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Old 21-Jul-2014, 12:19 AM   #1
kenj66
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Use inexpensive tuner as antenna pointing device

Several days ago I received a Mediasonic HomeWorX HW180STB tuner box from Amazon. The primary use for this box was to replace the poor built-in tuner in my older HDTV. Happily, the HW180STB is not plagued by the signal "stuttering" of the HDTV tuner but has the disadvantage of being somewhat less sensitive to the available channels, rendering the desired CBS affiliate unwatchable. I plan to boost the preamp gain to compensate for this. The surprise secondary use for this box is it provides a continuous display of the selected channel signal strength - just what I needed!

In order to fine tune the azimuth of my new antenna I used an old 13 inch analog TV I have been keeping around for editing SDTV video tapes and connected the analog input from that to the tuner box analog output. The built-in digital to analog conversion of the HW180STB displayed HDTV images perfectly on the SDTV! After sunset one evening I set the old set, face up, on my back deck just below the antenna. I was able to fine tune the antenna azimuth to get the very best signal from the CBS station. It was worth 35 bucks just for that. Just press the "Info" button twice to get the signal strength display. BTW, I found that the tilt-elevation of the antenna was very imprecise. Just set set it a couple degrees above any obstructions in the distance and call it good.

Now that the antenna has been fine tuned for azimuth I use the HDMI output to the old HDTV. The HW180STB has a surprisingly good program guide function. It will pull an entire evening's programming from many of the stations. This is one function I have NEVER seen from a built-in TV tuner. It also has a limited media player function.

Honestly, I didn't anticipate a great deal of functionality from such an inexpensive device. The companion model HW150STB has a PVR function which can use your USB storage devices for saving programs. I am sufficiently happy with this device to say that I should have spent just a few dollars more to get that model.
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Old 9-Jan-2015, 4:11 PM   #2
GroundUrMast
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I've been very satisfied with my HW150STB given the price. The signal metering function is relatively easy to access. (Unlike the equivalent function on my Samsung flat LED where the signal meter function is buried at least 8 button presses deep and forces you to repeat all of that if you switch channels)

My favorite signal meter is the SiliconDust HDHR network attached tuner.
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Old 9-Jan-2015, 8:15 PM   #3
Pete Higgins
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RE: Use inexpensive tuner as antenna pointing device

kenj66 & GroundUrMast

I guess Iím spoiled.

I use the Hauppauge ďDigital Signal Quality (CX24227)Ē meter that is supplied with their WinTV v7.0 tuner software. It works with a number of their computer hosted TV tuner cards and reports SNR, Correctable Errors & Uncorrectable Errors detected by their cards. It opens in a separate window and responds to channel changes so it is always reporting on the channel the card is tuned to. Since it interfaces directly with the tuner card it doesnít matter if Iím using the Hauppauge TV application or Windows Media Center to view the channel of interest.

The down side is that it doesnít give a readout of signal strength. For that I have to use my Samsung TV & interpolate bars.

Neither the Samsung TV nor the Hauppauge tuner card report analog signal strength. (I have to use my Software Defined Radio with a software Spectrum Analyzer package for that.)

One thing Iíve noted over the last few years is that the antenna orientation that yields the strongest signal doesnít necessarily provide the best reception but orienting the antennas for the best SNR always does.
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Old 9-Jan-2015, 11:04 PM   #4
GroundUrMast
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Thanks Pete. It's always good to hear your thoughts. It sounds like the Hauppauge and SiliconDust products are quite similar in their approach to signal metering. (I haven't had any personal experience with the Hauppauge.)

I wholeheartedly agree that signal quality is more important than signal quantity.

Cheers
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Old 13-Jan-2015, 7:23 PM   #5
kenj66
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Hey, hi guys! I didn't realize this old topic had received some interest.

I, too, find the report that signal quality is most important and that max signal strength may not necessarily give best quality signal.

I don't use the HW180 except to fine tweak my two antennas. I got it out again just the other day to see if I could make things a little better since brief signal dropouts at certain times during news broadcasts can obliterate the details necessary to understand a story. The wife tolerates this only because of the tremendous cost savings over cable. Also, having 'one more box' to deal with seems beyond the threshold.

The main reason though I am adding another post here is to complain! Yes, complain! The HW180 has a rather complete OTA program guide feature which I have not seen on any HDTV. I have read that if you pay $2500 for a top end Sony you can get the feature. This cheapy little box has a complete program guide and regular TVs don't?? What would it cost to include it on hundreds of thousands of TVs - practically nothing.

I am greatly disappointed and disgusted

Ken
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Old 29-Mar-2015, 2:27 AM   #6
analogqueen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenj66 View Post
Hey, hi guys! I didn't realize this old topic had received some interest.
(Cut/Snip)

The main reason though I am adding another post here is to complain! Yes, complain! The HW180 has a rather complete OTA program guide feature which I have not seen on any HDTV. I have read that if you pay $2500 for a top end Sony you can get the feature. This cheapy little box has a complete program guide and regular TVs don't?? What would it cost to include it on hundreds of thousands of TVs - practically nothing.

I am greatly disappointed and disgusted

Ken
Hi guys- a friend just got rid of a too-large-for-their-new-place plasma TV, went to buy a new hdtv yet it wasn't until after Goodwill took the "old" tv that she realized that "old" (year old) TV was the only one she found that had the on-screen OTA tv guide! what happened?? so the manufacturers are SO cheap that they got rid of the onscreen tv guides thinking hey everyone's on cable now anyway?? WHat? nooo.. the only people I know who have cable are older folks and those who are not wise enough to know that broadcast stations are available in their area (after working tech support for CATV you'd be surprised how many people dont know it even exists)

Seems all the new TVs don't have the built in TV guides... tsk tsk..

anyone know of a brand/make that still has one?
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Old 29-Mar-2015, 12:41 PM   #7
Hamilton Ham
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My son got a new Samsung 50 inch at Christmas. It displays the tv guide for a half a dozen stations at the same time much like the guide on the cable box! I don't know how they do it but it sure is nice. BTW I use my homeworx 150 for the channel by channel guide and signal level meter to tweek the antenna. My Panasonic has no guide but tells you the current program on the "info" button.
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Old 30-Mar-2015, 4:41 AM   #8
analogqueen
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So newer Samsungs have the guide then?

That is good to know. I'll pass the info along- my old Vizio (5 yrs old) does carry the full "guide" that shows the programming all the way into the next day. My digital converter only shows Info for the current program. I am surprised that not all of the new TVs have the Guide already there though.
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