• TV Antennas

    by Published on 08-23-2017 06:43 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. TV Antennas,
    3. Satellite



    Oh my, has it been three years already? Back in 2014 I told you all about the contract problems between Raycom Media and DIRECTV. It resulted in 53 stations across the country pulling their programming from DIRECTV for a short while. It took a little back-and-forth before there was a resolution, but at least it's been quiet for a few years while the two companies have been living under a signed contract that keeps stations on the air.

    And then... recently Raycom Media stations have been warning of a possible blackout on DIRECTV again. The stations affected are mostly in the southeast (Here's Raycom's own interactive map) but there are a few outliers all over the country.

    I think we've all seen how these things go. There's a lot of posturing, and then 99% of the time there's a fast resolution "just in time" to save everyone's TV programs. It always makes me a little suspicious when there is so much progress at "the eleventh hour." Why can't they make that much progress a week before and save everyone all the heartache?

    Of course, as usual, it's all about money. Raycom wants more of it, and DIRECTV wants to pay less of it. Broadcast ratings are at historic lows -- I've said it before, it looks like about 90% of the TV audience is watching something else at any given time. Yet greedy broadcasters always want to charge more for their stations to be carried on cable and satellite outlets, and sooner or later it comes to a head.

    Let's hope this turns out to be a non-news story, but if you're tired of companies like Raycom holding your TV programs hostage, why not get a TV antenna? Get all the programs on ABC, CBS, NBC, CW and more for free and never be held hostage by local broadcast carriage disputes!
    by Published on 08-22-2017 10:25 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. TV Antennas
    Article Preview



    FREEDOM. That's the promise of cord-cutting. Not just trading a big bill for a small bill but cutting out all bills, period. If you want to do that, you're going to need an antenna.

    Streaming is great, and just like all of you I stream a lot of video. There's a lot of ...
    by Published on 08-21-2017 02:08 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. TV Antennas,
    3. Satellite



    Finger tight. Pretty self explanatory, right? It's as tight as you can make something with just your fingers. It's not a precise measurement, obviously, but it's good enough to give you some idea what you're doing.

    For most home theater projects, finger tight is not tight enough. Most folks will connect their coaxial cables just finger tight to their equipment, and that may not quite do it. With RG6 cables of any kind, you should always have a 7/16" wrench handy. You don't have to torque the cable so hard it breaks, but sometimes an eighth-turn can make a difference. When it comes to splitters, finger-tight will only get you about halfway there and the wrench should go the rest of the way. You should be able to feel some resistance when you tighten with a wrench; don't go past that point or you'll break the connector.

    The same goes for grounding screws and blocks. Use a screwdriver to tighten the ground wire down, otherwise it may not make complete contact and that means it's not very useful.

    On the other hand, if you're assembling an antenna or anything made of aluminum, anything with a wingnut, finger tight is plenty tight. Overtightening a bolt on an antenna will tear right through it or at least deform it. There's no point in that. Unless the instructions say so, don't ever use a wrench to assemble an antenna, although you should use one to mount it.
    by Published on 08-20-2017 03:04 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Cell Phones,
    3. TV Antennas,
    4. Online/MobileTV



    It's coming. Within the next two years, a lot of television stations will be moving to new frequencies. The goal here is that channels 37-51 will be given over to a whole new generation of LTE cellular data services, to feed the ever-growing demand for cellular data. The FCC just finished a multi-year plan which will see a lot of stations moving down the spectrum.

    So yes, this means that you'll need a new LTE filter. The new cell services will come in just fine on your TV antenna and there's a good chance that they'll interfere with your TV picture.

    The kicker is that you can't buy those filters yet, because no one makes them. Our product team at Solid Signal is working hard with our contract manufacturers to get a filter ready for you, and there are still at least two years before any cell provider starts using those "600MHz" frequencies.

    In the meantime, your older antenna could already be picking up frequencies in the 700MHz range that are used for today's LTE services. If you have unexpected interference in your antenna signals, pick up one of these Channel Master LTE filters and put it inline with your antenna cable. It will take care of today's problems, and as for tomorrow's... we will deal with that tomorrow.
    by Published on 08-20-2017 12:28 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. TV Antennas
    Article Preview



    We actually have a lot of data about the electrical properties of a massive chunk of copper, thanks to this lady. Although you're extraordinarily unlikely to put a piece of copper 151 feet high up and use it as an antenna, you might wonder what would happen if you did.

    Copper, you see, is a very good conductor ...
    by Published on 08-18-2017 05:25 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. TV Antennas



    If the antenna on your roof is older than 40 years then it probably uses flat wire that you haven't seen anywhere else. This 300-ohm "twin-lead" cable was all the rage in the 1950s as it was inexpensive to make and easy to install. However, it was replaced eventually by the kind of coaxial cable you see all over the place.

    To be honest, the flat wire is a really good fit for an antenna since its impedance characteristics (an important measure of how well signals "flow" through a wire" is fairly similar to that of the antenna itself. In order to use coaxial cable, an antenna uses a piece of equipment called a "balun" which converts the antenna's 300-ohm impedance to the 75-ohm impedance of a coaxial cable. Baluns also used to be quite expensive, which was another reason people didn't use coaxial cable. Today they're ridiculously cheap.

    Although twin-lead wire is pretty good for antenna signals, it's completely unshielded and prone to interference from cell phones which obviously people in the 1950s didn't have to worry about. Today though... you do need to worry about it and you also probably need to worry about the sun damage that 40-60 years of direct exposure has done to your old flat wires.

    Normally I say, if it isn't broke... don't fix it. But if you're seeing any sort of interference on your TV picture while watching antenna TV, I would rewire the line with coaxial cable and get a balun to connect your old antenna to it. This will give you much better results, including stronger signal and the ability to split the signal easily to go to multiple TVs. You may even be able to repurpose some cable company leftover wire for this purpose.

    Folks, some things made in the 1950s are classics. Old cars, old music, those are great. Old wires though... time to deal with them.
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