WTOO-CD & WJAC-TV in Johnstown, PA

RedPenguin

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Apr 22, 2008
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Just to give some necessary back-story, I have the following setup.

HDHomeRun DUAL (older model), WinTV HVR-950Q, & various TVs all at an apt that I have no easy option to do an outdoor antenna. I also have a 3.5dB and I think 25dB amps as backup but not hooked up atm.

WJAC is a full power station that is roughly 2.2 miles away from me and with relatively easy effort, with just a regular TV antenna you can get at Walmart or Big Lots, you can get any TV to see WJAC and play it just fine.

A recently moved LP station, WTOO-CD moved in basically down the road from WJAC, well technically down the woods in this case lol but still same distance pretty much.

WTOO is operating at 15kW and it seems only certain locations in my place actually pick it up.

The HDHR got it immediately, with like 80% signal strength, 79% signal quality, but always 100% symbol quality (afaik the most important number usually).

My one Vizio TV, seems to max out like 60-70% signal and oddly the picture will freeze with the sound still going. Other TVs don't even see the signal at all. :(

I noticed that some of the 6 subchannels have gone black randomly and ffmpeg spits out various errors such as "ac-tex damaged" and "Warning MVs not available". Usually it looks visually ok though.

How do I prove who is causing these errors? On Reddit, it was recommended that I watch HDHR's Config GUI and see if when errors show if "Symbol Quality" or any other number flucates, but they did not.

I did email the station and they just did the typical "get a better antenna" type response, nothing like they may have issues with the encoder like the Reddit user believes.
 

Trip

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If you tune the station in TSReader using your HDHR or 950Q, you can see if the any of the error counts increase along with the issues you're seeing.

- Trip
 

RedPenguin

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Apr 22, 2008
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If you tune the station in TSReader using your HDHR or 950Q, you can see if the any of the error counts increase along with the issues you're seeing.

- Trip
Thanks!

I am running it now.

At first it was going 1-2-3 with no errors, but so far it says 58 Continuity Errors.

I will definitely keep checking to see as I really am hoping to get this channel in well because I really enjoy most of the subchannels on it. So nice to have 6 more options than just NBC, MeTV, Comet, & CW only.
 

Trip

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Continuity errors are generally errors that are corrected and don't cause issues. TEI errors are uncorrected.

- Trip
 

RedPenguin

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Apr 22, 2008
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Continuity errors are generally errors that are corrected and don't cause issues. TEI errors are uncorrected.

- Trip
Ok thanks you so much again for the info.

I should have remembered TSReader as I think my cable co used it when I was trying to fix an issue for somebody and we had to contact them and they verified signals on their end are ok.

Anyway, so far TEI has no gone up what so ever, still 0 on two runs that I tried with HDHR. I also tried it with both tuners at once on the HDHR even though I don't see how that would make any difference.

It looks great so far, so not really sure why ffmpeg reports so many warnings in the actual recordings themselves.

Now if I could just figure out how to get some of my TVs that just have a basic TV antenna on them to actually see the channel.

EDIT: Nevermind, just got 56 TEI.
 

Trip

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If you're seeing errors in ffmpeg and not in your reception, that implies some type of encoder issue. Can't be sure though.

Could you collect an HTML Export? Check all the boxes except EIT and Thumbnails. Maybe it'll tell me something useful. Perhaps you could grab a sample of the whole transport stream as well; I can try to walk you through that if the HTML Export doesn't show anything useful. (Going to bed soon though, so it'd have to be tomorrow.)

- Trip
 

RedPenguin

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Apr 22, 2008
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If you're seeing errors in ffmpeg and not in your reception, that implies some type of encoder issue. Can't be sure though.

Could you collect an HTML Export? Check all the boxes except EIT and Thumbnails. Maybe it'll tell me something useful. Perhaps you could grab a sample of the whole transport stream as well; I can try to walk you through that if the HTML Export doesn't show anything useful. (Going to bed soon though, so it'd have to be tomorrow.)

- Trip
Thanks!

