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Best Terrestrial/OTA HDTV Setup For an Apartment? 238

thesandbender writes "I don't watch TV but keep an HTPC for watching movies. One of my relatives is very ill and I'll have a lot of family rotating through my apartment and I'd like to have a few more options for entertainment. I'm running Vista MCE and bought a Hauppauge HVR-1800 with a DB8 HDTV antenna and I've used AntennaWeb to point the DB8 in the best direction. The results have been terrible and I'm looking for recommendations / suggestions for hardware and setup. I am on the first floor of a three-story apartment building and I can't mount any external antennas (I know this is a major issue). Thankfully almost all the transmitters are located in the same place so a good, compact directional antenna might be effective. And please... no platform bashing. They all have their issues (I have a lot of h.264 encoded files... hardware/GPU acceleration on Linux is very, very limited at the moment)."
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Best Terrestrial/OTA HDTV Setup For an Apartment?

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  • Not enough gain? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ColaMan ( 37550 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @08:13AM (#24656873) Journal

    Try a masthead antenna amplifier. Get a good quality one and (hopefully) it will help compensate for the god-awful frontend in your TV tuner.

    (Yes, I know masthead amps are really to compensate for long cable runs, but a low noise amp at the front upping things by 10-12dB is sometimes all it takes.)

    • Re:Not enough gain? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Knackster ( 858532 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @08:19AM (#24656917)
      The low noise benefits of mast mounted pre-amplifiers are good. Remember that most ota hd channels are in the UHF range so get an amp with gain in that band. Also: Try for aiming. Lots more information available to use.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Important note!...I don't know where the original poster is (or if they're even in the U.S.), but in many areas, as of the 2/2009 switch to all digital many DTV stations are moving from their current UHF frequencies to the VHF frequency where they now have their analog broadcast. In the New York area this is true for ABC, TheWB, and PBS, whose DTV broadcasts will be moved to 7, 11, and 13 respectively. I don't believe this is true for any VHF frequencies lower below channel 7.

        ...not that that stopped a sl

        • by Detritus ( 11846 )
          There are a number of stations that are going to move to VHF lo-band, mostly in very rural areas.
    • Re:Not enough gain? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @09:34AM (#24657567)

      I've been watching terrestrial ATSC with an indoor antenna and a MythTV box for several years now. I agree -- amplification is key. In my case, I don't have the luxury of power near my antenna, so I just installed an inexpensive (~$25) powered amp near my PC, and it had a very positive effect. You can pick one up almost can even try the A/V section at your local Target/WalMart.

      Cabling to your antenna is also important if it's any distance from the PC. I recommend you keep it at least across the room from the PC, which can generate quite a bit of RF noise. Plus, the extra cable length will give you room to maneuver/aim your antenna. I suggest RG-59 (coax) as opposed to twisted pair. Again, you can get it cheaply at WalMart.

      For an indoor antenna, I use a small outdoor UHF-only antenna I got at Radio Shack for ~$25. (It's basically just the small front piece from a full-size rooftop antenna -- a ~3' "spike" in the middle of a V-shaped reflector.) It takes up some space, but works a lot better than indoor antennas I've tried.

      Lastly, it will take some amount of experimentation... AntennaWeb will give you a good idea where your local transmitters are, but indoor antennas are subject to lots of reflections and noise, so you might get better results by aiming the antenna a few degrees off of the "correct" orientation...left, right, or even vertically.

      • ***as opposed to twisted pair***

        Not being snarky, just curious if you meant 300 ohm twin lead? I've never encountered the use of Unshielded Twisted Pair for TV although it might work just fine.

      • "I've been watching terrestrial ATSC with an indoor antenna and a MythTV box for several years now. I agree -- amplification is key. In my case, I don't have the luxury of power near my antenna, so I just installed an inexpensive (~$25) powered amp near my PC, and it had a very positive effect. You can pick one up almost can even try the A/V section at your local Target/WalMart."

        Can someone recommend some specific amps to purchase? Brand....types, specs?

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

          I just use an amplified antenna that was onsale at the local Walmart.
          It was pretty much the most expensive HD antenna they had. I tried
          each of their cheaper models and returned all of them.

          For me the key was proper orientation and height.

