OTA DTV - Do I need a special antenna? No, UHF and/or VHF are all you need. - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 02-20-2011, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi,

I've been cheap since we've moved to our new house. The house came with an antenna that's about 20 feet higher than the peak of the roof. So, we've just been using our HDTV using OTA using that antenna. When we first moved in, we got about 20 channels. Now, it seems we're lucky if we get 10. And most of the channels are channels that aren't any good.

I was wondering if there would be any improvement if we got a special HDTV OTA antenna. I mean, either you have the digital signal or you don't. There's no in between, is there? What can I do to make our signal better? I wouldn't think an amplifier would help with digital signals. I understand that amplifiers really only work for analog signals. Digital is 1s and 0s. You can't amplify a 1 anymore. A 1 is a 1.
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post #2 of 19 Old 02-20-2011, 11:16 AM
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dorlow:


Welcome to the forum.
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When we first moved in, we got about 20 channels. Now, it seems we're lucky if we get 10. And most of the channels are channels that aren't any good.

It sounds like that there has been some deterioration in the antenna connections or the coax downlead.
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I was wondering if there would be any improvement if we got a special HDTV OTA antenna.

The antenna doesn't care if the signal is digital or analog. An antenna that is called "HDTV" is just advertising hype. Actually, a digital signal is analog (amplitude modulated 8VSB) that carries the digital infomation.
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I mean, either you have the digital signal or you don't. There's no in between, is there?

That's pretty much true in comparison to the gradual deterioration of a weaker analog signal that gets more snowy, but there is a narrow transition zone with digital signals just before dropout that is called the "digital cliff" were you will get picture freeze and pixelation.
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What can I do to make our signal better? I wouldn't think an amplifier would help with digital signals. I understand that amplifiers really only work for analog signals. Digital is 1s and 0s. You can't amplify a 1 anymore. A 1 is a 1.

We need to see the signal report from tvfool for your location to know what kind of signals that you have. Please go to tvfool.com, click on >> Click HERE << that is on the left middle of the page which brings up a page where you enter your exact address (which doesn't show in the report to protect you) and gives us the link for the report that is in bold type near the top of the report page. If you don't have enough posts yet to give an active link, just give us the last part after dot com.

Amplifiers will work equally well with analog or digital signals. We need to see your tvfool report before we can tell you if you need a preamplifier at the antenna because of weak signals.

An antenna or its coax downlead in poor condition can also make the signals weak before they reach your TV.

If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.
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post #3 of 19 Old 02-20-2011, 11:17 AM
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Go ot the local DTV thread http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=45 , and find your local thread, and start asking question.

It would help alot to know what antenna you have and your location. (and a tvfool.com of your location) .

And contrary to your belief - amplifiers are still useful - in the right circumstances and for the correct use.

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...

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post #4 of 19 Old 02-20-2011, 02:07 PM
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With digital, you either get or you don't. A borderline weak signal may cause intermittent freezing or audo/video dropouts,

If you previously were getting good reception with your existing TV antenna (there's no such thing as an "HDTV" antenna), but it has gotten worse, check all connectors and the coax for damage. If the coax is several years old, replace it and the connector at the antenna.
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post #5 of 19 Old 02-20-2011, 02:48 PM
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Two considerations:
1. Most digital channela are on UHF so you need a good UHF antenna. All or all most all VHF digital channels use upper VHF 7-13. There are many UVHF-UHF anttennas now on the market/
2. Digital tuners are very sensitive to multipath interference which interupts the reception so if there is any chance of getting multipath interference in your location you an very directional antennna if all of the towers are in the same location. All of the antennna manufacturers now sell very directional antennas which they label as "digital antennas" since they prevent they multipath interferenc which rarely occurs with analog signals.
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post #6 of 19 Old 02-20-2011, 02:53 PM
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1. It depends on where you live. Some markets are all UHF, others have many of their major stations on VHF.
2. For marketing purposes, most all TV antennas sold now are labeled as "digital" But there is no difference in a digital vs analog antenna. There is a difference in directional, vs multi or omni-directional antennas.
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post #7 of 19 Old 02-20-2011, 08:46 PM
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If the antenna is UHF only and you moved in before June 12 2009, that could explain things. There are more VHF digital signals now than there were post transition. Many pre-transition analog VHF stations got UHF pre-transition digital channles, often out of core. Many moved to their old analog VHF channels for post transition digital operation. Maybe some of your stations were on UHF pre transition and are now on VHF.

How can we say "the digital transition is complete" when thousands of low power stations are still broadcasting in analog?
LOW POWER ANALOG NEEDS TO DIE NOW!!!
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post #8 of 19 Old 02-21-2011, 01:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dorlow View Post

I wouldn't think an amplifier would help with digital signals. I understand that amplifiers really only work for analog signals. Digital is 1s and 0s. You can't amplify a 1 anymore. A 1 is a 1.

VSB-8 doesn't really send ones and zeros. It sends an analog signal that at certain points in time will be at one of eight strength levels. This level will represent two binary digits. It's no more digital than your old telephone modem.

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post #9 of 19 Old 02-21-2011, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl View Post

It's no more digital than your old telephone modem.

But my old telephone number was Oak Street 5-3218. That's five digits plus a tree, right? Maybe eight digits plus a tree when you add in the area code for my state.

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post #10 of 19 Old 02-22-2011, 01:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimboG View Post

But my old telephone number was Oak Street 5-3218. That's five digits plus a tree, right? Maybe eight digits plus a tree when you add in the area code for my state.

Rotary dialing was in fact digital!

