Stellar Labs ATSC HD Modulator - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 182 Old 01-03-2017, 05:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Stellar Labs ATSC HD Modulator

Just curious if anyone out there has any experience with the new Stellar Labs ATSC HD Modulators being offered by MCM Electronics? It maxes out at 720p, and only offers HDMI input but for the price they look like they would meet the needs of most home users. I recently picked up one of the PVI Micromod's, but still would like to modulate some additional channels along with my antenna system. I'm seriously considering trying one of these, but was hoping somebody else had tried one already first to get some feedback?

http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/33-11980
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post #2 of 182 Old 02-14-2017, 10:38 AM
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Lower cost ATSC Modulator for under $300??

Quote:
This product accepts a high definition HDMI AV signal, and places that signal on a standard UHF television channel, to be transmitted
over standard 75 ohm cable including RG59/U and RG6/U, at distances up to several hundred feet. HDMI material from a computer,
DVD or Blu-Ray player, video game, HD video camera or similar source may be placed on any TV channel from CH14 through CH69.

That signal may be combined with existing RF signals from outdoor television antennas or other ATSC modulators, set to different channels.
Connections include HDMI input plus feedthrough output, and modulated RF output (female F) and loop through input. USB input is also provided
allowing the playing of media files from thumb drives and similar storage devices, over the modulated output.
The 'manual' is here;
http://www.mcmelectronics.com/conten...s/33-11980.pdf

There is also a user review (that appears to be legit). It appears to work as a combiner with a RF input and output. Note the channel table goes past ch. 51, up as far as the older NTSC sprectrum of ch 69.

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Recording free OTA TV for 'time shifting' has been here since 1975. Will there be DVR's to do the same when ATSC3 obsoletes existing DVR's??

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post #3 of 182 Old 02-14-2017, 10:54 AM
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Please search for existing threads before starting a new one.

Merged.

Walking the fine line between jaw-dropping and a plain ol' yawn.
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post #4 of 182 Old 02-14-2017, 10:56 AM
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Sorry 'bout that, I didn't see that.


Additional details:

Quote:
Simultaneous readout of UHF channel number and frequency
HDMI input with loop output
Female “F” connector RF output
Female “F” combined input
Output frequency range: 473 ~ 803MHz (6MHz steps)
Output channel range: CH14 ~ CH69
Output signal strength: +25dBmV
Accepts resolutions up to 1080p
Output resolution: 720p

Quote:
Specifications (general)
Video input Single HDMI with loop output
Input resolution Auto detect up to 1080p/60Hz
USB input Plays AVI and MOV from flash memory
Encoding mode MPEG2
Audio format MPEG-I Layer 2
Dimensions 1-3/8” (H) x 9-1/2” (W) x 4-3/4” (D)
Power requirements 5VDC, 2A - AC adapter included

HDMI Input
HDMI version V1.3HDCP 1.2
Transmission speed 10.2Gbps (max)
TDMS 0.5 ~ 1.5V p-p
DDC 5V p-p (TTL)
HDMI cable limit Input <5m (assumes 26AWG ver 1/3)

RF Output
Output format ATSC standard
Output signal strength +25dBmV
Output frequency Selectable 473 ~ 803MHz in 6MHz steps
Output channel Selectable UHF CH14 ~ CH69
Transmission mode 8VSB
Insertion loss <2dBm (from feedthrough antenna input)
Latency 100mS typical
Loop input/output Female “F” connectors

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Recording free OTA TV for 'time shifting' has been here since 1975. Will there be DVR's to do the same when ATSC3 obsoletes existing DVR's??
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post #5 of 182 Old 02-14-2017, 11:00 AM
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This appears to be similar to the above;
https://www.adorama.com/pvimodatsc1.html
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post #6 of 182 Old 02-14-2017, 11:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by videobruce View Post
This appears to be similar to the above;
https://www.adorama.com/pvimodatsc1.html
Nice find. That one is $100 more, but it does full resolution where the Stellar Labs is limited to 720p. I wish there was more info. A quick glance at the PVI site doesn't even mention that line.
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post #7 of 182 Old 02-14-2017, 11:47 AM
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I couldn't find anything on that one either.

