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How do you set about aligning your aerial when you arrive on site?


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Only recently have we started using my laptop as a TV in the caravan. We have an aerial that goes up and down, rotates and can tip from horizontal to vertical. I have an app called Totalmedia 3.5 that came with the August USB tuner stick which is in my Windows 10 laptop.

I'm asking about setting up because it seems very hit-and-miss, reminding me of my parents faffing about with a telescopic aerial Sellotaped to the curtains some 60-odd years ago. I looked at the other caravanners' aerials and got a general direction and whether the signal was horizontal  or not. This was checked with a phone app, UK Aerial Alignment. Mrs H called out the signal strength on the app while I turned the aerial, pausing frequently to let the app catch up with monitoring the signal. Our viewing experience was fine once the messing about was finished with.

Have I missed something? Is there a better or quicker way of doing this? Or are we condemned to this crude and inaccurate tuning process for the foreseeable future?

 

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Like yourself I tend to look at other peoples aerials first, then point in the same direction. Once the tv is tuned in and a picture is on the screen I adjust the aerial very slightly left or right until the best clearest picture is received. I also have a app on my iPhone that you put your postcode in if that fails, and it tells your the nearest and strongest signal available, also shows horizontal and vertical. It’s called simply Antenna finder.

 

Edited by Wobbleboxnobby
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Look at everyone else's, then just stuff it, and go for a satellite, its a lot easier:lol::lol:

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I have UK aerial alignment app on my phone-seems pretty effective.

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45 minutes ago, hawkaye said:

We have an aerial that goes up and down, rotates and can tip from horizontal to vertical.

 

Is that an external one built into the caravan?

 

These can have a row of LEDs on the amplifier, that respond to signal strength.

Something looking like THIS there are other models and brands.

Just, with aerial powered on, turn it for most lit LEDs, then ask you TV tuner to tune itself into that station.

NOTE: TV tuners have to tune for the received station, so if you camp away from where you did last time another auto tune is most likely needed.

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If doing it 'by hand' always look at the warden's aerial - indeed if your smartphone has a compass in it you can get a bearing easily - and note if it is horizontal or vertical, then point yours in exactly the same direction. Having said that you might loose out on the number of channels so you can do it the 'other way.'

 

Go to www.wolfbane.com and select the reception predictor. Enter either the postcode or map reference of your location, set the antenna height to 4m, and select 'distant.' This will then give you a table that shows the available transmitters in descending signal strength order. You will need about 45dBuV/m or higher to get a solid and reliable picture. If the first table entry only has three channels then it is a relay, if it has more than three it will be a main station, but if the main station is 45 or higher you should use that rather than the relay. Generally main stations use horizontal* and relays vertical aerials, the pointed end should be nearest the transmitter. We do NOT use slant polarity in the UK! The advantage of the main station is many more channels - as you will see in the table. Ignore the last comment about aerial requirement - Wolfbane is notoriously pessimistic. (*Rowridge on the IoW transmits both horizontal and vertical, some stations that were relays in an earlier life are now mains (e.g. Scarborough, Sheffield, Chesterfield) and will have six channels but the aerial will still be vertical.)

 

With digital TV the signal quality is more important than the signal strength, so if the predicted signal strength is a little below 45 but the quality is high it might still work well. If you dig through your TV setup you should find somewhere an indication of signal strength/quality: on Samsungs it is in Broadcasting/Support/self diagnosis/signal information for example. You can use the signal indications to do final alignment on your aerial.

The only catch is that Wolfbane has a tendency to be out of date per channel numbers. If you Google 'uk tv transmitter frequencies {transmitter name}' and go to the web site that starts 'ukfree.tv' you will get a coverage map and a list of the channels for the transmitter you have nominated. Note that you will only be able to receive PSB3 (and Com7 if present) if your TV has an HD tuner.

 

Finally, if your TV setup has the facility you are MUCH better to tune manually to ensure you get the 'right' transmitter. Autotune can often get a mixture of which some will work and others won't.

 

 

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I have experience of both the 'Fringe' Signal finder' aerial booster and the Status VP5 which has a built in signal strength meter.  Both work pretty well and are better than the 'turn and hope' scenario.

 

At a small cost though.  Like many things it is so annoying that manufacturers do not fit them as original equipment.  The difference in cost would be negligible and never noticed.

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I use Antenna Finder app on an iPhone.

Enter a postcode and it gives you direction and distance to receivable transmitters. Especially useful if you are in an area covered by multiple transmitters broadcasting different regional programmes. Never really look at where other aerials are pointing as usually too many variations.

 

John.

