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DTV Boondoggle

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by Samuel M. Goldwasser, Oct 10, 2008.

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  1. OK, so I'm one of the 6 people in the Universe who don't have cable,
    satellite, or fiber-optic TV.

    With analog reception, the picture remains viewable even with a weak
    signal, with increasing snow, but nonetheless, usable. The sound
    would survive even lower signal levels.

    A set of rabbit ears and loop antenna sufficed.

    Now, as expected, with DTV, it's either there or it isn't, and even with
    the built-in signal strength display on DTVs and converter boxes, it has
    become a royal pain to tune in many channels.

    The assumption today is that one will use a wired connection so DTVs
    usually don't even come with any sort of indoor antenna.

    Now, this could probably start a lively discussion on the politics and
    economics of the DTV conversion and that's just fine. :)

    But, what I would like input on is what sort of indoor antennas might be
    best to use in what is basically an area which should have decent signal
    strength for the channels I care about.

    So far I've tried using old loop antennas and basic indoor antennas (loop+
    rabbit ears) from Radio Shack, both unamplified and amplified (though I'm
    not convinced the latter was even working properly).

    This is a residential location with no high structures nearby. I believe
    most of the transmitters are only a few miles away.

    For a 10 year old TV with a converter box in one location, a simple loop
    antenna seems to be fine. For a similar setup on the floor below,
    reception is terrible on nearly all channels no matter how the
    antenna is oriented.

    For a new HDTV at the other end of the house, nothing I've tried seems to work
    very well, with some channels requiring very careful fiddling with the
    antenna orientation to be acceptable most of the time.
    Reception on analog channels is fine and I believe the TV is working correctly.

    According to http://www.antennaweb.org/ , for most of the channels I
    care about, a "small multidirectional antenna" should suffice.
    I haven't yet tried an antenna like and would hoping for recommendataions,
    or whether it would even work.

    I realize this is insufficient information for anyone to suggest a
    specific remedy other than "get a wired connection", but figured it
    might be worthwhile to hear about others' experiences so far.

    Thanks!

    --
    sam | Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ: http://www.repairfaq.org/
    Repair | Main Table of Contents: http://www.repairfaq.org/REPAIR/
    +Lasers | Sam's Laser FAQ: http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/lasersam.htm
    | Mirror Sites: http://www.repairfaq.org/REPAIR/F_mirror.html

    Important: Anything sent to the email address in the message header above is
    ignored unless my full name AND either lasers or electronics is included in the
    subject line. Or, you can contact me via the Feedback Form in the FAQs.
     
  2. jakdedert

    jakdedert Guest

    FWIW, I've heard that most DTV transmitters are on reduced power until
    the transition, which may improve things....

    jak
     
  3. Rich Webb

    Rich Webb Guest

    Actually, I've been quite surprised at how well the old rabbit ears +
    loop antenna has really worked. Aside from occasional episodes of
    pixelation during stormy weather (relative motion between TX and RX?)
    I'm getting everything that's available, with very clear reception.
    Roughly the same here, except for the little issue of a major naval base
    and air field between me and the antenna farm.
    Take a look at http://uhfhdtvantenna.blogspot.com/
     
  4. UCLAN

    UCLAN Guest

    Samuel M. Goldwasser wrote:

    [...snip]
    [...snip]

    First of all, read:

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1037779
    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=611957
    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=186

    Secondly, converter boxes and TVs differ on their sensitivity. Some digital
    TVs receive weak signals much better than others. Same story with converter
    boxes. A good indoor antenna and a good, sensitive converter will work
    wonders.

    Finally, it's true that *some* of the DTV channels are at reduced power now,
    but not all. Things will improve *somewhat* come February, but not on all
    channels. A good antenna and a sensitive converter box are your best bet.
     
  5. Mike S.

    Mike S. Guest

    You might find this thread interesting:

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1037779
     
  6. Ken Layton

    Ken Layton Guest

    What about those of us that live 75 miles (or more) from the
    transmitter? I'll damned if I'm going to pay for cable or satellite.
     
