Sunday, December 27, 2009

TV Antenna Adventures: Part 2

This "bow-tie" antenna is the one I've been trying to get to work with my TV. I think it's the one that came with it. Had to go to Radio Shack to get an adapter so I could plug it into the cable port. The adapter cost more than the antenna would have.

The sales dude at Radio Shack first told me I'd need a digital converter box to use the antenna. I insisted our TV was relatively new and that we bought it maybe 2 years ago and I was sure it's digital. We shouldn't need a converter. After a minute or so he agreed I was right and I left with just the antenna/cable port adapter.

After I got home, hooked up the antenna and got nothing but snow on all the channels but 9 (could barely see the show on 9- mostly snow), I wondered if the sales guy was right and maybe I did need a digital converter box.

Nah. I shouldn't need one of those, I don't think.
I was just reading the FAQ on the AntennaWeb page. They were saying I might need to rescan my channels to lock in channels I can receive. I'll try that in a little while. Maybe that will work, but I'm not all that confident in it.

I'm mostly thinking it's a matter of location although, according to that AntennaWeb map, I should be able to get at least one channel that's broadcast from the south and slightly west. That should be right in line with the window by the TV, but that's not even the one channel I did get a picture on. I need to try siting the antenna in different locations.

So, I'm wondering how much it would cost for dozens of feet of antenna wire, the idea being splicing a longer wire to the antenna and moving the antenna all around the house to see if I can get a decent signal from any direction. I really don't want to spend the money for that, though, especially since it might not work.

Then, silly me, I got up this morning and realized I don't necessarily need to re-site the antenna, I can just re- site the TV! After all, it's one of the newer ones that's relatively slim and very light weight.

After I rescan the channels, assuming that doesn't get me a channel or two, I'll move the TV next to the south window in the living room. Probably won't even have to unplug it for that. If that doesn't work, I may just go for broke and take it upstairs and set it up by the southeast window. That should be pretty well exposed to the direction that most the signals come from, according to the AntennaWeb map.

If I don't get any better reception upstairs than I do down in the living room, I'm guessing that means I'm sunk. Or maybe I just need a different antenna? Problem is, I don't want to buy another antenna unless I know I can get enough channels that it will allow us to drop cable service.

We'll see how this works. No pun intended but, stay tuned!



At 12:13 PM, Blogger AJ said...

I'd first visit the TV manufacturer's website to look up your model and check whether it needs a converter box. Sometimes it's easier to google the model number than to peck your way manually through the company's website.

Second, I'd move the TV to the optimum reception location in your home and test the antenna there.

Don't go by the age of the TV. In the year run-up to the digital switchover, some stores were still selling TVs that needed a converter box.

I'm suspicious that you weren't getting any channels. The one snowy channel should be pixelated into choppy square blocks if you're receiving a digital signal.

At 12:39 PM, Anonymous Mike Buettner said...

The antenna needs to be UHF. As for scanning channels... digital channels are different numbers than analog and need to be tuned by scanning. Wiring should be coax as it needs to be shielded.

At 12:43 PM, Anonymous Mike Buettner said...

Build Your Own DTV Antenna:

At 9:45 PM, Blogger Tom Sebourn said...

I bought a 20 inch tv just about 2 years ago. It needs a digital converter. I knew this and also knew that I would keep cable so I was ok with the 100 dollar price tag. It has av inputs and coax. That's all I was looking for at the time and I am still ok with it.

At 7:52 AM, Blogger Fred said...

Yep. I'm getting to think I might need a converter. Could check yesterday as the wife was asleep in bed with the flu. Had to stay quiet.

At 3:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gee, Fred, if you save money by avoiding cable, doesn't that put you at the mercy of the local TV stations for information about our great big wonderful world? Don't you risk choking off important sources of information by relying only on an antenna?

At 6:20 PM, Blogger Fred said...

I don't know, but very interested in trying broadcast. Besides, the internet is my current source of information.

At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jesus, all the time you waste, so that you can waste time watching TV.

At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Mr. Nice said...

Although I don't watch much television, I know a thing or three about radio signals having lived for a bit in the land of no copper AKA unincorporated Humboldt County.

VHF/UHF, correct. Converter box, correct. Honda generator... I guess you don't need one of those.

A bit of advice... A big cord will not improve reception. An overpriced "amplified" indoor antenna will not improve reception. Ever adjust the gain on a guitar amplifier? Same concept... louder, but distorted. At some increment your signal/noise will make the amplification only slightly better than without and at the next increment, worse.

