An attenuator reduces the signal level. They were sometimes used to eliminate ghosts from analog signals. They really don't make any sense with a digital signal, but I tried the idea anyway, just in case there is such a thing as "too strong" a signal. I personally don't think this is possible, but I'm open to any ideas anyone has, even if I think they sound whacky.
They are definitely not at full power. This was confirmed by the engineer I spoke to at KSN.
My STB has two inputs, one for DirecTV diplexed with either cable or an antenna signal, then a second coax input for cable/antenna. In total it can accept three signals - DirecTV, cable, antenna.
I have not tried a different antenna on the Hughes STB, although I did try a Radio shack bowtie on another HD receiver. I could pull in the four stations I get at a signal strength of 100 on my Hughes. I could not pull in NBC and CBS which are broadcasting at low power. And this was even before I started having trouble tuning in NBC.
Hopefully someone at KSN will actually try to tune in their own station at home with a consumer STB and they will understand what the problem is. Instead they are getting it just fine on their professional Sencor decoder with their antenna 50 feet in the air, and they say "we don't have any problem here at the station." I really am tired of hearing that. It took Jon Cyphers at FOX/UPN to borrow an HD receiver from Hephner TV, take it home and hook it up, before he could see what we were seeing. Marty Heffner "believes me," but I'm pretty sure he hasn't seen it with his own eyes (or rather heard it with his own ears) so I think he's not totally convinced yet that WB has a problem with their sound.
I haven't had any issue with KAKE-DT, nor have I read any reports of others with problems with KAKE, so I know it's possible to broadcast a signal that everyone can receive reliably. Tricky as hell maybe, but possible.
[Edit] Corrected the name of Hephner TV. Thanks to Marty Heffner, CE for WB, for pointing this out.