New Antenna Blog by Phil Karras KE3FL


I’ve been offered a volunteer guest blogger position here at Solid Signal and have been contemplating just what to write about.

I’m a physicist by education and have worked in the optical, fluid dynamics, high-powered LASER as well as all manner of IT and software development fields. I am probably what was once called a “jack of all trades, master of none.” However, my level of “jacking” can rise to that of a master when my interest is focused on any particular subject long enough. Or, at least, I hope it can.

My hobbies include Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) and my interests are in the antenna designing, building, construction side of ham radio as well as general radio and TV, with some circuit design and building thrown in for good measure.

In the last few years I’ve helped others get the TV stations back that they lost with the change to DTV. I have been trying various TV antennas to get back my own lost TV signals from Washington D.C.

I live in a small Carroll County, MD, town called Mount Airy. Looking up the TV stations I should be able to receive (as purported on TV Fool using the “Check Your Address for Free TV” link), I was originally hopeful that I could receive all of the stations I was able to receive when there was analog TV. When we bought our present home in March 1991, we were told by the former owner that we could receive all TV stations from both Baltimore and Washington, D.C., with a TV and a “rabbit ears” antenna. This was mostly true for the VHF stations but not so for the UHF stations, especially those from Washington.

Most of you have probably experienced the same disappointing DTV reception characteristics and have concluded, as I have, that the theory that these calculations are based on was, and still is, overly optimistic. I quickly discovered that not only couldn’t I get all of the stations as easily as I used to, but there are some that are extremely difficult to receive now. In fact, with a rabbit ears antenna and the portable DTV in the living room, I receive only one Baltimore station well enough to actually be worth watching.

This, then, is my situation and I will write about my experiences using various ideas, antennas, and combinations in different situations in the hope of helping you get your free TV back to where it once was.

All of my TV antenna articles have been published in Popular Communication magazine, starting with a Turnstile-Bow-Tie UHF antenna I designed, built, tested, and then used for years to get the missing UHF NTSC/analog TV stations in my area from both cities. This particular design has the advantage that no rotator is needed in order to get stations from completely different directions. In my case, Baltimore is East and Washington is South.

Disclaimer: I am not here to sell Solid Signal, or anybody else’s DTV products. I am not being paid for this blog, nor do I care if I hurt the feelings of any particular manufacturer. I will tell it as I find it, and if any seller or manufacturer does not like that, that’s not my concerned. I am not here to make enemies, but I’m also not here to make friends or to whitewash someone’s pet product. I consider myself to be a very interested but unbiased observer.

Last, my next installment will be a proposal of antenna tests I will be working on with my present antennas designs & TV antennas I already own. I will test other antennas against the ones I have & can characterize. I hope you will help me here with suggestions and comments as to whether or not what I’m doing will be helpful to you.

That’s it for this time around. In the meantime, you can contact me through my Ham Radio (KE3FL) web site and visit it to get an idea of the things I’ve done, am doing, and am interested in.

Until next time, Good viewing & listening!
Phil Karras, KE3FL / KPC3FL