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Reception in San Jose/Santa Clara CA
PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2004 12:36 pm Reply with quote
Eric W
Joined: 04 Jun 2004
Posts: 1

Hello all!

I'm thinking of getting a HD-2000 card to add to my mythTV box but have some questions in regard to reception.

Are there any forum members that are in the San Jose/Santa Clara CA(I'm right next to Intel and Sun's Campus) area with experience with HD reception signals?

How many channels are available? How is the signal strength?

Thanks in advance!

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 08, 2004 11:13 am Reply with quote

http://www.antennaweb.org/aw/welcome.aspx will give you a general sense of what is around your area and where to point your antenna. However, I looked up my address and didn't see UPN. I remember them starting a digital channel in the last year or 2 (channel 45 I think).

I just received my HDTV card yesterday and have not had a chance to install it yet . Smile
Re: Reception in San Jose/Santa Clara CA
PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2004 6:26 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 06 Nov 2003
Posts: 95
Location: Aptos,CA,USA

I believe that Santa Clara and San Jose are good. Look at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HDTV-in-SFbay/. Note that you should get that horizontally and vertically stacked UHF antenna, put it on a mast (in the ground and straight, with proper straight grounding and lightning arrestors for the cables) as high as needed to see that hill's antenna straight, finding the best position, and very accurately point it towards that hill with that antenna in San Francisco (bring a wireless laptop to your roof to see dtvsignal output, or better yet, some way to look at the green and red lights on your pcHDTV HD-2000 card); that will get you just about everything.

Let me try to find that antenna for you ... well, looking at http://www.antennaweb.org/ (I stuck in zip 95100, but you should try to use the address closest to where your antenna will be), I see the big list. Now, I'm trying to get the antennas that are good out of it ... ok, http://WWW.ChannelMaster.Com/ has a list of stuff ... UHF antenna http://www.channelmaster.com/images/4228.jpg ($50.68 at http://www.starkelectronic.com/allant.htm, & they ship UPS) ($49.95+$14.25 FedEx at WarrenElectronics.Com), with CM7775 pre-amp for $58.14 at http://www.starkelectronic.com/allamps.htm, on sale for $49 at http://www.warrenelectronics.com/antennas/spring_special.htm until 2004-06-30) is what I was referring to. Try to find other people in your near location who have successful antenna reception from San Francisco. Also, don't discount San Jose stations.

When you receive your antenna, you have to make certain nothing is bent (especially the high-gain ones); if they aren't perfectly positioned (lined up and oriented correctly with proper waveform spacing and orientation), then they don't work. That's why the CM4228 is on a grill; it needs to be exactly positioned.

I looked at WineGuard, Gemini, and Terk, but their web sites basically list the silly and/or insufficient stuff; I'd stick with Channel Master.

The way I'd use that with the pcHDTV card is to put that one (the UHF horiz. & vert. stacked one (CM #4228, with 7775 pre-amp if it's adjustable, or some other pre-amp))), pointed directly at that big antenna in San Francisco with most the stations, with appropriate masts, cabling, and amplification (not too much or too little --- read copiously about all those topics), in one of the pcHDTV inputs, and the other antenna (a generalized direction one that is pointed to get as many San Jose area stations as possible) in the other pcHDTV input. You can select which input to use using almost all programs, somehow, at this point, and it is not extremely hard to enhance most programs to handle multiple inputs if you know C and can read a bit of V4L (stepping through the "channels" (inputs) to list them, then select them). This requires at least two antennas, but you could probably put them both on the same mast; perhaps the top one can be the local one, just because it's easier to install it as if it has a rotor (since it's not flat like the horizontally and vertically stacked one I mentioned above); you'd have to check with the mast connections to see if that works right.

