Need help understanding antennas/tuners

varaonaid

varaonaid

Thread Starter
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Apr 14, 2005
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Hello!

OK, I readily admit it, I'm lost!

I'm relatively familiar with cable and satellite and what I need to have a working system with either of them but I'm very unfamiliar with the world of OTA. I'm trying to understand antennas, tuners, digital converters, etc. and I'm wondering if anyone could possibly help me sort it out a bit. What precipitated this was the new digital converter requirement to receive OTA digital signals next year. We have an older standard tv with an analog tuner so we bought one of the digital converter boxes so that we would have the option for OTA with it when the transition occurs. Where I really start to get confused is my other TV. It's a (rather) new Sony HDTV and according to the specs which I check on the Sony website tonight, the tuner that it has built it is: Tuner (Terrestrial) : ATSC (8VSB terrestrial). So after a brief trip to wikipedia, I think that I'm all set on that TV and no digital converter box will be needed if I wish to receive digital OTA signals, correct? How would I know if it's just a standard DTV tuner or an HDTV tuner?

So, with that background, what would be my next step in this process? Can I just add an antenna of some description to each of the TV's (the older one of course with the digital converter box) and be receiving OTA channels independent of any cable/satellite/fiber optic based tv programming? Can they share an indoor antenna or is it typical for each tv to have its own? I'm sure you folks will be laughing your head's off at this question but it's the tuner not the antenna that determines whether or not you receive HD content, right? How would all of this work if I wanted to use OTA in conjunction with either D* or E*?

Sorry if all of that sounds confusing but, well, I'm confused! I'd really appreciate any info you could give me. Thanks so much in advance!
 
charper1

charper1

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May 18, 2004
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I think that I'm all set on that TV and no digital converter box will be needed if I wish to receive digital OTA signals, correct?

CORRECT



How would I know if it's just a standard DTV tuner or an HDTV tuner?

They are one in the same; an ATSC tuner (digital tuner); HD is always digital; but digital doesn't always mean HD.


So, with that background, what would be my next step in this process? Can I just add an antenna of some description to each of the TV's (the older one of course with the digital converter box) and be receiving OTA channels independent of any cable/satellite/fiber optic based tv programming? Can they share an indoor antenna or is it typical for each tv to have its own? I'm sure you folks will be laughing your head's off at this question but it's the tuner not the antenna that determines whether or not you receive HD content, right? How would all of this work if I wanted to use OTA in conjunction with either D* or E*?

Sorry if all of that sounds confusing but, well, I'm confused! I'd really appreciate any info you could give me. Thanks so much in advance!


They can can all share a single antenna, BUT post your zip code, because there will be a specific antenna need for your geographic location and broadcast affiliates. Are you mounting roof-top, attic or indoors if specs allow?
 
varaonaid

varaonaid

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SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 14, 2005
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Thanks for the info, charper1. I'm beginning to understand it all a little bit better.

I'm still a little confused about the digital tuner/HDTV tuner. Am I correct that while any HDTV tuner is always digital, there are digital tuners that are capable of receiving digitally transmitted SD content but not HD content? If so, how do I know if the receiver built in on the newer TV is capable of both SD and HD content over the tuner?

Zipcode...that's an interesting one! We currently live in 03446 but we're moving within the next 4-6 weeks and new zipcode is yet to be determined. It will either be Brattleboro, VT area (05301 or surrounding) or Greater Burlington, VT area (05401/05452). I'll likely just have to follow-up when we have our new place set for sure. Based upon what you said, though, I won't buy an antenna till we know the location so that I can be sure I get the type best suited for where we'll be located.

Oh, one thing I could use your advice on in that same vein, I'll be helping my mother and father-in-law (from 1200 miles away!) getting their setup ready for the digital transition. They have an SD tv and OTA only, currently with a very basic a/c powered rabbit-ear antenna. They live in zipcode 62305 and only receive 3 stations with their current setup (they live a mile or so from the PBS tower and can't get a viewable signal from that station 97% of the time!). (Again, dumb question...) Will they need a different type of antenna? I'm assuming that an analog based antenna won't work with the digital converter box that they'll be using, is that correct? They live in a "cluster home" (one level townhouse) and I know they won't be installing any outdoor antenna. So we'll have to look towards something indoors for them. What would you suggest? Obviously, I want to recommend them a good antenna but they're on a limited fixed budget so price will be an issue.

Again, many thanks for your help! I'll post my definite zipcode when I get it but in the meantime would highly value advice for my in-laws. :)
 
charper1

charper1

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Supporting Founder
May 18, 2004
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I'm Nationwide
The ATSC tuner is "THE" digital tuner.

There is no "HD tuner" the ATSC tuner will receive all digital signals; be they SD or HD
 
Jim5506

Jim5506

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Oct 19, 2004
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If a station is broadcasting a high definition ATSC (digital) signal and you have a non-HD ATSC tuner, you will receive the HD signal and your tuner will output it in SD.

HD is an addition to the digital signal just like color was an addition to the old NTSC signal in the 1950's.

Just like a B&W set can receive color TV programs but display them in only in B&W, so an SD ATSC tuner can receive HD digital signals but display them only in SD.

Your Sony HDTV has an ATSC tuner and it is probably an HD ATSC tuner, but not necessarily.

I have a Hitachi 57 inch HDTV that has a SD ATSC tuner built in to keep the price down, so I also have an external HD tuner attached.

You need to attach a TV antenna that picks up the frequency of the stations in your area. They may be VHF, UHF or both.

In put your exact street address into both AntennaWeb and TV Fool - Home to see which stations are broadcasting on what channels in your area.

2-13 are VHF; 14-69 are UHF. Some stations are temporarily broadcasting on alternate channel assignments until Feb 2009, so you need to also investigate what the landscape will look like after Feb 2009. Both websites offer that option.
 
M

mastermesh

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 18, 2006
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Is there any list somewhere of what channels that are broadcasting on alternate vhf subchannels will change back to going to uhf in 2009? Here we currently have CW being shown on one of the channel 8 subchannels... the main channel 8 is NBC. We also have Fox on channel 17's subchannel... but It's still analog on 38... only we can't get 38 here.... we do get 17, and love having a local fox channel. It's going to suck if that goes away next year. Luckily I have fta so do have other options for fox, but a lot of other folks around here don't.
 
M

mastermesh

SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 18, 2006
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Thanks. I'm bookmarking that. Someone should put that in to a faq somewhere...
 
varaonaid

varaonaid

Thread Starter
SatelliteGuys Pro
Apr 14, 2005
192
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Thanks so much for the replies. That helps a lot! I understand it much better now. :)
 
P

Phoenix1

SatelliteGuys Pro
Jan 11, 2006
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TX
Will they need a different type of antenna? I'm assuming that an analog based antenna won't work with the digital converter box that they'll be using, is that correct?

There is no such thing as an "analog" or "digital" OTA antenna. Any OTA antenna is capable of receiving both the NTSC analog signals and the ATSC digital signals. If they cannot put up an outdoor or attic antenna, you might want to look into getting them an amplified indoor antenna like this one: HDTVa.
 

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