Hands on with the Winegard HD6055P FM Antenna, part 2: The challenge

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes… you know the rest of the words. I wanted to be able to review the HD6055P antenna, and I wanted to see if I could improve my pathetic FM reception. What happens next is a bit more of a ride than I thought I’d take.

I talked to my friends up at the home office in Novi, Michigan. They’re always really good about getting me equipment for review. They haven’t said no yet. This time, they didn’t exactly say no.

Winegard is a real quality organization, and they make a quality product. Their antennas sell very well. So, it just happens that when I asked, the only FM antenna available was one that had failed quality assurance checks. Normally this antenna would be sent back to Winegard, but the Solid Signal warehouse team thought I might like it.

Sure… I’m up for a challenge.

The HD6055P antenna arrived in a box about 6 feet high. This is one big antenna. It is light though. After unpacking the contents, I found the following:


Two piece antenna, instructions, grounding guide and the coaxial connection block. Looks good so far.

The first step was to open up the elements. This was easy enough and they do snap into place. Both the large and the small parts have elements to open up. I make sure that the elements are fairly straight before photographing, and at this point I was beginning to get an idea of the size of the antenna.



I actually had to use all the blue felt I had in the house and the antenna still didn’t fit on it. I’ll admit I photoshopped a litle blue so that the picture would look nicer.

This thing is huge. Really. From the looks of it, it will be six and a half feet from end to end and about five feet at its widest. I take a moment for a loud mischievous cackle. This is the awesomest antenna ever, and it’s MINE, MINE!!

And then I remembered I had more work to do. The next step was to fit the two pieces together and secure them with a supplied machine screw and bolt. This looked to be a fairly easy procedure but to make sure the two pieces didn’t bind together, I took out an insurance policy…


This is the stuff I’ve used to grease up garage door springs. It ought to keep the pieces moving, and it’s also conductive so it won’t stop the antenna from working.

Everything’s going great. The pieces slide together cleanly. But I can’t get the bolt holes to line up. Something’s not right! I take the two pieces apart and the problem becomes obvious.


I would have included some ominous music but some of you might be reading in the office.

Here’s the problem: when the hole was punched in the outer part of the antenna, the little aluminum circle didn’t pop out like it should. It was sticking out into the center of the antenna, keeping the inner part from sliding all the way down.

Now I know why this antenna didn’t go to a customer. I could imagine someone being frustrated by this. Winegard is much too good to let this go out to someone’s home. As I said, they make a quality product. This antenna would probably have ended up on a scrap heap, recycled back into another antenna. But instead, it ended up at my house, waiting for me to accept the challenge.

 
Didn’t take much, just a couple of tools I had lying around the house.

I started with the pliers. I nipped off most of that little protrusion but not quite enough. So, my cordless Dremel with a precision bit was just the ticket. Took all of about 90 seconds and I had everything looking nice and clean. Now the two pieces fit together like a charm. A nice, greasy charm.

When I had the two pieces nicely fitting together, I used a drill to enlarge the bolt hole slightly because it seemed the there were still some rough spots in it. The hole was still small enough that the machine screw was nice and snug going in.

With all the pieces together, I next went to attaching the coax block. This is a very nice piece with a matching transformer built into a weatherized housing.


The housing and the rubber weather boot for the coax connector.

The block fits into a plastic housing that is riveted to the antenna. Within it, two aluminum rods connect tightly with the transformer. The whole piece clicks in nicely. I quickly attached a piece of coax cable I had lying around.

At this point I have to point out that everything I’m doing is for testing. If this were an actual installation I would be weatherproofing the coax using the supplied rubber boot, and doing everything possible to properly ground this antenna. If you’re going to install one of these, you need to read the grounding guide.

Thanks, I feel better for getting that off my chest. Back to the review.

If you read these articles with some regularity you know that I have no great love of going up on my roof. I knew that this would be a temporary installation so I wanted to see if it was really necessary for testing purposes. I started by pulling out a furring strip I had left over from another project and strapping the antenna to it. I stuck the whole assembly in the ground (well, that’s one way to ground an antenna!) and ran the cable inside.


The antenna is about five and a half feet off the ground.

As the instructions suggest, I pointed the antenna toward the source of the greatest number of transmission towers. Personally, I thought it looked majestic just propped up in the middle of the lawn. But, I admit it would have been an issue to keep it there. You seriously could actually put an eye out if you walked near it. So, into the house to test.

Test Results

I used a Yamaha a/v receiver from about 2006 for this test. It had been using the copper wire antenna that came with it, and I was getting five FM channels. I connected the antenna and counted the number of channels that came in clearly.

Holy moley.

43 channels. I did the test twice, and then I actually researched how many stations were in my market. There are 52 stations in the area where I live, including low power ones. And I was getting 43. I did not actually believe this was possible. Some of these stations were in a language I never heard before. It occurred to me that it was possible I was getting radio transmissions from Mars.

I guess I didn’t have to go up on the roof to test this one…

Conclusion

This antenna performed flawlessly. Sure, it took me a minute to fix a minor manufacturing defect, but it was only a minute. Knowing Winegard’s reputation for service, I’m surprised that this flaw happened, but I’m glad that it was caught before it went to a customer. I’m not surprised, though. That’s how these guys operate.

Test completed, I disassembled all the pieces. This antenna’s a little bit of overkill for me, maybe… but it sure was fun to get it all set up.