I can tell everyone that the concept of HDTV-compatible antennas was actively promoted by some misinformed or stupid people who manned the phones during the DTV conversion when confused people called them after hearing that their televisions would stop working in a few months. Some of these phone jockeys were poorly trained (if trained at all) and unfortunately told people to climb up on their roofs and throw away their old "analog" antennas because they just wouldn't work any more.

This wasn't a VHF/UHF thing. One guy I talked to was convinced they needed new antennas because, and I quote exactly, "HDTV antennas can receive the new shape of the digital signals".

When he said that, my face looked like this: but he was utterly convinced he knew exactly what he was talking about.

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post #11 of 19 Old 02-22-2011, 04:50 PM
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"Shape of the new digital signals"? The shape is the same sinewave we have known and loved for over 70 years!

I don't know about rotary dialing being digital, but our DNA is digital. Essentially 4VSB since 4 letters are used to code the information.

How can we say "the digital transition is complete" when thousands of low power stations are still broadcasting in analog?
LOW POWER ANALOG NEEDS TO DIE NOW!!!
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post #12 of 19 Old 02-23-2011, 02:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Desert Hawk View Post

I don't know about rotary dialing being digital, but our DNA is digital.

Rotary dialing is a series of on/off transitions which are ones and zeros. Touch tone is retro!

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post #13 of 19 Old 02-23-2011, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scowl View Post

I can tell everyone that the concept of HDTV-compatible antennas was actively promoted by some misinformed or stupid people who manned the phones during the DTV conversion when confused people called them after hearing that their televisions would stop working in a few months.

My experience was very different. I volunteered for a couple of DTV transition events with our local stations WENH and WMUR.

By and large the callers were aware of the transition and actually had converter boxes - just did not know how to use them.

While I absolutely agree there is no such thing as a DTV antenna the reality is upgrading often improves performance. I spent a lot of time and effort figuring out what we needed and replace our old roof mounted antenna in 2008 to get ready. As a result get more DTV stations then analog, but it is a crap shoot. You don't know the result until after you install the antenna.
There is no marketing machine for OTA. If you want to go OTA you are pretty much on your own. One has to spend a fair amount of time researching reception issues and picking equipment. Here in our neck of the woods there are almost no TV antenna installers. Unless you want to do it yourself (as I did) there are major obstacles to going OTA:

1) Nothing is guaranteed
2) Dearth of local installers
3) No marketing machine explaining the advantage of OTA.

So on balance the 10-15% of households that rely solely on OTA are not very representative of typical consumer market. If OTA broadcasters want to increase their market they need to band together, advertise the advantage of OTA and work to increase the quantity of local installers.
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post #14 of 19 Old 02-24-2011, 04:09 PM
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Would it be if it were so simple. One size does not fit all from urban multipath to rural weak signal.

In my case I'm 42 miles from Boston stations. Luckily they are all on UHF and the two NH stations are on VHF-hi. That allowed me to use a CM 4228 for UHF pointed at Boston and a Winegard YA-1713 for VHF to NH stations both feed a CM 7777 preamp (good NF - resistant to overload). System also has a separate FM antenna HD-6010.

Rotors are the ban of over the air and should be avoided if at all possible.
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post #15 of 19 Old 02-24-2011, 06:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tschmidt View Post

Would it be if it were so simple. One size does not fit all from urban multipath to rural weak signal.

In my case I'm 42 miles from Boston stations. Luckily they are all on UHF and the two NH stations are on VHF-hi. That allowed me to use a CM 4228 for UHF pointed at Boston and a Winegard YA-1713 for VHF to NH stations both feed a CM 7777 preamp (good NF - resistant to overload). System also has a separate FM antenna HD-6010.

Rotors are the ban of over the air and should be avoided if at all possible.

Rotors are like training wheels. Unless you are absolutely certain about optimum reception from a given aim, it doesn't hurt to try one. It's an opportunity to learn.
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post #16 of 19 Old 02-24-2011, 07:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deltaguy View Post

Unless you are absolutely certain about optimum reception from a given aim, it doesn't hurt to try one.

I agree - as a way to tweak the antenna they are great. That is how we use ours. Plus every once in a while it is fun to try to pick up DX stations.

Having to use it to routinely select stations is where it becomes painful if you have more than one TV or a DVR.
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post #17 of 19 Old 02-25-2011, 12:19 AM
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If you are within 20 miles of your local channels an indoor antenna will do. I'm 8 miles from my local channels and I pick up all my channels at full strength. Putting an antenna on the roof is not needed for me.

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post #18 of 19 Old 02-25-2011, 04:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jedi Master View Post

If you are within 20 miles of your local channels an indoor antenna will do. I'm 8 miles from my local channels and I pick up all my channels at full strength. Putting an antenna on the roof is not needed for me.

That is NOT a good blanket statement to make .

An outside antenna is not needed FOR YOU . If I tried to use just an indoor antenna - I'd get nothing - I live in a forest with a house that resembles a Faraday cage. And I'm only 22 miles away from most of my towers.

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...

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post #19 of 19 Old 02-25-2011, 08:06 AM
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"HD" means a TV that has a native resoluiton of 720p or 1080p. It does not mean that all broadcasts are broadcast in 720p or 1080i are "filmed" with High resolution cameras many are still filmed with SD cameras and then upscaled to 720p or 1080i causing a loss of PQ.
If the side by side TVs in the bar were both widescreen models and had full screen content without distortion then they were both displaying High resolution content. It would be very strange then for them not to have the same video souce.
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