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post #8 of 182 Old 02-15-2017, 05:43 AM
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I own one of the earlier PVI HDMI/component to ATSC converters.
Cost me about $800.
It was a bad deal.
A few ads or change of resolutions and the audio quickly got out of sync with the video.
I quit trying to use it.
Now hopefully the newer models are much improved.
I have to assume they are, as the company is still in business.
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post #9 of 182 Old 02-15-2017, 06:08 AM
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That single review mentioned audio issues also. There is that step up model for around $900 that is listed on PVI's site.

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post #10 of 182 Old 02-15-2017, 07:41 AM
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I used the Stellar from MCM but ran into a few issues. The main issue is that the audio is glitchy on some tuners. Using my Channel Master DVR+, the audio stutters about twice per second. Using my Sony DHG-HDD500, the audio randomly drops out for a few seconds. Another issue is that it does not properly handle HDMI from my Roku SE player. It seems that the Roku produces RGB Limited (16-235), but the Stellar treats it as RGB Full (0-255), causing black to look brighter and white to look darker. I found a work-around that mostly solves it by putting a Siig CE-HM0031-S1 between the Roku and the Stellar. Lastly, the modulated output maxes out at 30 frames/second, so every other frame is dropped if the source is 60 frames/second.

I contacted PVI about the MiniMod and was told that there is no release date yet, even though some stores already list it. It looks very similar to the Lenkeng LKV379DVB-T, which is DVB-T (not ATSC) and lacks HDMI pass-through output (which the Stellar has).

http://www.lenkeng.net/Index/detail/id/181
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post #11 of 182 Old 02-15-2017, 08:16 AM
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That has a lot of issues that doesn't look like it's worth the hassle.

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post #12 of 182 Old 02-15-2017, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik Garci View Post
I used the Stellar from MCM but ran into a few issues. The main issue is that the audio is glitchy on some tuners. Using my Channel Master DVR+, the audio stutters about twice per second. Using my Sony DHG-HDD500, the audio randomly drops out for a few seconds. Another issue is that it does not properly handle HDMI from my Roku SE player. It seems that the Roku produces RGB Limited (16-235), but the Stellar treats it as RGB Full (0-255), causing black to look brighter and white to look darker. I found a work-around that mostly solves it by putting a Siig CE-HM0031-S1 between the Roku and the Stellar. Lastly, the modulated output maxes out at 30 frames/second, so every other frame is dropped if the source is 60 frames/second.

I contacted PVI about the MiniMod and was told that there is no release date yet, even though some stores already list it. It looks very similar to the Lenkeng LKV379DVB-T, which is DVB-T (not ATSC) and lacks HDMI pass-through output (which the Stellar has).

http://www.lenkeng.net/Index/detail/id/181
Every Lenkeng product I've used(and I've used a few) has been iffy quality at best. And note they ALL have had black level issues like you so eloquently detailed. I was using my Lenkings to convert either HDMI or Component to composite/S-video so I blamed the black level issues on the fact that both HDMI and Component has a black level of 0-100 IRE while composite/S-video in N. America is +7.5-100 IRE and I just figured they were either designed for the rest of the world that used 0-100 IRE for both HD and SD resolutions or they just didn't take the IRE mismatch into account when converting the formats. Since this RF modulator uses HD and HD is 0-100 IRE worldwide it sounds more like design issues more than anything and personally unless you don't care about black levels I'd skip these devices.

Oh Eric, what is the " Siig CE-HM0031-S1" you spoke of? is it a PROC amp of sort or something specifically meant to correct black level issues?
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post #13 of 182 Old 02-15-2017, 10:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjeff View Post
Oh Eric, what is the " Siig CE-HM0031-S1" you spoke of? is it a PROC amp of sort or something specifically meant to correct black level issues?
It is a DVI+Audio to HDMI converter. I tried various devices, and this one just happened to correct it almost perfectly. A similar model is the Atlona AT-HD610.

http://www.siig.com/dvi-audio-to-hdmi-converters

http://atlona.com/product/at-hd610/
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik Garci View Post
I used the Stellar from MCM but ran into a few issues. The main issue is that the audio is glitchy on some tuners. Using my Channel Master DVR+, the audio stutters about twice per second.
Good info, thanks. As it happens, a DVR+ may not be a good match for this modulator anyway, because unlike most tuners the DVR+ only goes up to RF 51, forcing you to use a vacant channel within RF 14-51 instead of simply setting it up on RF 60-something.