Tested with WJAC and perfect reception.

WTOO normally error free except TEI once in a while then great then few seconds of bad again.

I'd say 50 TEI every 5-8 min.
 

RedPenguin

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Apr 22, 2008
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I am using no amp now and it seems to have no TEI for much longer but 126 now.

Continuity keeps growing overtime compared to WJAC though.

I am going to run the test for at least 1-2 hrs to really see though.
 

907TECH

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You should assume there is nothing wrong with the transmission of the low power station. What exactly are you trying for an antenna? Have you tried plugging the antenna directly into the various TV's? It is not clear if you did from your post. The various errors are likely just symptoms of the problem not the cause. I would agree you probably need more antenna. A preamp MAY help, however if there is not enough signal no amp will remedy that, not sure what you have there in the way of amps. This rabbitears report shows how weak WTOO-CD is, bear in mind the report is for an outdoor antenna at 13 feet, the lowest the site will accept. Indoors it is much weaker than that. RabbitEars.Info
 
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907TECH

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One more comment, without knowing exactly which direction you are from the WTOO-CD transmitter, the rabbitears report may not be accurate it was pulled for Johnstown. That is important because the station does not transmit with 15 KW, it only has 1800 watts with a highly directional pattern strongest at 030 (N/NE). The EIRP is 15 KW in that direction only, the weakest direction is at 210 (S/SE), at only 870 watts EIRP. Which direction is the tower at from you? The first link shows station information including antenna pattern, the second shows a map with the exact location, you can check your address against. If you are not in the sweet spot, it's asking a lot to decode the subchannels in an apartment with an indoor antenna. The WJAC signal is roughly 125 times stronger than WTOO... WTOO-CD BOLIVAR, PA GeoHack (40.371056; -78.983917)
 
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RedPenguin

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One more comment, without knowing exactly which direction you are from the WTOO-CD transmitter, the rabbitears report may not be accurate it was pulled for Johnstown. That is important because the station does not transmit with 15 KW, it only has 1800 watts with a highly directional pattern strongest at 030 (N/NE). The EIRP is 15 KW in that direction only, the weakest direction is at 210 (S/SE), at only 870 watts EIRP. Which direction is the tower at from you? The first link shows station information including antenna pattern, the second shows a map with the exact location, you can check your address against. If you are not in the sweet spot, it's asking a lot to decode the subchannels in an apartment with an indoor antenna. The WJAC signal is roughly 125 times stronger than WTOO... WTOO-CD BOLIVAR, PA GeoHack (40.371056; -78.983917)
According to the maps, the city of Johnstown itself, it looks like I am almost due East but slightly South but almost completely East.

Though, it appears if you don't count the wooded area, my place is in direct line of sight it appears of the transmitter. The map was able to make an exact straight line right between my place and the transmitter.

I am near the very top tip of the city, the part of the city that is as close to the tower as possible.
 

907TECH

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You are in the strong part of the pattern, so the EIRP is close to 15 KW. EIRP means effective isotropic radiated power, which means it is equivalent to a 15 KW transmitter that is using an omnidirectional antenna, simplified. For an indoor antenna, you will do best with an antenna in a west facing window or wall. If your apartment has other units between you and the tower, tough situation. What some do in a case like this is to use a larger antenna that is meant for outdoor use, indoors. Do you have a patio of balcony facing west? That would be ideal, mount something outdoors there. Many will use an antenna like the Clearstream 2V indoors, it has gain and will give you far better signal then a flat antenna. Adding a preamp is a good idea as well you may post what you have it may be suitable.
 

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Trip

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Clarification: TV station power is given as ERP, not EIRP. It's power relative to a dipole. The difference between the two turns out to be 2.15 dB.

If the issues with ffmpeg correlate to the TEI Errors, then you have a signal issue most likely. If it's associated with Continuity errors, that's when you start looking for things like your local network having a shortage of bandwidth (if you're looking with the HDHR). If it happens and the errors don't increase at all, that's when we start looking at possible issues with the station encoder or something.

