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Austin/Round Rock, Texas: Seeking advice for best way to hook up antenna

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hello, I have 5 TVs in my house (two are HD, and 3 are older SD types).

I've already tested out hooking up an $8 antenna to a digital converter to one of my old SD TVs and it works perfectly. So now my question is: if I want to dump my cable TV service, is it better to just hook up a separate cheap $8 antenna to each TV, or have one main antenna, maybe in my attic, and have them all connect that way.

Some people say it's ugly to have rabbit ears all over the house, though I don't personally think it's ugly, so maybe I should ignore those comments.

With one main antenna, the pros I see are:

1. Maybe looks aesthetically better
2. I could maybe have one good quality, strong antenna, but if I had 5, I'd probably stick with cheap quality.

But cons are:

1. I have to figure out how to connect them to the various rooms. I thought to use my existing coax network, but I also have cable based internet, and I worry about comingling the signals on the same line like that.

2. With the signal needing to be split 5 ways, I wonder how good the signal will actually be by the time it reaches the TVs.


What do most people do in my situation?


Edit: Here is my TVfool info:

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id%3d5b9424087663a3

Also, I listed "Austin / Round Rock" in the thread title, because I'm actually located between those two cities, not inside any city limits.
Edited by Zindar - 2/23/14 at 1:43pm
post #2 of 13
We need to see your tvfool results to get an idea of what reception is like in your area. Also please put your location in the title of your thread ( city,state)

I'd prefer one antenna instead of 5. Depending on what your signals are like, you might need only a small antenna.

You will probably need some splitters to feed 5 TV's, which does weaken the signal, which at that point you would probably need a pre-amp
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Sorry - I just edited the opening post as well as the thread title to contain this info.

I'm assuming reception won't be a problem for me, because I seem to get all the important channels on my cheap set top antenna. I currently own one set top antenna, but before I buy 4 more of them, I'd like to make an informed decision on whether I should have an attic antenna instead.

Now, I suppose another possible advantage of the attic route I didn't think about is: if I wind up getting more channels as a result. I don't think I'm that picky about the channel selection, but my wife certainly might be. If it will curb her appetite in buying DVDs, that could be a good thing.

By the way, even though 3 people live in our house, one reason we have 5 TVs is because:

a) flexibility on which room to watch it in and
b) we have 5 TiVo DVRs, 3 of which are single tuner models, and my wife often likes to record multiple shows that are on at the same time.

But I should mention that she's toying with the idea of reducing the number of TVs we have, and putting multiple TiVos in the same room, using a splitter or something to get an antenna feed to each one, giving them each the ability to record at the same time, but on different channels.
Edited by Zindar - 2/23/14 at 1:42pm
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
If I do go the attic route, then I assume I'll need to run coax down from the attic. It would be nice if I could take advantage of the existing coax network that's in my house though. We're probably going to cancel Time Warner cable, so that would hopefully solve my worry about the cable signal and the antenna signal interfering with each other. But, I very well may want to continue using Time Warner as my cable-based ISP, and if so, I worry if the internet signal could interfere with the antenna signal. If so, dropping cables through walls is nothing I've ever done, and I worry about how labor intensive that will be.

Most of my cable network is running either outside the house or inside the walls, but I do see one room that's connected via the attic: a cable comes from the cable box up the outside wall, and into the attic, runs across the attic, then descends into an interior room. This seems like a potential point to connect an antenna. I also found one cable up in the attic dangling with a free end, and the other end goes into a wall. I don't know where it leads, but if it's connected to my cable network, that's another potential spot to attach an antenna.

This is all assuming I can use the existing network.

To make things more complicated, I have no ethernet network in my house, and have been using wifi, but I'd love to have a wired network, because of large files we move around (mainly videos). I've tried unsuccessfully to get MOCA to work over our existing coax network, which makes me wonder if there's something fishy about how it's set up. I've sought help on that in another thread, and they've advised me to open up the cable box on my outside wall, and report to them what I see in it. I've actually just ordered a tool that will help me open that box, and am waiting for it, so I haven't opened it. I mention this because maybe what I find, for all I know, might have a bearing on the doability of using my coax network for my antenna signal. On the other hand, maybe MOCA should not coexist on the same line an antenna feed, and I'll need to choose which I want to occupy it.
Edited by Zindar - 2/23/14 at 1:57pm
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Update to my situation: I've shopped around, and I think I can get DSL at the same speeds as my current cable-based internet, so I'm inclined to cancel my cable internet and cable TV both, which will completely free up my coax network, so it seems like I shouldn't have much trouble using it to distribute an antenna signal.

