Antenna Confusion

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thegriff

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Recently I've been trying to pick-up the Atlanta P25 system (800mhz) from my new apartment about 32 miles away from the nearest tower. Due to my being in an apartment I can't really setup a Yagi or traditional scanner antenna so I've been trying various TV antennas.

In that quest I've tried a few different antennas but can't seem to beat the performance of the $10 ChannelMaster FLATenna. Most recently I've tried their ULTRAtenna which actually yields worse results for me than the $10 cheapo I bought from them last year. Everything I've tried has been used both with and without a signal amplifier.

The FLATenna is out on the balcony turned on it's side. The other units I've tried also wound up on their side. Occasionally I can get DSD+ to decode the control channel with the signal amplifier in-line and even more rarely I'll get voice channel decoding through the FLATenna.

I have a few questions that are puzzling me.

1. How is it that this $10 piece of plastic with embedded metal is outperforming antennas meant to be much, much better than it?

2. Would a purpose-built scanner antenna likely do any better than what I'm already using? I've thought of trying to build a J-Pole or even a Slim Jim but I have my doubts as to whether they'd actually outperform what I'm using.

3. Is there something "better" than the FLATenna that I could try? I see ChannelMaster have a SMARtenna and am tempted by it. Perhaps the extra 15 mile range that's claimed will help me pull in the signal.

Thanks in advance for the input!

FLATenna: https://www.channelmaster.com/Flatenna_Indoor_TV_Antenna_p/cm-4001hd.htm
ULTRAtenna: https://www.channelmaster.com/Digital_HDTV_Outdoor_TV_Antenna_p/cm-4221hd.htm
SMARTenna: https://www.channelmaster.com/SMARTenna_HD_Antenna_p/cm-3000hd.htm
 

ChrisABQ

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Jul 12, 2016
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Albuquerque, NM
I have a similar antenna to the flat one your using. I just tried it and it's a great little directional antenna. Worked great on VHF department 12 miles away and on the new state police 700 mhz P25 P1 system. If I run into any distortion issues, I'll be sure to try that first. Thanks
 

lmrtek

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Feb 11, 2009
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UHF TV antennas work great from 460-900 MHz

a multi bay bowtie antenna is hard to beat

MCM electronics has a 2 bay bowtie on sale eighty now for $10.99
it will easily outperform any scanner or flat antenna
 

thegriff

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Oct 21, 2014
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Atlanta, GA
That's what I would have thought as well. The ChannelMaster though says it only goes to 700mhz. Its performance vs. a tuned 800mhz antenna or even the cheaper flat antenna seems to indicate they really mean it about the upper limit.
 
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