Cutting the cable part four

Cutting the cable part four

The temperatures got into the high 40’s here today in Northern New York, most of the snow melted, and so I did the balance of my antenna work.
In a previous post I had installed a small antenna to test the waters, using techniques I had found on-line.  I had managed to get 8 channels, three of them very good, but I wanted the other 7 channels my chart of channels within one hundred fifty miles said I could get, so I studied antennas and builds on line, ordered some parts, built three antennas in my office (What a mess, parts everywhere), and waited for a nice day to put them up.
The first two antennas were pre-builts slightly modified to pick up what I was looking for. The UHF antennas I looked at online where closed loops, a circle, oval, with a lead on each side. The circle is completed. This is the same concept of the old style UHF antennas we used to attach to our TV sets, a circle. So with the two I purchased I pulled the connector piece and replaced it on one with a VHF connection. A VHF Connection consists of two separate pieces, they do not meet as a UHF antenna does. Think of it like the old style rabbit ears on the TV set top, each aerial is a post connection, two aerials, adjust them to better the reception.
The trouble is, you don’t want to go up on the roof to move those rabbit ears every time you want a better picture, so the idea here is to get the best compromise you can.
There are thousands of designs on-line to help you lay out your antenna, to alter it for UHF or VHF, where to place the pieces for certain frequencies. I am not going to rebuild something that isn’t broken, and so I went with stock antennas for the first two and then altered them to specs I found on-line as shown above. It might seem like a small difference, but it is actually huge. First, it made the two antennas different. If I had left them the same they could have actually received the same signals and wound up cancelling each other out; altering them prevented that, I hoped, and in the end it did. I also pointed these two similar antennas away from each other, and I lined the levels up as well. The back reflector simply improves the signal without blocking signals. The three front poles are Yagi layouts, tuned for UHF and or VHF frequencies. Take a look online and you will find thousands of layouts that will give you exact measurements, spacing, etc. I took these as they came on these two antennas.
That is all there is to these two antennas. No mysteries, no math to do. I purchased them from Walmart https://www.walmart.com/ip/Ktaxon-TA-451B-Outdoor-Amplified-HD-TV-360-Degree-Rotation-Antenna-Digital-UHF-Radio/493322075
The third antenna I designed from what I looked at ad read on-line. I’m not going to list a specific page because there are thousands upon thousands of them. Do a search for Home Built HD Antennas or Antenna Design plans something like that will get you your results.
This is my design, copyrighted for sake of this blog, feel free to copy it, as I used elements of many builds I found, and equations others had to do and I skipped because they did them. For the connection I used a 75  OHM Balun. They are easy to find, cheap, and save you having to figure out the impedance. Using it also sets you up to just connect a 75 OHM cable to it and you are done.
All together I had less than 50 dollars in all of it. It was actually less than that as I used stuff I had laying around, and as I mentioned, I re-used cable from an old Sat-TV installation to run the antennas in, so it was already there and already in the house too.
The thing is, those last seven stations are tough to do because they are in different directions, some UHF some VHF and in order to use them I have to be able to get a clear HD signal. It didn’t need to be a 5, but it needed to be up there.
I went to http://www.tvfool.com/ entered my Zip Code and got a print out of the stations I could hope to get and exact directions to them from my home. Easy as pie.
This allowed me to know where to aim to get the stations I wanted. So, today the steel roof was dry, there was not going to be another day so I did it.
I had all three antennas pre-built (Different directions and requirements to pick up the channels there). I had everything laid out and waiting.
The first thing I did was cut my hand because I forgot gloves, then my hand as I was disassembling the first antenna I had put up. So, I got down and went and got gloves, all the tools; which I shoved in my jacket pockets, and that way I would only have to actually go up on the roof one time.
The whole job took less than two hours. I went onto the flat porch roof, took down the small antenna, installed each new antenna and pointed it, hooked up the three antennas using a two into one for the first two antennas (To keep the cable lengths the same exactly) and ran the other antenna on its own line. Down on the ground I used a Two to one to run them both into the house on one line with the signals mixed.

I now have all 15 channels in HD, including Canada. I did not know that Canadian TV has a new central network. They are all working and I hooked them into Pluto TV with the My Pluto TV APP, and so now our FTA channels are right there on our Pluto TV guide.

