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Old 27-03-2008, 06:42   #1
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I will install a TV antenna in my sailboat. Has anyone done it? Any suggestions in terms of which antenna and where to install it?
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Old 27-03-2008, 08:25   #2
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We have a Shakespeare Seawatch, mounted up the mast. It came with the boat, so I didn't install it myself...
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Old 27-03-2008, 11:37   #3
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Where is it installed?

Is it installed at the top of the mast?
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Old 27-03-2008, 12:53   #4
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It's about 20-25' of the way up, mounted a couple of feet above the radar radome. It seems to work fine, though to be fair we don't use it that much - when away from the dock we don't watch TV, and at the dock we've got cable...

The antenna itself draws only around 100ma or so (it's a powered/amplified)
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Old 27-03-2008, 14:10   #5
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I had a powered antenna also. I just did not use it. If I was anchored out, I was afraid of draining the battery. I do nothave a wind generator or solar cells. On my other boat I was not concerned with battery power because the outboard motor could be pulled to start. The small tv did not last long. The screen got smaller and smaller. I used and t shaped antenna. I keep the t shape by stringing it between the shrouds or the fore/back stay. I hoisted by the main halyard. The signal was snowy but it was and experiment. Bruce Bingham has the plans for a tv antenna in the book Kay Burke wrote called, Live-Aboard Book. I do not know how good it is, but it also can be hoisted aloft.

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Old 27-03-2008, 14:40   #6
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Talking There's good news, and there's bad news...

Bad news: Remember that after February 2009, all analog TV broadcasting in the US will end.

Good news: The majority of digital broadcasts are in the UHF band (14-49). The higher frequencies mean shorter wavelengths, hence a smaller antenna can do the job.

Bad news: The antenna element in most small marine TV antennas is usually a low-gain folded dipole which needs significant amplification to pick out the longer wavelength VHF channels (2-13).

Good news: The antenna should work fine for local UHF digital broadcasts without the powered pre-amp.

Bad news: You won't be able to receive digital broadcasts with your old analog NTSC TV

Good news: You can get up to two $40 vouchers from the FCC towards the purchase of a new digital ATSC tuner box which puts out a baseband analog NTSC signal so your old TV will still work - sort of similar to using a cable box.

Bad news: Your old analog CRT TV consumes more power than a modern LCD digital TV

Good news: Your laptop or desktop computer can pull double duty by the addition of an ATSC tuner card and appropriate software - kill two birds with one stone.

Bad news: The additional software can make your PC unstable.

Good news: Other countries broadcasting in NTSC won't turn off NTSC for a bit longer.

Bad news: Most other countries broadcast television using PAL, not NTSC.

I could go on...
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Old 27-03-2008, 14:49   #7
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Without all of the good news bad news, our existing antenna is an older Datronix that has been up for about 10 years and is probably very similar with the amplifier. It picks up both standard and digital over the air just fine and from a pretty good distance. It was originally placed just above the spreaders on the front of the mast and no problems. we moved it to the masthead while doing some other wiring and saw a little improvement. Try to keep the coax inside your wire chase if possible and it will not give you that slap, slap at anchor when the boat rolls a bit.
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Old 27-03-2008, 14:59   #8
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We use a Shakespeare antenna also (the smaller diameter one) and it works about as well as one could hope for a small antenna. The power draw of the antenna itself is not worth worrying about.

A client also uses the Shakespeare antennas (the larger diameter one) on commuter fast ferries for passenger entertainment TV reception and they work fine over his routes (routes about 25 miles with clear view to transmitters all the way). Ours is just mounted on the pushpit rail using a short extender as we only use the TV when in port (there is no terrestial TV coverage for most of our home cruising area).

But don't expect wonders from them, they are just little antennas - if you have a non metal boat you may find that an inside domestic type antenna works just as well (our own boat is metal so outside antennas are needed for everything). As with any non directional antennas you are likely to get some troubles with reflections when in a marina with metal masts all around.

Very simple to install and if mast mounted the hardest bit will be cabling down the mast, else is pretty much exactly the same as installing a domestic house type antenna having a masthead amplifier and power supply from the house ie a home handyman type job.
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Old 27-03-2008, 17:13   #9
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Here is how I get TV. When in port or within 40Km of a station I get good results by using the nornal VHF aerial (which is mounted on the top of a 46' mast) thru a Desk Top Box!! The spare VHF aerial on the back rail is used for the VHF radio during this period. This setup does require making up adaptors or wiring in a coaxial switch. The cost very minimal & the field strength over 85%. No extra external bits.

regards Bill Goodward
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