Your Digital Media Has Never Looked So Good

 
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ACraigo
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OTA - A Discussion

Tue May 20, 2014 11:15 am

I usually jump at any opportunity to rant excessively about antennas. I added this to another thread, but decided it deserved it's own topic. Please share your experiences, equipment, eye candy antenna shots, whatever.

The first place to go, I suppose, would be here: http://www.antennaweb.org/
While this is a handy tool, I will say that when entering my address and running the program I was informed I had a possibility of receiving 43 digital channels, but almost every one of them was shown in the 'red'. In reality with my setup I am receiving 51 channels, but lost one when they put up that townhouse down the street - more about that later.

After you decide to take the plunge and try for OTA - and antennaweb indicates a tad bit more than a snoball's chance in Hades of success - buy an antenna with the best chance of working. If you are definitely, without a shadow of doubt, in a deep fringe area you might need one of these setups, but most people do not. While a thing of beauty, and necessary in some locales, this is probably a bit excessive.

Image

For instance, here is my setup - pardon the cat hair.

Image

I have moved the speaker that conceals at least some of this mess showing the professional blue tape installation method employed by people having access to blue tape. Careful study of the 'bearing' shows the reclaimed hard card stock junk mail delivery wrapped carefully around the pole - that travels all the way to the floor - and is secured by copious amounts of blue tape. The pole slips handily in the loosely wrapped card stock brochure so 'rotating' the antenna is done with a finger - or a cat. The amplified splitter can also be seen here. Leads travel off to the TV and the Tuner Card in the PC for the DVR functions.

Image

By careful planning, and some misdirection, this can be constructed while the better half is away (not a problem in my case) and upon the return of said spouse you can have many OTA channels playing on the TEVEE. "What Antenna" is the story you should stick to at this point. Hopefully the addition of OTA, will offset the horror of an outdoor antenna inside the house - oh, and the blue tape.

Image

The Antennas:
In my case I chose the Channel Master 4221HD, because it was given to me as a Christmas present many years ago, but some research indicates you can get one right now for about 50 bucks. The 4221HD has a gain (over tuned diapole) of about 10dbi. That is quite impressive for an antenna in it's size and design class http://www.avsforum.com/t/1105541/cm-42 ... ering-data .

The Mohu Sky can only muster about 3.5dbi gain for a whopping cost of nearly 150 bucks http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=165841 .

That pesky townhouse down the street wiped all notions of watching ABC into the abyss, but I have a plan to stack a Channel Master 4228HD further down the pole - for about 90 bucks - and gather all available signals that might be travelling around the neighborhood after having been bounced off the aforementioned, thoughtlessly placed structure. I have a fairly reasonable expectation for success, but I can already see I don't have enough blue tape.

Image

The 4228 is basically two 4221 antennas and stacking a third will make a nice collector.

The best part about cobbling together stuff to watch OTA on - it's fun, you learn something, and the payoff is free television. Can't be bad.
Last edited by ACraigo on Tue May 20, 2014 5:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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krisbee
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Re: OTA - A Discussion

Tue May 20, 2014 12:26 pm

Even better is the ability of using simple.tv or mythtv to get the content to your roku. I use the mythroku channel and my computer to record OTA TV and transcode the video to make it available to my rokus overnight. I also use my mythtv setup to automatically detect and cut the commercials out. The simple.tv setup can even stream live tv to your roku.
 
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Re: OTA - A Discussion

Tue May 20, 2014 12:29 pm

krisbee wrote:
Even better is the ability of using simple.tv or mythtv to get the content to your roku. I use the mythroku channel and my computer to record OTA TV and transcode the video to make it available to my rokus overnight. I also use my mythtv setup to automatically detect and cut the commercials out. The simple.tv setup can even stream live tv to your roku.


Though for quality and ease of use, nothing beats using your TV's built-in tuner. Transcoding works, but it's an annoying process, at best. I record OTA with a computer that outputs to my TV directly instead of transcoding and pipping it all through the Roku.
 
