HD Radio Thoughts

The HD radio tuner arrived today via USPS.
It has 3 inputs one is a audio component jacks left & right. The other 2 are AM & FM inputs.
The FM input is a cable jack known as F-Type female same end that you use to screw in cable cord on back of cable box. AM antenna terminal is the classic  Speaker Terminal Connector  type input.
Where is the optical out? My 5 year old CD carousel even has one.

It is black rack type component for a home theater system. It has a LCD panel on the front almost 3 inches long and 1 and a half inches wide. Lighted Blue very bright even stays lit when powered off showing the time. I personally do not like how bright it is when it is off.
The make and model is the Sangean HDT-1.

Connected the tuner to my HDTV antenna for HD FM/FM signal. As of now I am using an indoor AM antenna to get HD AM/AM signals.
I do intend to put up another antenna for the tuner that will handle the AM/FM signals.
Already have my eye on one I like.

I can not comment on HD AM quality since the indoor antenna sucks and I get absolutely 0 HD Am channels.

As for FM I am pulling right about 20 HD channels I am just guessing this number. I just know it’s quite a few since with digital you get multicasting. So 1 channel may have 4 different things going on.
The difference in sound quality between standard FM and HD FM are quite large.
HD FM really does sound fantastic.
If for some reason you lose signal it will revert to analog automatically so no break in what your listening too. Will just notice sound quality change which is quite a big difference.
I have noticed a lot of the channels broadcasting digitally aren’t putting out Song names or even basic channel logos.
Quite a few do this but surprised that they all don’t.

The tuner used to sell for $199 at Best Buy now prices have inflated and I have seen people asking as much as $300 for this tuner.
I got lucky and got an open box deal with no remote for $69.97.
And the truth is I am happy I did not spend more than that.
If you listen to music a whole lot and like listening to radio get an HD tuner the sound quality is really that much better.
I’m no audiophile by any means so to me it makes a huge difference.
Me I really don’t listen to enough radio to see spending any more than I did for this hardware.
If your like me and like radio once in awhile and want quality sound get one but don’t spend more than $99 for it.

Since it’s not a pay for service to get the HD Signals it makes it only a little more attractive.
It’s not commercial free like satellite radio if this is what your expecting then you will be disappointed.
It’s the same channels you always get with much better sound quality. With the exception of multicasting which will give you channels you can not get on standard FM transmission. And there are HD only channels as well that are not broadcasted on standard FM signal.

More listening options never hurt anyone.

 

Space Ace & Dragon’s Lair Arcade LD’s

These games are true classics they were absolutely amazing in the 1980’s era.
In that time frame games were sprites and Atari 2600 was the home video game system that was in most American’s homes. And let’s not forget Pong😉
Dragon’s Lair was 100% animation by Don Bluth who at the time was the animator for Disney.

The game used what we call today “Quick Time Events” make one mistake and bleep you die and start from last fail point.
While you did not have 100% control of the hero you did make those QT clicks to progress through the game. Very challenging and let’s face it this was the best looking video game anyone ever laid their eyes on.

To find a working arcade of these types today are hard to come by.
They used Laserdisc technology which was the only format that could handle this at the time.
there are players out there that can play the discs or you can purchase boards to upgrade the Laserdisc player you have. Boards are called Laser ace or Lasercon conversion cards.

To purchase a Dragon’s Lair or Space Ace Laserdisc today is hard to come by and if you do they are costly.
Found Space Ace on Ebay today for $425.00.

There are many different releases for these today PC, DVD and every console in existence.
Or can download the ISO’s of the games and use Daphne emulator to play on your PC.

The biggest surprise I saw was Super Nintendo’s fine release of Space Ace. Seriously I can not know what the top turds at Nintendo were thinking!

Here are screen shots of Space Ace Arcade,PC, Xbox-Xbox360, PS-PS2 and even classic Sega CD.


Arcade:


Super Nintendo:

Seriously WTF were they thinking when they released this POS?
Worse who was the sorry sap that would proudly say they coded this fine game?

Laserdisc Wednesday

Every Wednesday I’m going to watch a Laserdisc movie from my collection.
Some I have watched others I did not.
I watch all my Laserdiscs on the Pioneer CLD-V2400 not the best LD player on the market at all. But it plays them. I use an adapter to up-convert the picture to 1080p. One day will upgrade my Laserdisc player that will have AC3rf and a demodulator to listen in true digital surround sound.

