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Re: High Def over bunny ears?
Old 01-21-2007, 02:21 PM   #21
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?

Yes you can get HDTV over antenna. As said above, HDTV (or more generally DTV) is sent over the same frequency range as old TV and can be picked up by the same antennas. antennaweb.org is a great resource.

TV stations are in a transition period now and are broadcasting on two different channels...one for NTSC analog TV and one for DTV (ATSC). Most of the DTV channels are currently UHF where most of the major NTSC channels are VHF, so pragmatically an antenna working for NTSC may not work well for DTV, but it's due to UHF vs VHF and not HD vs analog.

The Terk antenna linked earlier by wab was absolutely worthless to me. To be fair, though, I was using it inside an apartment with the apartment complex, IND International airport and downtown Indianapolis between me and the Indy antenna farm.

However, this Radio Shack antenna (only $15 versus $40-$50+ for the Terk) did pull in the signal where the Terk wouldn't. When I bought it a couple of years ago I had to order it; the link I just gave says "in store only", so I'm confused. Anyway, it's a fantastic UHF antenna for the price and brings in the higher VHF channels decently, too. It's twin-lead, so you'll need a 300-ohm to 75-ohm thingy to connect it to most antenna connectors.

Amplifiers do not help reception. They only help keep the signal from degrading due to attenuation in the antenna cabling. An amplifier will not make a small antenna better, but it will help a signal survive over 6 feet of antenna wire if it's close to the antenna end.

There a couple of really good big UHF antennas you can get relatively cheaply. I'll look for my antenna links and report back here.
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?
Old 01-21-2007, 03:05 PM   #22
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?

There's a site out there somewhere where a guy calculated the effectiveness of various antenna models. I can't find the link now, but my comments on the quality of antennas are based on my memory of that site.

I bought the Winegard PR4400. It's a bit big for inside use but not out of the question. I was in an apartment, so I mounted this on a pole and strapped the pole to my deck railing. This antenna was the best price/performance ratio I found. It's only $20. It's "UHF Only" but does get okay reception of the high VHF channels, too. A somewhat better performing antenna of the same configuration is the DB4, but it costs 3x as much and is only a few percent better.

The DB2 is bigger and significantly better performing than the RadioShack antenna I listed earlier but half the size of the 4-bay antennas (the DB4 and PR4400). Many forum posters I read used this indoors, but at $40 it's twice as much as the PR4000.

8-bay antennas like the DB8 and the CM4228 are twice as wide as the 4-bays but are top of the line in receiving UHF signals. If you have a place outside to mount this and a mast-mounted amp I expect you can get your HDTV signals just fine with one of these. (Assuming your HD channels are UHF.)

If I recall correctly the Antennas Direct DB-series outperformed others in the same configuration, but probably not enough to justify their price margin.

Unless your antenna is right by your receiver, get an amplifier and mount it by the antenna. There are two-piece amplifiers where the power unit is in the house and plugs into the wall and the antenna cable. The amplifier mounts on the antenna mast and gets its power from the power unit over the antenna wire. Some of them have FM trap switches where you can filter out the FM signals which may help TV reception if the TV signals are relatively weak. (FM band is smack in the middle of VHF.) I bought my mom a CM amp for about $75, but I don't recall which one offhand. It works great and supposedly has the lowest distortion of the retail amps. Actually I think they call these pre-amps (as opposed to distribution amplifiers for splitting signals). Remember, an amplifier improves the cable, not the antenna. An amplifier won't make an inadequate antenna adequate, but it will make a long cable usable.

A final note on bunny ears: The two collapsing rods are for VHF reception. Usually laying them flat or in a wide V is the best bet. The hoops are for UHF reception. In both cases the wires are perpendicular to the line to the TV station's antenna. (The antenna wires don't point to the TV station's antenna.) In many cities there is an antenna farm where all the stations have their towers; if so you're lucky and just point your antenna towards the farm.

By the way, now in DFW I'm using the RadioShack UHF antenna inside. I'm watching the NFC championship game with it right now. I just had the first reception problem in 7 months, but it was due to my having moved the shelves earlier, so just repointing the antenna fixed everything. I'm about 11 miles from the farm with no major obstacles between us, so reception is much easier here than I had in my Indy apartment.
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?
Old 01-21-2007, 03:12 PM   #23
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cute Fuzzy Bunny
Just note that some channels dont broadcast in HD at all.

The ones that do, only some program content is actually broadcast in high definition.

Of those, some are SD thats just upconverted to 720p (or whatever).

Next thing you'll note is that on the channels that are high def, with shows that are really high def...that you can see the dang makeup on a lot of the actors and football players are even uglier in HD.

I guess a lot of actors are pushing for fancy "high definition makeup" paint jobs now that their shows are in HD.
Usually the non-HD channels offer several SD channels. Here in DFW there is a 24-hour music video channel without commercials, but only over DTV. PAX TV has several SD subchannels on DTV. And generally the SD reception is better over DTV than anaglog. Several major stations offer 24-hour news channels and/or 24-hour weather channels as subchannels. It's not all about HD.

