Getting poor signal in an internal mini PCI ATSC TV tuner
February 8, 2010 9:56 AM   Subscribe

I recently bought an Avermedia a327 Mini PCI ATSC (DTV) tuner card which I put in my Dell Vostro 1500. I get horrible signal strength (unwatchable) through the built-in antennas.

I get fine WiFi signal strength through the built-in antennae, but I've tried hooking up each of the four free antenna cables to the a327 - I got great signal strength when I first put it in (a blip?), and now can hardly get any to watch TV. Any ideas? Tips?
posted by lrodman to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
are you sure the built-in antennas are to be used with ATSC? i would have thought they were for wifi only, and are cut to the proper length for 2.4GHz operation... way too short for ATSC transmissions.
posted by joeblough at 10:42 AM on February 8, 2010

Yeah, those antennas are tuned for the wrong frequency unless there's a TV antenna in there' TV is in the range of 50-ish MHz to 300Mhz range, sometimes up to 1 GHz for really far-out stations (not sure if any are actually licensed for terrestrial broadcast in that range). WiFi is 2.4Ghz which means it can use much smaller antennas. You need rabbit-ears.
posted by GuyZero at 10:48 AM on February 8, 2010

Response by poster: Any idea why it worked beautifully when I first put it in?

How do computers with built-in cards stock work it?

I presume some of the antennae must be for WWAN, and doesn't GSM start right around 400? Is there any way to string a few of the internal ones together to make a "longer" antenna?

Can I buy an antenna of the proper length and coil it around the chassis and monitor? Any recommendations for the location?
posted by lrodman at 12:04 PM on February 8, 2010

You need to buy a 10-15' length of RG-59 coax cable, and an antenna.

Use this to find out which antenna you need, and get placement tips.
posted by terpia at 12:16 PM on February 8, 2010

Also, an obvious but easy to forget step to improving signal: check the manufacturer's web site for updated drivers. Regularly. Keep copies of you older drivers, in case an update actually degrades your cards performance.
posted by terpia at 1:07 PM on February 8, 2010

Response by poster: Why coax? Do I really need that long?
Is there some way I can build an internal antenna? Obviously it can be done, since you can buy laptops or all-in-ones with built in antennas (HP sells both I think?)
posted by lrodman at 2:28 PM on February 8, 2010

First off, D'oh!
I assumed your card was going into a desktop media pc, and I didn't bother googling the card or Dell model.

It looks like there's surprisingly little information about your card, but from what I can find, I'm going to assume that you bought it second-hand off eBay or something similar and it was originally an OEM card in another laptop.

All of the mini-pci cards I can find on the avermedia site are in their OEM (ODM) section here. Of course, your model isn't explicitly listed - but this one looks pretty similar to this one, which indicates that it has a 75-ohm connector for an antenna (that would be the little gold connector that looks like a mini coax connector).

If you plugged this in when installing, maybe you connected to an antenna that was built into your laptop, but has since become disconnected... If you didn't plug it in, you'll need to connect it to something to get a decent signal. Aftermarket accessories of this sort are hard to find, since the antenna needs to be routed around components in your laptop, which is something a manufacturer would normally take care of - if they wanted to. If your laptop has a built-in atsc antenna (which is unlikely), you're good - just check the connection.

If it doesn't have one, you should probably check out the connector, and try to rig your own antenna, starting with a cellphone antenna adapter, maybe something like this: to get the connection started...

Good luck!
posted by terpia at 4:09 PM on February 8, 2010

I let out the part about how the antenna cables currently inside your laptop are most likely *not* ATSC antennas unless your PC originally shipped with a TV tuner, or had one as an option.
posted by terpia at 4:11 PM on February 8, 2010

Response by poster: yup - I used the internal antenna, and I can get a few channels, but presumably it is too short, as it is probably for wifi and GSM.
posted by lrodman at 8:15 AM on February 11, 2010

Response by poster: *bump* any new ideas?
posted by lrodman at 6:27 AM on February 15, 2010

Response by poster: *bump*
the card has the same tiny "spigot-shaped" antenna plugs as WiFi, but I see how you'd need a different length antenna for different frequencies. I see on this site that such an ATSC card includes a converter from the little plug into a standard coax plug, which can then use an antenna - any idea where I might buy this converter?

Alternatively, anyone know where I can buy the appropriate antenna to go with a card that would go internally in a laptop?
posted by lrodman at 11:01 AM on May 28, 2010

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