Since lightning will hit you, put proper lightning arrestors and their required good grounding (e.g., straight mast directly in the ground (not on your roof --- away from your house, as a matter of fact) which is itself the ground, with a ground rod right next to it), with lightning protectors between the cable of that antenna and your equipment, and a few backup pcHDTV HD-2000 cards (since they won't be sold after 2004), for every time one gets hit by lightning (keep them in a safe storage place with appropriate conditioning and protection). As I look at this further, CM's Titan 7775 pre-amp already contains "full lightning and surge protection". Well, I suppose that's great; all you'd need is proper grounding then (find out where 7775 shunts its lightning bolts --- down the cable shield, or down the mast? If down the cable shield, then you'd need to make sure it's tied to the ground the mast goes into, or something; check if it is electrically desired and sufficient to tie the cable shield to the mast, and test for continuity between the 7775 shield and mast connection to see if that's already done for you). I wonder if http://www.warrenelectronics.com/tower_1.htm is the type of mast needed; I hope not, but perhaps. You'd need steadying cables every section of the telescoping antennas CM lists, or for those tower types. I hope you don't need a tower.

The above is the cost for not getting Voom and Voom's PVR; since FCC requires landlords and governments to allow such antennas, all you have to do is consider what you want to do, as a homeowner or tenant.

BTW, anybody have a kit for building our own HD-2000s after 2004 when we can't buy them any more?

Also, check: http://tinyurl.com/2s36x

Make sure your cable is good (RG6QS ought to do), and your amplifier(s) is (are) of good quality; there's a discussion someplace about which amps to get (some of them actually improve signal, while others just amp the bad one that's already there; it has to go right at the antenna, which means more lightning arrestors, etc.). Many low quality amps add noise (e.g., radio shack, etc.); don't get those. An adjustable amp is good, since you can adjust it to be high enough, but not too high; you want to make it high enough that you can pump it through lightning arrestors, surge protectors, splitters, etc., but no higher. How you distribute it in your house is a good question; for pcHDTV HD-2000 card, obviously you want a few inputs, but you might want more for NTSC reception (e.g., V4L cards (bttv, or even (not fully supported! no closed captioning, buggy driver, etc.) Hauppauge '350 cards). You can use HD-2000 to receive NTSC, even with closed captioning, except it is mono only. Use lots of search engines to read about this stuff. Call your local ChannelMaster sales reps and have decent discussions with them if they seem competent, and call others if they don't. I am not even sure if ChannelMaster is the best choice, but don't use some low quality brands (e.g., Radio Shack (don't use Radio Shack)). All the other components should be good quality; well crimped (circular?) connectors (check various cabling company web sites about their connectors -- you don't want leak!) -- e.g., Leviton (http://www.levitonvoicedata.com/catalog/BuildPage.aspx?BuildPageID=19 (seems best), or for distributed stuff, http://www.levitonvoicedata.com/catalog/BuildPage.aspx?BuildPageID=18...; etc.. Unfortunately, this could mean borrowing or buying expensive crimping tools, and remembering to order little pieces (for RG6QS (means RG6 Quad Shield cable)). Ideally, you can get this top of the line pieces, but probably you'll be OK if you don't do the whole thing 100%; just take a look at CATV that Comcast brings in, and you'll see they use pretty good stuff, but not exactly what I'm touting here, so perhaps I'm a little starry-eyed. No leak -- means also terminators for extra unused outlets (e.g., a splitter, or a distributed cable system in your home). Theoretically, for VHR and UHF, RG6 should be good enough, but I figure, since you're dealing with signals that could bounce off hills and stuff, RG6QS is probably indicated. I'm looking through comp.dcom.cabling to find a cable manufacturer for RG6QS now ... probably any decent one that you can order or get is OK, though, since the application is only TV (I think RG6 is better for up to 1GHz, and RG6QS is sometimes, depending on its design, good to 2GHz, but asking for 2GHz automatically increases cable costs a lot, so that isn't necessarily what you need) instead of RG6QS (but if it were for satellite or in-house distribution, then you'd definitely want decent RG6QS, and to strongly consider getting 2GHz components). RG6QS examples: I bet a lot of these are not right, since they aren't sun and outside rated; check, first ... http://www.berktek.com/products/pdf/Quad%20Shield%20R6%20DS%201_04.pdf; http://www.tributariescable.com/catalog_view.php?id=139 (but that might cost more); http://www.tributariescable.com/catalog_view.php?id=135 (check ebay for good prices? it had 500' for <$80); http://www.tributariescable.com/catalog_view.php?id=136 (prob. not worth it? not sure why it's worse or better than their RG6QS model) ... their list is at http://www.tributariescable.com/catalog_view.php?subproduct=CoaxialCable, which gives you a nice look at stuff that you might need (plenum for plenum rated spaces (code --- check your code), and direct burial for direct burial, but those two only make sense if they run the whole length, since it's best not to have cuts in cable runs), and stuff you don't want (e.g., non-QS stuff). It's best to not pigeon-hole into any of my examples, because they probably don't have good prices for your application --- just giving general ideas.
Please consider getting RG6QS, but also consider getting RG6 if you want to save money and already have a preamp/amp to get past problems in the cable. I know I'd get RG6QS, though. The antenna is the most important part, but I wouldn't want to skimp and then have a hassle because of that. No idea what quality this is: http://www.genesiscable.com/producttemplate.asp?Page=820.1a, or the satellite stuff http://www.genesiscable.com/producttemplate.asp?Page=820.1d.
Hmm, Belden (http://bwccat.belden.com/) seems to have a lot more ... e.g, is their 1152A product (http://bwccat.belden.com/ecat/pdf/1152A.pdf) (rated for a wide range of temperature) outside rated? I just looked at http://www.channelmaster.com/Pages/TVS/Cable.htm for the first time, and it looks like their top product is quite decent; low dB loss at 2GHz, and an RG6QS product.

