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Premier OTA Tuner question

Discussion in 'TiVo Premiere DVRs' started by MacBrian, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. MacBrian

    MacBrian Member

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    Feb 24, 2002
    Kansas
    I need some advice in trying to understand a signal issue on my two Tivo Premieres.

    Here's my TV fool location:

    http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id=0b860b591207fc

    I'm having trouble with the KSNW-DT signal -- the closest and presumably the strongest signal of all of them. (It's only 5.5 miles line-of-sight.) The signal strength meter peaks at around 70 and then will drop to non-existant and then come back again. I get visible pixelizing and freezing even when the signal doesn't drop below 60.

    All other signals are rock solid which leads me to think this is not a "too little" signal issue, but maybe "too much?" Or maybe there's some other signal causing interference?

    How do I learn what I need to do to stabilize that channel? I'd hate to have to introduce something into the system to reduce the signal strength because I'm just barely picking up the weakest station. (It's strength stays in the yellow color below 50, but the picture is rock solid and rarely breaks up, if at all.)

    How do I learn what to try next? I've tried adding a preamp but that didn't help anything at all -- as a matter of fact as I recall I think it reduced the signal strengths overall. Maybe it wasn't the right kind of preamp?
     
  2. lillevig

    lillevig Hot in West Texas

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    Dec 6, 2010
    San Angelo, TX
    Indoor or outdoor antenna? Can you rotate the antenna to a different position to see if that helps? Have you tried a different coax cable? Are you near tall buildings? Do you have another antenna you can try? The effect you describe could possibly be attributed to multipath where there are strong signal reflections that interfere with the LOS signal.
     
  3. Jeff_DML

    Jeff_DML Member

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    Mar 2, 2009
    yeah that sounds like a multipath issue as lillevig mentioned. TiVo tuners do not seem to do well with it, my TV tuner worked fine but had issues with my premiere. The only solution i know of is to get a more directional antenna to NULL out the additional multipath signals.
     
  4. MacBrian

    MacBrian Member

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    Feb 24, 2002
    Kansas
    Outdoor antenna. See an actual picture of the antenna attached below. The antenna looks very much like this one:
    http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.as...HD-9075P-HD-Platinum-UHF-TV-Antenna-(HD9075P)

    ...except I don't think it's a Winegard. I couldn't find a brand name on it and I tossed the box many years ago. (!!)

    After I originally wrote this post, I've been back up on the roof and rotated and raised/lowered the antenna until I've found what seems to be the best compromise spot for all the channels, and I think I've cleared up most of the reception problems with KSNW. I still don't get why aiming the antenna has been so critical for the the one signal that's closer and stronger than all the others. The other stations seem to be solid within a relatively wide range of antenna positions compared to KSNW. Another curiosity -- you can see in the picture the the antenna is pointing slightly downward. I tried angling it more upward toward the horizon, but that made the reception much worse across all channels. I wonder if it's relying on a reflection off the flat surface of the roof? I've come to accept the fact that there's a certain amount of voodoo when it comes to antennas and some questions can't be answered. :rolleyes:

    BTW - Here's an antenna-aiming tip for those that have the necessary gear -- I set one of our iPhones in front of the TV with the Tivo signal strength meter on the screen. Then I used another iPhone to do a FaceTime video chat with the first phone before I climbed up to the antenna. Once I was up at the antenna the FaceTime video let me see the Tivo signal strength indicator as I adjusted the antenna. I used the iPhone's Tivo app to change the channels to check the reception of all the channels and further adjust the antenna. It worked quite well, though my wifi was a little weak up on the roof and sometimes I'd lose the FaceTime connection!

    The cable coming from the antenna is new RG6 going into to the house. The cable has two connections in the length -- one at the ground block just outside the house at the base of the antenna and one connection inside the house (no splitters, just a joiner). The total length of the antenna cable is probably close to 50' by the time it comes down from the antenna and snakes through the house to the basement. At the very end of the antenna's cable I have it connected to a black 4-way Radio Shack distribution amplifier (with a variable gain control and an FM trap switch). I have capped two of the four ports with terminators since I don't need those two of the ports in the current configuration. The cable runs from the distribution amplifier are about 3' to the first Tivo Premiere in the basement, and then about 50' back upstairs to the 2nd Tivo Premiere.

