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I'm Missing the Days of Analog TV
Old 11-03-2012, 11:12 AM   #1
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I'm Missing the Days of Analog TV

I wasted several days trying to get my OTA DTV to work right but pretty much decided to give up. Conclusion, there's just too many variables with OTA DTV .

Since where I live I'm not allowed to put an antenna on the balcony, I have been getting by with my home built coat hanger type antenna. But with a recently newer DVR (but weaker tuner) the CBS station by me is cutting in and out So I go to the trouble the trouble of building another antenna, with thicker wood (no problem here) but still CBS doesn't work right. Then I try using an amplifier, but no difference. Then I realize, I get CBS okay from the connection by the wall (rooftop antenna on building, but I then don't get NBC), so I try a combiner/splitter which is supposed to combine signals from different sources. Still this doesn't work.

Good grief Charlie Brown... In a way I long for the good old days of just analog TV.

The only positive is that now I know, the culprit has nothing to do with my antenna, but that CBS by me is still transmitting from a weak VHF signal instead of stronger UHF like normal major stations.
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Old 11-03-2012, 11:31 AM   #2
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If you have been watching tv in the last three years you have been picking up the digital signal and having it converted back to analog by your converter or cable box so nothing should have changed recently to keep from getting a signal.
I have a 'store bought' antenna that sounds like what you are trying to build. I have to make choices on some channels coming in. Doesn't it depend on where signal transmitters are?
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Old 11-03-2012, 11:34 AM   #3
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I agree, for weak signals snowy analog was better than no-image-at-all digital. DTV came in OK here until the day analog stopped broadcasting. My understanding is on that day many DTV signals moved to a different frequency, often one that does not carry as far. On that day we lost reception to almost half the DTV stations.
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Old 11-03-2012, 11:56 AM   #4
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Yeah..the all or none thing is pretty annoying. I recorded an episode of "Criminal Minds" on CBS last week. My DVR at least records some of the program instead of nothing. I was watching lots of pixelation plus interrupted sound. But at least I saw that the good guys won in the end .

As for my current DTV situation, I figured I still can get a clear CBS picture (what happens to the other channels then, I'm not sure) if I rotate my antenna so. (The antenna is mounted on a stand and pipe that I built). But unfortunately, that postion kind of blocks the antenna fins with my vertical blinds. Kind of a pain, but ever time I want to watch CBS, I may need to clear the blinds out of the way and do an antenna rotate. Shouldn't be so difficult just to watch TV
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Old 11-03-2012, 12:50 PM   #5
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There's not a day that goes by that I don't get frustrated with DTV - 1st is the fact that broadcast locations for my area come from three very different directions and 2nd there are so many things that affect the signal - passing airplanes, wind blowing the trees, and I'm convinced humidity (or lack thereof) plays a role.

On the other hand there are things to like about it - great picture (usually), extra channels (nice to have weather and several PBS stations).

Unfortunately I've not found any way to remedy all the problems for my location. Like the OP, I find it difficult to be completely happy with DTV and sometimes long for the days of analog broadcasts.
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Old 11-03-2012, 12:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lemming View Post
If you have been watching tv in the last three years you have been picking up the digital signal and having it converted back to analog by your converter or cable box so nothing should have changed recently to keep from getting a signal....
The DTV tuner makes a significant difference. Better tuners (higher price TV?) will receive more channels or receive channels with lower level signal. We were very happy with our original DTV to analog converter box. It received signals very well and I very seldom found it necessary to change the direction of our antenna.

So I went off and bought two 19" DTVs and found they didn't receive the same channels. So I had to change the orientation of the antenna regularly. At some point I upgraded one of the TVs to a larger screen and presto it receives several more channels (nearly all of them in my area) without ever moving the antenna.

