Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fun with TV Antennas

Now that I been liberated from Comcast cable TV, I have to buy a TV antenna to receive over the air TV programs.  Since I watch ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS stations only,I was hoping an indoor antenna would do the job.

My house is about 35 miles north of the TV transmitting tower, I thought almost any indoor antenna would do, but this was not the case.

Mohu Leaf Paper-Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna - Made in USA
Mohu Leaf Antenna
 The first indoor antenna I tried was Mohu Leaf Paper-thin indoor antenna, $40.  My TV is located in family room on the first floor.  I hung this paper-thin antenna on the wall above the TV but couldn't receive one of the network station.  I moved the antenna around but couldn't receive all 3 network stations at the same location.  This was very disappointing because the antenna was very unobtrusive in the family room.  This antenna worked fine in the second floor bed room TV, so I kept it in my bedroom.  I guess the antenna at higher location really help.
RCA ANT1650F Flat Digital Amplified Indoor TV Antenna
Amplified Indoor Antenna

Because there is a house just South of my house blocking the direct path to the TV transmitting tower, I thought an amplified antenna would help, so I bought the RCA amplified indoor antenna at Walmart for $60.  Well, this amplified antenna didn't improve network station reception.  I reasoned the house next door blocking the signal and there was nothing for the antenna to amplify.

RCA UHF/VHF/Digital Indoor Antenna
RCA Basic VHF UHF Antenna
I recalled I had very good luck with a RCA rabbit ear antenna years ago, so I bought a RCA basic VHF UHF antenna at Walmart for $10.  I was surprised it works so well, it pulls in all 3 network stations, PBS, and other local channels.  However, couple of channels would cut in and out if the weather is too windy.  While I am fairly happy with this RCA basic antenna, I want an antenna with more stable reception performance.  I decided to install an outdoor TV antenna.

From what I read, an outdoor antenna should be installed on top of the roof to get the best reception. However with my extreme poor vision, I won't  risk my life getting on top of my roof.  instead I install a 3-foot pole on a fence post near the Comcast cable junction box, then I mounted an antenna on top of the pole.
Eagle Aspen EASDTV2BUHF Directv Approved 2-Bay UHF Outdoor Antenna
Eagle Aspen UHF Outdoor Antenna
Like indoor antenna, there were wide range of performance and price with outdoor antenna.  Since my house is relatively close to the transmitting tower, I chose one with lowest price.I found this Eagle Aspen UHF antenna had many good review at Amazon so I bought one for $15.  For testing purpose, I just hung the antenna on the wall outside of my house.  The antenna pull in all the channels that I could get with the cheap RCA antenna plus couple more channels.  

I did encounter couple of quality issues with this UHF antenna.  After I connected the coaxial cable to the antenna's connector, the connector holder was broken apart when I pushed the connector in the holder.  I fixed this by holding the coaxial connector in place with a loop of electrical tape because I didn't want to bother with the effort of exchanging it.  Then I found out the antenna mounting U bolt was also defective making it impossible to mount this antenna to the pole. I had no choice but to exchange for a different one.  The new one was in good condition and I was able to mount the antenna without any problem.  This antenna was made in China with cheap material, not sure how long it would last in the hash Colorado outdoor weather. 
Finished Project

The  photo above shown the finished project.  In additional to the antenna, I also had to install grounding wire to comply with the electrical code.  As a side note, I installed the outdoor antenna mostly by touch.  Anyway I felt I accomplished something. 

I also have an Apple TV media streaming box for watching other stuff like YouTube.  I really like Apple TV because of the Voice Over feature.  I am also looking into getting TVPad or Moonbox for watching live Hong Kong programs.

I found the info in the following websites very helpful with my project.

TV Fool  Find the TV transmitter in your area

HDTV Primer  Everything you want to know about antenna

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bye Bye Comcast Cable TV

I finally get rid of Comcast cable TV to offset the continue internet service price increases.  Beside why pay Comcast for the channels when I could get them free over the air?

My total monthly Comcast bill was around $68 at the beginning of the year.  The performance internet was $49.99 and basic cable TV was $25, with few dollars of package credit for total of $68.  Then I noticed price increased in August, then again in September and my total monthly bill increased to around $85.  When I questioned the price hike, I was told I no longer had the package credit.  At that point, I said I want to terminate the cable TV service in order to save $25, but was told this would not the case.  Getting rid of cable TV would increase my internet price to $69.99.  Looks like they get you either way.  No wonder so many people hate this company.

So I complained to the Comcast's We_Can_Help department.  Someone call me back next day.  I told the person that I am not happy with the price increase and I want to terminate the cable TV service without penalty.  Unlike the people I deal with on the toll free line, he was more helpful.   He gave me a promotional Blast internet price of $54.99 for 12 months and terminated my cable TV service.  He even gave me $20 credit on the October bill plus sending me a prepaid box to return the TV adapters. 

I am happy getting rid the cable TV, next year when our city offer Giga bit internet service I plan to get rid of the Comcast internet service too.  From what I read in the local news, many people were jump in joy for having alternate internet service provider. 

I can't wait to say the final good bye to Comcast.

You might interested in my TV antenna post.