View Full Version : Need Good OTA in New TV


loopstick
02-28-2015, 11:39 AM
Hi everybody, up to now have been using old analog CRT with Zenith DTT901 converter (Aug. 2008). Here's the antenna (Winegard HD7084). Good terrain gives me the Buffalo and Rochester markets, and seasonal reach into Toronto (summer) and Syracuse (winter).

http://www.audiokarma.org/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=481450&d=1389111439

I don't have satellite or cable, 100% OTA. I'm looking for new LED TV that has DX-friendly tuner, i.e., it's fun to sweep the horizon and locate new stations, cool interface / interaction, nerdy features that help you build up your channel list. Also looking for stability and resistance to dropouts. Also if possible audio outputs that can connect to stereo gear. Thanks in advance!

____________

dtvmcdonald
02-28-2015, 12:43 PM
good luck on DXing features ... set manufacturers REALLY hate such things.
They LOVE required scanning with no way to add channels.

For Dxing I suggest finding a used spectrum analyzer that can
be hooked up to the antenna in parallel with a TV.

That way you instantly see if anything is there at a given azimuth. That's
what I do.

Electronic M
02-28-2015, 12:55 PM
If you don't mind SD DXing you could always get a set with composite video/stereo audio in, and hook your current Zenith DTV box up. Those Zenith DTV boxes are pretty decent units for DXing.

loopstick
02-28-2015, 01:04 PM
good luck on DXing features ... set manufacturers REALLY hate such things.
They LOVE required scanning with no way to add channels.

For Dxing I suggest finding a used spectrum analyzer that can
be hooked up to the antenna in parallel with a TV.

That way you instantly see if anything is there at a given azimuth. That's
what I do.

Interesting, the last time I looked into this stuff was 2008 right before the switchover (US) to DTV. Somebody online posted some pix of this spectrum-analyzer like graphic on his TV screen. He was either using a menu item from a digital TV or a converter. If it was a converter it was high-end and not on the coupon list (otherwise I would have gotten it).

Maybe now years after the conversion the manufacturers prefer KISS functionality and don't put nerdy features in that might have been useful during the conversion era. That would be a shame because I thought this would be an opportunity to take advantage of whatever improvements have occurred in features, algorithms, chip-sets, firmware, blah blah blah, in the past seven years. I'm still keeping the Zenith DTT901 because TIVO needs it.

loopstick
02-28-2015, 01:08 PM
If you don't mind SD DXing you could always get a set with composite video/stereo audio in, and hook your current Zenith DTV box up. Those Zenith DTV boxes are pretty decent units for DXing.

That's the fallback. I spontaneous bought a 19' LED at WalMart for my security cam (hoping it would be quieter on AM, it seems to be). I liked the picture so I figured I'd upgrade the main TV and perhaps gain some DX capability.

Electronic M
02-28-2015, 01:29 PM
I liked the picture so I figured I'd upgrade the main TV and perhaps gain some DX capability.

I'd hang on to that CRT set if it did not fail catastrophically. CRT sets are easier to fix, tend to have better parts availability, and tend to last longer before/between repairs. A fair percent of flat screens don't out live the extended warranty, and often before the end of that warranty non-generic parts become NLA.

Jeffhs
02-28-2015, 01:46 PM
There is still such a thing as television DXing. I live 30 miles from Cleveland, within a mile of Lake Erie. Using just an indoor DTV antenna, I can receive stations from Detroit with excellent pictures when the conditions are right.

TV DXing is not what it once was; that is, now we must scan through every channel our HDTVs receive in order to find distant stations, since, as was noted, most DTV tuners do not allow for manual keypad entry (from the remote) of individual stations to scan lists--you must accept what the tuner finds, then delete unwanted channels as needed. (All DTVs do allow entry of any receivable channel in a given area via the remote's keypad; I am referring to adding or deleting channels to or from the scan list using the keypad.)

