Buying an antenna?

OVERVIEW     All caravan antennas are a compromise on what is the best antenna for a particular transmitter. If you want the perfect antenna that will pick up perfect reception ALL the time, pack the car and caravan with more than 7,000 antennas because that’s how many transmitters there are in Australia. Oops, no room for you in the car? Maybe you had better stay home if you expect perfect reception all the time. So if you want to travel, you will need to compromise. The tricky part is how do you choose an antenna that is right for you. The truth of the matter is ONLY YOU CAN MAKE THAT DECISION. But we can make it easier for you by giving you some points to consider.

VHF and UHF     The first thing you need to consider is the type of reception that you are going to encounter while travelling in Australia. Without getting too technical, TV transmission comes on two types of frequency – VHF and UHF. The VHF frequency is the predominant frequency used in each of the capital cities. The best antenna for these frequencies is a very big antenna. Some of the broad-ranging transmitters like Canberra, Coonabarabran, Bundaberg/Maryborough also transmit on VHF because it travels long distances better than the UHF frequencies.

Generally, the smaller towns that have their own repeaters use UHF. The best antenna for UHF is a much smaller antenna. There is still VHF and UHF with digital TV reception.

VERTICAL and HORIZONTAL       Then to confuse the traveller even more is the fact that TV reception is transmitted on the vertical and on the horizontal. Most of the broad coverage transmitters in country areas have vertically polarised TV reception because it travels further with less break up of reception. Another reason for the use of reception on the vertical is so that it won’t clash with reception from another transmitter that is reasonably close e.g., the Noosa transmitter has UHF frequency vertically polarised so that it doesn’t clash with the Sunshine Coast UHF horizontally polarised reception. As you can see, there is much to consider if you want to research the topic thoroughly.

DIRECTIONAL and OMNI-DIRECTIONAL       Now to the topic of antennas. Basically, caravan antennas can be put into two categories – directional and omni-directional. The names themselves explain the difference between these two types – one you point to the transmitter, one you don’t have to point. The directional antennas can be further categorized into folded dipoles, yagi and phased arrays.

AMPLIFIERS     Many caravan parks are situated low down beside the sea/creek/dam and have shady trees. TV reception is challenged by hills, buildings, trees and distance. To overcome these challenges it is possible to add an amplifier (booster). Some antennas have the amplifier built-in. And here is another decision point – to boost or not to boost. So for the caravanner that wants the best antenna maybe these quick facts will help with the research.

QUICK FACTS

  1. 45% of reception is vertically polarised – nearly half of these use horizontal polarisation AS WELL.
  2. 87% of reception is UHF.
  3. Most caravan parks are in areas where you need an amplifier.

YOUR CHECKLIST     If you have stuck with the reading so far, congratulations on your committment to researching the topic thoroughly. Maybe this checklist will help further when considering a number of antennas that will meet your needs. Before you fill in the checklist, answer these questions:-

  • Is it vitally important that you watch your favourite programs?
  • Or do you want just the news and weather and maybe something else?
  • Do you go to the same place each year? (Do your research on what antenna suits that place)
  • Or do you go to many different places?
  • Do you want the cheapest?
  • Or do you want one that gives value for money?

CHECKLIST

  • Is it Directional or Omni-directional?
  • Does it have Vertical and Horizontal aerials?
  • Does it cater for both at the same time?
  • Does it have an amplifier built-in or does it have to be added?
  • Is it easy to store?
  • Do I want to mount it on the roof or a pole?
  • Am I getting value for money?

Hope this helps with making your INFORMED decision on which antenna to buy.

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Buying a Caravan Antenna

Buying a caravan antenna is very, very different to buying a household antenna. In the household situation, you are attempting, with one antenna, to get the TV transmission that is coming from one transmitter. In the caravan scene, you need to consider one antenna for 7,000+ transmitters. Therefore, there are more things to consider when purchasing a caravan antenna.

The points to consider can be broken down into these categories:-

  • VHF and UHF
  • Horizontal and vertical
  • Amplifier
  • Storage
  • Mounting
  • Cost

VHF and UHF

The first thing you need to consider is the type of reception that you are going to encounter while travelling in Australia. Without getting too technical, TV transmission comes on two types of frequency – VHF and UHF. The VHF frequency is the predominant frequency used in each of the capital cities. The best antenna for these frequencies is a very big antenna. Some of the broad-ranging transmitters like Canberra, Coonabarabran, Bundaberg/Maryborough also transmit on VHF because it travels long distances better than the UHF frequencies.

Generally, the smaller towns that have their own repeaters use UHF. The best antenna for UHF is a much smaller antenna. Whether we are discussing analogue OR digital, the considerations are still the same. There will still be VHF and UHF when Australia goes all digital.

VERTICAL and HORIZONTAL

Then to confuse the traveller even more is the fact that TV reception is transmitted on the vertical and on the horizontal. Most of the broad coverage transmitters in country areas have vertically polarised TV reception because it travels further with less break up of reception. Another reason for the use of reception on the vertical is so that it won’t clash with reception from another transmitter that is reasonably close e.g., the Noosa transmitter has UHF frequency vertically polarised so that it doesn’t clash with the Sunshine Coast UHF horizontally polarised reception. ‘But wait, there is more’. Some transmitters use both vertical AND horizontal – Orange, Shepparton, Port Macquarie and more. As you can see, there is much to consider if you want to research the topic thoroughly.