- Trip
 

RedPenguin

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Apr 22, 2008
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Well, I just got some interesting results.

I for right now just have a few antennas, an ONN one from Walmart that has a UHF "Loop" (technically square) and a cheap flat one in the picture.

Just as a pure test as I knew I couldn't get any other antennas this very second, I decided to try some tips I saw that if you do try and play with an amp, have it as far away from the TV as possible, closer to the actual antenna.

So I put the flat in my actual window hanging on the drapes, put my 24dB Drop Amp on (was going to test with the 10dB one also with built in 4 splitter), , ran like a 25ft or so coax over from the window, then put a 3 splitter on the other end, fed the HDHR, 950Q, and TV.

At first it looked completely like a hopeless test as the HDHR acted like no signal at first until I retuned it.

Anyway, it's been running 15 minutes without a single TEI, which I never had any result like that before.

unnamed (10).jpg
 

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RedPenguin

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Apr 22, 2008
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Well it was a mostly good test, after like 17 minutes, finally got 51 TEI.

I guess at least I know it should be possible in the end to get this completely working though.
 

RedPenguin

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Apr 22, 2008
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Now that was a somewhat unexpected result.

I had my 10dB amp not hooked up to anything at all, it was just there from previous testing but plugged in to the outlet.

I unplugged it and jiggled the coxial cables feeding the HDHR, 950Q, and TV just slightly as were near the power strip that the amp was plugged in to.

Right after I did that, strangely the HDHR jumped up in signal from 90% strength to 100% and quality went to like 89%.

I'm assuming that even an unused amp can bleed out interference then? Maybe that's why my radio scanners had some issues lately also as they operate on very close by frequencies (453MHz).

EDIT: I even am getting EPG Data finally.
 

907TECH

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What you want is a preamp, not a distribution amp. The preamp has a lower noise figure, boosts the antenna signal without adding much noise. With marginal signals this is important. The amp you describe with the splitter built in is a distribution amp it is designed for in the house use for driving multiple TV's. Of course it is best to use a higher gain antenna, which may be enough by itself. A photo of your amps, or giving brand and model would help. Ignore the signal readings you mentioned, you could probably pick up the full power station with a paperclip antenna. Even the coax will act like a (poor) antenna. Good progress! Here is another antenna idea, if you can tolerate it get a small Yagi antenna and put it in your window, or suspend on the ceiling. They can be had for under $30 this one has a built in preamp. Highly directional, point it at the tower. About 2 feet long.
 

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RedPenguin

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Apr 22, 2008
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The one that I just unplugged was an RCA VH140R from my cable days when it seemed the full power station interfered with Ch 85 ClearQAM.

The other is a GE 33341 one.

I was looking at this one as a test but I can't find many details about it at all.

onn. Indoor Passive Antenna Amplifier, Onb17Ch001 - Walmart.com

It also has an outdoor sister but I don't know if it's basically the same rating or not.

It seems no dB or other numbers are given at all. All I could find was a video review of a person from nearby State College (same DMA) who had great luck with the outdoor one.
 

907TECH

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Aug 29, 2018
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None are what you want for a preamplifier. You want a preamp with good overload protection because your full power station could swamp the thing with it's killer signal, something like a Kitz KT-500. Your amps are distribution amps, a no-no stay away from that Walmart thing. Try a better antenna first, you may not need a new amp. Get it right and your HDHR will drive all your TV's easily.
 

RedPenguin

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Apr 22, 2008
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I just wanted to say thank you again to everyone who has been helping me out with this!

I am going through some of my antenna options and looking around.

It's fun because some of the local places I would maybe check are closed (Governer Request) so it looks like it will probably be either an online or mass merchant purchase most likely.

I never thought I'd be so trying to get a LP station's signal because all this DMA had was WHVL which is MyNetworkTV/Buzzr and while I like Buzzr that's online but I don't like it enough to do all kind of work to pull in and my location has WHVL listed as almost impossible even with a roof antenna.

WTOO having DECADES, Justice, & Get TV, that's hard for me to pass up.
 
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