It would be nice if DTV tuners did have a manual channel scan list entry mode; perhaps in a few years the design of these tuners may be improved enough so that the tuners not only allow for manual channel entry to a scan list, but are sensitive enough that the TVs in which they are installed may be used for OTA reception in any signal area. As it stands today, unfortunately, some HDTVs, especially some of the cheap no-name makes (e. g. Polaroid, Craig, etc.), have tuners that do not work well at all for OTA in anything other than very strong to near-suburban reception areas; they may have issues with receiving cable signals as well.

loopstick
02-28-2015, 06:33 PM
I'd hang on to that CRT set if it did not fail catastrophically. CRT sets are easier to fix, tend to have better parts availability, and tend to last longer before/between repairs. A fair percent of flat screens don't out live the extended warranty, and often before the end of that warranty non-generic parts become NLA.

Oops. I forced the issue by e-wasting it earlier today. I can probably get it back next Saturday, the trailer was pretty empty.

There is still such a thing as television DXing. I live 30 miles from Cleveland, within a mile of Lake Erie. Using just an indoor DTV antenna, I can receive stations from Detroit with excellent pictures when the conditions are right.

TV DXing is not what it once was; that is, now we must scan through every channel our HDTVs receive in order to find distant stations, since, as was noted, most DTV tuners do not allow for manual keypad entry (from the remote) of individual stations to scan lists--you must accept what the tuner finds, then delete unwanted channels as needed. (All DTVs do allow entry of any receivable channel in a given area via the remote's keypad; I am referring to adding or deleting channels to or from the scan list using the keypad.)

It would be nice if DTV tuners did have a manual channel scan list entry mode; perhaps in a few years the design of these tuners may be improved enough so that the tuners not only allow for manual channel entry to a scan list, but are sensitive enough that the TVs in which they are installed may be used for OTA reception in any signal area. As it stands today, unfortunately, some HDTVs, especially some of the cheap no-name makes (e. g. Polaroid, Craig, etc.), have tuners that do not work well at all for OTA in anything other than very strong to near-suburban reception areas; they may have issues with receiving cable signals as well.

A few years ago I got channel 2 North Platte from here in western NY, (almost 1200 miles away as crow flies). Same thing happened the following summer. Same network as Buffalo's channel 2 so I didn't notice anything until commercials. I'm getting concerned that I might already have the technology and it peaked in 2008:

http://www.videokarma.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=185983&d=1425165216

The Zenith and DigitalStream allow you to put in "RF" channels and the Zenith displays signal strength of whatever is there. The RCA seems pretty stable against dropouts, the Pal Plus has great prog guide but it gets upset and paralyzed if you move the antenna and it can't find previously-found channels. It also has huge lag when you switch channels. I think the Zenith is "LG" so maybe "LG" DTV's have decent tuners?

________________

Electronic M
02-28-2015, 06:53 PM
The Zenith is a Zenith; they designed the tech and the box. LG now owns what is left of Zenith, so if they are still using the designs in that box in their TV they may be a good brand to try.

loopstick
03-01-2015, 10:33 AM
I've been searching around on the net and this started out pretty promising but even a guy who knows this stuff kinda ran out of steam regarding what's in ATSC technology post-conversion:

What is the Current State of ATSC Tuner Development? (5-13-2013) (http://www.avsforum.com/forum/25-hdtv-technical/1472596-what-current-state-atsc-tuner-development.html)

Username1
03-01-2015, 11:38 AM
The Zenith and LG coupon DTV boxes are both the same unit, and they are both very
good units.....

And if DXing is what you want, then a spectrum analyzer is the way to go, I have one,
and when I was getting nothing here, I used it to point my antenna, and find the channels
I was going after....

Since OTA is the least popular way to get tv these days, and few people actually
fight to get a good signal, I think the tv manufacturers don't feel the need to
advertise sensitivity, or design for high sensitivity as a goal.... For that info,
you will have to search these and other forums.... Also in your mix look for
a good antenna, and pre-amp, distribution amp configuration, this will make up
for shortfalls in tv tuner design in some cases...

.

ChrisW6ATV
03-01-2015, 02:04 PM
I'm looking for new LED TV that has DX-friendly tuner
Buy an LG TV set.