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Re: OTA - A Discussion

Tue May 20, 2014 12:48 pm

mikebdoss wrote:
Though for quality and ease of use, nothing beats using your TV's built-in tuner. Transcoding works, but it's an annoying process, at best. I record OTA with a computer that outputs to my TV directly instead of transcoding and pipping it all through the Roku.


That's why the simple.tv looks pretty cool - just a box and a roku channel - all of it is taken care of for you since the tuner autotranscodes to h264 - nothing to really do. Rolling your own with mythtv is fun for geeks (I'm one!) but is probably above most people.

And I do believe even the eyetv works without a mac - and that private channel will give you the option of having live tv on your roku if you can't get a cable to a tv. In my house, the OTA cable comes into our office and the computer - everything else is via wifi or Ethernet, including our main tv...
 
resengen
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Re: OTA - A Discussion

Tue May 20, 2014 1:11 pm

My future plans are to get an antenna (been looking at the Mohu Sky) but the other post is going to make me think twice. Run it to a Tablu or Simple.tv multi tuner DVR with a HD. And tune it in on all my TVs with Rokus. That is my plan anyway. :wink:
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Re: OTA - A Discussion

Tue May 20, 2014 1:15 pm

krisbee wrote:
mikebdoss wrote:
Though for quality and ease of use, nothing beats using your TV's built-in tuner. Transcoding works, but it's an annoying process, at best. I record OTA with a computer that outputs to my TV directly instead of transcoding and pipping it all through the Roku.


That's why the simple.tv looks pretty cool - just a box and a roku channel - all of it is taken care of for you since the tuner autotranscodes to h264 - nothing to really do. Rolling your own with mythtv is fun for geeks (I'm one!) but is probably above most people.

And I do believe even the eyetv works without a mac - and that private channel will give you the option of having live tv on your roku if you can't get a cable to a tv. In my house, the OTA cable comes into our office and the computer - everything else is via wifi or Ethernet, including our main tv...


Hello:

Yes, EyeTV also works on PC's. It is not exclusive to Macs. EyeTV tuner integrates well with Windows Media Center. However, the downside is that WMC doesn't record or transcodes automatically in Roku friendly format. However, you can use EyeTV software on the PC instead of WMC and it records in Roku format for direct viewing over Roku with the NowhereDVR channel. So, for the PC attached to the TV you can use EyeTV with WMC but to extend to Roku boxes you need the EyeTV software.
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firedup
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Re: OTA - A Discussion

Tue May 20, 2014 1:31 pm

While you can use a Roku with a Simple or Tablo DVR to stream broadcast television over your LAN, it's usually best to run coax directly from the antenna to the television. I did not have any better luck with antennaweb.org than you did. I found TVFool.com produced a much more useful report. TitanTV.com is a good guide to what is on the stations you can receive.

Initially, my goal was to keep the antenna in my attic. It's easier to maintain an antenna out of the weather and they hold up better in the attic plus there is no need for grounding. My first antenna was a DB8. It did a very good job most of the time. I added a Y5-7-13. Later, I replaced the DB8 with a 91xg and the Y5-7-13 with a Y10-7-13. Over the winter, I acquired a DB8e on the cheap and am looking forward to mounting that on my mast later this summer. I have ganged a pair of 91XGs vertically and horizontally. I have used UVSJs and mast mounted amplifiers to join my antennas. I have cut down some trees. I will be cutting down some more trees.

For my trouble, I get lots of television for cheap. We get three PBS affiliates along with Explore, World, Create, and Kids sub-channels. We get national networks: ABC (WCVB in Boston and WMUR in Manchester, NH), CBS, NBC, and Fox local affiliates. We get syndicated networks: Bounce, Cozi, Fox Movies!, getTV, ION (ION, qubo, IONLife), MeTV, The Works (MGM), and ThisTV. We get a couple local broadcasters: WSBK, WLVI (CW/ZUUS), and WBIN (occasionally, for now). We also receive Portland, ME, Bangor, ME, and Providence, RI channels under the right conditions.

Inside the house, I have six TVs connected with COAX and a couple more connected with Simple via Roku. I have five simple DVRs in my basement which harvest programming for later viewing. They also provide remote and wireless access. We have DTVPals on five televisions.

