When I lived 20 miles west of Chicago, I would get all major channels on the same antenna I am using now. But when I moved to about 30 miles due west of Chicago, I had no luck getting WBBM Channel 2. All the other major channels had no problem. I hooked this up and Bazinga! Channel 2 and even some weak signals (but viewable) channels in the UHF are now strong and clear. Pros:
- Simple to install, just hook up the coax cables and plug it in
- Does what I expected it to do
- Works on both VHF and UHF Cons:
- Just a nitpick. The manual states that the FM trap and combined UHF/VHF signal are the default, and that the factory sets these switches to “On.” However, mine arrived with both set “Off.” So I used a screwdriver and turned them both "On" - an easy fix.
- If you are looking for the most powerful pre-amplifier out there, this is not it. It is more of a middle boost amplifier (but please read comments below) Comments:
- Even though this is made to attach to an exterior antenna, I am using it on an indoor Zenith ZHDTV1 (no longer made by manufacturer unfortunately) antenna located on a second floor. The antenna itself is not amplified. It would likely not be effective or might even degrade the signal on an amplified antenna, so I would not recommend doing so. - Consider the fact that my entire cost including this amplifier and the Zenith antenna is about $50. So you don't have to pay hundreds of dollars to get good reception. - My first thought when looking for an amplifier was to get one of the most powerful available, but when I did research, I found that people who did that would actually LOSE channels when hooking it up because it was over amplifying the signals and the noise associated with it. So, from my experience I would say (at least in the Chicagoland area), if you live Within 25* miles of the broadcasting source, you shouldn't need a pre-amplifier at all.
25- 50* miles from the source, this pre-amplifier would be ideal
over 50* miles, this may work, but you may need to look for something more powerful * - Antenna effectiveness varies greatly, so scale these numbers accordingly. For example, if you know someone that is getting all channels in your area with a particular antenna model with no amplifier at 40 miles, the same antenna (if pointed correctly) with this pre-amp will likely work at 60 miles. Tips for better reception:
- Point your antenna using a strength meter if possible (I’m connected to a computer, so I use software for my tuner card, but some cable DVRs have them, some analog to digital tuner boxes have them that display strength bars with the channel info)
- Put the amplifier close to the antenna to reduce noise
- Don’t over amplify
- Use decent quad-shielded coax cable (not the cheapie thin wire stuff)
- Minimize the number of coax connections between the antenna and TV
- Splitters reduce signal strength, use them sparingly
- Never kink a coax, use arcs around cornersc
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