Channel Master's local distributer is listed at:

Schad Electronics, Inc.
980 S. 1st Street
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: (408) 275.6484
Phone Number 2: 1-800-262-1130

Since I'm not an expert, professional, or engineer in this field, my data may be bad. However, this is what I know so far after I've studied for many dozens of hours over the course of many months.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2004 12:50 pm Reply with quote

I'm up in Palo Alto, which is a little closer the antennas in SF, but the same basic idea. Basically all the HDTV stations are up in SF (North) except for NBC which comes out of SJ (South). Fortunately, the NBC station is VHF while all the others are UHF. This can allow for multiple antenna's if needed.

I'd start with a cheap UHF indoor antenna (wire hoop) and see how well you can do. With a few feet of cable and moving one of these around I could easily lock onto a station or two. This will give you a feel for things and let you experiment without costing too much money.

I ended up buying a big VHF/UHF ChannelMaster Antenna from Fry's and put that on the roof. I just used one of the tripods and 6' pole. It's very stable and not that high off the roof line. I get most of the UHF stations and even NBC, which isn't a super strong lock, comes in just fine (a few mpeg corruptions artifacts once in a blue moon). The whole setup was ~$100.
But I think I got lucky.

A safer bet would probably be to start with a 4-bay Channelmaster UHF-only antenna aimed to the north and later add a separate relatively small VHF-only antenna aimed to the south (if you want NBC). I'd install the line amplifiers only if you weren't getting a strong enough signal.

Ulmo's post has some excellent references and advice about cables and grounding.
Urban apartment-dweller antenna results
PostPosted: Thu Jul 22, 2004 11:29 pm Reply with quote

I'm using a fairly cheap $30 wal-mart philips amplified antenna. It has rabbit ears and a loop. I adjust the rabbit ears and the loop.

I turn the amp all the way down, because it usually amplifies reflections instead of real signals.

There are a lot of concrete buildings around me.

It works better than a loop on a wire, inside, but my loop was a bent up coathanger and my wire was some crappy shadio-rack coax. The media interfaces were also questionable.

It sorta worked for NTSC where the philips amplified would not. However, for DTV the philips amplified seems to do the trick, as long as you kept the amp at the minimum setting.

With the ears/loop I do have to spend some time figuring out the polarization, but I can usually get all DTV stations that aren't having transmitter problems within a fiddle-minute.