I have a HDHomeRun that I use to point antennas and learn about my reception. The HD Homerun (HDHR3-US) reports signal strength, signal quality, and symbol quality on two channels concurrently. It's handy to see that you are not screwing up one channel as you tune in another. You can also use the HDHomerun to get signal to a media server.

After five years, I am still playing. This year, I am going to put the DB8e on my mast to see if I can get all the channels in my major market (Boston) plus a 91XG for WBIN and the Y10-7-13 for NH and ME vhf stations. I'll pair a 91XG and the Y5-7-13 in the attic as a back-up for my major market and NH and ME vhf stations. The DB8e/Y10-7-13 will feed my televisions and the rest will feed simple DVRs.

A TVFool report looks like this (note the two HDHomeRun windows to the right)...

Image

It tells you where the broadcasters are relative to your location, the real and virtual channel assignments (real channels 2-13 are vhf), and if there are obstacles in the path between your antenna and the broadcaster. You can point the antenna with a compass, but the HDHomeRun provides better pointing information...

Signal Strength (ss)
- raw power level as measured by the receiver

Signal Quality (snq)
- how clearly defined the digital data is

Symbol Quality (seq)
- Amount of correct or corrected data over the last second

The above definitions can be confusing, so a much simpler definition is to imagine listening to the radio:
- Signal Strength represents the volume
- Signal Quality represents how clearly you can hear the lyrics
- Symbol Quality indicates the percentage of the lyrics you could hear or guess correctly

It's easier to deal with a UHF/VHF antenna, but joining two antennas allows you to point each independently. You can use a rotor so long as all of your TVs watch stations in the same direction.

Once you get the signal inside your home, you have a LOT of options. You can plug directly into your TV and use its tuner. You can watch live, continuous television. You can put a set top DVR between the set and the antenna to pause/rewind/fast forward and record programming. TiVo is the premier DVR, the iView 3500STB is an inexpensive alternative, and the Channel Master DVR+ provides much of the functionality of the TiVo at a price closer to the iView DVR.

I like the Simple DVR as a non-interactive DVR. You can record shows for later viewing on up to five televisions (via Roku). Some smart guys have figured how to pull the shows off the disks so you can play them back via Plex or some other server. You can also watch your antenna and recordings remotely using a PC or even a Roku.
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Re: OTA - A Discussion

Tue May 20, 2014 1:56 pm

I have a HDHomeRun that I use to point antennas and learn about my reception. The HD Homerun (HDHR3-US) reports signal strength, signal quality, and symbol quality on two channels concurrently. It's handy to see that you are not screwing up one channel as you tune in another. You can also use the HDHomerun to get signal to a media server.


Also handy to know is there is a mobile app to connect to your HD Home Run, so you can use it when you are next to the antenna (I did that when I was on my tower so I didn't have to keep yelling down to someone)...
 
gkl
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Re: OTA - A Discussion

Tue May 20, 2014 2:46 pm

resengen wrote:
My future plans are to get an antenna (been looking at the Mohu Sky) but the other post is going to make me think twice. Run it to a Tablu or Simple.tv multi tuner DVR with a HD. And tune it in on all my TVs with Rokus. That is my plan anyway. :wink:


I have a Mohu Sky which is installed near the top of my attic, next to a vent. It works great. I have it attached to the old cable feeds, which in turn, feeds the signals to two TVs in the house. I added a Simple.TV primarily to reach two other TVs which are not near an old cable feed, though recording and accessing live TV and recordings on rare occasions anywhere in the world with internet access is a nice bonus.

If the Mohu Sky does the trick, it isn't as ugly as the older antennas. If it doesn't, however, then I'd choose getting the signals I wanted over looks.
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Re: OTA - A Discussion

Tue May 20, 2014 2:53 pm

gkl wrote:
If the Mohu Sky does the trick, it isn't as ugly as the older antennas.

Be nice ...
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gkl
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Re: OTA - A Discussion

Tue May 20, 2014 2:58 pm

firedup wrote:
gkl wrote:
If the Mohu Sky does the trick, it isn't as ugly as the older antennas.

Be nice ...


