Smart Antennas - AVS Forum
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Coupon Eligible Converter Box (CECB) > Smart Antennas
RockerChick's Avatar RockerChick 04:30 PM 03-31-2008
I just purchased a RCA DTA800 Digital TV Converter Box and when I installed it all I got was a black screen that said the signal is too weak. So I looked in the directions and it said it recommends a Smart Antenna. I was just wondering if anyone can tell me what a Smart Antenna is and where would I get one? I've tried looking online but the sites I can find use all these technical terms that are way over my head! I have a rabbit-ear antenna, and the regular tv stations are fuzzy or don't come in at all. I do live near some mountains which I was told is why the regular tv stations don't come in well. So would a Smart Antenna even work for me? Thank you!

smpowell's Avatar smpowell 06:43 PM 03-31-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by RockerChick View Post

I just purchased a RCA DTA800 Digital TV Converter Box and when I installed it all I got was a black screen that said the signal is too weak. So I looked in the directions and it said it recommends a Smart Antenna. I was just wondering if anyone can tell me what a Smart Antenna is and where would I get one? I've tried looking online but the sites I can find use all these technical terms that are way over my head! I have a rabbit-ear antenna, and the regular tv stations are fuzzy or don't come in at all. I do live near some mountains which I was told is why the regular tv stations don't come in well. So would a Smart Antenna even work for me? Thank you!


In the US, digital and analog TV broadcasts use the same antennas. If you can't get analog reception with an antenna, you are not going to get digital reception either. Rabbit ears just aren't going to cut it.

Smart antennas are very rare and would be useless in your situation. They are only useful in areas with high signal strength with signals coming from different directions.

If the analog signals that you do pick up are from translator stations, it may be years before they switch to digital. They are not required to switch to digital on 2/17/09.

If you add your zip code and approxamate location, someone might be able be more specific.
PeterTheGeek's Avatar PeterTheGeek 06:55 AM 04-03-2008
Check out the thread at Where are the smart antennas?
Right now there is only one smart antenna available and it is an outdoor unit, the DX Antenna DTA-5000. As far as I know SummitSource is the only place that still sells it. The link goes over a few that are to come up this year.

The advice given earlier is good and I would just try different directions on your current antenna. I have a mini-yagi that works fairly well and they are affordable. There are a few brands out their but the Philips PHDTV1 can be had for $20.
hphase's Avatar hphase 07:11 AM 04-03-2008
I ordered a smart antenna and received it in less than a week. I'm waiting for my converter box (with the smart interface) to be delivered. I am very interested to see how it will work in urban and suburban (almost fringe) areas.

The 5th generation receivers work very well in urban areas. Most of the older boxes work just as well as the 5th gen in distant situations, most likely because the weak signals also lack a lot of competing multipath.

I'm curious to see whether smart antennas can find a bearing for weaker nearby stations while still receiving the much stronger local signals. Directional agility and variable preamp gain could play a major role here.
cadayeye's Avatar cadayeye 12:14 AM 04-07-2008
I just setup two RCA DTA800 Digital TV Converter Box and didn't have any problem. Did you hit the menu button after the black screen that said the signal is too weak? That will take you to the setup of the converter box.
Red Wagon's Avatar Red Wagon 04:02 PM 04-17-2008
To: hphase

Were did you purchase your "Smart Antenna"? I have a similar problem that RockerChick has. I also, want to purchase a "Smart Antenna" to use with my RCA DTA800 Digital Converter Box.
hphase's Avatar hphase 04:27 PM 04-17-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Wagon View Post

To: hphase

Were did you purchase your "Smart Antenna"? I have a similar problem that RockerChick has. I also, want to purchase a "Smart Antenna" to use with my RCA DTA800 Digital Converter Box.

www.summitsource.com
lexus2108's Avatar lexus2108 06:14 PM 04-17-2008
http://www.summitsource.com/advanced...NTENNA&x=0&y=0

sO FAR i SEE NO INDOOR smart antenna
Red Wagon's Avatar Red Wagon 07:46 PM 04-17-2008
To: hphase.

Hey, thanks. Appreciate it!

Red Wagon
holl_ands's Avatar holl_ands 11:57 PM 04-17-2008
The DTA-5000 is, thus far, the one and ONLY Smart Antenna:
http://www.summitsource.com/dx-anten...3dd5328b90906d

I saw Antennas Direct (non-functional) prototype at NAB Convention....
It might be available by 1Q2009....

