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Is the tuner in the TiVo Bolt OTA the same as the one in the TiVo Bolt Cable?

Discussion in 'TiVo Help Center' started by Rueg, Oct 2, 2018.

  1. Oct 2, 2018 #1 of 13
    Rueg

    Rueg New Member

    7
    1
    Oct 2, 2018
    The reason I am asking is because I am having problems pulling in strong signals that are only 13 miles away. Of course TiVo says it is my signal. But I have tried 3 different antenna and have purchased a cable coax tester to make sure all the lines are good. I have not had any success in trying to figure out why I am having issues and am very frustrated and tired of wasting my time and money. I was wondering if the tuner in the OTA only boxes were perhaps better at pulling in the antenna stations. I have the one that can do either cable or antenna. Thanks and appreciate any advice or tips. I am also running a distribution amplifier. My antenna is on the roof. I have tried dozens of combinations of different antennas and equipment and nothing seems to help. My older TiVOs pulled in the stations much better. A little flat panel antenna on one of my other TVs pulls things in better than the big antenna on the roof that goes to the TiVo Bolt. Love the DVR, but two of the stations are becoming unwatchable.
     
  2. Oct 2, 2018 #2 of 13
    Nortnarg

    Nortnarg New Member

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    2
    Feb 9, 2013
    What is your signal strength?
    You say you are trying to pull in a strong signal.

    This may not be your issue, but it worked for me. Sometimes when a signal gets bounced around due to buildings etc. the signal can be received from more than one direction. For me it caused dropouts and pixilation .

    My antenna pro put an attenuator on the coax. They come in different dB ratings or strength. I would try a 10 dB. What it does is actually reduce the signal to a lower level.
    It looks much like a coax connector, where it just fits between the coax line and the Tivo box.
     
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  3. Oct 2, 2018 #3 of 13
    Nortnarg

    Nortnarg New Member

    21
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    Feb 9, 2013
    Rueg likes this.
  4. Oct 2, 2018 #4 of 13
    fcfc2

    fcfc2 Well-Known Member

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    Rueg likes this.
  5. Oct 2, 2018 #5 of 13
    Rueg

    Rueg New Member

    7
    1
    Oct 2, 2018
    I don't think it is too strong of a signal since I split it so many times. I have tried running it straight to the TiVo with no splits and it doesn't really seem to make a difference. I am not sure I trust the signal strength meter on the TiVo Bolt - strong signals always seem to eventually bottom out at 72. The only two stations I have issues with are the 3-1 and the 47-1. I have contacted both of those stations and they say they broadcast at a higher frequency than the other stations and that can sometimes cause issues for people. But again I am only 13 miles from these towers. They both said I should be able to use a flat antenna and be just fine - but that is not the case at all.

    Here are some signal strength readings:

    Antenna on roof, amplifier, 4 port distribution amplifier.
    3-1: low 60; peak 72;
    15-1: low 72; peak 84
    21-1: low 72; peak 84
    27-1: low 72; peak 85
    47-1: low 61; peak 72
    57-1: low 72; peak 72

    Antenna on roof, amplifier, 8 port distribution amplifier
    3-1: low 71, peak 72
    15-1: low 72, peak 85
    21-1: low 72, peak 84
    27-1: low 72 peak 85
    47-1: low 71, peak 72
    57-1: low 72; peak 72

    Antenna on roof, amplifier, NO distribution amplifier, so signal is not split, going straight and only to the TiVo
    3-1: low 70, peak 72
    15-1: low 72, peak 85
    21-1: low 72, peak 85
    27-1: low 72, peak 85
    47-1: low 71, peak 72
    57-1: low 72; peak 72

    Antenna on the roof, NO amplifier, 8 port distribution amplifier
    3-1: low 70, peak 72
    15-1: low 72, peak 82
    21-1: low 72, peak 84
    27-1: low 72, peak 85
    47-1: low 69, peak 72
    57-1: low 72; peak 72

    Smaller antenna pointed out window in basement (bypassing coax from roof to basement), amplifier, 4 port distribution amplifier
    3-1: low 71; peak 78
    15-1: low 67; peak 69
    21-1: low 72; peak 84
    27-1: low 55; peak 60
    47-1: low 62; peak 69
    57-1: low 72; peak 72

