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Old 29-03-2015, 13:56   #1
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TV and a VHF antenna

Hi folks, just wondering if anyone has used their VHF antenna for television reception while at the dock?


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Old 29-03-2015, 14:12   #2
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Re: TV and a VHF antenna

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Originally Posted by P30Dude View Post
Hi folks, just wondering if anyone has used their VHF antenna for television reception while at the dock?


Vince
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P-30 No. 280
I have not and the reason is, it's not going to work very well. Just buy a TV antenna and hook it up. If you will always be at a dock while watching TV, a directional antenna is fine. If you will be watching while underway or at anchor, you need an omnidirectional (all directions) antenna.
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Old 29-03-2015, 14:17   #3
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Re: TV and a VHF antenna

Thank you, my reasoning was TV has VHF and UHF so I thought it was worth the question being I haven't read about that combination anywhere.
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Old 30-03-2015, 04:46   #4
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Re: TV and a VHF antenna

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Thank you, my reasoning was TV has VHF and UHF so I thought it was worth the question being I haven't read about that combination anywhere.
While that is true, your VHF antenna is only tuned for your radio frequencies. While it might work somewhat in an area with strong signals, a metal coat hanger will get you TV in some instances, it isn't going to work well, if at all over any distances. Chuck
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Old 30-03-2015, 09:28   #5
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Re: TV and a VHF antenna

A cheap antenna solution, and better than any 'store bought' antenna I've seen, is to fashion about 30' of 10 gauge wire in two circles. One circle with a 9" diameter and the other 18" in diameter 9" apart using a 300ohm transformer to connect the wires and your TV cables. Haul it up your mast or lay it on your cabin top. You can make a frame to hold the wires in position out of any thing. I have used Tinker Toys (the Sun eats them fast). I have a picture but am not able to attach it to this post.
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Old 30-03-2015, 10:34   #6
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Re: TV and a VHF antenna

I actually use a marine VHF antenna for my flat panel TV on board. Its a metal whip (I think a shakespeare) about 4'long. It works pretty well. I get a few local channels.

I find the biggest constraint is line of sight. If there is a clear, unobstructed view in the direction of the transmitter, I get a good picture. But if I'm up close to an island in that direction, no picture.

I tried putting it on a long cable, and putting it on deck, or up high, but found it works just as well lying in a sidelocker next to the TV. I already had the antenna, so it was a good, cheap solution. My marina has wifi, and I use a smartbox to get netflix on the tv while at the marina. My kids dream of an anchorage that has wifi. Me too.

BTW, I run a 150 watt inverter (small) off my 12volt house battery. Its enough juice to power the tv and the smartbox too. I think a newer tv would use less power, but this was a handmedown, so I couldn't refuse. This summer I'll install a DVD player, and that should be even better.

I used to enjoy being away from TV, phones, newspapers, etc, while sailing. But I realize that if I want my kids to come sailing with me, I've got to compromise. In fact my Pearson 30 is named "Compromise".
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Old 30-03-2015, 10:54   #7
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Re: TV and a VHF antenna

Adding to what has been said... there was another thread a few weeks ago on TV reception antennas.

Another reason VHF marine antennas don't work well for TV besides the very narrow bandwidth VHF marine antennas are design for is that they are vertically polarized while TV transmissions are horizontally polarized. This 'cross-polarization' results in tremendous reduction of reception ( -20 dB). That reduction is akin to a 100 watt light bulb shutting down to a candle flickering. And, while there are still a few TV stations still near VHF, the far majority of TV station were shifted to UHF frequencies during the US shift to all digital tv. This makes using a VHF marine antenna almost invisible to the majority of today's TV stations.

While there are several marine options for good TV reception, size and height matters. I use a Shakespeare 2030 which looks like a 22" Frisbee and is mounted 40' at top of my mizzen mast. I get 60 station program viewing options and I'm 45 miles from closest tv station here on eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay.

I have mizzen steps which allowed me to experiment with four different popular marine tv antennas and differences in performance with mounting height. The options that were 9" in diameter received less than half the stations and I noticed many of them would fade out or not work on rainy days... just when you want pass the time.

The absolute best location is above the mast/ everything on the mast. To do this I had a bracket made to offset my spare VHF antenna that had the mizzen's real estate and the Shakesphere 2030 took over the original VHF mount using a standard threaded 12" extension that marine stores sells in their antenna area.

Without steps it would be a tedious DYI project but for months over the Winter, I just hauled the antenna up using the spinnaker halyard and used the dangling TV lean-in coax tied out on bow to keep winter winds from banging the antenna against mast. But at my first wx window after the new VHF antenna bracket was ready, I got the VHF repositioned, and the 2030 mounted and pulled the new tv coax (as well as new VHF coax) down inside the mast. With a helper down below it took about an hour for the work up top.

As I said in the other post, my experience here in Chesapeake Bay area (much is very remote) and my brother's experience up/ down ICW to Ft Lauderdale... you'll almost always have 20-60 channel/ programs. In almost every area here and along ICW is one or more TV stations that use one of their 4-5 sub-TV channels for a dedicated 24/7 wx channel channel w/ live local wx and 200 mile+ wx radar. Even though my sailboat has radar, it's hard to get more than 24 mile range which only gives you a 30 minute ahead of time view of a violent Summer thunderstorm moving 50 kts (which we get all the time here in Chesapeake area). Having a 200 mile radar available/ wx analysis at the end of your tv remote anytime, especially during your late night viewing or during morning coffee/ breakfast assures up to date planning/ and day of departure updates. Of course most of us are using iPhones/ Android devices for access to wx maps/ forecasts. But it seems more accurate when it's coming come a local weather person familiar with the area/ history and in our case the unique aspects of the areas Bay water, effects of nearby ocean, & western MD mountains.

Many cruisers/ friends who have been on the boat have dropped their lusting for satellite tv installation after seeing the HD pix quality/ programming choice that's for free after completing a good antenna installation. One of the best 'nice to have' cruising projects I've done.


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Old 30-03-2015, 16:04   #8
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Re: TV and a VHF antenna

Even a piece of bare wire (or a coat hanger) will pick up some stations in strong signal areas. If you want the most reliable reception possible without satellite, W3GAC's post pretty well explains what and why.

The conversion in the USA from analog to digital didn't do boaters any favors. Where formerly you could watch a distant station with a weak or fuzzy picture, with digital, it's perfect or nothing. Often nothing.

Forty miles is about the maximum distance for reception and less if there are buildings or terrain in the way. At the Savannah (USA) docks I get no stations. Anchored in Beaufort, several miles away, I get all the Savanna stations.
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Old 30-03-2015, 16:26   #9
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Re: TV and a VHF antenna

Thanks to all for the replies.
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