Need advice on connecting VCR + digital TV - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 46 Old 10-30-2008, 03:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Howdy All,

I own two LCD TVs, each capable of receiving digital TV broadcast signals. I have a VCR attached to one of these TVs, and a DVD recorder attached to the other. Both the DVD recorder and the VCR lack the ability to receive digital TV signals, and so require a digital converter box. What I don't understand is how to connect the TVs directly to my roof-mounted TV antenna while simultaneously connecting the VCR and DVD recorder to a converter box so that they can now record using the digital TV signals. Do I need a TV signal splitter, running one end to the TV and the other to the converter box, which in turn is connected to the VCR or DVD recorder? If so, how do I then connect the VCR or DVD recorder to the TV so that I can play back the recorded program?

I'm bloody confused!

Thanks for any advice.

Doug
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post #2 of 46 Old 10-30-2008, 04:26 AM
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Split the coax signal before the CECB (or get a CECB with pass thru) and connect the composite output of the CECB to the video input of the VCR or DVD. Then the video output of the VCR or DVD goes to the video input of the TV.

Biker, who is willing to bet the Pal will be mentioned in this thread.
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post #3 of 46 Old 10-30-2008, 05:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, Biker. I assume that CECB = the digital to analog converter box? Sorry for my ignorance! So if I purchase one of the digital to analog converter boxes that has 'analog passthrough', I won't need to purchase a splitter for the antenna? Does that mean I just run the antenna into the digital to analog converter box, then the output from the DtoA box goes to the VCR (or DVD recorder), and then I connect the VCR (or DVD recorder) to the TV? Or am I confusing things here??
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post #4 of 46 Old 10-30-2008, 06:53 AM
 
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I have the Zinwell coupon box, because it uses a VCR Timer to feed channels to the VCR (or DVR). And here's my setup:

Coupon Box ---> VCR (channel F-1) ----> TV (channel 3)

The Coupon Box is fed through the VCR first, and then passed onto the television. In other words, I'm using my VCR like a tuner to feed the television. ----- If you don't need a Zinwell w/ VCR Timer, then get a CM7000 or Zenith box which provides the best reception.
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post #5 of 46 Old 10-30-2008, 06:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the response, ElectricTroy. I'm not familiar with a "coupon box". Is that another name for the digital to analog converter box? Or is that a separate device? Also, is the TV you're using already capable of receiving digital signals, or does it require the DtoA converter box as well?
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post #6 of 46 Old 10-30-2008, 09:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvroberts View Post

I'm not familiar with a "coupon box". Is that another name for the digital to analog converter box? Or is that a separate device?

a coupon box is a converter box that is able to be purchased using the $40 government coupon, also referred to as a CECB (coupon eligible converter box). some converter boxes are not not eligible for that coupon.

since your tv has its own tuner you are best feeding the antenna to that directly, you can then watch tv with only that turned on. if your signal is strong enough you can take the antenna through a splitter and one into the tv and the other into the converter box then the recording device. if the signal isn't strong you may need an amplifier before the splitter.

connect the composite video outputs of the recorder into the tv to watched recorded material.

the recorders will record the output of your converter boxes. for unattended recording you would set the timers on the recorders and select whatever you are using for input from the converter boxes. you would need to leave the converter boxes on and turn off the automatic shutoff of the CECB, you are limited to the channel the CECB is tuned to. There are few CECB that will turn on and change channels (like the vcr and dvd recorder do for analong tv) they are Zinwell ZAT-970A and the models from DISH (DTVPal and variations). Read lots in the topic areas here about those boxes before making a purchasing decision, both have qualities and problems.

The analog passthrough is only of importance to record/view analog tv before the transition or those low power stations after. If that is not a concern then you don't need that feature in a CECB.
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post #7 of 46 Old 10-30-2008, 12:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Wow, thanks JohnPost! That reply really helped! I was thinking that the best antenna feed for my two LCD TVs (with digital tuners) would be a direct feed from the antenna, and your response confirmed that. I will read some of the other posts, as you recommend, that discuss the Pros and Cons of the two CECB devices that will switch channels while I record.