It is so new here, that DTV transmitter dropouts are still fairly common, at least one hour/week.

I am about 10 miles from the transmitters.

Testing Testing 1 2 3 :>

p.s. from all press releases, this chip was designed specifically for apartment dwellers with difficult signal processing requirements.

for everyone else with a real antenna, it's gravy.

p.p.s. storm reception sucks, but it's awful difficult for a station to overcome lightning. talking kilowatts of radio vs gigawatt storm. it wont be the radio that wins!
Re: Reception in San Jose/Santa Clara CA
PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 12:22 am Reply with quote

Eric W wrote:
Hello all!

I'm thinking of getting a HD-2000 card to add to my mythTV box but have some questions in regard to reception.

Are there any forum members that are in the San Jose/Santa Clara CA(I'm right next to Intel and Sun's Campus) area with experience with HD reception signals?

How many channels are available? How is the signal strength?

Thanks in advance!


Odd...I'm in exactly the same location, just off Agnew. I just received my HD3000, but I've been getting OTA HDTV since 2001.

There are about 20 OTA channels one can receive in North San Jose/Santa Clara. I'm using an original Silver Sensor (I paid to import it from the UK way back when). It was great when I was just north of Tasman, but now that I've moved into the townhouse we just bought, it's inadequate...the units run north/south, and it's very difficult to get a decent signal from Sutro Tower.

I'm considering installing a full-sized antenna in the attic, though I'd like to avoid it if possible, because running the wire would require some additional drilling, where I've already got several cables (CAT5, etc.) running down th e outside of the unit.

I'm trying to get my HD3000 running under KnoppMyth, but haven't had much luck yet. I did get it working somewhat under FC3 and xine-hd.
San Jose Reception - Near Sharktank
PostPosted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 12:12 pm Reply with quote

I have a winegard PR-8800 in attic (winegard only UHF 8 bay that will fit thru attic entrance). Line of site to Sutro blocked by multi-story house accross the street.

Got most of Sutro in this configuration, KTVU would drop, so I purchased a channel master pre-amp with FM-trap and now every channel comes in solid.
PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2005 3:21 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 27 Apr 2005
Posts: 16

I'm using a $49 Terk amplified indoor and am getting a few of the signals for OTA HDTV. I'm curious to know if Concast carries any of the free-to-air signals on their basic or expanded basic service. I get conflicting answers from them when I ask.

What about DVB signals? HAs anyone been successful here?

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2005 2:58 am Reply with quote

very interesting...
PostPosted: Fri Jun 03, 2005 3:09 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 25 May 2005
Posts: 4

tkripala wrote:
I'm using a $49 Terk amplified indoor and am getting a few of the signals for OTA HDTV. I'm curious to know if Concast carries any of the free-to-air signals on their basic or expanded basic service. I get conflicting answers from them when I ask.

What about DVB signals? HAs anyone been successful here?


This is probably a little late to answer, but I'm up in Sunnyvale, and I've got Comcast Analog Cable in my apartment. (expanded basic, as I recall) I pick up NTSC (the regular standard-def. stuff) through MythTV alright. The picture is somewhat blocky, and I wish the color was better, but hey, it's a start. Smile

Using other methods (as seen in this thread: http://www.xmission.com/~pchdtv/forum/viewtopic.php?t=688) I can pick up about 12 HD and DVB stations, with excellent picture, and good sound, when I play them back in xine. (I haven't been able to compile xine to pick up the channels directly, so I'd follow the instructions to "cat /dev/dvb/adapter0/frontend0 > test.mpg" and then watch the video later). I wish everything came in this good. Smile

The challenge I guess is to get MythTV to recognize the dvb and hd signals , and then choose the right drivers to watch and record those channels. I've been reading http://www.digitalregime.com/mythdvb/setup/ and it looks like it's do-able, I just need to work on it a little more.

Don't know if that helps or just confuses some more. Smile Enjoy.
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Reception in San Jose/Santa Clara CA
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