          The higher you can get the better. Being a homeowner in the burbs, I
          have mine in the upstairs "finished attic". An HDHomeRun is next to
          the antenna. The house is well wired, but trying to use the coax to
          route the ATSC singals around the house just didn't work (too much

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by punterjoe ( 743063 )
      I'll second that. A 5th gen ATSC chipset is much better than earlier models, but from my experience it really comes down to gain. I live in an RF hell-hole: near the bottom of the tallest hill in town, across the street from a huge 19th century cathedral (with cellphone nodes in the steeple btw) in a groudfloor apt almost 50 miles from the Boston area antenna farms. That I can get ANY ATSC reception is pretty amazing. I do it all with lots (>60db) of RF amplification. BTW - this makes NTSC unwatchable si
    • I am not sure what this DB8 antenna is, but I know Wal-Mart has several different model of rabbit ear "HD antennas". Truthfully, any antenna should work, so just go out and buy the antenna with the highest gain, and see if that helps. The boxes are clearly labled at my Wal-Mart to how good the gain is. If that does not work, you may be SOOL, because you have to do with physical barriers in your line of sight, such as another appartment building. Back in the analog days, I used to have ghosting with my local

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        For this I would recommend AGAINST mail order. You will likely
        not find a suitable antenna on your first try. So pick a
        local merchant with a hassle free and no cost return policy.

  • Only solutions... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @08:13AM (#24656879) Homepage

    1- violate your lease and get your antenna higher.
    2- get cable tv.

    sorry but you cant find a magical antenna that will pull in signals without getting it off the ground. you have to get an antenna into the air and away from obstructions. you can try to get a pair of high gain UHF bowtie array antennas from wineguard or channelmaster, but those will look very ugly and take up 4 feet by 3 feet in your sliding glass door.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Kamokazi ( 1080091 )
      Yeah, just cough up for some basic cable service for a few months. Most of the traditional cable companies don't do contracts so signing up for a couple months and then ditching them won't result in termination fees.
    • Or move to a new place with a landlord that doesn't impose such ridiculous restrictions, such as prohibiting external antennas. (This might be a little more costly and time consuming than other possible solutions, but it's always available as a last resort.)

    • original poster says he has a DB8, which is already extremely large. Perhaps multipath is the problem?

    • Getting an antenna off the ground is for the cases where the transmitter is not LOS (due to Earth curvature) or large obstacles such as buildings. The parent is 100% correct if you cant see any towers from your window due to distance, or large buildings in the way. Some drywall, fiberglass, windows, etc.. will not prevent you from receiving a signal. However, bulky metal railings on a balcony sure as hell will (as in my case).

      If you can see any towers, I really recommend building your own Helix antenna
  • Get satellite tv (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @08:21AM (#24656931)

    If you're in the US, you can tell the land lord to piss off, they can not stop you from getting a satellite dish. I had a similar problem with my HOA, and Fed law trumps HOAs and landlords.

    • Re:Get satellite tv (Score:5, Informative)

      by Awptimus Prime ( 695459 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @08:44AM (#24657095)

      You only have the ability to do this when it comes to sticking a dish on your porch. You still don't have any rights to have the install guy go nailing a dish where ever it may be needed to get a signal.

      If your porch faces north or if there's no place on the porch to get a signal due to buildings or plants, you are still out of luck.

      The best thing he can do is just stick an antenna on the porch or in a window frame and hope for the best.

      Speaking of outdoor antennas, go to some place like Best Buy with a no-hassle return policy. Get a cheap model, try it, if it doesn't work, take it back and keep upgrading until you've got something that works. It's a nice way of doing a bit of experimenting on their tab. More expensive doesn't mean better, as I get all the local HD channels with a pair of rabbit ears hooked up to my setup.

      Nothing looks as cool as a $4200 panel with a $5 radio shack pair of rabbit ears stuck on top of it. :)

      • by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <{atd7} {at} {}> on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @08:59AM (#24657225) Homepage

        Nearly all of the B&M electronics retailers sell absolutely horribly shitty antennas. (There are occasionally decent ones but it's RARE.)

        If you want to get a good antenna you need to go to a specialty store (likely online) or in many cases you'll have luck at home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowes.

        Look for products from Channel Master or Winegard. Both make good antennas and preamps. There are a few other good brands but those are the two that come to mind first.

        If you fail with CM or Winegard - get cable. Unfortunately reliable terrestrial HD can be difficult. I don't even bother in my apartment. Everything else about your setup is fine, your OS makes no difference if reception is bad. Garbage in, garbage out.