I guess I need to study the receiver specifications to better understand the issue(s) - input level, separation ratio, etc. and make this part of my next TV purchase.
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Old 11-03-2012, 01:15 PM   #7
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With my older DVR, it picked up CBS using my coat hanger antenna with no problem. Unfortunately, the DVR had other quirks which led me to the DVR I got now. Gotta pick my poison, I suppose . OTA DTV, when it works, it's fantastic. But when not..good grief Charlie Brown .
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Old 11-03-2012, 01:17 PM   #8
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To improve channel access, I'm tempted to get multiple aerials and point each to a different DTV source. I've yet to research whether connecting multiple aerials to a single cable then to the TV will combine the signals... my sense is it won't work well.
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Old 11-03-2012, 01:59 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
Since where I live I'm not allowed to put an antenna on the balcony, I have been getting by with my home built coat hanger type antenna.
There may be federal law which will allow you to do so, whether landlords or HOAs want you to or not. If it's necessary to get decent reception, I'm pretty sure federal law trumps any CCRs that a HOA may try to enforce.

And yes, VHF isn't very good for digital. In particular the "low" VHF channels (2-6) are specifically very bad for digital and very subject to interference from many sources.
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Old 11-03-2012, 02:20 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by GrayHare View Post
To improve channel access, I'm tempted to get multiple aerials and point each to a different DTV source. I've yet to research whether connecting multiple aerials to a single cable then to the TV will combine the signals... my sense is it won't work well.
I've studied this concept a little and I too suspect it won't work. The weak signals and the strong signals from each antenna will be combined with the weak & strong from the other antenna - I think it will create a noise problem but hey... try it - it might just work.

If you had a bandpass filter for each antenna that only permitted the intended signal to pass down the line that would work. The signals could be combined. However, the idea is futher complicated by the fact that each antenna is probably pointed at a range of desired signals (some high and some low frequency) so now you are faced with separating several ranges of frequencies on each line and not simply separating a large block of freqeuncies. I'm already saying more than I know but I think I'm on the right track. Regardless, I spoke to several antenna engineers and come to the conclusion that rotating/pointing the antenna is the only solution for me.

My next upgrade, if I choose to spend more money on this problem, will be a motor-contolled, rotating mast for the antenna. This can be controlled remotely and pre-set for various directions. For example, when you change channels you change the direction of the antenna as needed. In my case there are three major antenna headings so I'd make three antenna pre-sets.
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Old 11-03-2012, 02:56 PM   #11
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I for one love DTV. High quality HD content (the signal quality, that is!) free with a free antenna the local tv station gave away during the conversion to DTV. Works great about 99% of the time. And it is crystal clear, unlike what we used to get from the cable company. It even looks good on our old standard def (but digital) TV on the rare occasions like Thanksgiving or anytime in late March/early April where we want to turn a game on and let it play for "the guys" in our extra living room.
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Old 11-03-2012, 02:57 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
There may be federal law which will allow you to do so, whether landlords or HOAs want you to or not. If it's necessary to get decent reception, I'm pretty sure federal law trumps any CCRs that a HOA may try to enforce.

And yes, VHF isn't very good for digital. In particular the "low" VHF channels (2-6) are specifically very bad for digital and very subject to interference from many sources.
Zig,

I don't think that "VHF isn't very good for digital" is actually the problem. A VHF singal propagates the same whether it is modulated with analog or digital information. Usually the issue is that almost all digital transmissions are on UHF frequencies and therefore antennas (homemade or commercial) generally used for digital reception are designed for UHF. That makes them too small and poor performers on VHF. The rare station still broadcasting on VHF after the digital conversion is hard to receive using a UHF antenna. (The common homebrew "coat hanger antenna" many use is UHF.)

Here in Chicago, we have one station still on a VHF channel. My small, simple UHF corner reflector works fine for all the UHF stations. But for that one VHF station, I have to switch to a simple VHF "rabbit ears" antenna.

In regards to "digital" reception in general, when TV stations switched to digital it meant shutting down their existing equipment and antennas and switching to new transmitters and antennas on their reassigned frequencies. Often, these new set-ups run lower power and the antennas may be relocated to new, less effection sites. So, yep, there's likely less signal reaching your home and the simple indoor antennas or non-rotary outdoor antennas might not do the job.

We have Comcast (hate 'em) cable in the house but I watch OTA TV on an old TV/converter combo out in the garage when puttering around out there. In the Chicago suburbs, it's easy to pull in a number of OTA stations with simple antennas sitting on the shelf next to the TV. But I'm sure that in many locations, it's now necessary to put up outdoor, rotary antennas where before the digital conversion simple indoor antennas worked fine.
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Old 11-03-2012, 03:01 PM   #13
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I don't blame you all for trying, I applaud you. I hate paying for a gazillion channels I'll never watch, just to have the half dozen or so that I actually watch from time to time. What a racket. Though I do agree that HD is wonderful, I won't even watch any analog channels anymore except for PBS.

