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Old 12-13-2020, 10:56 PM
 
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Does anyone else in the Columbia area (particularly Richland County) get any TV stations over-the-air from adjacent markets? I am on the northeast side near Sesqui Park, fairly high elevation, and with a decent antenna I can get some of the Charlotte stations pretty reliably. WBTV-3 and WCNC-36 come in the best. I know Augusta stations get into Lexington County. Out-of-market comes in handy when the locals pre-empt network or syndicated programming, such as happens more often than I'd like when WOLO-25 pre-empts Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, usually for sports.
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Old 12-14-2020, 02:49 PM
 
Location: Mauldin/Greenville
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IM42A View Post
Does anyone else in the Columbia area (particularly Richland County) get any TV stations over-the-air from adjacent markets? I am on the northeast side near Sesqui Park, fairly high elevation, and with a decent antenna I can get some of the Charlotte stations pretty reliably. WBTV-3 and WCNC-36 come in the best. I know Augusta stations get into Lexington County. Out-of-market comes in handy when the locals pre-empt network or syndicated programming, such as happens more often than I'd like when WOLO-25 pre-empts Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!, usually for sports.
To receive Charlotte signals reliably, it requires a good UHF antenna and amplifier.

The best UHF antennas are the classic 8bay version, the Channel Master 4228HD or the DB8e from Antennas Direct. There are some generic versions available at a lower price from Stellar Labs and Solid Signal, which are sold on Amazon and other online vendors.

The other long range UHF antenna is the 91XG from Antennas Direct, and there also are generic versions available from Stellar Labs and Solid Signal, such as HDB91X.

For an amplifier, an adjustable gain version may be the best choice because you want to avoid overload and interference from strong Columbia signals nearby. There are adjustable gain inline amplifiers from Antop sold on Amazon, but for a stronger preamplifier placed at the antenna, the choice would be the Channel Master 7777HD Amplify version, which sells for $89. Be sure sure to order the adjustable gain Amplify version, as several Channel Master amplifiers have similar model numbers but they are not the same.

Both WBTV-3 and WCNC-36 transmit from very tall towers at a similar nearby location west of Charlotte. So does WJZY-46, but unfortunately there is a Columbia station WZRB that broadcasts on the same frequency, so unfortunately you will not receive WJZY near Columbia, as there would be same channel interference. I would be curious if you could receive WSOC Channel 9 or WCCB-18 from Charlotte, as they may be a bit closer, but their towers are not as tall. And on the west side of Columbia, I wonder if you could receive any Greenville-Spartanburg channels. But for GSP and Columbia, your antenna should have High VHF capability, such as Winegard 7694 or 7698.

If you prefer smaller, more compact antennas that are more aesthetically pleasing, the choices are Clearstream 4V or 4MAX from Antennas Direct, or Antop 400BV or 800SBS. But keep in mind these may not perform quite as well for fringe reception.

At my location in Spartanburg County, I receive all major channels reliably from Greenville-Spartanburg, Asheville, and Charlotte. Using an 8bay UHF antenna and amplifier. Fortunately at my location, the UHF antenna receives all the High VHF channels as well. I do have a small VHF antenna as a back up, but I do not need it.
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Old 12-14-2020, 10:31 PM
 
92 posts, read 27,585 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerSC View Post
To receive Charlotte signals reliably, it requires a good UHF antenna and amplifier.

The best UHF antennas are the classic 8bay version, the Channel Master 4228HD or the DB8e from Antennas Direct. There are some generic versions available at a lower price from Stellar Labs and Solid Signal, which are sold on Amazon and other online vendors.

The other long range UHF antenna is the 91XG from Antennas Direct, and there also are generic versions available from Stellar Labs and Solid Signal, such as HDB91X.

For an amplifier, an adjustable gain version may be the best choice because you want to avoid overload and interference from strong Columbia signals nearby. There are adjustable gain inline amplifiers from Antop sold on Amazon, but for a stronger preamplifier placed at the antenna, the choice would be the Channel Master 7777HD Amplify version, which sells for $89. Be sure sure to order the adjustable gain Amplify version, as several Channel Master amplifiers have similar model numbers but they are not the same.

