A quick look at the Stellar Labs 32-2476 Hi-VHF Deep Fringe Antenna

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):

Stellar Labs 32-2476 Deep Fringe High-VHF Antenna

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”:

Stellar Labs 32-2475 Fringe High-VHF Antenna (Gain)

Stellar Labs 32-2476 Deep Fringe High-VHF Antenna (Gain)

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).

Stellar Labs 32-2475 Fringe High-VHF Antenna (Pattern)

Stellar Labs 32-2476 Deep Fringe High-VHF Antenna (Pattern)

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.

 

Other Bits:

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.

 

Conclusion:

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.