Originally Posted by JSladek
Just for the fun of it, I connected half of a rabbit ears to the joiner in the attic ... on the RCA, all levels were down with the same stations out or very marginal. I'm beginning to think that the "signal strength" is really some form of a bit count because when the pix would freeze, the count went down. In any event, switching back to the DTV converter, all stations were received as before except for WTVZ. No paper clip, but I think that demonstrated that it's not too high of a signal level. I'm still leaning toward the RCA front-end. The early generations weren't very robust and error correction was iffy at best.
It sounds as though most of the signals' vertical patterns are delivering poor levels at your location. In our case (WTVZ) this has been a very frustrating problem for many Suffolk residents - those within 4 miles (air miles) or so of the Driver transmitter seem to have a great deal of trouble with our signal. It's not so much the power level as the antenna pattern and elevation.
I hope that you will have a bit more luck receiving our signal beginning next Tuesday 4-28 when we switch back to the essentially non directional antenna as we move our digital signal to Ch33.
For many years television reception from locations near the transmitter towers has been problematic, but in the Analog world, you just tweaked the antenna for the most tolerable ghosting. In the 8 Vestigal Sideband Digital (8VSB) world, if a signal can't present an adequately coherent data stream to the decoder (Following the front end of the receiver), you receive nothing.
All of the comments which I've read above concerning earlier vs. later IRDs (Integrated Receiver-Decoders, which is what all of these Converter boxes and HD receivers are) are validated in my experience. For instance, we have been using several older (First generation) HD receivers (stand alone boxes similar to the converters) here at the office and also at the transitter site - they were about $300 each 7 years ago, but when compared to even the poorest performing $50 or $45 converter boxes, they will freeze or not even detect a signal which the newer, cheaper, boxes will present perfectly, or with only occasional problems.