LG sets, unlike all other brands except maybe Sony to some degree, allow you to "blindly" enter channel numbers without doing a "channel scan" first. They also allow you to manually put channel numbers into your saved list, so you can be ready if signals appear later. They also likely have among the best-performing tuners, since LG and its predecessor Zenith have done most of the ongoing development of ATSC tuner technology.

You may want to download owner's manuals for various TV sets to look at the menu functions if they are shown.

Update: After posting this, I noticed that the site itself automatically converted the terms "LG" and "Sony" into links to things for sale on Amazon. I did not do that, and I have no business interest in LG or any other equipment.

Username1
03-01-2015, 03:17 PM
I got curious about current OTA stand alone tuners, found they are still selling
relatively inexpensive little boxes on amazon, and I bet other places too, and if you
read down at the bottom they say something in the reviews about a more sensitive
tuner....

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GY0UB54/ref=twister_B00Q2NY9J2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

The one above made by SiliconDust - a really catchy name that inspires confidence in
superior performance is well rated, and now there are a few like this one that has
several tuners built in. This has 2 and networks the show all over the house, and some
have DVR's built in.... WOW I didn't know this stuff was out there for $50 - $150.
In one review for a SiliconDust model, they even say it performs better than the tuner built
into their new flat screen....

Here's a bunch of em'

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_st?keywords=ota+tuner&qid=1425230168&rh=n%3A172282%2Ck%3Aota+tuner&sort=review-rank

Anyone have experience with any of these boxes.... Like the siliconDust cheaper models...?
I might be interested in one to test if they are really being made with tuners that work
a little better than my Zenith/Insignia Coupon DTV converters..... Which I like a lot...


.

jr_tech
03-01-2015, 04:40 PM
And if DXing is what you want, then a spectrum analyzer is the way to go, I have one,
and when I was getting nothing here, I used it to point my antenna, and find the channels
I was going after....


If you are interested only in detecting the DX transmitter rather than trying to watch a program that is a good way to go! I use a slightly different approach, an Icom 8500 communications receiver that I can tune to VHF or UHF frequencies. I put the receiver in "cw" mode and look for the DTV "reference carrier" approx 0.310* mHz above the lower edge of the assigned channel frequency.
Example... ch 12 is assigned 204 to 210 mHz... I hear a nice tone at 204.310 mHz. Using this method, I can find stations that are not showing any signal strength on my DX-friendly Zenith box.

jr

* 0.309440559 mHz

loopstick
03-01-2015, 04:47 PM
I got curious about current OTA stand alone tuners, found they are still selling
relatively inexpensive little boxes on amazon, and I bet other places too, and if you
read down at the bottom they say something in the reviews about a more sensitive
tuner....

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GY0UB54/ref=twister_B00Q2NY9J2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

The one above made by SiliconDust - a really catchy name that inspires confidence in
superior performance is well rated, and now there are a few like this one that has
several tuners built in. This has 2 and networks the show all over the house, and some
have DVR's built in.... WOW I didn't know this stuff was out there for $50 - $150.
In one review for a SiliconDust model, they even say it performs better than the tuner built
into their new flat screen....

Here's a bunch of em'

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_st?keywords=ota+tuner&qid=1425230168&rh=n%3A172282%2Ck%3Aota+tuner&sort=review-rank

Anyone have experience with any of these boxes.... Like the siliconDust cheaper models...?
I might be interested in one to test if they are really being made with tuners that work
a little better than my Zenith/Insignia Coupon DTV converters..... Which I like a lot...


.

Interesting, always new stuff to learn. At the moment my DVR is old TiVo Series I which does a great free job of recording analog off the CH 3 out of my CECB. So maybe I upgrade to LG LED TV, hope for the best, and get something like these newer boxes so I can record in HD and maybe get improved OTA performance / functionality.

Electronic M
03-02-2015, 12:04 AM
Your Tivo box records for free without a subscription? Every used Tivo box I've ever got required a subscription be bought to work (sometimes after working okay for a month or two)....I usually just buy them used for a cheap hard drive, and other parts to use in other stuff.

loopstick
03-02-2015, 03:04 AM
Your Tivo box records for free without a subscription? Every used Tivo box I've ever got required a subscription be bought to work (sometimes after working okay for a month or two)....I usually just buy them used for a cheap hard drive, and other parts to use in other stuff.