But I wonder what type of antenna is recommended. TV Fool tells me that the stations I care about are all in the green colored area, meaning I only need a set top antenna. Yet others tell me that if I intend to deliver the signal to 5 TVs in my house, I should opt for an attic antenna. Which is correct? And if I go the attic antenna method, then do I need a better antenna that my current $8 set top antenna I currently own? (It's the only antenna I own by the way, and I don't feel like buying more of them, if I'm going to wind up using an attic antenna.

Another possiblity: I suppose I could go ahead and mount an antenna to my chimney, instead of in my attic. But would that be overkill, given what TV Fool tells me? I bring this up, because

1) The chimney is directly above my cable box, which is probably where I should tap into with any new TV antenna I install

2) The cable box is conveniently on the same wall of my house that faces the TV towers (south)

3) I have a one story house, so I think I would feel comfortable walking around on my roof; I've done it before, and it's not too hard for me to get up there.

If this is deemed a good strategy, then I guess I might want advice on which type of antenna to put up there. I did visit www.solidsignal.com to see what people in my area are using, and they recommended 3 antennas:

Winegard HD 7694P High Definition VHF/UHF HD769 Series TV Antenna (HD7694P): $48.99
Solid Signal Xtreme Signal HDB2X High Definition Blade 2 Bay Xtreme UHF Antenna (HDB2X): $29.99
Solid Signal Xtreme Signal HDB91x High Definition Blade Xtreme VHF/UHF TV Antenna (HDB91X): $46.99

But just because that's what others in my area use, doesn't mean they're making smart choices, I suppose. Financially, I guess that's roughly as good a deal as separate set top antennas, as 4 more of those would probably run me a total of $32.00. But then I wonder if I'd also need to buy an amplifier to assist in the signal splitting. Also, compared to set top antennas, there might be the added bonus of getting more TV stations. TV fool is tell me that there's a bunch of stations north of me that a set top antenna won't get, but a roof antenna will. I don't really care about those stations, but if it's recommended that I put up a stronger antenna due to my 5 TVs anyway, I won't turn down having these extra stations.
post #6 of 13
Of the three antennas, only the first is appropriate for your location and, quite frankly, it's overkill.

I'd stick with any of the following smaller, compact models: Antennas Direct ClearStream 2V, Antennacraft HBU11, Channel Master CM2016, RCA ANT751R. Any of them should work just fine. You have plenty of signal power, just use splitters, no amp is needed.
post #7 of 13
Being you are close to the towers, you might get away with putting an indoor antenna in the attic.
If you are serious about getting the North stations, you would need a separate, good sized outdoor mounted antenna facing North, probably also with a pre-amp being there are 62+ miles away.

Also I think you already mentioned this, but just a reminder, OTA signals cannot be combined with your cable signals. It must be on its own wiring.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProjectSHO89 View Post

Of the three antennas, only the first is appropriate for your location and, quite frankly, it's overkill.

I'd stick with any of the following smaller, compact models: Antennas Direct ClearStream 2V, Antennacraft HBU11, Channel Master CM2016, RCA ANT751R. Any of them should work just fine. You have plenty of signal power, just use splitters, no amp is needed.

Thanks for this advice. Yes, I suppose I don't mind not comingling cable TV with the antenna, since cable delivers local networks anyhow, but I really want to cancel cable TV. Of the antennas you list, the most affordable one appears to be Antennacraft HBU11, at the great price of $17.99 [1] http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?p=hbu11

That ad says it comes with an amplifier and a power supply, but since you say you don't think I need an amplifier, I assume I can install and just not include the amplifier when I do it. Do you think I'll be okay with an attic installation, instead of a roof top installation? I ask, because if this antenna needs to be plugged into a power supply (which I infer from the ad), then I'm thinking that will be more easily done in my attic, because to my good fortune, I already have a power outlet up there. There's room for two plugs, which are both already occupied (by what, I don't know), but I figure I could just plug in a power strip to allow more than two devices. That power outlet, by the way, is pretty much in the center of the attic, or maybe slightly closer to the south part of the house. (My TV towers are south, too.) But if I should install the antenna close to the south wall, I could always run an extension cord up there. (Or maybe the power cord that comes with that antenna is already sufficiently long that I wouldn't need an extension cord.)

Now as for the "splitters only" comment, I assume that's how the current coax network is accomplished, via splitters, but I'm not very knowledgeable in this area. I'm hoping that when I get my cable box open, I'll learn more about the configuration. (I'm still waiting for my gilbert tool I ordered to be shipped, so that I can open the box.) Somebody told me something about some coax networks containing a "tap", whatever that means. If ours does, I don't know how that affects its usability for an antenna signal. I just think something is fishy about our network, because I can't get MOCA to reliably work on it, but the cable TV signal works just fine getting through the network.

