Winegard’s new Elite 360 antenna has a lot to like. It will pick up signals in all directions at once, it’s compact, and it has a high-tech, cool look that will make your neighbors jealous. Seriously, I’ve never had more neighbors ask me about an antenna. It comes with different mounting options, too, so you can really choose how to install it.
There are some things you should know before buying, though, and you’ve come to the right place to find them.
Installation is easy, as long as you know the secrets
Ready? Let’s go.
Secret #1: Have your tools ready
You can install this antenna very easily. You will need a Philips head screwdriver and an 11mm wrench (or adjustable wrench.) If you have an “English” set, a 7/16″ wrench works just as well. Make sure those are by your side before you start, and don’t put them away until you’re done. There will be a few times you’ll likely have to backtrack.
Secret #2: Feed the cable first
The Elite 360 puts its antenna connector underneath the mounting bracket. That’s going to keep it nice and weatherproof, but you’ll want to test-fit all the parts and feed the cable through before you attach anything. Otherwise you will have to do it at the end by disconnecting a bunch of stuff. Take it from me folks, that’s my hand holding the mast after taking it all apart just to feed the cable.
Secret #3: Line up the logo
For some reason, the mounting bracket isn’t centered on the bottom. I think this is so you get a little more clearance for the antenna. As you can see there is a raised notch on the bracket. Line it up with the Winegard logo. If you don’t, the mast won’t extend as far.
Secret #4: 1.25″ mast, that’s what you need
If you’re not mounting straight to the eve, you’ll want a 1.25″ outer diameter mast. You can get one at Solid Signal if they aren’t available locally. You can use a smaller mast but you can’t use a bigger one. That means you can’t use a typical satellite TV mount or the vent pipe from your hot water heater.
The biggest secrets of all
The biggest secret came as a pleasant surprise when I started to test this antenna. Our West Coast operations center is located 60 miles from the antenna towers, and that’s a stretch even for some larger antennas. But although the Elite 360 couldn’t beat the performance of some of those large beasts, it performed surprisingly well. Keep in mind this antenna is rated for 55 miles.
How we test
When testing an antenna, we start with measurements “on the day of” of a 3′ length of bare wire, placed at the same height as the antenna would be, horizontally arranged into a simple dipole. While this isn’t as good as a real reference dipole, it’s a good start. A reference dipole would be the exact length needed to receive a specific frequency.
All measurements are done in our West Coast Operations Center about 60 miles away from Mt. Wilson, California.
Then, we measure the antenna in the same spot. If the cloud cover has changed, we start over. OurTeleves spectrum analyzer takes four measurements of each channel between 2 and 36: signal strength, Bit Error Rate, Carrier-to-noise ratio, and Signal-to-noise ratio. The results are transferred to a PC for analysis.
If an antenna has an amplifier, it is tested with the amplifier both powered and unpowered. Then, the data from the bare wire is subtracted from the signal strength measurements.
Secret #5: Surprisingly good performance
Signal-to-noise ratio is the most important measure of a digital antenna. This antenna provided really good performance throughout the spectrum, although two channels that reported some signal did not “lock on” at all.
Secret #6: You can use this antenna without an amplifier
After disabling the built-in amplifier by unplugging its power injector, this antenna still provided some performance. At 60 miles it wasn’t much, but it was enough to prove that it will work if it’s not powered. That’s not true of every amplified antenna. If you are under 20 miles from the towers, you might not even need to power this antenna at all.
Secret #7: Speaking of that amplifier…
Winegard has seen fit to bestow the Elite 360 with a scorchingly powerful amplifier. Gain over the unamplified results approached 40dB at the high end. There was a noteworthy drop in two areas, (channel 9 and channel 24) where performance was not any better than a comparable length of bare wire. In both cases the signal did not lock on. You can see these are two of the three areas where gain was the lowest.
Here’s a video showing assembly secrets as well as discussing the testing that I performed.
Secret #8: You’ll get the best price from Solid Signal
Sure, you can go to any number of sites to get this antenna, but you’ll get the best price plus lots of free tech support when you shop for it at Solid Signal!