It's a Series I (Philips). I found it at an SA. Didn't know what it was. Went home and googled it. Went back the next day. Still there. No price. Guy put $3 on it. Original owner had lifetime subscription. Had to make it "think" I lived near some Canadian channel 3 (which may have gone digital by now). Haven't let it "call home" in a couple years. Clock off by seven minutes. Afraid if it calls TiVo Central they'll zap it to make me buy newer version.

http://www.videokarma.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=185997&d=1425282863

http://www.videokarma.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=185998&d=1425282890

You're screwed without remote but luckily my mother-in-law gave me a Series II which was great for a couple of weeks then it wanted money to keep going. I put it in the basement then e-wasted it a few years later. Fortunately the remote was somewhere else at the time and I kept it. It works fine on the older Series I.

They didn't call it the Series I when it came out. Because of lifetime subscriptions these things would bring in $$$ on auction site but when switchover to DTV happened the bottom fell out of the market. FM tuner in pic is used to pick up FM station "beacons" when I move the rotor.

Electronic M
03-02-2015, 12:02 PM
Interesting. I Can't remember what I had, but all three were the same on the inside. One had a few months on the subscription so I let it run. It needed to call home to work (could not make it record without an updated schedule), and eventually the free ride ended.... I have a non-tivo Panasonic DVR/DVD recorder to use, so that tivo did not last long after losing service.

I wonder how hard it would be to decrypt the phone signals to those boxes, figure out what the signals sent to them are, and create a dummy phone server to set the time, update the guide, and tell them their subscription is still up to date..... :scratch2:

loopstick
03-02-2015, 07:11 PM
I talked to a guy at work who's some kind of monitor / display guru (a pro, that's his job). I didn't understand half of what he said but he was a big fan of LG. So I went to Best Buy and got the LG 42LB6300. Really like it so far. Syracuse PBS is the holy grail. I actually donated $$$ until I lost them when the weather warmed up (seasonal reception).

I love the manual channel add menu. You can spin through the whole spectrum (RF 2 - 69) with the thumbwheel on the remote. So it's kinda like semi-auto. Well:

http://www.videokarma.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=186002&d=1425340794

The "meters" seem really sensitive / responsive to small gooses on the rotor, so you get a sense of really peaking it. This station doesn't show up on the TV fool compass map but appears near the bottom of the chart:

http://www.videokarma.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=186003&d=1425340845

Unfortunately there's 80 miles of mixed forested terrain between me and the station and that's why I think it might be leaves that make reception more difficult in the summer. OTOH in the summer Lake Ontario brings in stations from Canada because of thermal inversion over the lake's surface?

http://www.videokarma.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=186004&d=1425340870

________________

ChrisW6ATV
03-03-2015, 12:14 AM
It is nice to see that you got a good set.

ChrisW6ATV
03-03-2015, 12:25 AM
Anyone have experience with any of these boxes.... Like the siliconDust cheaper models...?
I have two of the original HDHomeRun tuners made by Silicon Dust, and they do work quite well. All of the tuners of that brand, if it is not clear in the description, are made to be accessories to one or more computers in a network setup. You run software (such as the excellent Windows Media Center that is free in Windows 7) that turns the computer plus this tuner into a totally-free DVR setup. (Free, that is, after you buy the computer and tuner, of course.)

This is the only way I have been watching and recording high-definition TV for almost ten years now. Once you have one of these tuners, ANY computer using your Wi-Fi or plug-in network at home can display TV shows live, or record them.

Username1
03-04-2015, 02:25 PM
Thanks Chris- that's what It sounds like in the description.... My main interest though,
would be in the tuner end.... Any idea if it is better than the Zenith/Insignia coupon
converters from a few years ago.....?

