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I've now had my DST-3000 for approx. 5 months, and my wife and I are really enjoying it. We watch HBO HD quite a bit, and occasionally (though not very often) feel like it's worth paying $4.99 to watch the 1 movie/day on HD PPV.


For OTA HD, we watch enough CBS along with NYPD Blue to feel like we're "kind of" getting our money's worth. We also like how the Sacramento CBS station "upconverts" its non-HD programs - it blows away the cable or DSS versions of CBS. Upconverted ABC is not as good as CBS but we still prefer it to cable/DSS. All in all a good result for us "early adopters".


But I am still not really "satisfied" and I want some "expert" opinions as to if and how I can watch MORE DTV and HDTV. Specifically, I want to watch the digital Sacremento FOX and NBC stations (this is NOT a content thread, I assure you). My issue is that, when I get a peek at OTA FOX and NBC the result, whether an upconvert, FOX's 480p, or Jay Leno, blows away cable/DSS. Two examples:


- Tonight my wife and I were trying to watch the West Wing and the Sacto NBC OTA feed, though "stretched", was far brighter and clearer than our DSS local feed. But we had breakups every minute or so - after 10 minutes my wife grumbled and we changed it to the lousy, dark, green DSS local feed.


- Last night, we watched Boston Public via Sacto FOX - while it's not HD, the 480p, 16x9 picture is outstanding compared to local DSS and we watched it for the full hour. But it had JUST ENOUGH break-ups to irritate both of us.


And these believe it or not were GOOD experiences. Unfortunately, I can NEVER rely on actually getting either of these stations to lock in successfully. Of course, 80%-90% of the time I can't get NBC or FOX at all which makes our "decision" easy. This despite the fact that I get both Sacto ABC and CBS 99% of the time, and the transmission towers are almost all in the same exact location! UGH!


My situation: I live in the SF East Bay, less than a mile from a 1000ft or so hill which is directly in my line-of-sight to SF's Sutro Tower. I can't get SF OTA stations AT ALL. I can get San Jose very reliably, but they only have one digital station (Ch. 36) and nothing much is on there. As for Sacramento, I live about 40-45 miles from those towers, and I have hills in my line-of-sight approx. 15 miles to the east of me. As I said, I get Sacto CBS and ABC very reliably, with signal strength readings which are typically a full 100 on my DST-3000 with a 20+/- degree of play on my rotor. FOX's readings range from zero up to 55 or so, but typically are in the 15-24 range (the readings are fairly steady minute-to-minute). NBC is even worse - it's often zero, and it can get up to the 55-60 range but even when it does there are typically wild signal strength fluctuations every 5-10 seconds.


So my questions are:


1) Can I improve my current antenna set-up without any ridiculous efforts? I have a CM 4248 antenna on the roof of my 2-story home, mounted on a 10ft mast, with a CM 9521 rotor, plus a Winegard pre-amp.


2) Is it likely that Sacramento's NBC and FOX affiliates will ever improve their transmission capabilities up to the power of CBS and ABC? Is there anything I can do to shame them into accelerating these improvements? Has anyone gotten any feedback from these stations?


3) Is there another (current or future) STB that would likely do a better job than the DST-3000 at locking in signals from these stations? The new Zenith perhaps?


[This message has been edited by SteveD (edited 06-21-2001).]
 

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SteveD,


I'm in the same area, but a bit north of you. This is a difficult area for HDTV reception, because of the hill terrain that is in between us and the transmitting towers. You are not getting a direct, line of sight signal from any station. Rather, you are getting signals that are refracted (in effect, bent) around the hills through various effects. Unfortunately, while line of sight signals are generally reliable, refracted signals are often not. Thus, based on many different circumstances, your reception quality will vary.


One option you have is to move to an easier location. Most people would consider this impractical (me included, at least for now).


The only other option is to improve your antenna. The problem is, what works for you at your location may be completely different than what works for me or someone else - again, the specific hill and signal patterns vary with each location.


However, from my own experiences, you could try the following. Under these circumstacnes, I've found that the 8 bay bowtie antenna performs more reliably on more channels (Channel Master 4228) than the 4248.


Do you have a preamp? I'd suggest the Winegard AP4700, which is less susceptible to overload (the problem we have is two strong stations on Mt. Diablo (42 and 64) that can create havoc with the Sacto stations.


You also might have better luck with moving your antenna to a different part of your roof, or a different height, or tilting it up. This is trial and error stuff, unfortunately, though there's some equipment (called a spectrum analyzer) that can help see what's happening.


If it were me, I'd try the 8 bay bowtie with AP4700 preamp, up around 30 feet.


