My Network



 For those who wonder what my network looks like

The TVPRAMP1Z is a uhf/vhf combiner with a pre-amp right at the antenna.  The Archer 15-1107 splitter/amp can be attenuated as required.  An EDA-2800 8x splitter/amp distributes the signal throughout the house.

The past six months have been less busy than any time in my six year cord cutting adventure.  That is mostly a reflection of how satisfied I am becoming with my OTA/OTT infrastructure.  I repointed my VHF antenna to WMUR in Manchester after Heroes and Icons arrived on 38.2 in Boston and dropped Prime and Netflix.

The television in the Master Bedroom (TV1) is the one I watch the most and it has one of everything attached.  The Kitchen television (TV2) is the background noise of our lives.  It never goes off.  The Living Room set (TV3) is a 60″ 1080p plasma with an AVR.  We use that for events (epic movies, sports events) and when we have guests over.  My kids rarely watch television in their bedrooms, but for sick days and rainy weekend mornings, they are set up for OTA and/or OTT (TV4 and TV5).  The guest bedroom is just that.  TV6 has never been used except to test everything.  The basement set if a 36″ tube (TV7) attached to a WII.  It’s a cool place to play games and get some exercise.  The portable television (TV8) is primarily for camping.

My Simple TV adventure is pretty much over.  I share one with a friend in New Jersey.  Using his allowed me to watch the Patriots when WBZ’s antenna suffered an outage a couple weeks ago.  I am in the process of sharing a second Simple TV DVR with a new friend in Texas.  I had hoped to do this with someone in the UK, but this is fun.  We have an STV2 online for streaming…

  • STV2-1: Home Network
  • STV2-2: not in use
  • STV1-1: New Jersey
  • STV1-2: Texas (future)
  • STV1-3: not in use
  • STV1-4: not in use
  • STV1-5: not in use

This is now a stable system.


Here is MY Channel Lineup

 I’m only listing the channels we watch — no spanish language channels, no religious channels, and no shopping channels.  I have not listed second and third instances of the same channels.  I list the ION, ME, and PBS affiliates that come in best for my home.  Post a comment if you want to see everything that shows up on my television.  I’ll probably accommodate you.

  • 2.1 WGBH Boston (PBS Prime)
  • 2.2 PBS World
  • 4.1 WBZ Boston (CBS)
  • 4.2 Decades
  • 5.1 WCVB Boston (ABC)
  • 5.2 MeTV
  • 7.1 WHDH Boston (NBC)
  • 7.2 This TV
  • 9.1 WMUR Manchester, NH (ABC)
  • 9.2 MeTV
  • 11.1 WENH Durham (PBS Prime)
  • 11.2 PBS Explore
  • 11.3 PBS World
  • 11.4 PBS Create
  • 25.1 WFXT Boston (Fox)
  • 25.2 Escape
  • 25.3 LAFF
  • 38.1 WSBK Boston (MyTV)
  • 38.2 Heroes and Icons
  • 44.1 WGBX Boston (PBS)
  • 44.3 PBS Create
  • 44.4 PBS Kids
  • 50.1 WBIN Derry, NH (working on this)
  • 50.2 Antenna TV (working on this)
  • 50.3 Grit (working on this)
  • 56.1 WLVI Boston (CW)
  • 56.2 BUZZER
  • 62.3 The Works
  • 62.4 Comet
  • 66.2 BounceTV
  • 66.3 GetTV
  • 66.4 Escape
  • 68.1 ION
  • 68.2 Qubo
  • 68.3 ION Life

So, that’s 36 channels.  Not bad.  I don’t think we watched 36 channels when we had Comcast!

With 2.1 WGBH Boston (PBS Prime), 2.2 PBS World, 4.1 WBZ Boston (CBS), 4.2 Decades, 5.1 WCVB Boston (ABC), 5.2 MeTV, 7.1 WHDH Boston (NBC), 7.2 This TV, 9.1 WMUR Manchester, NH (ABC), 9.2 MeTV, 11.1 WENH Durham (PBS Prime), 11.2 PBS Explore, 11.3 PBS World, 11.4 PBS Create, 25.1 WFXT Boston (Fox), 25.2 Escape, 25.3 LAFF, 38.1 WSBK Boston (MyTV), 38.2 Heroes and Icons, 44.1 WGBX Boston (PBS), 44.3 PBS Create, 44.4 PBS Kids, 50.1 WBIN Derry, NH, 50.2 Antenna TV, 50.3 Grit, 56.1 WLVI Boston (CW), 56.2 BUZZER, 62.3 The Works, 62.4 Comet, 66.2 BounceTV, 66.3 GetTV, 66.4 Escape, 68.1 ION, 68.2 Qubo, and 68.3 ION Life PLUS Plex, and a 400 disc library, I really do not need to stream. Without Netflix, I could use my phone as a hotspot for TiVo updates and reduce my cost to $0. How does that sound? (I probably will not do that.)

