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Old 15-11-2014, 08:20   #1
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Marine TV Antennas

I'd like to know if anyone has got/used the Majestic UFO-X marine TV antenna, and what do you think of its reception ? And now the apples & oranges question , what is the best marine TV antenna ? keep in mind the reason i was looking at the Majestic 9" round, is all antennas go to the top of my mast , my 4.5" x 2.5" oblong mast so i cant have anything way to big . I already have a Shakespeare 5225-XT for the Standard Horizon GX2200 w/AIS and i also want to put up a WiFi antenna if i can ever make up my mind as to witch one . & one more thing ,the Majestic has a $30 mounting bracket that looks to be made of very very thin stainless steel. Do they holed up to very very strong winds ? THANKS Steve.
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Old 15-11-2014, 13:42   #2
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Re: marine TV antennas

Last month I installed A majestic UFO on my masthead it. I am happy with it, it gets all channels in most conditions. I looked at other units and have had another number of other units that weren't masthead, this one seems to work better than any of them. Peter


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Old 15-11-2014, 19:26   #3
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Re: Marine TV Antennas

TV antennas are another thing where size matters. Yes a 9" round antenna will receive DTV signals... depending on how far you are away from the station and how high the TV xmit tower is. The Shakesphere 2030 is 22" round, also with a built-in preamp. I have found that the Shakesphere 22" still received the (Baltimore) TV stations nearly twice as far away as the 9" UFO antenna as I sailed South down Bay toward Norfolk. I had the UFO mounted on my mizzen spreader already and had just purchased the 22" Shakesphere in order to improve my tv reception at my St Michaels home port. I have mast steps up my mizzen and being a retired communications engineer and a avid ham radio person I'm always adding/ changing experimenting with various amateur radio antennas on my midden 'radio tower.' So I temporarily rigged the new 22" antenna on the opposite side of the spreader and ran coax temporarily through the step holes and into a aft hatch to and A/B switch to make the test easier. When I saw the difference, I moved the Shakesphere up to the top of the mizzen.

This required removing my existing top mounted back-up VHF marine vertical and making a 30" X 3" X 1/4" aluminum arm with three antenna mounts (typical 1" threaded mounts)... the 22" round TV antenna took center stage and up on an addition 12" extension (TV antennas need a little elbow room to work best). The former VHF marine vertical took the port end and my current 2 meter/ 440 ham antenna took the starboard end. I now get 60 TV program streams (some 'channels' squeeze 3 or 4 program streams in their bandwidth when not transmitting HD.

One more thing... as you travels take you into new areas, you must do a rescan on your tv for it to find where/ who all the new market TV stations are or it will be stuck trying to tune the now too far away stations and you won't get anything.

What's nice about these 'sub-channels' is many tv stations now use them to transmit a 24/7 local wx channel with live wx radar and many have either a (old) movie or old sit-com sub-channel.

My brother installed the same Shakesphere 22" antenna on his mizzen and goes down ICW to Ft Lauderdale every Winter. He gets all the main networks and 3-4 independents every place they anchor along the way.

I've helped others install the same antenna on a sloop rig and like you they didn't have much real estate at top of mast. For these I had a local weld shop make a curved 'side mount' bracket with 13" side arm w/ typical 1" threaded antenna mount at its end. OK... might look a little strange but they all get great TV reception.


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Old 28-01-2015, 10:26   #4
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Re: Marine TV Antennas

W3GAC,
I recently bought a new boat and going down to the Sassafras River. i am looking for a tv antenna to install. Could you post or send me a pic of ur setup? I am planning on using the Shakesphere bracket but mount it on the side since my spinnaker halyard coming off the top of the mast from the sheave rather than using a crane.
I was concerned about having a bigger rather than smaller device on the top of the mast for windage and weight. I did see one installation where the antenna was mounted just above the radar dome at maybe 30' above the water line. My mast is about 60'.
Thanks

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Old 28-01-2015, 14:26   #5
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Re: Marine TV Antennas

My boat came to me with some sort pf UFO antenna. Reception wasn't great so I replaced it with a Glomex. Reception is better but the FCC didn't do consumers much of a favor when they designed the digital system. They left the upper VHF band intact and gave away the lower VHF band. That means that the antenna can't just be a (small) UHF antenna, it also has to be tuned to the upper VHF band (7-13).

Anyway, within limits, larger is better, it will deliver a stronger signal to the receiver. An amplifier only helps so much because you need a signal to amplify.

What I like about my Glomex is, there is a provision for switching to a cable signal (at a marina, obviously) so you don't have to fiddle with wires behind the set if you're at a marina that provides cable service.
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Old 28-01-2015, 15:54   #6
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Re: Marine TV Antennas

I was asked to supply a pix of my mast top Shakesphere 2030 TV antenna/ mount. By the time I got home the Sun was already down so the mount might show more detail when I retake tomorrow with Sun but I thought the Moon in the background was a nice photo.

The project was pretty straight forward. It had to be side mounted and offset from the mast center by 13" to accommodate the antenna's 21" diameter and keep it clear from other items (tri-color, wind instruments, marine VHF,...) I made a stencil of the mast surface curve and figured out where to mount the bracket plate near the top and how high the final position of the antenna needed to be. A local welder that I use all the time for my projects made the curved mounting plate, welded the 13" reinforced side extension arm. I then drilled three holes to mount a standard flange w/ 3"high threaded 1" stainless marine VHF mount. I then screwed in to that 3" high flange/ male threaded stub a longer standard/ off the shelf threaded VHF extension tube that would give me the height I needed. The Shakesphere has a 1" threaded hole that allows it to be easily mounted to the top of T&E extension pipe. I decided at the last minute to add a flat light duty extension arm to the welder's assembly to add a 2m/ 440 ham radio vertical up at this prized antenna real-estate which is seen forward of the TV antenna. Fished a quad shield CATV and ham radio RG-8x coax down the mast. Power up to the TV antenna pre-amp uses the same CATV cable that the signal goes down. All works GREAT! 60 different programs tunable at our Eastern Shore slip from free over-air TV stations located within a 45-50 mile radius. My brother, who has a similar set up received 40-60 program options the whole way down the ICW to Ft Lauderdale. Currently put on hold his pans for Sat TV.