Both WBTV-3 and WCNC-36 transmit from very tall towers at a similar nearby location west of Charlotte. So does WJZY-46, but unfortunately there is a Columbia station WZRB that broadcasts on the same frequency, so unfortunately you will not receive WJZY near Columbia, as there would be same channel interference. I would be curious if you could receive WSOC Channel 9 or WCCB-18 from Charlotte, as they may be a bit closer, but their towers are not as tall. And on the west side of Columbia, I wonder if you could receive any Greenville-Spartanburg channels. But for GSP and Columbia, your antenna should have High VHF capability, such as Winegard 7694 or 7698.

If you prefer smaller, more compact antennas that are more aesthetically pleasing, the choices are Clearstream 4V or 4MAX from Antennas Direct, or Antop 400BV or 800SBS. But keep in mind these may not perform quite as well for fringe reception.

At my location in Spartanburg County, I receive all major channels reliably from Greenville-Spartanburg, Asheville, and Charlotte. Using an 8bay UHF antenna and amplifier. Fortunately at my location, the UHF antenna receives all the High VHF channels as well. I do have a small VHF antenna as a back up, but I do not need it.

Wow! Someone else who understands distant TV reception! I didn't think anybody fooled with that anymore. With the advent of cord-cutting, people may develop more interest and expertise at it. People instinctively "know" that different TV markets exist, but it's not on most people's radar screen. With all the local exclusivity rules, cable systems mostly carry locals and nothing else, unless it would be the odd legacy station here and there (e.g., WIS-10 carried in places like Lancaster, Chester, and Rock Hill, assuming they still are, to ensure at least one in-state commercial network affiliate). Some areas more or less equidistant between two markets, where people have developed viewing habits from both markets, will carry affiliates from those markets. Newberry comes to mind, where both Columbia and major GSA stations (4/7/13) are still carried.


I have the generic 8-bay from Stellar Labs (purchased through Newark) and had a Winegard amp attached to it (got from Hesco when they were still here in Columbia), but I can't get enough height without risking a battle with my HOA, which for various reasons (family and getting-along-with-neighbors) I can't pursue right now. The 8-bay is barely FCC-compliant (less than one meter in diameter) and right now I can't clear the roofline. Oddly enough, with my old antennas, I had WBTV-3 and WCNC-36 reliably about 75% of the time, but now, they are very spotty. I wonder if more height and clearing the roofline would help (I didn't clear the roofline before, for the same reasons), or I have even wondered if the latest round of channel-repacking has affected them in some way. For the moment, my amplifiers are lying dormant due to family circumstances, but I hope to get everything set back up in 2021.


I actually have a harder time with WSOC-9 and WCCB-18, even though their towers are actually about 10 miles closer to me. WZJY-46 is unavailable for the reason you cite. What I would really like is to get the PBS stations WTVI-42 (which was high VHF at one time and may still be) and WUNG-58 consistently. WUNG used to come in sporadically and I never was able to get WTVI. WAXN-64 would also be good, as it is a true independent station, affiliated with no networks aside from the digital subchannel mini-nets. MeTV is the greatest! One of my Walter Mitty dreams would be to own a TV station affiliated with MeTV on the x.1 main channel, with a local news operation as well, one of the other oldies nets (Cozi, Decades, etc.) on x.2, either Newsmax or OAN on x.3, and EWTN on x.4. That would take both a fat lottery winning ticket and an available channel. Maybe WZRB-47 could turn loose of some of those useless shopping channels and work out a channel-sharing arrangment? (And do something about that quirky reception problem of theirs while they're at it! I can't get them with rabbit ears in northeast Richland, would almost be LOS if not for the trees.)


