Reliable ATSC Signal Meter? (1 Viewer)

cpalmer2k

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Are there any reliable (and reasonable) ATSC signal meters out there to help with antenna alignment based on strength? I realize the Solid Signal Digiair Pro is out there, but I wondered if there was anything else more reasonable or better? I did see the Winegard RFL-332 on Amazon as well, but it is for RV use. Several on there mention using it with home antennas with some modification, but I haven't been able to actually find a post that illustrates how to connect a battery to it instead of the hard-wire it is intended to use.
 

comfortably_numb

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Are there any reliable (and reasonable) ATSC signal meters out there to help with antenna alignment based on strength? I realize the Solid Signal Digiair Pro is out there, but I wondered if there was anything else more reasonable or better? I did see the Winegard RFL-332 on Amazon as well, but it is for RV use. Several on there mention using it with home antennas with some modification, but I haven't been able to actually find a post that illustrates how to connect a battery to it instead of the hard-wire it is intended to use.

Here's what I do: I bought a SiliconDust HD Homerun HDHR-3 US off of Ebay for $50. Then, I connect my coax to it, download the app for my phone, then take my phone with me up on the roof. The app lets you see signal strength and signal quality for 2 channels at once. That's how I aim my antennas.

302 antenna benchmark 1- TVPRAMP1Z.PNG
 
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primestar31

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Are there any reliable (and reasonable) ATSC signal meters out there to help with antenna alignment based on strength? I realize the Solid Signal Digiair Pro is out there, but I wondered if there was anything else more reasonable or better? I did see the Winegard RFL-332 on Amazon as well, but it is for RV use. Several on there mention using it with home antennas with some modification, but I haven't been able to actually find a post that illustrates how to connect a battery to it instead of the hard-wire it is intended to use.

I only wish there was. The cheapest is around $350.
 

comfortably_numb

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How responsive is the reading to changes in aiming? I tried this with a couple of different TV tuners and the reaction to changes was painfully slow.

When your wifi signal is strong, it’s fast. I bought a router with external antennas to make sure I had good coverage up on the roof. I’ve been able to make minute adjustments easily.

The iPhone / iOS app is called Signal GH.
 

mr.crane

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Are there any reliable (and reasonable) ATSC signal meters out there to help with antenna alignment based on strength? I realize the Solid Signal Digiair Pro is out there, but I wondered if there was anything else more reasonable or better? I did see the Winegard RFL-332 on Amazon as well, but it is for RV use. Several on there mention using it with home antennas with some modification, but I haven't been able to actually find a post that illustrates how to connect a battery to it instead of the hard-wire it is intended to use.
Was just wondering, did you find a reliable ATSC signal meter?
 

cpalmer2k

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Was just wondering, did you find a reliable ATSC signal meter?

Unfortunately I didn't. There is one meter on Amazon designed for RV use that several posters said would work with a battery pack or adapter but I tried that and couldn't get it to power up. I might just have had a dud, but I returned in. I'm planning to go the HDHomeRun route for OTA soon anyway and use both of my TiVo's for cable, so I picked up one of them. Best Buy has been selling the 4 tuner Connect Quatro for $99 recently on a rolling sale. It is back up now, but if you watch it a week or so it likely will drop back down.
 
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harshness

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Best Buy has been selling the 4 tuner Connect Quatro for $99 recently on a rolling sale.
Don't hold your breath on that. The BB deal was a special exclusive that ended New Year's Eve. The Duo that sells pretty well at $99.

Further, since Amazon sells the HDHomerun products at MSRP, I would imagine that Silicon Dust is participating in price fixing.
 

comfortably_numb

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While we're on the topic of HD Homerun devices (which I'm a big supporter of), I emailed them earlier and asked what their plans are (if any) for developing an ATSC 3.0 tuner. Here's their response:

"We are monitoring the developments relating to ATSC 3.0. Currently, there are a small number of test broadcasts on the air, with a few others scheduled to launch in 2018. There have been a couple broadcasters that have expressed interest in migrating to the new standard, but no concrete plans have emerged yet. The new standard requires special hardware that is not yet available for consumer products."

- Silicondust Support
 

spongella

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I looked at some of those OTA TV signal meters and wonder how they can detect TV signal levels accurately without being set to the TV channel's specific frequency. The TV band runs from about 54 megs up to about 700 megs, that's a pretty wide range.

Some years back I tried looking at TV signals using an SDR dongle. TV signals are 6 megs wide, with an ATSC spike at the front of the tracing. You definitely could see differences in signal as the antenna was turning towards and away from the TV station, but interpretation of the tracings were difficult due to the width of the signal.

The average SDR dongle shows at most a sliver of the spectrum about 1.5 - 2 megs wide. More expensive units like the HackRFOne can display wider swaths of spectrum.

If you had a scanner with an S meter, that might be another way to do it.

Feel free to shoot these ideas down, am throwing these out to stir up the pot of ideas.