This week I chose The X-Files season 1 episodes 1 & 2.
The X-Files LD’s I own are only part of season 1 these are very rare & very expensive Laserdiscs to get ahold of. They were printed and manufactured in Japan. I have the first 6 discs each disc contains 2 episodes which equals half of the 1st season.
I have searched for the second half of season 1 with no success. Even if I find the second half spending anywhere from $300-$400 will be a tough decision to make.
Japanese subtitles are hard coded into the videos. They are not overly large or distracting in any way.

Comes in a cool box with a nice booklet with some info on the episodes and characters. All are in Japanese so I don’t have a clue what it says:-)
My Laserdisc player is as much a part of my home theater system as my HTPC and PlayStation 3 Bluray player. So I include this fine piece of technology in my blog with pride.

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Adding HD Radio tuner to Home theater

My interest began peaking in HD radio quite awhile back. I had assumed that this tech had died the Beta death.
Quite wrong I am it is still a working technology that is freely broadcasted in most areas in the United States.

Like the digital broadcast upgrade that took place to television also occurred for radio as well.
With the one difference being that the Government is not enforcing or forcing the change out.
So you can buy the hardware to get these digital channels or not and opt to listen to standard analog which majority are choosing to do. Unless your in a new car 2014 or better and depending on the make/model it may be built into the radio in your car. Earlier top end cars may have HD radios. And even top end Home Theater receivers will have the tech built in. Or can purchase the tuners separately for your current home theater system or buy a new car radio that has the technology.

The “HD” in HD radio does NOT stand for High Definition or Hybrid Digital. Matter a fact HD is just there for marketing purposes it actually has no meaning at all.
“HD Radio” is a brand name owned by the company iBiquity that supplies the FCC-approved technology used in the U.S. and several other countries.
So no High Def or Hybrid Digital just plain old marketing.

A company named iBiquity Digital created the technology to make this happen.
They license this technology to radio stations and consumer electronics manufacturers.

Don’t mistake HD Radio for Satellite Radio.
Satellite radio is a pay for service HD Radio is free over the air only need to buy the hardware to grab the digital signal. Old radios can not get these signals because they are analog only.
There is no monthly payment to listen to HD radio it’s free OTA.

What the digital channels add is better quality and multicasting with the ability to transmit additional information along with the music signal. Enables scrolling text on your receiver’s display, such as a song’s artist and title and station call letters. HD Radio also supports Artist Experience — with compatible and full color screen receivers you can view album art, logos, and more, if the station broadcasting sends this information out.
Better quality= Digital FM stations will have almost CD quality sound and AM digital stations will have FM quality sound.

Going digital also is goodbye to static and popping and other annoying sounds dead air or bad signals analog produces.

What is multicasting? Allows a station to broadcast two or more programs simultaneously.
Same thing as Digital Television channels over antenna. Example channel 10.1,10.2 for TV on Radio would be 97.9-1,97.9-2.
I love multicasting it opens up a lot more listening options for the consumer.

Tampa Bay area has quite a few stations that broadcast Digital signals.
You can use indoor antenna if your close to broadcasting towers or can hang a outdoor antenna for stonger signals and also possible to reach stations all around Florida.

Back in 2013 I remember seeing HD Tuners at Best Buy in the $199 range. Today I looked about and could not find any HD Radio tuners in any of the local electronics stores.
You can buy car radios with the HD Radio technology but not any for home theaters.
This brought me to online shopping at the normal places Newegg, Amazon and Ebay.

What I most wanted to find was a tuner under $100. I really don’t listen to radio enough to dump a $100 or more into this technology.
The tuner I wanted was the Sangean HDT-1 this had the features I wanted in a small component package.

Prices varied from $120 up to $200 this is way out of my range.  Off to Ebay I went to my surprise the prices were about the same as every place else. The ones I did bid on I lost since $65 was my max for this item. They were selling at $80 used.
Finally found an open box missing the remote on Ebay straight selling for $69. Now this was my speed! PURCHASE IT I DID:-)

Sangean HDT-1
The Sangean HDT-1.

Combined with my Receivers built in Internet Radio and Spotify/Pandora this will add even more listening options.
I have started making our garage my man cave that already has Radio and TV maybe this new hardware will make me listen to more OTA radio than I did before.