    Smaller antenna pointed out window in basement (bypassing coax from roof to basement), amplifier, 8 port distribution amplifier
    3-1: low 72, peak 85
    15-1: low 72, peak 72
    21-1: low 72; peak 85
    27-1: low 66, peak 70
    47-1: low 67, peak 72
    57-1: low 72; peak 72

    Both antennas combined, amplifier, 4 port distribution amplifier
    3-1: low 72, peak 73
    15-1: low 67; peak 67
    21-1: low 72, peak 85
    27-1: low 50, peak 55
    47-1: low 57, peak 64
    57-1: low 72; peak 72

    Both antennas combined, amplifier, 8 port distribution amplifier
    3-1: low 70, peak 72
    15-1: low 72, peak 85
    21-1: low 72, peak 72
    27-1: low 72, peak 85
    47-1: low 66, peak 72
    57-1: low 72; peak 72

    Flat panel antenna in sunroom, amplifier, 4 port distribution amplifier
    3-1: low 67, peak 72
    15-1: low 72 peak 85
    21-1: low 55, peak 67
    27-1: low 72, peak 72
    47-1: low 64, peak 70
    57-1: low 72; peak 72

    Antenna on the roof, amplifier, splitter instead of distribution amplifier
    3-1: low 65 peak 71
    15-1: low 72, peak 84
    21-1: low 72, peak 83
    27-1: low 72, peak 85
    47-1: low 68, peak 72
    57-1: low 72; peak 72

    Thanks.
     
  6. Oct 3, 2018 #6 of 13
    tapokata

    tapokata Active Member

    285
    102
    Apr 26, 2017
    Sacramento, CA
    The Bolt has an Automatic Gain Control Circuit, which essentially tries to level everything out to "72" for OTA. Rule of thumb is that a station with a TiVo reported signal of less than 50 will have break-ups and macro-blocking, and below "40" typically fall off the digital cliff, and won't be viewable at all. Those "80" plus numbers will be modulated down to "72" by the gain circuit. Relative to itself, the signal strength number is somewhat comparative, but the scale can't be compared to signal strengths on other devices. If your goal is to improve the reported results over "72", forget it. Strength numbers over 60 will typically be stable.

    Focus on the straight in signal (no splitter, no amplifier) to get a good benchmark of what's happening in your plant.

    Finally- ask yourself some questions:

    1. Are the transmitter towers in the same compass direction? If not, how far apart? Is the antenna pointed in that direction?
    2. From the antenna location on your roof, do you have a relatively clear line of sight to the horizon? Does the signal path go through nearby trees, or point towards buildings, structures, or hillsides?
    3. Are the reception issues constant, or do they appear to get worse in windy conditions?
    4. From the Diagnostics screen on TiVo, when observing the signal strength and SNR numbers, do those numbers bounce around, or are they steady?

    The Bolt tuners do not appear to do as well with multi-path reception issues, unlike a single tuner in a reputable conventional TV. For the channels with reception issues, if you see a consistent bouncing in the strength numbers while looking at the Diagnostics screen, that's a good indication of a multi-path conditions. If the condition gets worse as the wind blows, it's definitely multi-path. Unfortunately, trees in the immediate path of the signal are death to UHF reception.

    If you're using a pre-amp AND a distribution amplifier, stop and rethink what you are doing. 13 miles from the towers, your TVfool reported Noise Margin should be high enough to overcome typical insertion losses without amplification. The amount of signal overload introduced by that amplification is not helping, and likely hurting your reception on some stations.

    A distribution amplifier (as well as a pre-amp) amplifies both the signal, and noise- while you may have 7dB of gain applied by the, the amp may raise the noise floor by 4 dB, which may not help picking up weak signals. In an audio analogy, amplification is the same as turning up the sound volume, but not the clarity (static noise at a higher volume is just loud static). The real benefit of a drop amp is that it will eliminate the insertion loss associated with a multi-port splitter, but in any case, your posted results show no real benefit from running an amplified system.

    In most cases, amplification will NOT help with multi-path reception issues. The best cure is to move the antenna location to provide a cleaner line of sight to the towers. Amplification may help in a situation with a directional Yagi style antenna, where you can rotate the direction significantly off-angle: reducing the number of received divergent signals, although weakening the overall reception, but there's no guarantee of success in that approach, as the characteristics of the antenna (and the multi-path conditions) will vary the result.

