OTA not working out - best option for local channels?

Discussion in 'TiVo Premiere DVRs' started by RDK, Nov 24, 2011.

  1. RDK

    RDK Member

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    Oct 8, 2011
    I recently purchased a premiere and installed an antenna on my roof. I spent lots of time aiming and tweaking the antenna, and actually tried 3 different models. My OTA signal has been reasonably solid (a few dropouts here and there) until a few days ago, when the typical Puget Sound rainy season began, and then the signal went to pot.

    So I disconnected the antenna and connected my Premiere to my Comcast cable. I was surprised to see all the channels, but then disappointed to learn that Tivo can't map them without a cablecard (which would mean more $$ to Comcast, and more $$ to Tivo also - since I won't qualify for the $9.99 antenna promotion).

    Anyway, I only need local channels (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox). What's the cheapest way for me to get a cablecard to do that? I've read that the card doesn't need to be paired to receive unencrypted content, so maybe I don't need to go through Comcast to get one? Any other way to tell Tivo where these four channels are?

    Other suggestions?
     
  2. replaytv

    replaytv gun talk ignore list

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    Denver ish...
    Maybe you got water in one of your connections to your outside antenna? I have heard of water (rain or snow) affecting satellite. Or snow on a roof affecting a antenna in an attic, but haven't heard of rain or snow affecting digital antenna TV signals from an outside antenna. Mine isn't affected.
     
  3. 9300170

    9300170 Member

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    Tempe, AZ
    so, you're asking about the best way to commit a crime?
     
  4. RDK

    RDK Member

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    Oct 8, 2011
    I reread my post several times, and could find those words in there anywhere. So I'm not sure what you're talking about.
     
  5. RDK

    RDK Member

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    Oct 8, 2011
    That's a good point. I did notice that one of my other TV's was working great, while the Tivo was full of dropouts. I just figured the tuner in the Tivo was more sensitive to multipath (caused by rain), but maybe there was water in the splitter.

    Now that I know all the channels I want are on cable anyway, I think I'll run a new straight shot (no splitters) from the antenna to the Tivo, and let all the other TV's get their signal from cable.

    Good suggestion.
     
  6. RDK

    RDK Member

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    Oct 8, 2011
    Well, we had a break in the rain this morning, so I ran a new cable. Rain started up soon after (if you're not familiar with Pacific Northwest rain, it often rains constantly for days on end - not the gully washer rainstorms that occur elsewhere in the country, but constant water in the air (and on the trees, etc.).

    Anyway, no luck in improving the reception. Plus, some channels are better than others, which makes me think the rain in the air (or on the trees) is the culprit.

    I think I'll play around with the antenna some more this weekend (maybe tilt it upwards), but if that doesn't work, I'll be looking for a cablecard.

    I've read in some threads that Comcast will give/rent you a cablecard just to decode local channels (which is all I need), without requiring you to sign up for a cable TV package. Anyone have experience with that, and is there any magic words I need to tell the service agent?
     
  7. slowbiscuit

    slowbiscuit FUBAR

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    In the ATL
    They're not going to give you a card without paying for limited basic, man.
     
  8. aaroncgi

    aaroncgi New Member

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    Apr 13, 2010
    So it sounds like you are saying you aren't currently subscribing to any cable service from Comcast right now. Is that correct? If so, they're not going to give/rent you a cable card since you aren't using their service. Comcast has no obligation to provide even the local channels to you without a subscription.

    Have you checked your address at TV Fool.com ? That's the best way to determine what's going on with your antenna setup and recommend how best to proceed. Due to all our hills and trees, reception in the Puget Sound area can be tricky.

    This isn't meant to scare you, but I thought I read in the fine print somewhere that the $10/month Off-The-Air Tivo plan is forfeit as soon as you connect anything to the cable TV input on the Tivo. Hopefully that wouldn't turn out to be the case for you, but only Tivo will know for sure. If you were planning to get basic cable (local channels for $15 a month or whatever), be aware that you might be getting hit doubly since your Tivo rate would go up to $20/month. Of course if you bought a lifetime plan this is all a moot point. In any case, it really would benefit you to get the antenna figured out. There are numerous sub channels available in this area that you wouldn't get through cable, and we've found them very worthwhile.
     
  9. RDK

    RDK Member

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    Oct 8, 2011
    I've used TV Fool and other sites extensively to check for best aiming directions, and have spent several hours tweaking the antenna (as well as trying other brands and models of antennas). I get a few channels really strong (like 13/FOX, which is rebroadcast locally), but the stations from Queen Anne in Seattle are marginal at best, and unviewable at worst.

    I think you're right about my Tivo rate going up to $20 when I install the cable card - I've read that elsewhere. But here's the thing -- I found out today that I can get TV+internet for the same price as internet only. So I went ahead and switched. In fact, for the next 6 months, I got a promotional price for $20 less than I'm paying now.

    I plan to leave the antenna installed - you're right, there are some other channels that I might as well take advantage of.
     
