Using a TV Tuner Card to build a PC based DVR for Recording OTA Free TV
You can use your home computer to capture and record free TV using an Over-the-Air Antenna!
Since 2009, United States ttelevision programs have been broadcast Over-the-Air (OTA) exclusively in digital format. This means that HD signal is available for free in many locations using an indoor or outdoor TV antenna. Goodbye snowy picture!
If you’re already using a digital antenna to watch local programming, and you currently use a PC to stream video to your TV, you may be interested in purchasing a TV tuner card.
What’s a TV tuner card, you ask? Well, a tuner card is a peripheral that can be easily added to nearly any home computer to record free broadcast TV directly to your device. That’s right! You’ll be able to pause, rewind or fast forward your local programming exactly the way you would with an expensive cable or satellite box, without any of those pesky monthly expenses!
Did someone say it’s Football Season?
Record your favorite NFL games and watch them on your own time, and or commercial free. With a setup like this you can not only get Sunday and Thursday Football for free in HD, but you can watch a standard 3 hour game in an hour and a half. Learn more about watching NFL for free in HD
FIVE STEPS TO CONNECTING YOUR ANTENNA TO MULTIPLE TVs
Free HDTV on Every Screen in Your Home
First of all congratulations! If you are reading this post you are ahead of the masses, and have realized OTA (Over-the-Air) TV is an amazing alternative to Cable TV. Now you are looking for a way to push your free HD TV signal to multiple TVs in your house.
Mohu Antennas are the #1 Selling Antennas on Amazon for a Reason!
2. Connect the Coaxial Cable to a RF Coaxial Splitter.
Once you have your Antenna all hooked up, the next thing you need to do is connect a coaxial splitter. This is an inexpensive device that will split your OTA signal into multiple sub-signals, allowing you to push free TV broadcasting to multiple TVs.
Worth noting here is that splitting the signal can results is a 50% drop in signal strength (3.5db). Furthermore, every additional split will continue to decrease the overall signals strength. So if you have a weak or marginal signal coming from your antenna, splitting it will have a negative effect. This also means that if you only need a two-way splitter, don’t use a 4-way splitter because you’re losing more signal strength with every unused output.
Finally the more distance the signal has to travel, the weaker the signal becomes. So less feet in coaxial cable, means stronger signal, equating to better picture quality.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; you won’t even know if splitting the signal will cause problem – until you test it.
Side Note: Be careful with 3 way splitters. Signal loss can vary substantially across the three outputs. Meaning if used, two TVs could work fine, while the third would suffer from a weaker signal. I did some research and found an example of a Splitter that addresses this issue: the Monster Standard RF Splitter.
Click here to read the reviews: “If you are looking for a 3-way splitter with equal signal loss on all 3 outputs, for $12 this is a good value.”
I dont suggest connecting more than one TV at a time because if something goes wrong you wont know where the issue is. As I eluded too above, we are trying to remove as many variables as possible from the installation. If done correctly, this method will allow us to troubleshoot any hiccups, more effectively.
4. Connect the 2nd TV
Once you got the first TV working as expected, then hook up your 2nd TV. If successful go ahead and connect three TVs. And again, test the signal. If any point during these steps you notice that you have lost signal strength, it is time look into buying an amplifier. If this is not an issue, YOU ARE DONE my friend.
5. Determining if you Need a Coaxial Amplifier
I don’t suggest starting out with an amplifier because some antennas come with built in amplifiers that can easily support multiple TVs.
“The reason we want to first try installing without amplifiers first is signal overload. If the signal is strong from the tower, too much amplification can overload the tuner and cause the TV tuner not to receive the channel. Amplification should always be seen as a way to improve reception, not installed by default.” Grounded Reason
When buying an amplifier you need to understand that there are two basic types:
PRE Amplifiers amplifies the signal received by the antenna into the down cable. It should not be anywhere but on the original antenna cable right at the antenna.
Channel Master Amplify Adjustable Gain PreAmplifier – By design, this PreAmplifier can boost signal strength on any Indoor or Outdoor Antenna on the market. Professional grade, easy to install, TV antenna amplifier. Buy Direct
DISTRIBUTION Amplifiers allows you to redistribute that signal through multiple outputs, while maintaining the same signal strength.
Tip: Read the Amazon reviews on the Channel Master 3414 4 Outputs Distribution Amplifier. This thing is a beast!
If you would rather not deal with an amplifier all together, the Sky from Mohu for example, is small, powerful outdoor antenna that can provide uncompressed HD broadcast to multiple televisions in a home (also has a rang of 60 miles by the way).
If you would rather go wireless, and stream your OTA signal across your entire home, to every WiFi connected device, then check out the HDHomeRun.
If you have already connected multiple TVs to your antenna, what suggestions do you have for us. What did I miss? Cheers!