OTA Signal Meter

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Kilo_Hotel

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Jan 11, 2020
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I own an antenna installation company in D/FW. I recently hired a new guy and wanted to order him a signal meter. We have been using the Digiair pro ATSC meters but it appears that those are no longer being made and i can't find one on CL or ebay.

Do we have any OTA installers using a reliable meter? Using a DTA or HDhomerun to check signal is out of the question.

TIA!
 
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Tvland1

Tvland1

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Dish showed off a new meter last spring but I'm not sure what ever happened with it.
DISH SLM 1000 OTA Signal Meter manufacturer is Winegard.You might try getting in touch with them.
 
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MartyDe

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Have you ever considered a portable spectrum analyzer ? Pretty accurate but may be ovekill.
 
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videojanitor

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I'm late to this thread but thought I would toss out this option: If a laptop is available, there's a nice USB device that will allow for spectrum analysis. It's from Airspy, and sells for about $170. Plug in it via USB and then run the free software available on their site. See attached for a sample image I snapped a few weeks ago -- it gives you an idea of what it looks like when you have two solid stations, along with one that is weak and plagued by multipath. It's a slick and inexpensive solution.

Here's a link for more info on the Airspy device: Airspy R2 - airspy.com

Spectrumspy
 
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spongella

spongella

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video that's an excellent idea. To save even more $ you could use a $25 SDR dongle and laptop to evaluate signal strength. You just need to know the frequency of the TV station of interest.

Your spectral display is excellent, you can see the ATSC "spike" and the 6 MHz wide TV signal. The left-most peak is probably a weak TV station. Those SDR's have lots of applications for the hobbyist and can serve as quasi-spectrum analyzers.

Your setup can also be used to watch for OTA TV band openings. If your receiver has a 'peak hold' option that helps. Thanks for the excellent photo.
 
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videojanitor

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Spong, I'm not an expert on the subject but I believe the Airspy device can be categorized as an SDR device -- it just seems to be on the higher-end of things. I tried one of those $25 dongles but wasn't able to observe the OTA TV spectrum. Do you know of one that works? I'd be interested in checking it out.

Some background on my photo: I drove out to a tower that is home to a couple of low-power stations, in order to grab some TSReader data for the RabbitEars site. The two decent signals in the pic are the LP stations. The poor signal is from a full-power station (RF 40) that's 25 miles away and 180-degrees away from the antenna orientation.
 
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spongella

spongella

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Video, the SDR dongle can be used for that purpose. However....I can see from your spectral display span that it's at least 60 MHz wide. Most software for dongles will at best give you a span of a few MHz, too narrow to see even one TV station's 6 meg-wide signal. There are some software programs that will extend an dongle's spectral frequency span but that is a moot point since you have a superior system there. You can see an example below using NutsAboutNets TouchstonePro-RF software. I like your scans a lot better though, crisp and clear. Nice work.
 

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videojanitor

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Spong, thanks for the explanation and the pic. That looks like it could definitely be useful.

The ~60 Mhz span in my pic was just a value I selected for the best view of those signals. The Airspy can display a range up to ~1.7 GHz (see below). Not much value in going that wide as near as I can tell, but it's still pretty sweet.

Spectrumspy 2020 02 27 16 36 04
 
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K

Kilo_Hotel

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I know its been a while but figured I would update everyone. I ended up going with signalscout40 , its about the same price as the digiair pro but is much easier to use.
 
spongella

spongella

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I know its been a while but figured I would update everyone. I ended up going with signalscout40 , its about the same price as the digiair pro but is much easier to use.
Hey, I like it, have to look into this, thanks Kilo.
 
KE4EST

KE4EST

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I have had a tinySA since they came out and love it. I do wish the screen was bigger, but hey for the price...
It is a great unit and the guy keeps up with feedback from the community and has gone through several firmware upgrades to either add features or fix things. I got mine from R&L for $49. Every hobbyist needs one of these.
 
spongella

spongella

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The TinySA looks great. USA inventory was pretty much non-existent when I was shopping for one about a month ago. Wonder if that has changed.
 
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videobruce

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I''m old school. Best bang for the buck is a Tektronix RFM-151 SLM. Old & heavy, it does have a (somewhat slow scanning) Spectrum Analyzer function also. These can be had for as low as $50 (depending on condition) on ebay.
I have had one and it is my go-to meter for well over 10 (maybe 15) years now. :thumbup

I will add, SA's make lousy SLM's due to that isn't what they were designd for. I have a Siglent SA now and I have never used it to measure signals per say, nor any other SA that I had.

And those micro pocket sized displays look cute, but I question using one as a SLM. And after reading numerous customer reviews over a 'A', I would think twice before going that route. ;)
 
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Wescopc

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Channel Master has a new OTA signal strength meter -
 
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videobruce

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It looks like a remote control for a garage door opener. :rolleyes :wtf2


What's with the 800MHz coverage?? Is it testing TV or annoying toy phone frequencies?
It's using the uncommom dBm instead of dBmV which most SLM's historically have used.
(notice the reviews are all 5 star)

And; where is the ATSC 3 capability??


I'll stick to my last post. Tektronix RFM-151 for 1/2 or 1/3 that price (other than it's size & weight being greater).
 
K

Kilo_Hotel

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Channel Master has a new OTA signal strength meter -
That's a clone of the signal scout, just a different color.
 

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