I was surprised no one else was unveiling their new Smart Antennas....
hphase's Avatar hphase 05:20 PM 04-19-2008
I finally got to play with the DTA-5000, but just in a rural setting. It didn't outperform a much larger UHF antenna, but even so, it had some surprises in store. Up on the roof, it picked up the only VHF DTV station I can usually receive. Surprisingly, it didn't pick up any UHF stations, but that could have been due to proximity to the existing UHF antenna.

Then, I put the antenna lower, with a slightly shorter downlead. Surprisingly, it picked up a VHF DTV station I've never picked up before 61 miles away. In fairness, the position of the antenna may have caused the house to block an existing analog VHF. It still picked up the other VHF station from 21 miles away, and also picked up some other stations from about 39 miles away, in a direction my main antenna doesn't point.

Still very interesting for a small smart antenna.
seatacboy's Avatar seatacboy 08:40 PM 06-05-2008
At Target stores, the shelf display of the General Electric 22729 Smart Digital Converter Box with Smart Antenna interface includes an adjacent display of the GE 24775 Quantum Indoor Antenna, which is strangely labeled on the box as being a "smarter" design.

Memo to the brain trust at Target Stores: The GE 24775 is NOT a CEA-spec Smart Antenna and does NOT have a Smart Antenna interface. Some of your customers are going to be confused, partially due to your decision to display this model next to the GE "Smart" CECB.

General Electric will be selling a GE Smart Digital Antenna this fall.

In short: Target Stores and GE both proved they aren't too "smart" in peddling a cool-looking indoor TV antenna that is confusingly labeled.
emmette's Avatar emmette 11:48 PM 08-25-2008
I have found lots of CEA 909a antennae and several converters that have smart antenna jacks on them. Do any manufacturers make a 1080i television with a CEA 909a jack? My aunt needs to replace her 70's vintage TV and I took a cheap (Magnavox) converter box to her house. She is on a mountain and you can see four of twelve available HDTV towers from her house. With just a bowtie, I could get channels that were 70-80 miles away, but the close locals were so powerful that they were too much for the set and it would not even tune them. She doesn't care for cable or DBS and doesn't want an antenna on the outside of her house. One of the indoor CEA 909a antennae like the RCA ANT1500 or ANT2000 or the Terk HDS01 should work nicely, considering the UHF bowtie that came with her 70's vintage Zenith would pick up stations that are 80 miles away!
holl_ands's Avatar holl_ands 01:29 PM 08-26-2008
I haven't heard of any HDTV's announcing inclusion of CEA-909A Smart Antenna I/F.
However, note Sony and Hitachi provided "IP Proffers" in CEA-909 "A" update:
http://www.ce.org/Standards/browseByCommittee_2784.asp
CEA-909A update was approved last Dec:
http://www.ce.org/PDF/2007-12-31CEAS...thlyUpdate.pdf
However, work continues on CEA-774-B re how to TEST and CERTIFY this interface:
http://www.ce.org/Standards/2008-07-...thlyUpdate.pdf

So maybe we'll see actual implementations in HDTVs next year????
And perhaps even CEA-909 control of Rotators and 4-Input RF Antenna Switches....
The latter could automatically select the "best" of several large outdoor antennas...
Which is fairly common in San Diego with 3-5 arrival directions...
And could be used INSTEAD of Antenna Combiners....hence lower loss....

FWIW, CEA also threw money at Antennas Direct to facilitate Smart Antenna development:
http://news.antennasdirect.com/prman...tail.asp?id=92

=============================================
At least one user has reported using a low-rez Converter Box to control a Smart Antenna
and then using an RF Splitter to also feed an HDTV.
DTA-5000's Power Insertion Box sits between the coax downlead and the Converter Box.
RF Splitter is inserted between Power Insertion Box and Converter Box.

