View Full Version : ClearCast HDTV indoor antenna -- overhyped?


Jeffhs
03-13-2012, 01:48 AM
Greetings.

I saw an article yesterday (February 12, 2012) in my local newspaper (the ad is probably being run in newspapers across the U. S. as well) for a revolutionary new type of indoor TV antenna, from a company known as ClearCast. The company claims that this antenna will pull in up to 53 channels of TV in almost any reception area, even rural areas that presently receive (over the air) only NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX and PBS programming and may not have access to cable or satellite services. The antenna is wafer-thin and can be mounted anywhere in a room (preferably on or near a window) by means of suction cups, so no installation is required -- simply mount the antenna on/near the nearest window, connect the coax lead-in to your TV, and (supposedly) enjoy :yes: all the local TV stations your cable company presently delivers to your home for a (very high) fee that only seems to go up. :no:

I live in a village of about 3250 population, located roughly one mile from the southern shore of Lake Erie and just under 40 miles from the seven TV transmitters serving Cleveland. The village is 610 feet above sea level. My question is simply this: will the ClearCast indoor HDTV antenna work in this area, or will it be a dud? (The company representative with whom I spoke over the phone and who took my order assured me that the antenna would, in fact, work in my area -- but still I have doubts.) I did check local antenna reception here some years ago (before the DTV transition), using a beat-up pair of TV rabbit ears without a UHF loop; I was able to receive only two stations (CBS WOIO 19 in Cleveland and a translator station, probably relaying a local religious TV station) well enough to watch, although I did have fair to poor reception of the other six local network affiliates including PBS.

That was then; this is now. I just (as in yesterday afternoon) ordered a Clear Cast indoor HDTV antenna, and will be awaiting its arrival. I will post the results of my experiments with the new antenna as soon as it arrives and I have had a chance to see just how many stations I can receive with it, hooked up to my flat screen.

I read an article online yesterday afternoon from a Syracuse, New York newspaper, however, that said antennas of this type are typically no better than the buck-and-a-half UHF bow-tie clip-on indoor ones that used to be available at Radio Shack and elsewhere, not to mention the even cheaper UHF loop antennas which were formerly provided with most new televisions in the late 1960s-'70s, when UHF TV was just getting started in this country.

Are the claims for the Clear Cast HDTV indoor antenna true, or are they just meaningless, overblown hype? Has anyone here on VK ever tried this or any other type of indoor HDTV antenna, and if so, what were your results and impressions? Are indoor HDTV antennas even worth their asking price, or are they junk, not unlike those gutless-wonder indoor TV antennas of the '60s disguised to look like oil lamps, animals, and the like? :scratch2: In those days, television signals were NTSC analog, and in many cases, good reception (even in color, in good signal areas) could be attained using rabbit ears, even if it meant buying a fancy Rembrandt all-channel antenna with huge UHF loops and a 12-position fine-tuning switch.

I am also eager to see if I can receive (using an indoor HDTV antenna, once my new Clear Cast one arrives here) the subchannels of the Cleveland network affiliates, as three of these stations now have subchannels (MeTV, Antenna TV and This TV, plus two subchannels of the Cleveland PBS station) I now get on cable. Are the subchannels separate low-power TV stations in their own right, or are they simply extensions (for want of a better word) of the parent station's main signal? :scratch2:

Thanks in advance.

jr_tech
03-13-2012, 03:12 AM
I ran TV Fool for Fairport Harbor and it predicted that you should be able to get a few channels with an indoor antenna (those highlighted in green)... try it for your specific address:

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&=id%3d0b8604ad48d044

My guess is that it mostly hype in the antenna ad, and it likely will not perform better than a simple rabbit ear antenna. Don't expect too much! Anyway, it should be an interesting experiment!

The sub-channels of the ATSC transmission are all part of the same digital stream... if you can receive the main channel, you should get the sub-channels as well.

just my 2 cents worth,
jr

Jeffhs
03-13-2012, 01:45 PM
I'm not going to expect miracles from this antenna; I'm just interested in how well it may or may not work in my area. I've never used my flat TV with an antenna (it has been on cable since it was new last August), so this should be an interesting and enlightening experiment.

I don't expect to get, with this indoor antenna, the stations listed on TVFool as being 50+ miles from me, but then again all I'm really interested in are the Cleveland network stations and their subchannels (MeTV, Antenna TV and two subchannels of Cleveland's PBS affiliate). If the antenna brings in these stations, the transmitters for which are all over 30 miles from my apartment according to TVF's charts, I will be happy. (The distance is just under 40 miles if you look up, on Google Earth, the distance between Fairport Harbor and the two southwest Cleveland suburbs in which Cleveland's seven TV stations' transmitters are located; I don't know why TVFool is showing the stations as being just 30+ miles from here).

I will not cancel my cable, however, until I have conducted this experiment and have a concrete idea of how well the ClearCast antenna works. I had never heard of this antenna until I saw the advertisement for it in my newspaper last night, and as I said in my last post, I also read online an article from a Syracuse, New York paper that had less-than-glowing reviews of the antenna. It stated pretty much what you said at the end of your post: the ClearCast will not work much better, in most signal areas, than a cheap UHF bowtie antenna.

I also noticed, when I took a closer look at the ClearCast antenna in the ad, that it seems to be useful only for those DTV stations currently operating on UHF channels; I did not see any provisions for reception of VHF DTV channels as well. This may put me at a disadvantage and may give me another reason not to be too hasty about cancelling my cable service, as one Cleveland station (WOIO CBS 19) currently operates on DTV channel ten. There has been talk of changing this to a UHF channel due to possible interference issues with a Canadian TV station on the same channel (CFPL in London, Ontario, across Lake Erie from Cleveland), but nothing has been done yet.

However, I wonder if the designers of the ClearCast indoor HDTV antenna are under the impression that all TV stations in the United States have transitioned to UHF DTV channels by now. As I mentioned, however, this is not necessarily the case. There are still some areas with DTV stations on VHF channels, although such stations are likely in the minority these days.

