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new antenna, take 2


SpiceWare

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I've been having a problem with Fox Channel 26 breaking up. Sometimes it comes in just fine, other times it would break up so much as to be unwatchable. Recordings of shows that are 3+ GB when the signal was fine would be less than 1GB when the signal was having problems. So, I picked up an outdoor antenna from Fry's and mounted it where the DirecTV dish used to be. I reused the existing coax cable.

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With the prior antenna I was getting 80% signal quality for Fox. With the new antenna it's now 100%. Hopefully this solves the problem with 26 while maintaining the excellent reception I had for the other channels. I should know in a few days.

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I managed to strip the threads on one side of the mounting bracket (a U shaped bolt) that looks like the one below from Lowes. It's staying in place at the moment, but I'll need to replace it before we get a storm. I plan to pick it up tomorrow during lunch.

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Which device is better to get many channels? HD Homerun Dual or a TV set? How many channel can you get with a TV set?

It depends... There are two challenges - signal strength and signal to noise ratio. Different receivers have different sensitivities (signal strength) and add noise. You might be able to get the specs from the manufacturer or luck out that someone else has done a side by side comparison with the TV you are interested in.

 

Note: signal strength is mostly a function of how close you are to the transmitter and your antenna. Bigger antennas (for the correct band) typically provide higher signal strength at the cost of being more directional. (So a high gain antenna aimed incorrectly may be worse than a less directional lower gain antenna.) Noise is added to the system at every step - before the antenna (interferernce, reflections & multipath), at each connector, by the pre-amp, by the cable (which also reduces signal strength & is proportional to length), by splitters (which halve signal strength) and finally by the receiver itself.

 

For ATSC receivers there's a minimum required signal strength. More strength doesn't gain you anything, but it does tend to increase the signal to noise ratio. OTOH SNR is more critical to HDTV. As the SNR goes down, the error rate goes up. And like FM radio there's a harsh knee once the SNR gets to low and you very quickly go from uncorrectable decoding errors to an unusable signal.

 

Antenna mounted pre-amps are great for boosting the signal received at the antenna so long cable runs and splitters don't put the signal strength or SNR into the danger zone. However, they do little if your antenna isn't getting a usable signal already or in cases where you have very strong signals. (Although the Wingard HDP-269 is a low gain preamp which works better in these cases.)

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Had a "crap it didn't work" reaction when I saw a couple 800+ MB recordings earlier this week. However, it turned out that the software had recorded the wrong channel. It was an SD channel, hence the small file size.

 

I think I caused that problem though as a message had popped up about "changing channels while a recording is active". I was getting ready to leave for the weekend and had accidentally hit the channel change button while powering off the TV and Receiver. The two recordings were for the same channel and no other recordings were scheduled to take place between then, so I suspect the software didn't send the "change channel" command to the tuner for the second recording as it thought it was still on the proper channel.

 

Other than that, all other recordings I've watched since the new antenna went up have been perfect, and I have not yet noticed any reception issues on the other channels.

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