        • The DB8 is not a bad UHF antenna. It's designed for people who live up to 70 miles from the stations

          • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

            Yeah, I saw the info on that, it appears pretty similar to the CM 4228, pretty hard to beat that one.

            The submitter has pretty much three options in order he should try:
            1) Get the antenna outside on the porch somehow
            2) Get a mastmount preamp
            3) Give up and get cable or satellite

            • Of course, those options are appropriate if the signal is merely weak. It may be that his problems are caused by multipath, in which case, a better tuner, or better antenna placement will be needed.

              And there's the possibility that the antenna's signal is too strong.

              AntennaWeb can be strange. It labeled most of the stations I watch regularly as "violet"- even though I live less than twenty miles from the towers. Perhaps it's not very useful for condominiums or apartment complexes.

          • I used a DB4 to reach 40 miles in Columbus and am now using rabbit ears with a UHF loop antenna to reach 40 miles in Long Beach. I am also using a nice 15Db amplifier.

            In my experience, get a UHF antenna (any), since most HD channels are in UHF range, and a nice amplifier and you'll get any HD channels you're ever going to get.

            Some broadcast towers simply aren't configured properly or have the power turned way down still, and you'll never get those channels no matter what you do (WFFT Fox in Fort Wayne,
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by sampas ( 256178 ) *
          Signal strength is NOT the only issue. The US digital TV standard, 8VSB, is particularly sensitive to multipath interference. On plain old TV, multipath (radio signals bouncing off everything) led to ghosting in your tv image. In 8VSB, it means you don't get a successful decode. To quote from the FCC field test of 8VSB:

          "The field test data also indicate that indoor reception of DTV signals is more challenging. Indoor service availability ranged from 75-100 percent in cities with a small to moderate percent

    • by bconway ( 63464 )

      Can you cite which Federal law allows you to mount satellite dishes on property you don't own?

      • Re:Get satellite tv (Score:5, Informative)

        by PvtVoid ( 1252388 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @09:00AM (#24657239)
        Section 207 of the Federal Communications Law of 1996: [] (PDF format). See Section 2 of the Introduction:

        In practice, under the amendment to our rules, renters will be able, subject to the terms of our Section 207 rules, to install Section 207 devices wherever they rent space outside of a building, such as balconies, balcony railings, patios, yards, gardens or any similar areas.

      • Re:Get satellite tv (Score:4, Informative)

        by Flying Scotsman ( 1255778 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @09:00AM (#24657243)

        47 C.F.R. Section 1.4000.

        Read more about it here []. The rule applies to "video antennas including direct-to-home satellite dishes that are less than one meter (39.37") in diameter (or of any size in Alaska), TV antennas, and wireless cable antennas."

        There are some restrictions. For example you aren't guaranteed the right to mount your dish/antenna on a common area such as a roof or a wall. However, balconies and patios are fair game. As another poster else-thread mentioned, if your unit faces north, you're pretty SOL as far as dishes go.

      • 47 CFR 1.4000 []
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by mcai8rw2 ( 923718 )

      If you're in the US, you can tell the land lord to piss off, they can not stop you from getting a satellite dish. I had a similar problem with my HOA, and Fed law trumps HOAs and landlords.

      Wow... you guys have federal law saying you can have satallite dishes on your houses! "Oh say can you see, sitting in front of tv!"

    • by sukotto ( 122876 )

      You assume the OP is renting.
      I own a condo with a "no mounted antennas" rule... which seems fairly common here in NY).

      Just like the OP, I have a north facing apt on the bottom floor of a 3 story building... and a "no mounted antenna" policy.

      Sure I could have an unattached antenna (say, on a pole in a 5-gal bucket of cement). But when you're north facing you're pretty much sol when it comes to reception.

      • TFS informs us that the OP is, in fact, renting an apartment.
        • by sukotto ( 122876 )

          Where exactly? I see "apartment", but nothing about renting vs owning.

          • I am on the first floor of a three-story apartment building and I can't mount any external antennas.

            If he owned this apartment building (rather than renting his apartment), he could do whatever he wanted.

      • by Chyeld ( 713439 )

        And you are covered under the same law. They still stick those stipulations into the agreement, but it doesn't mean they can legally enforce them.

        • No federal law covers MOUNTING only USE AND PLACEMENT. They can not forbid you to USE an external, but you do not rent the outside walls of the building and they can take repairs to the balcony out of your security deposit.