I have noticed that the signal is weaker on the TV in the basement, so I am now in the market for amplifiers for the TV antenna signal. If anyone has a recommendation of brand/model and an idea of cost, I'd sure appreciate hearing from you!

Thanks again for the great advice to all who have posted here...I very much appreciate the help.

Doug
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post #8 of 46 Old 10-30-2008, 02:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvroberts View Post

Wow, thanks JohnPost! That reply really helped! I was thinking that the best antenna feed for my two LCD TVs (with digital tuners) would be a direct feed from the antenna, and your response confirmed that. I will read some of the other posts, as you recommend, that discuss the Pros and Cons of the two CECB devices that will switch channels while I record.

I have noticed that the signal is weaker on the TV in the basement, so I am now in the market for amplifiers for the TV antenna signal. If anyone has a recommendation of brand/model and an idea of cost, I'd sure appreciate hearing from you!

Thanks again for the great advice to all who have posted here...I very much appreciate the help.

Doug

There are two types of amplifiers an antenna amp (for weak signals) and a distribution amp (to prevent decay of signal through your coax).

If you have a single antenna and a good digital signal direct into tv then you would want to get a distribution amplifier. Each splitter divides the signal, you could get to a point that a tv or CECB couldn't tune a signal after dividing enough times.

You can get distribution amplifiers with 2, 4, 6, 8 outputs. If you have 2 locations (2 tv and 2 recorders feed by 2 CECB) you would want 2 outputs on the amplifier if fed by a single antenna. With that setup you would need a splitter before going to each tv and recording device and 2 runs of coax.

I think that such an amp would cost $25 to $40.
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post #9 of 46 Old 10-30-2008, 03:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biker19 View Post

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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post

...and the models from DISH (DTVPal and variations).

Cha-ching! Don Pardo, tell Biker what he's won!

It's a lovely set of CECB boxes from the Dish collection!

I love the digital transition. The voices in my head just say 0 and 1 now.
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post #10 of 46 Old 10-30-2008, 04:24 PM
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The Zinwell ZAT-970A will give you the ability to use APT on the RF output to feed your LCD TV's, while the RCA connections can be run from the CECB to your VCR to your LCD TV. This will eliminate the need to use splitters or amplifiers and you'll have the ability to control timer events for the VCR.
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post #11 of 46 Old 10-30-2008, 05:09 PM
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Ummmm...wouldn't that eliminate the OP's ability to watch one show while taping another? All there will be at the RF out will be NTSC on CH3/4.

I love the digital transition. The voices in my head just say 0 and 1 now.
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post #12 of 46 Old 10-30-2008, 07:07 PM - Thread Starter
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So, if I am understanding this correctly, if I purchase two Zinwell ZAT-970A models, one of the outputs from the CECB goes to the LCD TV (which has its own digital tuner) and the other output from the CECB goes to the VCR or DVD recorder (neither of which has a digital tuner)? Is that correct? If so, then I can purchase those 2 units first and then see whether or not I need an signal amp, as johnpost suggests. Does that plan make sense?

Again, I really thank all of you for being patient with me and adding such great input to this thread.

BTW: is there someplace I can go to learn what all these acronyms mean that you folks are using, like APT? I don't mean to be a pest and keep asking 'What does that mean?'
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post #13 of 46 Old 10-30-2008, 07:07 PM
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the poster has one antenna, two dtv tv and analog recorder setups. he will need splitter(s) and likely a distribution amp.
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post #14 of 46 Old 10-30-2008, 07:21 PM
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APT = Analog pass-through
OP = Original poster (of the thread) (you, dvroberts!)
NTSC = National Television Systems Committee (refers to analog broadcast standards)
ATSC = Advanced Televison Systems Committee (refers to digital broadcast standards)

You can Google some of this stuff, but there's no harm in asking!

