Sick of cable HDTV, what are my options for OTA antennas & DVR? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-29-2013, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm considering dumping my Brighthouse cable service and only keeping the data service. So I figure I need an OTA antenna and then I can stream most additional shows off Amazon. Are there any devices similar to my existing HD-DVR to record both SD & HD OTA programming?

Here's my coverage report:
http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3d1dda0e7605c2e5

I Iive in an apartment complex and we're not allowed to mount anything on the exterior walls much less the roof. I have a screened rectangular patio where one long side faces east and one short side faces south. The east side has another 2 story building probably 20-30' away, and my building extends to the south past the end of the patio, so an external antenna really would only point SE which has a number of tall trees. What equipment should I consider?

Thanks!

Jim

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post #2 of 7 Old 04-29-2013, 10:26 AM
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You're in luck. Most of your stations are to the East/ Southeast of you, so you should be able to mount something outside on your patio. If its not going to be exposed to the elements, a simple indoor rabbit ear/loop antenna might be enough like this one from Radio Shack:
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2103077
You can mount it upside down on the ceiling of the porch, or just let it face out one of the screens.

Otherwise, the ANT 751 is a small, low profile outdoor antenna that can be installed somewhere on the porch.
http://www.amazon.com/RCA-ANT751R-Outdoor-Optimized-Reception/dp/B0024R4B5C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1367256277&sr=8-1&keywords=rca+ant751
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post #3 of 7 Old 04-29-2013, 10:44 AM
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I see strong signals coming in from three different directions. Because they're as spread apart as can be, there's no hope of using one directional antenna to get all three markets, or even two out of three. I'd try an omnidirectional antenna first, and see how that works.

A favorite of mine is the RCA ANT1400R, and similar models. I use mine with an external amplifier with variable gain. You may want to get the amplified version ANT1450. (There are versions between 1400 and 1600, and aside from color and amplification they all appear to be the same. Turk also makes a similar product.) Prices range from less than $20 for the non-amplified version to over $30 for the deluxe models. Also note that these panels can be put on an included stand for vertical operation, and provide a modest directionality when oriented that way. I too am an apartment dweller, and the rules where I live forbid any sort of external antenna, especially not on patios and balconies.

If that doesn't work, you can try something more directional. But given your limitations, having two or three antenna arrays indoors or even on your patio may not go over well with the missus. I'm in enough trouble over the "unsightly" cable running from my flat panel onmi that's all but invisible on the top of a shelf.

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post #4 of 7 Old 04-29-2013, 11:04 AM - Thread Starter
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I can't mount anything to the exterior structure of the building. The patio is separated from the living room by a sliding glass door, and the patio is just screened so it is exposed to the elements. If I place something on the patio I still have to get the signal inside. There is power on the patio, but there isn't a way to get the RG6 inside without keeping the patio door cracked... unless there is a wireless solution? How do you combine multiple antennas into a single coax input for the TV, DVR, etc?

So far as the missus, I'm successfully divorced biggrin.gif

Are there any good options for an HD DVR for OTA?

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post #5 of 7 Old 04-29-2013, 06:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmueller View Post

I can't mount anything to the exterior structure of the building. The patio is separated from the living room by a sliding glass door, and the patio is just screened so it is exposed to the elements. If I place something on the patio I still have to get the signal inside. There is power on the patio, but there isn't a way to get the RG6 inside without keeping the patio door cracked... unless there is a wireless solution?
As a matter of fact there is a wireless solution: keep all of your antennas indoors. biggrin.gif

As a renter I can empathize. That's just the way it is, and it's easier to keep the property manager happy than it is to place something outdoors because that's the custom. Thankfully the frequencies that OTA TV work on get indoors pretty well. Sure you're not going to get the exact same signal strength, but it's not the end of the world.

If I was in your situation (I only have two different directions to contend with), I'd try one of those flat omni panels. Trust me, I'm an antenna engineer. This particular type, called a magnetic loop, works surprisingly well for its size. Because it's not a resonant antenna the size matters a lot less, and because it responds to the magnetic component of EM radiation, it reacts differently than other antenna types. You will need amplification to give you enough gain, but that's not a problem when it's all indoors. You'll also want to place it in a high place, both to give it a better view of the transmission sites and to keep it from being affected by the movements of people in the house. The last one is a factor with all indoor antennas.
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How do you combine multiple antennas into a single coax input for the TV, DVR, etc?
You can use an antenna combiner, which is more or less an antenna splitter in reverse. MOF you can use an antenna splitter.

If you're serious about putting multiple directional antennas indoors, things can get very complex very fast, and unless you're an expert it will seem like it just doesn't work. That's one reason why I advocate trying the simple method first. If you go ahead with multiple antennas and they don't perform well using a simple combiner, it's probably worth paying a professional installer to fine tune the installation with the help of pro test equipment and other magic.
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So far as the missus, I'm successfully divorced biggrin.gif
That's one good thing. It would have been better if you had gotten the house though... wink.gif
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Are there any good options for an HD DVR for OTA?
I've used my HD TiVo boxes to get OTA, and they work quite well. There are cheaper alternatives, but I can't think of any single one that stands out. There's always the DIY option if you have a spare PC and tuner card.

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post #6 of 7 Old 04-30-2013, 06:26 AM
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Here is a good updated thread on the various standalone DVRs currently available. As Speed Daemon alluded to there is Tivo which is kind of the standard and then there are ones that cost less and there feature set and buggieness reflect their price.
If your short on cash(as most in your position might be wink.gif) and you have some patients, you might want to try some of the cheaper alternatives. If you just want something that works and won't put up with the occasional quirk or missed program the Tivo is probably your only option. That or maybe a PC solution which probably has issues of it's own and I know very little of.
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1460149/updated-list-of-consumer-available-dvrs-in-the-us
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post #7 of 7 Old 04-30-2013, 11:03 AM
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For the record I also own a DigitalStream DPH-1000R. While it's OK for what I bought it for, it does not do time shifting (you can't pause or rewind live video), and has only one digital tuner. Since all but LPTV analog stations are off-air now, that's the same as being a single tuner model. That's the story for models in this price range. I found one nice dual tuner model that I liked until I saw the $500 price tag. eek.gif

I'm not thrilled with the direction TiVo is going in, but I'm finding it mighty hard to find any real competition for their products.

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