I can't get anything from GSA, but curiously enough, back in analog days, I had two Radio Shack LP-190 all-channel log-periodics on the same mast, slightly out of phase (which can actually enhance some reception), and I got a fairly consistent signal on WLOS-13! They are roughly 150 miles from me. Back in analog days, the WLOS signal was a beast, blanketed an area from Kentucky (yes, Kentucky) all the way down to the edges of Charlotte and into Georgia. Now I think it's gotten a little less "beastly", but they still have the transmitter height and location factor, Mount Pisgah, and that is the catbird seat for an ideal TV transmitter location, if ever such a thing existed. At one time they were the default ABC affiliate for the TN/VA Tri-Cities, and if you go back far enough, they were even preferred in the Knoxville area as well. They tickled a network of translators deep into southeastern Kentucky.


I will have to check out that Channel Master 7777HD amplifier. Thanks for the tips!
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Old 12-15-2020, 10:34 AM
 
Location: Mauldin/Greenville
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Since the recent FCC repack, OTA reception of distant channels can be more problematic as more channels are packed more closely together. This can result in noise and interference, especially if using an ampifier to boost distant signals. As the harmonics of a strong station can interfere with a weaker station, and overload can cause dropouts. So it can be a delicate balancing act. So that is why an adjustable gain amplifier can be more crucial. A fixed gain high power amplifier can cause more harm than good. And also the use of attenuators and filters can be helpful to block interference. Channel Master now offers both an LTE filter and an FM trap. Both may be necessary.

Also be aware that federal OTARD rules block an HOA from restricting an outside antenna, although you may not be willing to upset the neighborhood. Butone compact antenna that may be worth consideration is the Antop 800SBS. It is a surprising strong performer, and is a small form factor. And the 800SBS model has an adjustable gain amplifier built right in, so this can be helpful to avoid overload and interference as I mentioned earlier. The similar 400BV model has an external inline amp. Just something to consider.

As for cable carriage, most cable systems have dropped out of market stations due to retransmission fees. Used to be WIS from Columbia and WSPA from Spartanburg were carried in York and Lancaster counties, which are technically Charlotte market viewing area. So that is why it is helpful to have an outside antenna. Both WIS and WSPA may have more extensive coverage of SC government and politics. And WIS will cover the USC Gamecocks and WSPA will cover the Clemson Tigers.

As for WLOS, their analog signal on RF13 was outstanding and superior indeed. They are the highest altitude TV transmission tower east of the Mississippi. But unfortunately their digital signal does not take advantage of the tremendous height from Mt. Pisgah. Digital VHF is more prone to noise and interference than analog VHF, and their current digital signal is more directional and problematic, including their coverage area in Upstate SC. They may have to protect WBTW in Florence, which is also channel 13, but this was not such a problem during the analog era. But my nderstanding WLOS still puts a signal towards Knoxville, Tennessee.

But in order to receive WSOC and WCCB, and maintain WBTV and WCNC reliably, you probably need more height on your antenna. And definitely an adjustable gain amplifier. I still recommend the Channel Master 7777HD Amplify, but you may also checkout Kitztech 501 which has adjustable gain and a low noise figure.

As for antenna, you may want to experiment with a 91XG yagi style antenna or the generic Stellar Labs version from Newark. I purchased the Stellar Labs version for about $20 when I picked it up locally at the Newark warehouse in Gaffney. But that was before Covid restrictions last year. But right now I am using an 8bay antenna from Sky Blue. I ordered it from Summit Source under the name Eagle antenna, 8bay version. It performs better on High VHF than any other 8bay I have used, including the Channel Master and Stellar Labs versions.
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Old 12-15-2020, 01:51 PM
 
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I live in Sumter and used to be able to receive Florence market but now its impossible. I even upgraded to a good expensive outdoor antenna and amp installed by a professional. The repack made it worse. Anyone else in Sumter area have the same problem? Sumter area is sandwiched between Columbia and Florence.
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Old 12-16-2020, 08:59 AM
 
92 posts, read 27,585 times
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IM42A's comments inserted below marked by asterisks:



Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerSC View Post
Since the recent FCC repack, OTA reception of distant channels can be more problematic as more channels are packed more closely together. This can result in noise and interference, especially if using an ampifier to boost distant signals. As the harmonics of a strong station can interfere with a weaker station, and overload can cause dropouts.