What This Costs

Everyone wants to know how much they can save by booting Comcast.  I’ll post some numbers just for fun.  I’m going to do this two ways.  First I am going to figure out what the hardware I have in use today cost me.  Then I’m going to figure out how much of my Comcast savings have been sunk into this experiment.  Let’s start with what I am using right now…

  • High Speed Internet: $46.99/month
  • Netgear R6300: $150
  • OOMA Hub/Scout/Lifetime: $205
  • DB8e: $100
  • Stellar Labs 30-2476: 2@$34.99 ea or $70
  • EDA-2800: $55
  • RCA TVPRAMP1R: $22
  • Channel Master DVR+ (3): $525
  • TiVo Roamio OTA (3): $900
  • TiVo Mini (2): $260
  • Simple DVR w/Lifetime (4): $380
  • PlayOn/PlayLater/HD Plugins: $90
  • Roku 2 XS (2): $140
  • BDP-S5200: $60
  • Fire TV (2): $175
  • Fire Stick: $48

So, you can have what I have for $3180 plus $47 per month.  Is that a good deal?  Let’s assume everything lasts five years or 60 months.  That’s $53 + $47 or $100/month.  Today, I priced out the least expensive Comcast package I could get with DVR capability on nine televisions and the price was $192/month, so you would save $92 per month or $5520 over five years.


You have to kiss a lot of frogs, so the hardware I am using now is not  my total spend.  I have two complete antenna setups — one in the attic and one on the roof.  Let’s see how much I actually spent…

  • High Speed Internet: $46.99/month
  • Netgear R6300: $150
  • OOMA Hub/Scout/Lifetime: $205
  • 91XG (2): $124
  • DB8: $74
  • DB8e (2): $210
  • Y5-7-13: $30
  • Y10-7-13: $60
  • Stellar Labs 30-2476 (4): $140
  • EDA-2800: $55
  • RCA TVPRAMP1R (2): $44
  • CM-7777: $50
  • Mast: $135
  • DTVPal DVR (5): $1000
  • Channel Master DVR+ (3): $525
  • TiVo Roamio OTA (3): $900
  • TiVo Mini (2): $260
  • Simple DVR w/Lifetime (7): $556
  • PlayOn/PlayLater/HD Plugins: $90
  • Roku 2 XS (3): $210
  • Roku LT (3): $128
  • SMP-N200 (4): $200
  • BDP-S5100: $52
  • BDP-S5200 (2): $120
  • Fire TV (2): $151
  • Fire Stick (2): $48
  • Insignia BD Player (5): $300

So, it looks like I have spent about $5817 since the project began.  Is that a good deal?  Let’s assume everything lasts five years or 60 months.  That’s $96.95 + $47 or $144/month.  Recently, I priced out the least expensive Comcast package I could get with DVR capability on nine televisions and the price was $192/month, so you would save $48 per month or $2880 over five years.  Of course, this is a cumulative list including replacement hardware, so this spend is over 78 months which comes out to $3744.

For the record, it’s been six years and six months since I made a payment to Comcast.  During that time, I have had four DTVPal DVRs and one Insignia BD Player fail (I’m not sure about one of my Simple DVRs).  For most of the hardware, five years is a pretty conservative estimate of life expectancy.


10 thoughts on “My Network

  1. Pingback: Doing the Math | Free TV For Me!

    • sure, it you click Tv 2, you can see my report. i have two local vhf stations. both are northwest of me. all of my uhf stations are south of me. so, i joined a uhf db8e pointed south to a vhf y5-7-13 pointed northwest to pull in the most stations possible without a rotor. My house happens to run north south and the antennas are in my attic, so i point the uhf out the south peak and the vhf antenna out the north peak. recently a joined a second vhf antenna pointed northeast to pull in a portland maine channel (heroes and icons is a sub of their abc affiliate). This is not supposed to work well, but it does. That antenna is a y10-7-13 which has better range and a narrower beam, but it is pointing directly at the tv station. you can look at my tvfool report and the list of channels i pull in (under My Network). I think they work very well given my range and the fact that only a few stations are LOS.


  2. Any chance you are available for some assistance? I just recently added an RCA pre-amp to my antenna and managed to capture a few extra channels – but they come in and out so much it makes watching them impossible. I’m wondering if adding a better antenna would help or if I’m just too far away from the stations.