    If you're not affected by multi-path, but still have reception issues on the straight in lead, it's possible that the tuner in your Bolt is defective. It happens.
     
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  7. Oct 4, 2018 #7 of 13
    snerd

    snerd Active Member

    990
    172
    Jun 6, 2008
    Nitpick: this isn't a feature that is unique to the Bolt. Virtually any TV or DVR with OTA capability includes AGC somewhere in the receiver, since it is required for reliable reception.
     
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  8. Oct 4, 2018 #8 of 13
    JoeKustra

    JoeKustra in the other Alabama TCF Club

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    2,226
    Dec 7, 2012
    Ashland, PA...
    The Bolt and basic/OTA Roamio use the same tuners (per Ted) and have the same AGC circuitry. A Premiere may have AGC, but it doesn't act like it. Same with Bolt+ and Roamio Plus/Pro. The "72" or "90" isn't a magic number. It's just how things worked out.
     
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  9. Rueg

    Rueg New Member

    7
    1
    Oct 2, 2018
    Thanks for the replies and explaining the automatic gain control circuit.
     
  10. Rueg

    Rueg New Member

    7
    1
    Oct 2, 2018
    I live on the side of a hill. Going up the hill, my neighbor has a row of trees. These trees are between my antenna and the broadcast towers. This is the only obstacle. The trees run the full length of the property/lot line. Yesterday, I replaced the coaxial cable running from the roof into the attic. The cable was at least 15 years old. Last year - we had some large hail - thus the roof had to be re-shingled. I inspected the cable and antenna but couldn't see any visible damage, but decided to try changing out the cable as I was running out of options. I did find a spot where it was pinched and flattened between the mast and the mounting u-bolt. Had my roof done last year and not sure if the roofers did this. They did remove the antenna to re-shingle the roof. As huge of a pain in the but this was going into the attic, it did nothing to improve the signal and there was still the same pixilation on the two channels. So, I decided to change the antenna and go back to a more traditional aluminum, vein antenna. The thing is I have tried three different types of antennas with no success. When the house was first built in 1999, I had a Radio Shack Stick antenna - and that was in the attic - and it worked just fine. Then I started having signal issues and mounted it outside the house and that was good for a while. Then started having issues and had to go to a tripod mount and a antenna on the peak of the roof. The trees have gotten bigger over the years, but cell phone towers have gone up everywhere and I wonder if they can interfere at all. Also, a emergency radio system called Danecom has started up and a state patrol headquarter is not that far away. Not sure if any of these different things could cause issues. Anyways, I went with the 100 mile RCA antenna. A very large antenna. No homeowner association to scold me. Neighbors can't see it because of the row of trees and probably wouldn't care anyways. This one: https://www.menards.com/main/electr...940301502.htm?tid=-742074272485531632&ipos=24
    Probably is way overkill, but it was on-sale for $80 when I bought it. Still using the 8-port distribution amplifier (increases signal 4 db per port).

    Problem solved! No more pixilation and audio drops.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
    JoeKustra likes this.
  11. Rueg

    Rueg New Member

    7
    1
    Oct 2, 2018

    Thank you so much for this explanation. I think the issue was a multi-path issue.
     
  12. Rueg

    Rueg New Member

    7
    1
    Oct 2, 2018
    Well, windy day and having issues with a station or two. I think I will either have to put up with it or move the antenna to a different location somehow.
     
  13. Rueg

    Rueg New Member

    7
    1
    Oct 2, 2018
    Did not move the location of the antenna. I removed the drop amplifier and realigned the antenna. I added another amplifier from Channel Master I already had - but it was over amplifying the signal. With the line run directly to the TiVo and no amplifiers, I am getting 85% signal strength on the majority of the channels. A couple are at 72%.
    Leaves are down now. But the neighbor's trees that are in front of the antenna along the lot line are arborvitae, which of course keep green all year round. Will have to see what happens next spring. But I am hopeful I will not have issues.
    Purchased little antennas for the rest of the TVs. I really like these little refurbished antennas from Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B07F2S7BHN/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o07_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    As of right now, everything is working well.
     

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