Looking for a readily-available fringe antenna specifically for High VHF (channels 7-12 NTSC/ATSC), I found there weren’t many options these days. There are plenty of UHF antennas out there from a number of manufacturers (mainly bowties, though Antennas Direct also carries the Yagi-like 91XG). VHF/UHF combos aren’t terribly hard to find either, though with the exception of some Winegards, most seem to have somewhat weaker range on the VHF. When it comes to Hi-VHF-only, Stellar Labs seems to be one of the only manufacturers doing them.
Stellar Labs currently carries 2 variants:
- 30-2475 – Fringe Directional Antenna VHF-Hi (60.5″, 12dB gain claimed)
- 30-2476 – Deep Fringe Directional Antenna VHF-Hi (82.7″, 14dB gain claimed)
Here’s a shot of the 30-2476 Deep Fringe sitting on the floor (laying on the rear reflectors):
The advertised gains of 12dB and 14dB seemed a bit optimistic, and I was curious enough to look around. It turns out holl_ands has a site where he ran the “Fringe” version (30-2475) through 4nec2 if you want a few more details on that one along with some possible mods: http://imageevent.com/holl_ands/yagis/hivhf9elfdyagistellarlabs.
Using holl_ands NEC model as a template and roughly measuring out my antenna, I modified the file to get an NEC model for the Deep Fringe (30-2476) model.
Here’s a look at the Fringe and Deep Fringe model gains “side-by-side”:
Keep in mind that for gain, the Y-axis is different (8-11dB, 9.5-12.5dB).
For reference: Channel 7 (174-180Mhz), Channel 8 (180-186Mhz), Channel 9 (186-192Mhz), Channel 10 (192-198Mhz), Channel 11 (198-204Mhz), Channel 12 (204-210Mhz), Channel 13 (210-216Mhz).
Note that the reflectors/directors/element are all connected to the metallic boom – I don’t know if holl_ands accounted for this in his NEC model, but I didn’t go to any lengths to do so. I also wasn’t extremely precise in my measurements. Thus, the “max” 12dB/14dB manufacturer claims may or may not be slightly optimistic but they don’t seem to be wildly out of range or anything. A 2dB increase going from the Fringe to Deep Fringe model does actually occur at the center point.
Stellar Labs 30-2475 Fringe vs 30-2476 Deep Fringe
Choosing the 30-2476 over the 30-2475 should get you at least 1dB and up to 2dB increased gain… not bad for the $10 premium.
For the minor price increase (under $10 USD), stepping up to the Deep Fringe version is probably worthwhile if you have the space for the longer boom and taller reflector. Consider that shaving off a dB loss here and there via RG6 vs RG11, low noise preamps, low loss combiners, etc will often carry a premium of over $10… this is a very cheap 1-2dB gain right from the get-go.
I’ve noticed that antenna boxes always seem to end up with holes in them by the time the courier arrives at the door… that said, the 2 loose wingnuts managed to say inside. Assembly is really straightforward and took less than 15 minutes.
This antenna is light. Almost 7 feet long and easy to carry 1-handed. It’s pretty sturdy and the only plastic pieces are end caps and the balun box. Short of damaging any elements when moving it to the roof/pole, I’d expect this thing to last a long while.
As for observed performance, keeping in mind that all locations are different:
- From the main floor with a few feet of coax, it easily pulled the couple “green” TV Fool stations (~37-40NM) through multiple walls and a microwave in one of the directions. I didn’t have to be picky with the aiming: I just set it up on a table with a box to level it. For reference, a dipole indoors takes a lot of fighting to get either of these stations.
- From the roof through 50 feet of RG-6, it pulled a “yellow” station listed at about 20NM.
- It did not pull a red 1NM station from the roof with 50 feet of RG-6, though it was windy and the initial tests had poor LOS to that direction… I’m sure an amp would help too. I’ll test more later.
For being one of the only Fringe-y Hi VHF options, the Stellar Labs is at least a good option. It’s well priced, decently constructed, and performs pretty well.
If you’ve got HiVHF/UHF stations in different directions or are having some of your old UHF stations move back to VHF as channels 36-51 are sold off, you may be in the market for a High VHF antenna (likely with a VHF/UHF combiner). If considering a Stellar Labs option for this, hopefully something here has helped you.