Regards,


Les
 

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I'm in Livermore, so our reception of Sac stations should be somewhat similar. I get ABC and CBS very well, with almost no dropouts at all. I can get NBC from Sac, but it does get breakups from time to time. I almost never get anything from Fox in Sac. I'm also running the CM4248, with the CM7775 preamp. I'm using both the Hipix card and the Zenith prototype, so I don't think the Zenith box is going to give you much help from what you are getting now...although it may lock in on CBS/ABC a bit better. It's definitely a better receiver than the Hipix card.


I think the one area you can likely improve on is your signal reception. I'd try what Les suggested and maybe change out to a 4228 and a different preamp. It might be that you need a more focused signal from Sac to lock onto ABC/CBS a little better. I happen to know somebody that has a slightly used CM4251 for sale in Livermore...;-)


Don't give up hope for Sutro. One of the guys from here on the AVS forum, Tom Lewis, lives up against the hills in San Ramon and has been able to receive several stations from Sutro with the CM4248/7775 combo. Moving the antenna location on his roof 25 feet made the difference from zero reception to a locked signal. If you can mount the 4248 on a tripod and move it all over your roof, you may find a sweet spot that pulls in the signal. This UHF stuff is wacky!


Chris
 

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I'm Surprised you have a problem with Fox 40 Being in Sacramento this is my strongest station by far. followed by KXTV-10 ABC. NBC would be a bit of a problem for you as their antenna is a bout 300 feet lower that the others and they are running less power. I believe the same is also true for the CBS KOVR is also running at reduced power.


its going to be trial and error since all transmitters are within 1 mile of each other.
 

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Of all the stations in Sac, Fox is the worst. My order of reception, from best to worst is:


CBS

ABC

NBC

Fox


CBS is pretty much a dead lock. I can watch hours of programming without a single breakup. Watching ABC, I may see one or two audio dropouts in an hour....but sometimes its perfect as well....just not as "locked" as CBS is overall.


As for NBC, I was watching Leno last night and I didn't make it through the monologue without three breakups, so I switched to Sutro which comes in much better.


If I get anything from Fox, its a brief picture with a short burst of audio. Thats it. Completely unwatchable. Fortunately I get a perfect lock on Fox from Sutro.


As long as I get all the networks by switching between Sac and Sutro, I'm not motivated to work any harder to get Fox or NBC out of Sac. If they improve their broadcast signal, then I have a viable backup, but for now its simply the slight inconvenience of turning my rotor once in awhile.


Chris
 

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Because of diffraction effects, the location (height) of antennas on the transmit tower and the frequency of the transmitter will have an affect on your reception. At my location in Sonoma, all stations come in very good at 30' using the same antenna, but CBS occasionally drops out. I am about 5 miles from the hill at Sears Point Raceway which is between me and Sutro. I found a second antenna mounted at about 15 feet is useful when conditions change, I just change to that one using the second input on my DTC-100. At my location channel 29 (CBS) is about 4 to 5 dB lower than channel 30 (PBS) in the evenings, and about 10 dB higher than PBS in the mornings. The fog rolling in changes the conditions enough to completely change things. A good bet is to put up the highest gain antenna+preamp you can, and try to get over the marginal SNR that occurs at different times of the day. Sounds like you are right on the edge, and an additional few dB of antenna gain, or (though not as good) a couple of dB better noise figure might do what you want.


Bob Smith
 

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What is the difference between the Channel Master 4248 & 4228? I'm looking into HD including both DSS & OTA broadcasts. Anyone live near the Val Vista area of Pleasanton? IF so, how's the ability to catch Sutro Tower from there?
 

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Steve,


Also, I forgot to mention that the Samsung SIRT150 is a bit better for weak signal/multipath conditions than the DST3000. It doesn't have satellite, though.


Also, over time the Sac stations should increase their power and some their antenna height. This should improve things.


Also over time tuners will get better at dealing with multipath, and that will help.


Les
 

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R8der,


Your reception experience versus mine perfectly illustrates the unpredictability of refractive reception through hills. My list of best to worst reception of Sacto stations is the reverse of yours:


My best to worst:

FOX

CBS

ABC

NBC


NBC rarely comes in here at all. KCRA has the lowest HD antenna and the lowest power.


Nickd61:


The 4228 has higher gain and narrower beamwidth. Both are good for weak signal, high multipath conditions. The 4228 accepts a broader angle of vertical signals, also good for hilly conditions. On paper and in my experience, the 4228 works better. However, others from Southern California have found the 4248 works better in their circumstances. Again, it's trial and error.


Les
 

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LOL I love channel masters Page "Digital Compatable" what does that mean RF is RF. That is Silly. Sort of like the Speakers you get in a box that says Digital ready http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

gotta love those market ploys
 
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