What is not nice about making an obvious observation? If you install the antenna in your attic, looks don't matter. But if you are in a suburban neighborhood and need an outdoor antenna, your neighbors might be happier if you use a Mohu Sky.
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firedup
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Re: OTA - A Discussion

Tue May 20, 2014 3:18 pm

gkl wrote:
What is not nice about making an obvious observation? If you install the antenna in your attic, looks don't matter. But if you are in a suburban neighborhood and need an outdoor antenna, your neighbors might be happier if you use a Mohu Sky.

My antennas think they are beautiful. They mock the aging Dish equipment at the other end of the roof.
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Matt9876
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Re: OTA - A Discussion

Tue May 20, 2014 4:43 pm

In comparison to the picture in the first post my setup is tiny, I am about 15 miles away from the transmission towers in Knoxville Tn. The new antenna is a small Eagle Aspen : http://www.amazon.com/Eagle-Aspen-EASDT ... B000GIT002

It is about half the size of my previous PR4400 directional antenna and still performs very well.

It is connected to a Simple.tv sv1 and a Roku3, my setup is small and works very well at recording my antenna shows and streaming them where ever they are needed. :D

Edit: the eagle aspen antenna is roof mounted and connected via an rg-6 coaxial cable to the simple.tv unit, another rg-6 jumper extends from the antenna out of the simple.tv to my main living room TV so I can watch a second channel while the simple tv records or streams out a live TV feed to another Roku.
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Re: OTA - A Discussion

Wed May 21, 2014 5:41 am

Good thread on how to set up an antenna.

I use an attic mounted Antennacraft HD1000: Image
My antenna distribution is pretty complicated but works well. I currently am getting 43 off air channels (I just counted).
Image
It took a lot of time to tune the antenna direction and location in my attic because I am about a half mile from a power substation that causes a lot of multipath problems but patience and using a small television and a signal strength meter I was able to get the antenna pointed and dialed in.

Image
The small little box with the red lite is the antenna amplifier, the white box with all the coax connected is the distribution amplifier. The black box is a Actiontec MoCa adapter to get both Ethernet and the television signal up to the family room television.

The completed project:
Image
OTA - Antennacraft HDX 1000
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ACraigo
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Re: OTA - A Discussion

Wed May 21, 2014 7:02 am

firedup wrote:
...I found TVFool.com produced a much more useful report...


That is an epic understatement - it's awesome!

Image

I can remember being perched on a 40 foot tower with one leg wrapped around an antenna mast while installing a length of 1" EMT I had put an offset saddle in to avoid a magnum VHF and another magnum UHF antenna to get an 11 meter ground plane installed ABOVE the two TV antennas. Had there been a TVFool back then I could have lowered the acrobatic times a bit (but that was half the fun, right?).

I had always wanted a Channel Master 4251 - THE most coveted UHF parabolic antenna ever made - but sadly it was way beyond my means, so I made do with the strongest VHF and UHF Channel Master antennas stacked on the tower mast - along with that ground plane. Here is a 4251 stacked atop the Channel Master 3617 VHF antenna I had (I can't recall the model number of the Channel Master UHF Yagi I used) and I suspect this fellow had all his neighbors green with envy. I am and I don't even know the guy.

Image

Here is a 4251 tribute page - http://www.rocketroberts.com/cm4251/cm4251.htm - It's interesting to note the 4251 was so strong in some cases one had to pad the horn to attenuate signals that would be TOO STRONG to be usable by your television! This puppy was definitely made for Deep, Deep, Deep Fringe areas. EB needs a couple of these stacked atop a 100 feet of tower.

:)

Sadly all my aerial equipment was destroyed in one of the 9 Hurricanes that raked Hatteras Island, NC during the time I lived there. I painstakingly lowered and stowed the arials in a bunker for storms that had names - a tree fell on the bunker. I was sad. I could have made use of that Magnum UHF Yagi. Boy, am I sad.

Where I am now I'm under a metal roof, so no attic use is possible, and my advanced age would preclude my running around on the roof like a mountain goat - that ship has sailed - so whatever I get I'll get through whatever I can put in that space behind the entertainment cabinet. So far, so good.
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