Installing the outdoor antenna came at just the right time:-)

Side Note: I absolutely love the Harmony 1100 universal remote control. I was sweating getting this without the remote. Went and did a check on Logitech software and sure enough it has the exact tuner ready to go in software.

 

 

 

ATSC 2.0-3.0 under 20 over 20

Must read info regarding ATSC.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATSC_standards

“Evolution and revolution” coming as ATSC readies new broadcast standard

ATSC 3.0: Where We Stand

Mounting Antenna for OTA HD/Digital/FM Signals

I first mounted the antenna in back of the house on a 35-40 ft pole. Pole is 40ft but buried quite a few feet into the ground.
This was not the original plan but due to wanting a solid ground I decided on the long pole option.
Issue I ran into was signal reception. Was only grabbing a maximum of 12 channels. This would be fine if it was 1970 but here in Florida in Tampa Bay area I should be getting at minimum 22-25 channels.
And the 12 channels I was getting had medium to weak signal quality. I figured the issue was length of cable used and it being split before entering the house.

So I went back to figuring out where to mount the antenna and what option to use for the mounting pole. These antenna’s are small and can be mounted in the attic. I did do a dry test run in attic without mounting antenna. Unfortunately this antenna does not do well indoors. It grabs the UHF channels great but the VHF channels do not even register. Not all antenna’s are created equally my antenna did not do well indoors this does not mean others won’t.
Went with the J-Pole as I had originally planned in the first place and decided to mount in front of the house off the side of the patio. This way it isn’t protruding right from the front of our home.
When buying your pole or J-Pole make sure that the Pipe outer diameter will fit your antenna. Antenna I purchased is 1.25″ round in diameter so had to get a J-Pole that was 1″ in diameter around.
You can mount on the roof of your home if this is what you want to do. Me personally do not like the idea of putting holes in my roof top. Side of house or on a pole is a better option in my opinion.
I must say the mounting and cable running took me 1 hour time. Setting up an antenna is very easy. So those not sure be confident it is a very simple installation.
Easy as long as you have all the materials and tools needed for the job.

Tools Needed:
Pliers & Needle nose pliers
Crescent wrench
Screw drivers Flat & Philips head
Compression Tool Coax RG59 Rg6 RCA BNC F connector Coaxial compression tool
Cordless Drill
Socket set
Level
Drill Bits sizes may vary depends on what mounting kit you purchase.
Cable cutters & Utility knife “Razor”

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Hand Tools from left to right Wire Cutter, Coaxial Compression tool, Pliers, Crescent Wrench, Needle nose pliers.

Materials:
Di-Electric grease
Coaxial cable length depends on where you mount your antenna. I purchased 100 ft and maybe used 50ft of it.
Plastic zip ties
Mounting pole again depends on where you mount your antenna at and what type of Antenna you get.
#8 or #10 Grounding wire “Copper” coated. If you can’t find coated  just use the stripped ground they sell at Home Depot.
Coaxial ends
Splitters if needed.
And lastly surely not least the Antenna you plan to install:-)

Total cost for Antenna and materials. I am not adding any shipping cost or taxes I spent because this will vary for everyone.

Boost Waves-Outdoor Amplified HDTV/UHF/VHF Antenna w/ Remote Control – 360 Degree Motorized Rotation Kit (125 mile)  -$27.49- Amazon
100 ft Coaxial cable $19.97- Home Depot
Coaxial Cable Compression tool $8.95  Purchased on Ebay local cost for this tool is $40
Di-Electric grease-$10 -Home Depot. Lowes did not carry item in store.
Coaxial ends (25) $10-Home Depot
30ft Grounding Wire -$15-  Home Depot
Coax couplers (25)-$8-Walmart
Splitter- $10 Can be purchased at Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart or any local hardware store.
J-Pole -$21.93-Ebay. I shopped around a bit Ebay was most affordable. When buying from Ebay buy from dealer in your state.
Inline Coax surge Protector -$3.39 On Ebay locally costs $39 “This is an optional part” Honestly doubt it will help much from direct lighting hit. A good ground should be sufficient.

Total: $134.73
Most antenna’s sold locally cost $100 alone.

