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Hello Everyone,


Just found this site and it is great! I am new to HDTV and I have a couple questions. I currently have a Hughes E-86 connected to a Mitsubishi 50" plasma. I live in SE Orlando about 5 mins NW of the airport and use a medium sized Radio Shack antenna (6' boom) mounted in my attic pointed roughly at Bithlo. I get decent reception (roughly 80%) on all the orlando channels except channel 6 (58). My reception on this channel is very poor and varies wildly from 10% up to about 86%. Its not weather related as these huge swings happen from minute to minute.......jumping to 86 briefly and then back down. Most of the time it is in the 20s to 40s. The artifacts are there 99% of the time and the channel is unwatchable.




1. Does the model/brand of your STB make any difference in reception quality? (both in strength of signal and frequency of dropouts). Just wondering if my receiver is the problem (Hughes E-86).


2. Is it my antenna? I get decent reception on all the other channels (except 6) with minor artifacts/dropouts on all of them, but none of the channels come in 100% perfect 100% of the time. I know the antenna can make a huge difference, but was wondering if there are any other angles to consider.


3. Should I use a pre-amp antenna to get rid of the artifacts and dropouts or am I too close to use one (10 miles from Bithlo)?


4. Should I expect a perfect picture most of the time without artifacts/dropouts or is this normal in the early stages of HDTV?


5. What signal strenth is considered acceptable ( I am 10 miles from Bithlo)......should I be trying for 100% on every channel or is that expecting too much. If this is too much then what should be my goal?


6. Do the artifacts and dropouts correspond directly to the signal strength, or are there other variables that affect your final picture. If there are other variables.....what are they?



Thanks in advance for the advice!
 

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1. Yes. I used a Toshiba branded Hughes E-86 clone for almost 2 years and never got satisfactory local reception. I now have a Sony HD-200 and reception is solid as a rock with the same antenna.


2. If at all possible try putting the antenna up on the roof rather than in the attic, although it should work ok if you're only 10 miles from the broadcast towers and there are few if any obstructions. That one really bad channel may be running low power, or it's broadcast antenna may be in another location vs the other channels. The wildly fluctuating signal strength on the E-86 usually indicates multipath. With mine I'd get dropouts and pixellating with signal strength well over 80, but fluctuating from 80-100. On one occasion one of my channel's signal strenght dropped to 40, but did not fluctuate and the picture was nice and solid.

The Zenith/Sony boxes (made by LG) seem to do a much better job of rejecting multipath than the Hughes or even the Samsung.


3. before switching to the Sony box I tried a pre-amp, made things worse.

A rotator might be a better investment---might help get rid of the multipath if you tweak the antenna a bit.


4. PQ is also much dependent on the sending station. A broadcaster with a bad encoder will give the same symptoms as trouble at your end. It's important to check in here in the local reception forum to see if others in your area are having unusual problems with the same station you are.

The 2 stations doing HD and 7 doing SD digital broadcast in my area mostly have their act together. I haven't had to switch to an analog channel in over a month. Haven't seen any significant dropouts or breakups in that time. The ABC affilliate does SD for now, and for the first few weeks had intermittent encoder problems that looked just like bad reception on my end. I called the station during working hours and asked politely to speak to the engineering dept. and the engineer told me they problem was on their end. In your area the broadcasters should have been up long enough that reception should be pretty reliable once you get things on your end straightened out.


5. As I said previously, I've gotten solid HD pic with only 40 signal strength but no fluctuation, and lousy reception with 80-100 and fluctuation due to multipath. I tend to think signal strength of 60 or so should be enough, as long as it's not jumping around due to multipath. So trees blowing in the wind between you and the broadcaster can really mess things up, as can intermittent reflected signals from nearby buildings or planes flying overhead.


6. Multipath is probably more of a problem than low signal strength if your meter is jumping around. I get a jumpy meter with the Sony too, but the jumps aren't as rapid and in spite of them my pic is very solid.


If you want to experiment, go to CC and get a Zenith 420 stb. This is an ota-only box with the same local tuning circuitry as the 520 and Sony HD-200. Hook it up to your antenna and see if it gets a better ota digital pic than your E-86. If it's significantly better, return it for credit toward a Zenith 520 or Sony HD-200 DirecTV capable box. If reception is still lousy, just return it period and go to work on your antenna.


I spent weeks putting up 2 different new antennas and experimenting with pre-amps when I decided to get serious about OTA with my then almost 2 year old Toshiba with no improvement. I then bought the Zenith 420 just to see if a different box would improve things. The Hughes box would not get any of my 9 local digital channels glitch free, though a few were about watchable. The 420 got all of them except the ABC station with the bad encoder nice and solid. I wanted D* from the same box and the 420 didn't tune local analog, so I returned the 420 the next day for credit toward a Sony HD-200 and haven't looked back. Your Mileage May Vary.


The reason I recommend the 420 for experimental purposes instead of the 520 or Sony is that being an ota only box you don't have to register it with Directv just to find out if it will work.
 
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