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Billiam 2-Sep-2011 1:24 PM

Rich. I live 35 to 40 miles from my local stations and I am able to receive every local UHF station in Yellow on my TV Fool report with a Channel Master 4221 located inside on the first floor at the front of the house while sitting on a chair pointed toward Kansas City. I think you would get most of the UHF stations out of Denver if you tried something similar. Stations like KUSA 9 and the other VHF stations probably won't come in though and you would have to get a separate VHF antenna for those.

Rich 2-Sep-2011 1:37 PM

TheEmrys, that is encouraging. Do you get 9News, which is mainly what I am after.

I have not looked at the Terk antennas. Does anybody have a reccomendation for a simarly sized/styled antenns that w ould give a stonger signal for my situation? I have a dish on the south side of my house now; that mast could be used as it faces Denver. Its only about 6 ft off the ground.

Just wanted to say that you all have been wondefully helpful thus far. I have done a lot of reading on the links provided and have learned a fair amount about antennas. Not sure I understand it all; however, it is very helpful. Also, from my reading my conclusion is that after mapping my place, I just need to get an antenna and try it in the various locations I am interested in. I now appreciate that, for a variety of reaons, it might work for some or all channels, or it might not.

TheEmrys 2-Sep-2011 5:42 PM

I get 9 News and their weather channel clear as a bell.

GroundUrMast 2-Sep-2011 5:43 PM

Early on, Dave Loudin recommended a Winegard HD7696P which is a relatively long outdoor design.

I think the suggestion is good for your situation because that antenna offers far more gain than any of the small indoor antennas. The idea is, that while you should expect some signal loss due to indoor mounting (just how much remains to be seen when the roof has a load of wet snow on it), you can count on the antenna gain to overcome up to 12 dB of the building penetration loss as compared to a set of rabbit ears. This is not the same as adding an amplifier, which could increase the signal level while adding unwanted noise and distortion to the signal. Antenna gain is better than amplifier gain because you get both, increased signal strength and a net improvement of noise margin (that means you get stronger signal without added noise).

If you have a metal roof, or other construction materials which reflect or block TV signals, an indoor or attic mounted antenna is not going to work for you. If the roof is of wood or composite shingles and the mounting location is not obstructed by metallic ducts or foil insulation, I would definitely try an attic install. If you don't see the desired stations, you still have the option to move the antenna out of the attic.

The HD7696P is more than enough antenna for an outdoor install... (on your dish mount perhaps?)

As an alternate idea, I would expect the compact RCA ANT-751 to easily wall mount outdoors. Free of building penetration losses, it would be capable of reception of all the signals in the green and yellow section of your report when pointed in their direction. (I would not choose this antenna for an attic install though.)

Rich 2-Sep-2011 8:45 PM

Decision Time
Ok, based on what I have heard here and what I have learned from reading the suggested links, here is my plan.

Today i am going to Sams and buying a new Vizio 22 inch digital TV ready for internet: $239. The size is right and being internet ready eliminates the need for a Roku box. In the end it will cost about the same as a new non-internet TV and a Roku. I will hook it up to the Leaf antenna (have not returned it yet but time is running out). When that does not work (gotta try, I'm awfully damn curious), I will return the antenna and order the Winegard HD-7696P reccomended here. (BTW, Winegard reccomended the same thing when I gave them my situation).

Once the Winegard arrives, I will try it in the lower attic and see how it goes; then the upper attic just to compare, and then, if necessary, maybe standing on the roof just for kicks. Yes, this will be a long term project I can see already. Assuming that one of those locations works, I will install it and then get busy with a Roku box and converter for our main TV. We are looking at a 52 inch TV for that room so, right now, too expensive to replace.

Thanks again everybody for all of your help. I will post updates as we move thorugh this transition.

TheEmrys 2-Sep-2011 9:38 PM

Just something to think about... some of the SmartTV's out there have built-in DVR hardware. You just have to hook up an external HD and then you've got your DVR for free as well. I have an LG SmartTV, and I need to get an external HD enclosure and a logitech harmony remote to activate the DVR. For some reason, the disable the DVR/PVR hardware by default for the US. Everywhere else its enabled.