  10. aaroncgi

    aaroncgi New Member

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    Apr 13, 2010
    Sounds like a pretty good deal then. Comcast in our neighborhood could only give us a deal that's about $5 more expensive than we pay right now - and that's for TV and internet only (no phone) and no DVR. We pay $54 a month for phone and internet and have lifetime on our Tivo.

    You must be on the wrong side of a hill to pick up the Queen Anne towers, bummer. FOX is the only one we don't get because for one, there's a hill directly in the line of sight between us and the tower (within a few hundred feet of us), and secondly, it's about 90 degrees off the aim for Seattle at our location. Assuming the hill wasn't there we could get it with a rotator, but that's not really an option with a DVR. So we're happy that FOX is rebroadcast on a subchannel of 25 (22 virtual). Even though it's 480P (so they say), it is 16:9 format and the picture quality is very good.
     
  11. RDK

    RDK Member

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    Oct 8, 2011
    I don't use Comcast for phone anymore -- we just use our cell phones.

    The plan I just went to is called "Blast Extra". Includes basic cable (with local HD channels) and internet. $40 for first six months (although I had to press for that, since I'm not a new customer) and then price will go up to $55 (I pay $58 now for internet only). Advertised price for this package (for existing customers) is $70.
     
  12. WVZR1

    WVZR1 Active Member

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    The WV...

    So - rather than "commit the crime" and you made the call and saved money to boot! Amazing!!!
     
  13. RDK

    RDK Member

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    Oct 8, 2011
    I guess, but I'm still not sure what "crime" some referred to. I just wanted to know the cheapest way to get a Cablecard -- I wasn't planning to steal one.
     
  14. unitron

    unitron Well-Known Member

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    To what crime do you refer?

    Have you confused cable cards with the credit card-like devices needed for satellite receivers?
     
  15. RDK

    RDK Member

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    Oct 8, 2011
    After playing around with it, as best I can tell, I'm getting all the Seattle OTA subchannels on cable also. Except for the OTA station that carries all the religious subchannels. But I don't watch those anyway.
     
  16. Series3Sub

    Series3Sub Well-Known Member

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    What OTA antenna are you using and are your using good quality cable?

    The best antennas are still the "old fashioned" yagis, and pointing them is something of an art, but if your cable is poor quality, it won't make a difference. Also, the location of the antenna makes all the differnce in the world. You may also need a pre-amp to bring in the OTA channels.

    My point is don't give up. I have seen people use those awful new-fangled square or other gimmick antennas or bad cable and bad connections and without needed amplification, although if you have a big enough antenna and are relatively close (15-30 miles) you shouldn't need amplification. Tell me it is NOT a small antenna. Really double-check you are doing this RIGHT, as in good QUALITY antenna, cable, connectors and, if needed, pre-amp. Then throw in the towel, but if you are in the Seattle city limits, I don't think you should have a problem. If you need a 2nd antenna, you can hook that up as well.

    It is true that weather will mess with our stupid ATSC. I have the same problem here in the Los Angeles area, except AFTER finding the best LOCATION for my small antenna on the roof (not where I originally wanted it, but almost at the other end of the house) and using GOOD quality RG6 with compression connection NO AMP necessary to feed ONE TV. However, I am DA to feed ELEVEN devices in various rooms with NINE of those devices having internal splitters and I am getting 90's to 100 on some channels with the worst being 72, but never lost, but lower readings in the rain, but never a loss. That's about 120 channels of OTA (most multiplexed, of course).

    Try everything before feeding the cable pig.
     
  17. RDK

    RDK Member

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    Oct 8, 2011
    For reference, I'm using a DB4 antenna, mounted on the roof with a 10 foot mast. I also tried a Clearstream 2 and a DB8, and a preamp, but this one gave me the best results. RG6 quad shielded cable with compression connections. Good quality stuff.

    I was more than willing to continue experimenting with OTA, until I realized that my Comcast bill with basic cable (which gives me more channels than I need) is virtually the same price as internet only. That pretty much took the wind out of my OTA sails.
     
  18. aaroncgi

    aaroncgi New Member

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    Apr 13, 2010
    Well that's cool, and news to me. I thought the cable 'local channels' only gave you the primary network feed, ie 4-1, 5-1, 7-1, 9-1, 11-1, etc.

    $55/month is certainly a lot more palatable than $70. Hard to argue with a lower price for more services!
     
  19. kturcotte

    kturcotte Active Member

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    Portland, ME
    How do you use 2 (Or more) antennas without them interfering with each other? What if the 2nd one if picking up stray signals of the stations the first is picking up and vice verse?
     
  20. kturcotte

    kturcotte Active Member

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    Dec 8, 2002
    Portland, ME
    Check and make sure that they're in HD (If that's what you're interested in), and that they'll work with a Tivo and a cable card. Here Time Warner has a basic package for like $15 a month, but it's encrypted so it would require a cable card to use, but they REFUSE to offer a cable card for JUST that package.
     

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