Pulling In Free HDTV – Finding the Stations

It has been a long time since local TV stations around the US started the switch from analog to digital signals providing people access to free, beautiful HDTV.  Getting that signal to your HDTV capable TV starts with the right antenna, one HDTV capable.

I highly recommend starting at AntennaWeb.com.  First, plug in your zip code or address.  It will provide a nice map of local stations in your area, their direction and their distance.  It also provides a Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) color code for the antenna sensitivity needed to collect that signal.  AntennaWeb also provides a walk through of these CEA color codes.

I also recommend running through the same process over at AntennaPoint.com as well.  At AntennaPoint they provide a nicely detailed spreadsheet of stations which includes both the virtual channel number and the power output of the station.

Unless you are looking at putting together a multi-antenna system which points in more than one direction at the same time look for a direction that has the majority of stations you want.  Knowing the minimum recommended antenna type provides the option to upgrade to provide a little more flexibility.  But keep in mind, it is possible to pull in too much signal and over saturate your HDTV tuner.

Antenna Selector Color Wheel

Antenna Selector Color Wheel

Cutting Cable TV

I recently went through the process of cutting my cable TV. I was using one of my local provider’s higher end TV, phone and internet package plans, renting three DVRs and multiple basic boxes for the TVs in my house – yes I have way more than I probably should – all for around $270 a month. At some point I realized I was spending over $3K a year for these services. In today’s digital age there had to be a cheaper way. So I built a list of needs.

  • Receive HDTV
  • DVR or play back shows on demand for three different users
  • Use any TV to watch shows
  • Maintain house phone at a lower price
  • Maintain internet service at a sustained or better level of service

The below is the new system I installed.  I needed three Simple TV DVRs and four Rokus for media streaming, so my system was around $1.4K.  A one DVR and one Roku setup can be done for sub $700, and less if you need lower sensitivity antennas.  I will talk more about some of the individual components in following posts.

Cable Cut Diagram

Cutting the Cable Component Diagram (Images and products via Amazon.com)

Now I just pay for my internet ($840/yr for 50/50) and VOIP phone ($30 year). So I have gone from $270 to $83 month.  It is really nice to have that money back in the bank for other things.

Protected Rechargeable Batteries

While looking into rechargeable battery options for the Nitecore SRT5 I noticed some 18650 Li-ion batteries were marked “protected” and came with a slightly higher cost.  After some quick research it appears some rechargeable batteries come with a built in safety switch to help you get the most out of them you can.  Since I like self-correcting systems I would recommend spending a couple more dollars and let the batteries do the math for you.

Nitecore SRT 5

I am always interested in tactical flashlights.  I recently watched a review by Chris at Preparedmind101 reviewing the Fenix PD35 where I was introduced to the 750 lumen Nitecore SRT5.  I have never seen a flashlight that has as much versatility as the SRT 5.  I really like things that can serve more than one purpose.  You can find this little dazzler for sub $100.

Hello!

So begins my work to capture and share the many things in which I am interested.  If you find something of value here, share it forward!

~CN (Creator Notarum)