It's true that sometimes HD makes a face less flattering. It's a new challenge, and the end effect is varying, but I notice some broadcasters have got it figured out...they're either really good at makeup or are soft-focusing, but soft-focusing in HD still looks better than SD.

Also, sports in HD gives you some unattractive details sometimes, but overall it adds a lot to the viewing experience. You can pick out players and coaches on the opposite sideline and individuals in the stands. It really sucks for me to watch football in SD now.

All that said, I'm not sure it's really worth the expense to upgrade yet. I spent too much. I enjoy it, but it wasn't a frugal move by most measures. Plus, after we get all this UHF antenna stuff figured out they'll probably exit the transition period and they may all go back to VHF after that and have to re-figure the antenna situation again.
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?
Old 01-21-2007, 03:29 PM   #24
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?

(Now I'm driving up my post count...)

On the traditional bunny ears with the rods and loops: For VHF the rods work fine for me so far. In Indy I had one VHF DTV channel that my small UHF antenna wouldn't pull in well, but the simple bunny ears worked great for that one.

So far, though, those UHF loops seem to largely be crap. They can work, sort of, but never well for me.

The placement of the indoor antennas are important, too. Try putting them in different parts of the room. By a window with the blinds up worked well for me, as did high in the room.

For grins I set the UHF loop outside with an amplifier to compensate for the longer cable, and I was able to get a couple of DTV channels in Indy with it, even with the airport and downtown in the way. All my antennas got better reception outside.

I experimented with placing a baking sheet, a baking rack and/or tinfoil behind the antennas as a reflector...I could improve the signal sometimes, but not reliably enough to keep it that way.
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?
Old 01-21-2007, 03:39 PM   #25
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?

Cable companies are required by law to carry local unscrambled HD channels (the same onces you can get with an ATSC antenna.) Your HDTV will need a QAM tuner to pick up these stations.

I tried QAM and we could get 2-3 channels with basic cable. We decided to upgrade to digital cable and we get about 11 which is unfortunate. The video quality on the digital channels is much better than what we were getting over on basic analog cable.
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?
Old 01-21-2007, 05:05 PM   #26
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BigMoneyJim
The DB2 is bigger and significantly better performing than the RadioShack antenna I listed earlier but half the size of the 4-bay antennas (the DB4 and PR4400). Many forum posters I read used this indoors, but at $40 it's twice as much as the PR4000.
I got a DB4, thinking it would be great - all the transmitters are about 38 miles from
me, more or less in the same location - and my place is not particualrly problematic,
except for the heavily wooded lot.

Anyhow, I'm a little disappointed, especially when leaves are on the trees I do not get
everything without dropouts. I thought of exchnging it for a DB8, but I think it I can
get it mounted higher it should be ok.

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Re: High Def over bunny ears?
Old 01-21-2007, 05:39 PM   #27
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RustyShackleford
I got a DB4, thinking it would be great - all the transmitters are about 38 miles from
me, more or less in the same location - and my place is not particualrly problematic,
except for the heavily wooded lot.

Anyhow, I'm a little disappointed, especially when leaves are on the trees I do not get
everything without dropouts. I thought of exchnging it for a DB8, but I think it I can
get it mounted higher it should be ok.
Ah-ha! I found my handy antenna comparison link: http://www.hdtvprimer.com/ANTENNAS/comparing.html (edit: erm, it's not my site, just a favorite site of mine)

The DB8 looks to get about 2db net gain higher than the DB4 over the entire spectrum. It's also more directional and presumably may ignore bounced signals better.

I also stumbled across a page describing antenna siting with various problems including trees.

Quote:
If the antenna is behind a tree, it is in overlapping fields: a weak field that passes through the tree plus a weak field that is diffracted around the tree. Overlapping fields are complicated, with strong spots and weak spots. This will be true even if the tree is not a perfect sphere. If you get a UHF antenna to work behind a tree, you will likely see dropouts when the wind blows because the strong and weak spots will move around as the tree deforms. Even in a good-signal neighborhood it is inadvisable to put a UHF antenna behind a tree.

The farther away a tree is, the less of a problem it is. For far away trees, assume no signal penetrates the tree, and reception will be by diffraction around the tree. Trees block 100% of satellite signals.
My inexpert interpretation of the above tells me getting the antenna above the trees would be best. If you can't, getting a more directional antenna may help, but I'm not sure on that one. Unfortunately just getting a higher gain antenna won't seem to help you because the issue isn't signal strength but signal diffraction.

Anecdotally my PR4400 which is very similar to the DB4 worked well for signals from Bloomington, about 30 miles away from my apartment with a clear line of sight. So again the trees seem to be a bigger problem than the distance.

The home page of the linked site is a great resource for all sorts of HDTV info: http://www.hdtvprimer.com/

That siting page says that leaves block all satellite signals, but I had a DirecTV dish lazily mounted on a table on the patio (instead of the roof) and pointed directly through the neighbors tree. Surprisingly it worked even after the leaves came in and did pretty well through most thunderstorms. My anecdotal theory was that precise aiming could compensate for the tree, but the link refutes that. Maybe I was just lucky or had a satellite-friendly tree.

