Author Topic: Trading YouTube TV for OTA Antenna  (Read 1365 times)

Jwolfe

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Trading YouTube TV for OTA Antenna
« on: December 11, 2020, 01:37:35 PM »
I'm looking into trading off my $70 YouTube TV subscription for an OTA antenna + Tablo DVR. I'm looking for the best way to set this up.
This is a directional antenna: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TS32GFV/ref=dp_prsubs_1 that LOOKS a lot like all of the other directional antennas with a rotational feature. Thoughts on this one?  For $40 INCLUDING a mount it seems too good to be true, which usually means...

Also, it says it's often bought with an inline surge protector and a "3 GHz High Frequency Ground Block - Single Port - Weather Seal Boots for Coaxial Cable" are these accessories necessary?

Recommendations? I want to make sure I get all of my locals, the furthest being 25 miles - with a lot of Hills. I'm also curious if Tablo is a worthwhile venture right now with ATSC 3.0 coming to my area soon (First Market).

techwiz

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Re: Trading YouTube TV for OTA Antenna
« Reply #1 on: December 11, 2020, 02:37:58 PM »
We made the switch to OTA years ago.

My first step was making this one out of Tin foil and cardboard*
https://discover.hubpages.com/art/make-this-powerful-hdtv-antenna-out-of-cardboard
That cardboard one is still working and used from time for time if we move a TV somewhere where there is no cable line available. I did end up buying a Channel Master outdoor antenna and mounted it outside on the roof of the house and connected to the existing cable system in the house so all the TV's could use OTA.

My recommendation would be to find a site like https://www.antennaweb.org/ enter your location and find out what they recommend. My experience is that the outdoor roof mounted one worked best for me. I was looking at something with the ability to turn remotely, but found out that it wouldn't matter as the towers in my area that are in range are only in the one direction. Out of the years I had it on the roof I had to go up and adjust the antenna and tighten the cable twice.

 * I am nerd and find this type of thing fun and had a Balun from an old TV so net cost was zero and my daughter coloured the cardboard with butterflies so it was a fun project for the two of us.

steevven1

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Re: Trading YouTube TV for OTA Antenna
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2020, 08:36:36 PM »
We have tried the Clearstream 4MAX and the Clearstream 2MAX.

Found the 4MAX to be much better when all your target stations are in one direction, and the 2MAX to work better when you have closer stations in multiple directions that you want to pick up.

I wired ours up in the attic (next best thing to outdoors on the roof), and I used a ChannelMaster splitter/amplifier to run that one antenna's signal to every TV in the house through the walls to coax outlets. The cool thing about this setup is that there's nothing ugly to look at.

We also have a few other tricks for getting free TV, but the antenna is really nice to have (and simple).

PS - Skip the indoor antennas altogether. They'll usually pick up about 10-25% of your local channels strongly, and the others will be unwatchable. Worth the work to go the outdoor or attic route. Less of an eyesore too.

Daley

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Re: Trading YouTube TV for OTA Antenna
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2020, 09:37:10 AM »
Two specific recommendations:

http://www.tvfool.com/
...for antenna requirements and direction. AntennaWeb is fine, too, but I prefer TVFool's formatting of the data. YMMV.

https://www.channelmaster.com/
...for DVR and antenna. Their DVRs don't require a monthly subscription (excuse the $200 TiVo model), and their antennas are some of the better on the market.

Some additional thoughts:

Given distance and terrain, you'll probably need a good 30' elevation on an outdoor semi-directional antenna if your attic/roof isn't high enough. You will want connection boots/seals for the coax connectors to keep out corrosion and signal loss over time, and you will want proper grounding to earth and surge suppression (in fact, code and your insurance will require it - it'll basically be a lightening rod, after all). If everything major you're looking to tune in is within about 10-15 of each other, you probably don't need a directional motor. Those are mostly for very directional situations where only a yagi will suffice. If the spread exceeds about 15, but still within about 90 of each other, you might be able to get away with 2-4 multi-directionals mounted together. A signal booster would probably be warranted, too.

There are some antennas from other manufacturers that'll mount on existing satellite dish posts, too, if that's an option. This means most of the hard work will already be done for you, like running cable and grounding, provided its high enough and mostly unobstructed in the direction you need. The only good ones I can think of at the moment (RCA), are more short-range omnis, though... which won't work for you.