WOIO CBS 19 in Cleveland, however, does have a new translator station on DTV channel 24 for the Akron area, but I don't think I'll see it here with just the ClearCast antenna due to the distance involved -- over 50 miles from me.

One problem with TV reception in my area is the sheer distance from here to the Cleveland TV transmitters; most people here have either satellite or cable, with the few outdoor antennas left (there are a few still standing) falling apart from disuse and/or age -- some of these antennas are as old as the houses on which they are mounted, and there are some very old houses in this town, dating to the '50s and earlier. I have even seen conical VHF-only antennas here that date to the '50s; of course, most of them have fallen apart by now (I saw one last summer that was little more than a boom on a mast -- most of the elements had blown off in wind and snow storms) and are now worse than useless.

Antenna reception here may not have been much of a problem before DTV (just put up a good near-fringe antenna and you were good to go for the three original Cleveland VHF TV stations, with UHF following in the '60s and '70s), but the arrival of this new broadcasting standard nearly three years ago has changed everything. This is why most people today, even those folks living in cities or their suburbs, have cable or satellite service -- because they just don't want to be bothered with putting up antennas and the reception problems attendant to OTA DTV. I don't blame them.

jr_tech
03-13-2012, 02:38 PM
(The distance is just under 40 miles if you look up, on Google Earth, the distance between Fairport Harbor and the two southwest Cleveland suburbs in which Cleveland's seven TV stations' transmitters are located; I don't know why TVFool is showing the stations as being just 30+ miles from here).

TV Fool uses the co-ordinates of the transmitter site, not those of the nearest suburb in making the calculation. For example, WKYC-DT might be closer than you calculate... here is a map (with scale) from the FCC site:

http://maps.google.com/?q=http://transition.fcc.gov/fcc-bin/contourplot.kml?gmap=2%26appid=1314700%26call=WKYC %26freq=0.0%26contour=41%26city=CLEVELAND%26state= OH.kml

jr

DavGoodlin
03-13-2012, 03:44 PM
Jeff, Thanks for starting a good discussion here. Try this site also: http://transition.fcc.gov/mb/engineering/maps/

Of particular note, you probably will also get about half the "pink" stations with a good Winegard or similar ROOFTOP antenna.

I will refrain from a rant about OTA DTV and the number of channels I now get out in Amish Country. Results may vary.

Jeffhs
03-14-2012, 02:07 AM
I hooked up a length of zip cord today to a rebent coat hanger and poked the end of the wire into the center pin of my TV's antenna socket, just to see if I could get any OTA DTV signals here. My flat screen found five digital channels during a channel scan using this makeshift DTV antenna, and to my surprise, the reception on those five channels is excellent.

As has been noted with DTV, antenna position plays a large part in getting a good signal; I found that as I moved the antenna around my apartment, the picture on my TV would change, in every case becoming perfectly watchable with the antenna in one particular spot. I even picked up one subchannel of Cleveland's MyTV affiliate that I hadn't seen before, as my cable doesn't carry it -- yet.

To my surprise, I was not able to receive the DTV signal of WOIO-CBS 19 in Cleveland with my makeshift test antenna, although I was getting the city's NBC and ABC stations, and the Univision affiliate, just fine. I don't know if it is because the CBS station's DTV signal is on a VHF channel while the others are on UHF channels, or just what the problem was. My flat TV has only one antenna input for all signals, so I would think any antenna I'd hook up would pick up signals in both bands, with lowered sensitivity, of course, on the frequency range for which the antenna is not designed. I'll have to keep that in mind when my Clear Cast DTV indoor antenna arrives, as it seems to have been designed for UHF reception only (the picture of the antenna in the newspaper ads shows the outline of a UHF bowtie antenna plainly visible on the front of the plastic casing).

While the Clear Cast antenna will undoubtedly work somewhat better than my makeshift DTV one did, however, it will be no match for a roof-mounted Winegard or other standard television antenna. Since I live in an apartment building, I cannot erect outdoor TV antennas, although two of my neighbors have satellite dishes -- one on the roof of the building, the other in back of the building on a railing.

As I mentioned in my initial post that started this thread, I am not expecting miracles with the Clear Cast DTV indoor antenna; I am simply curious to see what I can expect, using an indoor antenna in a first-floor apartment. My first experiments with the rebent coat hanger gave me a very rough idea, but I am sure the new antenna will work much better and will probably bring in channel 19 -- as well as the PBS station in Cleveland and its subchannels, not to mention every other major network station in town.

BTW, one very good feature of digital TV, IMHO, is that if you get a picture, it will be perfect; however, if there is no signal or your antenna is in a dead zone, your screen will be blank. There is no in-between where the image is fuzzy or snowy; no ghosts, either. The DTV equivalent of snow in an analog TV picture is when a DTV image pixelates, breaking up into squares; the sound will also be affected.

However, with a good clear signal, a DTV picture looks great, like a good photograph. An ad on Zenith's website (www.zenith.com) for their DTV converter boxes, in fact, states that "your old TV has never looked better" than when it receives a DTV signal.

I am looking forward to continuing my DTV experiments and will continue to post the results here. As of now, using the makeshift DTV antenna, I can get the following stations:

Channel 3.1 -- WKYC-HD (NBC) Cleveland
Channel 3.2 -- WKYC Weather Radar
Channel 5.1 -- WEWS-HD (ABC) Cleveland
Channel 5.2 -- LiveWell Network
Channel 43.1 -- WUAB-HD (MyTV)
Channel 43.2 -- THIS TV
Channel 43.3 -- Bounce (new subchannel)
Channel 61.1 -- WQHS-HD (Univision) Cleveland

There are at least two local stations my makeshift antenna doesn't get, regardless of where I put it: CBS 19 WOIO, WVIZ PBS 25.1. Again, I'm thinking it is just the haywired nature of the antenna that's keeping me from receiving these channels; the new Clear Cast antenna should bring in every station in Cleveland, including the subchannels. The new antenna will be mountable on a window or wall by means of suction cups, not to mention having a much longer lead-in cable, so I will be able to try it in more locations in my apartment than I could with the makeshift antenna. I should then be able to find out where my channel 19 and 25 signals are hiding.

jr_tech
03-14-2012, 03:35 AM
Great!
It will be very interesting to compare the new antenna to this baseline data. At least you have proven that you can get a few channels OTA, further experimentation is likely to improve results.