I love the digital transition. The voices in my head just say 0 and 1 now.
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post #15 of 46 Old 10-30-2008, 07:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvroberts View Post

So, if I am understanding this correctly, if I purchase two Zinwell ZAT-970A models, one of the outputs from the CECB goes to the LCD TV (which has its own digital tuner) and the other output from the CECB goes to the VCR or DVD recorder (neither of which has a digital tuner)? Is that correct? If so, then I can purchase those 2 units first and then see whether or not I need an signal amp, as johnpost suggests. Does that plan make sense?

Again, I really thank all of you for being patient with me and adding such great input to this thread.

BTW: is there someplace I can go to learn what all these acronyms mean that you folks are using, like APT? I don't mean to be a pest and keep asking 'What does that mean?'

for your setup

split antenna signal, one to one tv and recorder, the second to the other.

each setup from above gets split in two, one antenna cable direct to tv, second into the CECB, output of CECB to recorder, recorder to tv

at each of the spots to split (starting with 1 antenna to 4 outputs) could be done with splitters if you have a very strong signal. very likely all the splitting will be too much. so a solution is antenna into a 2 output distribution amplifier (this near where antenna coax comes into house). coax from the amp output goes to each tv/recorder setup.

at each tv/recorder setup split the coax using a passive splitter. one goes to tv, second goes to CECB. take composite from CECB into recorder, take composite from recorder into tv.

CECB only outputs to recorder, not to tv.
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post #16 of 46 Old 10-30-2008, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by johnpost View Post

You can get distribution amplifiers with 2, 4, 6, 8 outputs. If you have 2 locations (2 tv and 2 recorders feed by 2 CECB) you would want 2 outputs on the amplifier if fed by a single antenna. With that setup you would need a splitter before going to each tv and recording device and 2 runs of coax.

I think that such an amp would cost $25 to $40.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnpost View Post

the poster has one antenna, two dtv tv and analog recorder setups. he will need splitter(s) and likely a distribution amp.

I agree. One 2 output distribution amp, placed where you have your coax splitter now. Splitters at each viewing area, into short coax leads going to each recorder and tv. RCA cables from the CECB's into the recorders and also from the recorders to the tvs.

johnpost, I see you beat me to the punch by seconds!

I love the digital transition. The voices in my head just say 0 and 1 now.
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post #17 of 46 Old 10-31-2008, 04:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by dvroberts View Post

.....is the TV you're using already capable of receiving digital signals....

Yes my new TV does have the ability to receive digital signals by itself, but I don't use it in that fashion. I just use this connection:

Converter Box ---> VCR input ----> Television (channel 3)

.....because it makes life simple. :-)
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post #18 of 46 Old 10-31-2008, 08:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by electrictroy View Post

:

Converter Box ---> VCR input ----> Television (channel 3)

.....because it makes life simple. :-)

Except that you can't watch something and record something else with that connection. And unless you use coax for all those connections you have to have some of the upstream components on just to watch TV when you could use the TV by itself.
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post #19 of 46 Old 10-31-2008, 08:08 AM
 
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Yes. And your point? ;-)
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post #20 of 46 Old 10-31-2008, 09:33 AM
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The Zinwell ZAT-970A can feed digital content (through the RCA connections) to your VC/DVD recorder, while at the same time passing full RF bandwidth to your LCD tuner.

The Zinwell has three settings for RF in the setup; RF3, RF4, & RF through.
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post #21 of 46 Old 10-31-2008, 04:53 PM
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Really? It does a true passthrough while decoding to the composites when set to RF through? By god, I need that box!

I love the digital transition. The voices in my head just say 0 and 1 now.
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post #22 of 46 Old 10-31-2008, 06:26 PM
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That is correct. I'm guessing that Zinwell took the meaning of "Analog Pass-Through" literally, whether it was "ON" or "OFF."

