Need some advice on my antenna/scanner setup

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Hello all, I'm at a stand still on my scanner setup and I'm not sure what I need or should do to get things working at their peak again. I live in a crappy physical location (in a hole) about 7 miles from town, but I have a hill behind my house that I have erected a ~60' tower with a scantenna (ST2) on it to get it above the trees. I'm also using a pre-amp out on the tower about a foot from the antenna. It's a set that the power supply (in house) powers the preamp out on the tower via the coax. I believe it's about a 20dB gain on the amp. Not a 100% on that but think it's pretty close to that anyway. (I know everyone is going to laugh and make fun of this next part, but this is what I have to work with and have been led to believe is the best way to go.) The total cable run from the tower to inside the house is ~300'. I'm using flooded tri-shielded RG6 direct burial cable that is buried from the tower to the house (~200'). From what I've read RG6 is better for just listening because it's design nature is to protect and preserve crappy TV signals which trasfers to other radio signals too. I just moved the antenna from a ~15' pole to the tower today, because being down in this hole I wasn't getting very good signal strength/quality. I'm aware that adding an additional 90' of cable run would hurt, but thought that the gain in better signal would surpass the losses. That hasn't been the case though. I was able to pull in signals from about 45 miles away before I made the change, now I'm having trouble to get half that far. I'm running 3 scanners off the antenna (1 feed and 2 that I listen to) I listen to mostly 150's and the 400's range but I do have stuff throughout the spectrum up to a very few in the 800's analoged trunked. I don't have a hude budget but I am wanting to get this working, so if anyone could offer advice on either amps, cable, or whatever I would be greatly appreciative of the help. Only serious replies please. I'll check the feed and reply as much and often as I can if anyone has additional questions. Thanks for your time and help.
 

ka3jjz

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You haven't said anything here about what radios you're using, but did you check your coax connections and the overall condition of the coax itself? How about the connections between the antenna and preamp? Have you had any nasty weather lately that might have damaged something?

If the tower and antenna are too close, there's a good chance you are getting some interaction between them. In fact I'd say that this is a likely possibility. 73 Mike
 
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davidmc36

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It just clicked on RG-6 so may not be exact (is your cable there?) but the calculator shows a 5db loss for 90 feet of RG-6.

Did you gain more or less than that is the question I guess.

I guess add some loss for any connectors.

What affect on loss figs does powering through the coax have?

I had 400mhz selected
 
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You haven't said anything here about what radios you're using, but did you check your coax connections and the overall condition of the coax itself? How about the connections between the antenna and preamp? Have you had any nasty weather lately that might have damaged something?

If the tower and antenna are too close, there's a good chance you are getting some interaction between them. In fact I'd say that this is a likely possibility. 73 Mike
Hi Mike,

The radios I'm using are the Uniden BCT15X, Radio Shack Pro 82, and Uniden BC 60XLT-1. The 60XLT is the feeder. Yes I have double checked all connections and the new 90' run including the pieces between the antenna and grounding block and from grounding block to the pre-amp coax is brand new the existing is only a few months old put it in last fall before winter (same tri-shielded RG6 Burial). Though I did check it anyway with an ohm meter and it was fine. Just put it up yesterday and it's been mostly sunny with light wind (5-10mph). The antenna itself is about 8' above the tower on a 1½" mast. Thanks for your reply. Jeremiah
 
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It just clicked on RG-6 so may not be exact (is your cable there?) but the calculator shows a 5db loss for 90 feet of RG-6.

Did you gain more or less than that is the question I guess.

I guess add some loss for any connectors.

What affect on loss figs does powering through the coax have?

I had 400mhz selected
Yeah I'm not sure on signal gain/loss. I don't have a meter for that other than the built in meter on the BCT15X and most stuff is only showing 1 bar at most where it was 3 to 4. I went to the calculator and standard RG6 is all they have listed. I'm not sure if being tri-shielded makes that much of a difference or not. I haven't came across anything in regards to powering through the coax, so I haven't a clue. Thanks for your reply.
 

rmosier

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For such a long run I would use better quality cable. LMR400 is the best I've found. It's not cheap, but should improve reception, especialy in the 800mhz. Also, you're running multiple scanners off a single feed. How are you splitting it? Crappy radio shack splitters are VERY lossy. Replacing the splitter with a good multiplexor could help. ex.( MCA204A) You might try eliminating possible sources of interferance too. Fios is well known to be very noisy as far as E.M. try turning it off if you have it. You may be experiencing interferance from other transmitters as well. You could try a directional antenna like a Yagi. Just be sure to choose the correct one for the band you need. Hope this helps.
 

w5dmt

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For a 300 Foot run, I'd even consider going to LMR-600 which is really pricey, but works well at higher frequencies.
 
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For such a long run I would use better quality cable. LMR400 is the best I've found. It's not cheap, but should improve reception, especialy in the 800mhz. Also, you're running multiple scanners off a single feed. How are you splitting it? Crappy radio shack splitters are VERY lossy. Replacing the splitter with a good multiplexor could help. ex.( MCA204A) You might try eliminating possible sources of interferance too. Fios is well known to be very noisy as far as E.M. try turning it off if you have it. You may be experiencing interferance from other transmitters as well. You could try a directional antenna like a Yagi. Just be sure to choose the correct one for the band you need. Hope this helps.
Thanks for the reply,

As a matter of fact I am using "crappy" splitters a couple of them actually. I'll have to look into replacing them. I've also been looking into new cable, the LMR400DB and the LMR600DB. I haven't got that in my budget to do the cable right now, but might do that in the future sometime. I've gone through and removed every last bit of slack out of the cable run as possible and that has helped a lot. I'm back to where I started at least. Just haven't got the benefit of getting it higher in the air yet. Thanks again for input.
 
