Guidance on improving freeview reception

ash1942

Standard Member
Hi,
I am looking for some advice / guidance on improving my freeview reception. I’ve always had an interest in television technology and terrestrial services and so would like to DIY it but I am fairly new to understanding what equipment to use in what situation.
So currently I am trying to pick up from the Emley Moor transmitter which I am 37.1 miles away from.
I am in 2yo new build property and looking to loft mount the aerial (the other half really doesn’t want it externally mounted).
I have position the aerial as high as possible and in pointing in the right direction but admittedly using a very basic signal finder and a IPhone app for direction.
We have 5 outlets throughout the house (but only 1 in use at a time), all but one are on external walls with the cable being fed through the walls. The outlet I am trying to use is the additional one on an internal wall pretty central in the property, again running down inside the wall. The aerial we have is Labgear Yagi Mast UHF Wideband Aerial
and in the loft we also use this booster TV Signal Booster 1 Way
Which is connected < 1m from the aerial.
So I am currently getting around 85 freeview channels (I think the most I can expect is 87 based on postcode) but the signal strength is hit and miss. One day it can be fine, the next terrible.
A prime example was last night when there was fairly dense fog in the area, all channels expect bbc 1 and 2 sd were scrambled.
i am willing to invest some money if it can help but I feel a little blind as to whether it is something that can be helped and if so where to spend the money.
Thanks 🙏
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
Location for reception predictions is most important to know before we can advise accurately. A nearby shop, pub, church or school's postcode will allow that. For greater accuracy do your own.

Aerials in lofts lose circa 10dB cf same height outside due to roofing materials. Point that aerial through party walls and you can stop things dead.

The TV transmitter network is designed around the use of directional aerials (like you have) mounted outside and at 10 metres above the ground. Masthead amplification may be necessary toward the fringes of a transmitter service area.

Rain, fog and snow in general don't affect UHF TV reception - but wet leaves on trees in can give rise to issues of variable reflected signal cancelling/reinforcing different frequencies.
Fog = steady pressure weather conditions and that might mean more likelihood of interference from other UK transmitters travelling further than normal.

The Emley Moor tower transmits in excess of 130 channels so your 85/87 suggests a problem location with not all multiplexes expected to be received? A postcode would allow more accurate comment on that.

BBC SD channels are all in the same multiplex frequency, so more than 1 & 2 should have been receivable (inc BBC 4, BBC News, CBBC, CBeebies and a pile of BBC radio channels.). Freeview channel numbers | Help receiving TV and radio (PSB1 channels).

What cable type is in use? Not all cables are made equal.

Use the TV's built in metering to measure signal level and quality of every receivable multiplex frequeny and report them here...
Repeat with the aerial direct to the one cable / TV (i.e. no amplifier), using a cable barrel joiner.

Aerial is in the loft: how high up (a photo can help). My son's had to be as high up in the apex as possible to get decent reception on all frequencies; and that was a 3 storey townhouse. I think the adjacent housing was blocking signals more when lower. The :censored: removed his external aerial because of birds roosting and depositing stuff below. Had $ky and now uses freesat on the main TV; but then wanted TV in the bedrooms. :facepalm:
 

mikej

Well-known Member
It doesn't sound like you're in a strong signal area so if you're serious about this and a bit more tweaking doesn't improve things, then an external aerial is the way to go.

I live closer to Winter Hill than you do to your transmitter (with no surrounding buildings or trees that might have an effect) and I need an external aerial on a 10ft pole to get a decent signal, plus a 6-way distribution amp in the loft in order to get that signal to more than one room without degradation. I've also replaced all of the the internal and external coax, although my house is nearly 50 years old so that (hopefully !) shouldn't be required on a new build unless the builders have been sloppy.

How are the 5 coax cables connected in the loft ? Is there really no distribution amp to share that signal effectively ?
 

James59

Novice Member
Put your postcode into this site & it will show you what the reception path is like & which channels you should be able to get:

https://ukfree.tv/prediction

There's also a lot of information about antennas on here - have a good read as theres a lot about the different types:

 

ash1942

Standard Member
@Rodders53 i’m not sure what type of coax they have used, what sort of thing would I need to look for? In terms of positioning in the loft, it is only block by the roof tiles.

