Looking for OTA tv tuner/decoder guide/rankings (1 Viewer)

otatvwatcher

Thread Starter
New Member
Feb 22, 2021
3
0
Minneapolis, Minnesota
I live in a deep fringe area for receiving OTA digital TV signals. Have a Panasonic Plasma w/o tuner (using Mediasonic tuner) and a Samsung PN43F4500AF (integrated tuner)

The Samsung decodes the same signal much better, many more channels than the stand alone Mediasonic. I have tried both the HW180STB and then the HW130STB when the 180 died.

I would like to find a great stand alone tuner that can beat (or at least match) the signal decoding of the integrated Samsung unit.
Just need the absolute best decoder available, no need for recording, channel guide, etc.
TIA!
 

rabbit73

SatelliteGuys Family
Jul 17, 2020
112
66
S.E. VA
I live in a deep fringe area for receiving OTA digital TV signals......I would like to find a great stand alone tuner that can beat (or at least match) the signal decoding of the integrated Samsung unit.

Hello, otatvwatcher; welcome to the forum.

As far as I know, there is no guide or ranking for tuner sensitivity. Most tuners are very close by 1 or 2 dB.

I have compared my SONY tuner with my HW150 tuner. On some channels the SONY is slightly better; on other channels the HW150 is slightly better.

Since OTA channels are constantly changing in strength, it is necessary to compare them at the same time. I use an attenuator and splitter to bring them down to dropout at the "Digital Cliff."
Ant > Variable attenuator > splitter > 2 tuners

In this case, they are about equal:

TV SNR and HW150 SQ 100pct_2.jpg


Here are the screenshots of the CH16 signal at SNR 31, 24, and 15 dB:

1-24-2021 CH16 Test1 NoAtt_2.jpg


1-24-2021 CH16 Test2  Att30_2.jpg


1-24-2021 CH16 Test3 Att30andVar_2.jpg


And here is the HW-150 screenshot of CH20 at the Digital Cliff:

MediasonicHW-150 CH20atDigitalCliff_2.jpg


For reliable reception you should have a margin to dropout of at least 5 dB. If your signals are so marginal that 1 or 2 dB makes a difference, you need to focus on antenna gain and antenna location.
 

rabbit73

SatelliteGuys Family
Jul 17, 2020
112
66
S.E. VA
What does a rabbitears.info signal report look like for the signals at your location? You can do a report at this link (I use Google map coordinates):
RabbitEars.Info

A generic report for Falcon Heights, which is a little east of Minneapolis, looks like this:
RabbitEars.Info

What antenna are you using now and where is it located?

What channels are important to you?
 

otatvwatcher

Thread Starter
New Member
Feb 22, 2021
3
0
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Excellent info, thank you.
Our setup now is a single HBU55 roof mounted ~24feet AGL. we have an 80-100 ft run of rg6 to the basement splitter so we also have a CM 7777.
I'd love a suggestion for a larger/better antenna setup. But this is the highest AGL we can get it.
Or if a better preamp is available; I did used to have one of those UK based company's (forgot the name) preamps but when it deteriorated due to weather, just replaced it with the CM7777
The channels we want are the Minneapolis based ones, all in Red on the TV fool site, here is the rabbitears report:
9-1 which is actually down in the "bad" section on the chart is one of the best signal quality we get for some reason.
 

rabbit73

SatelliteGuys Family
Jul 17, 2020
112
66
S.E. VA
I would like to find a great stand alone tuner that can beat (or at least match) the signal decoding of the integrated Samsung unit.
Just need the absolute best decoder available, no need for recording, channel guide, etc.
There are limits to the max possible sensitivity of a tuner. These limits are determined by physical laws, the requirements of the ATSC 1.0 standard, and the hardware.

The most important limit is the Thermal Noise Floor, which is at -106 dBm for the 6 MHz wide DTV signal. This noise level is determined by signal bandwidth; the greater the bandwidth, the higher the noise floor. You can read about the theory here:

Signal Strength, Signal-to-Noise Ratio and Other Related Issues in DTV
Signal Strength, Signal-to-Noise and Other Related Topics

The next limit is the minimum required SNR for reception of the DTV signal, which is about 15 dB. This brings us up to -91 dBm for the signal:
-106 dBm + 15 dB = -91 dBm.