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For a 300 Foot run, I'd even consider going to LMR-600 which is really pricey, but works well at higher frequencies.
Yeah that's kind of what I was thinking would be good. Unfortunately a new cable run is currently out of my budget for now. Maybe be an option by summer. Thanks for the reply.
 

K7CAR

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What it would cost to upgrade to LMR 400-600 at that long a run you are looking at $200-300 plus. I'd pull all the splitters and run one radio. If you're back to your previous signal then you know the splitters are bad. I'm not sure I follow what you did with the 15 ft. pole. Was this mounted near your house? The ST2 is such a lightweight antenna that it wouldn't take much to run it up another 20-30 ft. and reduce your coax by a 200 ft. or more and eliminate the losses there.
Sounds like you want to work with what you have up. You could remote your scanners on the tower and pull the signal via Cat 5 or RF. Pick up the remote head for the 15X, but you're looking at more $$$. I think the cheapest would be to go with a directional Yagi antenna. Pick up a cheap tv rotator off e-bay or craigslist.

If it were me I'd move it back to where you had the better signals and work up from there.
 
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What it would cost to upgrade to LMR 400-600 at that long a run you are looking at $200-300 plus. I'd pull all the splitters and run one radio. If you're back to your previous signal then you know the splitters are bad. I'm not sure I follow what you did with the 15 ft. pole. Was this mounted near your house? The ST2 is such a lightweight antenna that it wouldn't take much to run it up another 20-30 ft. and reduce your coax by a 200 ft. or more and eliminate the losses there.
Sounds like you want to work with what you have up. You could remote your scanners on the tower and pull the signal via Cat 5 or RF. Pick up the remote head for the 15X, but you're looking at more $$$. I think the cheapest would be to go with a directional Yagi antenna. Pick up a cheap tv rotator off e-bay or craigslist.

If it were me I'd move it back to where you had the better signals and work up from there.
Hi K7CAR,

The 15' pole was up on the hill too, about 30' from where I placed the tower. Yesterday I pulled all the cable up out of the yard and retrenched it in a straight line from the tower to the house taking out the 30' jog to where I connected to the existing coax was at the pole. Removed about 30' of coax by doing that. That managed to help my signal a lot. Still not great, but I'm back to the signal strength or slightly better than what I had on the short pole. I would love to be able to move to a place where I could have the tower or even a shorter pole right next to the house. That would be awesome, but not an option. Heck I'd be happy to just move the house up on the hill! LOL Never thought about the remote link, though by the time I'd get the head and cat5 and everything I'd be getting close to the cost of running LMR 400 or 600 I'd guess. Gives me some things to think about though. Have to consider overall benefit Vs. cost too. A little more $$ up front that saves a nagging constant annoyance later would be well worth the investment. Thanks for your input and ideas.
 

K7CAR

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It's always a crap shoot when you are in a sucky location. You have to weigh the coax run vs the cost vs what you gain. Do you have any trees close to your house? If you do try pulling up your ST-2 as high as possible and see what you can hear. That can be a cheap easy way to experiment with reception.

Your antenna will determine what you receive, so improving that will get you the most gain. You might need to go to a directional antenna. You will see a big improvement over the ST-2, but then you have the hassle of moving the antenna and maintenance. Sounds like you have done plenty already, so that shouldn't be an issue.

Making a remote station isn't too $$$ or out of the realm of possibility if you can run A/C to your hill top location/tower. It would probably be easier if you just move to a hill top though!......:)
 

rmosier

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I can't see your location/shack/tower etc. So I hope this isn't stupid, but is it an option to move your shack? Like if you're currently in the basement, could you move to the attic, or the other way around, and shorten your coax that way? And what about the live feeds? Any chance one of them is in your area? I've had people ask me to add to my feed (Chester EMS for example) and I was happy to do so. Find a feed provider in your area and send him/her a private message.
 
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I can't see your location/shack/tower etc. So I hope this isn't stupid, but is it an option to move your shack? Like if you're currently in the basement, could you move to the attic, or the other way around, and shorten your coax that way? And what about the live feeds? Any chance one of them is in your area? I've had people ask me to add to my feed (Chester EMS for example) and I was happy to do so. Find a feed provider in your area and send him/her a private message.
Hello, thanks for the reply.

Unfortunately, no moving isn't an option for me. I live in a 1 story house and my current office is in the closest corner to the tower as it is. If I go any farther, I'll literally be outside! :) No there isn't any feeds beside me for my area really. there is one person that claims to feed for Marion County but they only have it online 2-3 time a month that I've noticed. Mine is normally on 24/7, though I have it down right now while I'm working through the bugs. I personally would rather not provide a feed at all than to provide a crappy one that's mostly static and hard to understand. Thanks again for the reply.
 
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