@mikej we don’t use a distributor as we only have one TV so only need to provide for 1 outlet at a time. However to complicate things (which I wanted to avoid in the original post) we would eventually like to run DAB through 1 or 2 of the outlets.

@James59 looking at that map I assume the grey areas mean reception is unlikely or impossible? If so then I guess it could be why my reception is hit and miss.
1607849723092.png


So a question to anyone. If I went down the route of externally mounting the aerial, is there still a fair chance of intermittent problems over terrestrial due to my location from the transmitter?
I guess if we have to externally mount anything I would get better approval from the other half for a satellite dish 😑
 

ashenfie

Well-known Member
The simple solution is see what everyone else around you has. Years ago I had a loft mounted aerial. The basic issue was signal reflections. A loft amp. does not help with this due boosting the signal and reflected signal

I have a freesat it’s a lot simpler to get a good signal and more stable. We also stream most things these days too.
 

MaryWhitehouse

Well-known Member
If you’re prepared to spend money then find the local mobile specialist. They’ll know the best ways for your area and if it doesn’t work you’ve some comeback.
 

mikej

Well-known Member
@mikej we don’t use a distributor as we only have one TV so only need to provide for 1 outlet at a time. However to complicate things (which I wanted to avoid in the original post) we would eventually like to run DAB through 1 or 2 of the outlets.

@James59 looking at that map I assume the grey areas mean reception is unlikely or impossible? If so then I guess it could be why my reception is hit and miss. View attachment 1421700

So a question to anyone. If I went down the route of externally mounting the aerial, is there still a fair chance of intermittent problems over terrestrial due to my location from the transmitter?
I guess if we have to externally mount anything I would get better approval from the other half for a satellite dish 😑

Are all of the TV outlet cables physically connected (albeit passively) in the loft ? I'm not sure whether the signal will still be degraded in that scenario, even when only using one TV at a time - hopefully @Rodders53 might be able to advise on this.

Simplifying the current set-up for trouble-shooting by physically disconnecting any outlets you definitely don't want to use would still be a sensible idea if you haven't already done that. If the signal strength from a single connection from aerial to TV is till not good enough (with or without booster) and altering the position of the loft aerial doesn't improve things (taking a small LCD in the loft would help with this !), then checking with your immediate neighbours what channels they can pick up with an external aerial would be a good starting point.
 

ash1942

Standard Member
Currently the setup is arial to booster (in loft), booster to 1 outlet. All other outlets are disconnected. The house builders basically left 5 cables loose in the loft on hand over, nothing else was provided.
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
So the postcode I asked for is DE55 7EX ?? {Taken from that map that UKFree have 'estimated' from some gleaned data via FoI requests... but UKFree is not 100% accurate for the big transmitters.} Alfreton in Derbyshire.

Freeview prediction (done by the UK Spectrum Planners based on accurate transmitter data) at that postcode is good (interference from other sites very infrequent).
i.e. All green for the main 6 multiplexes. 96-99% of locations within the 100m-sided square are Served (interference <1% of time). With external aerials at 10m agl.
Of course Alfreton, Derbys should really be East Midlands from Waltham but the predictions are poor.

If the home is at another location the predictions can be different - sometimes very different.

From Google, the houses at the postcode don't look very new; nor does there appear to be any obvious building site very nearby (100-200m). But they are mostly using high gain yagis on reasonably tall poles outside at the supplied postcode and generally around Alfreton which suggests that may be required, here, too.

The 'booster' used is a One for All SV 9601 - gain up to 23dB :eek: But using TV plugs and who knows how good the screening is? However that's as close to a masthead amp on the Labgear as makes no difference I'd think. The Labgear antenna has a dBi gain of 14 that's just under 12 dB references a dipole; so in theory we have 35 dB gain over a plain dipole in the loft.

Cable: Cable connectors and leads - A.T.V. Poles, Brackets, Clamps & Aerials will help with identification. Check for copper-clad steel centre core with a magnet. {It's OK for indoors use but not really worth the cost saving over all copper grade.}
A picture is always worth a thousand words, though.
Builders can often scrimp and use the cheapest, sadly.

Meter readings from the TV that I asked for will aid my diagnosis further. (With and without the amplifier.)

I have assumed that only one cable is being used connected by @ash1942 at the moment. The statement "No distributor" is clear enough. I take that to mean neither passive splitters, nor powered splitters, nor anything as daft as twisting all the wires together has been done. :rolleyes:
 

ash1942

Standard Member
So the postcode I asked for is DE55 7EX ?? {Taken from that map that UKFree have 'estimated' from some gleaned data via FoI requests... but UKFree is not 100% accurate for the big transmitters.} Alfreton in Derbyshire.

Freeview prediction (done by the UK Spectrum Planners based on accurate transmitter data) at that postcode is good (interference from other sites very infrequent).
i.e. All green for the main 6 multiplexes. 96-99% of locations within the 100m-sided square are Served (interference <1% of time). With external aerials at 10m agl.
Of course Alfreton, Derbys should really be East Midlands from Waltham but the predictions are poor.

If the home is at another location the predictions can be different - sometimes very different.

From Google, the houses at the postcode don't look very new; nor does there appear to be any obvious building site very nearby (100-200m). But they are mostly using high gain yagis on reasonably tall poles outside at the supplied postcode and generally around Alfreton which suggests that may be required, here, too.

The 'booster' used is a One for All SV 9601 - gain up to 23dB :eek: But using TV plugs and who knows how good the screening is? However that's as close to a masthead amp on the Labgear as makes no difference I'd think. The Labgear antenna has a dBi gain of 14 that's just under 12 dB references a dipole; so in theory we have 35 dB gain over a plain dipole in the loft.

Cable: Cable connectors and leads - A.T.V. Poles, Brackets, Clamps & Aerials will help with identification. Check for copper-clad steel centre core with a magnet. {It's OK for indoors use but not really worth the cost saving over all copper grade.}
A picture is always worth a thousand words, though.
Builders can often scrimp and use the cheapest, sadly.

Meter readings from the TV that I asked for will aid my diagnosis further. (With and without the amplifier.)

I have assumed that only one cable is being used connected by @ash1942 at the moment. The statement "No distributor" is clear enough. I take that to mean neither passive splitters, nor powered splitters, nor anything as daft as twisting all the wires together has been done. :rolleyes:
I had used my old postcode because my new address is not on maps yet, I am less than 0.5 miles from de55 7ex so I assumed it would be ok (my mistake). The closest postcode to go with would be de55 7jq.
I've always lived in this area and I've known that most people are using Emley Moor. I've seen the odd aerial pointing the opposite direction but they've definately used mast head amps. Wouldn't be able to say how good their reception is though.
There are a few houses around that have external pole mounted aerials, but could people get away with loft mounted? not sure. There is a bunaglow behind my property that has an external aerial and although the property is higher up than mine, I would say the aerial is no higher (if not a little lower).
I am using a new Samsung TV and can't see anywhere to view the signal strength (ironically in freesat mode it gives me a signal strength bar on the initial setup but i can't go any further as i don't have a dish).
(removed picture as I've changed my opinion)

I don't have access to the loft atm so can't provide any pictures right now.
I wouldn't be surprised if the builders cheaped out and to be honest replacing any cabling isn't something I am willing to consider.
I can try and get a portable tv out of storage and test with this. I think I recall doing this a couple of years ago and the portable seemed to get quite a strong signal when connected to the booster rather than an outlet. But having said that, we can get a good reception one day then really poor a week later.
Is it likely that the wiring to the outlets is causing issues? Is it possible other electrical devices are causing interference in the house?
I guess it would be worth testing the portable straight from the aerial or booster to see what results I get from that.
Thanks
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
Predictions are even better at that DE55 7JQ postcode. 100-99 Emley. So weather related interference is very unlikely.

The terrain doesn't look too alarming on an OS map - if anything rising ground to the South where I'm thinking the new estate is maybe still under construction.

Most cables nowadays will have makers markings along the length. e.g. double screened all copper satellite cables: Webro WF100, Doncaster Cables CT100, Philex PF100. RG6 is often double screened but steel core, aluminised foil screen. Post any markings and we may be able to determine the maker and quality.
Wright's Aerials may help you determine how good or bad what you have is.
Cable quality really only comes into play when things are being pushed to the limit though.

