gave was “impressive.” The CM marketing brochures seem to target this antenna for apartment and condo reception (indoors).

In an interview a CM rep mentioned that the antennas are “polarized” dynamically according to the perceived incoming radiation patterns. Aereo, the company the Supreme Court ruled against for distributing OTA signals through the Internet, had a similar concept for its antennas. Not quite sure what this “polarization” means but the concept of dynamically adapting reception according to the radiation pattern does occur in 5th generation LG tuner chips to combat multipath interference problems.

Fractal antennas are also meant to address this problem of reception waveforms, polarity of different frequencies, planes of radiation patterns, etc. Something ATSC 3.0 is meant to deal with to ease transmission\reception in urban environments. So OTA is far from dead as everyone seems to include the word “cordcutting” in their discussion and speeches.

Antenna polarization -

BTW do I believe these claims of a silver bullet of an antenna? Or is it a marketing scam? My experience over three decades has been that there is no such magic antenna and my solution to my reception problems has been to install three different antennas at three different locations. But at least it’s a start in CM’s case to try and develop an antenna using different principles rather than just reconfiguring metal parts into different shapes LOL.


I’ll be interested to see some real tests also (or a look at the innards). My gut is that this could qualify as most outrageous claims by an indoor antenna ever. (And that’s some list to top – given the amplified indoor antenna claims). I would love to see some real modeling of the antenna reception. I get that beam steering is a thing … but I doubt it can be implemented as CM claims in this form factor. (An antenna magically thinking it is across the room for reception). Antenna reception isn’t rocket science – and often products like this are trying to part marks from their dollars in the mark’s unwillingness to accept the size or location of the antenna they really need … and are looking for shortcuts in some inadequate indoor antenna.

That’s the problem area CM is trying to address - indoor reception for apartments, town houses and condos. Large outdoor antennas won’t scale in those environments. Channel Master in fact is known for their 4228 antenna (4 and 8 bays plus long range yagis) which are their best sellers so they have no reason to scam anyone given their assortment of antennas and antenna types. CM has a track record over 50 years in the antenna and amplifier business (their old 7777 was the best preamp I had ever come across) - they’ve never attempted to scam anyone :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

And NO antenna reception is NOT “not rocket science!” There are countless videos on YouTube attempting to explain RF transmission and reception derived from James Clerk Maxwell’s equations and radiation patterns from different standpoints. Theories from Hertz to Heaviside. If it were that simple than there would be no need for ATSC 3.0 since ATSC 1.0 screwed it up royally (since they would not have if antenna reception was “not rocket science.”)

Some people may actually need an antenna like this in their circumstances…

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I don’t know – I would argue that ATSC 1.0 is a separate issue from basic reception theory. ATSC 1.0 is a system that was severely flawed and should not have been implemented as-is. In my remote area, we would have happily kept analog as opposed to dealing with the digital cliff. ATSC 3.0’s handling of graceful drop-down will be a welcome change. Unfortunately, I suspect that in my remote, low-population area - 3.0 is a long … long … time in coming. :slight_smile:

As for CM - I’m not as big on them as some. Since they don’t produce anything themselves and just find other products to slap their name on, it comes down to how well they pick 'em. Past successes may not translate well into how well the ethertronics actually performs. My belief is that that there hasn’t been that much new in antenna reception in the past 40 years. It’s still the same basic concept. New designs that come out for consumers can be nearly always traced back to slight modifications of existing models. Although I’m open to something ground-breaking coming out (and hope there is something new in this product) - I’m skeptical that any amount of ‘steering technology’ is going to make the antenna think it is across the room in reception patterns. I’d be interested to see any modeling software results of this design. An antenna forum I was reading had a lot of skepticism regarding this antenna’s claims (and some amount of mirth). It just comes from a long line of outlandish indoor antenna claims, I suspect. :slight_smile:

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There is actually one user review of the Smartenna+ at AVS (scroll to the top):

Seems as if this user got it earlier than expected since it is slated for spring release.

His results are very positive. However the comparison is to a Flatenna which is not amplified. So the comparison is not that valuable. Basically the Smartenna+ beat the Flatenna three to one in channels received and stability. But the performance of the antenna sold his wife on his cordcutting adventure due to the stability of previously weak channels. Notice how weak channels are currently causing havoc for the Tablo with the newest release…

Where a Smartenna+ could come in handy is like the situation described in the thread “Antennas Direct VHF Add-On” in which the user in an apartment complex is surrounded on three sides with the building’s walls (a courtyard behind him). The broadcast towers are not in front of him but hidden behind the apartments. I surmised in that thread that his omni-directional antenna was getting reflections, not the direct signal (which he cannot not get inside the home).

In which case an array-adaptive antenna could analyze the best reflected signals, their direction and relative strength, and possibly combine them the way an LG tuner works to combine multipath signals. In his case he has no option but to use some sort of antenna that can optimize indirect RF waves and\or “fuse” them together. In his case a single direction antenna doesn’t work since he’s absolutely facing the wrong way and utterly blocked off but his omni does function. The Smartenna+ in some respect is an omni-directional type of antenna.