You might want to check 43 again, as there is one more sub-channel to be found there:
43.1 WUAB-HD
43.2 Bounce TV
43.3 This TV

PS: The VHF channels seem to be more difficult to receive in most areas. Many have filed with the FCC for power increases, or to move to UHF. WOIO has a construction permit for a 3X increase in power and more height, which should help.

http://transition.fcc.gov/fcc-bin/tvq?list=0&facid=39746

Good luck,
jr

ChrisW6ATV
03-14-2012, 12:43 PM
Jeff-

As we hams know :) , the more and the higher and the less-obstructed metal we put in the air, the better! If that "Clearcast" antenna is what it appears to be (some type of panel device about 15 inches by 4 inches, with a coaxial cable to connect to the TV), then it should work no better and no worse than a basic wire folded dipole (tuned to the UHF TV band) or similar item made into a shape not exceeding 15"x4".

In the NTSC days, I used to help local friends in apartments with bad TV reception by building 300-ohm folded dipoles cut for the low-VHF-TV band out of basic twin-lead wire (with a 75-ohm matching transformer for the newer TVs' coax input jacks). We would hang them horizontally near a window (behind the top of the curtains was a good place) and everyone would be amazed how much better this worked than the three or four fancy-looking amplified antenna gadgets they had tried from Radio Shack or elsewhere by then.

I live in a location between San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland, California, and with a pair of 1950s rabbit ears connected to my 1948 RCA 8TS30 or 1965 CTC-16, I get every digital channel in the area (with a digital tuner in between, of course). Simple is often the best.

Jeffhs
03-14-2012, 01:13 PM
Great!
It will be very interesting to compare the new antenna to this baseline data. At least you have proven that you can get a few channels OTA, further experimentation is likely to improve results.

You might want to check 43 again, as there is one more sub-channel to be found there:
43.1 WUAB-HD
43.2 Bounce TV
43.3 This TV

PS: The VHF channels seem to be more difficult to receive in most areas. Many have filed with the FCC for power increases, or to move to UHF. WOIO has a construction permit for a 3X increase in power and more height, which should help.

http://transition.fcc.gov/fcc-bin/tvq?list=0&facid=39746

Good luck,
jr

Thanks for the info on WOIO's proposed changes. A 3x power increase (the station now transmits 3.72kW effective radiated power [ERP], the same power level as when it initially signed on in mid-1985) and higher antennas will almost certainly improve reception throughout the station's coverage area, especially in near-fringe locations such as Fairport Harbor and points east to the Pennsylvania border. This station has had problems for years with poor reception in some areas west and east of Cleveland (mainly far east and west suburbs and outlying areas), but at that time, being a new station, it may not have been able to get authorization for power increases or antenna changes.

Why WOIO transmits on DTV channel ten is beyond me, since most TV stations now operate on UHF digital TV channels and there is already a Canadian station (CFPL in London, Ontario) on the same VHF channel; the possibilities for co-channel interference would seem to be too great. I would have thought WOIO would have been assigned a UHF DTV channel from the beginning. The station's UHF translator on channel 24 is no help to the Cleveland area, as it is intended to serve the Akron-Canton area which is some 30 miles southwest of Cleveland.


Thank you also for the information on WUAB's second subchannel, THIS-TV on 43.3. My cable carries this channel, so I have been aware of it for some time; however, I neglected to include it in my list of received stations using my haywired makeshift DTV antenna, probably due to an oversight on my part.


I just remembered that WOIO has done quite a bit of work already on its transmitter and antennas to address, and hopefully resolve, the reception problems I mentioned. I don't know if the info is still there (it's been some time since the modifications were made), but there was a notice on the station's website (www.19actionnews.com) to the effect that work was in fact underway at that time to increase the transmitter's ERP output (probably a new transmitter) and to raise the station's antennas, the end result being to put a stronger, better signal into the areas in which WOIO has had reports of poor or no reception since the DTV transition.

jr_tech
03-14-2012, 04:37 PM
Why WOIO transmits on DTV channel ten is beyond me, since most TV stations now operate on UHF digital TV channels and there is already a Canadian station (CFPL in London, Ontario) on the same VHF channel; the possibilities for co-channel interference would seem to be too great.


One word here... MONEY! In general, It is cheaper to operate a lower power VHF station than a UHF station that must operate at higher power levels to obtain the same coverage. It was also likely cheaper to leave the digital on channel 10 after the transition date than to "flash cut" the digital back to the original analog channel (19) as I suspect that the channel 10 digital transmitter was a new purchase, while the channel 19 may have been a very old unit, not suited to digital transmission... but this is only a guess.

The problem... The Calculation of the coverage area appears to overstate the coverage of the VHF channels when compared to the UHF channels. This calculation was based on assumptions/projections (mostly about receiver capability) that were made 20 years ago when the standards were set. Some projections were not realized. :(

jr

DavGoodlin
03-15-2012, 11:21 AM
Jr Tech: The Calculation of the coverage area appears to overstate the coverage of the VHF channels when compared to the UHF channels.

Well stated and quite true!