Rich 3-Sep-2011 6:24 AM

Wow. Ok, i went out and bought the Vizio M221NV 22-Inch Full HD 1080p LED LCD TV at Sams. I plugged it in upstairs (second floor), attached the Leaf antenna, scanned and what do you know? I am getting 31 digital channels! Unbelievable. The pictures are absolutely clear. The antenna isn't even standing up, it's laying flat on the dresser. I have not tried it downstairs but based on those results, I am now thinking it will work.

I went back and looked at my scan versus what I am getting. It appears that everything is coming from the south; nothing from the north (Cheyenne). That is fine with me. I get WGN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS. For those who are curious, the lowest station on the list I am getting is KDTV. The picture is incredible. Could the signal be being passed by a repeater? I looked on a site that maps these but did not see any. Anyway, I am a happy camper. My wife likes it too. She said the set is to small, but since the point is to save money, since it is in our bedroom, and since the next step up would be another $80 at least, I think it is staying. So far, we have about $320 in this project; that's about 4 months of satellite costs.

For the main TV downstairs I was going to get a Roku box. However, she said she wants to be able to record. So I am thinking I will get a DVR that has internet capability, another Leaf antenna (after I make sure this all works downstairs), and a DTA converter. I will look around on this site for DTA converter recommendations. If I can do this for around $200, then the cost for all of this will break even in about 7 months.

Thank you everybody for all of your help. I have certainly learned a lot on this site.

GroundUrMast 3-Sep-2011 7:48 AM

Welcome to the world of OTA DTV... Repeater... don't think so. The up side to digital signals is that they can add a bit of extra data so that if there are a few errors due to interference, noise or fading, the receiver is able to 'correct' the error. The result is a picture that looks 'perfect'.

You're now receiving as good or better quality picture than the cable company would deliver to you. It's not uncommon for the cable company to reduce the bit rate of a signal before they put it on their system. They figure most of their customers will never know.

John Candle 3-Sep-2011 9:07 AM

Tv Antennas and Reception
Here are plain converter boxes and converter recorders.

Rich 3-Sep-2011 3:34 PM

Thanks all, you have been very helpful in all of this.

GrouindUrMast, I didn't think there was any kind of repeater.. It's just that the picture is so clear and I know that back when I did Search and Rescue work, emergency services used them to get radio signals over the mountains around here. Also, some of the mountain communtiies use them to get the Denver stations. Not having OTA tv so long I still connect antennas with snow and fuzzy pictures.

Mr. Candle, thanks for the converter box link.

Rich 3-Sep-2011 3:58 PM

Oh, and I chcecked the TV downstairs. 31 digital channels and one analog. the analog comes in all snowy and fuzzy. You can barely see it. just like I remember TV in my youth.

Rich 16-Sep-2011 5:10 AM

Up and running
Since you guys have been so helpful, and with the idea that these posts might help somebody else in my area, I am posting this update.

We have shut down the sattelite yet; we have been slowly testing out how well this will work, But we are very close now.

The upstairs set works great on antenna. Since it is the new, digital, internet-ready TV we bought, I tested out Netflix and it works fine. It is one floor above and about 20 feet from our wireless router (Apple Time Machine). Signal is going through two walls. No delay, fuzziness. Like I said, works fine. My wife wants to be able to get specific NBC shows that so not appear to be on Netflix. However, NBC has ther own app that is apparently downloadable. OR does anybody know of a general inernet app that can be downlaoded onto a Vizio? One that will let me go to any internet site. Then she could just go to and watch her shows.

The Zinwell ZAT-970A digital to analog converter arrived today. I hooked it up with the Leaf antenna (borrowed from upstairs) and it seems to be working fine. I am getting 31 channels. Not the most intuitive product to use, and the manual only helps a little, but it is doing what I need it to do. So now I need another antenna. Given the signal strength, I may try one of the $20 antennas I recently saw at K-Mart. If it doesn't work, I'll return it and get another Leaf. Now I'll order a Roku box, set it up, and call DirectTV and tell them to come get their dish.

The weirdest part of all of this will be actually having to think about what we want to watch. Now we just turn on the set, go to thechannel guids and look for an show to watch. Now, at least for the internet TV, we will actually have to decide on a program and then go get it. And as for broadcast stuff, we will actually have to learn TV schedules again. This will be odd.

So that's the update. Thanks again for all of your help. This has been a real education in 21st century television. And I hope this thread is useful to others in a similar situation.

TheEmrys 16-Sep-2011 5:13 AM

I use Hulu Plus. Its $7.99/month. It brings you NBC, ABC, and (most) Fox shows. There is no CBS.

One option that I will be doing shortly is building my own DVR. While it will be ~$500 (including Windows 7), I'll have a dual tuner set up. I figure its <5 months of what I was giving to Comcast. This would let me record my NCIS.:D

TheEmrys 16-Sep-2011 5:20 AM

One caveat to Hulu Plus. People often complain that it is slow/choppy. Well, Comcast is still the nominal owner of Hulu Plus (its for sale) and it is not in their best interest to provide good streaming content. I did two things, and eliminated my lag. First, I went with a wired connection. I was even using Wireless-N, and I found it insufficient. Second, I changed my DNS server for my router. I used opendns (google would work just as well, but they just may collect that data :eek:), and now it isn't an issue. In the rare times that it is, I lower my stream bandwidth from 3.2mb to 2.0. There isn't much of a difference in quality.

Rich 16-Sep-2011 5:31 AM

Thanks TheEmrys. I need to explore options alittle moore I guess. Right now we are on Netflix. HOwever, my wife wants NBC. While we get it OTA, we would have to put soem type of recorder in the mix, which I wsa not planning on doing since I assuemd we coudl get everything online. Hulu Plus is an option, although then we lose soem moive content of Netflix. It was CBS that hs the app I as thinking of. That would get my wife NCIS, which she loves. Then she coudl watch it whenever.

I have thought of getting a DVR that can do DTA converions, if such a thing exists. All of the DVR with interent I have seen are in the $300 range. I am trying to be cheap with all of this. The new $260 set was unplanned by necessary.

So here is what I need I guess. A DVR that can do the DTA conversion and that can provide internet TV. Oh yeah, and for less than about $150! How's that for an order? Any suggestions?

Seriously, can such a thing be bought/built? How do you build your own DVR? What are the advantages?

TheEmrys 16-Sep-2011 5:46 AM

It can be done cheaper. If you have a spare computer laying around. If you have an unused computer, depending on its age, you could use the computer as a DVR. You'd need some software (some come with the cards) and you need enough Hard Drive space to make it worth your while.

I'm not sure your computer tech expertise, but I'll try to be simple. There are two options: PCI and PCI-express. PCI-express is the newer computers (I believe the standard was introduced back in 2005 or so). If you are doing it cheap and you have a computer that will work, you need to get a card, add it in, and then set it up. You also need a video card that can plug into your TV. There are 3 main types of connectors - D-Sub, DVI, and HDMI. HDMI is optimal because it also carries sound.

However, the easiest way to do it is through Windows 7/Vista with Microsoft's Media Center. It will give you a TV Guide-like interface and VERY easy programming options. If you know a student, or have a .edu e-mail address, you can get Windows 7 for $30.

I'm pretty big into the computer side of things. Here is my build that, once my wife starts her new job (woohoo!), we're going to build. It will handle Blu-Ray, OTA, Netflix, Hulu Plus as well as any DVD that you own and back up (I watch strictly digital copies of all my stuff, which is legal if you don't share).

Hauppauge 2250 (dual digital tuners to record 2 shows at once) w/ remote - $114

Low Power Motherboard and cpu combo - $120

Good HTPC (Home Theatre PC) case - $84 (free shipping on Amazon)

4 GB of RAM - $27

Hi Efficiency Power Supply - $36

Windows 7 Home 64-bit - $99

I already have a 2 GB hard drive which I got for $70.

