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Lets talk Digital TV and rabbit ears.

Discussion in 'Home Improvement' started by RockRanger, August 26, 2008.

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    1. RockRanger

      RockRanger Elite Ranger Elite Explorer

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      Right now Tracy and I have 2 TVs and one set of rabbit ears to watch Tv off of. The current rabbit ears are some cheap ones from K mart. Nothing fancy about them. In the bedroom TV with the rabbit ears hooked up I can CBS and barely get NBC. That is it.

      When we move the rabbit ears out to the living room we can barely get Fox, get NBC ok, ABC ok, CBS limited, and a local KUSI channel.

      Both of the TV's are old school enough that I will be needing the converter box if we stay with rabbit ears.

      My question is will the digital box help boost the signal so I can pickup channels better then then I do now? Also would a better set of rabbit ears help get the signals better as well? I just do not want to go drop a few hundred bucks on this stuff and not get any better TV. I figure in a year or year and a half we will probably get cable or directv anyway so it is only a short term solution.

      Cable will run $40-50 a month so it will be cheaper to stay with broadcast but if I am stuck with only 2 channels then I will start forking over for cable even though we are only home for 8-9 days a month.
       
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    3. Tbars4

      Tbars4 Offroad/Fitness Moderator Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      ...This might help...Think of am radio and fm radio...When fm came to service it was digital, as in 102.7..

      ...For example:

      ...The chanel on tv, let's say your channel 8...It is now broadcasting as 8, 8.1,8.2,8.3...Channel 8 is the current broadcast signal...Channel 8.1 is the same channel being transmitted in a different screen format and is digitized...Now, channel 8.2 and 8.3 are addittional channels being broadcast from the same station...Say, 8.2 is there live newsroom feed and 8.3 is their uplink...

      ...I know, maybe to much info..:rolleyes:

      ...Your reception area will still be critical for your rabbit ears..They do have rabbit ears that will be better and can pick up some of the digital channels but they use the dial style and you need to slide the channel in...

      ...I would look into getting a better roof antenna and the hd box...Most tv station sites have a digital tv info page as I believe it is required by the FCC...On these info pages they all have a link for a coupon for the digital box...

      ...This is the page from channel 8 and if you look at the bottom of the page, it has a link for the coupon...;)
      http://www.cbs8.com/dtv/

      ...I hope this helps some...:dunno:
      ...Now my problem, lol...How do I get digital on my 5" tv in the X???...:scratch:
       
    4. jad2411

      jad2411 Well-Known Member

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      It costs 50 dlls and it does help a lot with reception, at my uncle's he gets more channels than he did before, so why not buy one and try it out?
       
    5. Maniak

      Maniak Moderator-Stock 91-94 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      Here is my input since we just got DTV converter boxes...

      We finally got a DTV since we have one really old TV and one bleeding edge HDTV. The old TV is an old sony.. So old that the remove is just one step above a clicker.. the TV only goes to channel 13. The big TV is a Panasonic HDTV circa 2000. That means no DTV tuner or HDMI inputs..

      The old TV picks up 1.5 channels with the rabbit ears.. (Channel 13 is clear, channel 18 is very snowy)..

      I tried both the Insignia available from Best Buy and the Apex dt250 (also available at best buy).. Neither box picked picked up any stations at all with the rabbit ears that pick up 1.5 channels of analog.

      On the big TV we have a 160" Dual band big antenna on the roof.

      We were getting snowy channel 4 and picked up 6 ,13 and 18 only.

      I hooked up the DTV converter box and now get channel 4, four channel 6's(PBS), channel 11 (fox), three channel 13s (cbs), channel 18.

      During the day we can pick up two more statoins...

      Soo.. the DTV box "might" help, but it might not.. I'm going to replace the big old roof mount antenna with a grid style antenna (still directional). It should have better gain and much less wind loading (smaller antenna).. As it is now, I have it aimed at the tower which is 30+ miles away..

      BTW.. Using the CEBC coupons the apex and the Insignia converter boxes are $19 from best buy.. After 2 days of having them I'm going to return the Apex box and exchange it for a 2nd insignia. The apex supports intelligent antenna (I think thats what you call it) and has s-video out but the remote control is so bad that the extra features don't mean anything.. the button clicks aren't seen, or it thinks you hit the button twice.. sometimes I got it confused.. I hit channel up and it thinks I hit channel down...

      Just going to Digital cleaned up the picture so much, even when using the composit input on the tv that I'm not going to worry about running svideo..

      ~Mark
       
    6. Blacksheep Josh

      Blacksheep Josh Slinky+Escalator=Fun Elite Explorer

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      Don't forget, you can get coupons from the Gov't to help pay for the converter boxes!
       
    7. Maniak

      Maniak Moderator-Stock 91-94 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      That is what I did.. and they are good for 90 days.. If your going to use them online, don't wait until the last minute.. a few places I checked wouldn't take the coupons becuase ours were set to expire in 2 days...

