Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


A passive reflective idea...

Posted 6/20/17 (Tue)

Some years ago I ran across some information out of Utah that indicated homeowners on the west side of the Rocky Mountains were using passive reflector antennas to leap frog the TV stations from Salt Lake City over the mountains.

The idea is to have two identical TV antennas, mounted back to back with nothing more than a coax cable connecting them.

No electricity, no amplifiers, no transmitters, just two good, quality antennas with the right azimuth.

One of the antennas is pointed at the TV tower(s). The other is directly opposite. The first antenna will pick up the signal, send it through the wire to the second antenna, which in turn, “transmits” the signal over the mountains or into a valley.

A third antenna is positioned atop your house to receive the passively reflected signal.

I’ve wondered about this for the past 15 years and really haven’t done anything because I wasn’t sure it would work.

Then, I was reading some information that indicated the small town of Nacusp, British Columbia was receiving TV signals from Spokane, Washington via passive relection. I still wasn’t convinced because Nacusp is 240 miles from Spokane. That’s a long way for TV signals to travel. But in the ‘80s, I knew a guy in Hazen who watched WDAY out of Fargo (240 miles)from a 60-foot tower at his house.

Just the other day though, I ran across a white paper regarding passive reflection that is being studied in Brazil.

There’s actually research going on at the Mackenzie Presbyterian University in Sao Paulo that does indeed mathematically prove what I had long wondered.

OK, getting TV from 240 miles is highly unusual, but apparently passive reflection, called passive reception in Brazil, does work.

With that said, not all of us in the world are into Cable TV because we don’t want to pay for 57 channels with nothing on, as the song by Bruce Springsteen indicates.

I gave up cable years ago, but since the digital changeover in 2009, small markets can now enjoy a lot of variety.

So there are 19 channels now over the air coming out of Minot. Not all of them are very good but consider that just 15 years ago, there were three so you almost needed cable then.

There’s another channel that’s just outside of reach, but based on what I’ve read from Mackenzie Presbyterian, it might be obtainable through passive reflection.

A website called TV Fool that allows you to see where TV signals are located on a color coded map, makes this intriguing.

CKYB in Brandon, Manitoba is shown in my location, weak but it is present. And since I live in the Des Lacs River Valley, it would be impossible to pick it up. That’s where passive reflection comes in.

What makes it even more interesting is that TV stations in rural parts of Canada weren’t required to switch over to digital transmission in 2011 like the CRTC required urban stations to do.

And since analog signals have historically traveled farther over the air than digital signals, it is feasible.

The only drawback is that the farther away you are from an analog signal, the snowier the picture gets. With digital, you have a great picture or none at all.

So having learned what I did from Sao Paulo, I did more research and found out Wade Antenna in Brantford, Ontario, sells professional grade TV antennas and it makes one designed specifically for channel 4, which is the channel from which CKYB broadcasts.

I was also able to obtain a Blonder Tongue pre-amplifier for channel 4 that is now “obsolete” in the United States. I found it on eBay. Someone in Minnesota who had used it to pick up WCCO in Minneapolis wanted to get rid of it. I bought it really cheap.

Now all I have to do is get two, or ideally three Wade antennas for channel 4, mount them and I should be able to watch CKYB, a CTV affiliate, despite it being 112 miles to my northeast. Prairie Mobile in Estevan, Saskatchewan and Brandon sell Wade antennas.

Blonder Tongue and Wade are products used by Cable companies because of their professional quality and reliability.

I’m already picking up the Brandon radio stations with an antenna on top the garage so passive reflective antennas outside of the valley, plus one on the house should do the trick.

I’ve been fooling around with FM radio signals for the better part of 40 years with some incredible results. I think now it’s time to try TV and see if this passive reflection idea really works.