DX Shack upgrade: New FM and TV antennas added plus continuation of TV DXing

Britta Products V-30-FM antenna

I recently wrote about the challenges I faced with DXing in my new home, which made me establish two working shacks on two different floors.  I have further fine tuned my DXing capabilities by adding dedicated FM and TV antennas into my main shack, located upstairs.

I quickly realized upon moving in March 2017 that I needed a dedicated antenna for FM.  Rabbit ears worked just fine bringing in tropo signals up to 200 miles away in most directions, but I needed a much more robust antenna to pick up Sporadic E signals–something I found which came in fine in my car, but was very difficult to hear indoors with rabbit ears just feet away.

I spoke with several DXers and came to the conclusion that rabbit ears weren’t going to cut it if I wanted to benefit from Sporadic E or marathon tropo openings indoors.  Given that I DXed with a roof-mounted Radio Shack VU-90XR antenna from 2004 until my move in March 2017 and never tried any other antennas, I had no idea what to purchase. This was also a challenge because the antenna had to be used indoors as I am not allowed to attach an antenna to the roof of my condo building.

 

1byone OUS00-0551 UHF antenna.

I could’ve spent big bucks on a name brand antenna, but I wanted something cheap and simple.  Size was also an issue, given the antenna was going to be used indoors. I realized that the large room that houses my main DX shack was perfect to house a small Yagi antenna.  I searched Amazon and found the Britta Products V-30-FM three element antenna.  I bought it on a whim, as it had no reviews.  Thankfully, while using my 30 dB Radio Shack 15-2507 amplifier used with my old VU-90XR, the V-30-FM antenna works better than rabbit ears and is highly directional.  In places, I can achieve deep nulls to semi-local stations that is impossible to achieve with lesser antennas.

The next challenge was what to mount the V-30-FM on.  I took a small antenna mounting pole and attached it to a piece of wood, which was then attached to an old and very heavy lazy Susan from IKEA that was once used with my TV.  The antennas are located immediately behind my DX shack, allowing me to turn the entire antenna array to zero in on signals without standing up.

Click to enlarge. My new antenna array as of July 2017.

Given I had room for a small UHF antenna on the antenna pole that the V-30-FM was attached to, I decided to resume TV DXing, something I haven’t done much of since the 2009 DTV transition.  I searched Amazon and found the 1byone OUS00-0551 UHF antenna, which came with an 18dB amplifier.  Like the FM antenna, I never heard of the brand and bought it largely on its claim that it had an 80 mile reception range.  I wasn’t expecting much.  Upon hooking it up, I was blown away.  My local major Washington, DC TV stations came in without effort as expected, but I now get a handful of low power stations from Washington clearly that I never received before.

Quite impressively, the antenna receives Baltimore stations 38 WMAR-DT (ABC), 40 WNUV-DT (CW), and 46 WBFF-DT (FOX), at over 55 miles with a local-grade signal at all hours of the day, meaning I can watch these signals as if they were locals–something fun given the fact that my local cable company doesn’t carry the Baltimore TV signals since I’m in the Washington television market.  The only downside of the antenna is that it doesn’t get always get the high VHF signals from Baltimore, such as 11 WBAL (NBC) or 13 WJZ (CBS), but that’s fine given it wasn’t designed for high VHF.

Although the antennas are unsightly, I feel it is necessary to continue DXing at a level that I feel comfortable with.  The lazy Susan, although heavy, is easy to move anywhere on the table, which means I could move it, as necessary, to allow me to use the tabletop.  There’s also room on the floor behind the table where I could put the entire antenna setup should I need the entire table.

My Working Conditions page has been updated with the new information in this article.

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