          Hence, "Sure I could have an unattached antenna (say, on a pole in a 5-gal bucket of cement). But when you're north facing you're pretty much sol when it comes to reception."

          It is black-and-white here. []

          Q: If I live in a condominium or an apartment bu

          • by Chyeld ( 713439 )

            You are only SOL if you are relying on a dish.

            Amazingly enough, OTA (which are what this Ask Slashdot was about) broadcasts are capable of traveling North, South, West, and East of the transmtter tower. I'm told some extremely rare ones travel along the diagonals as well.

            Regardless, the point was that leases and HOA's that state "No external antennas" typically are of the unenforceable kind. They are put in for the same reason EULA's include a metric ton of unenforceable leaglese. To intimidate you into not

    • If you're in the US, you can tell the land lord to piss off, they can not stop you from getting a satellite dish. I had a similar problem with my HOA, and Fed law trumps HOAs and landlords.

      [citation needed].

      The property manager can't stop you from owning or using a satellite dish, but they sure as hell have the right to say you can't bolt it to their exterior wall.

  • Idea (Score:3, Insightful)

    by legoman666 ( 1098377 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @08:21AM (#24656941)
    Put a cheap antenna on the roof for the time being and run a small/thin copper wire (or something not easily visible on the outside wall of your apartment) down the side of the building and through a window.

    Or just get cable for a few months.

    • Re:Idea (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @08:51AM (#24657149) Homepage

      That will not work. you MUST use RG6 or better (I suggest RG6 Quad Flooded for best HDTV antenna installs.)

      running a thin copper wire will simply make him get crappy reception. you have to run the right stuff for the right job. and that's RG6...

      • Are you sure you don't need MONSTER CABLES?
        • Re:Idea (Score:5, Informative)

          by mpoulton ( 689851 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @10:07AM (#24657991)

          Are you sure you don't need MONSTER CABLES?

          Joking aside, Lumpy is right. The connection between the antenna and the tuner is not a "wire", it is a "transmission line" -- an impedance controlled duct for RF energy. That's not BS, that's physics:

          The quality of transmission line used has a huge impact on received signal strength and signal:noise ratio if the cable run is long. RG6 quad-shield is sort of the standard for high-quality TV coax. RG59 is the other commonly available option, and is not really suitable for long antenna feedlines because of the high loss and poor shielding.

          Now Monster does produce some coax products, and apparently the real physics and engineering of RF transmission lines isn't "cool" enough for their marketing department, so they decided to spout a bunch of random buzzwords instead to ensure that they avoid any hint of legitimacy in their advertising.

      • by Jon_S ( 15368 )

        Not to mention that lack of a grounding wire can get you in serious trouble if the antenna gets hit by lightning.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      Yeah, that won't be a lightening disaster waiting to happen.
  • by jeiler ( 1106393 ) <> on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @08:22AM (#24656953) Journal mount an external antenna, but you may be able to mount one inside a window. The glass should be more radio-transparent than the walls.

    I strongly recommend the HDTv Antenna Labs [] website: especially the HDTv Antenna Reviews [].

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The FCC allows for mounting of external attennas, and your apartment complex is acting against the law by not allowing them. On the other hand, even mounting outside on the first floor won't help much.

  • by HP-UX'er ( 211124 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @08:24AM (#24656963)
    ... is the WINEGARD SS-2000 16" Square Shooter HDTV Antenna []. It looks a lot better, and comes with its own mounting equipment. Can also be mounted on existing satellite antennas.
    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )

      While Winegard is a pretty good brand, that looks like a crappy antenna. I'd suggest something from the Channel Master 422x series (or Winegard's equivalent), unless some of those HD channels are VHF, in which case it gets MUCH harder to find a compact high gain antenna.

      • That DB-8 antenna he has is pretty similar to the Channel Master 4228, which is one of the highest gain UHF antennas you can find.

        The guy that submitted this needs to:
        1) Move that antenna to the porch!
        2) Try a mast-mount preamp (warning, if one of those stations is nearby and very strong this can make things worse.)
        3) Get cable

  • A movie library (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @08:31AM (#24657005)

    The best movies are not playing on TV in general anyway.

    Get fast internet and have a selection of streaming movies and tv shows from the internet.

    HD is only all that great for movies that can actually use all that extra detail such as documentaries and such. I wouldn't focus on HD as much compared to selection for overall entertainment value.