First I went and drilled 2 holes with a drill bit for the bolts that mount the J-Pole.
Once the holes were drilled I bolted down the top used level to make sure it was not off center.
completed the base.
“Make sure that the base is up high enough to be on wood base under the aluminum siding.”
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Once the base is mounted it’s simple just put J-pole on with Antenna mounted on the pole and bolt down tightly so it is nice and solid.
You can go ahead and connect the Coaxial cable to the antenna if you want to. But I’d run your wire first then connect to antenna.
Any cable end that is  outside make sure to drop a little Di-Electric grease in then tighten down. When tightening the cable to antenna make it firm do not over tighten chances are you will crack the base. The di-electric grease is to keep water out of the lines and preserve it as well.
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Once you have your antenna mounted it’s very important to ground the antenna. This is a must do!
If you are close to where your ground rod is you can mount directly to it. The main ground is where your electric box and cable is grounded to.
If you decide to buy a ground rod it must be 4ft in the ground.
Will look something like this:
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To connect to this ground you will want a Grounding Coax bridge or a Splitter that has grounding.
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Since I mounted our antenna on front of the house close to the garage. There was not a ground rod available. In this case I had to use the hot water heater as my ground. I did not like this option but it is what I had to work with.

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Ground clamp attached to Hot Water heater.
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in line ground using coupler with ground wire wrapped around it then ran to hot water heater.

Cable wire then runs into wall through to living room.
It still bothers me that I did not ground the Mast aka: J-pole as well.
Grounding to the water pipe works as long as the ground to it is under 5ft from the grounding rod which mine is.

After making sure cable wire was not pinched and concealed turned on the television to see what channels I pull.
Am getting a total of 53 channels all of them are clear.
The quality is better than what cable produces due to not having to compress.
I do notice signals for UHF are stonger on this antenna than VHF signals.
Wanted to touch down a little regarding VHF broadcasts not pushing signals as strongly as UHF.
Having spent more time on antenna I should note that VHF signals are strong but not as strong as UHF.
All channels I do get are solid and not digitized from overly weak signals. Channels 30.1,30.2, 30.3 seem to only come in at dusk.
30.2 comes all the way from Pensacola, Fla which is almost at the end of panhandle.
Majority of channels come from Tampa, St. Petersburg.
Listing starts with Channels numbers “in RED”  then call sign name and location.

3.1-3.4 :WEDU-PBS-Tampa

8.1-8.2:WFLA-NBC-Tampa

10.1-10.3:WTSP-CBS-St.Petersburg

13.1-13.4:WTVT-FOX-Tampa

16.1-16.4:WUSF-PBS-Tampa

17: Family Net-Not listed ??

18.1:WNYI-Daystar-Ithica, NY  I do not get this channel.

22.1-22.4:WCLF-CTN-Clearwater

28.1-28.3:WFTS-ABC- Tampa

30.1:WSTY-My Family TV-Hammond, La

30.2:WBQP-PUNCH-Pensacola, Fla

30.3:WATV-Mira TV-Orlando, Fla

32.1-32.3:WMOR-IND-Lakeland, Fla

35.2:WSPF-BizTV- St.Petersburg, Fla

38.1-38.2:WTTA-MyNet-St.Petersburg

39.1-39.2:WTTA-Cozi-St.Petersburg

40.1:WWSB-ABC7-Sarasota, Fla

44.1-44.2:WTOG-The CW-St.Petersburg

47.1:WYKE-YouToo America-Inglis, Fla

49.1:WRMD-Telemundo-Tampa Bay

50.1-50.3:WFTT-UniMas-Tampa Bay

50.4:WFTT-Escape-Tampa Bay

62.1-62.2:WVEA-Univision-Venice, Fla

66.1:WXPX-ION-Bradenton, Fla

66.2:WXPX2-QUBO-Bradenton, Fla

66.3:WXPX-DT3-ION Life-Bradenton, Fla

66.4:WXPX-DT4-SHOP-Bradenton, Fla

66.5: QVC-Clearwater/???

66.6: HSN- Clearwater/St.Petersburg

Depending on your antenna and mounting location you may get all of the channels listed or may only get 12 channels. Chose mounting location wisely and know where your broadcasts are coming from in your state to make sure you get an antenna that will get the signals.
A rotating motored antenna like mine may not be good for some areas especially if broadcast are coming from  many different locations.
I touch base on all these on my blog. So read and do your homework google is a great place to do research.