      ~Mark
       
    8. SuRrEaLNJ

      SuRrEaLNJ hail to the king, baby! Elite Explorer

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      what you guys really need to boost your pickup is to get an amplified antenna, wich will run ya somethin to the tune of 30-80 bucks depending how nice of a unit you want, ie variable gain, hdtv, etc

      the converter box's only job is to make sure your old tv can interperate the new digital tv signal
       
    9. Maniak

      Maniak Moderator-Stock 91-94 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      You mean something like this? http://www.radioshack.com/product/i...origkw=tv+antenna+amplifier&parentPage=search

      I got something like that from a RadioShack amplified antenna (it looked like a 6 ft piece of square plastic tubing). It didn't help when we were running analog but I think I kept that amplifier and can always plug it inline with what we current have..

      I do plan on replacing the old RS big antenna (160" 57 element) with a more effieicent high gain less wind load antenna.. but if an amplifier would help I'll do that too.

      ~Mark
       
    10. Stic-o

      Stic-o Elite Movie Star Elite Explorer

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      Remember that the new HD signal don't have anywhere close to the range of the old radio/TV waves. You probally need a Amp. Or just go pick up a small HD tv for a few hundred bucks.

      It's cheaper then tires, Matt!!!:p:
       
    11. SuRrEaLNJ

      SuRrEaLNJ hail to the king, baby! Elite Explorer

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    12. Maniak

      Maniak Moderator-Stock 91-94 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    13. tdavis

      tdavis Linux Guru, Jack of All Trades Staff Member Admin Elite Explorer

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      Get basic cable service - it's much better. I know, I know, you guys are never home..

      Next step is to get a real antenna. I know it's cool to have Tracy hold the rabbit ears in weird positions (dirty minds!)..

      The DTV tuners will either work or not at all. The beauty of digital TV is the signal is cleaner, when there is enough strength..

      My last suggestion - for laugh and grins, is there any coax in the house? Hook it up and see what you get - sometimes they act as giant antenna's, and improve reception..
       
    14. glfredrick

      glfredrick Elite Explorer

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      I've found that digital signals are easier to tune than analog. When we actually tried rabbit ears (before cable and satellite) we could barely draw in the strongest local channels, and we had to constantly fiddle with the antenna.

      Now, with a new 37" Samsung widescreen, we can draw in digital signals WITHOUT any antenna! Just the set alone -- no box, no nothing -- can draw in about 20 local channels. I was impressed.

      We're still on cable (current landlord won't allow satellite, which is best by far) but the number of channels we recieve doubled from just the digital tuners in the set.

      I'd get the converter box and see what happens... You'll need it anyway. One of our local analog channels is already sending scrolling messages across the screen saying that they will begin reducing power to their analog channel in October. Though the change comes after the first of the year, many stations area already in process and there are lots of things different already.
       
    15. RockRanger

      RockRanger Elite Ranger Elite Explorer

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      I think we are just going to get a basic cable or satellite dish package. By the time I buy two converter boxes and another antenna I could pay for a few months of cable right there. I doubt I am very close to any of the broadcast points anyway because we live in the back country of San Diego. Now I just need to get around to running the coax cable where I want it.

      I sure am not going to let the cable installers do it cause I have seen how they do it. I understand why they do it the way they do I just don't want it done on my house that way.
       
    16. johnd393

      johnd393 New Member

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      If you can, put up an antenna outdoor antenna. Rabbit ears are not worth fooling with unless you have no other option. Radio Shack outdoor antennas are fine for most people. Some people get good results with a outdoor antenna in the attic. The digital boxes will likely get more stations because each station can have 2 or 3 sub channels. The DTVPal box, sold at Sears, and Kmart, even has a program guide like cable or dish. Real high definition tv, HDTV is free from an antenna and can be a higher quality picture than cable or dish. The cheap converter boxed that the government coupons work on do receive HD but convert it down for standard tvs. It's still a good picture. Other set top boxes have been out for several years already that have hi def outputs. I think any new tv purchased now has the digital tuner in it.
      Here's a link for the government coupons https://www.dtv2009.gov/
       
    17. briwayjones

      briwayjones Elite Explorer

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      Personally I think they're a waste of money. I've never seen an amplified antenna that worked better than a decent set of un-amplified rabbit ears. In fact I don't think I ever had one that even worked quite as well.
       
    18. Tbars4

      Tbars4 Offroad/Fitness Moderator Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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    19. TheJackal

      TheJackal Well-Known Member

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      My dad's been getting into the DTV conversion. He's a radio guy and kind of predicted this years ago.

      They have DirecTV (which I can't stand, but can't talk them out of it) and they do get their local channels. However, they only get about 4 of them in HD, and they don't give you the additional channels (you get whatever one their main broadcast is in HD and that's it, no 6.2 or 6.3). That wouldn't be a big loss, but they like the 24-hour local weather station that channel 6 puts out, and they want to get PBS in HD.

      To pick up all the rest, they had a set of rabbit ears hooked up to the DirecTV receiver (the HD ones used to have a digital tuner built in, the new ones don't and they had to bitch to get one when theirs broke). This let them pick up the additional channels and puts them in the line with the rest of the locals on the sat box.

