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Topic:
Measuring Cable TV Signal Strength
This thread has 55 replies. Displaying posts 1 through 15.
Post 1 made on Thursday July 20, 2006 at 01:46
BigWood
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Please no laughing in the isles, no rolling on the floor. I have searched this fourm and have come up empty handed. I was always taught that if I had a question, ask it and move on, do not be afraid.

What do you good people use to measure cable tv signal strength, and is it affordable?

I have a signal problem in my home and i am tired of hearing that it is "my wiring".
My wiring is fine, hook directly to feed from street, same probblem.

I want to have my own measurments when "Larry the butt crack cable guy" shows up to try to condem my many hours of sweatin in the attic. Everything is homerun with a spool of their own cable that accidently fell off his truck.

Problem is on some channels on my boxes i am getting no picture or severley pixilated one. On the analog channles hooked direct to tv (no box) the picture comes in fuzzy on the same channels, my deduction, poor signal. My neighbor is bitching also of the same thing.

I love information, love obtaining it, and like to have my facts before I run my hole.

There is all kinds of stuff for reading and finding satalites, but not much out there labled for cable strength.

Am I thinking about this to hard, cause its hurting. I just want some factual peice of mind before I waste a day waiting for cable guy to show up.

Am I also possibly missing something stupid that maybe i did that should be pointed out to me before I make that call? I don't think so, but maybe.

I know this is way basic for you guys & gals and appreciate any help I can get.

Mike

Be Good Humans
| On 1403034330, Fins said...

| I really want to kick the architect in the nuts and take his wallet (I hear that helps)
Post 2 made on Thursday July 20, 2006 at 02:18
AHEM
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Mike,

There's a few good RF meters out there on the market, but do you really want to spend $1-2K just to prove your point?

If the problem is apparent at the street, why not hook a direct line from the street to the television and show the cable company that the problem's not inside the house?

There's no point in losing sleep while trying to figure out ways of making the cable installers understand. You're dealing with the lowest common denominator here.
Post 3 made on Thursday July 20, 2006 at 03:20
idodishez
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Or,.... just switch to satellite.

Obviously biased here, but you wont have any more of the PQ differences depending on what channel you're on.
No, I wont install your plasma with an orange extension cord hanging down the wall.

www.customdigitalinc.com
Post 4 made on Thursday July 20, 2006 at 06:48
wireman_095
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I could use some more information, What kind of cable? (All coax is not created equal)
How long are the runs? How are you splitting the signal? What is the frequency range of the splitter your using ? How many runs are hooked up? How are you boosting the signal?
All of these make a difference.
The easiest way to check the signal is with one TV hooked to the cable at the point where the cable comes into the house (not splitter). Radio Shack makes a cheap RF adjustable attenuator, use it between the TV and cable. If all the channels work ok, start adding more attenuation until the signal gets bad. Most TV's (Not perfect) start to show a bad picture at -10 db. Based on your attenuation setting and the TV picture your can kinda figure what the signal strength is coming in. You would like to see between 0 and 10 coming into the house. 0 being not great but workable and 10 being the "The great white hope".
Good luck
Post 5 made on Thursday July 20, 2006 at 07:26
djnorm
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You can probably pick up a cable meter on eBay for less than 1k... The running a wire from your TV out to the connection at the street is a good idea if you have the wire just lying around... We actually have an old spool with 200' of coax with ends on it on the truck just for such occasions.
Post 6 made on Thursday July 20, 2006 at 08:50
Fred Harding
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I'm operating on the assumption that you aren't going to use this tool on a regular basis.

If you are, don't read the rest of this post; go buy a field strenth meter.

If it's a one time deal, take the cheap way.

Go to the demarcation point (where cable comes into the house). Discconnect the splitter mechanism AFTER labeling your wires. Hook up a small tv and check for signal strength. Does the picture look good on all your channels? If no, you need to talk to the cable folks and have them increase the signal coming in to the house. If yes, then add an amplifier. What size? Look at the splitter/splitters; remember that splitters diminish signal strength. For crude purposes, a 2 way takes away 4 dB; an 8 way takes away 12 dB. You want to compensate for the loss that the splitter network causes. Remember, signal also is lost over distance, so if the house is big, subtract about 6 dB for each 100 feet.
On the West Coast of Wisconsin
Post 7 made on Thursday July 20, 2006 at 08:57
Trunk-Slammer -Supreme
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Fred beat me to it.....