Good post!
 

pamajestic

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I use a Leader LF-941. A couple of years ago these things were all over Ebay for about $40 delivered. As primestar pointed out they display the digital signal about 10db lower then what you receive, but they are great for pointing an antenna. They also help in determining if you have any overwhelming LTE signals in the 700 MHz channels.
 

rolf.taylor

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Jan 8, 2019
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I use a Leader LF-941. A couple of years ago these things were all over Ebay for about $40 delivered. As primestar pointed out they display the digital signal about 10db lower then what you receive, but they are great for pointing an antenna. They also help in determining if you have any overwhelming LTE signals in the 700 MHz channels.

I am curious, does the LF-941 allow you to set bandwidth? And does it have the ability to set a few "favorite" channels of interest to view in semi-real time?
 

rolf.taylor

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Jan 8, 2019
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Hey folks

It has been over 2 decades since I have put up a broadcast TV aerial. I guess it was 2 decades ago I put up a couple of dishes. I never put them up for a living, but I put up quite a few back then for friends and family. Never had any instrumentation, but that was a lot less necessary when you could judge signal strength by looking at the size of the "snow" storm. I just put up an attic antenna. The online databases are really nice as to being able to judge what I might get and where to point the antenna.

I did some reading and it seemed like looking at the pilot strength might be a good proxy for signal strength in general, but have discovered that just looking at the entire 6MHz channel seems to give steadier readings and hence more useful. I have been too busy to do more antenna tweaking since getting a meter, but I do expect I should be able to improve a couple of marginal signals and possibly add a few.

I recently bought a Trilithic Model one on ebay for about $50. Has no battery pack so you have to keep it plugged in during use, though it wouldn't be hard to improvise a battery if one needed that capability. It run's quite happily plugged into the power pack with no battery present.

The biggest downside is that the box was targeted to the CATV market, so there is no channel plan for NTSC much less ATSC. I entered all of the US Broadcast channels manually, which was rather time consuming. What seemed to work best is to choose the "Digital" option for each channel and enter a bandwidth of 5.5 or 6. That gives quite stable readings. Of course the scale is arbitrary. Each channel can be enabled of disabled, so if you go to different region you can easily change the channels scanned if you have spent the time to enter all channels like I did.

Fortunately, you can save the channel plan (and you will want to do so periodically as you enter your info). Oddly, the favorites function is not saved (not sure if it would be saved if you have a battery attached) but choosing 8 channels is fairly quick work.

One feature that I expect will be really handy is the ability to choose up to 8 "favorite" channels and view the strength of those in near real-time (it takes 3 seconds/channel) using this "Tilt" function. My thoughts are you put in some of the medium strength channels as well as the fringe channels, and that way you can make sure you don't lose those medium channels in the process of tweaking for the weaker channels. In the most sensitive scale I can see channels on the meter too weak for the TV to recognize, so it would appear it is going to of sufficient sensitivity to do what I want.

Specs are as follows:

Frequency Range 5MHz~870MHz
Tuning Resolution 10kHz

LEVEL Mode
-Signal Measurement -25dBmV to +60dBmV
-Range 35dB?V to 120dB?V
Measurement 0.1dB Resolution

Measurement Accuracy :
-LEVEL Mode ±1.5dB at 25 C
-SCAN Mode ±2dB at 25 C
-Variation with Temp. ±2dB from -10 C to +40 C

TILT/FAVORITE Mode
-Number of Channels Up to 8, user-selected
-Data Display Bar graph or list of measured levels
-TILT Measurement Calculated as the
difference in amplitude between the first and
last carriers in the displayed group

SCAN Mode
-Channels Scanned Up to 140, maximum
-Scanning Rate 3 channels/second
-Displayed Amplitude 80dB, maximum Range
-Vertical Display 1, 2, 5, 10dB/division
-Frequency Span Settable from approximately
-100MHz span to full span in 5 ranges

SPECTRUM Mode
-Displayed Amplitude 80dB, maximum Range
-Frequency Span Settable from 2MHz to
50MHz, in 5 steps or full span.
-Amplitude Scale 1, 2, 5, 10dB/division

I have programmed in some FM channel, but I suspect the minimum bandwidth setting of .30 MHz will probably mean I won't be able to make much use in that band. It will be fun to experiment with that.

I would be interested in comparing notes with anyone else using this, or similar cable TV devices for signal strength measurements on ATSC stations. I do realize that there is a lot more than just signal strength, but signal strength is a VERY good place to start IMHO. If you have only one or two problem channels then clunkier solutions (E. G. tuner diagnostics) can fill in the gaps.

One more thing. Since the biggest downside to the Trilithic Model One is the time involved to configure a channel plan, if anyone can locate the PC software (assuming it will run under modern windows) you might be able to make the process slightly less time consuming,
 

pamajestic

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I am curious, does the LF-941 allow you to set bandwidth? And does it have the ability to set a few "favorite" channels of interest to view in semi-real time?
The LF-941 is only one channel at a time. With the Leader LF-951 you can program up to 8 channels per page on 4 different pages. Attached is a picture of the Harrisburg PA page. Page 2 is programmed with Baltimore and page 3 is Washington. From each page you can move left or right to display signal for each channel.
 

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