DVR & antena working together?


Old 02-13-14, 08:14 PM
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DVR & antena working together?

I have grown tired of paying large cable bills. currently I have ATT U-verse. Being with them 10 years. I have cut to bare minimum but still pay $80.00 because they keep bumping up prices. All I have are internet and local channels.

I'm thinking of pulling the plug by just having internet and buying an indoor Antena for local channels.

But I really like to record news and shows, then watch afterwards.

is there a DVR I can buy that would work with Antena to record shows for local channels.
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Old 02-14-14, 03:13 PM
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Outside antenna is a great idea.
Are you close to the broadcasting stations ? AntennaWeb - Home

I have a setup like that for a family member but I'm using the TV as the tuner with a stand alone Sony DVR recorder. That setup doesn't allow for timer recording or watching one channel and recording another.

In looking around I see several self contained units that record off-air signals like you'd want to do. Not too expensive in price but I'm not sure about the reliability of the unit. You'd need a DVR with an HD tuner. The following unit will do that. Be sure to read the reviews to be aware of its shortcomings.
Amazon : Digital Stream DPH1000R HDTV Recorder with Digital Tuner and 320 GB HDD (Black) : Digital Video Recorders : Electronics

Be advised..... you usually cannot record copywrited or protected movies.
Old 02-14-14, 03:46 PM
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Aside from that I am wondering how you tie the antenna in to your existing cable line?

I know with internet you need to split to the modem first then run to the tv's..

And these antennas need a booster so you need to go to that first...
Old 02-14-14, 08:20 PM
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Just came back to revisit this thread. Here is another link used to check on HD over air signals. There is also an antenna guide in this page.
The Digital TV Transition: Reception Maps

I just read you want to use an indoor antenna. You will need to be very close to the transmitters for an indoor antenna to work. HDTV signals are not easy to pickup. Don't be fooled by the "too good to be true" magic indoor antennas.

I live in NJ just a stone throw from NYC where all the big networks transmit from. According to all the maps I should be getting a perfect picture yet I receive only two NY stations. There is a mountain right between me and the city that attenuates all the signals. I have a mediom sized rooftop antenna 15' of the roof. If I raised it I would probably get more.

My point is make sure you can a signal where you live before you break the cable ties.
Old 02-15-14, 06:27 AM
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Aside from that I am wondering how you tie the antenna in to your existing cable line?
You have to disconnect the cable from the house wiring to connect an antenna. Otherwise they interfere with each other.

I disconnected the cable line at the ground block, which in my house is inside. From there it hit a splitter, so I inserted an amp between the ground block and splitter.
Old 02-15-14, 07:22 PM
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There are a few video recorders that contain their own hard drive and DVD drives and also the ATSC tuner for over the air reception. The one I have is the Magnavox MDR533H which has a 320 GB hard drive allowing for in excess of 100 hours at the SP setting or 371 hours at the SLP setting. They also make models with 500 GB and one TB drives for a bit more money. I found Wal*Mart to have the best price at $238 including free shipping as I recall. This was about April or May of last year.

I have been using this recorder exclusively on an antenna since Comcast encrypted ALL of their service. I have tried a couple of indoor antennas and was not the least bit impressed. Going to an outside antenna has made all the difference in the world and I have tried everything from a small (about 6 X !0 inch model) to a 12 X 36 inch model and finally a Yagi-type with varying degrees of success. I have tried each of them with an elevation above ground from about 18 inches to about fifteen feet and found that the old adage that higher is better is not always true. Right now my Yagi is about ten feet above the ground and my large plastic-cased model is three feet above ground and both work about the same. There are channels I can get better with the lower antenna and a few that are better with the higher antenna. Antenna amplifiers are another issue. Amazingly, I can receive some channels better with an amplifier and others I almost lose completely when using an amplifier. The local PBS stations, one in Seattle about 12 miles away and the other in Tacoma about 37 miles away both require the amplifier and neither gets better than one bar of signal strength. I DO think the transmitting power of the station has a great deal to do with what I can receive because the higher powered stations are more readily receivable and the orientation of the antenna is less critical.

Antenna Web is a relatively poor site for my needs and I recommend the following.

TV Fool

disableMycable - Station Finder

TV Antenna Range

I find that weather conditions play a BIG role on whether or not you receive a watchable signal. Any obstructions between you and the transmitter will also play a big role. I live in kind of a hole with a hill between me and the majority of the transmitters along with having lots of trees and other houses interrupt the direct line of sight and it DOES make a difference where you mount the antenna. Just a few feet horizontally may make all the difference in the world.

I'm going to do some experimentation with the antenna in the attic and also around the corner from where I presently have it to see if it makes a significant difference.
Old 02-16-14, 07:22 AM
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UHF signals have quite a few enemies including trees, hills, clouds, rain, snow (weather, not picture) and man-made structures. Some absorb the carrier, some block it, and others reflect it so it arrives at the antenna just in time to interfere with the direct signal. In the days before digital transmission these same enemies were in play, but they would degrade the picture to cause snow (picture, not weather) or, in the case of reflections, ghosting. With digital, the signal is either pure enough and strong enough to produce a picture or it isn't. There is no degradation.