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Freepoint UK is also good but has recently gone (small) chargeable. Its database knows every CMC and CL, C&CC and CS, and many commercial sites.

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Posted (edited)

Many thanks for the responses. My preference would be an analogue meter that I could leave permanently connected but some of the meters for sale seem to be powered through an aerial socket and need disconnecting before reconnecting the amplifier. As I'm trying to reduce faff, I'll probably end up with replacing the existing VP2 amplifier with a VP4 so I can use the existing power supply and I'll get a multicoloured LED I can tune with.

Faff reduction means also not getting involved with a satellite system; I've seen them on sites with equipment strewn everywhere. From this novice's point of view, it didn't look easy. We don't have a dish at home although that may have to change if they don't get Bilsdale working!

 

Edit; I've just remembered that the satellite point that was in the battery box has vanished since our new mover was fitted.

Edited by hawkaye
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Our last (and fina)l caravan outing some years ago was to the C&C site just west of Wells (near Bath).

Didn’t need to check the direction of the wardens aerial as the 500 feet high TV transmitter could be clearly seen about 5 miles to the north of the site so aiming my aerial was no problem at all.

 

I was somewhat surprised however when the guy on the pitch next door, asked me if I had managed to pick up a signal because he couldn’t receive anything at all.

 

A quick glance at his caravan soon explained why.

His aerial was pointing due west towards Weston Super Mare!   Lol

 

Think he needed to see an optician!

 

Vin Blanc

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12 hours ago, Woodentop said:

Freepoint UK is also good but has recently gone (small) chargeable. Its database knows every CMC and CL, C&CC and CS, and many commercial sites.

I use Freepoint as well, it takes data from Wolfbane, well worth the very small fee. When Freepoint 2 was released I spent a while helping the developer sort out some network problems, very rewarding ;)

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
6 hours ago, robf1234 said:

hi when i had to find a signal before the auto sat dish ,,i used this very cheap and easy to use

 

Strange, I was convinced that this thread was all about “the alignment of “Terrestrial” type aerials obviously intended to pick up Freeview channels.

 

The OP didn’t ask about satellite did he?

 

Vin Blanc

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I’m always slightly puzzled by these “It’s a faff getting tv reception” posts. I don’t think I’ve ever failed to quickly set up my TV in the last 20-odd years (except in a couple of notorious reception black spots in Wales).

Before leaving home I pop my postcode into the Freeview website, and note the bearing and polarity (H or V). Then on site I use a basic compass (cost 90p at the time) to point the aerial, and press auto-tune on the TV. Job done with plenty of stations and excellent reception. And no need for any apps, reception finders or satellite dishes & receivers!

Jim

 

 

Edited by -Jim-
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look at where everyone else has pointed theirs, faff around a bit, decide it's not worth the hassle and read a book instead 

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Well I managed to watch F1 quali and highlights with minimal faff so all good until I realised the laptop charger was slurping over 6 amps out of the battery. And this on a site without hook up! 

Thanks for all the input. 

Clearly, using a laptop and the August tuner won't work. I'll be addressing that part of my flawed plan in due course. 🙄

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3 hours ago, Vin Blanc said:

 

Strange, I was convinced that this thread was all about “the alignment of “Terrestrial” type aerials obviously intended to pick up Freeview channels.

 

The OP didn’t ask about satellite did he?

 

Vin Blanc

Hi. The item I suggested works on both satellite and digital TV...

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Always used a compass and, providing you have internet access and know your postcode/location, this site gives you an accurate location of the nearest transmitter https://www.freeview.co.uk/corporate/detailed-transmitter-information

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39 minutes ago, Pebble said:

 … … providing you have internet access … …

Hence why I suggested (above) checking out the Freeview website “before leaving home”.

Jim

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9 hours ago, -Jim- said:

Hence why I suggested (above) checking out the Freeview website “before leaving home”.

Jim

:Plus1:

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On 18/08/2021 at 16:20, Woodentop said:

If doing it 'by hand' always look at the warden's aerial and note if it is horizontal or vertical, then point yours in exactly the same direction.

 

 

That’s exactly what I always used to do (and now recommend others to do) back in my caravanning days some years ago.

 

Except of course (and unnecessary) when staying on the C & CC site at Wells (near Bath),  – see my earlier post No. 11

 

Vin Blanc

Edited by Vin Blanc
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  • 3 weeks later...
On 07/09/2021 at 14:40, Vin Blanc said:

 

Strange, I was convinced that this thread was all about “the alignment of “Terrestrial” type aerials obviously intended to pick up Freeview channels.

 

The OP didn’t ask about satellite did he?

 

Vin Blanc

 

Edited by robf1234
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