I got mine from here: http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_disp...?prod=ZAT-970A

Manual (PDF): http://www.solidsignal.com/manuals/z...ser_manual.pdf
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post #23 of 46 Old 10-31-2008, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by systems2000 View Post

That is correct. I'm guessing that Zinwell took the meaning of "Analog Pass-Through" literally, whether it was "ON" or "OFF."

That's what the Philco does too. (Yes I have one).

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

Being A Beacon of Knowledge in the darkness of FUD
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post #24 of 46 Old 10-31-2008, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by partsman_ba View Post

Really? It does a true passthrough while decoding to the composites when set to RF through?

Yes, it does, as Systems2000 said; so does the Philco TB100HH9 as Scooper said, and so does the Magnavox TB100MG9.  The latter two, though, must be on for RF through and will give no output while they're on standby; the Zinwell ZAT970A also gives RF through when it's on standby.

Also, if you set the Zinwell to use its RF output to send the decoded signal to VHF3 or VHF4, VHF-high and UHF channels still get RF through.  I suppose VHF-low channels do too but the box's own output to VHF3 or VHF4 kills it.

One bug with the Zinwell: if it's on RF Through when it is turned off, when the box is turned back on (by the user or by a timed event) it will be back to selecting channel 3, so you'll have to reselect RF through to get it on VHF-low channels.  One can get very good at blind-pressing Exit Exit Menu Down Down Enter Down Enter Down Left Exit Exit Exit Exit to reselect RF through after the ZAT970A turns on.  (Those four closing presses of Exit are to get out of all menu levels and out of the automatic info display upon leaving the menus, so that only the broadcast video itself is recorded, since this setup is normally used for recording one channel while watching another.)
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post #25 of 46 Old 11-01-2008, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Alright, so I think I'm set. Using all of the discussion on this thread, here's my plan:

The roof-mounted TV antenna coax cable comes into my house and, about 20 feet inside the house hits its first splitter. I will replace that splitter with a distribution amplifier with two outputs. The only thing I haven't told y'all yet is that after this first splitter (which splits the coax into 2 output coax), one output coax goes to the DTV/DVD recorder in the kitchen, and the 2nd output coax goes to another splitter: the 2 output coax's from this 2nd splitter go to the DTV/VCR in my living room, and the other coax output travels a very short distance from the 2nd splitter to an old CRT TV/DVD recorder (with only an NTSC tuner) in the basement. I believe that 2nd splitter is behind a wall in the basement (I couldn't actually see it, so this is my guess).

Question #1: am I good with using just the one, 2-output distribution amp using the above configuration?

For the basement CRT TV + analog-receiving DVD Recorder, I already just run the coax to the CECB -> DVD recorder -> CRT TV. For the two DTV's (LCD TVs, each with ATSC tuners) upstairs, I will buy the Zinwell ZAT-970A (two of them) and run the coax near the DTV/VCR (or DVD recorder) through the CECB, with the APT on the RF output of the CECB to connect to my DTV (using RCA cable?) and the RF output on the CECB to connect to the VCR (or DVD recorder) using RCA cable. I currently connect the VCR (and DVD recorder) to the DTV's using an HDMI cable.

Question #2: did I get the above right?
Question #3: can I continue to use the HDMI cables to connect the VCR and DVR recorder to their respective DTV's? You guys seem to be indicating in your posts that I need to connect the VCR and DVD recorder to the DTVs to the DTVs using an RF cable, so I am a bit confused on this part.

Thanks again...this has been an education for me and I sure appreciate this helpful community!