***Quite right. They have tried to repack everything onto what is basically 30 channels, 7 through 36. VHF channels 2-6 are basically gone. Most antennas aren't even made to pick them up anymore. Even WCYB-5 Bristol VA, which had a monster signal similar to WLOS, got deep into Kentucky and even West Virginia, and then on down to at least Shelby NC, has gone over to UHF.***


Also be aware that federal OTARD rules block an HOA from restricting an outside antenna, although you may not be willing to upset the neighborhood. Butone compact antenna that may be worth consideration is the Antop 800SBS. It is a surprising strong performer, and is a small form factor. And the 800SBS model has an adjustable gain amplifier built right in, so this can be helpful to avoid overload and interference as I mentioned earlier. The similar 400BV model has an external inline amp. Just something to consider.

***I've already got the Stellar Labs 8-bay and am going to try to make the best of it. My budget doesn't allow buying another make and model. An 8-bay should be able to make any signal, however weak, from Charlotte, as long as it is consistent, into something usable.***


As for cable carriage, most cable systems have dropped out of market stations due to retransmission fees. Used to be WIS from Columbia and WSPA from Spartanburg were carried in York and Lancaster counties, which are technically Charlotte market viewing area. So that is why it is helpful to have an outside antenna. Both WIS and WSPA may have more extensive coverage of SC government and politics. And WIS will cover the USC Gamecocks and WSPA will cover the Clemson Tigers.


***There are many areas of the country that fight the wars of "no in-state commercial network television" (PBS repeaters and religious stations typically don't cover local or in-state news or sports). Cable companies and satellite operators are very stingy about adding out-of-market channels. There is a pitched battle that has been going on for years in eastern Kentucky, where you have a CBS affiliate, WYMT-57 in Hazard, that provides outstanding news coverage of the entire eastern third of the state --- yet they cannot get on DirectTV or Dish because they are considered part of the Lexington market, they are co-owned with WKYT-27 in Lexington (also CBS), and the satellite providers only have to furnish one affiliate of each network. I think it's a case of WKYT/WYMT wanting to "have its cake and eat it too" --- they don't want to spin off WYMT into a Hazard DMA and cannibalize the Lexington, Knoxville, and Charleston-Huntington WV markets, where owner Gray has stations as well. The Lexington market from the 1970s onwards has made an aggressive push to acquire as many counties to the east as they can, and the other markets (especially C-H, which has shrunk like the Cheshire Cat's smile) don't want to lose a single county if they can help it. The C-H stations insisted that the cable in Lewis County, roughly equidistant from C-H, Cincinnati, and Lexington, drop the Lexington stations, because that's what everybody wanted to watch, they considered it their "local" news. Nobody in Vanceburg gives two hoots about what goes on in Charleston, it might as well be a foreign country. They didn't mind allowing two Cincinnati stations, but now Lewis County, a bit too far in the hills for good Lexington reception, is forced to get its news from West Virginia. Some southeastern counties (Leslie, Letcher, Harlan, possibly others) have a similar situation with Tri-Cities and Knoxville market stations. To add insult to injury, the rugged terrain in eastern Kentucky makes OTA reception of WYMT, even on "real" VHF channel 12, very much of a challenge. And then you have the rigamarole of having to switch over to antenna-fed TV every time you want to watch WYMT.


I know this has drifted away from the topic of South Carolina in-state TV availability (at least some Columbia stations would be available in York, Lancaster, and Chester counties with a halfway-decent outdoor antenna), but as for WYMT, they'd be best advised to switch their primary channel 57.1 --- which satellite carriers cannot refuse to carry --- to an "oldies" network such as MeTV, Decades, or Cozi (assuming they could wheedle away those affiliations from stations that presently have them), family-friendly TV would be very popular in what is a deeply conservative, traditional neck of the woods, put their excellent news operation on that channel, and carry CBS (possibly a direct feed of WKYT) on 57.2. But for some reason, they don't do that.***

As for WLOS, their analog signal on RF13 was outstanding and superior indeed. They are the highest altitude TV transmission tower east of the Mississippi. But unfortunately their digital signal does not take advantage of the tremendous height from Mt. Pisgah. Digital VHF is more prone to noise and interference than analog VHF, and their current digital signal is more directional and problematic, including their coverage area in Upstate SC. They may have to protect WBTW in Florence, which is also channel 13, but this was not such a problem during the analog era. But my nderstanding WLOS still puts a signal towards Knoxville, Tennessee.