  7. Rich Webb

    Rich Webb Guest

    To a first order approximation, if you can get analog broadcast signals
    now then you should be able to receive the corresponding digital
    stations.
     
  8. Charles

    Charles Guest

    So far, that's not true here (Naples, FL). I'd guess the reduced power is
    an issue ... only time will tell.
     
  9. Jim Yanik

    Jim Yanik Guest

    (Samuel M. Goldwasser) wrote in
    count me in too.
    apartment,2nd floor,stucco with metal mesh uunderneath,almost like a
    Faraday cage.I lose channels when the upstairs neighbor moves around.

    I use an old Gemini amplified rabbit ears with UHF disc antenna.Lost Ch.2
    NBC completely(no great loss),but gained PBS Ch.15 out of Daytona Beach(55
    miles away),a great benefit.
    Google shows some homebrewed non-amplified antennas that might be
    interesting,BUT,they might not be accepted by the SWMBO,not "fit in with
    the decor" type problem.

    Are you in a place where you can put in an outdoor antenna?
    Preferably high up... (UHF antennas are pretty small and 'tolerable')
    or put it in the attic.
    then use a distribution amp and feed it to all your TVs.
     
  10. Mike WB2MEP

    Mike WB2MEP Guest

    Jim,

    Both of those channels have relocated their DTV transmitter sites
    quite a distance from their original analog sites. Chan. 2 (and chan.
    55 when they were still on) broadcast analog from Orange City. Chan.
    15
    broadcast from west of Daytona Beach. Being a college-based station,
    they don't run much power or have a particularly tall tower. I get
    snowy, but watchable, reception on 15 in the NE suburbs of Orlando
    with a large
    rooftop Yagi.

    All the central Florida DTV stations have located their DTV
    transmitters at the antenna farms east of Orlando, where the Orlando
    analog TV and FM stations broadcast from. Channel 2's DTV signal is
    actually on Chan. 11, and Chan. 15's DTV is on either 30 or 33. Chan.
    68's (college-based PBS out of Melbourne) DTV is on the other. One
    advantage to this is that you won't need a rotor to pick up all the
    available DTV stations as they
    are all broadcasting from the same location. The downside is that
    Daytona and Melbourne are at the Northern and Southern ends of the
    Orlando coverage area, and the analog stations gave folks in those
    cities a strong local PBS signal. With DTV, they will lose the local
    signal, and Orlando will end up with three PBS channels.

    Mike
    WB2MEP
     
  11. Sure, but this entire DTV thing was supposed to be a step forward, not
    back to the days where people had to have outdoor antennas!

    I guess it is a step forward for the manufacturers of DTVs, antennas,
    and other video equipment, and cable, fiber, and satellite content
    providers!

    --
    sam | Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ: http://www.repairfaq.org/
    Repair | Main Table of Contents: http://www.repairfaq.org/REPAIR/
    +Lasers | Sam's Laser FAQ: http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/lasersam.htm
    | Mirror Sites: http://www.repairfaq.org/REPAIR/F_mirror.html

    Important: Anything sent to the email address in the message header above is
    ignored unless my full name AND either lasers or electronics is included in the
    subject line. Or, you can contact me via the Feedback Form in the FAQs.
     
  12. Jim Yanik

    Jim Yanik Guest

    (Samuel M. Goldwasser) wrote in

    C'mon;nobody ever claimed that DTV would only need simple indoor antennas.
    DTV's claim was for an improvement over NTSC..in picture quality,and for
    better use of existing bandwidth(subchannels).
     
  13. Roy Starrin

    Roy Starrin Guest

    There might be something of interest here:
    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?p=6647470#post6647470
     
  14. Jim Yanik

    Jim Yanik Guest

    that kinda screws apartment dwellers.(like me)
    They can't install outdoor antennas,and usually don't have access to a
    attic.
     
  15. hr(bob)

    hr(bob) Guest

    Sam:

    It might help us if we knew approximately where you live, and the
    directions/distances of the signals you are trying to pick up. A good
    antenna in the attic with a distribution amplifier as suggested
    earlier should work pretty well, especially if the antenna can point
    out the gable end of the roof, and you do not have aluminum siding.
    Getting a signal thru regular roofing shingles works ok when the roof
    is dry, but there is a lot af attenuation when the roof gets wet or
    snow-covered as it does here in IL where I live.