      There was also a TV in the bathroom that got its signal from an attic antenna. My dad went to RadioShack and bought this VHF/UHF antenna. This was so they didn't have rabbit ears in the living room anymore. The tuner in the bathroom TV is poor and doesn't pick up some of the stations if the signal is split. My dad ended up going back to RadioShack and buying this UHF antenna just for it.

      The signal from the larger antenna was eventually split so the lounge TV could have a DTV converter on it in addition to the satellite box so they can pick up the weather and stuff.

      As far as the rest of the DTV stations, at least here, you're not missing much. There's some religious crap on one of them, and another one plays old movies continuously. The only really useful one is the "Weather Plus," which I've seen in other cities, and if they'd get cable we'd get the Weather Channel and it wouldn't need it either... :confused:

      If you do plan on getting an antenna for the new DTV stations, all you really need is a UHF antenna like this one. After the conversion, all of the DTV stations are going to be on UHF. Remember all antennas installed outside must be grounded and never installed near overhead power lines.

      We mounted ours in the attic due to homeowner's association restrictions. :rolleyes: They still work pretty well despite that, tho, and we are out in the boonies. We mounted them to a pole attached to this tripod, with the larger one underneath the smaller one. The smaller one is way up in the peak of the roof, which is out of the way, and though the larger one had to be lower it is still high enough it won't be in the way.

      Oh and about amplifiers, we've tried a few, but have never been pleased with them with either digital or analog TV. They just don't appear to do anything. With enough money, you might be able to find a useful one, but with the right antenna you can get a pretty good signal especially if you're in town.

      My prediction for the DTV conversion is that it'll probably get pushed back 6 months to a year, and then it will finally happen. The stupid people who still ignored the warnings will raise a whole bunch of hell, eventually causing it all to go back to both analog and digital signals.
       
    20. glfredrick

      glfredrick Elite Explorer

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      When we had a dish, I used one of these with good success.

      [​IMG]

      http://www.amazon.com/Terk-Amplified-Outdoor-Antenna-Satellite/dp/B0000APCIV?tag=dogpile-20

      They feed right in via the dish cable and if the dish is allowed, so is the antenna.

      We now use digital cable, but I preferred DirecTV to Insight (other than having broadband Internet service!). I got more channels, with better quality for less money. I'll probably go back to DirecTV once I move out of the city, and for Internet, who knows? Depends how far out I am -- either cell link or satellite uplink (pricey).
       
    21. Maniak

      Maniak Moderator-Stock 91-94 Staff Member Moderator Elite Explorer

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      All channels are NOT going UHF.. Most channels will be there though. I'm looking for the chart again, but in the Tucson area one of the DTV channels is currently on UHF but once the transision officially happens they will end up on VHF.

      I'll post the current and final channel assignment chart once I find it again.

      ~Mark
       
    22. glfredrick

      glfredrick Elite Explorer

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      Your comment depends a LOT on where one is. When I was in Central Wisconsin, the closest broadcast stations were between 50 and 100 miles. You had to really work to draw in a signal. Rabbit ears were a joke. We had a set that made the rounds for White Elephant Christmas gifting... No one wanted them, and they always showed up the next year. Satellite was about the only real answer in that neck of the woods, and before satellite, it was either a big x humongous antenna with an amp or nothing...
       
    23. IAmTodd

      IAmTodd 4x Explorer Veteran Elite Explorer

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      I say get a DTV box and a decent antenna and see what you get. You can always return the goods and go cable if you aren't happy.

      I personally hate the thought of paying so much for cable. I'd much rather have some type of media box or a modded Apple TV before cable.
       
    24. TheJackal

      TheJackal Well-Known Member

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      hmm... I keep hearing this. I know here in New Orleans they're all supposed to be on UHF. In fact FOX8 decided to do their transition early back in December. When they announced they were ending their analog broadcast they were telling everyone they had to rescan their digital boxes too because they were moving to their final DTV location. It's on UHF. The only one on VHF now is our PBS affiliate WYES with their digital stuff on channel 11.

      I wonder if different areas are getting different band allocations for the TV signals. :scratch:

      Here's a picture of the attic antenna setup. The roof is steep enough it gave us enough room:
      [​IMG]

      When they got the 2 coupons they gave me one of the converter boxes. I still haven't used it because I have cable in this room. I'll probably just leave it here with them when I move at the end of the year because I plan to get digital cable wherever I go.
       
    25. TheJackal

      TheJackal Well-Known Member

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      hmm... looking into this some more, it seems they'll be on both VHF and UHF, kind of like how TV stations are now. Don't know where my dad got that information from. Oh well, I had a feeling that was bogus. Looks like he got screwed on the small antenna deal, although that TV still picks up the VHF stations anyway.
       
    26. KPT

      KPT Well-Known Member

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      FM radio is not digital. If it was you wouldn't get static when you were listening to a weak station. You'd either get the station or you wouldn't.
       

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