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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

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First outline your requirements for "best?"


As far as accuracy, probably no one here truly knows unless they have sophisticated RF test equipment to measure the boxes with; calibration is just as important too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, I would like seperate Quality and Strength meters with reproducable results.
 

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Unfortunately neither the Zenith nor the Tivax have dual meters for quality and strength. Just a singular "signal meter". Additionally the Zenith doesn't have a numeric meter but merely a sliding bar and an indication if the signal is good or bad. The Tivax supplies a numeric value which at least seems to produce plausible results.


I suspect there are other CECBs out there that could provide you with better information.



_Lazza
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
rabbit73 described the Apex 502 pretty well and it has seperate meters and relatively reproducible results.


The Sansonic also has dual meters, but rabbit73 said that it was a bit fickle....and liked the Apex 502s meters better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
What about the Zinwells?
 

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I have a Zinwell 970A. It has both strength ("intensity") and quality meters, shows a bar and also gives you a number between 00 and 100. It samples relatively fast, compared to the CM7000 (which has strength only but those results correlate better with the Zinwell's quality meter).


If you select a station that has low signal, it could take a couple punches of the button to get the data, the meter disappears too fast. However, I was lucky enough to have an early production model, so I can access a sticky screen where the meters stay on.


Zinwell uses the full range of the meter. For me, usually it's the quality that dips dangerously low, but I can still get voice and picture at single digits even -- but only if it stays stable and doesn't crash to 00. With my strong signals, often I get 100% quality, but with multipath it goes wild, say 20s to 80s in less than a second. As you might guess, I pay more attention to the quality reading.
 

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The Sunkey SK-801ATSC is a variant of the APEX DT502 and also has the "Dual" meters. I believe there are others.
 

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I favor the Apex DT502 over the Sansonic FT300A and Zinwell 970A because its signal bars have a wider range and are more consistent. I think it would help with your evaluation of indoor antennas.


If you look at my posts of calibration of the Apex you will see that it is an inexpensive substitute for a signal level meter and it gives signal quality readings that are related to BER (bit error rate). I think that signal quality is just as important as signal strength with digital.


With indoor antennas that have a built-in preamp you will be able to see changes in signal strength and signal quality. The only problem that I can think of is that the signal strength bar maxes out in the mid 80 percent range with very strong signals, but the box isn't overloaded. Just insert a fixed attenuator between the antenna and the box to bring the signal strength bar in range again.


But, the Apex DT502 in getting hard to find. All that is left in the local BestBuy stores are DT250s.


The Centronics ZAT502HD isn't a CECB but it has dual signal bars that look just like the Apex signal bars and the tuner is the same:
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1136626


You can't add a channel after scan with the Apex, but you can with the Centronics. This is important to people living between two cities and DXers who like to set the tuner on a frequency and wait for a particular signal to come up.


I haven't had any experience with the Sunkey, but it has the same tuner as the Apex DT502 and you are able to add a channel after scan. Trip in VA has a Sunkey that he uses for DXing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks everybody!


So the Zinwell 970A meter bottoms out before losing lock....thus you cant snoop faint signals?


Looks like the Apex is the way to go, but it sucks you cant add channels.


Thanks for the tip on the Centronics ZAT502HD!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I think Ill look into the Sunkey, if it has manual channel add. I quiz Trip on it.
 

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Depends on what you mean by faint signals. It's all relative. The weakest signal (15kW UHF) my Zat picked up and added as a new station was 30 intensity, 20 quality. It took me half a dozen tries to get the same channel added on the CM, in the same location. On the CM's scale, that station was in the upper 50s strength.


It's been my experience with every CECB I have, that the signal standard required before a new station is added is higher than the signal the box is capable of holding onto. I'll have more chances to test that out when we get a few new LPs later this year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks.


Im not interested in the scan adds(but I understood what you were saying), as much as the meters....if I can add my own channels manually...if I can see them on the meters then I can hunt sweet spots for them. If Trip is DXing with the Sunkey then I bet its got manual channel add.


But Id like the meters to show faint signals as that will help with my Indoor antenna testing. Im eventually going to rewrite the whole shebang, and organize the info better.



Im also looking at getting a DTVpal and maybe the CM 7000. But the Centronics looks interesting too.
 

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Ah, for hunting for new stations, the Zinwell has a manual scan feature. You can sequence through all the channels similar to the manual search in Zenith, but it is not nearly as handy as the Zenith. With the Zat, if you spot something, it doesn't seem to add it until I do the 'search.' I often see momentary blips in manual search, but that's not enough to pick up the search. But last weekend I saw a really badly broken up picture of a (duplicate) PBS station 50 miles away, with Terk HDTVa in the attic aimed in the opposite direction. So it was impressive to get it at all, but for station exploration, I prefer the Zenith, which also lets you just enter the channel from the keypad.


Adding--although you don't want to add the channel, there seems to be some sort of stabilization of the picture that kicks in when it's an official channel on the list. Other people here refer to it as a learning function, it's like the box gets used to the signal variation and compensates. There really does appear to be something to that, like it settles in and gets better at locking onto the signal without pixelation. I've never given it much time in the manual scan mode, but it does seem to show the picture more easily once it's on the channel list.
 

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Yes, the Zenith is real cool wrt hunting for new stations or allowing you to diagnose a reception problem. For example if you modify an antenna position to help in gaining reception in one station you can easily see if it had any adverse impact to the reception of other stations. And doing a full channel scan only takes about a minute, perhaps the fastest among the CECBs.


It's just too bad the Zenith has a very crude signal meter.



_Lazza
 

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I use the Insignia -APT, APEX DT502, Zinwell ZAT-970A, and Sunkey SK-801ATSC.


The Zinwell will show "Quality" and "Strength" of stations before scanning. The Sunkey only shows "Quality" after scan is initiated and only for the scan period. The APEX DT502 does not allow additional scanning.


As stated above, I've also noted that locking a station requires higher levels than viewing. The APEX DT502 and Sunkey loose reception around 12 to 20%, while the Zinwell will continue to show content down to 0% (for spilt second periods).
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by TalkingRat /forum/post/16858136


I have a Zinwell 970A...

I was lucky enough to have an early production model, so I can access a sticky screen where the meters stay on.

As far as I know, all 970As can access a meter screen that stays on as long as you want if you have a $Tree or CM remote.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Joe, what kind of remote do you need for the Zinwell to view the meters as long as you want?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeM /forum/post/16862413


As far as I know, ALL model 970As can access a meter screen that stays on as long as you want if you have a $Tree or CM remote.

Stays on in the Manual Scan menu.
 
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