AMPLIFIERS

Many caravan parks are situated low down beside the sea/creek/dam and have shady trees. TV reception is challenged by hills, buildings, trees and distance. To overcome these challenges it is possible to add an amplifier (booster). Some antennas have the amplifier built-in. And here is another decision point – to boost or not to boost. So for the caravanner that wants the best antenna maybe these quick facts will help with the research.

QUICK FACTS

  1. 45% of reception is vertically polarised
  2. 87% of reception is UHF.
  3. Most caravan parks are in areas where you need an amplifier.

DECISION TIME

If you have stuck with the reading so far, congratulations on your committment to researching the topic thoroughly. Here is a checklist for you to use when considering a number of antennas that will meet your needs. Before you fill in the checklist, answer these questions:-

  • Is it vitally important that you watch your favourite programs?
  • Or do you want just the news and weather and maybe something else?
  • Do you go to the same place each year? (Do your research on what antenna suits that place)
  • Or do you go to many different places?
  • Do you want the cheapest?
  • Or do you want one that gives value for money?

Hope this has given you food for thought when considering which antenna you will purchase for your travels.

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VHF and UHF TV Reception

This article covers VHF and UHF TV reception.

The transmission and reception of TV signals is affected by many variables. Atmospheric moisture, solar activity, physical obstructions such as mountains and buildings, and time of day will all have an effect on the signal transmission and deterioration of signal reception.

TV transmission is sent on two types of frequency – VHF and UHF. The VHF, low band frequency, is often used in country areas to send TV signal to a large area. The UHF transmission is used mainly in ‘local’ (one town) areas. How far the transmission is sent depends on the power of the transmitter (eg, the Canberra transmission is sent 130kms but the Barcaldine, Qld, transmitter sends it 11kms).

UHF transmission and reception can change as the atmosphere warms and cools throughout the day. The main advantage of UHF transmission is the physically short wave that is produced by the high frequency. The UHF antenna is stubby and short. The major disadvantage of UHF is its limited broadcast range and reception, often referred to as line-of-sight between the TV station’s transmission antenna and customer’s reception antenna, as opposed to VHF’s very long broadcast range and reception which is less restricted by line-of-sight.

Now what does that mean to the traveller? It means that to get the best reception, your antenna needs to have both a UHF antenna (small) as well as a VHF antenna (large).

QUICK FACTS

* All capital cities have VHF reception needing a big antenna.

* Nearly 90% of transmission in Australia comes on the UHF frequency.

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12volt needed

12VOLT TO THE ANTENNA

We ALWAYS like to hear from users of the Saturn Antenna. It is much better to solve the problem while you are travelling rather than wait till you reach home 2 weeks/2 months/2 years later. There is nothing more frustrating for you than to have to endure an antenna that is not working. And there is nothing more disappointing for us to have someone call and say, “We have been travelling for 9 months and the antenna has never worked.”

Two customers were very lucky that we were going past them. We were able to stop off and check out their problem. The customer in Renmark had a 12volt problem. There was no power getting to the antenna. This is an important checkpoint for someone complaining about the Saturn Antenna not working.

THERE IS AN INSPECTION HOLE ON THE FRONT OF THE ANTENNA.WHEN THE ANTENNA IS HOOKED UP PROPERLY, A GREEN (or RED) LED LIGHT WILL BE VISIBLE. IF THERE IS NO LIGHT, THERE IS NO POWER GETTING TO THE ANTENNA.

12VOLT MUST GET TO THE SATURN ANTENNA FOR IT TO WORK! It is then necessary to track back where the 12volt is failing – the plugs on the cable attached to the antenna? The cable itself? the TV sockets on the van? The power supply? The 240volt point or the 12volt point? Once you have tracked where the fault lies and repaired that point, the antenna will once again start working.

Happy travelling.

Peter and Margaret Grant

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HORIZONTAL and VERTICAL TV RECEPTION

In Australia, we have 2 ways that TV reception is transmitted – in a horizontal pattern and in a vertical pattern. No, they don’t do that just to watch the travellers stand outside their vehicles getting frustrated turning their antennas up and down, this way and that (although, sometimes it seems like that). There are a couple of reasons for the way the TV reception is broadcast.

Let me explain. I am NOT going to use technical jargon so all you ‘techos’ out there, don’t call me to tell me I’m not completely correct; I am just going to explain the TV reception in simple, layman’s terms.

For the transmitters that need to cover a large area, the VHF frequency transmitted on the vertical plane travels longer distances with less loss of picture quality. So the transmitters at Canberra, Coonabarabran, Bundaberg, Shepparton and many more have vertical transmission.

The second reason that the vertical plane is used for TV transmission is to avoid interference with transmission from another close tower; for example, the transmitter for Noosa/Tewantin in Queensland sends its reception on the vertical so that it would not clash with the transmission from the Sunshine Coast transmitter.

And THAT’S why the Saturn Antenna has 2 aerials – one on the horizontal and one on the vertical. It is set up for ALL transmitters. Whether the reception is sent vertically or horizontally, with a Saturn Antenna YOU DON’T NEED TO KNOW – just put the antenna up, plug in your cable, press auto tune on your TV AND IT’S DONE!

Check out www.saturnantennas.com.au to learn more about the Saturn Caravan Antenna.

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