TLDR version (added because I rambled more than usual):
-It’s paired with a Winegard HD 8200U
-There’s an improvement over the radio-shack 10db antenna
-The 3 towers less than 20 miles away didn’t cause overload (though it’s not aimed directly at them and we’re running through 100 feet of coax)
-Between the 2, we’re getting a digital station ~60 miles away perfectly, with a closer digital station (which it’s not aimed at) still artifacting every once in a while (which I’m sure will be cured when Mr Saw meets a family of trees causing multipath). Most of the analog stations are coming in perfectly with a couple having you-have-to-look-for-it-to-see-it ghosting. One analog station is a bit snowy at the moment, which will likely be cured when the antenna’s re-aimed (it’s in the antenna’s ‘blind spot’ right now).
In the last write-up, I’d grabbed and installed the Winegard HD 8200U antenna. Due largely to a 100-ft cable run, it was using a cheap 10db in-line amplifier – something that probably cost around $10-15 about a decade ago. If you want to read up on the remaining issues it left, you can check out the Winegard HD 8200U review (scroll to the bottom).
Moving on, with some tweaking the issues were minimized but still existed at certain times of day (well.. night actually). I decided to grab the Winegard AP-8275 antenna amplifier to see if it would help. Turns out, it gave quite the improvement…
I’ll start with the bad. The thing only includes 1 cable, and that’s for the power inserter, so if you’re currently runnng an amp-less setup, you’ll probably need to buy/obtain/make 2 cables. Like the antenna, the amplifier costs a fortune in Canada. To avoid paying $100 for the thing, which is within the ballpark every Canadian retailer wants to charge, I grabbed it from Amazon.ca for $66.
So that’s the bad. Now the good.
The un-necessary concern
Before buying, I was a little concerned about the possibility of overloading the TV-tuner with the high-gain amp. Really, the AP-8275 is about the highest-gain consumer-oriented preamp you can buy. If you overload the tuner, all channels suffer.
I’ll explain a little further with the pros/cons I’d come up with:
Reasons TO get the 8275:
-one of the transmitters (~60 miles away) could use improvement
-potential to possibly get Grand Forks station (~120 miles away) during tropo events
-100-foot cable run
Reasons NOT TO get the 8275:
– 3 transmitters fairly close (10-20 mile range) risks overloading
-the weakest Winegard (the HDP-269) would be slightly stronger than the current 10db amp, and less noisy anyway, which might be a safer bet.
The things I had going for me were that I was running a 100-ft run which would probably eat around 10db of the gain anyway, I wasn’t planning to aim the antenna directly at any of the near stations, and that I was planning to throw in a 4-way splitter at some point which would undoubtedly drop the signal some anyway.
Turns out, the concern was unwarranted. No overloading, so I’m glad I went with the beefiest amp I could find. At least now I won’t be left wondering “could I have gone higher?”
It installs pretty easily, and includes a couple rubber boots to help weatherproof the connections. The amp mounts to the antenna mast (a black box of sorts with a U-clamp), while the power inserter (about the size of a common splitter) goes inside near the TV.
I’d throw up pictures, but it’s pretty unexciting and you can find images all around the web.
Reception-wise, there was a notable improvement over the 10db amp, although it took a little while to fully realize it. The “signal meter” numbers on the TV didn’t increase drastically or anything (though they moved up slightly), and we didn’t instantly pull in the stations that are 120+ miles away (which are the only “new” stations we could possibly get at this point), but…
…artificating/cutouts reduced in severity rather significantly. One of those stations (around 120 miles away) are also picked up by the tuner for a few seconds every so often. The antenna isn’t aimed yet (I reset the aim to where the Antenna was pointed in the previous writeup so that I’d have a fair comparison), but it’s very possible we’ll end up seeing those channels periodically and during tropo events once the thing’s aimed well.
The next step…
The antenna’s obviously got to be aimed again, and we’ve got a few trees that’ll have to be murdered as well. Between the HD8200U antenna and the AP8275 amplifier, I’m very pleased with the results thus far though. Once the rest of Winnipeg goes to digital OTA in under 90 days, I have no doubt we’ll get all the local stations + US FOX perfectly, 24/7 (minus some glitches during lighting of course).