***WLOS was indeed a beast back in analog days. I was able easily to receive their analog channel 13 signal at the I-26 rest stop near Newberry SC.***
Quote:
Originally Posted by tylerSC View Post


But in order to receive WSOC and WCCB, and maintain WBTV and WCNC reliably, you probably need more height on your antenna. And definitely an adjustable gain amplifier. I still recommend the Channel Master 7777HD Amplify, but you may also checkout Kitztech 501 which has adjustable gain and a low noise figure.

***In the new year, I am going to renew this project, and get as much height as possible.***


As for antenna, you may want to experiment with a 91XG yagi style antenna or the generic Stellar Labs version from Newark. I purchased the Stellar Labs version for about $20 when I picked it up locally at the Newark warehouse in Gaffney. But that was before Covid restrictions last year. But right now I am using an 8bay antenna from Sky Blue. I ordered it from Summit Source under the name Eagle antenna, 8bay version. It performs better on High VHF than any other 8bay I have used, including the Channel Master and Stellar Labs versions.


***I didn't know Newark HAD a warehouse in Gaffney! Road trip.. road trip!

I actually have a corner reflector yagi similar to the 91XG, but if I am going to clear the roofline, I'd better not get too cute and try to erect two antennas on one mast. The Stellar Labs 8-bay is technically OTARD-compliant (I think), and even though FCC regs only allow for antennas sufficient for "local" reception, I can situate my antenna so that it is staring right at WRLK-35, visible from my house, AND at Charlotte. Using a rotor would be defensible due to the main Columbia sticks being in the opposite direction, and quirky WZRB-47 and the Daystar satellator being in yet another direction. To dictate what TV stations you can get OTA smacks of Stalinism. In fact, I have wondered if the broadcasters are deliberately TRYING to bobtail their signals so that they can only easily be received in their own DMA and not beyond it. Broadcasting is a business, and a Columbia advertiser's dollars are wasted if I'm watching Wheel of Fortune from Charlotte instead of Columbia. Protect those markets!

The Columbia DMA has been steadily growing over the years, at one time Newberry County was in the GSA market, even got their TV Guide, while Saluda County was in the Augusta DMA. Columbia added yet another county a year or two back, I think it was Bamberg, don't quote me on that. If you will go look around the fringes of Newberry and Saluda counties, near Dreher Island State Park, you will see some pretty impressive antenna arrays, presumably to receive two or three separate markets, Columbia, Augusta, and GSA. They are probably pretty much left over from the days before cable and dish forced viewing of one market and one market only. And TV stations used to pre-empt and juggle programs more than they do now, so there was considerable diversity in schedules from one market to another, and getting more than one market meant many more viewing choices. Now most stations just clear the entire network schedule in pattern.***



Last edited by IM42A; 12-16-2020 at 09:25 AM..
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Old 12-16-2020, 04:03 PM
 
Location: Mauldin/Greenville
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Not to venture too much off topic, but used to be there was a certain degree of overlap between Asheville, Knoxville, Kentucky, and West Virginia signals. And perhaps Johnson City, TN and Bristol, Va. areas as well. Before the pandemic I would take road trips around London, Kentucky, which has the nearest remaining Frisch's Big Boy. And also in that region is where the Krystal burger becomes the White Castle. But that is another topic.

