Cord cut: pre-test OTA reception?

Discussion in 'TiVo Coffee House - TiVo Discussion' started by aphoid, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. aphoid

    aphoid Member

    Jul 7, 2013


    I have a 4-tuner Bolt (non-Hydra, 3 TB Toshiba) with a CableCard and am thinking about cutting the cord. I have a cheap, unpowered indoor antenna that I got as part of a deal a while back, but it's been sitting in the box. I've checked the online broadcast maps (FCC and Antennas Direct), and it seems that most of the major network affiliates antennae are 35-40 miles from my home, but fortunately mostly in the same direction.

    Am I correct that the only way to test my tuner/OTA reception is to remove the CableCard and repeat guided setup? Is there an easier/faster way that avoids the hassle of calling Spectrum support for them to resend "hits" if I decide to reactivate?
  2. kpeters59

    kpeters59 Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2007
    Houston, Texas
    Connect the antenna to your TV directly?

    wizwor and Mikeguy like this.
  3. aphoid

    aphoid Member

    Jul 7, 2013
    I am planning to try that, but since I'm never going to use that thing's tuner to actually watch TV, it won't completely answer my questions. I've heard that the Bolt's tuners are more finicky than most, so even if that worked fine I might end up needing a powered antenna anyway.
  4. fcfc2

    fcfc2 Well-Known Member

    Feb 19, 2015
    No one is going to be able to give you a definitive answer. These things are usually trial and error. Testing with a direct antenna to tv will at least narrow down the possibilities with your current antenna but not many folks get the same performance via the Bolt. If you are committed to going OTA, you have to accept the possibility that you may need to go with a much better antenna and possibly an amp. These are still relatively cheap compared to an ongoing cable bill. Good luck
    Mikeguy likes this.
  5. mdavej

    mdavej Well-Known Member

    Aug 13, 2015


    TV tuner should be in the same ballpark as Bolt and super easy to test without having to redo guided setup. However, switching cable to OTA and back is no big deal, just time consuming. I've switched many times and never had to re-activate my card. But only on Roamio. I don't have a Bolt. I wouldn't think it's any different, but you never know.

    But I can tell you from experience, even on fairly flat, clear terrain, I can't get good reception 40 miles out with an un-powered indoor antenna. I have a good sized, amplified, attic antenna in one case, and a similar outdoor antenna in another. But you might get lucky if you're up high and have a clear path. has a much better selection tool as it takes into account your elevation and terrain at your actual address.

    I paid about $40 for each antenna and $10 for each amp, not much more than an indoor antenna. Maybe those Antennas Direct ones are great, but honestly, they look identical to the double-loop UHF antennas I've made with coat hangers. They're no good for VHF, which becomes much more important after the repack. I'd try to find a much larger antenna suitable for both VHF and UHF if I were you.

    Let us know how your test with the TV tuner turns out.
    Bigg likes this.
  6. JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

    Dec 7, 2012
    Ashland, PA...
    Have you tried tvfool? This is why I can only use cable: TV Fool
    wizwor likes this.
  7. krkaufman

    krkaufman TDL shepherd

    Nov 25, 2003
    Then use a splitter or an attenuator to make the test antenna connection to your TV, to attain the attenuation handicap you feel is appropriate.
  8. unclehonkey

    unclehonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2012
    Mankato, MN
    Not to be an a-hole but have you've posted that tvfool numerous times and a couple points
    -if you use the exact address you may get different results (I used different addys in that zip and get different results)
    -tvfool is outdated due to channel moves/sharing and such but it does give a starting point
    -VHF bends over objects better than UHF. You have 3 VHF stations
    -Have you actually tried to see what you can get?

    Here is my legit tvfool. As you can see other than KEYC its worse than yours (most numbers around 0 due to being in a valley) yet with a $35 UHF Yagi antenna I get WCCO (CBS), KSTP (ABC), KSTC (IND), WUCW (CW) and WFTC (FOX/My) pretty much all the time and KTCI at night usually. I can get KARE if I aim my VHF antenna towards Minneapolis instead of Mankato (KEYC is CBS & FOX).


