Cut the cable cord intelligently with this HD antenna


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/03/21/cut-the-cable-cord-intelligent.html


#2

Is generally unavailable too.

Whoever writes the text for these ads lives in a parallel universe that is rather unlike our own, one where the reason to get an OTA antenna is not to save money, but rather to pick up those powerful broadcast stations located far from any city, positioned to serve TV to rural dwellers who cannot get cable or fiber based TV service.


#3

I live far enough from the transmitters, with some obstructions and a station on VHF, that a Clearstream 2V is a better solution for me. Before getting an antenna, it’s not a bad idea to check either or both of TVFool or AntennaWeb first.

Running it with a DVR, I’m getting more TV than I have time to watch. It’s nice to be able to watch things on my own schedule instead of the networks’.


#4

I want local channels to supplement my roku, but the length of the connector cables looks dauntingly short. I have an HD antenna that has a six foot connector and that is too short to reach the closest window. The connector that comes with this thing looks to be about one foot long. If that is the case, then it is useless.


#5

Antenna pictured in article is not the same as antenna pictured in store. The antenna in the store is much smaller.


#6

Check to make sure that you will actually have reception before buying. I tried a similar HD antenna a while ago and thought it was broken. Turns out my neighborhood is a dead zone.

You can check here:

https://www.fcc.gov/media/engineering/dtvmaps


#7

the connection is a standard co-axial, which you can extend with any other coaxial cable you might already have, or can get from any hardware or department store electronics section, with one of these bits to join them:

they make long, flat connectors that you can close a window over to run it outside, too.

I don’t know how good these antennas are, but I’m sure they work fine. I’m sure because I’m getting something like 50 channels right now with nothing but bare wires hooked into a standard coax cable. I found a bunch of you-tube tutorials on how to make an antenna but didn’t bother when I got these results with nothing.

One interesting thing about the new digital broadcast standard is that a ton of new broadcasters have entered the market, and each individual channel has sub-divisions. As mentioned upthread, this varies greatly by location, but I’m in a big city so the market is ripe. One of my local broadcasters, WANN 32, has seemingly maxed-out their bandwidth to the legal limit: e.g. 32-1 through 32-10 are TV networks they subscribe to, and then through 32-20 they simulcast local radio stations, audio only. WANN is run on a shoestring with frequent technical problems, but even the “reputable” networks all run several other content-streams alongside their flagship network. NBC is 11 and 11-2 is a dedicated weather channel, for example.

The upshot is, if your area has enough eyeballs to support it, and you have a decent line-of-sight from the broadcast tower(s), you get what amounts to a basic cable package totally for free. I’ve deleted probably 20 or 30 stations of shopping and religious. The great part for me is that many of the new networks just rebroadcast classic TV shows 24/7, so I get to see Rockford Files, Columbo, MASH…. Many others similarly do old movies: some have general-interest drama/light comedy, some dedicated to westerns, sci-fi, action. There’s an equivalent over-the-air version of most cable content. Instead of CNN, I get the English-language service of France24, Bounce is like BET, PeachtreeTV is TBS, etc. It’s nice, really.


#8

With all the “Digital!” hype, it’s easy to forget that these are the same radio frequencies as the old VHF transmissions- so all the old gear works as well as it ever did. Those old rabbit ears? Keep them! That rooftop antenna that looks like a clothes drying rig? Hook it up again! The packaging is the only thing that’s new and improved with these antennas.


#9

We mounted old 80’s era Channel Master on a pole on the side of the house. Put a motor on it and we get about 20 OTA channels. I only miss cable for breaking news. But I have internet so there’s that.


#10

Thanks for the info. Couldn’t tell that it was a basic co-ax cable hookup.

I live on top of a hill about 100 feet from a water tower that is sprouting antennas like fur. I have an HD antenna, but I’m tempted to try this one for comparison, given the low price.


#11

[quote=“noahdjango, post:7, topic:97435”]
One interesting thing about the new digital broadcast standard is that a ton of new broadcasters have entered the market, and each individual channel has sub-divisions.[/quote]
Amplifying on this:

On a cable, the “package” wave/bundle is called a QAM*. Not sure what the equivalent for broadcast is called. I believe the generic term for both is a Transport.

