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RF Shorts - June 1, 2012

Pete Putman DTV Antenna Tests, Part Two

HDTV expert Pete Putman has another of his excellent antenna test articles on this week. In "Useful Gadgets: Wall-Mounted DTV Antennas Revisited," he tested the Antennas Direct Micron XG, along with a replacement Winegard FlatWave antenna (the one he tested before had a defective connection). In the evaluation, he compared these antennas with a $4 Radio Shack bowtie antenna and the Mohu Leaf. In summary, for antennas without an amplifier, the Mohu Leaf received the most stations. The others, including the $4 bowtie, received the same number of stations, although they were different stations. The FlatWave was the only antenna able to receive WNJB from his location without an amplifier. The fancy antennas did better with an amplifier, with comparable performance between the FlatWave and the Mohu Leaf.

Putman concludes, “You don’t need to spend a ton of money to get decent DTV reception. In fact, you should be in good shape for no more than $40, based on my tests. If signal levels are really low, the amplified models will make a difference. Based on my tests, I’d suggest sticking with the Leaf Plus, as it is $25 cheaper than the Micron XG--and a lot easier to mount to a variety of surfaces, given how light and flexible it is.” 

See his article for a list of the stations each antenna was able to receive and spectrum analyzer photos showing how well they worked. 

Sutro Tower In the News Again

Peter Hartlaub, pop culture critic at the San Francisco Chronicle takes a positive view of the San Francisco icon in his posting, "And now, some love for Sutro Tower." The article includes photographs and news articles about the construction of Sutro Tower.

Hartlaub writes, “For reasons I’ve stated before, I think it’s the most underrated landmark in the Bay Area. Fireworks above Sutro would be magnificent, but I’ll settle for a 40th anniversary kegger. For now, I’ll contribute this article that I wrote in today’s Chronicle about the fall and rise of the TV tower’s reputation.”

He interviewed Jim Gabbert, who has owned a number of broadcast operations, about the tower's history. Gabbert noted that “The tower was extremely close to being built on San Bruno Mountain, but the Army eventually killed the prospect. There had been questions about airplane safety at both sites, but the San Bruno site was near a long-since-removed Nike missile site. They were worried that the tower would cause radar masking. That put a stake in [its] heart.” 

Unfortunately, most, but not all, of the commenters complain about Sutro Tower being an ugly eyesore, even when they admit it improved their TV reception. 

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.