    Just saying...... ;)
    V7Goose likes this.
  9. JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

    Dec 7, 2012
    Ashland, PA...
    Using a CM4228 10' above my roof line I was able to get WHP. I used a rotor and 20dB amp. My location is in a valley with 2500' hills (coal) at 360 degrees. While I am at about 1100' ASL, I am 50% up the hill. My village of about 3000 population has zero outdoor antenna. But a lot of Dish and DirecTV dishes. I grew up in Philly, but that was so long ago the only thing cable was used for was HBO and MTV. :) But OTA was great.
  10. warrenn

    warrenn Well-Known Member

    Jun 24, 2004
    I imagine the TV and the Bolt reception will be close enough to get a good idea. Often, TVs have a way to show the signal strength. The channels with low strength will be the ones which will be troublesome no matter which you use.

    Also, keep in mind that TV reception is not constant. Depending on current atmospheric conditions, the reception will change. And you may need to set the antenna direction to favor certain preferred channels so that they come in strong, but it may mean that others come in weak. It's not unusual for some of the iffy channels to come in perfectly on certain days but choppy on others.
  11. krkaufman

    krkaufman TDL shepherd

    Nov 25, 2003
    An almost entirely unrelated problem & resolution from the Facebook "TiVo Owners Community," re-posted because of the novelty :

    I use TIVO Bolt OTA to record my programs. ... Even though the TIVO is capable of recording 4 programs at one time, I find some of the recorded shows are glitchy and pixelated to the point that they can’t be watched. So far the severe glitches happen when more than one program is recorded at the same time. These same channels have very few glitches when watched live. (link)

    This may be part of my problem. I was getting my antenna power from the TV. It was fine until I bought the TIVO. So when I turn off the tv, the antenna is no longer getting the aplified power and the signal loses strength I plugged the USB into the TIVO. Hope that fixes my problems. Thank you! (link)
  12. tenthplanet

    tenthplanet Well-Known Member

    Mar 5, 2004
    Anytime you go from one tuner on a Tv, to four in a box, you are going to have less signal strength to play with on any multi-tuner device. Try a non-amplified antennae first, sometimes amplification can make some things worse.
  13. ncbill

    ncbill Well-Known Member TCF Club

    Sep 1, 2007
    Western NC
    Most of the transmitters in my market are also 35+ miles away, & it takes a large (8-bay) attic antenna to pull them all in for the Tivo in my living room.

    I'll probably be paying Dish to install their outdoor powered antenna on the chimney when I switch the Tivo in the basement from cable over to OTA.
  14. krkaufman

    krkaufman TDL shepherd

    Nov 25, 2003
    Too funny. A second person reporting the identical symptoms and cause within the same week.
  15. aphoid

    aphoid Member

    Jul 7, 2013
    For what it's worth, the TV's tuner found about 20 channels with the cheap-o indoor antenna, but the only ones that it successfully tuned were those where the tower is about 5 miles away. The only networks it pulled in were PBS, TCT, and Univision. Since it's difficult to imagine that the Bolt would have better success (though it is much newer), I guess I'll need a different antenna or an amp for OTA.
    kpeters59 likes this.
  16. tampa8

    tampa8 Official Tivo User

    Jan 25, 2016
    Ct & FL
    My experience in a flat terrain, transmitters about 40 miles away as the crow flies in Florida, you will almost certainly need an amp. Depending on the stations you will also need an antenna that is at least middling in getting VHF. UHF is relatively easy but VHF can be hard. It will have to be an outdoor antenna - if you have an attic it can go in and no aluminium siding likely that will work.
    This was not the case BTGE. (Before The Digital Era) My powered indoor antenna did a very decent job.

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