The ATSC (8VSB modulated) signals seem to behave very differently, especially when subject to terrestrial challenges and weather variations. My personal example of the contrast here is the signals from Baltimore, 50 miles to the SW of our gently-rolling, open terrain. Philadelphia, 55 miles to our East has two VHF and ten UHF stations but requires a decent rooftop antenna. This is in addition to 7 "Harrisburg market" (2-VHF, 5 -UHF stations) received with a medium-sized, attic-mounted antenna. Rotators are much less helpful, since the local channels come in no matter where the antenna is aimed.

The Baltimore example....

Analog: VHF channels 2, 11, 13 were fairly stable while UHF channels 24 & 54 were weak, yet 45 was fairly good (like the VHF's) due to a higher antenna and power than the other UHF's.

Digital: 11 and 13 retained (and returned to) their VHF spots, but cannot be received most of the time, even with a VHF log-periodic rooftop antenna and booster. WMAR-2 is on UHF-38 (using a new antenna and transmitter no doubt) and easily received, even with a modest UHF rooftop antenna.
54 (DT-40) and 24 (DT-41) are a bit weaker but still consistently received. 45 (now on 46) is rarely received although the transmitting power and antenna height are unchanged.

Now we change to a very different location at a hunting lodge along a creek, "upstate" in a deep, wooded valley between Binghampton NY (50 miles away) and Wilkes Barre (37 miles away);

Analog: VHF channel WBNG 12 from Binghampton was fair using a HB-VHF 10-element yagi, no other channels were received.

Digital: VHF channel WBNG-DT 7 is fairly reliable and WICZ-DT 8, also from Binghampton at much lower power is received a majority of the time. No UHF channels from either city were received, even while using a Winegard 7694 and booster presumably due to the deep woods.

Note: Electronic ballasts in T8-lamped fluorescent kitchen lights must be switched off when watching WICZ.

Conclusions: VHF seems better suited to areas with severe multipath but the range seems poor over open terrain. Weather affects VHF even more than before. Less signal strength is required to "acquire" DT reception, so UHF performance seems better, at least in more open areas not subject to much multipath.
DT recievers (HD sets and converter boxes) seem to have much less interference rejection that analog stuff did. Electronic ballasts, especially for higher-wattage compact fluorescent 3&4 tube fixtures really cause problems similar to weak FM stations. The screw-in CFLs are lower power and thus not much of an issue.

jr_tech
03-15-2012, 04:50 PM
Your observations align well with mine. I am close in (12 Miles to the antenna farm) and don't have much trouble with reception, although it seems to be more difficult to receive the VHF channels using the built-in monopole antennas on portable sets in some rooms of the house. These antennas are really too short to be very effective at high band VHF frequencies. In stormy weather, I see more "breakup" on the UHF channels, likely due to wet blowing trees.

My one "DX" channel is about 70 miles distant on ch 7... Analog era, it was decent with a moderate sized outdoor Hi band Yagi... during the transition period the digital was on UHF channel 37(?) and was great with a moderate sized Radio Shack corner reflector/Yagi. After the transition/analog shutdown the station returned to ch 7 (digital) and I can only receive it on rare occasions (mostly early mornings and late evenings) using the Hi band Yagi. The contour maps shown on the FCC site are virtually identical for all three permutations of the channel.

Found this article, with much hindsight, discussing some of the problems related to the standards that were set 20 some years ago:

http://www.tvtechnology.com/article/making-noise-about-dtv-received-power/203114

jr

old_tv_nut
03-15-2012, 11:56 PM
The problem... The Calculation of the coverage area appears to overstate the coverage of the VHF channels when compared to the UHF channels. This calculation was based on assumptions/projections (mostly about receiver capability) that were made 20 years ago when the standards were set. Some projections were not realized. :(

jr

The calculations were based on a rooftop antenna with a decent gain at VHF, but most importantly neglected the high levels of manmade noise and interference and "atmospheric" noise in the VHF band. The receivers themselves have about the same sensitivity on all channels. When you go to an indoor antenna, which generally must be too small for VHF performance to equal UHF, plus taking attenuation due to lower height above ground, plus building attenuation, reception suffers. I can get reception at 38 miles from Chicago with an amplified indoor antenna on channel 12 and even channel 7, **on the second floor**, but not on the first floor. (This antenna has quite long dipole rabbit ears for VHF). The antenna I have in my attic picks up everything. The line of sight is through a neighbors' house kitty corners from me and some tall trees behind that.

When reception is truly impossible, it usually involves being behind terrain or over the horizon - the signals just don't go through dirt. On analog, some reception was possible by diffracted signals. The VHF coverage for digital (and hence the radius of interfering with other stations) was predicted to follow a similar result (except for the all-or-nothing nature), and therefore the VHF stations' power was reduced drastically compared to analog to prevent long-distance interference. (UHF is more predicatably limited to somewhat beyond the horizon.) Now that practical results are in, stations are asking for power increases, which have to be considered in the light of will they cause interference to other stations. Plus, increases along the northern tier of states have to be coordinated with Canada.

There were a few cases of digital low VHF signals (especially over water) interfering with analog VHF on the same channel before analog was shut off. With analog shut down, there is more possibility of adjustment.

DavGoodlin
03-16-2012, 11:46 AM
Thanks OldTVnut for co-channel interference;

NYC and Baltimore/DC both had the same analog channels. Baltimore is 160+ miles from NYC, with DC's transmitters (chs. 4,5,7,9) an additional 36 miles. Rare co-channel interference was noted only during summer e-skip periods by the venetian-blind effect and strange whine in the sound.

After digital transition, original channels 11 and 13 remain in NYC and in Baltimore. No other analog channels 11 & 13 were in the mid-atlantic.
But....Wilkes Barre, PA (100 miles WNW of NYC and 130 miles NNE of Baltimore) also moved formerly UHF WBRE and WYOU to these channels! :nono:Talk about a crowded spectrum!

My loss: I received analog UHF's of WBRE and WYOU near perfect, even 83 miles away. Now I only get the UHF channels (same mountain transmitter farm) but WBRE and WYOU only a few days per month based on weather.