My tech knowledge concerning OTA is limited. When I was trying to decided whither to cut the cord or not, I went to Frys and bought several different antennas. At that time the Smartenna did the best job, so I returned the rest of the antennas. Its weak point was vhf during storms. Adding the vhf element helped a lot but only bad weather will determine if that is enough. Playing around with reflective elements did not occur to me but not I’m wondering about baking pans.

If my reception degrades, I would willing to try something new. The vhf add-on got good reception before I connected the Smartenna back into the circuit but the vhf element was laying on top of the Smartenna and there may have been some reflection involved. Before adding the vhf add-on, I was thinking about trying a Clear Stream but that would require a $250 deposit with my apartment complex besides the cost of the antenna. Size matters and they let me get away with out a deposit on the Smarttenna. Right now the vhf element seems to be working. Eveyone’s situation is different. I am surrounded on four sides by apartments so something new could work.

I’d still like to see someone who knows about antennas crack one open, take it apart and give their opinion of how its made and operates… it just seems all very speculative without much real meat and specifics…

This is the SmartennaPlus, not the old Smartenna. It is a new design (7 antennas in one with new signal finding technology). This might be worth a try because the reviews at the CM site are excellent:

I realize that these are CM filtered reviews but they seem quite good…

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Someone who “knows” antennas knows OLD antennas. Cracking it open isn’t going to reveal a 4 bay bowtie. There are 7 antennas all controlled electrically to establish waveform pattern locations. The old antennas are passive constructs that are simply metal bent one way or another. Evaluating metal bent into rows or circles is hardly expertise; in some cases a paper clip works or a coat hanger. This antenna is not about shaping metal in different ways.

This antenna is based on Wifi technology (beamforming) and has an embedded chip. It’s not just a row of metal rods. Who cares whether an antenna is a yagi or bowtie or whatever - these traditional antennas really all come down to metal rods bent this way or that way. An “antenna expert” who knows about 5 or 6 pieces of metal bent this way or that way hardly qualifies to judge new technology and techniques.

Most antenna experts at AV forums have never built an antenna and sit there looking at numbers on charts and models while dissuading anyone from doing anything except to buy expensive duds.

If you want to know what a beamforming adaptive antenna array looks like internally, go to YouTube and search for “beamforming adaptive antennas.” Plenty of videos, films and photos that show what they internally look like and how the are controlled by their chipset. With descriptions how they work. The CM Smartenna+ is based on these designs and architectures. It’s not a mystery what an adaptive antenna array looks like.

Best judge is if this thing does what it says and two people I’ve communicated with who have it say it does exactly what it says it does. For people in apartments or condos, this may be a lot better than their current flatwaves that sit there staring at the air…

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Just like anything else, YMMV…

The experiences that I have had with “electronically steered antennae” designed for military use would suggest that this would be great in situations that call for a directional antenna, but not so much in multi directional situations (towers in 2-3 different cardinal directions)

Maybe someone in a worst case environment could pick one up and prove me (right or wrong)…

I still want to see an “expert” take it, test it, throw some tools and diagnostic testing at it (like signal professional strength meters) and compare those results to existing antenna types and designs, etc. and such … then do a proper “iFixit” style tear down and see whats inside it … and maybe a breakdown explaining their interpretation of how it operates based on their findings (i.e. examining any active electronics etc…) …

I just bought one. Interested to see how it does. 7 miles from my towers and I get a lot of pixelation still. I have an LTE filter on there that has been the most help so far.

The major 3.0 difficulties will be a NEW TV and a NEW Tablo box. Other than that it wil be great. OH YA I just bought a new 65" Samsung for $1800.

pixelation at 7 miles? antenna gain is not necessarily going to help that although DSP might. consider more padding across all frequencies in addition to that LTE filter? maybe try adding a 3db or 6db pad?

hi…I think the last changes that I can recall was all the new antenna technology in the switch from SD to HD. You needed to get a new antenna for all those HD channels stations were switching to. Then lately with all the cord cutters I’ve seen product packaging that indicated that the antenna was best for 1080P and Free OTA Channels. I even saw one that said it was capable of up to 55 color channels. Amazing times we live in these days.

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Amazing (lying) times. Not sure if you were being sarcastic, but in case you weren’t … the concept of a “digital HD antenna” is a farce. Now, maybe there’s a new (as new sometimes means better) antenna that is better than an old, but there’s no real “digital HD” issue.


CM seems to be very careful and deliberate in stating that it finds the perfect virtual position during setup; not that it can dynamically shift this position to cater to the individual tower after that additional setup. So my read is that if your antenna is in a less than optimal indoor place, you’ll still be living with the same compromises.

what??!?? SDTV is part of Digital TV standards. Standard-definition television is often, but not limited to 4:3 and since it’s often over looked as being BASED on NTSC - it’s not the same as analog broadcast.

I can tell you as for “You needed to get a new antenna for all those HD channels” I haven’t put up an antenna for 30+ years and receive crystal clear government mandated free digital HD OTA TV as the marketing commercials for a fancy new antenna put it.

That’s not to say not all antennas are created equal, but an antenna is an antenna - it collects RF signals.