The solution is a good antenna with a rotor, mounted high enough so it can receive "line of sight" transmissions from the broadcasting towers.

Adding an amplifier can boost weak signals so they are over the minimum threshold, but it can also boost stronger signals until they overload the tuner. Too much signal strength is just as bad as too little. When the strongest signals overload the tuner they cause intermodulation distortion and wipe out other channels in the process. (This overload distortion can also happen inside the amp itself by pushing it too hard.)

An amp boosts the entire bandwidth, meaning the weakest signals increase by the same dB as the strongest. Ideally a typical digital tuner wants to see between -10 and +10 dBm of signal strength on each channel at the TV. -15dB is the generally accepted lower threshold for the TV to produce a picture. +15dB is the threshold at which most TVs' tuners are overloaded.

Without a signal level meter you're taking a stab in the dark. Unfortunately the cost of a good meter is well outside the budget of a DIYer.

BTW, you're not going to believe this, but I use a homemade antenna that I made from a 3-foot 2x4 and some metal coat hangers. In my area the broadcast towers are clustered in the same area to the south so I didn't need a rotor. The one broadcast tower that's located off axis is only about 1/8th the distance so it works out perfectly.
Old 02-16-14, 05:17 PM
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I haven't read all of the replies, but to your original post, TiVo DVR works with Antenna and Digital cable.

I'm not going to lie, up front TiVo can be expense up front. I bought a Series 3 HD DVR in 2008, paid about $150.00 for the box, then $400.00 for lifetime subscription (I believe you can also pay per year, per month, etc). The Series 3 records two shows at once, holds 20 hours of HD recording. Has HDMI and component connections, composite connections, Ethernet and two USBs, digital optical output.

Since 2008 I have gotten my money back on Return on Investment, having digital cable paying only $2.50 a month for a multistream cable card instead of $10.00 for a box and $8.50 for DVR.

Newer Tivo models can record four or six shows at once, hold more hard drive space, built in wireless. On the older Series 3 I can get Netflix, youtube. The newer ones have Hulu Plus I believe.

You could may search Amazon or Ebay for a model with lifetime service already.
Old 02-17-14, 01:35 AM
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The last couple of days we have been experiencing high winds and rain, high winds for the area, that is. My antenna, which is still a work in progress, is mounted on top of a piece of electrical conduit slipped into a pipe tee that is clamped to my porch railing. As such it is easily turned and the wind caused it to "weathervane" to a position almost 180 degrees from where I got the best reception. Turning it back to the SSW position brought back the reception I had previously but just for giggles I decided to raise the antenna a bit and see what happened.

What a difference just 16 inches made! I am now getting all but one of my stations with a minimum of three bars (out of ten) on the signal strength indicator. Even the Seattle PBS station is now coming in at three bars where before the best I could get was one bar. The ABC affiliate, which had been problematic cycling between zero and five bars now has a much steadier signal at six to eight bars. The wind and rain is having almost zero effect upon the signal strength. The one station that is worse is the low-power station at about 140 degrees magnetic, roughly 50 degrees off of the direction the antenna is pointing. This has been constant (all channels steady signals) since around noon regardless of wind, rain or clear skies.

Bottom line, the location of the antenna is CRITICAL for the best reception. Even just a few inches in height or horizontal position can mean the difference between a good signal and nothing. I might do a scan to see how many channels I can actually receive (not just 'catch" on the scan) although I suspect all I will pick up are the religious, shopping and foreign language channels that are of no interest to me.
Old 02-17-14, 09:08 AM
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Does your TV have a digital aka ATSC channel selector (tuner)? If so you can try using an antenna now, before you stop your cable subscription. This way you can tell how well an antenna is going to work first. Stations with actual channel numbers (usually not the same as the numbers in their logos) 14 and above are received using the ring or bowtie on a rabbit ears antenna set, not using the rabbit ears themselves. If all the stations have actual channel numbers 14 and above, you can choose a UHF-only outdoor antenna, which has no bars or fins more than 12 inches long.

Depending on exactly how it is wired, you can unscrew the line high up on the side of the house from the cable TV line out to the utility pole so you can connect up an outdoor antenna for a trial, or you can leave that line untouched for now and buy a length of coax cable (probably RG-6) to make a temporary antenna hookup perhaps becoming permanent down to your TV.

A DVR (with ATSC channel selector) will work just as well after you have tested your antenna with the TV set directly.

Usually you will hook up the antenna to the DVR and then connect the DVR to the TV. If you need to hook up the antenna directly to both the DVR and the TV then you will need a splitter which in turn may need a stronger booster because the split signal is weaker than the original signal even when the other device (TV or DVR) is turned off.

(Most cable systems work with non-digital aka NTSC TV sets so some folks upgrading to digital cable did not upgrade to an ATSC TV. There are some hi-def TV sets that are NTSC and not ATSC.)

Last edited by AllanJ; 02-17-14 at 09:30 AM.

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