After consultation of other forums, I have concluded that VHF-DT will never provide the same coverage area as Analog VHF, where a 75 mile range was common and necessary.

Co-channel and noise IS the silent killer of DT reception. Its presence can only be discovered by using a spectrum analyzer, which I do not own.:drool:

As for UHF, trees and dirt are STILL formidable obstacles.
173665See attached article from UK expert.

wa2ise
03-16-2012, 02:01 PM
One word here... MONEY! In general, It is cheaper to operate a lower power VHF station than a UHF station that must operate at higher power levels to obtain the same coverage....
jr

Also most viewers get their signals via cable TV, and thus all a TV channel need do is just have a presense on the RF spectrum, and "must carry" rules are invoked. So the TV channel need not worry too much about reception problems, and cutting the electric bill by using lower power on VHF would make sense, as the cable company still will pipe the channel over their system to most viewers. Non cable subscribers are likely not that interesting to advertisers anyway "If they don't want to spend money on cable service, they probably won't spend the money to buy our product..."

Jeffhs
03-24-2012, 05:26 PM
I originally purchased the ClearCast indoor HD television antenna (which should arrive here shortly; I would have received the antenna by now, but a mixup on the address -- the person who took my order neglected to include my apartment number [!] along with the street address of the apartment building -- caused FedEx to return the antenna to the shipper :no:) to check local reception of Cleveland's DTV channels, but it looks as if I may eventually be using that antenna as my primary source of TV signals. The reason is that, according to Time Warner Cable's web site, the cable operator is still in the process of converting the system to digital -- which may explain why I still get a bunch of NTSC analog channels on my cable. Once the digital conversion is complete, however, those NTSC analog channels will have been moved to one or more digital tiers of service, which means of course they will no longer be watchable on standard cable (read: no more just connecting your cable to the antenna terminals or coax jack on the back of your TV, :no: as VK member RadioTVNut discovered when his cable provider switched to full digital recently). Subscribers will have to rent either a full-size Motorola or Scientific Atlanta cable box or a device known as a DTA (digital transfer adaptor) to view these channels once the conversion is 100 percent complete.

Viewers with standard flat screens will only get their area's local network affiliates; the channel positions for cable stations like CNN, A&E, Animal Planet, et al. will either be blank or your screen will show nothing but snow.

Note that, once your cable company has transitioned to all-digital, you will need either a cable box or a DTA to receive all available channels (other than broadcast channels) on your cable -- even if you have a flat screen. Here's why. Your FS TV's NTSC/ATSC/clear-QAM tuner will not receive most or all channels on digital tiers, almost certainly because these channels will be carried on the cable in QAM format. The broadcast stations will not be affected, as they are already being transmitted digitally in the clear-QAM format.

Time Warner, and most other cable systems in the US, are converting their cable systems to full digital because, as one VK member put it in a recent post, the subscribers want high-definition, so analog must and will disappear from the cable TV landscape -- never to return. We may not like it, but that's progress.

Analog NTSC TV was the standard in North America for over 60 years, but times have changed in the 21st century. If we still want to watch TV we will have to go along with the cable company, or else put up an antenna (with a converter box for knob-tuned TVs) and watch only broadcast stations. In my case, I am not concerned in the least about the fact that Time Warner Cable is transitioning to full digital, or the impact it will have on my TV viewing habits. My two favorite TV channels, Antenna TV and MeTV, are on subchannels of Cleveland's FOX and CBS affiliates, respectively, so if my antenna picks up those two stations -- and if it does, the picture will be perfect on both the network stations and the subchannels, as DTV is all or nothing -- I will be happy.

I have been keeping track of what channels I watch regularly on cable, and found there are a bunch of stations I haven't watched in years -- or at all. I won't miss them when I go back to using an antenna, although I get a feeling that I may have the devil of a time receiving channel eight or 19 with the ClearCast -- if my recent experiments with rebent coat hangers are any indication. I was unable to receive those two stations with the hangers (even a very large rectangular one), and believe me I tried every location in my apartment I could think of, but no luck. I may have better results with the ClearCast antenna, but still I have my doubts. One station I am sure I won't be getting with this antenna is the RTV affiliate, which is located in Canton, Ohio -- seventy-odd miles from here. Channel 19 will be a problem because, according to AntennaWeb.org's findings for my location, good reception of this station at this distance (30+ miles) requires a roof- or tower-mounted antenna with possibly a mast-mounted preamplifier. Since I live in an apartment building, this is definitely not an option for me, so I am hoping against hope that the ClearCast antenna will pull in the station and channel 8, which my makeshift DTV test antennas did not pick up either.

Since the ClearCast has a 60-foot length of coax cable connected to it, I will be able to try it in more locations around my place; maybe (hopefully) there is a spot somewhere where both CBS 19 and FOX 8 will come in as well as every other station my test antennas received. I will post the results of my tests with the ClearCast antenna as soon as I know for certain what stations I can and cannot get here; maybe, since the ClearCast antenna is built better (I hope) than were my cobbled-together test antennas (which were connected to only the center pin of a very short length of coax by a length of zip cord), I will find a spot where the CC antenna will get even more stations, since I live near Lake Erie. Who knows -- perhaps this summer I may get some Detroit stations and perhaps a Canadian station or two. I am located roughly one mile from the south shore of Lake Erie, with southwestern Ontario just a hop, skip and a jump across the lake, so I may have quite a few (well, a few, anyway) Canadian DTV stations coming in when the weather cooperates. We shall see.

I am not, however, expecting miraculous results from the ClearCast (i. e. reception of stations 100+ miles distant); if the antenna brings in the Cleveland network stations and their subchannels, that will be plenty good enough for me.


Stay tuned. More to come.