  3. Let’s start with your TVFool report. All of your stations are 1edge or 2edge. 1edge means there is one obstruction between your antenna and the broadcasting antenna. 2edge means there are AT LEAST two obstructions. LOS or Line Of Sight is ideal. Tropo relies on weather conditions — worst case. Note that WPSO has an adjacent channel warning and that WWCP has a co-channel warning. In either situation, reception may be adversely affected.

    WATM is your strongest channel. It is UHF and carries ABC, a simulcast of WWCP (FOX), ThisTV (movies and retro tv), and Antenna TV (retro tv). That’s a pretty great channel. It’s at 196. WTAJ (CBS) is also at 196. So is WJAC (NBC, MeTV, Comet, and Grit TV). WPSU is a pretty good station carrying the main PBS feed plus Create and World, but it is at 346 and 109. You might be able to pull it in, but you ought to think hard about how much you would watch those channels because that makes things more difficult. If you have or are willing to purchase a Roku or a Fire TV, you can stream a lot of PBS content.

    You do not mention what direction your antenna is pointed towards, if it points out a peak or through the roof or what the roof is made of. Get a compass and try to point your antenna a little west of south to see if we can get all those stations.

    Since your reception got worse after adding the pre-amp, let’s look at that first. Power to the preamp should be between the splitter and the antenna. Some splitters will not pass DC to power the amp. If that is OK, remove the preamp, its power supply, and the splitter so you just have coax from the antenna to one of the televisions. You may need a barrel connector. They look like this…

    If you have wall plates with coax connectors, use the barrel connector from the plate. If that makes things better, hook up the splitter. If things are still OK, you need to look at the pre-amp. It may be that the power supply is not putting out power or that the amp it self has failed. (BTW, you need to keep an extra amp in the house. I had an amp fail as I was packing for a week of business travel. Had it installed in ten minutes.)

    Let me know how it goes.


    • Ah sorry, I guess I wasn’t entirely clear there. When I connected the Xbox OTA adapter I did a search and found the extra channels. The next night and following week or so they were gone. I then bought the preamp and connected it and got the channels back, but they go in and out sometimes (and seem to freeze up etc). My antenna is pointed a little west of South. I pulled my house up on google maps to know the general direction and then used a compass.

      My house consists of Comcast cable (just economy speed), Netflix, Amazon Prime, a Chromecast on each TV, and an Xbox One with the OTA adapter.

      Before the preamp I think the WPSU/PBS came in a bit stronger. Unfortunately I got rid of my one TV that would tell me the signal strength – I don’t believe my two current TV’s will show me anything (both Vizio)… I don’t think the Xbox shows me that sort of information either.

      I do have wall plates, and I did try the preamp with a coaxial bullet so that I bypassed the splitter – that seemed to be about the same.

      Very interesting the 1edge/2edge thing. I just looked up tropo – very interesting.

      I used to work as a Software Engineer/Developer for a satellite amplifier company (creating automated tests/temperature compensation routines/monitor and control applications, etc)… so some of the verbage isn’t too over my head.

      So with all of that in mind, I kind of figured at this point if I wanted to improve my situation I have a couple of options. I could purchase a better/bigger antenna or I could move my antenna to the outside. Unfortunately I don’t think my wife will go for the antenna outside (even though the back of the house faces south). She claims it is an eyesore and makes us look ‘dated’….. Anyways, I’m always hesitant to purchase more/better equipment for fear I spend $50-150 and end up with the same quality of signal and same channels. If I knew there was a good chance I could improve things, then I would probably take it.


  4. I use a HDHomeRun as my signal meter…

    When you say the channels were found, did you actually watch them or did they simply show up in the guide? It may get the guide over the internet based on your zip code.

    People say that putting an antenna in the attic reduces signal by half. I have not experienced that. The rule of thumb seems to be a little too generalized to me. If you are shooting through uninsulated walls (through the peak), I would expect signal to be about the same. Obviously there is a bit of a height advantage. Unless you can see over trees from your roof or your house has a metal roof or two layers of shingles, or your attic walls have foil backed insulation, I do not think you will gain (see what I did there) much by going on the roof.

    Did you notice my antenna is on an IV tree? I like it because I can easily reorient, adjust the height of, or reposition my antenna. Professional installers call this ‘walking the roof’. If you can take a small television up to the attic and plug it directly into the antenna, you may be able to find a better orientation. You can also inject power to your amp right in the attic (while you have power for the TV). That will eliminate bad cable runs and connectors.

    I have had good luck with DB8 style antennas in my attic. The DB8e can be positioned with one panel facing in a different direction than the other — maybe pointing one at WPSU.

    If you are trying to look less retro and have to go on the roof, check this out…


  5. Pingback: Dealing with TV Rebroadcast Negotiations | Free TV For Me!

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