    Reception on all channels from the antenna are solid downstairs. The weakest channel, KPTS, doesn't come in at all on the upstairs Tivo if the FM switch on the distribution amplifier is set to "OUT". If I change it to "IN" then I get KPTS upstairs. Other channels are unaffected by the FM switch. With the switch "IN" KPTS will break up occasionally, maybe a couple of times a minute. The gain adjustment on the distribution amplifier seems to give the best results by turning the screw clockwise 1/2 to 3/4 a turn.

    So NOW my question is how to do the last tweak to fix KPTS on the upstairs Tivo? Turning the gain up on the distribution amp doesn't help. Should I switch to a 2-port distribution amp? Buy a better distribution amp? What to look for in specs?

    Obviously there's some FM interference if switch the FM trap switch to "IN" and KPTS appears upstairs. It seems to only bother the KPTS channel on the upstairs channel -- it doesn't make any difference to the downstairs Tivo whether the FM switch is IN or OUT. That leads me to think that the 50' run of RG6 going upstairs is picking up FM interference. (Is that a correct assumption?) Should I look for a higher quality coax cable that's more shielded than RG6? And would it really make any difference?
     

    Attached Files:

  5. MrJedi

    MrJedi New Member

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    Apr 13, 2011
    Others may have more knowledge about the RadioShack distribution amp, but I have read bad things (especially on TV Fool) about how much noise they introduce. You may want to look in to another distribution amp like a Winegard. I'm not saying it will fix the problem necessarily, as the Premier tuner does have multipath issues, but it is another variable that could potentially be eliminated. I personally have never noticed a difference between using my RadioShack distribution amp and a straight run, but you never know.

    I had similar problems in the Kansas City DMA. I never found a good solution. KSHB (local NBC affiliate) has serious multi-path issues on Premieres. My friends that live around me in the 8 mile radius from tower range all have issues with their TiVo tuning KSHB regardless of Antenna, FM Trap, and positioning. It was so erractic I could never pin it down to one thing that was causing the issue (time of day, weather, or equipment) I would get a setup to work for anywhere between a few hours to a few weeks, and then I would have issues (usually during something I had recorded.). There was even a point where WDAF could not be tuned on the Tivo for almost 72 hours, yet every other tuner I own (including a cheapo USB) had no issues. After 6 months I finally gave up and accepted that OTA, TiVo Premiers, and the KC DMA don't play nice and switched back to cable.

    Now, I am not saying giving up is the correct response. But I got to the point where I felt like I was spending more time trying to fix the tuning issues than I was actually being able to watch what I was trying to tune. In your case I would see what happens if you run a direct cable from your antenna to the problem tivo and check the results. If you still have issues, add an FM trap like this one: http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=10939219 (I have only seem praise about that trap.) If you still have issues then, as someone else suggested get an antenna that is more directional. An extreme version of that would be something like this: http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.as...UHF-TV-Antenna--10-Elements-470806MHz-(BTY10U) .

    I wish you luck. If I had better advice I would certainly provide it as I know how frustrating this can be.

    EDIT: Have you tried swapping the TiVos? If you have issues in the same location with a different box then you may be correct that you need more shielded cable.
     
  6. aaronwt

    aaronwt UHD Addict

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    Jan 31, 2002
    Northern...
    try two antennas plus a pre-amp instead of an an amp. I put up two SquareShooters outside in 2004. And used a joiner to join the signals from both antennas. Then they go to a pre-amp. The joiner and pre-amp are both mounted to the antenna masts. I tried two pre-amps. One around 15db and one around 40db. The 40db pre-amp brought in all my channels while the 15dB one only brought in a few. I used two antennas so i could point one at a slightly different direction. And from there they go to a three way splitter and then those signals are split again at each room.

    At a signal strength of 30 out of 100 I get a rock solid signal with my Premieres. I have a couple of stations in that range, a few around 90 and some around 50/60. They are all rock solid with my Premieres.
     