EDIT: I notice you say your wooded lot is the problem. If the surrounding lots aren't wooded you could try burying an antenna cable to a point where there is no tree interference and use a strong amplifier to cover the distance. Going up may be simpler, though. That Solid Signal site probably has some tall pole equipment or maybe even a small tower.
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?
Old 01-21-2007, 08:50 PM   #28
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?

a good website iswww.antennaweb.org. Enter your address and it will tell you the direction and distance to the broadcast towers. There is good information regarding antenna selection.


I did the OTA thing about two years ago. Just recenlty switched over to dish network for the nfl and sports packages. I have a Winegard antenna and zenith receiver that I'm getting ready to put on craig's list.

I found the PBS stations have the best image quality, abc, cbs, nbc is okay and fox has the worst quality. I'm surround by large trees, in the spring and summer signal strenght was reduced greatly.

dwk
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?
Old 01-21-2007, 09:26 PM   #29
 
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?

I have OTA HDTV and the picture is superb! - I have an antenna in my Attic. I get about 12 channels. I have no cable bill and all the TV I would ever want.
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?
Old 01-21-2007, 10:22 PM   #30
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?

Thanks for all the insight and research - dang BMJ, if I was Trump, you'd be hired! I experimented with the UHF/VHF antannae on multiple t.v.s in multiple locations, upstairs and downstairs, and could only get one channel - poorly - upstairs. I'll have to go external. But that is a project, and DW says I can't start any new projects until I finish the ones we have now. That includes fixing the HDTV ( the red has de-converged, suspect some board burnt out). I've just turned it down, so now I have a clear picture, but I'm watching smurf t.v. (I'm blue dabadee dabadaa). I'm going to investigate these links though, and put this on my to-do list.
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?
Old 01-22-2007, 01:07 PM   #31
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?

Quote:
Originally Posted by wab
Sorry to hear it. We've been with Dish for 7 years at two houses, and they've always been responsive.
Maybe because you havent tried to cancel the service yet. The lawsuits and most of my problems had to do with cancellation terms and contractual illegalities. In my case, when I terminated they didnt inform me of a fine print charge until it showed up on my bill. I also was required to climb up to the 50' upper roof over the garage and remove their LNB and ship it back to them along with the receivers. When the box they were supposed to send didnt arrive I called and was told "The contract doesnt specifically say we have to send you a box!". The contract also doesnt say anything about returning the LNB or uninstalling the product myself. When I asked what I should do I was told "well, you might as well keep the equipment. According to the contract if we didnt have it by today we can charge your credit card $1000, so we're going to do that."

I escalated it to the vice president of customer service and after threatening to sue them in small claims, got him to agree to waive the fees if I shipped them the stuff overnight in my own box at my own cost.

I did make sure to give everything a nice warming up in the microwave before packing it up and sending it back to them. The contract didnt say anything about not nuking the circuit boards.

As far as equipment problems, read some reviews on the popular review sites. Many people have overheating problems with specific receivers, signal loss issues, require unplugging and replugging equipment regularly, and significant issues with standalone tivo interoperability.

Never had any problems with comcast or directv installations/equipment installations or cancellation. Usually they tried to keep me as a customer, not poke me in the face and grab for my wallet.

Laurence...look for the model of your tv and "service menu". Most tv's have a remote control key combination that fires the tv into service mode and displays a service menu. Read any docs you can find including online copies of the service manual and be very careful as you can do some unpleasant and permanently bad things with some of the options. But a 'self check/diagnostic' and 'convergence adjust' are usual options and non destructive. Besides the service menu, when in service mode there are also often many, many documented "hidden" features that can be fun to play with. Just beeeee careful.
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?
Old 01-22-2007, 01:46 PM   #32
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?


Great stuff BMJ, thanks for the research ! Never thought about how important
it might be to back away from the treeline as I try to rise the height. And it looks
like upgrading from DB4 to DB8 is unlikely to help much.



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Re: High Def over bunny ears?
Old 01-23-2007, 11:40 PM   #33
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?

CFB, we are pretty well versed with the options and convergence menus, but this is beyond those options (we know because it's broken this way before - under warranty, unlike now!). I'm going to dissasemble this weekend and give it a go, and if not, it's not worth the $400 to fix.
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?
Old 01-24-2007, 01:34 PM   #34
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?

So you've already accessed the service menus? Not the regular setup menus, but the hidden, secret service menus?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
it's not worth the $400 to fix.
Thats my story, and i'm sticking with it.
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?
Old 01-24-2007, 04:58 PM   #35
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?

Yeah, I got the service manual on line. I haven't given up, mind you, but things don't look good. Reading bbs postings on my t.v. it sounds like there is a common problem of a part overheating due to bad design and poor air circulation - causes a melt/short. Since we are possum living, the old 25" may find it's way back to the living room.
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?
Old 01-24-2007, 06:05 PM   #36
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Re: High Def over bunny ears?

My lcos set was doing some funny things when it got warm. Put an air purifier behind it with the air blowing at one of the intakes. No more problems.
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