Phila. Region Poor VHF reception

I apologize if this if off-topic for a Tablo forum, but I’m wondering if anyone in the Philadelphia region have problems receiving WDPN “MeTV” (channel 2) or WPVI (channel 6)? Tablo shows them as weak and playback via Tablo or directly to a TV is pixelated. I’m about 27 miles south-southeast of the broadcast towers (Roxborough, PA) and use a Radio Shack VHF/UHF attic antenna. From attic to basement is contiguous RG6 coax though there is a coax to spade-lug adapter at the antenna. I spent a few hours in the attic a few days ago; tried a different antenna and removed one splitter (installed back in the analog days) that fed a 2nd-floor bedroom. With the RS antenna, I can pickup 91 channels vs. just 26 with the “indoor/outdoor” test antenna. I aimed the antenna with a smartphone app; according to it I’m “dead-on” with the tower farm at 345 degrees, about what it was before. I noticed both of these channels are VHF low, where most every other channel in my region is UHF. So at this point I don’t know what else to try other than take the Tablo to the attic, enable WiFi and try another scan. We really miss MeTV in particular and hope someone has a suggestion.

Like you, I like MeTV and WPVI, and I am fully aware that they are on low VHF, which definitely causes problems (sometimes WTXF Fox-29 gives me issues too, which is curious since it is on UHF channel 31).

I live near King of Prussia, about 11 miles from towers. I’ve tried many antennas (all indoor), and the best one so far is actually not that expensive on Amazon. It is an RCA antenna:

I placed it on an upstairs window that has the best view of the towers. I periodically have to play with the rabbit ears to improve reception (typically when the seasons change, and the leaves on the trees cause interference). You may have better luck putting it in your attic (but you’ll need power for the built-in amplifier, which I found gives me better reception with it on).

The best part about my suggestion is if the RCA antenna doesn’t help, you can easily return it.

Low VHF is extremely hard to get as many people in the Philly area will attest. Is your antenna BOTH lo and hi VHF or just hi VHF? Lo VHF elements on an antenna are very long 10 to 12 feet in length.

You may also need a preamp for lo VHF if you don’t have one.

If you cannot get MeTV via an antenna, you can get it streaming through FriendlyTV for just $7.95 a month. I have it on my Roku. FriendlyTV will also allow you to record its shows for 30 days. FriendlyTV also provides other legacy channels such as Heroes & Icons (30 channels in all).

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Can ask and see what people in your area are using here. Local HDTV Info and Reception | AVS Forum

A link to this is in Phili thread. Low VHF Dipole - For PHILLY Channels 2 and 6 | AVS Forum ----------- – Philadelphia, PA - OTA | Page 295 | AVS Forum

Here is a tip direct from the antenna man. “Outdoor antennas work inside”. If you have the room to fit a large “outdoor” antenna in your attic that is the way to go!

As was pointed out you need longer elements to pick up lower frequencies. The lower the frequency the larger the antenna elements needed to properly receive that frequency.

Testing your Tablo in the attic is a great idea. I would not recommend leaving it up there permanently if the attic gets hot though. Extreme heat may reduce your Tablo and it’s hard drives lifespan. If the Tablo gets good reception up there but the attic is very hot get an amplifier that can handle the heat and you should be able to get just as good reception downstairs. A high quality amplifier can actually improve reception even more because they have filters that remove noise from radio stations and cell towers.

MeTV and Decades are also available on Philo, along with 60 or so channels (no news or sports) and Philo lets you record and save shows longer. I realize this is not ideal for cord cutters but it is still much cheaper than cable.

I get around 80 channels with my Antop antenna, low VHF channels 6 too. Channel 2, 6 and everything else is fine here.

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Small antennas can receive low VHF but they don’t do it efficiently. I would say you’re in an area where the signal strength is fair to good. Sounds as though the OP isn’t as lucky. That doesn’t look like a bad antenna but I suspect the OP needs something more directional with larger VHF elements.

While there’s a lot to go through, I do recommend looking at the Antenna Man vids: https://www.youtube.com/c/AntennaMan/videos

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He is obsessed with antennas. He even has a Me TV guarantee for those that want extra personalized advice! :rofl:

Thank you to everyone for your insight and advice! I’ll attempt to answer the questions that were raised.

I was asked if the Radio Shack antenna is full-range VHF/UHF or VHF-high/UHF. I installed it 30 years ago, so unfortunately, I don’t remember or have the carton that it came in. My roof has truss framing, so at the time I bought, I was looking for an antenna that would fit in the available space. It looks similar to, but is definitely not as large as outdoor antennas of the same design. Installing a full-sized outdoor antenna wasn’t possible because of deed restrictions - which some homeowners here ignored as it turned out.

Pre-digital, the antenna worked fine on all of the VHF channels in-use at the time (3, 6, 10 & 12) though some “snow” was present at times on channel 6. It was visible but not too annoying.

Early post-digital, I don’t remember if channel 2 was used in my area, but the digital converter box I bought back then worked fine, as did my first digital TV (the Tablo is my first DVR).

Someone else asked how long the VHF elements are. From the stem, they measure 50”, 44”, 38” on each side.

Tonight, I adjusted the VHF elements from their locked-in 45-degree angle to 90-degrees (an inverted “T” instead of a “V”) to see if it made any difference. And it did. Now I get WPVI, the Tablo shows 4 green circles. Playback is decent with some pixelation every now and then. But since this was done at night, I’m not sure if WPVI will still “be there” during the day.

The Tablo still senses channel 2 but says the signal is too weak.

If you don’t have a preamplifier on the cable, you might want to get and install a preamp to boost the signal going from antenna to the Tablo.