If you don’t know, Pluto TV is free. I have it on my Roku and it works perfectly. Once you authorize the app it will add your Over The Air signals to the menu, along with the information the signal carries with it. It is awesome.

So I have gone from a little more than $250.00 a month for cable and WIFI, to approximately $10,00 for Netflix, and $16.00 for Philo. I am still paying for WIFI, for the time being, but I am building WIFI antennas as I write this to access free WIFI services. Hope this was informative for you.


Mentioned here: Cutting the cable Two and Three

Roku TV APP: https://www.roku.com/

Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/

Philo: https://try.philo.com/

Walmart Antennas: Antennas



Cutting The Cable Part Two

Roku TV

I saw a deal a few days back for a 32-inch HD TV from Walmart with built in Roku. TV, shipping and all came to barely over a hundred bucks and so it seemed like the next best thing to review.

A mention: I do not work for or get paid by any of the products I review. They are them, I am me. Just so you have that straight. I review what I want to try or own, and because I am not doing it for any of these companies I say what is what.

Walmart: I was surprised to see the changes in on-line shopping for Walmart: Including free shipping and even accepting Pay Pal now, which made my checkout a breeze. I looked over the specs before I ordered. I was looking for a replacement TV for the living room. I was also looking to go down a few inches. Sometimes people buy bigger because bigger must be better, and sometimes bigger is not always better. I had purchased a 38-inch HD TV for the living room and it was a little overkill because it is not a big room. It completely dominated one wall. It was also about 5 years old and had lost one pixel that drove me crazy. 28-inch seemed too small, I saw the deal on the 32-inch and took it.

The television was supposed to arrived on a Saturday, it arrived a day early on Friday after work hours, which was nice, no worries about leaving it outside unattended. When I saw the box I thought maybe I had gone too small, after all the next size up was not much more, but after I pulled the TV out of the box I realized it had a very small trim area, whereas the old TV had a good 4-inch trim around the entire screen which made it look much bigger than it was. All in all I was happy with the look of the new TV, but how about the way it worked…

I had purchased a universal wall mount for the first TV and so it worked for this one. That made it a simple matter of taking down the old TV and installing the bracket on it and then hanging it back on the wall mounted bracket. The cables that need to be connected to a Roku included TV are less than the old TV. I would not need my FireTVStick as Roku can access my Prime membership: My Netflix Account, Hulu, CBS All Access, YouTube, Crackle and dozens upon dozens of other Apps. So I connected what few cables were needed and fired it up.

The Roku app is built into the TV and so it comes right up when you hit the power button. The first thing was to get it to recognize my router. Straight forward, except it will not allow you to use the WPS button on top of your router to connect without a password. You will need to know your password for your router, and of course, if you are in a semi city area as I am, and have the same cable company as your neighbors do, you will need to know which router on the list is your router. This should be easy to do. First the program will list the strongest signal on top. That should be your router. If not look at your router and find the routers number on it and then compare that to the list. Type in your router password and it will connect and keep your router connected.

Once connected I had to open a Roku account. Credit Card or Pay Pal. It was easy to set up. The Pay Pal or Credit card are because there are in app purchases. But don’t worry. You will assign a four digit pin during setup and without that no one, kids, can charge anything to the account. After setting up the Roku account the screen refreshed on my TV and I was ready to set up my home page.

The rest was straight forward. You should have all of your account information for your other apps that you already have, such as Netflix, Hulu, CBS All Access, Pandora etc. As you install each app it will list it on the home page which is where your TV Will start each time. I installed mine and then I noticed that it had the Antenna connection listed and so I decided to install that too for my local channels.

I had purchased the antenna and put it up a few years back but the TV had no RF connection, only HDMI and so without a converter there was no way to use it. I had purchased CBS All Access to get local news just for that reason. I connected the RF from the antenna and clicked the button. It found my local channels and added them with no problem.

When I finished I followed the directions to move my icons around so I had them lined up the way I wanted them. Done. Let the fun begin.

Previously I had had to use three remotes to get around in the TV. Now just the one suffices and there are even hot buttons for Netflix and a few other apps.

The picture, although smaller seems almost as big with the loss of the huge frame on the older TV. The Roku app loads fast and the search feature is very useful. It knows what you already have and so if you search for something that is included on one of your apps it tells you so; if not it tells you where you can get it. It searches by Actor, Movie etc. I searched, for instance, for Robert De Niro. It returned a picture of him and all of his movies. Amazing.