A transport has a bandwidth of about 38 mbps (at least, a QAM modulated cable tv transport). A HD station occupies about 15 mbps, a SD station 3.75 mbps. So yuppers, 10 SD channels is a full load. Usual pattern FWICT is for a big network broadcaster to have an HD channel and then carry 2-3 of the cheap package channels @noahdjango mentions. (Favorites: ThisTV and Comet.)

(OK, this turns out to be in-house* shop talk. QAM is the encoding standard, and we also call the rack-mounted gadget that turns a bunch of MPEG streams into a QAM-encoded transport-full of MPEG2 streams a QAM, and since all of our QAM encoders handle one transport we internally call a transport a QAM.)

**(I work for a company that makes STBoxes, cable modems, coax widgets and amplifers, and other things that let cable TV companies operate; we have our own internal coax cable plant for testing.)


You can use a gadget like this as part of a over-the-air DVR setup:
http://www.silicondust.com/product/hdhomerun-extend/
It digitizes the video from the antenna feed into a MPEG stream that your devices can stream or capture.


Right now I have cable, but I’m “cut ready.” I put an antenna with an amplifier in an upstairs bedroom window, and connected it to the house’s coax setup. I put a splitter in my “wiring closet” where all the coax cables all emerge, and connected the cable from the bedroom to the cables leading to my dining room TV and guest bedroom TV (which don’t have cable boxes).

I currently get about 40 channels, but a number of those are duplicates, e.g. the 7 “ION” channels (mostly worthless) come in from both the Portland and Salem markets. There are tons of nostalgia and old-movie channels; if I had my MythTV DVR recording from that feed instead of cable I’d have tons of sad boomer TV to watch.


#12

So the US doesn’t have the equivalent to Freeview then?

(Actually confused)


#13

US networks are insanely jealous over who gets to stream them and how. Most have individual DRM-heavy web pages where you can watch recent episodes of their shows, with ads intact, but they have gone after services which capture and stream.

Local network affiliates even get into disputes with cable franchises over fees, so occasionally you’ll see cable subscribers lose access to (say) CBS while the two companies work things out.


#14

Your point actually still holds about the networks, but I may have picked a bad link (or still be confused) - Freeview (and FreeviewHD) are OTA broadcast.
We’d have had riots if our analogue broadcast channels weren’t migrated over to a free digital service before the analogue switch-off. Riots, I tell you.


#15

https://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29

TVFool has a nice TV Signal locator to help with planning what Antenna type would work best for you


#16

Compact newfangled gizmos make sense for a lot of apartment-dwellers, but if you have the option of actually putting an antenna on your roof these things still work pretty well. I think I was probably the first one in my neighborhood to install one in at least 30 years.


#17

I was talking about OTA broadcasts.

There was a service that was sued out of existence a year or two ago that converted broadcast signals into digital streams for over-the-Internet viewing. They even had the conceit that they captured individual signals for each customer, using an antenna array with a wee antenna for each customer.


#18

OH . . . some over-the-air trivia:

There are still a few old-style NTSC (analog) TV signals out there! They are used as repeaters for rural areas.

When I do a scan, I get one NTSC channel, 5. I believe it is a repeater for The CW.


#19

I was pretty gung-ho to make a home-made one like

and I figured I’d have to put it on the roof, but it just wasn’t necessary in my case. Just a bare-wire V stuck on a coax got me almost everything available in my area.

I wouldn’t have known to try such a basic rig, but I saw someone pull in the super bowl, back that first year they parallel-broadcast it in OTA HD, with just a paperclip stuck in the coax pin receptacle. pretty cool.

The upstairs apartment and mine share a huge steel staircase. I thought it would make some kinda bad-assed super-antenna. But when I drilled and bolted the bare wire into it, I actually got worse reception. I guess either the primer and paint interfered, or the overall shape interfered with the signal’s waveform, or both. Was worth a shot, though.


#20

Then I stand corrected. :slight_smile: