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Old 16-Oct-2010, 10:16 AM   #1
GroundUrMast's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Greater Seattle Area
Posts: 4,681
An Alternative to Rotators and Antenna Combiners

If you like your antenna rotor, I am not going to try to talk you out of it. I've used rotors in the past and find them a source of frustration for a variety of reasons. Until recently I suffered without a few stations, using an antenna system made of a VHF and UHF combined through an Antennas Direct® EU385CF.

I recently came across the SiliconDust HomeRun®. This device is equipped with two independent HDTV tuners that are accessible via Ethernet. This product provides a means to convert the RF signal to a data steam that is easily distributed over CAT5 or better wiring. I have reliable performance over 802.11g wifi also. This eliminates all of the problems with RF distribution (particularly the problem of mixing or combining RF signals from multiple antennae). I am able to use a variety of Home Theater PC software, including WIN-7 Media Center, XP Media Center, and a variety of Linux based options.

I now own three units, fed by signals from five independently aimed antennas. This provides additional channels, and the ability to record in HD to the hard drive.

The total cost is higher than one antenna and rotor, but that investment pays off in 'no fights over which way to aim the antenna' and support for HD recording with no hardware added to any PC.

I like the signal quality metering that is provided with the utility software, it reports relative signal strength, signal quality and symbol quality. Not as good as a pro-grade ATSC signal analyzer but a step or two above any other consumer equipment signal indication. The same utility reports the real time data rate of a given channel and some MPEG details. (See the attached screen shots. Notice that signal strength alone does not determine signal quality. Something to think about before you run out and buy an amplifier hoping it will do the antennas job for you.)

HDHRHomeRun Config (GUI) - Antenna A

HDHRHomeRun Config (GUI) - Antenna B

I have noticed that the sensitivity of the Silicondust tuner is not quite as good as the tuners in both of my LCD flat panel receivers. That simply means that I will need to use the right antennas when going after the more distant stations. Also worth mentioning, each tuner is able to stream data to one IP address at a time. That is not a problem unless the tuner in use is the only source for a channel that someone else wants to watch or record. With three HDHR units, I have not had any conflicts.

I think of this configuration as a poor mans CATV head-end.

So far I'm a happy tinkerer.
Attached Images
File Type: png HDHR tuned to VHF 09 antenna A.png (18.4 KB, 10677 views)
File Type: png HDHR tuned to VHF 09 antenna B.png (18.4 KB, 10722 views)
File Type: png HDHR tuned to VHF 09 antenna C.png (18.4 KB, 1065 views)
File Type: png HDHR tuned to VHF 09 antenna D.png (18.6 KB, 967 views)

Last edited by GroundUrMast; 7-Dec-2012 at 9:43 AM. Reason: Added screen shots of HDHR utility / signal metering
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