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New antenna weirdness


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#1 of 6 leodavinci

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Posted February 23 2012 - 01:41 PM

Long time, mostly lurking member with few posts and I have a peculiar problem. For some time I've been looking to replace a 20 year old, well weathered ChannelMaster antenna. I found good deal on the Clearstream 2 antenna at Costco. I did a bit of research and thought it would work for our situation. It has a 50+ range and we are located about 35+ miles from where all broadcast towers are located. Naturally, after purchasing it, I find out that three of the major TV stations in our area are still broadcasting in the VHF range (according to Antennaweb.org), which the Clearstream won't pick up. These stations are 8, 10 and 12. More about them later in the post. I debated about whether or not to try out the Clearstream or just return it. I decided to try it out. I left up the old antenna in case the Clearstream didn't work out, and rigged up a temporary pole to mount the Clearstream to. The Clearstream is about three feet higher than the old antenna. I switched the cable from the old antenna to the Clearstream. Inside, I checked out reception on a Toshiba in a bedroom, a Samsung in the living room, and an ElGato EyeTV unit on a Mac mini attached to the Samsung. Surprise, every station continued to come in and, according to my wife, some looked better than before. For about 30 minutes. Then the Samsung and the EyeTV unit stopped receiving two of the three VHF stations… but not the same two. I rescanned channels on all three devices. The Samsung picks up channel 10, but not 8 or 12. The EyeTV picks up channel 12, but not 8 or 10. ??? Meanwhile, the Toshiba continues to receive all channels. More ??? I fond all this odd because the antenna cable goes to a digital signal splitter in the attic where a separate cable (of the same make and length) goes to each device. Any ideas on what's going on and/or suggestions to fix? Or should I just say forget it, and return the Clearstream and buy a new ChannelMaster? Many thanks.

#2 of 6 Robert_J

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Posted February 23 2012 - 11:00 PM

Return the Clearstream. If you need VHF then you need an antenna designed for VHF. What's wrong with your ChannelMaster? Are some of the elements broken off? If not, then it will work just fine. You may need to strip some wire and clean the connections to it but antennas don't degrade. They work or they don't.

according to my wife, some looked better than before.

It's a digital signal. You either get a perfect picture or you get nothing. Then there is that slight digital breakup that is the in-between.

#3 of 6 leodavinci

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Posted February 24 2012 - 05:51 AM

I would prefer not to return the Clearstream if it is not necessary. At this point I'm not sure about that because of the weirdness I wrote about. One TV (the Toshiba) receives all stations (including the 3 "supposed" VHF channels) from the Clearstream, and the Samsung and the EyeTV do not. What I have read from various expert sources over fifty years (and my own experience) indicates that weather takes a toll on outdoor antennas and they only last about a decade. Although I have to say the ChannelMaster on this house has held up remarkably well, despite having been blown off the roof (the pole broke) and banged up a little from a storm two years after I installed it. It's whole, but some elements are a little bent. A similar ChannelMaster I had a professional install eleven years ago on the two-story house next door didn't last eight years and had to be replaced. I am fully aware that with digital signals you either get a picture (signal) or you don't, and I didn't say I saw a difference. I've told my wife that's how it works, but she still insists. So I don't belabor the point and waste breath over inconsequential things. It is this either/or nature of digital that is kind of my point... why does one TV get all stations and the other doesn't? One thing I forgot to mention (and which, as far as the TVs are concerned, may or may not have any bearing on this) is that the 40" Toshiba is only a three months old, while the 42" Samsung is second-hand, three to four year old TV. FWIW, and this has nothing to do with the issue at hand, the used Samsung has better PQ than the brand new Toshiba. Another thing I forgot to mention is that the antenna cable goes from the antenna to a digital signal splitter in the attic, and separate cables (of the same make, length and age) go from the splitter to each device. All things considered, cables should not be the issue here. BTW, when I mention antenna cable, I am referring to typical coax. The three cables run through the same wall cavity, so later today I will switch the cables between the Toshiba and Samsung. If the Samsung then picks up the missing stations and the Toshiba loses them, then my guess is a splitter problem. I'll try a couple of other ports on the splitter and if that fails, I'll replace it. However, if Samsung still doesn't get the missing stations and the Toshiba continues to receive them... then I'll just give up and return the Clearstream. It'll just be too weird to deal with anymore.

#4 of 6 Robert_J

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Posted February 24 2012 - 10:47 AM

My UHF only antenna picks up my local channel 5 (broadcasting on channel 5) but it isn't perfect.

why does one TV get all stations and the other doesn't

Tuner differences of issues with your cable. You can eliminate the cable as the culprit if you swap TVs. If it is the cable, then each location will still get the same channels. If it is the tuner, then the TVs will still get the same channels.

he used Samsung has better PQ than the brand new Toshiba

Have you calibrated either of them?

The three cables run through the same wall cavity, so later today....

Same as swapping TVs. Whatever is easier.

It'll just be too weird to deal with anymore.

And that's why cable and satellite are so popular.

#5 of 6 leodavinci

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Posted February 24 2012 - 04:42 PM

Well... I have some answers to my problem. I spent a good bit of time climbing up and down the roof several times today to rotate the Clearstream in order to check signal strength. The Toshiba has a signal indicator (1 to 5 bars) that pops up when the channel is changed. Channel 8 gets 4 bars with the old antenna, and 2 with the Clearstream. There are similar drops for channels 10 and 12. I had a time deadline this afternoon, so by the time I got to a point where I could switch cables from one TV to another, I ran into difficulties and out of time. I also discovered that I had not correctly remembered the cable situation. The Toshiba, which gets all the stations, has a much thicker and (I presume) better insulated cable. The Samsung has the thinest while the EyeTV has a somewhat thicker cable. Cable lengths are probably the same, but it's possible the one to the Toshiba is shorter. Unlike the cables to the Samsung and EyeTV, it won't come out of the wall far enough to reach the TV, so it's connected to a coax wall plate and the Toshiba is connected to that with a 6 ft cable. FWIW, the cable from the antenna to the signal splitter could be shorten by ten feet at least. At this point I'm figuring my weird reception issue is signal degradation due to use of a signal splitter, different cables, and cable lengths. And maybe TV receiver sensitivity. Just to satisfy my curiosity, I temporarily connected the Samsung directly to the Clearstream while it was still on the roof. I only had a thirty foot cable so it had to be moved to a lower position. It wasn't vertical or oriented very well, but all the stations came in. I've decide to keep everything connected to the old ChannelMaster. Fixing the issues with the Clearstream would likely require new, shorter cables all around and an amplifier. The attic is not full height so I have to move around and work in a hunched over position holding onto roof trusses for support. I also have to watch where I step as there is no flooring and the bottom of the trusses are covered a foot deep with blown-in insulation... which means I have to wear a dust mask and goggles while I work. Since there is no power in the attic, installing an amplifier would just raise even more issues to deal with. P.S. However, I still don't have an explanation as to why the ClearStream picks up UHF stations. Oh well.

#6 of 6 Robert_J

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Posted February 25 2012 - 05:54 AM

I don't like sending people to other forums but AVS has a local HDTV section. In that section there is a thread for each DMA in the US or maybe North America. Either way, find your location and you may find guys who have already gone through this ordeal. I know I learned a lot about my locals out of Memphis by reading that thread. Each part of town required a different setup for optimal reception.




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