As I said in earlier post. Size and height really matter. I tried the smaller UFO and Gomax antennas at different/ easier heights but the 21" diameter Shakesphere 2030 pulled in substantially more channels at any height and it worked enough better all the way at the tippy-top, away from all other metal that it was clearly worth the extra effort/ expense to figure out a way to mount it there, despite what some might say as unusual aesthetics.

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Old 28-01-2015, 18:08   #7
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Re: Marine TV Antennas

I'm still thinking the UFO- ( X ) , the newest one. It has ultra high gain 30db with low noise and vertical-horizontal technology. All the technology is built in the unit like the Shakespeare. That like doubles the Gain of the older ones . The Shakespeare's have only 26-7 Gain. After reading the spec's of all the marine tv antennas i'm kinda sold on the new style UFO-X. Thats why i asked if anyone, has / used the ( X ) type ? As for my mounts for all my antennas ,i'm buying 1in OD stainless tube ,bending & bolting them to the mast with the little 1inx14 thread adapters on the one end . It should look & work well when i'm done with everything spaced correctly . Thanks everyone for your input & any more input you may have , still not bought that antenna yet . Thanks again Steve.
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Old 28-01-2015, 18:29   #8
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Re: Marine TV Antennas

I have found the Glomex to be the best but no matter what antenna you chose you need to understand the wiring is as important if not more important than the antenna. Good hi quality coax and connections can make or break your set up. The best antenna in the world will be useless if the signal is lost before it gets to the set.
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Old 28-01-2015, 20:58   #9
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Re: Marine TV Antennas

The new UFO (x) is the UFO I used in my test. Yes it is spec'd with slightly higher gain than the Shakesphere but because of the UFOx smaller size, which might provide easier mounting options... it just wasn't as good in actual signal pick-up as the larger Shakesphere. As someone else said, 'gain figures don't matter if all you have is noisy/fading signals to amplify.' I'm a retired 30 year TV engineer and avid ham and sailor. I did the best actual real world apples-to-apples comparison I could with all things held constant except the three popular tv antennas under test. The larger Shakesphere antenna performed significantly better... nearly twice the stations received in my 40+ mile path to TV stations environment than the two smaller tv antennas regardless of the test height. The overall best performance came from the largest antenna/ Shakesphere 21" mounted free and clear at top of the mast.

I needed the best performance antenna/ installation given my 40+ mile distance from slip to closest TV stations and cruising routes that result in anchoring in similar rural situations. Also be aware that in the Summer you'll need extra performance when the leaves are back out/ more frequent heavy rain storms. (Leaves and rain absorb signals in the TV frequency range) You/ others may be in an area where stations are closer or have high line-of-sight mountaintop TV towers and may not need the extra performance.


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Old 28-01-2015, 21:31   #10
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Re: Marine TV Antennas

Thanks W3GAC, did you by chance use / try the Glomex antenna that has the dome on it ? Or any thoughts on that antenna ?
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Old 28-01-2015, 23:00   #11
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Re: Marine TV Antennas

Sailor Steve- No didn't test the Gomex dome type TV antenna. Guess I missed it. I assume you are talking about the Gomex antenna that has both vertical and horizontal internal elements inside and not a dome satellite tv antenna which is a totally different thing. I'm just not hands-on familiar with it. But if it's 'small'... that's the underlying limiting factor in theory and the comparative tests that were done in reliably receiving more distant (40-45+ mile path ) TV stations. But it too will work in stronger/ closer tv station environments. So will rabbit ears.

Theory wise, having both horzonal and vertical elements shouldn't help much since TV signals are horz polarized by convention and there is very high attenuation in opposite or cross pole reception, as it's called. Sometimes TV signals can develop some vertical polarization because of complex reflected/ indirect path signals from the station combining with direct path signals. But my money would still be on the bigger (horz) antenna design mounted in the clear at mast top by a wide margin for the better/ best longer path tv reception.


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Old 29-01-2015, 02:22   #12
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Re: Marine TV Antennas

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailvayu View Post
I have found the Glomex to be the best but no matter what antenna you chose you need to understand the wiring is as important if not more important than the antenna. Good hi quality coax and connections can make or break your set up. The best antenna in the world will be useless if the signal is lost before it gets to the set.
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What sort of coaxial would you recommend?
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Old 29-01-2015, 03:20   #13
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Re: Marine TV Antennas

I have tried many, Shakespeare etc. Best for Australia is Moonraker dome, so far ahead of others, it is amazing.
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Old 29-01-2015, 03:32   #14
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Re: Marine TV Antennas

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Originally Posted by Bruce K View Post
I have tried many, Shakespeare etc. Best for Australia is Moonraker dome, so far ahead of others, it is amazing.
Moonraker are Tasmanian based. Expensive though.
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Old 29-01-2015, 06:55   #15
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Re: Marine TV Antennas

I'm surprised nobody has suggested making your own antenna from a bicycle wheel! Apparently, this is popular among the "I don't like spending money and I don't care what my boat looks like" crowd.


What is important on a boat and is often overlooked is that if you plan on leaving the dock and cruising, you need an omnidirectional (receives from all directions) antenna. Many of the antennas sold for home use have to be pointed towards the transmitter and that's pretty inconvenient on a boat swinging at anchor.
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