    Sounds like your best option is to bribe the landlord to get something better setup. For most people that's cable or FIOS but I guess you can't get them ??

    A media library of movies and TV shows might be your most practical method. Hard drive capacity has gotten so huge and cheap it's not hard to have an endless supply of new content ready to go and easily searchable.

    A netflix account might help, but in general you want to target the viewing audience, that is get stuff people in the house tend to like.

    TV is only so rewarding for anything beyond lots of stream of mediocre programming. That's why god made movie channels and DVD's :P

    • NetFlix (Score:3, Insightful)

      Netflix has a $99 box (one time)+ monthly fee [] that will allow you to get on demand movies from them. They have other plans coming that will work on other devices - I can't find the link for that one.

      Or, get an unlimited borrowing plan and take out a bunch of movies at a time.

  • This Works For Me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by shotfire ( 1190219 )

    I made a modified version of this with some wire, cardboard, and tin foil. Works great. I have a house and this is used on the first floor, mounted right beside a window: []

    I am in the process of making this, but the first one works so well, I've kind of put it off...(at least until after the Olympics): []

    The key is that they are directional, to be fair, I do have to turn it around a l

  • actual TV to plug the antenna into. A nice little HDTV LCD with built-in and stronger tuner. For the one week I was without my precious DirecTV, I went to Wal-Mart and paid $30 for a simple powered antenna. It looked like a pair of rabbit ears, but it with an AC adapter and a knob for adjusting the gain. I plugged it into my Vizio, set to OTA and pressed auto-find.

    I live in between Cinci and Dayton, and I was able to pull in ALL of those stations, plus the HD channels. In all, I had nearly 30 cha

  • amplified antenna (Score:5, Informative)

    by greenrom ( 576281 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @08:43AM (#24657087)
    If you can find one, try to get an antenna with part number 15-1880 from Radio Shack. They've been discontinued, but your local store might still have one in stock or you might be able to find one on ebay. It's a simple indoor amplified UHF antenna and passive VHF antenna. I used it in an apartment surrounded by trees about 45 miles away from the towers and was able to get all the HD channels except CBS. CBS used VHF, that's why I couldn't get it. People on AVS forum rave about the antenna, and they were right.
    • by darjen ( 879890 )

      I have a cheapo uhf/vhf antenna from radio shack with a samsung tuner that works great and picks up all the local HDTV channels. It sure beats paying another monthly bill to the cable company.

    • Re:amplified antenna (Score:4, Interesting)

      by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @10:13AM (#24658077)

      Why does Radio Shack always seem to discontinue everything they have that ISN'T complete crap? I was looking for a omnidirectional mic the other day there only to find they had discontinued their best model.

      It's like they're DETERMINED to suck.

  • Build the Gray-Hoverman antenna [] which we discussed recently. It's a grid plane with a few bent wires in front.
    • Seconded. Looks like a wire-mesh nightmade form Naked Lunch, but works quite well if you build it right. There are some other variants that may be more tolerant to it not being precise. Treat it as a sculpture.
      • Depending upon the direction of reception, if you can use the wire screen of the balcony door as the back grid, the antenna's reception wires would indeed look like a sculpture, mounted on some PVC pipe sitting on some sort of stand on the balcony...with a wire coming from the stand. Further disguise is possible, such as using the back of a plastic or wood chair as the mounting point. Indoors, I've also used the back of a bookcase as an antenna mount.
  • I have a Hauppage HVR-1600.. and used it to receive OTA HD signals just fine with an old (not specifically HD or ATSC) antenna, a Terk TV-2 []. However, I recently switched to a monitor that had a tuner (samsung 260HD). It doesn't have PIP, so I figured I'd still commonly use the HVR-1600 to have my OTA signals in a window when I was doing other things and toggle to fullscreen when I wanted to. However, I noticed the image quality I get when feeding the antenna directly to the samsung's tuner is far supe
  • for those of us with satellite and the ability to have a dish, can it also be used for OTA HD? Or if we replace Sat service can we use it OTA HD and receive that through their cable which is no longer needed for sat?

