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The Flying Finn
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2,594 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well there was no sub-forum anywhere I could find to post this, but I just had to gush about how happy I am with my (lack of a) cable bill. I recently moved to a town called Grimsby, ON. Which happens to be roughly the same distance from the CN tower, and Grand Island. I've got a 67" samsung DLP TV (latest LED light engine DLP TV) and it's got a built in ATSC tuner of course, so I wanted to try and see what I could get over the air for free!

I tried rabbit ears at first, and got a few channels, but since then I've spend a total of about $150 on two CM4221 clone antennae, an ANT-1028 pre-amp, and some cable to wire the stuff all together (actually it's less than $100 for everything, but I already had some cable and conduit, so to do it from scratch would be $150).

Anyway, I mounted all this stuff in my attic, with one antenna facing towards Toronto, and the other facing towards buffalo, and I'm getting every major network for free! Here's the list of what I'm getting (I've removed the SD versions of HD channels, christian channels, and french channels)...

ABCHD, NBCHD, CBCHD, CBSHD, SunHD, OMNI1HD, OMNI2HD, CTVHD, PBSHD, PBSSD, PBSother, FOXHD, CITYHD, TheCWHD, MyTVHD, etc. etc. etc.

:cheers

The only thing I miss is TSN-HD and Discovery HD which are cable only. But boo hoo. I'm not having to pay $50-70 a month for HD cable.

Will post more pics of setup if anybody's interested...

Room Property Interior design Furniture Living room

Room Living room Furniture Property Interior design

Attic Room Electrical wiring Beam Building insulation
 

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Ooh lawd!
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8,466 Posts
Nice one. I've been considering this, as me and the wife rarely have a chance to watch TV anymore. If we do - it's ABC (Lost), Fox (House), or CBS (CSI, Mentalist). I watch most NFL games that come on the regular networks. I occasionally will watch some Food TV and DIY/HGTV shows for ideas, but I think I'd be fine without it.

Those are hella b***** antennas than what I was looking at. I have plenty of room in my attic, though, and this is the PERFECT time to install since it's nice and cool up there :lao

This website is a huge benefit for the first step:

WhitePages - Find People for Free and Connect with Confidence

If I do this, it'll be soon as I'm getting a refund for my AFL Season Tickets (xmas present to myself). I'll post pics as well if I do end up doing it.
 

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Valiant Poultry
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15,151 Posts
Eh, I pay for cable already anyways...and the HD upgrade is only like $5 for me. So my bill is like $50 or something a month.

I watch a lot of USA, TNT, and TBS...so going to something that was only over the air stuff wouldn't be worth it to me.

BUT...at my old house, I had the HDTV setup with just antennas for the HD stuff (I was using a dish to get the SD stuff) and it worked out great. I had no problems at all picking up all of the major local networks on HD with just a couple of store bought (Walmart) antennas.

That looks like a pretty nice setup you've got going there. Good work!!!
 

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Registered
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3,717 Posts
Wow- I want to learn more. I get free basic cable from the homeowners assoc. but am close to upgrading TVs. Trouble is I live in a highrise condo, so may be limited on antennae options.
 

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Ooh lawd!
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8,466 Posts
OP: you don't have any issue picking up VHF signals with that antenna? Some folks are saying the UHF antennas pick them up as long as they have a strong signal...
 

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Ooh lawd!
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8,466 Posts
This is my plan of attack:

- dual UHF/VHF antenna mounted in the attic (receive ~12 DTV, 8 HDTV channels) ($45 + time)
- extra computer will be converted to a media center PC in a new MPC case ($129)
- new video capture card for DVR software ($49)
- re-joining Netflix for $8.99 per month, stream over Xbox 360 or computer
- hulu.com, disney.com, abc.com
- Logitech MX Air Media Center mouse ($110)

This will effectively give me about 20 real TV channels, 12,000 on-demand titles from Netflix, a DVD checked out, and every HD show sort of on-demand from hulu, etc. I'm not 100% that the Xbox will stream the Netflix content in the same manner as the set-top box, but I'll investigate that (and it's only a $99 one-time fee for the box if I decide to get it, anyway).