A portable with meter readings in loft could well be beneficial in aerial positioning (higher/lower, crabbed left/right and even fore/aft while maintaining aerial pointing direction. When I did my son's aerial I was up and down the loft ladder to check his bedroom TV!
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
:clap: Now do the others, and repeat with no amplifier.

Just report Channel ID, Strength and Quality so something like
Ch47 S70 Q100
will be great
 

ash1942

Standard Member
c33 s54 q0
c36 s54 q0
c44 s70 q0
ch47 s70 q100
ch48 s66 q0
Using everything setup as described previously
 

Boostrail

Distinguished Member
As Rodders53 said please repeat with amplifier bypassed/out of circuit. Those Q0's should not be! Therein lies the clue to your problem.
 

ash1942

Standard Member
So I've had the ladders up into the loft and done quite a bit of testing and it has left me confued.
Without booster I wasn't getting anything on the Samsung (main) TV.

Then I tried my portable TV direct to the aerial and got the following:
c33 s78 q24
c36 s66 q0
c44 s74 q100
c47 s74 q30
c48 s66 q90

Next I tried the portable TV direct to booster and got:
c33 s100 q72
c36 s100 q100
c44 s100 q100
c47 s100 q100
c48 s100 q100

Then I tried the portable TV via booster on wall outlet with right angle adapter (RA adapter due to limited access) and got:
c33 s62 q0
c36 s76 q0
c44 s59 q0
c47 s50 q0
c48 s70 q0

After that I tried the portable TV via booster on different wall outlet (to clarify this outlet was connected striaght to booster) with right angle adapter and got:
c33 s98 q100
c36 s98 q100
c44 s98 q100
c47 s98 q100
c48 s98 q100

Then to check what affect the right angle adapter was having on the connection I tried the portable TV into the booster in the loft again and got the same results as above (s98 q100).

I tweaked about with the connector in the loft for the original main outlet and that seemed to improve the reception at the outlet point. Getting s90-95 and q100 on all channels.

So then I tried the portable TV on the main outlet using the same cable as the Samsung TV and this gave worse results than right at the start so I eliminated this cable.

New cable in place between outlet and Samsung TV and I am now getting the following:
c33 s82 q100
c36 s78-82 q100
c41 s74 q100
c44 s74 q100
c47 s66-70 q100
c48 s58-62 q 100

Now you will notice c41 in the list now... this probably wouldn't have been picked up by the portable as it seems to be mainly carrying HD channels and the portable doesn't support HD. When I first started writing this c41 was showing lower values (quality was down to about 17%).

I would assume that the aerial is position ok based on the 100% figures when portable was connected direct to booster in loft.
 

ash1942

Standard Member
The only writing I could find on the cables in the loft was:
DCS100 PVC Premium RoHS 1207623 072m
This is the cable used to the main outlet.
All the other outlets seem to have a slightly different print:
DCS100 PVC Premium RoHS 1207623 055m
 

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Boostrail

Distinguished Member
If I read this correctly the outcome is that all the problems are solved and were down to a duff cable between the wall outlet and the TV?

If so pleased to hear your TV reception is now what it should be.
 

ash1942

Standard Member
If I read this correctly the outcome is that all the problems are solved and were down to a duff cable between the wall outlet and the TV?

If so pleased to hear your TV reception is now what it should be.
I guess so.
Would you expect such a difference in strength when comparing reception when connected in loft and reception when connected in outlet? We've gone from 98-100% signal strength to between 58-82% signal strength down stairs. Also when testing on the other outlet in the same room I was getting similar figures to the loft.
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
Well we're getting there. :clap: Connection and cable faults are very common (got the T-shirt on that, too).

I'd say the aerial position could well do with a tweak, or many, to get more even reception on all frequencies (and hope for the HD mux). Quality being more important than signal level. NO AMPLIFIER in circuit during that alignment (and keep as far from aerial when checking the numbers as possible - we interact with the aerial/radio waves as human bodies full of water). Even try pointing direction slightly, your compass direction setting could be a bit off?
Even if we end up with it in exactly the same position it's worth the effort, I think, because that will mean a better signal quality into the amplifier and less likelihood of variability long term.