By the way... How much space does a 60 minute tv show recorded in HD use... GB's ?
And do you save them on to DVD...? Can you save it to DVD ?? Of do you keep it
on the computer Hare drive....? Then I guess you can WIFI it to whatever....

This one for example.... Insignia NS-DXA1-APT

http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Sealed-Insignia-TV-Digital-Tuner-Converter-Box-D-to-Analog-NS-DXA1-APT-/331471534193?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item4d2d3e3871

.

ChrisW6ATV
03-05-2015, 12:26 AM
I have not tried to directly compare the HDHomeRun to (in my case) a Zenith DTT-900/901 (same as that Insignia).

An HDTV over-the-air show can be up to 8 GB per hour, depending how it is recorded. That is the full size of one hour of a digital TV channel's signal. As you likely know, most digital TV stations have two or more channels in their signals, so some recorders use less than the whole 8 GB per hour in their recordings, which are 100% exact ("bit for bit") duplicates of what was broadcast.

I just leave all of my recordings on hard drives; I do not keep that many shows long-term, at least not on purpose. HD shows would need to be converted to standard-definition to be put onto DVDs, and I know it can be done but I have not tried. Programs such as Nero may be able to do it semi-easily. Actually easier (no conversion) would be to put shows onto home-recorded Blu-ray discs.

Username1
03-05-2015, 10:37 AM
Thank you !

.

loopstick
03-06-2015, 07:52 AM
Interesting. I Can't remember what I had, but all three were the same on the inside. One had a few months on the subscription so I let it run. It needed to call home to work (could not make it record without an updated schedule), and eventually the free ride ended.... I have a non-tivo Panasonic DVR/DVD recorder to use, so that tivo did not last long after losing service.

I wonder how hard it would be to decrypt the phone signals to those boxes, figure out what the signals sent to them are, and create a dummy phone server to set the time, update the guide, and tell them their subscription is still up to date..... :scratch2:

My Series One is totally legal, totally unhacked, the original owner paid for the lifetime subscription, TiVo got their $$$. So in theory I should be covered. But we all know sh*t happens. I doubt TiVo has established a Board of Trustees and set up a perpetual trust fund to ensure that thrift store Series Ones will always work. That's why I'm paranoid about calling in. Nothing good can come of it. I don't mind the clock being off, you just schedule the recordings according to TiVo Standard Time.

rpm1200
03-11-2015, 02:22 PM
I'm in the same boat as you. I got a Series 1 Philips with Lifetime at a garage sale for $20 prior to the DTV conversion. Around 2008 TiVo offered to transfer the lifetime sub to a refurbished TiVo HD for $99 so I did that. The HD is still going strong on my main TV (although I did clone and replace the hard drive a few years ago). I disconnected the Series 1 from the phone line and only use it for playing back shows already on its hard drive (and I only do that on extremely rare occasions).

The reception on the HD is pretty decent; it has two tuners and a good signal strength indicator. TiVo is good at keeping on top of what OTA channels are available and sending out channel list updates appropriately. It's locking up and requiring a restart from time to time (maybe once a month) so sooner or later I'm sure it will totally quit and I'll have to try to upgrade again.

loopstick
03-11-2015, 08:27 PM
I'm in the same boat as you. I got a Series 1 Philips with Lifetime at a garage sale for $20 prior to the DTV conversion. Around 2008 TiVo offered to transfer the lifetime sub to a refurbished TiVo HD for $99 so I did that. The HD is still going strong on my main TV (although I did clone and replace the hard drive a few years ago). I disconnected the Series 1 from the phone line and only use it for playing back shows already on its hard drive (and I only do that on extremely rare occasions).

The reception on the HD is pretty decent; it has two tuners and a good signal strength indicator. TiVo is good at keeping on top of what OTA channels are available and sending out channel list updates appropriately. It's locking up and requiring a restart from time to time (maybe once a month) so sooner or later I'm sure it will totally quit and I'll have to try to upgrade again.

That's cool, a one-time fee for technology upgrade. So I guess you just got the lifetime suscription info out of the "System" menu and called or applied online. They didn't care if you were the original owner I'm guessing. I love my TiVo for time-shifting, commercial-skipping, and instant replay because sometimes I'm a big mouth and talk over top of something.