    Bob Hofmann
     
  16. UCLAN

    UCLAN Guest

    ?? This entire "DTV thing" was a way for the government (via the FCC) to
    raise money by selling off more of the broadcast spectrum.

    It is/was a "step forward" technically only for those that benefited by
    having a digital signal replace an analog one that was marred by video
    noise and signal quality issues. If you can't receive the signal, you no
    longer have those issues. :)
    It is only a step forward for those that can receive/benefit from the SD
    or HDTV signal. For those that had/lost a snowy/fuzzy analog signal, hardly
    a step forward. Or for those companies (read: Comcast) that are using the
    consumers confusion/bad luck to their advantage.
     
  17. JeffM

    JeffM Guest

    Add one more to your figures.
    You are too susceptible to hype.
    This wasn't about *better* (as we see, for many it will be WORSE);
    DTV is all about **more profitable**.
    Now you're on the beam.
    Those commercial interests lobbied hard for DTV:

    There's the subscription-based distribution industry
    -- Rural viewers who could previously get by with a snowy picture
    may now need satellite dishes to get anything
    and folks who weren't too bothered by multipath (with analog)
    may now need cable/sat.

    ....then there's content providers -- Digital == ***DRM-capable***
    http://www.google.com/search?q=gladiators+medium+nbc+drm&num=100

    Of course, guys in the electronics services industries
    can also cash in on DTV boondoggle
    by getting savvy in exactly the theme of this thread:
    What do I, Joe Consumer, need to watch terrestrial DTV reliably?

    My feeling is that (very local) CATV is about to see an upswing.
    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/09/24/1421211&threshold=4&mode=nested#25138447

    The analog shutdown in Wilmington, NC will be a useful boilerplate.
    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/09/24/1421211&threshold=4&mode=nested#25137579

    The coastal plain of NC with its dearth of tall urban structures
    won't translate to all areas, of course.
    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/09/24/1421211&threshold=4&mode=nested#25137331

    I hadn't considered foil-backed insulation as Jeff L mentioned.
    That sounds like a high probability glitch for a bunch of folks.
     
  18. Jim Yanik

    Jim Yanik Guest

    he could also put an antenna in a window facing the transmitter/antenna
    farm,IF he has one facing that way.

    Landlords will not go to the trouble or expense of CATV antennas.
    They don't get anything for it.
     
  19. OK, some more info:

    House is about 90 years old without many modern upgrades. First floor
    stucco, second floor redwood siding. I doubt there is any sigificant
    insulation (that's for another group and another thread!) or anything
    metallic in the walls.

    All TVs get excellent analog reception.

    TV/DTV convertor box on second floor on side facing antenna farm gets decent
    digital reception with only old UHF loop.

    TV/DTV convertor box on first floor has basic Radio Shack antenna and now
    seems passable but not gerat.

    Antenna is placed on top of china closet in dining room.

    New Toshiba LCD DTV on opposite side of house is the main problem.
    (But analog reception there is so good that a casual observer might think
    it is a DTV signal on most channels.)

    I like the idea of an experiment hanging a wire outside the house to
    see if that helps, though it's on the wrong side to be really effective.

    Attic is full of junk (I bet you're not surprised), so plopping large
    antenna there is probably not an option, though there is a crawl space
    that is empty.

    --
    sam | Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ: http://www.repairfaq.org/
    Repair | Main Table of Contents: http://www.repairfaq.org/REPAIR/
    +Lasers | Sam's Laser FAQ: http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/lasersam.htm
    | Mirror Sites: http://www.repairfaq.org/REPAIR/F_mirror.html

    Important: Anything sent to the email address in the message header above is
    ignored unless my full name AND either lasers or electronics is included in the
    subject line. Or, you can contact me via the Feedback Form in the FAQs.
     
  20. bq340

    bq340 Guest


    Maybe MATV antenna? or is this something new?

    MikeB
     
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