Awkward, since you must change channels on both Converter Box and HDTV...but it works....
Even easier if you have a programmable R/C, like the Harmony...
smpowell's Avatar smpowell 07:23 PM 08-26-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by emmette View Post

I have found lots of CEA 909a antennae and several converters that have smart antenna jacks on them. Do any manufacturers make a 1080i television with a CEA 909a jack? My aunt needs to replace her 70's vintage TV and I took a cheap (Magnavox) converter box to her house. She is on a mountain and you can see four of twelve available HDTV towers from her house. With just a bowtie, I could get channels that were 70-80 miles away, but the close locals were so powerful that they were too much for the set and it would not even tune them. She doesn't care for cable or DBS and doesn't want an antenna on the outside of her house. One of the indoor CEA 909a antennae like the RCA ANT1500 or ANT2000 or the Terk HDS01 should work nicely, considering the UHF bowtie that came with her 70's vintage Zenith would pick up stations that are 80 miles away!

I suspect that a smart antenna is not the solution to her problem. Assuming that her new DTV is as sensitive to overloading as your Magnavox converter, the two things I would look at would be:

If all the distant stations are in the same direction, use a directional antenna pointed at them. It's likely that the local signal will be strong enough to be received even with the antenna pointed in another direction.

Use an antenna switch. For the local stations a few inches of wire will probably pick them up. I've picked up all the local UHF stations with just a straightened out paper clip. I've also used a short length of coax with a connector on one end and the outer shield cut away for a few inches on the other end so the center connector sticks out a few inches. Start with 7", you can trim it shorter if the receiver still overloads.
WeThePeople's Avatar WeThePeople 06:57 AM 08-27-2008
I know of no TV with "The Jack", and of only one (non-CECB)
set top box. But I hear it wasn't the best on the block though.

Click HERE for Sylvania (Funai) DTA-5000 Smart Antenna PDF manual
Click HERE for Sylvania (Funai) 6900DTE EIA/CEA-909 matching HDTV receiver

To see the insides of the Sylvania (Funai) "Smart Antenna"
Click HERE to save and/or open the two ZIP files of pics.


Note: When clicked the download may be named "attachment",
Rename them to 1.zip and 2.zip as you "Save" them respectivly ...

Or just choose "Open" and steer them towards your archival program.
(Win-RAR, Win-ZIP, Etc.)

Pics courtesy of:
Holl_Ends - MS-Comm Engineer
Rammitinski's Avatar Rammitinski 02:00 PM 08-27-2008
The Sylvania tuner was pretty decent for it's day, reception-wise. Maybe not compared to now.
WeThePeople's Avatar WeThePeople 02:50 PM 08-27-2008
Yeah, it probably was. It occurred to me after I wrote that, that the people saying less than complimentary things did no buy the matching smart antenna of the set.

Big mistake selling those seperate, perhaps should have been a discounted set.
acug's Avatar acug 06:57 PM 08-27-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by holl_ands View Post

The DTA-5000 is, thus far, the one and ONLY Smart Antenna:
http://www.summitsource.com/dx-anten...3dd5328b90906d

I saw Antennas Direct (non-functional) prototype at NAB Convention....
It might be available by 1Q2009....

I was surprised no one else was unveiling their new Smart Antennas....

You can find it here, for $89.99.

Disclaimer: I have a minor financial interest in this product.
systems2000's Avatar systems2000 07:02 PM 08-27-2008
At a minimum, APEX DT250 & DT502 boxes (and at least 19 other boxes) have the Smart Antenna Interface. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_CECB_units
Rammitinski's Avatar Rammitinski 12:23 AM 08-28-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by WeThePeople View Post

Yeah, it probably was. It occurred to me after I wrote that, that the people saying less than complimentary things did no buy the matching smart antenna of the set.

It was very popular and well-regarded on it's own, just being used with regular antennas.
tuftys's Avatar tuftys 11:15 AM 10-03-2008
Rockerchick I hope this will help you. Smart Antennas are used in military applications in the field. The Smart Antenna searches out the direction of the strongest broadcast signal. In other words you do not have to adjust the smart antenna to get good reception. Smart Antennas are lagging behind the digital conversion. The digital broadcast is a all or nothing deal. Either you get the signal or you do not. Now in analog you will get TV stations good or bad, snowy or virtually unwatchable but at least you can see them. With digital you will get nothing but a broken up pixal, and a freeze in the programing. I live in a valley 30 miles south of Fresno. I currently use both a RCA and a Philips 5 watt amplified antenna and I can only get 2 stations in digital. With analog I can get as far as Bakersfield 90 miles away. I do not have a outside antenna currently nor do I want to go to the hassle of installing one. I get only UHF programing. No VHF at all.
Walmart has a RCA Smart Antenna Ant 2000 for about $65. But you will have to go to their website and probably order it. Oh do not be confused by the RCA Ant 1500 It looks very similar but it is not a smart antenna.
MikeBiker's Avatar MikeBiker 10:02 AM 10-04-2008
Smart antennas should only be used in an urban enviroment. They a small, low-gain units. They will work well if the stations to be received are broadcasting from different directions and a standard antenna would have to be rotated to get all the stations. If all the stations are broadcasting from antennas that are the same direction from the antenna, then a smart antenna is of no use.