If you already have the computer, I would buy a new hard drive and an internal TV Tuner for ~$140. Just make sure you have the right expansion slots. You can look on the pictues (big = PCIvs. very little=PCI-express) to see which is which.

MisterMe 16-Sep-2011 5:25 PM


Originally Posted by TheEmrys (Post 11826)
It can be done cheaper. If you have a spare computer laying around. If you have an unused computer, depending on its age, you could use the computer as a DVR. ...

I would caution the OP to decide what he wants and to thoroughly research the product before buying it. A DVR set top box may cost $300, but it does exactly what you expect it to do. This may not be the case with PC-based tuners. I find it curious and troubling that Hauppage does not list the specifications for the WinTV-HVR-2250 dual TV tuner card.

Let me say up front that TV producers give birth at the very thought of digital TV on personal computers. We are all pirates out to beat them out of their hard earned money, they believe. The computer allows us pirates to duplicate their digital programs with perfect fidelity. As a result, producers do not allow digital connections between Hauppage's competitors' products and the host computer. Composite video, you can do. Component video, maybe. Digital? Absolutely not.

I cannot say if the WinTV-HVR-2250 is limited in its digital options in the same way that competing products are. However, Hauppage does not say that it does not have these limitations--not on its website anyway. The manufacturer says that its card can handle all 18 ATSC formats. This is not the same as saying that its card will display these 18 formats at full resolution.

A $300 DVR set top box will record and stream all ATSC formats at full resolution. About the Hauppage cards, I don't know. The OP may not care. If he does, then he should address this issue before making a purchasing decision.

TheEmrys 16-Sep-2011 6:54 PM

The 2250 is ATSC/ClearQAM/NTSC Dual-Tuner. Which makes it good for Digital OTA/Analog Cable/Aanalog OTA without issue. Its a pretty popular choice among HTPC builders.

Here you can see the specs listed:

It converts the OTA signal to MPEG. Then you can use Windows Movie Maker and convert easily to WMV.

Here is a great resource for HTPC's and how to build them.
The part I find more compelling over other services such as TiVo is that I then get full control of the recorded program. This will allow me to stream it to any TV/Computer in the house, and if my wife and I travel for business or whatever, we can move them to a laptop and be good. It does cost more from the outset, but there is not monthly fee.

And, if someone is wanting to avoid Windows, there is tons of software out there from MythTV to XBMC.

MisterMe 16-Sep-2011 8:39 PM


Originally Posted by TheEmrys (Post 11842)
The 2250 is ATSC/ClearQAM/NTSC Dual-Tuner. Which makes it good for Digital OTA/Analog Cable/Aanalog OTA without issue. Its a pretty popular choice among HTPC builders.

Here you can see the specs listed:

It converts the OTA signal to MPEG. ...

This is the same link that you posted earlier. I read it. Nowhere on that page does NewEgg state the output resolution of the tuner card. Not finding this information on the NewEgg page, it searched a primary source, the Hauppage website. This information is not there either. Much of the information you repeated, you see reflected in my previous post. I'm not into HTPC. I have no idea what that community's standards for acceptable video quality are. I have to rely on numbers. So far, I have not seen the numbers--at least not from NewEgg, not from Hauppage, and not from you.

TheEmrys 16-Sep-2011 8:54 PM


Originally Posted by MisterMe (Post 11850)
I'm not into HTPC. I have no idea what that community's standards for acceptable video quality are. I have to rely on numbers. So far, I have not seen the numbers--at least not from NewEgg, not from Hauppage, and not from you.

If you click on the details tab within the page I linked, you can scroll down and see this:

Technically speaking:
For ATSC and QAM digital TV, all 18 ATSC formats including 1080i can be watched or recorded to disk as a MPEG-2 Program Stream. The NXP 7164 contains two highly integrated MPEG-1/2 hardware encoders for recording analog cable TV to disk. The playback of the recorded ATSC and QAM digital TV and MPEG-2 encoded analog programs are done through a software MPEG-2 player.

What are you looking for specifically? If it hits all 18 formats, that includes their native resolutions, up to and including 1080i.

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