    I am trying to avoid a new cable incoming to the house and figured on grafting theirs

  • by Brit_in_the_USA ( 936704 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @08:54AM (#24657169)
    A combination of Netflix , Basic cable and Hulu keep me very happy. Hulu(.com) has some of my favorite shows within a day of going out on air (Daily show etc.), netflix has instant streaming of old movies, and latest movies by DVD, basic cable has all the major networks. Cable modem Internet + basic Cable analogue channels should be $30 a month if you stand your ground with the cable company - they desperatly want to give you basic cable if you sign up with internet in my area.
  • QAM Cable (Score:2, Informative)

    by arcmay ( 253138 )

    Most cable companies offer a dirt-cheap package containing only local broadcast channels. These channels are required by law to be sent unencrypted. I pay Comcast $8/month and get all the major broadcast networks in HD, plus a few random cable channels like History and BET. Even better: Comcast gives me a $10 discount on ANY TV/internet package, so I actually save $2/month by getting the limited TV package.

    Any TV tuner card that accepts "Clear QAM" will be able to tune unencrypted cable signals.

  • I'd say, to start with, look for the Silver Sensor UHF antenna (now sold by Phillips as the PHDTV1). Without knowing your location, it's difficult to say what kind of an antenna you'll need, because some areas are UHF only (antennas like the Silver Sensor and the DB2 are good there) and some have or will have (after next year's analog shutoff) digital channels on VHF as well.

    If the Silver Sensor does not work for you, return it and try something larger.

  • Winegard MS-2002 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Fieryphoenix ( 1161565 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @09:26AM (#24657497)
    This is an amazing omnidirectional antenna that is small enough to fit in many closets if needed. The 2000 is the same antenna but with 50' of coax, which you would not need if you installed it inside.
  • Your situation sounds very much like mine. I live in the first floor of a three-story apartment building in a major city. The broadcast towers are just a couple miles away, but there are small hills, woods, and reflections from other buildings. So I can tune up to 20 channels, but intermittent interference can make many of the digital ones unwatchable. Being an apartment, a rooftop antenna or satellite dish is not an option.

    I don't usually watch more than thirty minutes of TV a day, so I tried dropping

  • I found some indoor/outdoor antenna reviews. []

    Here is the FCC fact sheet on pre-emption rules regarding antenna placement. Read it and determine if it is something you want to fight with. []

    At my place they simply require a professional installer to perform the task.

  • First, the DB8 was probably overkill and is leading to signal loss on the wire.

    I'm using a DB2 in a wooded, though flat, city, about 15-20 miles from the towers and my results are very good except in very bad thunderstorms. I've run the wire into my cable tv plant (with the assistance of an amplifier) and now I have free OTA to every cable drop in my house.

    If you're in a modern apartment, the studs are probably metal, which means you're living in a faraday cage. Get the antenna to a window that faces toward

  • Head over to the Lumenlab forums, where they have a forum dedicated to DIY HD Antenna's. You do have to register to access the actual pinned post (now at 58 pages) that will cover just about everything you wanted to know about DIY antenna's, including many designs. I built one for about $5.00 (US) out of wood, wire coathangers, and tinfoil, live about 15 miles from the HD towers in my area, and reception on most channels is perfect. My antenna is mounted in an attic, with no direct visual line of site to

  • Jules: You know the shows on TV?
    Vincent: I don't watch TV.
    Jules: Yeah, but, you are aware that there's an invention called television, and on this invention they show shows, right?

    When Tarantino wrote those lines, he gave a voice to what so many of us were thinking: why do people who abstain from television need to inform everybody about it?

  • was found by using a pringles can!

    wait, what?

    oh sorry, i'm on the wrong forum frequency...

  • []

    This guy is good, he knows his stuff and will help you choose an antenna, sell it to you, help you get it working, and guarantee it to last. He will take anything back if you are unhappy... though I can't see how you could be.

    Also, many apartments have local stations coming through the cable lines (I guess they connect the cable to an antenna when not connected to cable) you might just try it.

  • I live 43 miles from my local TV repeater antennas. I bought a DB4 and mounted it on the roof of my house, used a compass to find the correct direction to point it (supported with cardinals from AntennaWeb as well).

    My house is single story but on a hillside with a slight view over my neighbors roofs.My reception is perfect. I get 40+ channels with all the major channels in 1080i or 720p HD.

    I bought a DigitalTerrestrial receiver from Samsung with HDMI output as my TV (Westinghouse 27in flat/HD) is HD capable

  • I have a $20 45bD plain jane antenna. Turn no signal into crystal clear signal. Just make sure it has a loop on it. The rabbit ears don't seem to do anything.