Out of curiosity, if I could ever figure out how to get MOCA to work, would it be bad to share a MOCA signal in the same coax as an antenna signal? If the answer is yes, that's no deal breaker at all. If needed, I could try to drop some ethernet wire if I want a wired network. (I've never done this, but I may be willing to give that project a try.)

Editted to add: [1] I see there is a shipping fee of $7.49, making the grand total $25.48 (plus tax, if they have tax). Still very affordable, and cheaper than buying 4 set top antennas.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zindar View Post

Do you think I'll be okay with an attic installation, instead of a roof top installation?

Oh, I just thought about this... If for some reason it's recommended that must go with a roof top installation, I see there's a slit shaped opening in what sort of look like a triangular window on my south wall at the top of the attic, where one of my coax cables enters the attic. If necessary, I suppose I could run the power line though that same opening to power the antenna from my attic power supply. But if this antenna will work fine from inside the attic, this will make installation simpler for me, I think.
post #10 of 13
I did a little Googling of MOCA it appears to use frequencies of 500 to 1500 MHZ. This would make it unusable on a cable with UHF TV and many of the cable TV channels. Based on what I can see from the specification it needs it own dedicated cable.
John
post #11 of 13
Quote:
That ad says it comes with an amplifier and a power supply,

That has to be an error on Solid Signal's part. The antenna has no amp, especially at that price. If you need a mount, look at the HBU11K for only a few dollars more. The antenna does NOT need any power.
Quote:
Do you think I'll be okay with an attic installation,

You never know. Some attics are a piece of cake, others are a black hole.
Quote:
Now as for the "splitters only" comment, I assume that's how the current coax network is accomplished, via splitters,

Probably. Once you get the box open, take a closeup photo of anything in there so we can read the label. Someone will ID whatever it is.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Good deal. So basically affix the antenna into position and connect it to my coax network with a cable.

I guess I can first test it by taking it up into my attic along with a small TV and digital converter (both my HD TVs are too big to carry up there), and if that passes the test, then I'll hook it up to my coax network (in the attic), and test it on my TVs in the various rooms. If that works, then I guess I don't need to worry about climbing up on my roof.

But I think before I do any of this, I'll get that cable box open, and if needed, post pictures here and try to gain an understanding about how it's set up and if it's already in position to accept my antenna.

That gilbert tool I ordered (which I'll need to open the cable box) was only $3.29, but the price I paid for that good deal is that it's coming from Hong Kong by the slow boat, and is scheduled to arrive between 3-11 and 3-27, so I still have to wait awhile on this project.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
I got my cable box open. In it is a 2 way splitter, with one wire going to a 3 way splitter, and one of those 3 outputs goes to a 2 way splitter. Plus there are two coaxes in the box that are not connected, so if you include that, that's a total of 7 coaxes coming out of that box, but only 5 are carrying a live signal. And one of those 5 leads to a wall between two rooms each of which have a TV in them, and there's a splitter in that wall (easily accessed behind a wall plate), so that one coax effectively supplies signal to two TVs. The other 4 leads to 3 TVs + my cable modem.

I think the way the splitters are hooked up, the signal is very unevenly balanced between the different lines, so I'm assuming I should redo it in a way that evens it out more. I'm also thinking of switching to DSL, which would take the cable modem out of the picture. But I could see myself switching back to a cable modem in the future, depending on what ISP prices do.

Somebody told me that 3 way splitters don't split the signal evenly (1/3 strength to each output), but instead split them 25% / 25% / 50%. If so, maybe I should have

attic antenna -> 3 way splitter, with 50% going to the wall that's got the two way splitter in it, and one of the 25% lines going to a 3rd TV, and have the remaining 25% split between my other two TVs (using a 2-way splitter).

That would make my 5-way split 25 / 25 / 25 / 12.5 / 12.5. It'd be nice if I could do a 5 way even split of 20% to each TV, but I don't know if there's a physical way to do that. Plus, I think my two TVs that have HD TiVos attached might need a stronger signal anyhow, so I could let them each get 25% of the signal.

Does this plan sound I'm on the right track? I'm a complete novice in this area.

Also, by the way, the two disconnected nonlive lines lead to my study. I think the previous owner had an amplifier attached to one of them, but Time Warner Cable swore I didn't need an amplifier, so that amplifier is sitting on a shelf uninstalled at the moment.

When you include the cable modem port, my study has a total of 3 coax lines leading into it (different wall plate for each). Can anybody think of a reason why the previous owner set up that room like that? He did have Time Warner telephone (VOIP type phone service). I wonder if that had a bearing on the coax setup. I have internet phone too, but I use Ooma for that, and it plugs straight into my router.
Edited by Zindar - 3/8/14 at 9:41pm
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