Cable Tv amplifiers/boosters?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Brian DL, Feb 26, 2003.

  1. Brian DL

    Brian DL Auditioning

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    Hi:

    I have basic TV split 4 ways in my home and figured a signal booster might help improve the picture quality (currently I get a couple bad channels; this is magnified w/ the TIVO too).

    I've seen the radio shack ones but wanted personal opinions on how they've worked. I was going to pick up the 1:4, but installing it would be a pain in the butt.

    My questions:
    -given the 4 way split, would it be okay to just amp the signal right before the split?
    -How much signal boost do I need?
    -if so, what amplifiers/boosters have you used and been successful with?

    Here's one I saw at circuit city the other day...
    http://www.circuitcity.com/frame1.js...=0023143004302

    I know the answer I will get is 'go out and get direcTV', but not exactly an option at this point due to struggling economy, impending war, blah blah blah =D. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Kevin. W

    Kevin. W Screenwriter

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    Brain,

    The easiest thing to do is go buy it, try it and if doesn't work take it back. Then try it in all the different configs(before/after split etc).

    Kevin
     
  3. Brian DL

    Brian DL Auditioning

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    Any configurations/types suggested???
     
  4. NickT

    NickT Stunt Coordinator

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    The best place for an amp is before any splitters. This helps keep the signal from getting near the noise floor. Amps don't do anything to help with picture quality and amplify everything including noise. If you have picture quality issues due to low signal, then amps can help, but if the problem is due to something else, then there may be no improvement in the picture or it could look even worse. You need to find out what is the source of your picture quality issues.

    If you notice that all of your upper channels, say channel 50 and up, have a grainy look and it seems to get worse as the channel number increases, then it is likely that low signal is present. If the upper channels as a whole look no different than the lower ones, like 2to 10, then it is likely that there is something else causing the problem, and an amp will not likely cure the problem.

    One thing that you should do first, is to disconnect the splitter and hook up just one of your cable lines and see what the problem looks like. A splitter reduces signal strength, so removing it will give you a temporary signal boost. Take a look at the splitter and see if you see any rust or other signs of weathering. A bad splitter can cause problems.

    There's alot of variables that can cause problems. Answering the following questions will help to determine the problem. Do the same channels look bad on all of your TV's? Does temporarily removing the splitter improve the picture? Does connecting the cable directly into the TV (bypassing VCR Tivo and anything else) change anything? Do different TV's have different problems? What channels are the ones that have problems? What does the problem look like? lines? grain? ghosting?

    Finally, cable does have free repair. Give them a call and have someone come out. The problem could be as simple as a bad fitting at the tap, but you can't fix that yourself.
     
  5. LewB

    LewB Screenwriter

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    Brian:
    I would suggest that you talk to your cable company first. If you are 'only' driving 4 outputs, the signal provided by the cable co. should be OK without any help. If practical, check the cable signal quality right were it comes in. Is it OK before the split(s) ? If not, then get the cable co. out there to tune up your line. Next thing would be to check your splitters, are they the $3 home depot type? If so, get rid of them and get splitters that pass at least a 1Ghz signal, these are important now that the cable company is offering many more channels and features that the cheap splitters may not pass.
    Amps just magnify bad signals. They also 'reflect' signal back into the line. A friend of mine had his cable cut off because they detected noise coming from his house. The cable co. made him get rid of the amp he was using. Let us know what happens, good luck !
     
  6. Brian DL

    Brian DL Auditioning

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    Thanks all! I'll go ahead and start testing myself. Our area is going through a cable change (Comcast from AT&T) and wanted to wait till that hashes out...

    I am using a Monster Cable 2ghz splitter, non amped. I did buy one of the 1:4 way amped splitters but is logistically difficult to install vs. a 1 way splitter set before the line.

    I'll post the results.

    I'm in SJ, bad channels include 2 and 3. This is apparent on two of four TVs: my big screen and my computer TV tuner (very bad on that one).

    Brian
     
  7. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    I started seeing noise/snow on some channels but not others. The CATV guys were quick to come out and use a meter to detect that some channels were weak. He started at the TV and worked his way outside to the top of a pole in my backyard where he found a jumper wire that squirrels had been chewing on.

    So problems will affect some channels before others.

    The number one cause of poor CATV signal is: loose or poorly-installed "F" connectors.

    You should do an annual "Cleaning":
    • Unscrew every connector and examine the center-wire. If it looks dull-brown or the "F" connector looks loose, cut and replace the connector.
    • If one cable does not have enough slack or you dont want to cut the end off of a nice piece of coax, but the copper is dull-brown, you can carefully scrape the center wire with a razor knife. Just go slow and apply minimal pressure so you dont bend the wire. You are just trying to scrub off the oxidization layer on the surface, not whittle the wire down.
    • Dont forget to look behind outlet-plates. If you have a wall-plate with a barrel-connector, this means there is a cable with an "F" connector behind it. Dont forget to check these "hidden" connectors.
    • Use a wrench to tighten the connectors firmly! You need a 7/16 wrench or get the Ideal "F Connector Tool" for $18 from Home Depot.
    • Radio Shack also sells some nice, cheap coax strippers, "T" tools, etc. You can get a real nice ratching Crimp Frame for about $18, and the Crimp Die 360-688 for $9. Also, when you buy "F" connectors, look for the ones with an "attached ferrule" (built-in crimp ring). These are simpler/stronger/easier to work with than the ones with separate rings.



    I used to burn through the Radio Shack amps every few years. When I re-wired, I bought a Channel Plus distribution amp for about $125 and I have had zero problems since. A bit expensive, but worth it for a set-and-forget.
     
  8. JohnnyG

    JohnnyG Screenwriter

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  9. Brian DL

    Brian DL Auditioning

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    Thanks for all your feedback! I picked up a RS one (29.99) and have not installed yet. I found a heck of a deal on the Motorola one:

    http://www.provantage.com/scripts/go.dll/-s/fp_72078

    I may go buy the one at Circuit City and test it out while I wait for this one in the mail...

    I'll post my results after this weekend.
     
  10. NickT

    NickT Stunt Coordinator

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    Channels 2 and 3 are bad, I don't think that an amp may help. Probably something loose somewhere or a bad hi pass filter? Might want to give the cable company a call. Those two channels lose the least amount of signal over distance since they aren't that high in frequency.
     
  11. Brian DL

    Brian DL Auditioning

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    Update:

    I did try the RS 29.99 amplifier and it made a significant difference. It was most noticable on my TV card for my PC (channels 2 and 3 were unwatchable before).

    Unfortunately, it was not as noticable a difference on my main family room TV. I'm debating the addition of another amp at that location too.

    I am planning to order the Motorola amp and will sub it for the RS one. Thanks all for your suggestions!!!
     
  12. JohnnyG

    JohnnyG Screenwriter

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    Brian, you should put the amp on the line coming into the home, before the first splitter. After that, amplifying and amplied signal will get very ugly, very fast.
     

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