Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Antenna Crap

Unrelated- General Catz- Your site is now private? Should I unlink?

So I bought an interesting little toy for the compy- a digital TV tuner, the Elgato Hybrid USB. It's a little doobie with a USB plug on one end and a coax fiting at the other. Plug and play, as it were. It works reasonably well and there are no shortage of digital channels in Seattle, although most of them are boring.

So, in Seattle, there is some stupid bullshit with the Fox network. I have Dish Network and they rebroadcast all the local HD channels except Fox, which is in Tacoma. No idea how this came about, but the result of this is that I can't get Fox in HD over the television, and I watch House, 24, and football (and Schmoop is big on the Idol thing). So I'd hoped that I could record stuff to the compy and then burn DVD's to watch on the TV. The only rub? The distance/weakness of signal. I have now one through three alleged HD antennas, and some are pricey. Turns out the $9 one was the best, but it wouldn't tune in Fox from Tacoma. Damn it.

So I have dinked around with this fancy amplified one recently and it was a bust, and as I was considering what to do next, I thought I'd take an old coax cable and strip off one end down to the copper core and see how that would fare.

I farted about and cleared about 2.5' of copper on the end and bent it to a 10" loop and damned if that didn't tune and lock the Fox from Tacoma better than any of the other antennas. And that arbitrary diameter is apparently crucial, and highly directional. If I change the loop size, lights out. If I face the loop away from the transmitter, it's gets blocky and then goes out. That's nice with the digital transmissions in as much as there is no static- it either is perfect or out. So now I'm looking at returning the pricey antenna for another cheap one, and join the signals together.

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Blogger Hammer said...

Interesting. we have the same problem here with UPN. It's broadcast about 60 miles away and people end up digging out the old rabbit ears to watch it.

I just got something called at&t Uverse. It brings a digital signal through fiber up to the copper phone wires, into a modem which provides 300Kbs download and then has a line out to the existing house coaxial cable which sends out 4 televison feeds. It's working good so far. It's just hard for me to imagine so much coming through 2 tiny copper wires.

7:01 PM  
Blogger slaghammer said...

I initially misread the title of your post as “Enema Crap.” It must be that old dyslexia flaring up again. Between that and the contraption that turned out to be an antenna, I had one brief moment of horror. Regarding your homemade antenna, what are the odds against nailing the correct configuration the first time around? Somewhere between “the devil had a hand in it” and “no f*cking way” I imagine. I’ve seen strange things happen before though. I just replaced the faucet on our kitchen sink three times in a row in one day (defective merchandise) and tomorrow I’m supposed to receive the third lappy in a row (defective merchandise). I guess odds can be deceiving.

11:21 PM  
Blogger Cheesy said...

Does that plug in thingy work for just regular tv reception too>>>?

8:01 AM  
Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

To get am radio before dark off of a bounce from San Francisco (I love listening to Giants baseball on the radio) I have to sit in the passenger side of my truck with one shou off and I have to make a puddle mud on the ground. Then I have to put my naked foot in the mud while I sit still and hold my antenna with my right hand over the top of the open door.

I've learned to drink beer left handed through all of this...

Once the sun has gone down, I can get the game just fine.

8:48 AM  
Blogger Stucco said...

Hammer- that sounds interesting. I'm not convinced that Internet radio (and other content delivery) will survive the RIAA and lawyers. Analog (in design) systems to send content over farther distances may be the solution that the market and law allow. Maybe you could post about it after you've set upon an opinion?

Slag- Holy crap, that's a misread! And as far as the odds of my stumbling upon the corredct config, as Scott from Oregon likes to say- PDL (pure dumb luck). My buddy in Colorado who is a Jimmy Neutron type IM'd me to say that I'd "made a "polarized circular antenna" and some other engineering speak. It was hilarious to hear him detail scientifically events that I'd describe as "farting around".

Hi Cheesy- it's good for anything off air (analog or digital), but I really only care about digital HD. I suppose if you don't have an HD TV and live near a significant metro area where HD broadcasts can be found, this could be a primary solution. The deal was $150-ish.

Scott- I bet my Jimmy Neutron buddy could explain the science of your methods. If you cared. Being where you are, why not just get a big antenna on a pole? If I'm not mistaken, AM likes a long horizontal line of wire as an antenna. And is it really the sun, or the time of day that matters. I know a lot of stations don't go full power until after 7PM (local time, I think).

9:19 AM  
Blogger Jeannie said...

ok - whatever you said

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK Stucco, between you and my husband I am surrounded by dorks! How about your son takes credit for this for his science project. Get him some extra credit points for helping the teaching staff get a better reception on FOX! hehe
Love ya, Tonya

12:23 PM  
Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

You get a longer skip after dark due to the ionisphere, is the way I understood it. Remember, I am half the length of California away from the transmitter...

I would love to know why I act as some sort of tuner helper...

4:20 PM  
Blogger General Catz said...

Send judith your email addy and she can forward it to me and i'll add you.

Congrats on overcoming technical artsy-fartsyness with good old fashioned ingenuity and cheap parts.

9:46 PM  
Blogger General Catz said...

i opened it back up, yer in.

7:34 AM  

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