It's also worth noting that some models of LG WebOS televisions include built-in DVR capability, just add USB drive. They also include built in streaming/on-demand channels from Xumo and an integrated TV guide for both OTA and live streaming with near seamless transition between them, on top of app support for most of the major free and pay streaming providers. But as with everything else like it from Roku to ChromeTV, etc., you're the product being bought and sold, not the customer... so be prepared to lose your privacy.

Lastly, ATSC3? Meh. I've seen the specs, and I know what it can do, the cost to entry point to visibly see any difference, and the ridiculous drive for higher and higher resolution and planned obsolescence. I've said it before, and I'll say it again... being able to see the hair grow out of Bob DeNero's mole doesn't make Heat a better film. Plus, the "safety" features of the spec is getting a little too doubleplus-good and painfully redundant in a smartphone saturated society. Hard pass. Just ride the current ATSC standard equipment until its retirement.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2020, 09:48:47 AM by Daley »

Jwolfe

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Re: Trading YouTube TV for OTA Antenna
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2020, 12:12:14 PM »
I went ahead and bought the directional antenna but have a few questions below.

1st- Looking at my current cable setup they ran the ground wire from the grounding block to a metal tube that connects to the electrical box. This tube goes to the ground where I believe it connects everything to our fuse box in the basement. I would assume that they did this correctly but the wire is NOT attached to the dedicated grounding rod. There is a separate ground rod that comes out of the electrical box and goes to the ground in which the telephone company grounded their line to. Is that Okay? I might have to add a picture to make sense of it.

2nd - The outdoor rotational antenna has to run to a power supply and I'm trying to wrap my mind around how to do this. In an ideal world I would run the antenna coax straight to the ground block in our current cable box essentially replacing the old cable in from the cable company. But, if it needs to go to a power supply FIRST I'm at a loss as how to feed the line into the house and back out to the main in a clean fashion. I have two images below.

Note: The 2nd image is as is. The 1st image is the messy potential solution

2nd Note - I can't for the life of me figure out why the images aren't showing up. They are showing on my computer but not on my phone or a separate computer... I have them attached and embedded.


« Last Edit: December 15, 2020, 07:18:28 AM by Jwolfe »

Daley

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Re: Trading YouTube TV for OTA Antenna
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2020, 09:55:55 AM »
Welcome to the world of cheap Chinese antennas, Jwolfe.

My question is, do you actually need the directional motor? You're potentially adding needless complexity to a system that doesn't need it. Either all the major networks are all under 10-15 at your broadcast distance and a decent yagi pointed at a compromised direction in the middle of the two extremes will get what you're after without having to fool with a motorized mount, or you're still close enough and the spread is far enough that you'd be better served with targeted multi-directional antennas. Both solutions require no motor, and no movement of the antenna for decent reception, but they do require buying the right kind of antenna for your needs. Motors are for people who have to go to extremes and require troposphere bounce reception, and for real highly directional antennas. Most people don't want a directional yagi (which is kind of the style you have) at the distance you are unless everything is clumped together tight, because you'll constantly have to re-aim it.

Realistically, most digital television signals won't carry past 75 miles or so without you going to heroic levels of work and equipment to do so, and it's still conditional on interference and lay of the land. 150 miles is far enough out that you're now dealing with no longer being in line of sight of the broadcast tower due to the curvature of the Earth, which means you're only going to be able to receive it bounced off of the troposphere under the right weather and other conditions. You'll need huge yagi antennas with really tight focus mounted on a good 50' high mast (or higher), a motor mount, etc. You need none of these things, because your broadcast city is less than 30 miles from you, even with the potential interference, and a motor isn't going to fix these issues, only antenna height.

You bought a cheap Chinese "150 mile" antenna. Any antenna that claims this sort of reception performance is blowing smoke and not actually worth buying because this antenna you ordered is none of those things from the previous paragraph. The Chinese have learned that if you dazzle the common consumer with large impressive numbers and useless features, they'll buy any bit of overpriced junk you flood the market with. And now you're trying to work out how to safely wire it up without proper documentation from the manufacturer to make it work. You're trying to shoehorn in the wrong tool for the job. If you want to keep beating your head against the wall and deal with having to constantly re-aim a garbage antenna, I'm sure there's enough install documentation available over at ChannelMaster for their equipment that you'll be able to work out what to do... but my advice is simple: buy the right tool for the job, get what you actually need, and pay the price needed to make it work.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2020, 10:01:04 AM by Daley »

Psychstache

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Re: Trading YouTube TV for OTA Antenna
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2020, 03:25:48 PM »
Here is my set-up:

1. Omnidirectional Antenna set up based on the recommendations from antennaweb. I needed to make sure to get soime attachment to support picking up both UHF and VHF.