The picture quality is good. The Blacks are black, the streaming was excellent, no issues. The load when you first turn it on is about a minute, after that everything is right there. Once loaded, when you hover over antenna it will show you what is on whatever antenna channel you left it on. What was better is that my mother, who is in her eighties feels confident enough to turn it on and go find what she wants to watch. Previously she would leave the TV off until I came in and changed channels, because with the TV remote, Fire TV Stick remote and the cable remote she would get lost, frustrated and quit or have to call me. I eliminated cable because the shows she wants are on the local channels or Hulu, and with the Roku app everything is in one place.

All in all I think this is an excellent combination of products. It works well. It does exactly what it says, and that is tough to find these days.

Cutting The Cable Part Three

Outdoor antenna project:

I purchased an ONN 4K 60 mile range outdoor antenna from Walmart. Normally about $20.00 I got it for $8.00 on sale and free shipping as I had ordered some other things.

I had been looking for a cheap, easy to install antenna as more of my ditching cable effort. I did ditch cable, got Hulu and Netflix and dropped the bill by well over a $150.00 even though the Cable Giant still charges me a stupid rate for WIFI, but one thing at a time.

The problem was local channels. Even though I only live about 15 miles from the city, a small external antenna hooked into my ROKU app could only bring in two of the channels and both were marginal. So, when I saw an antenna for $8.00 I thought what the hell, it can’t be any worse than the small external one.

I also had an old Dish Network dish or two laying around, so I took a dish, mounted the antenna to it after I assembled it (That took literally 5 minutes) and put it up and aimed it.

Since cable had wired the house 82 thousand times (I’m exaggerating, but only a little) and Dish had wired it a few times also, there were mounts still on the house and lots of cable.

Why a dish? The dish acts as a reflector and concentrates or amplifies some signals, especially if you know where they are, and I did (In the city, so I checked Google maps, got the direction from my house to the city and aimed it there.).

So, hooking it up was a simple as spraying the dish with a can of cheap spray paint dark blue to cover the old lettering; finding a few bolts in my junk drawer, drilling four holes in the dish to mount the antenna and then clamping the dish to the old mount on the roof and using the cable already there to run it down to the house.

The antenna did come with cable, the mount, screws, the antenna, everything I needed, but I made it easier by using what was left behind from cable and Dish installations.

Once the antenna was installed and hooked to the existing cable, I ran that to a splitter (2 feeds in 1 feed out, all 75 OHM) also already installed on the house for cable splitting to different rooms etc. So I ran in the new antenna on one side, kept the smaller RCA antenna on the other side (Another tip you can find online that can help the signal when you have more than one input).

So I went in, the TV was on, and still only got two channels, but with ROKU, you have to re-scan the channels. So I sat down, drank some coffee to warm up, it’s cold here in Northern NY already, and waited for the scan to complete.

When It finished it told me I had eight channels. I flicked back to the Antenna setting on my ROKU guide page and looked at them, and sure enough I have eight. There are only two in the city, so I’m not sure where the other six came from, possibly Canada, we’re very close, and in the old days we could pick up a few Canadian channels in analog; and Syracuse a city about 70 miles to the south.

All in all, for a very cheap antenna I would say I got more than my moneys worth. The whole project took less than an hour to do, as I said, I used most of the existing stuff, but the Antenna kit came with a splitter, the antenna and the mount as well as the cable, so I could have easily done it using the supplied parts.

I picked up eight stations well enough to watch them, up to 70 miles away from my home: Including all the major networks, PBS and some sort of Retro channel that shows old sit-coms, a few others I haven’t checked out yet. And, I didn’t know it, but ROKU adds them in a guide format, so I now have a guide listing the eight channels and what is on them when I switch to antenna on my ROKU app.

Problem solved, we now have reliable local channels and then some. I ordered a Yagi WIFI antenna and two Repeaters-Access points from NewEgg that is my next project, and I left a mount on the dish to attach the WIFI Yagi antenna to. 🙂

The Antenna I used: https://www.walmart.com/ip/Onn-4K-Hd-TV-Outdoor-Antenna-With-60-Mile-Range/56136523

Other parts: Used DISH dish, Reused all old cable connections, grounds and splitter: 4 12 mm bolts and lock washers/nuts to hold the mount on the dish. Electrical tape to hold the cable wire to the bracket so it isn’t flopping around up there.