So... for the past few years I have been preparing for cutting the cord...
My first jump into it was to hit a few antenna sites and see what I could get...
It seems although I am on the east coast .. central hellaware to be specific .. having moved about a hundred miles south from PA where I lived all my life in the philly burbs.. There is really bad TV signal here.
When we first moved it really didn't matter too much .. our area was having lots of new homes built and comcast was wiring everyone.. the most important thing for me was cable internet which now with the advent of FIOS not being a Test Situation cable is kinda garbage..
We have always had the basic tier of channels when I was younger my parents splurged for HBO and a couple other Movie Channels my Mom liked and so did I.. moving here it was just basic digital which our local comcast required if you wanted Internet service.. today I am still not sure you can go internet only without a fight here but that is my plan .. that and petition the county to get FIOS in our area since it is available only about 1/2 mile away.
So I bought an Esky Antenna when they first started popping up.. Found one on sale on ebay and watched the auctions for a month or so until i grabbed one for $27 and free shipping..
Its a stated 30dB antenna able to bring in stations from South Korea .. nah well you know for its price and size it did get me quite a few channels. Most of the channels were flaky but since we still had cable it was fine.. it was just a backup solution in case for some insane reason the country voted in Obama and the Middle East imploded and millions of Military age men decided to invade Europe .. BAHAHAHAHAHAH can you imagine that happening HAHAHAHA I must have been bat sh.. cr........ anyway.
so then I came upon some people in the wilds of Canada who were on a quest to harness the electricity in the air for entertainment purposes.. http://www.digitalhome.ca
.. nice bunch of guys... or lads .. or fellas there .. maybe.. .ANYWAY ...
After a few weeks of browsing the logs of their quests i jumped in and decided to ask a question..
How do I get TV Signal from 3 different markets when all of them are fringe to me...
Welp it resulted in a long conversation of signal strength and quality and amplification.. a few people suggested making my own based on the design they had and others said you can probably just buy this or that...
And then It began.. The local Race Track held a hippy concert with a few hundred bands .. foo fighters type rolling in mud destroying the fields and surroundings with trash and .. .. you know the type people that tell you to recycle and drive a prius and live in their parent's basement and deal small amounts of weed to make money because they can't pass a pee test to get hired at starbucks but one day they will quit and become a barista.. one day that dream will happen... one day...
Anyway I went down and harvested a bunch of beach chairs .. there were steel ones that looked the right thickness and a few aluminum ones the old style with the woven seating..
I got back and everyone told me .. you can't use steel .. why? I see these coat hanger ones.. .... trust us you just can't ..
So then after downloading some software and putting in all the settings for the thick 1" aluminum tube and figuring out what the best use of it was I built a design based on a couple other people's projects .. Thick tube long dipole design
The Antenna Software that I used to design it said I would get really good results across the range of frequencies and you know what I really did get some amazing results.
It was much stronger than the esky antenna I paid for and most of all I had a bit of fun learning and building it and it actually brought in a ton of stations.
Testing in my Garage was not optimal With the metal door down it was in the direction of philly.. well it was somewhat off not blocking it directly.. and with it up there goes all those signal waves.. I added an RCA amp I got really cheap from Amazon Warehouse it was a return but marked as good.. came in the original package .. the only problem was the guy cut the boots off for the cable so they were wasted but the amp worked pretty well
My Antenna http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/186-...signals-4.html
I had been happy ....
Then I found out about SiliconDust and I thought to myself why don't I buy a tv tuner card and start recording tv shows off cable while I have it because some shows you can't get anywhere else.. I got an ASUS tuner for windows .. took the cable box off the basement tv and started recording shows.. I probably had about 2500 shows and movies and then i learned about CETON CableCard Tuners and how they could record 4 shows at a time.
Hawkishly over time I stalked Ebay auctions .. first I got a PCIe Version that arrived Dead .. that was sad.. then about 6 months later I snagged a USB version that worked.. I thought cool lets load this thing up with as many shows as I can... yeah that wasn't a good idea.. my computer was lagging from the recording and MCEBuddy always running in the background converting the 3 to 10 Gig files down to 500Mb files I could store on my recently purchased 4TB external.. That didn't last long...
At this point I have over 1300 movies.. and I am getting very close to 15,000 tv shows .. .. gees just noticed my drive turned red in explorer need to find more space..
Yeah so since everything on cable is reruns you can get basic cable for a short time and record a ton of shows.. the just recorded the Entire Spongebob Series it took just over a month.. Most other shows that are in rerun like seinfeld or NCIS will take you between 3 to 6 months to record an entire series .. ten years or more..
Even if you don't have cable its a good deal because then you have an archive you aren't running to Netflix or Hulu or Prime to watch and eating into your caps which soon will be very important for everyone out there streaming.
which brought me to about two weeks ago...
BestBuy had the ClearStream 4v on sale for $79.. Thinking to myself its not a DB8e .. and its not a 12 foot wide conventional yagi so hmmm nahhhh ...
then I keep seeing it.. and then the neighbors got Dish installed and I talked to that guy and he says they are installing leafs on people's TVs for locals .. I am like what? yeah maybe for 5 locals on a perfect day.
And I see the sale again .. then I had to run into town and .. I am like right there thinking what the Dish guy said.. just go buy one you can always return it.. and he was talkign about a leaf..
So I pull the trigger and got the clearstream 4v with the VHF bar..
Thing is tiny and I know whats inside it but its tiny.
Hook it up get about as good signal as my esky.. no vhf
Try again with my amp and the antenna on a coat stand on top of the kitchen table and I get channel 12 real from 55 miles out..
55 miles out in heavy clouds and light rain .. I am getting pretty decent signal with it. on VHF and the UHF is nice..
I watched Fox on 2 different stations for the noter dame game no distortion... no pixelation .. no fragments .. just HD and nice. and 5 bars .. cant cry about that even if i really don't trust the TV tuner.
So I figure I will keep this one .. throw the esky in the crawl space as backup and get rid of my homemade antenna once I can bring myself to do it.. NOOOOOO ..
I might also try a 7777 amp see if I can get a couple other stations that aren't quite doing so well .. should get me another 8db on uhf over the RCA and probably .. maybe a bit less noise..
So that does it for one tv then I will have to distribution amp it out to the bedroom
Would I pay $150 the normal price for this antenna.. HECK NO.. but $80 not so bad .. yeah its bad .. but money in my bank account isn't getting me HD TV so .. heh
Anyway that has been my experience with TV Antennas..
Not sure it is over but for now I can rest easy knowing that if the worst comes to the worst I can get some signal in from Philly.. and if it gets better than maybe the 50 channels I get OTA will provide lots of future entertainment..
Thanks guys for the help .. .. I probably will still be interested in this as a hobby so you will see me around once in a while.