Good news is Tampa Bay is #10 nationally for the number of HD OTA channels available.
That does not include all the non-HD channels available in our area.
Networks are taking notice of OTA and are featuring specialty programming like Movies, Weather, Criminal like ID channel and others.
I think it’s only a matter of more time and cable/satellite will have to come up with new gimmicks to keep people buying in and staying with them.
Antenna has me very impressed not just the picture quality but also the number of channels I am getting. And not to mention the ease of mounting and installing the hardware. Wonder why I did not do this so much sooner.
This may not be for everyone but I do suggest everyone at least give it a try.
top_ota_tv_markets_north_america_list

 

UHF
UHF Signal max

 

VHF
VHF signal weaker

 

 

Spent $135 to save $100 a month on cable.
I went through all my recorded shows that we as a family watch and the majority of them are the free channels I get over the air. Why have I been paying them a $100 a month?
For now Cable will stay connected until I get a few OTA tuners for HTPC and to see how signals handle in bad weather.

If you are using a HTPC and have Netflix or Hulu or maybe both you already have more options than cable offers.
Since FM runs on VHF signals you can use dual as TV Antenna & Radio antenna.
With a 150 mile radius can get some stations that aren’t normally available to you. Example: Gainesville, Orlando.

Places to shop for tools, Antenna’s and other materials:

http://www.sears.com/tools/b-1020000?gclid=CjwKEAjw6sC5BRCogcaY_dKZ2nESJABsZihx6pIdKNE3qL5_WoAM-myg4uf9PNWUHZwks2pf8fhomhoCp8fw_wcB&sid=ISx20140327xNonBrand&psid=g_ae68412f9463ebc244d0ff3f35e41f3f&knshCrid=34800&k_clickID=_kenshoo_clickid_&s_kwcid=AL!4531!3!47616894697!e!!g!!sears%20tools&ef_id=VjypjAAABJFMbFvQ:20160509121759:s

http://www.lowes.com/
http://www.homedepot.com/
http://www.ebay.com/
http://www.amazon.com/
http://www.walmart.com/
http://www.kmart.com/
http://www.homeantenna.org/
http://www.staples.com/
http://www.solidsignal.com/

Tips & How to Grounding page:
http://www.dennysantennaservice.com/1171010.html
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ATSC: http://atsc.org/standards/

QAM: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quadrature_amplitude_modulation

ClearQAM – What It Is And Why It Matters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuners/Hdhomerun & Cable/Internet Providers

Silicondust whom produces television tuners for OTA and cable cards have a kick starter page for their DVR software. This Kick start actually started quite some time ago and so far with no end in sight for a consumer release.

You can go ahead and pledge $60 and get early access to the DVR software which is not fully completed.
Was supposed to get regular updates. While there has been updates they are few and far in between.
Silicondust has stated they will not implement a grid guide even in final version.  Right now the guide is listed in boxes and under Movies, Television and sports. go to sports and will show every sports game on every channel at that time. This is how it works:-(
To me this is not a great way to record future shows easily. They seriously need to reconsider. It’s okay to dare to be different but pick and choose the right things.

At this time finding a Hdhomerun Connect box will be slim.
The Connect model has been re-done fanless in a metal casing. So the older models at this time have been sold out and not restocked due to the newer model coming.

On to the Frontier Verizon take over.

Sadly Verizon dropped the ball on accounts so people with Verizon in Florida, California & Texas are shit out of luck.
I’m sure Frontier will get the customer accounts fixed as quickly as possible.
Reports are out people are jumping ship over to Brighthouse. Well not a great idea i’d hold off on that jump for now. Here is why..

Brighthouse customers keep happy faces for now but be prepared because a buy out is happening to us as well in the next 4-6 months.
Brighthouse execs say the issues going on at Verizon/Frontier buy out won’t happen to their customers. I’m sure they will say whatever they have to to keep current customers at bay.

Charter purchased Brighthouse for $10B.
Charter is already established in Missouri, California, Texas and elsewhere. Now, the company is moving in to Florida.

These buy outs also pose other possible issues for cable card users.
Will there be a change in the line up and also will there be more channels that use DRM compared to the very few used now both on Verizon and Brighthouse service.

While I have not read any reports it’s still very early in the flip out process being done over at Frontier.
Maybe my move to hang a antenna came at the right time. Cutting the cable cord may be the best option available here soon.
Or things could take a turn for the better regarding cable service after the take overs are completed.

 

What’s more likely things will stay the same.