The networks are going to fight it at every turn after what happened to the music industry (thanks Napster & Steve Jobs), but sooner or later the same thing will happen to them. Wouldn't surprise me if Google, Amazon, FaceBook and/or Apple crack it, I just hope it's in my lifetime...
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Old 11-03-2012, 03:57 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
There may be federal law which will allow you to do so, whether landlords or HOAs want you to or not. If it's necessary to get decent reception, I'm pretty sure federal law trumps any CCRs that a HOA may try to enforce.

And yes, VHF isn't very good for digital. In particular the "low" VHF channels (2-6) are specifically very bad for digital and very subject to interference from many sources.
Yes. If I pushed it, maybe I could win having an antenna on the balcony. But that's okay. On a wet, rainy day I'd be a little concerned with my set up with metal pipes and all.

On a nice, warm day I've have snuck the antenna out there a time or two to make sure I get good reception during a football game .
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Old 11-03-2012, 04:47 PM   #15
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Google 'denny's antenna service'. Very informative website. The guy who owns it will answer any question you have.
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If You Can't Go Through the Wall, Go Around It
Old 11-03-2012, 07:45 PM   #16
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If You Can't Go Through the Wall, Go Around It

Okay...issue solved..sort of. Wish I would have thought of this a couple of weeks ago.

I simply decided to remove a couple pieces of the vertical blinds for my balcony window and now have the antenna turned at the angle to properly receive CBS. The other channels are still coming in strong too.

Now, if a guest notices and says "Hey, a couple of pieces of your vertical blinds are missing." I the person down, smile and say, "Did you notice the coat hanger antenna I built, pretty cool, eh?"

The bottom line, I now can watch the channels I need OTA
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Have your blinds and TV too
Old 11-04-2012, 07:37 AM   #17
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Have your blinds and TV too

Perhaps this might not be the right one but surely there must be a switch that exists that would isolate the 2 inputs?
Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: RCA VH74 Deluxe A/B Switch
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Old 11-04-2012, 09:57 AM   #18
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I don't know if this will help but here are a couple things I use -- I am a OTA guy all the way.

This website (AntennaWeb - Home) will show you the strength of each TV station at your exact address. It also give you the direct to the transmitter. It is specific to rooftop antennas but should give you some feel for where the signal is coming from and whether there is even a chance of getting a picture. The primary purpose of this site is to determine the tyype and size of antenna needed for your application. There is , however, some Links and other resource information that could be useful to you. But, again, it is for rooftop Antennaes:

Quote:
Due to multiple variables in determining good reception in a specific location with indoor antennas, these antennas are not included in this mapping system.
The other thing I use is a SensarPro TV Signal Strength Meter. This I use in our RV. It is very difficult to know where the transmitter(s) is/are in a strange location. It is much quicker to rotate the antennae while watching this device for the highest number. In addition, you can adjust things like the Gain and it will even give you the channel numbers of the signals you are able to receive (this is not necessarily the same as the number you expect).

(I don't remember whether it is 12v or 110v but that shouldn't present a problem. I do recall it was a quick five minute hookup.)
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Old 11-04-2012, 11:52 AM   #19
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Most of the coat-hanger antennae on the web are designed for UHF which would explain the issue with the VHF channel.
I use a $14.99 (I could swear I paid less) radio shack VHF/UHF antenna and it works fine inside my home. Of course, my signal strength could just be much stronger than yours, but it is something that is essentially free to check out. The radioshack sales person had no issue with me taking the antenna home to check it out.

Budget TV Antenna : TV Antennas | RadioShack.com
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Old 11-04-2012, 02:36 PM   #20
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Perhaps this might not be the right one but surely there must be a switch that exists that would isolate the 2 inputs?
Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: RCA VH74 Deluxe A/B Switch
An A/B switched crosssed my mind too. But for some reason, when I use the input from the wall, that connection for some reason would change the aspect ratio of the TV screen. So, for me, the blind removal been's working well .
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