But that won't be true forever. In a few years OTA will be down to channels 2-36, leaving 37-51 free for modulators such as this one. Hopefully, by then the audio bugs will have been worked out.

BTW, did you have better luck with any other tuners? If so, which ones?
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post #15 of 182 Old 02-15-2017, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by JHBrandt View Post
Good info, thanks. As it happens, a DVR+ may not be a good match for this modulator anyway, because unlike most tuners the DVR+ only goes up to RF 51, forcing you to use a vacant channel within RF 14-51 instead of simply setting it up on RF 60-something.
I chose channel 14 at first, but that interfered too much with OTA channel 11. So I changed it to 51, which worked much better and did not interfere too much with OTA channel 49, although it made no difference for the audio glitches.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JHBrandt View Post
BTW, did you have better luck with any other tuners? If so, which ones?
There were no audio glitches when I used the built-in tuners in an LG TV and a Sony TV. I did not try any others.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nathill View Post
I own one of the earlier PVI HDMI/component to ATSC converters.
Cost me about $800.
It was a bad deal.
A few ads or change of resolutions and the audio quickly got out of sync with the video.
I quit trying to use it.
Now hopefully the newer models are much improved.
I have to assume they are, as the company is still in business.
Did you ever check to see if they have newer firmware? Don't bother searching their web site for it - you will come up empty. But tech support via email is not bad actually, and they might have newer firmware.
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Did you ever check to see if they have newer firmware? Don't bother searching their web site for it - you will come up empty. But tech support via email is not bad actually, and they might have newer firmware.
This is starting to sound familiar:
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If you got the "new" STB3500II (recognizable by the channel 3/4 switch on the back), then it came with V2 and the newest version is V3. These firmware versions are not on iView's web site yet; you have to contact iView support and get them to email them to you.
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Stellar Labs ATSC HD Modulator

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik Garci View Post
I chose channel 14 at first, but that interfered too much with OTA channel 11. So I changed it to 51, which worked much better and did not interfere too much with OTA channel 49, although it made no difference for the audio glitches.





There were no audio glitches when I used the built-in tuners in an LG TV and a Sony TV. I did not try any others.


Did you keep the MCM by any chance or did you send it back? If you kept it, is there any way you could check a recording from the DVR+ to see what GOP rate the MCM encoder uses?



FWIW the signal might be overpowering the DVR+. I tried the + once but ended up sending it back because I had major breakup issues like you describe with a variety of local stations that were very strong. Unfortunately we also have distant stations though so I couldn't lower the power level on the stronger ones to counteract it.

Last edited by cpalmer2k; 02-15-2017 at 08:53 PM.
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post #19 of 182 Old 02-15-2017, 08:09 PM
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If you're getting overload, I'd suggest not using its built-in combiner. Instead use a signal splitter in reverse and put an attenuator on the modulator's output.
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post #20 of 182 Old 02-16-2017, 06:29 AM
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The specs show a very high output level!
Quote:
Output signal strength +25dBmV

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpalmer2k View Post
Did you keep the MCM by any chance or did you send it back? If you kept it, is there any way you could check a recording from the DVR+ to see what GOP rate the MCM encoder uses?
I already returned it and do not have any recordings.
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That's too bad - but since it didn't work with the DVR+, it makes sense. I think so far, you're the only one here who's actually tried it!

I hope you give it a review on the MCM Electronics page. It sounds like the only big problem with it is the audio glitches; if they can fix that, this would be a nice way to record video from an HDMI output without a PC.

