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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am new to this section of the forum. I have a fairly large home with 6 t.v.s hooked up to cable (RCN). My reception (of digital cable) is horrific, a lot of static and very poor pq. The only thing that comes in decent are some of the higher channels (i.e. 74 v. 4, 5 and 7) and the digital movie channels that actually look very good.


On top of poor pq, we get things like strange audio issues like a descriptive voice that can't be controlled and spanish over-laying our audio feed.


I live near some television towers (that I am told by non-experts could be a problem). I have also been told by some that it is the number of t.v.s I have and the amount of wire I have running through the house that has weakened the signal.


I am in the process of buying an HDTV and will then get an HDTV box supplied by RCN - I have thought that this will at least solve the signal issues to my main t.v., but the rest will be left looking horrible unless I figure out what is wrong.


What steps can I take to get a better signal?

Is there some sort of amplifier I can purchase?

Will the HDTV suffer from the same issues?



If this is the wrong place to post this thread, please let me know.
 

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First we need to know how old the wiring is and what type it is.

Hopefully the house is wired correctly, meaning all of your runs are not daisy chained and are "homerun" to a central point. Although daisy chaining will still work, it's just that I dont like it.


Getting an HDTV will make things worse. You need to clean up the existing problems first.


As a very first step, you should certainly complain to your cable provider, they should come to your house to at least make sure you have a clean signal comming into the house.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Cable provider has been out to the house 9 (nine) times to no avail. They can never seem to fix the problem. We specifically switched from regular analog to the "digital" box to fix the issue at least on our main t.v. - as I said the movie channels are great - everything else still is horrible.


I am thinking of calling them again to complain but I think it will get me nowhere. What do you think would be the next step - is there an amplifier or something I could install?
 

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Could just be the analog signal they're sending into your home. I had Comcast and the signal was horrible! The only channels that looked good were their local and regional (owned) sport channels. Some of the channels in the 90's were great too. Everything else was REALLY bad. I even had a bad hum bar on ONE channel! Some serious issues there. The drop to my home was new and I tested everything I could to make sure it wasn't any of my equipment causing any problems. Digital cable was out of the question, because as you noticed, only the higher channels in the 100s and up are digital. Even so, with Comcast the digital channels were VCD quality at best. I ended up switching to D* and am quite happy.


Good Luck.
 

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Its easy to complain about the cable company, but in fact many problems are due to old or bad wiring, connectors and too many splitters and/or bad splitters.


If you want to test:


Run a test coax wire (new with good connectors) from your good tv directly to your side of the grounding block where the cable enters your house. If you get a good picture, then you should replace all your wiring and toss your splitters and get Channel Plus or other good dist box and homerun everything.


If you still have a bad picture then its your cable co. and you may need to switch to satellite if they can't/won't fix it.


The crossed channels can happen from several things, if you have a strong broadcast signal, it can get into your system through open coax outlets that need to be capped with 75 ohm caps, or if you have strands or "hairs" sticking out of any connector.


I am frequently wrong, but I would guess you have bad wiring.
 

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Have you looked into satellite service instead? Satellite boxes have gotten inexpensive enough that six locations wouldn't be cost prohibitive at all. You would end up with a $5/month additional "mirroring" charge for each of the five extra locations but the quality improvement (which would be enormous) could very well be worth it.
 

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Has anyone from the cable company ever measured your signal? I would request someone to come out with a field signal strength meter and actually measure the signal at the grounding block and 100 ft from the block. By regulation the cable company is required to provide a signal of at least 3db 100ft from the drop ( the grounding block. ) They should have a meter that will also measure the digital carrier. QSJMIA has provided a very good trouble shooting technique but nothing is better than a measuring the signal.


Going to satellite may or may not solve your problem. If the problem is old wiring then you may get tremendous signal loss on the satellite feed given its frequency range, 950-1450MHz. Many private contractors can perform TDR tests on your cable wires and this test will determine if the wire can carry the signal. These tools are expensive so do not be surprised if this test costs some money ( 75-100 dollars per hour ). If your problem is from the local broadcast towers moving to satellite will solve your problem.


Alan
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I appreciate all of the advice. It sounds like having the cable company come and test the signal strength is the cheapest and best "frist step". I have had a lot of wiring done with my addition over the last year with "supposedly" top quality material. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that my contractor cheaped out on me and did a hack job.


I was also expecting to buy my new t.v. by this weekend to watch the baseball playoffs in high-def - any comments about whether I should wait to do this? I always thought with a high def signal you either get it or you don't get it and there was less room for a weak signal?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
an electrician who says he used to do a/v work for high-end customers. However, I don't trust any contractor or anyone associated with a contractor after my latest experience.
 

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I hope he is still owed monies for if it turns out that he has caused the problems you describe deducting payment may be the only reasonable option you have. Next time - if there is a next time - hire an A/V contractor to perform your low voltage wiring. We actually have all the necessary meters and test equipment so that when there are problems we can deal with them, often without having to deal with the cable company. We could have tested both your signal levels and your wires. Small comfort at this point but as this is read by more then just you it may give some pause before they conclude that they can save money by not hiring a low voltage contractor and have their electrician perform these tasks. If your problem is not resolved by the end of the month post again.


Alan
 
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