  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @10:58AM (#24658769) Homepage

    I haven't been able to get a completely straight answer to this, but... I believe the following three facts to be true:

    a) Most "HDTV" antennas sold today are UHF-only.

    b) All digital TV being broadcast today is being broadcast on UHF.

    c) Come February 2009, when analog stations stop broadcasting on VHF, SOME stations that are currently broadcasting a digital signal in the UHF band will CHANGE THEIR FREQUENCY ALLOCATION TO VHF.

    According to AntennaWeb, one example of this is WHDH-TV, "Channel 7", the Boston NBC affiliate and a major, popular station.

    So, if I'm correct, some people who think they're up and running and all ready for February will be very surprised to see some DIGITAL stations they're CURRENTLY receiving go black in 2009, when the station shifts to a frequency their antenna isn't built for.

    if I'm correct, this is going to be a major headache for the few who have bothered to prepare for digital, and one for which there is no publicity at all.

    The reason I keep saying if I'm correct is that the salesman at You-Do-It, a great Boston-area electronics store that has a huge selection of antennas and antenna-related paraphernalia says I'm wrong, wrong, wrong. I hope he's right and I'm wrong.

  • by shuz ( 706678 ) on Tuesday August 19, 2008 @11:14AM (#24659013) Homepage Journal
    You can do this pretty cheap if you need to. Here is my setup. ATX computer case and power supply - I have a spendy lian li but that only gets you style points and little functionality gain over any other case. Gforce 7600gs - This is a relatively cheap card that will be able to decode 1080p hd content if you need it to. AMD X2 3800+ - Two cores is nice here so that you can run more than one cpu intensive process without getting choppiness while watching TV. I have 4GB of memory in the machine. I would recommend at least 2GB because optimally you want any HD content to be well buffered into memory. Swapping to disk will destroy your experience. A motherboard that does what you need it to do. You can get the cheapest motherboard possible and it should meet your needs. AV-710 sound card. This card will cost around 20 US dollars and it sounds just as good as an expensive creative card. It has 7.1 analog jacks and an SPDIF Optical out (if you have a receiver). HD-5500 HD tuner card - works out of the box. The only negative to this card is that the IR receiver that comes with it is somewhat of a hack to get working. I have it working if anyone has questions about that. 80GB hard drive or larger to allow for those really large HD tv feeds. A 1hr program takes up about 7GB space. mice, keyboards, displays are all things that don't really matter in the scheme of things. Mythbuntu linux works out of the box for me. I consider myself a Unix expert but I would trust my father to be able to install Mythbuntu, and all he knows how to do on a computer is turn it on and get to Solitaire. :-) Finally HE/C ACC TERK | HDTVS HDTV ANTENNA is the antenna I use. Parts list: HE/C ACC TERK | HDTVS HDTV ANTENNA $89.99 DVD_BURN NEC|7170A-01 $31.99 SND CARD CHAINTECH|CT-AV710 7.1 $21.99 Gigabyte 7600GS $85.07 CPU AMD|A64 X2 3800+ 65W AM2 $66.75 ABIT AN52 NFORCE520 AM2 $69.99 MEM 1Gx4|CORSAIR $129.98 PSU KINGWIN|ABT-350MM 350W $23.99 80GB Sata 2 hard drive ~$45 Mythbuntu [] $(cost of internet service+time involved with downloading it) These prices are pretty old. I'd guess that the same computer today could be put together for a few hundred less.
  • What's your ZIP code? Plug you ZIP code into and then post us a link to the map.
  • I ran a Myth box for a couple of years on Linux, and even ran a couple of linux-specific PC-HDTV 5500 cards with that rig, with a Silver Sensor antenna. My HDTV reception was mediocre at best, but the worst part was MythTV itself.

    Aside from the fact that the program guide is now a pay service, Myth itself is rather annoying. It's very well developed in some areas, and not so much in other areas. And asking for help from the dev team on getting the god damned thing working right is an exercise in elitist i
  • Sorry, I didn't see this to respond immediately, but if you get signal drop outs, where it is high and then low all of a sudden and your picture breaks up, it is most likely due to multipath. The DB8 and other bay style antennas are not very directional, so they get signals bouncing off of other things. You probably would be better off going with a "silver sensor" (google for it) or another Yagi style antenna. The silver sensor can work indoors, the yagi is probably something you want to mount outside.

Keep up the good work! But please don't ask me to help.