  7. lillevig

    lillevig Hot in West Texas

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    Dec 6, 2010
    San Angelo, TX
    The antenna you show looks to be pretty directional. Maybe adding a rotator would help so that you could point it at the appropriate TV signal. I stand by my original statement that it sounds like multipath on the strong signal station.
     
  8. Jeff_DML

    Jeff_DML Member

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    Mar 2, 2009
  9. MacBrian

    MacBrian Member

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    Feb 24, 2002
    Kansas
    Heehee...and just how would the Tivo Premiere turn the rotator when it comes time to record from the problem channel? Thinking about it deeper, an even better question would be: "Which of the 2 tuners in a Premiere would take priority on the antenna's position when it comes time to record something?" ;) But thanks for the thought!

    Good reading Jeff -- thanks!

    So far my antenna repositioning efforts have paid off, even in high winds. KSNW is stable now. I'm getting some visual dropouts on KPTS on the upstairs Tivo which don't show up on the downstairs Tivo, so it's a problem introduced by either the distribution amp or the cable. I think I'll first try to eliminate the distribution amp and add that Radio Shack FM trap and see how that works. If not, I'll look for a higher-quality distribution amp. I might also check into a triple-shielded replacement cable for the run to the upstairs Tivo to see if that helps.

    It also occurs to me that a far better solution might be a 2nd outdoor antenna dedicated to the upstairs Tivo, so it'll have a short coax run and an antenna all to itself. Maybe a SquareShooter with a preamp might get me what I'm looking for? Gotta keep the visual aesthetics pretty high if I got the 2nd antenna route. It'll be on the back of the house and not visible from the street -- but it is subject to the "Partner Acceptance Factor". :rolleyes:

    The problem with experimenting with another antenna is, ethically, I hate the idea of buying an antenna locally, trying it out, and then returning it if it doesn't do what I hope it will. That leaves my local vendor with an open-box return that won't sell for the original price. But, if I mail order an antenna and it doesn't work out, then I've got the hassle of returning it, sometimes with a restocking fee and usually at least the return shipping fee. <sigh>

    The on-going quest of "cutting the cable" continues...I think I'm almost ready!
     
  10. mattack

    mattack Active Member

    20,750
    4
    Apr 9, 2001
    sunnyvale
    That's funny, since the fact that I had to rotate the antenna to get a usable signal for one station was the major reason I got cable. Maybe that would be less of an issue nowadays with digital broadcasts, but I'm not sure. I'm not a sports watcher (for the most part), but I do watch some
    cable channels.. it's still a reliable (mostly) copy of my broadcast stations why I continue to get cable.. especially if I get an Elite eventually, which of course only works with cable.
     
  11. aaronwt

    aaronwt UHD Addict

    19,194
    26
    Jan 31, 2002
    Northern...
    This is why you use two antennas and join them together. You point one in the direction of the odd channel. If done properly there are no issues. My setup has worked great for eight years now.
     
  12. MacBrian

    MacBrian Member

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    Feb 24, 2002
    Kansas
    The FM trap wasn't the answer, but a big THANKS because it led me to the ultimate solution! :)

    I bought the FM trap, removed the distribution amplifier and added the new trap and....nothing. Didn't help at all.

    So, going on a complete guess I ran a temporary wire from the distribution amp up the stairway and across the room to the upstairs Tivo and --- all the problems went away! The signal was solid on all channels, including the weak KPTS channel. So apparently I had a bad length of coax going from the distribution amp to the upstairs Tivo. I replaced the bad cable and all is good now. I have solid reception on both my Tivos on all channels. Yay! And we even had a heckuva thunderstorm that night and during the worst of the downpour and rain I checked all the channels and saw no breakups or pixelization going on. Hooray!

    Now, hopefully I can sit back and actually *enjoy* some of what I've recorded instead of worrying so much antenna voodoo! Just wish I'd have thought to be suspicious of the cable itself a little earlier in the process!

    Thanks for all who helped! :D
     
  13. dunkaholic54

    dunkaholic54 New Member

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    Sep 12, 2012
    To add to this old topic:

    New Tivo user. purchased solely for OTA DVR use, as a means to drop TWC cable.

    I wish i had found this information before I purchased the premiere unit from Tivo and spending my 30 day money-back time-frame troubleshooting issues with antenna, wiring, amps, distribution amps, location of antenna etc, trying to get the unit to work.