2. Antenna cable runs to a Homerun HD DVR.

3. Plex with PlexPass to enable Live TV recording (I have a lifetime Plex Pass from many moons ago, not sure if it is needed, but they frequently have discount codes for it). My Plex server is on a NAS, and every screen has some way to run the Plex viewer (they have apps for basically every OS out there on PCs/Macs/Smart TVs/etc).

Been working well for several years with this set up now. Very low maintenance.

Jwolfe

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Re: Trading YouTube TV for OTA Antenna
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2021, 10:53:51 AM »
I know my thread is a few weeks old at this point. After reading Daley's post I am reconsidering the antenna I purchased. With that said I'm curious how wide of an angle some of the antennas go? The two towers I am trying to connect with are 50 degrees apart. One is 11 miles away, the other is 25. Obviously the 25 mile one is the one I have a bit of difficulty getting without pointing an antenna directly at it. Without buying and testing do you think I could get away with a single directional antenna pointed at the further location or do I need to purchase a multi-directional like the Clearstream 2v (https://www.amazon.com/ClearStream-Indoor-Outdoor-Antenna-Mount/dp/B007RH5GZI/ref=pd_di_sccai_2/144-0479617-2044243?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B007RH5GZI&pd_rd_r=4a794087-7c93-47a9-9d68-65ec7ffc23a5&pd_rd_w=X0kVQ&pd_rd_wg=DNTdC&pf_rd_p=c9443270-b914-4430-a90b-72e3e7e784e0&pf_rd_r=56MY9JS164X7R938B74A&psc=1&refRID=56MY9JS164X7R938B74A)

I also noticed testing my "cheap" antenna that I only received signal from the far tower when the antenna was connected to the power (amp). This is another scenario I would love to avoid because if I don't need to supply power I should be able to plug the antenna directly into my main box distributing the signal throughout the house. Otherwise I need the signal to go IN to the house, connect to power, and then find a way for the signal to go back OUT of the house to connect it to the main line - possible but a pain. The other solution was to have the line run in, connect it to power, then connect it to something like Tablo to send a signal around the house to my Roku Boxes.


Daley

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Re: Trading YouTube TV for OTA Antenna
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2021, 02:14:44 PM »
@Jwolfe You may need a powered signal amplifier, no matter what you do. We're less than five miles from almost all our broadcasters, and still need an amp for one of our VHF channels. Part of the weaknesses of digital signal. As for antenna? Going multi-directional is definitely the best choice, as a directional yagi is too narrow for the split and omnidirectional too weak for the distance. Without knowing more myself and just spitballing, you'll probably be well served with something like the ChannelMaster ULTRAtenna 60 aimed, split, between the two major directions. I don't know much about the ClearStream you linked specifically.

Maybe talk with the folks at the TV Fool Forums for their suggestion before buying another one.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Trading YouTube TV for OTA Antenna
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2021, 09:33:24 PM »
Locast.org if its available in your area.  It's free.  All they do is capture all of the OTA signals and stream it for you

BikeFanatic

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Re: Trading YouTube TV for OTA Antenna
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2021, 04:18:33 AM »
Thanks for the locast link, impressive.

Daley

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Re: Trading YouTube TV for OTA Antenna
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2021, 09:19:32 AM »
Locast is interesting and all, and the EFF has tossed all in on defending them legally, but the suit's likely to be decided later this year.

Personally, I have no faith they'll win and Locast will become yet another service lost to a Supreme Court ruling, just like iCraveTV, ivi, Zediva, Aereo, several of FilmOn's many creatively failed attempts, and on and on. The graveyard of history is littered with the corpses of many others who tried and died.

What I'm saying is, don't count on the service sticking around. It's not that I don't want to see them win, there's just too much precedent against them. Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed reliable access to local channels anymore. Between the gradual loss of broadcast whitespace, the low fault tolerance of digital signals, the syndication fee bickering and blackouts between local stations and cable and satellite operators, and repeated legal shutdown of streaming local channel access... the most reliable way to receive local stations in the US is still by antenna, and even that's not much of a guarantee anymore. Alas.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Trading YouTube TV for OTA Antenna
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2021, 09:33:48 AM »
Thanks for the locast link, impressive.

It's really quite amazing.  They do inject their own commercials after a while asking for a $5 donation in lieu of no more Locast commercials.  They are a non profit and I considered $5/mo quite fair for the service they are providing.  So I donated through football season and will start donating again when it starts up in August.