Doug
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post #26 of 46 Old 11-02-2008, 06:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvroberts View Post

Alright, so I think I'm set. Using all of the discussion on this thread, here's my plan:

The roof-mounted TV antenna coax cable comes into my house and, about 20 feet inside the house hits its first splitter. I will replace that splitter with a distribution amplifier with two outputs. The only thing I haven't told y'all yet is that after this first splitter (which splits the coax into 2 output coax), one output coax goes to the DTV/DVD recorder in the kitchen, and the 2nd output coax goes to another splitter: the 2 output coax's from this 2nd splitter go to the DTV/VCR in my living room, and the other coax output travels a very short distance from the 2nd splitter to an old CRT TV/DVD recorder (with only an NTSC tuner) in the basement. I believe that 2nd splitter is behind a wall in the basement (I couldn't actually see it, so this is my guess).

Question #1: am I good with using just the one, 2-output distribution amp using the above configuration?

For the basement CRT TV + analog-receiving DVD Recorder, I already just run the coax to the CECB -> DVD recorder -> CRT TV. For the two DTV's (LCD TVs, each with ATSC tuners) upstairs, I will buy the Zinwell ZAT-970A (two of them) and run the coax near the DTV/VCR (or DVD recorder) through the CECB, with the APT on the RF output of the CECB to connect to my DTV (using RCA cable?) and the RF output on the CECB to connect to the VCR (or DVD recorder) using RCA cable. I currently connect the VCR (and DVD recorder) to the DTV's using an HDMI cable.

Question #2: did I get the above right?
Question #3: can I continue to use the HDMI cables to connect the VCR and DVR recorder to their respective DTV's? You guys seem to be indicating in your posts that I need to connect the VCR and DVD recorder to the DTVs to the DTVs using an RF cable, so I am a bit confused on this part.

Thanks again...this has been an education for me and I sure appreciate this helpful community!

Doug

1) Unless you run new coax lines the 2 output amplifier is what will work for what you describe. The way to test is connect your digital tv in your basement location, if it tunes a digital signal then your setup is good as is.

2) Using the Zinwell with the pass through set correctly you would use the RF coax (F connector, just like the antenna input on the Zinwell) output to connect your tv, the RCA (Yellow, red , white) to connect to recorder.

3) Any way you can get your signal from recorder to tv is fine. If you have HDMI that will be a high quality connection better than RF cable.
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post #27 of 46 Old 11-02-2008, 09:17 AM - Thread Starter
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Many thanks, Johnpost. I have ordered my two $40 coupons and will place the order for the diatribution amp + 2 Zinwell ZAT-970A CECB units together once the coupons arrive. I will plan to order from the Solid Signal Web site that 'Systems2000' recommended in another post...I am sure that this same site has a good 2 output distribution amp that I can order as well.

Again, thanks so much to all for your patience and advice.

Doug
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post #28 of 46 Old 11-02-2008, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvroberts View Post

Many thanks, Johnpost. I have ordered my two $40 coupons and will place the order for the diatribution amp + 2 Zinwell ZAT-970A CECB units together once the coupons arrive. I will plan to order from the Solid Signal Web site that 'Systems2000' recommended in another post...I am sure that this same site has a good 2 output distribution amp that I can order as well.

Again, thanks so much to all for your patience and advice.

Doug

While you are at it, it might not be a bad idea to replace your splitters with ones rated 2Ghz (2000Mhz) or better. Even though DTV signals do not go above 1Ghz, having the extra "headroom" isn't a bad idea, since many 1Ghz splitters actually cut off at a much lower frequency.

Most stores carry them, I found mine at K-mart for 8 or 9 bucks.

Enjoying crystal clear TV for free.

http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html
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post #29 of 46 Old 11-02-2008, 03:02 PM
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You can get them at SolidSignal for $1.99 and, if you add them to your order, it shouldn't increase your shipping too much.

http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_disp...p?prod=SP-2052
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post #30 of 46 Old 11-02-2008, 03:08 PM
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These new amplifiers from Channel Master have a very low Noise Figure (NF) and are just what you need for DTV/HDTV reception.

http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?PROD=CM3410
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Reply Coupon Eligible Converter Box (CECB)

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