The average tuner has an internal noise figure of about 6 dB:
-91 dBm + 6 dB = -85 dBm, the minimum required signal for reception

If the ambient noise level at your location is higher than -106 dBm, then the signal must be even stronger for sufficient SNR. This is especially true for VHF signals.

Minimum Indoor Signal Levels_5.png


A preamp can often help with weak signals because its lower noise figure is substituted for the tuner noise figure, but it isn't as likely to help on VHF where the ambient noise level is higher.

VHF-High_UHF SpecSpy4.jpg


And finally, some tuners are better at handling multipath reflections that intefere with the direct signal.
 

rabbit73

SatelliteGuys Family
Jul 17, 2020
112
66
S.E. VA
Our setup now is a single HBU55 roof mounted ~24feet AGL. we have an 80-100 ft run of rg6 to the basement splitter so we also have a CM 7777.
Thank you for the reply.

I assume the preamp is at the antenna and the power inerter is down below inside.

If that's the original 7777 with separate UHF and VHF inputs and the white 0747 power supply/power inserter, it was my favorite preamp.
I'd love a suggestion for a larger/better antenna setup.
The HBU55 is a very good antenna; I'm not certain that the Winegard HD7698P would do any better. The only other alternative would be separate UHF and VHF-High antennas, like the Antennas Direct 91XG or HDB91X for UHF and the Stellar Labs 30-2476 for VHF-High.
Or if a better preamp is available; I did used to have one of those UK based company's (forgot the name) preamps but when it deteriorated due to weather, just replaced it with the CM7777
That was probably the Research Comm preamp. It was a very low noise figure preamp, but the front end often failed from static damage. More recent designs include protection diodes to minimize damage to the front end, like the Kitztech KT-200 and KT-700.
The channels we want are the Minneapolis based ones, all in Red on the TV fool site, here is the rabbitears report:
Thank you for the report. Your signals are much weaker than the generic report that I did. That looks like the Le Sueur area.

otatvwatcherSatGuysReportRE_1.jpg


9-1 which is actually down in the "bad" section on the chart is one of the best signal quality we get for some reason.
The rabbitears.info report adds a negative correction factor to VHF signals to allow for the higher noise level on VHF. If you look at the Signal Margin, you see that it would otherwise be listed much higher.
 

Jim5506

SatelliteGuys Master
Pub Member / Supporter
Lifetime Supporter
Oct 19, 2004
7,346
2,042
Lubbock, Texas
What is it that limits you to 24 ft AGL? I have observed that, up to a point, more height is the cheapest wat to improve signal strength.
 
Last edited:

Trip

RabbitEars Webmaster
Staff member
HERE TO HELP YOU!
Jun 21, 2008
1,319
752
Alexandria, VA, US
I'd be really curious to know which signals are giving you the most trouble. Your report indicates a number of co-channel issues.

- Trip
 

rabbit73

SatelliteGuys Family
Jul 17, 2020
112
66
S.E. VA
9-1 which is actually down in the "bad" section on the chart is one of the best signal quality we get for some reason.
You have KMSP, virtual channel 9-1, real channel 9
and
WFTC, virtual channel 9-1, real channel 29

Did you verify that the 9-1 you were receiving well was actually KMSP?
 

otatvwatcher

Thread Starter
New Member
Feb 22, 2021
3
0
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Yes, the preamp is at the antenna and the power down in the basement. It is the grey box 7777 in white lettering with only one input (not the new V3) and the power inserter is the PCT-MPI-12 and PCT adapter SMPS512UTRH.
Oh yes my old one was research comm.
Is there a noise rating on my 7777 version?
Would it be advisable to switch this 7777 to the kitztech? Better UHF sounds worth it to give it a try, but is the VHF then worse?

I did try a multi antenna setup years ago with the 91xg but the VHF I had with that setup was just a decades old that came with the house.
Those ones broke the mast I had up (2 or 3 sections of mast on my roof tripod) so that's why I decreased it to 1 section and one antenna. It can get windy here, right next to a field.
Would there be any chance the Winegard HD7698P would be worse than this HBU55? If not, might be worth the chance it would improve things.

I'm not able to confirm the call sign of the 9.1 (just says "fox 9" where other channels say wcco etc) But I'm sure its that better signal one, I just didn't see that on the chart.