Right now I time-shifted six hours of "MuchMusic Eighties Weekend" I recorded onto VHS back in 1998 from my BUD (big ugly dish) antenna. I fed it into TiVo as channel 3 and set up a manual record. The video quality is surprisingly good for a 17 year old EP recording. My daughter had no idea how cool the Eighties really were.

On my big screen I can see tiny artifacting which I guess is TiVo processing and probably cleaning up defects as they come across from the VCR deck. I know I can time-shift and commerial-skip directly with the VCR but TiVo is so much more nimble and snappy.

NowhereMan 1966
03-11-2015, 10:35 PM
I don't have much of a chance at TV DXing since I live in the Ohio River valley at the bottom but I do pick up the locals. I do have a Vizio flatscreen my aunt gave my Mom when she was sick but I have it in my bedroom as my TV in there with an amplified antenna. I also acquired a 2002 Zenith TV console, 25 inch and that's in my living room with a DT-900 tuner and Phillips rabbit ears. I also have my 1982 Zenith with a DT-900 in my dining room with my desktop PC and a set of old Rembrandt rabbit ears (I'm using it now). That is the best DXer here, I can pick up the satellite DTV station that WTRF from Wheeling has. I have a spare DT-900 box and a DT-901 but my friend bummed the 901 off of me for now.

The Zenith Boxes I like better since you can add channels manually, the Vizio is a pain in the butt when it comes to that but I can't complain about the latter, it is a good TV.

centralradio
03-19-2015, 10:56 PM
Tuner gain and sensitivity is probably my issue here.They dont make them like they used too.They probably said "Why Bother"Most sets will be on cable.I used to receive about 7 to 12 locals when analog was up and running.Now I receive zero.

That scanning BS is for the birds.

Today's Radio tuners suck too.thats another topic.

Jeffhs
03-20-2015, 01:02 PM
I used to receive about 7 to 12 locals when analog was up and running.Now I receive zero.

You won't get anything in analog anymore, even with a deep-fringe area antenna, because there is no more analog TV in this country. The FCC ordered all analog TV stations to switch to digital just under six years ago, and low power translator stations will be required to switch before the end of the year.

Unless you live in an area cut off from local TV signals by mountains, etc. you should be able to receive a few DTV stations with an antenna. I live in a low-elevation area (610 feet ASL, above sea level) some 35 miles from the Cleveland TV transmitters and get excellent reception on all but two stations, using amplified rabbit ears (the two stations I don't get still operate on VHF DTV channels). The only way you can get TV reception on your old analog sets is to get cable and connect it directly to the TV. This will work until your local cable provider tells you you need a cable box to receive anything, as Comcast has done already and Time Warner will be doing in the near future (in fact, every cable operator in the U.S. except TW is fully digital), or else use a converter box and an antenna.

centralradio
03-20-2015, 04:10 PM
You won't get anything in analog anymore, even with a deep-fringe area antenna, because there is no more analog TV in this country. The FCC ordered all analog TV stations to switch to digital just under six years ago, and low power translator stations will be required to switch before the end of the year.

Unless you live in an area cut off from local TV signals by mountains, etc. you should be able to receive a few DTV stations with an antenna. I live in a low-elevation area (610 feet ASL, above sea level) some 35 miles from the Cleveland TV transmitters and get excellent reception on all but two stations, using amplified rabbit ears (the two stations I don't get still operate on VHF DTV channels). The only way you can get TV reception on your old analog sets is to get cable and connect it directly to the TV. This will work until your local cable provider tells you you need a cable box to receive anything, as Comcast has done already and Time Warner will be doing in the near future (in fact, every cable operator in the U.S. except TW is fully digital), or else use a converter box and an antenna.

My bad.I know that and will aware of the changeovers .I word it wrong.It should say I dont receive any of the current DTV signals.Hahahaha It was late when I post this message .Yea with the mountain issues.

I got one one channel 10 which is about 7 to 10 miles from here and the rest is on UHF.