And yet another problem is interference ruining long distance radio reception in fringe areas from neighboring markets. In recent years, the FCC has allowed too many local translators and low power signals that interfere with full power stations from distant markets broadcasting on the same frequency. One example is 107.9-WLNK from Charlotte, which used to be heard clearly in parts of Columbia, Greenville, Asheville, and into Tennessee. Now there are low power channels interfering in all these areas. Other strong legacy stations include 99.9-WKSF from Asheville and 106.9-WMIT from Asheville, which could be heard in several states including the Carolinas, Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia. These days fringe radio reception is more limited as the dial has become overcrowded with too many low power signals interfering.
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Old 12-21-2020, 11:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by tylerSC View Post
Not to venture too much off topic, but used to be there was a certain degree of overlap between Asheville, Knoxville, Kentucky, and West Virginia signals. And perhaps Johnson City, TN and Bristol, Va. areas as well. Before the pandemic I would take road trips around London, Kentucky, which has the nearest remaining Frisch's Big Boy. And also in that region is where the Krystal burger becomes the White Castle. But that is another topic.

No, you're good, I'm the one who opened the thread in the first place, and I'm not one of those "forum fascists" who insists that everything stays on-topic, even though it is going in an interesting direction that wasn't originally intended. As you've probably gathered by now, I could talk TV all day long!ypi


If the broadcasting powers that be in Lexington could have their way, all of Kentucky east of I-75 and south of the Boone/Kenton/Campbell metroplex called "Northern Kentucky", that little nubbin that sticks out from the rest of the state, would be the Lexington TV market. Even viewers in the far northeastern corner of Kentucky, within a 25-mile or so radius of Ashland, its largest city, would rather watch Lexington stations, as the only local station remaining in that area is WSAZ-3 in Huntington, all of the other stations now being located in Charleston. That has always been a tricky area, what with having three states to cover, with Ohio and Kentucky typically getting short shrift. It's hard to cover three state capitols and three different sets of state college and high school sports teams. Lexington stations (18/27/36/56) have gradually become default affiliates throughout most of eastern Kentucky, never mind that the terrain is horribly inhospitable to reception, with only the areas nearest West Virginia and Tennessee borders remaining in the out-of-state markets. At one time even remote Harlan County was in the Lexington market, though it later reverted to Knoxville. And on top of all this, WKYT affiliate WYMT in Hazard has served an invaluable function as an "infill" station of sorts, though they still cannot get on Dish or Direct TV for reasons noted above. The far southeastern corner of KY has a "snaggletooth" set of market boundaries, one county being Lexington, the next county over being Tri-Cities, another county being West Virginia, and yet another county being Knoxville. It's a mess.


WLOS used to get deep into Kentucky, with a network of translators, but I'm not sure anyone in eastern Kentucky still gets WLOS. OTA reception of WLOS would be extremely difficult, even more so with digital. If WLOS were allowed to run higher power, they could put out a signal from the London/Corbin area all the way down to the northern suburbs of Columbia. Now that's a huge market area!


Didn't know about the Frisch's in London. I'll have to check it out one of these days.
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Old 12-22-2020, 05:40 AM
 
Location: Lexington, SC
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You guys got me checking. A few years back when I had our TVs hung on the wall and the wires hidden I had the tech install an un-powered antenna in the attic to use in case the cable went out. I use it every now and then when watching sports because the undiluted digital picture is often superior to the cable signal.

In Lexington I receive 24 stations OTA. It seems about half of them are shopping channels but the rest are a decent assortment. I wonder what I could get if I swapped out for a powered unit?
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Old 12-23-2020, 08:37 PM
 
Location: Mauldin/Greenville
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Originally Posted by LexingtonDad View Post
You guys got me checking. A few years back when I had our TVs hung on the wall and the wires hidden I had the tech install an un-powered antenna in the attic to use in case the cable went out. I use it every now and then when watching sports because the undiluted digital picture is often superior to the cable signal.

In Lexington I receive 24 stations OTA. It seems about half of them are shopping channels but the rest are a decent assortment. I wonder what I could get if I swapped out for a powered unit?
A good UHF/VHF antenna and adjustable gain amplifier will be the best solution. An amplifier may help with distant channels but you don't want to overpower the strong local channels as that could cause overload and interference. Based upon location you may be able to receive signals from Augusta, Greenville-Spartanburg and Charlotte, as well as Columbia. The Antop 800SBS is a good compact antenna with adjustable amp, but a larger style antenna may be best for fringe reception. And it may be helpful in some areas to add a LTE filter and FM trap, based upon local conditions.
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