Antenna Support Group
July 5, 2014 7:28 PM   Subscribe

We've got a fancy new window antenna and so far are getting nothing but snow. I think we need to raise our game a level to finding a really good online discussion group with lots of people with lots of different televisions.

Following up on my question of last year, we're now trying in earnest to use an antenna. We have a potentially difficult TV (hello, 2003 Pioneer Elite Pro 530 HD that doesn't want to play along) and the metal roof. Any suggestions for DIY or even professional sites for help on this one?
posted by tafetta, darling! to Technology (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Does your TV have a digital tuner? I've got a similar TV of similar vintage. It only had an analog tuner. I bought a digital tuner box at radio shack for <$50 hooked it up between TV and antenna, and working great.
posted by dismitree at 7:36 PM on July 5, 2014

That is a really good (and embarrassing) question. I know it is HD capable, but I don't know if it has the tuner.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 7:41 PM on July 5, 2014

Digital broadcast doesn't produce snow, you get a perfect picture, or it breaks up like bad streaming video. If you are getting snow see if there's settings in your TV to enable atsc/digital tuning, otherwise you'll need a separate tuner.
posted by TheAdamist at 7:46 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

It would be very helpful to know what your antennaweb listing looks. (Though this discloses your exact location so, obviously, don't post this unless you want to disclose your exact location.)

My experience with digital TV reception is that too strong a signal is FAR more severe a problem than too weak a signal.

On AntennaWeb our signals are all listed as red, blue, or violet, meaning that we would need some sort of boosted or pre-am or otherwise relatively ***powerful*** antenna.

When we purchased this powerful amplified antenna we actually were able to receive exactly ZERO stations at all simply because the amplified antenna signal was far, far too powerful. Evidently a too powerful antenna signal simply overwhelms the digital TV receiver and the end result is not signal at all. None. Not even evidence of signal, like zero evidence you're receiving anything at all.

The solution in our case was to go out & buy the absolute cheapest, simplest antenna. Works fine, we pick up all the stations.

So a few lessons learned:

- The antenna that looks better, more expensive, more capable, will bring in a better signal, higher quality, whatever-whatever-whatever might actually NOT work AT ALL for you.

- The very cheapest/simplest antenna may very well be the best.

- Antennas are a bit quirky and you might just have to simply experiment with different antennas and placement to see what works in your particular case. The cheap antenna might be your friend, or maybe it's the expensive one. (If you can't tell, I would always try the cheap one first and then work up if necessary.)

- Too much/too strong a signal is just as bad as too weak signal

- Digital TV is infuriating because you generally vary between no reception at all and perfect reception. You can't tell when you've almost got it, or got too much, or whatever, because it all looks the same as no reception at all.

- Assuming you're not in a very rural area or mountainous or dozens of miles from the antennas for the nearest TV station or whatever your problem is definitely as likely to be too strong signal as too weak.
posted by flug at 7:49 PM on July 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dual 181 Channel NTSC Tuners with Automatic Preset

Well, there is you first problem. NTSC is the analog TV tuner. So you need the digital set-top box to even get started.
posted by flug at 7:53 PM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Your link indicates that the Pro 530 HD has "dual NTSC tuners." That's a problem. This is a tuner problem first and foremost, not an antenna problem.

In August of 2011, American broadcasters were required to switch over from the old, analog TV format (NTSC) to the new, digital format (ATSC). Anyone with an older, NTSC-only TV - whether a 8 year old HDTV or a 50 year old console TV - would have to get a digital converter in order to still watch television with an antenna.

I double-checked, and the manual for your TV doesn't indicate any ATSC support. This means it doesn't have any built-in support for modern television broadcasting.

So, in order to watch TV with an antenna, you'll need to get an external ATSC tuner, similar to a cable box, that takes the antenna in one inut, and then outputs via HDMI or component outputs to your TV's inputs - such as this one.
posted by eschatfische at 7:57 PM on July 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you're getting an external digital tuner anyway, might I suggest setting up a home theater PC, so that you can record shows on your computer's hard drive? I did this two years ago, and my wife and I are very happy with it. We don't have cable TV, but we use Windows Media Center to watch over-the-air shows that we record using a SiliconDust HDHomeRun digital tuner, and we also watch programs through Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.
posted by alex1965 at 8:36 AM on July 6, 2014

I followed the antennaweb recommendation for my area, and am able to receive the big 3 networks. I miss PBS, but not enough to pay for cable. With a crappy pair of rabbit ears that I got at a thrift shop, I still got 2 channels.
posted by theora55 at 10:08 AM on July 6, 2014

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