The failure with the DVR+ is disappointing, but I wonder if it would do better with an old DTVPal, or a cheap MStar box like a HomeWorX or iView. Those boxes also tune channels 52-69, which would solve any interference issues.
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post #23 of 182 Old 02-17-2017, 06:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpalmer2k View Post
FWIW the signal might be overpowering the DVR+.
The signal is so strong that the DVR+ could receive it even when the modulator was physically disconnected. The antenna was located next to to the modulator, and the modulator's RF output was transmitting through the air to the antenna that was connected to the DVR+. When I moved the antenna farther from the modulator, it would lose the signal. Anyway, the audio glitches seemed to have nothing to do with signal strength or interference.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHBrandt View Post
It sounds like the only big problem with it is the audio glitches; if they can fix that, this would be a nice way to record video from an HDMI output without a PC.
That's why I was curious about the GOP rate. Currently I have a TiVo and anything I record with it I can transfer over to my PC and burn to a Blu-Ray disc with minor adjustments. However none of the HDMI capture devices that record to PC produce recordings that work in this manner because their GOP rate is off. I'm hoping to use one of these to feed a DirecTV box into my TiVo as a modulated antenna channel. That way I can record and dump to disc or to my network hard drives. I think I'm going to gamble and try the PVI model first. The full resolution, and slightly higher price makes it worth giving it a shot vs the confirmed audio glitches with the Stellar Labs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik Garci View Post
The signal is so strong that the DVR+ could receive it even when the modulator was physically disconnected. The antenna was located next to to the modulator, and the modulator's RF output was transmitting through the air to the antenna that was connected to the DVR+. When I moved the antenna farther from the modulator, it would lose the signal. Anyway, the audio glitches seemed to have nothing to do with signal strength or interference.
Wow... that is scary to me in itself. It must be putting off some major RF power for that to be the case.
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post #25 of 182 Old 02-17-2017, 08:06 PM
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I just ordered one of the Stellar Labs modulators. I have several tuners I'd like to try it out with. Once I've done that, I'll report back what I found.

BTW, MCM Electronics is running a Valentine's Day sale through Sunday: 14% off. I don't know if it will work more than once, but I was told to use offer code VTD702 at checkout.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHBrandt View Post
I just ordered one of the Stellar Labs modulators. I have several tuners I'd like to try it out with. Once I've done that, I'll report back what I found.

BTW, MCM Electronics is running a Valentine's Day sale through Sunday: 14% off. I don't know if it will work more than once, but I was told to use offer code VTD702 at checkout.
Thanks for the heads up! That 14% off brought it down to a price point I was willing to take a gamble on. I ordered one as well, and likewise promise to report back what I find out. I'm going to ultimately need more than one modulator anyway so I can still try one of the PVI MiniMod's.
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I have one on the way too cpalmer.

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The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent those of ABC, CBS, CW, FOX, MeTv, or AntennaTv; my employer; or its parent company.
Nor my wife for that matter!
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Quote:
Wow... that is scary to me in itself. It must be putting off some major RF power for that to be the case.
Thta's why I stated this:
Quote:
The specs show a very high output level!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik Garci View Post
The signal is so strong that the DVR+ could receive it even when the modulator was physically disconnected. The antenna was located next to to the modulator, and the modulator's RF output was transmitting through the air to the antenna that was connected to the DVR+. When I moved the antenna farther from the modulator, it would lose the signal. Anyway, the audio glitches seemed to have nothing to do with signal strength or interference.
Quote:
Originally Posted by videobruce View Post
Thta's why I stated this:
Well the power level of the modulator isn't the huge surprise- most of the PVI ones go up to 35. The surprise to me was that it put out so much power that it could be received through the air without the coax cable being connected to the tuner he was using. Clearly RF exposure should be a concern with this thing.

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post #30 of 182 Old 02-20-2017, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpalmer2k View Post
Well the power level of the modulator isn't the huge surprise- most of the PVI ones go up to 35. The surprise to me was that it put out so much power that it could be received through the air without the coax cable being connected to the tuner he was using. Clearly RF exposure should be a concern with this thing.
To clarify, the cable was disconnected from the tuner's input but still connected to the modulator's output, so the cable itself was spilling signal into the air. However, when I disconnected the cable from the modulator's output as well, the tuner could not receive the signal via antenna.
Erik Garci is offline  
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