With amplifier in circuit: 100% is possibly too much signal and can overload some tuners to give poor quality (ch33 portable in loft down to 78%?). But it very much depends on how the TV metering works - no two are equal. (One Panny TV I have gave 10/10 for the signal both before and after, when the transmit power increased ten-fold.)

I know that Humax PVRs like around the 70% +/-10% on the signal input. Too much or too little giving problems.

The portable and Samsung meters are very unlikely to agree exactly, though.

10 metres of cable will lose about 2 dB of signal - 3 dB loss being half. So I'd expect some signal meter drop to be shown on many sets. A shorter cable will lose less.

Amazon has DCS100 Premium (no longer available) from a supplier Caracal Cables Caracal, Homepage sells something similar? CRS100 supposedly $ky approved - but not on the CAI approved cables list. But if yours is to the same spec it'll probably be fine. The numbers 55m and 72m are distance marks on the reel (100 and 250 m reels being common) to allow installers to see how much is left and/or bill a customer on cable used.
 

ash1942

Standard Member
@Rodders53 thanks for the info.
I am going to monitor the signal over next week and if anything changes I will have a go at tweaking the aerial position.
I will also check the faceplate on the outlet just to see if the installer didn’t quite seat things properly.
Just out of curiosity, is it possible that interference could be occurring in the wall?
When comparing 2 outlets the main one (which is on internal wall seems to give lower figures).
The wall the cable runs down backs onto the utility room which contains the main fuse board and a washing machine. Could that have an affect?
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
Interference can cross-couple - but that's why the copper braid screen plus copper-foil wrap style is preferred to minimise such things. Double-screening reduces the ability for interference to get in. Most such interference is 'impulsive' due to heating thermostatic switching and sometimes motors. But such items have interference suppression circuits within them and only when those components fail are they a nuisance. That sort will cause breakup/picture freeze/sound interruptions but only brief and repetitively when the switch next starts up/stops something.

Usually if such items as washing machines or central heating pumps/boilers are a cause one has a notion they may be the problem. Turn them off to eliminate as the cause when interference occurs.

But I'd never expect electrical interference to present as signal level differences, with Q 100%... that will be due to some other effect.

Hdmi leads can be poorly screened and radiate causing problems and that's more common; although often only affects one or two multiplex frequencies.

But looking at the numbers I don't believe you've given the portable vs Samsung on the same fly-lead and socket outlet cable??
I'd agree the numbers look far more variable than I'd like even though the quality is OK. Things like crushed / kinked cables and poorly made connections can have odd frequency-related effects.
Try removing the faceplate from the equation by joining two cables to see if that helps? Wall plates / Surface plates - A.T.V. Poles, Brackets, Clamps & Aerials is worth a look ;)

In any case the reason I'm suggesting the aerial needs a position 'fine tune' movement tweak is that with the portable direct from aerial I'd expect all 5 muxes to get 90-100% quality at a fairly similar signal level (66-78 isn't too variable as S, but 0-100 is for Q).
It's possible that nothing you do alters it and it's the amplifier pulling usable signal out of the noise floor... but 70% signal level is quite often 'good' on many devices, so poor quality will be down to too many bit-errors caused by ??what?? reflections of the direct signal within the loft space and/or outside being received by the aerial? or something else?

I know that when I did my son's loft aerial it was the height that made the big Q improvement on his reception signals, and that - despite the wide acceptance angle of the yagi array I was using - it needed a 5-10 degree pointing accuracy based on the meter readings 'best'! It's been left dangling from a few loops of string off the top rafters in his loft... fortunately in an area he's unlikely to accidentally catch it when getting stuff in/out.

Best of luck. You'll get there in the end I'm sure.
 

ash1942

Standard Member
So today everything was fine until this evening I started to get BBC 1 HD break up. Out of curiosity i jiggled the wire in the outlet and then everything seemed to pick up. In fact the reception improved. I was getting 90% strength and 100% quality on all channels and even managed to pickup ch55 (i think from a different transmitter as the tv asked me to specify a secondary region) although on ch55 s20 q20.
Then all of a sudden out of the blue, without any further intervention, the signal has just dropped off on BBC 1 HD again (ch41). Ch44 has dropped out s0 q0, ch33 s86 q0, ch36 s0-86 q0, ch48 s0-86 q0.
I don't understand why I would have stable readings and then they just drop off like this. :(
 

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