Keep in mind that the outbound broadcast signal is amplified beyond anything that you can legally acquire. The limit for home radiophiles/enthusiasts is around 1/100th of what the average low-power licensed entity uses. Well... where they can easily detect you anyway... you can boost the hell out of signals in the sticks. If you track some radio signals in the hills, you'll find that most users are exceeding any sort of FCC regulation and it would all be considered "pirate radio" in a populated area, if anyone was around to know about it. Like the say, if a tree broadcasts in the forest...

I digress. What you want is not any sort of indoor antenna at all. An outdoor antenna of any type will far exceed the signal reception of the most expensive indoor antenna. Folks with old-school tv antennas on their roof can pull OTA high-def signals for channels that don't even serve Humboldt County. Just think of it this way: would you mount a satellite dish in your livingroom?

Used outdoor OTA antennas used to be cheap but now there seems to be a resurgence of interest with the free 1080p channels floating through the air. In the end, if you want every channel in perfect clarity with no skipping or stuttering, you are going to need to get on the roof.

At 2:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello again, Fred.

I'm the Anonymous who posted the message at 3:36 PM, not the one who posted at 9:42 PM.

I don't consider what you are doing a waste of time at all. I find this topic very interesting.

At 6:11 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Thanx. I would think it should be. Wouldn't a lot of people want to get rid of cable TV if they could at least have some television service some other way?

Oh, latest update: Connie's better and I asked her about her friend's converter box. I guess they sold that with her TV when she moved out of her apartment. I suppose I'll have to buy one.

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Fred said...

An outdoor antenna of any type will far exceed the signal reception of the most expensive indoor antenna..

Thanx, Nice. I've kinda figured that, being an old citizen's band radio buff. I just want to make sure I can get some kind of signal in the living room before I go any further. Seems to me, if I don't get a couple [even] fuzzy channels, then I don't want to spend the money pursuing it further.

That said, I would think I'd be in the perfect location as I'm in a relatively older part of town and, back during the old broadcast TV days, this would of been one of those areas that broadcasters would naturally include in their broadcast areas.

At 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred, you sad sack, the only thing worse than wasting all of this time pursuing better broadcast TV signals is paying for cable.

At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Mike Buettner said...

I ditched cable when I got an AppleTV. Not for everyone and a bit expensive at $229.

But I get:
Immediate streaming of rental movies

Mostly free video podcasts that include network
news, National Geographic and such

Access to iTunes

All my photos as slide shows with music


TV shows as episodes or series for rent

No monthly subscription

The AppleTV is a small wireless box that does HD to the TV through a cable.

At 9:32 AM, Anonymous Mr. Nice said...

If you like the idea of AppleTV but could use that $229 on the mortgage:

I got this running with a cheapo used GeForce video card with TV output off ebay. The new flash 10.1 beta 2 runs these hella smooth.

I copped a 6th gen GeForce, but you can get a 9 or whatev. I was trying to spend less than $45.

At 1:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred, I noticed a few minutes ago that is running a special sale for an indoor HD antenna and a converter box, $75 for both.

At 5:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fred, let me ask you this: If I get an indoor (or outdoor) HD antenna and a converter box for my new 24" HD TV set, how many HD channels will I be able to pick up clearly? I live smack dab in the middle of Eureka.

At 1:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I'm asking questions, Fred, let me ask you this. Have you ever known anyone in Humboldt County to have their home computer fried due to line surge or lightning?

I worry about lightning whenever there's a storm. It would be nice to find out I've been worrying over nothing, so I could stop worrying from now on.

By the way, I use a surge protector.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Answer to first question:

I'm not sure but I think that Antenna Web web site listed 9 channels, depending on what kind of antenna you're using. It would also depend on what obstructions might be in between you and the broadcast stations.

Only way to find out for sure is to try it. Problem is, a decent antenna could cost up to a couple hundred dollars. What you might do is look around your neighborhood and see if you can find any external TV antennas, then knock on the door and ask how well it works.

As far as surge protection, I haven't heard of anyone locally getting equipment fried from lightening as lightening is rare here. Other things can cause surge damage, though, like power outages or even natural surges in the power lines, or so I've heard.

I think I also read that some makers of power supply/ surge protectors don't claim to protect from lightening damage. The best way to protect from that is to disconnect everything- modem, power and such- from your computer during lightening storms.

At 3:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering my questions.


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