DavGoodlin
03-24-2012, 07:36 PM
One antenna configuration I highly recommend is a 4-bay bowtie. Its nothing new and one can be built using 1"x2" screen or chicken wire. This is an old UHF design and measures about 20" wide, 30" high and 6" deep. It fits in a closet real well and it has a reasonable gain on highband VHF despite its smaller wavelength dimensions. It beats most of the other stuff I have tried, especially rabbit ear-loop combos, by a long shot. Outside, its excellent.

I have seen the Clearcast unit advertised in the paper here also and my first thought is how it is "electrically small" for our VHF channels 8 and 10, with half wavelengths of about 31 and 29 inches respectively.

If you don't have any metal (like refrigerators) in your signal path, a closet is the only way to hide it. Second, if you do not have any obscenely powerful FM stations nearby, one of those 10dB "silver box" boosters from the hardware store may make the difference between getting a steady reliable signal. Connect close to the antenna with a 30" piece of coax from the matching transofrmer and you could run about 50 feet of coax to the TV.

BTW, RTV has been running paid programming in the early AM and may be on the way out. MeTV, This and Antenna TV seem to be getting some fun shows, at least when I'm able to watch.

DavGoodlin
03-24-2012, 07:44 PM
In Philadelphia, most of its suburbs and the far fringes west to the Appalachians, Comcast has bought all the local cable operators and converted their systems to digital. All customers must use the Motorola digital transfer adaptors and universal remotes, programmed to switch thier TVs for power and volume.

Yes Jeff, also here, For the "basic service" channels, a QAM tuner (standard on newer FPs) will still work.

I use a Toshiba DVD recorder with built-in ATSC tuner. No cable and I rarely record anything off the air. I do have Comcast though, for my internet and its pretty fast at 24MBPS typically:thmbsp:. The local Telco (Verizon) has no FIOS here, since its rural, not likely to see it anytime soon.:no:

Reece
03-30-2012, 04:00 PM
One of many articles on the subject:

http://uhfhdtvantenna.blogspot.com/

Jeffhs
03-30-2012, 04:45 PM
Greetings.


I received my new ClearCast HDTV antenna the other day. I was able to receive a few stations but, unfortunately, the two channels I was hoping to receive (Cleveland channels 8 and 19, the subchannels of which are 8.2, Antenna TV and 19.2, MeTV respectively) did not show up on my flat screen in several channel scans. Here is a list, however, of the channels I do receive with the Clear Cast at my location 30+ miles east of Cleveland, near Lake Erie:

1a WKYC, NBC, Cleveland ch. 3.1
1b WKYC Weather Radar
2a WEWS,ABC, Cleveland ch. 5.1
2b LiveWell Network..........ch. 5.2
3a WVIZ, PBS, Cleveland....ch. 25.1
3b WVIZ Ohio channel, ch. 25.2
3c WVIZ World, channel 25.3
3d WVIZ Create, channel 25.4
4 WBNX, Akron-Cleveland, ch. 55.1
5 CSCN, audio only, channel 38.9

I receive several other channels besides those listed, but the other channels are duplicates of the listed stations (and WBNX's standard-definition and This-TV subchannels); I don't know why the ClearCast picked up the local stations twice. :scratch2:

I do not know what the CSCN channel is supposed to be, as I did not listen to it very long; however, I suspect it may be an LPTV (low power TV) station since it carries audio only, perhaps from a local FM station, such as are found in the Chicago and New York City areas. These cities have LPTVs on channel 6 (as I learned from reading posts by VK members living in those areas) which can still be received via an antenna, but for how much longer is anyone's guess.

I tried the ClearCast antenna at many different spots around my apartment (as many as the length of the supplied antenna coax [about 15-20 feet] would allow me to get to) but, try as I might and did, I could not receive channels 8 or 19 at all -- not even a pixelated image. :no:

I don't know whether these two channels (eight and 19) are in locations that just do not allow the signals to reach this far east of town without a real outdoor antenna or what the problem is, so I went back to cable and stored the Clear Cast antenna -- for now, anyway.

Do not waste your money on the Clear Cast antenna, as it is little more than a repackaged version of the old UHF bow-tie indoor TV antennas that used to come with new televisions 40+ years ago (and were available from Radio Shack, et al.), long before DTV -- and the CC antenna works just about as well as those bowtie aerials did, which wasn't very well in anything other than strong to moderate television signal areas. The Clear Cast does receive UHF DTV stations well, but if the DTV channels in your area are still on VHF channel positions (as are 8 and 19 in my area), it will not work well since the CC is not designed to receive VHF channel frequencies. WOIO-DT is a translator station for Cleveland CBS affiliate WOIO, but unfortunately the translator, on channel 24, is in the Akron, Ohio area (it is meant to cover that area until WOIO's antenna work and power increase are complete) and does not reach here.

My best advice is to get your indoor DTV antenna (if you decide to use one instead of a rooftop antenna) from Best Buy, Radio Shack, et al., as the DTV antennas these stores carry are better and much cheaper than the ClearCast; the CC antenna costs $38 plus shipping (for whatever reason, mine cost almost $60 with these charges included) if purchased directly from its manufacturer, Brilliant Built Technologies of Canton, Ohio, 70 miles southwest of Cleveland.

jr_tech
03-31-2012, 02:27 PM
Too bad it did not work out for you :( Thanks for the report! Can you get your money back?


I receive several other channels besides those listed, but the other channels are duplicates of the listed stations (and WBNX's standard-definition and This-TV subchannels); I don't know why the ClearCast picked up the local stations twice. :scratch2:

In weak signal conditions, an ATSC tuner will often receive a station but not get enough information during the scan to determine the virtual channel number, so it will show up as the actual transmitted channel. On another scan, you may have had a better signal, and the tuner read the virtual channel number correctly. Both will show up in numerical order on your channel list, although they are the same station.

I do not know what the CSCN channel is supposed to be, as I did not listen to it very long;


Still checking on this.... "Audio Only" condition may be the result of weak signal conditions.... Canadian station?