Historically the 5.x channels have been the most difficult to receive.
This morning on the HW130 the 11.x channels are good but everything else is complete no signal or heavy pixilation.
However on the Samsung, every channel is great except 2.6.
I did swap these two on the splitter to make sure it was not a bad input on the splitter but nothing changed. The cable to the samsung is also longer and older than the one to the 130, but maybe I'll try putting new connections on the coax to the 130 incase that is the culprit.
 

rabbit73

SatelliteGuys Family
Jul 17, 2020
112
66
S.E. VA
I'm not able to confirm the call sign of the 9.1 (just says "fox 9" where other channels say wcco etc) But I'm sure its that better signal one, I just didn't see that on the chart.
To find out which virtual channel 9.1 you have, tune to it with your Mediasonic, then go into the menu:
Menu > Channel Search > Manual Search

That screen will show you the the channel number on the first line which is listed on your rabbitears.info signal report in parentheses like (29) or (9). That channel number is also know as the RF channel or Real channel.The second line will give the center Frequency of the channel in MHz.

Mediasonic Manual Search Screen_1.jpg


For WFTC it will say channel 29, 563 MHz
For KMSP it will say channel 9, 189 MHz
Historically the 5.x channels have been the most difficult to receive.
You are making it very difficult for me to help you when you only give the virtual channel number, also known as the display number.

I don't really know which 5.x transmitter you mean; there are at least four 5-1 transmitters listed on your report. It would make it a lot easier for me if you can give me the RF channel number and callsign.
 
Last edited:

Mr Tony

SatelliteGuys Pro
Supporting Founder
Nov 17, 2003
288
35
Mankato, MN
Let me see if I can help since I did live in Le Sueur a couple years ago and was OTA only

Le Sueur is unique for OTA as honestly location is HUGE! If the original poster (otatvwatcher) lives "up the hill" (N 4th St or higher) their reception will be better than where I lived. I was down by 2nd St which made it a little more difficult. Where are you approximately? (don't have to give exact spot but like as example I lived by Radermachers Grocery Store...your minimal coordinates put you in the vicinity of the fire station). With a simple VHF antenna and a generic XG91 I got WCCO (4-1), KSTP (5-1), KSTC (5-2) and WUCW (23-1) all the time. My VHF was aimed at KEYC (there was no KMNF at the time). I also had a Newark (Stellar Labs) 30-2476 set up elsewhere on my property. I could get KTCA (2-1), KTCI (2-3) and WFTC (9-1) sometimes. The issue is there are two tower setups in Shoreview and they are about 3/4 of a mile apart from each other. One houses WCCO, KSTP, KSTC, WUCW and KARE. The other houses WFTC, KMSP, KTCA and KTCI. When you get that far away (55+ miles) you almost have to split the difference aiming the antenna to get everything. If I aimed directly at the "KMSP tower" that came in better but the "other" (CCO, KSTP, etc) tower the signal was hindered. Since I had FOX already (via KEYC) I aimed for KSTP, KSTC etc (loved the diginets on KTSC). Here is my rabbitears report for my former location and a pic of the setup below. Yeah it was a ghetto rig setup but it worked :)

Anywho to clear up some confusion 9-1 transmits from WFTC which is RF29 and has 9-1 (FOX), 9-2 (FOX Plus formerly My) and 9-3 (Movies!)
RF9 KMSP transmits FOX as 9-9 along with Buzzr (9-4), Grio (9-5) and Decades (9-6)
5.1 KSTP (ABC) broadcasts on RF35
5.2 KSTC (Ind) broadcasts on RF30 and last I remember they are broadcasting at lower power right now due to an antenna issue. KSTP (RF35) broadcasts ABC on 5-1, a simulcast of KSTC on 5-5 and Heroes and Icons on 5-7. KSTC (RF30) has Independent on 5-2, MeTv on 5-3, AntennaTV on 5-4 and ThisTV on 5-6. Like I say the last I heard (a couple months ago) KSTC is still broadcasting at lower power (about 3/4 of the power they normally were at).

Are there any elements on the HBU55 that are broken off? The gain is only 9.0 on UHF (9.3 on VHF Hi). My XG91 clone has a 14-16db Gain so every little bit helps. The HBU55 is a nice antenna. Bought one years ago but can't use it where I am now. Also is there a way to possibly run a shorter cable? Again every little bit helps. When I ran my setup I threw the cable across the roof to save about 40 feet of cabling.

The St James translators you most likely wont get. After the repack most of the stations had to drop power and height due to full power stations moving to same frequencies. I have issues in Mankato getting them now ;)

Hope this helps and clears up some confusion
 

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