    I live 15 miles from the major network tower farm outside of Raleigh, NC. I purchased the RCA ANT800R, a highly rated omnidirectional antenna and installed it on my deck, 20 feet above the ground and had no issue receiving all clear signal on my 5 year old P.O.S Olevia LCD, but still had issues with major networks through the Tivo. Upon bringing this issue to the Tivo customer service, they claimed it was my signal that was the problem, not the Tivo. After back and forth with them and explaining that I had seen many issues online with Tivo premiere tuner not picking up signals, i decided to find a 40 foot ladder and relocate the antenna to my roof. After all the work of mounting the antenna, running wire and testing every wiring scenario, the Tivo still could not hold over 50% signal on NBC and ABC. Another call and chat with Tivo customer support suggested that it was still my signal issue and that these forums were not supported by Tivo, therefore not valid. On last ditch effort I decided having the premiere and hulu was not worth having an unwatchable signal on the TV, so I found an old Tivo HD on craigslist. Purchased it for 40 bucks, hooked it up, ran the scan and every channel comes in over 80% signal and some at 100, clear with no fall outs.

    Tivo customer service was rude 4 our of 5 calls, they would not assist (it was my issue), no option for return after 30 days and does not agree that there was any issue with the premiere's tuner. The only fix for the premiere OTA tuner is to not use it, buy a Tivo HD unit from 2007 that actually works.

    Therefore once my year contract is up, I will not be using this service ever again.

    --Michael
     
  14. Jeff_DML

    Jeff_DML Member

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    Mar 2, 2009
    my guess is you live too close and your issue is related to your antenna selection

    "a highly rated omnidirectional antenna "

    I would try out a more directional antenna. I had a lot of issues with my Premiere and multipath issues but have fixed them with more directional antennas. Yes it is fustrating since my Pioneer tuner worked fine with my original antenna setup but it is what it is, the Premiere tuners are not that good in certain situations.
     
  15. blackngold75

    blackngold75 Member

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    Mar 9, 2010
    Northern...
    From what others have said on these forums, the TiVo Premiere's OTA troubles may be due to a problem with the Premiere's inability to deal with multi-path. I'm 30+ miles from the nearest antenna farm and get solid reception on both my TiVoHD and my Premiere using a directional antenna. I wonder if a more directional antenna would solve your OTA reception issues with the Premiere?

    Of course, it really should just work in the first place and you shouldn't have to go through all this hassle.
     
  16. compnurd

    compnurd New Member

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    Oct 6, 2011
    Yup and they were correct.. These forums are not monitored by Tivo
     
  17. dunkaholic54

    dunkaholic54 New Member

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    Sep 12, 2012
    Thanks for the comment. I understand this is not the official Tivo forum and therefore not monitored by Tivo directly, but that does not negate the amount of complaints that can be found from user using the OTA feature of the Tivo premiere. It is advertise with that functionality and paying a premium for a Tivo unit and its service, its tuner should preform at least as good a 5 year old TivoHD or Olevia TV. Expectations are a newer/more expensive model of anything would have the same if not better feature set, not less.

    By highly rated, I meant that it had great reviews and was ranked in the top 10 for OTA antennas. It is rated for 30 miles in all directions

    As for a directional antenna, although most signals originate in one direction (SE), there are also station to the NW and NE of my location, so rotating it regularly is not an option.

    My major issue is solved with the Tivo HD for the rest of my contract, I just made this post as effort to advise the many who may be looking for a way to cut cable but not lose the DVR functionality, and they are working with a setup that seems fine, it most likely wont be watchable through the Premiere.
     
  18. spaldingclan

    spaldingclan Member

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    Aug 22, 2012
  19. Jeff_DML

    Jeff_DML Member

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    Mar 2, 2009
    no offense but that is a crappy indoor sit on top your tv antenna, if you are mounting in the attic then why not get a real outdoor antenna? they are the same price as that one
     
  20. spaldingclan

    spaldingclan Member

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    Aug 22, 2012
    no offense taken...Can you suggest one I an just lay in my attic and point it at the towers? something under 50 bucks
     

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