The Logitech mouse will control the PC, the Harmony remote will control everything else (including the x360).

All this for 2.5 months worth of cable service... and my bill goes down to less than $10/month.

I need to pull the tr***** on this one.
 

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The Flying Finn
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2,594 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
OP: you don't have any issue picking up VHF signals with that antenna? Some folks are saying the UHF antennas pick them up as long as they have a strong signal...
I was getting *SOME* VHF signals on these UHF antennas, but since I've added a pre-amp into the mix, it blocks out any VHF from those antennas. I might add a VHF antenna or simple rabbit ears since I've got a VHF input on the pre-amp, but I don't see the need as all digital/HD channels around my area are on the UHF band.

I was paying $75/month for a long time to Rogers cable to get the basic digital service, plus the HD box rental, plus a $7 extra HD pack. Even with several hundred channels I was still only watching about 5-6 HD channels most of the time. It's hard to watch SD after getting used to HD for so long.

For anyone interested in doing this yourself: I'll post up the links to all the resources I used to start. People in the states will have a much easier time than me with antenna selection, etc. because there's a website that will tell you what channels are in your area, and what antenna to use and what direction to point it, simply by entering your ZIP code. I think it's antennaweb.org

I'm lucky to get all the major networks because I'm close to Toronto and the USA so I probably get close to double the networks compared to somebody in middle America. Just a hunch though... I've heard other parts of North America have far fewer transmitters than the North East.

Speaking of with, it's time to watch Hockey in HD. :neener
 

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The Flying Finn
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2,594 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Wow- I want to learn more. I get free basic cable from the homeowners assoc. but am close to upgrading TVs. Trouble is I live in a highrise condo, so may be limited on antennae options.
Depends on where the transmitters are near you compared to which way your unit faces. If you face any/all of the transmitters, glass isn't too bad to go through. They do make mounts similar to the small dish mounts, and you could likely aim it anywhere in the 180 deg area viewable from your unit.

There are certain laws in the US regarding putting up antennas (ie, homeowners associations can't restrict your use of them or something like that.)

I've heard that samsung tuners are better than most others, but that's just what I've read here and there, so take it with a grain of salt. My samsung DLP and my moms samsung plasma both seem to do a decent job of picking up digital channels.

I'm getting a magnavox set-top box for my old analog TV for the bedroom, I'll report on it when it comes in...
 

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The Flying Finn
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2,594 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Follow Up:

Here's a short vid I took tonight showing how the built in channel list works on the Samsung. Unfortunately my camera is not HD so you can't get the true feeling for the pic quality. Also it darkens the hockey too much due to seeing too much white. All I can say is in person it looks outstanding!

YouTube - Over The Air (OTA) - HDTV Demo
 

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Banned
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19,161 Posts
I ordered those gov coupons for the converter box, should be here next week. I have never seen much worth watching on cable or satelite save for history channel (which if I had I would never leave the room). hopefully I will get the three channels in better for dad. I really don't watch TV except for the news and sometimes an occassional program
 

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The Flying Finn
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2,594 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I ordered those gov coupons for the converter box, should be here next week. I have never seen much worth watching on cable or satelite save for history channel (which if I had I would never leave the room). hopefully I will get the three channels in better for dad. I really don't watch TV except for the news and sometimes an occassional program
A search of your zip code on antennaweb.org came up with 2 stations in the area, and they're obviously both going digital in 2009. They're 6.1 and 4.1 which are both on the VHF band, so you wouldn't need an antenna like mine. Both are in Butte, 27.1 miles away at a heading of 96 deg...

You should be able to get away with simple rabbit ears for stations that close. Note that rabbit ears are supposed to be extended straight out on either side (not the V that most people do) and you adjust them by pushing in or pulling out both sides equally. When you get your box, it should have a signal meter when you're on a channel, just run the signal meter and adjust the rabbit ears until you've got the best result.

Antennaweb.org is a little conservative, I'm getting more channels than it says I should get for my area.

Good luck!
 

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I actually get three depending on the weather, sometimes four, ABC, CBS, and NBC. occasionally PBS as well. I have the standard V style antenna. So may have to upgrade, we will see.
 
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