EDIT ADD, Figured it out: Very likely the ch 38 is W38ET-D in Eastlake:
http://maps.google.com/?q=http://transition.fcc.gov/fcc-bin/contourplot.kml?gmap=2%26appid=1481998%26call=W38E T-D%26freq=0.0%26contour=51%26city=EASTLAKE%26state= OH.kml
W38ET-D is a translator for WVIZ... WVIZ ch 25.9 is the Cleveland Sight Center Network (CSCN) . Whew! that took a bit of detective work!

jr

Jeffhs
03-31-2012, 04:03 PM
jr_tech:

Thanks much for researching this issue. Your explanation of why I was getting two exact copies of my channel scan list on my flat screen when running the channel scan makes sense. This does not happen on cable.

Now "CSCN" makes sense to me as well. The channel is audio only for the use of visually-impaired or blind persons. This sounds a lot like the radio reading services I see listed on www.RadioStationWorld.com in some cities (I believe Cleveland may have such a station as well), the stations operating around 88 MHz. I am thinking perhaps, even likely, PBS affiliates across the US now have these audio-only channels, available to OTA viewers but not yet to cable subscribers.


I did not know, however (until now), that WVIZ operated such a channel, although I do know (and have known for some time) that the station does operate a small network of translator stations, most of which are located in far-suburban or fringe areas that WVIZ's main OTA signal does not reach -- very well or at all.

In this age of digital TV and its often weak signals in far-suburban areas, these translators serve those areas in which folks still get their TV reception via antennas. WVIZ has one such translator in the city of Ashtabula, Ohio, 50 miles from Cleveland and very near the Pennsylvania border near Lake Erie, as well as a translator in Sheffield Lake, Ohio, a far-western Cleveland suburb. There used to be a translator for the city of Chagrin Falls, Ohio (a far-eastern Cleveland suburban area), but it was taken off the air when WBNX-TV signed on in 1985. The problem was that WBNX operates on the same channel as did the WVIZ translator for Chagrin Falls, so the latter had no choice but to go dark. Whether or not it ever returned to the air on another channel, I don't know. :scratch2:

WBNX has three DTV subchannels: 55.1 is the main one (WBNX CW--the CW television network), 55.2 is WBNX-SD (standard definition), and 55.3 is This-TV. The third subchannel was added as a direct result of the affiliation contract of WUAB in suburban Lorain, Ohio having expired and the station did not renew it--in time or due to financial issues. This-TV was then supposedly moved to WBNX's subchannel 55.3, but the cable system in my area doesn't yet carry that subchannel or 55.2, and I'm not sure (don't know, if the truth be known) if or when these subchannels will be added to our channel lineup here. :scratch2:

I could get a refund on my Clear Cast antenna (the procedure to do so is outlined in a form letter sent along with the antenna), but I think I'll keep it, as I intend to do more experimenting. However, these experiments will not be very frequent, as every time I switch from cable to the CC antenna or vice-versa, I have to rescan the TV and redo the channel labels at the same time. For whatever reason, my area's cable system doesn't label the cable channels on TVs so equipped; labels appear on my set (in a small blue box at the upper right corner of the screen), for example, for only the major network affiliates. Since my cable carries some 50 channels (analog and digital), relabeling the cable channels, while not difficult by any means, takes quite a bit of time, as the channel labels must be entered one letter at a time for every station received.

I suppose, however, that I shouldn't complain, as my area's cable has only 50 channels; if I lived in either the metro New York or Los Angeles area, however, I'd have to spend perhaps an hour or more labeling all the channels those cities' cable systems likely carry, since both cities have seven VHF channels and probably many UHF stations as well. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the cable systems in those cities carry well over one hundred channels on their standard service tier alone.

DavGoodlin
03-31-2012, 05:57 PM
I just helped a friend nearby that bought an indoor, non-amplified antenna. It is a Terk HDTVA/HDTVI that has a UHF Yagi section like the Zenith "silver sensor" and telescoping rabbit ears for the VHF.

On the second floor, it pulled in half the channels that are really available, but really well. I put a "frankentenna"** in the attic after finding the ONE spot it worked and got the four missing channels (on 3 stations) PBS MeTV CBS and MY without an amplifier.

**I had the front part (UHF section bowtie with corner reflector) from a roof antenna that I shortened elements in attempt peak the VHF performance. This worked on a CM3679, but it was worse on this vintage RCA (green anodized elements) because the longest elements tuned at 1/2 wave for channels 2-6 actually do double duty as they are also 3/2 wavelength for channels 8-12. Clipping them to highband half wavelengths worsened performance so I cut off the VHF section, as it was a failed experiment.

ChrisW6ATV
04-03-2012, 12:38 AM
My brother called me this morning from Chicago and described a laughable full-page newspaper ad for this silly antenna. Apparently, the ad mentions things like "able to receive 953 programs even in rural areas" or similar ridiculous comments. Note the word PROGRAMS. Well, gee, even ONE channel will show 953 programs if you watch it long enough! In the small print it says "up to 56 CHANNELS in metropolitan areas. That would be about the number I get with my pair of 50-year old $2 rabbit ears.

Then, the ad went on with something like "only available to the following Chicago-area ZIP codes" and proceeded to list ALL of the codes in the whole area. That bunch of garbage must be intended to fool people into thinking these things are in "limited supply" or something. Even though the ad also claims this over-priced antenna was designed by someone who worked for NASA and/or other big-name technology places, it should be obvious that having a Ph.D. does not preclude someone from becoming, or working with, a shameless huckster.

DavGoodlin
04-04-2012, 03:05 PM
Even though the ad also claims this over-priced antenna was designed by someone who worked for NASA and/or other big-name technology places, it should be obvious that having a Ph.D. does not preclude someone from becoming, or working with, a shameless huckster.