An outdoor antenna is the proper tool to use to get stations that are not nearby.
Ken H's Avatar Ken H 03:07 PM 10-04-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeBiker View Post

Smart antennas should only be used in an urban enviroment.

While this is true for the existing available units, it would be entirely possible to make a larger unit for longer range reception.
RScottyL's Avatar RScottyL 07:06 PM 10-06-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuftys View Post

Rockerchick I hope this will help you. Smart Antennas are used in military applications in the field. The Smart Antenna searches out the direction of the strongest broadcast signal. In other words you do not have to adjust the smart antenna to get good reception. Smart Antennas are lagging behind the digital conversion. The digital broadcast is a all or nothing deal. Either you get the signal or you do not. Now in analog you will get TV stations good or bad, snowy or virtually unwatchable but at least you can see them. With digital you will get nothing but a broken up pixal, and a freeze in the programing. I live in a valley 30 miles south of Fresno. I currently use both a RCA and a Philips 5 watt amplified antenna and I can only get 2 stations in digital. With analog I can get as far as Bakersfield 90 miles away. I do not have a outside antenna currently nor do I want to go to the hassle of installing one. I get only UHF programing. No VHF at all.
Walmart has a RCA Smart Antenna Ant 2000 for about $65. But you will have to go to their website and probably order it. Oh do not be confused by the RCA Ant 1500 It looks very similar but it is not a smart antenna.

Also note that the digital stations are not all broadcasting full power yet, so hopefully once 02/17/2009 comes around, you "hopefully" will be able to pick up more stations without any changes.
holl_ands's Avatar holl_ands 03:44 PM 10-11-2008
Walmart and Best Buy are getting some RCA ANT2000 Smart Antennas in stock:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...1008952&page=2
Lou Abernathy's Avatar Lou Abernathy 07:45 PM 10-16-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by RScottyL View Post

Also note that the digital stations are not all broadcasting full power yet, so hopefully once 02/17/2009 comes around, you "hopefully" will be able to pick up more stations without any changes.

whoa.....
stations NOT full power on digital broadcasts ??
that could really affect results when testing boxes and even for digital-tuner TV's >>
any way to find if full power is there other than calling stations ?? ("power...uh, yeah, sure...we have that")

(TIA) Lou
systems2000's Avatar systems2000 08:11 PM 10-16-2008
This is nothing new to those who are in the know. It's a FCC requirement.

Either the FCC site or http://www.tvfool.com/
electrictroy's Avatar electrictroy 05:23 AM 10-17-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lou Abernathy View Post

whoa.....stations NOT full power on digital broadcasts ??

This is an urban legend. "Most" stations ARE broadcasting at their full, licensed DTV power in order to serve all these new customers with their Coupon boxes. I know all the ones in my area are full power, and probably the ones in your area are too.

As for tuning problems, the landscape today is not the same as after February 18, mainly because many UHF stations are moving to VHF, or vice-versa. So it's the FREQUENCY CHANGE that will be the main difference between now and then, not the power.
systems2000's Avatar systems2000 06:12 AM 10-17-2008
Stations not running at Full-Power is not an "Urban Legend."

As per the FCC site (http://www.fcc.gov/fcc-bin/audio/tvq.html) and http://www.tvfool.com/;
WHAG is at less than a kilowatt of output until Feb 2009.
WJAL has had the FCC inform them that they had to turn back their power until Feb 2009.
WPMT, WMAR, WTTG, WFPT, & WUTB are all going to increase their power output come Feb 2009.

Granted: WJLA, WGAL, WUSA, WHTM, WBAL, & WJZ will all be changing frequencies to 7,8,9,10,11, & 13 respectfully (WWPX is already at 12).
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