This was similar to those little gray things that simply plugged in:bigok:, had feet of ribbon twinlead and claimed to use you houses wiring as a big antenna - HA, it was a small ceramic disc capacitor connected to one of the plug blades, the other was a plastic dummy. :smoke:

Then there are the little dish-shaped UHF antennas with rabbit ears sold at "dollar stores" in the 90's :thumbsdn:

ChrisW6ATV
04-05-2012, 01:34 AM
Yep, I remember the "whole-house antenna". $5 in 1970s dollars for a plug, a piece of twin-lead, and a disc capacitor, huh?

mpatoray
04-05-2012, 07:19 AM
Indoor HDTV reception is an intreating experiment depending on the construction of your house... I live in an 1891 converted 1 room school house, it was converted in the 1940's when the plater was put up the "lath" that was used was closely spaced metal like thick heavy chicken wire, well that makes the house basically a faraday cage and with "rabbit ears" I can barely get WKBN HD who's tower I can see out the window..... So I decided to use the big VHF/UHF RS antenna I had in the attic, aimed that one approx 1/2 between Pittsburgh and Stubenville and bought a UHF only and aimed it 1/2 between Youngstown and Salem. With a hybrid splitter/combiner and a couple of inline amplifiers I get the following channels:

KDKA DT 2.1 no sub channels full time 1080i
WTOV DT 9.1 NBC 1080i
WTOV DT 9.2 METV/local 480i
WPXI DT 11.1 NBC 1080i
WPXI DT 11.2 METV 480i
WQED DT 13.1 PBS 1080i
WQED DT 13.2 "Create TV" 480i
WQED DT 13.3 "The Neighborhood channel" 480i
WQED DT 13.4 "DTV Programming" 480i no program guide or channel ID
WPCW DT 19.1 Pittsburgh CW 1080i
WYFX-LD 19.1 FOX 720P
WFMJ DT 21.1 NBC 1080i
WBCB 21.2 CW 480i
WKBN 27.1 CBS 1080i
WYFX 27.2 FOX 480i
WYTV 33.1 ABC 720p
WYTV 33.2 METV 480i
WYTV 33.3 "weather" 480i
WNEO 45.1 PBS 720p
WNEO 45.2 "Fusion" 480i (some of the worst compression i have seen)
WNEO 45.3 "international programming" 480i
WNEO 45.4 V-ME 480i
WPGH 53.1 FOX 720p
WPGH 53.2 "Country Music TV" 480i

Depending on the set we are watching on we also may get 2.1-23.3 the local ION channels from Elyria.

I am in new Middletown which is about 8 miles south of Youngstown Ohio.

Matt

DavGoodlin
04-05-2012, 12:07 PM
Indoor HDTV reception is an intreating experiment depending on the construction of your house... I live in an 1891 converted 1 room school house, it was converted in the 1940's when the plater was put up the "lath" that was used was closely spaced metal like thick heavy chicken wire, well that makes the house basically a faraday cage and with "rabbit ears" I can barely get WKBN HD who's tower I can see out the window..... So I decided to use the big VHF/UHF RS antenna I had in the attic, aimed that one approx 1/2 between Pittsburgh and Stubenville and bought a UHF only and aimed it 1/2 between Youngstown and Salem. With a hybrid splitter/combiner and a couple of inline amplifiers I get the following channels:

KDKA DT 2.1 no sub channels full time 1080i
WTOV DT 9.1 NBC 1080i
WTOV DT 9.2 METV/local 480i
WPXI DT 11.1 NBC 1080i
WPXI DT 11.2 METV 480i
WQED DT 13.1 PBS 1080i
WQED DT 13.2 "Create TV" 480i
WQED DT 13.3 "The Neighborhood channel" 480i
WQED DT 13.4 "DTV Programming" 480i no program guide or channel ID
WPCW DT 19.1 Pittsburgh CW 1080i
WYFX-LD 19.1 FOX 720P
WFMJ DT 21.1 NBC 1080i
WBCB 21.2 CW 480i
WKBN 27.1 CBS 1080i
WYFX 27.2 FOX 480i
WYTV 33.1 ABC 720p
WYTV 33.2 METV 480i
WYTV 33.3 "weather" 480i
WNEO 45.1 PBS 720p
WNEO 45.2 "Fusion" 480i (some of the worst compression i have seen)
WNEO 45.3 "international programming" 480i
WNEO 45.4 V-ME 480i
WPGH 53.1 FOX 720p
WPGH 53.2 "Country Music TV" 480i

Depending on the set we are watching on we also may get 2.1-23.3 the local ION channels from Elyria.

I am in new Middletown which is about 8 miles south of Youngstown Ohio.

Matt

That is a great setup!!:banana:

Our metal roof makes it hard to get good results, so the Winegard VHF & Channel Master UHF yagi need to be lashed to the chimney.

DavGoodlin
04-06-2012, 04:34 PM
Anyone who has bought an indoor antenna touted as "digital" will find one or two missing channels like Cleveland's WOIO 10 and WJW 8 (BTW we also have channels 8 & 10 in S. Central PA) Due to compromised design for VHF-Hi.

I have found that a custom-dimensioned home-made VHF yagi gets'er done!
173914

jr_tech
04-07-2012, 01:47 PM
I have found that a custom-dimensioned home-made VHF yagi gets'er done!
173914

Is this a general purpose Hi-Band Yagi (for 7 to 13), or is there some data missing from the table for adjustment of the element lengths/spacings for the individual channels listed?

Also puzzled by the term virtual used in the table, since the frequencies appear to correlate to real OTA channels.

jr

DavGoodlin
04-07-2012, 08:55 PM
JRTech "Is this a general purpose Hi-Band Yagi (for 7 to 13),"

This antenna was built specifcally for an attic use on OTA channels 8+10, as those are the only ones I can verify operation with. Changing the folded dipole to 28.5 inches works good on 12 (the only philly VHF-hi station) The table lists element lengths for the air channels (I incorrectly termed these virtual) with spacing to the previous element.