Sometimes the simple way eludes us...

But I would say that if the picture is good outside, then MAKE the cable company install the amplifier at the demarc. After all, it's their responsibility.
Post 8 made on Thursday July 20, 2006 at 09:11
modom
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How many ways is the signal being split?
What kind of connectors did you use?
If it's new cable with the proper connectors and if you used the right tools to install them , it might be a bad splitter or bad jumpers from the wall to the equipment or a bad surge protector.
Mark
Post 9 made on Thursday July 20, 2006 at 10:01
Audible Solutionns
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In this day many cable techs have field signal strength meters. In the old days it was all signal level. In these days of digital cable I have seen many systems that had enough amplitude ( signal ) but something was wrong with the digital carrier. Many older perfectly fine meters ( such as my Comsonics ) that have not been upgraded will not measure the digital carrier. All the old saws about signal loss ( and hence the questions about how many splitters ) will not work. Sure you still need sufficient signal at the display at all frequancies. But you also need to know the signal strength of the digital carrier and that means you will need an expensive meter. Even a good satellite meter costs a bit. I paid 1200 form mine though you can find a few DBS meters on the market for 60. The problem is that when the new satellites come on line (and there are always new satellites coming on line) you need to measure them too.

Do either of two things. Force the cable company to come out and measure the signal at the drop and at any TV 100 ft from that drop. Or hire a pro who has the requiste meter and pay him the money to do the same measurements. Or pay for a digital field signal strength meter that also measures the digital carrier. Wavtek charges about 3200 and Comsonics 2400 for theirs. When I asked about upgrading my older unit I was told 500 but it only measures one carrier not all of them. If I wanted a unit that worked on all digital carriers I'd have to order a new unit. I did not.

Alan
"This is a Christian Country,Charlie,founded on Christian values...when you can't put a nativiy scene in front fire house at Christmas time in Nacogdoches Township, something's gone terribly wrong"
Post 10 made on Thursday July 20, 2006 at 10:19
studiocats1
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Cheaper RF meters can be found here.

[Link: elexp.com]

These are cool too.

[Link: elexp.com]
Post 11 made on Thursday July 20, 2006 at 10:23
studiocats1
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More on what Alan is talking about here.

[Link: en.wikipedia.org]
Post 12 made on Thursday July 20, 2006 at 12:16
tweeterguy
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You can also perform this test for signal strength on a per channel basis if you are using SA boxes running SARA (others may as well, but my experience is with SARA). Tune to the desired channel you want to monitor. On the front of the unit hold select button until mail icon flashes. Press info. You will now have pages and pages of data that not even the brightest of us can or needs to understand. All you are worried about is QAM. Look through the pages until you see the QAM level. This is the signal level for this specific. Acceptible levels are between -10dB and +10dB.
- Chris
Post 13 made on Thursday July 20, 2006 at 12:17
Fred Forlano
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On July 20, 2006 at 10:23, studiocats1 said...
More on what Alan is talking about here.

[Link: en.wikipedia.org]

Ow, my head hurts!

j/k...good article. Someone else posted a FAQ about a month back that had some good basic RF/db info for beginners. I'll see if I can find it and post it, but if someone has it handy, please feel free to beat me to the punch.

Fred
"I have been marked once, my dear and let me assure you, no needle shall ever touch my skin again." -- Erik Magnus Lensherr (Magneto)
Post 14 made on Thursday July 20, 2006 at 13:06
Mr. Stanley
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On July 20, 2006 at 01:46, BigWood said...
Problem is on some channels on my boxes i am getting
no picture or severley pixilated one. On the analog
channles hooked direct to tv (no box) the picture
comes in fuzzy on the same channels, my deduction,
poor signal. My neighbor is bitching also of
the same thing.

I'll wager a bet that the problem is with one of the CABLE company distribution amps coming into the neighborhood, or an amp is full of water!!!
"If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger."
Frank Lloyd Wright
Post 15 made on Thursday July 20, 2006 at 17:21
avbydesign
Active Member
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674
The bad news!

You have to quit guessing. To much power and to little power all look the same. I used to struggle with this also.

Buy a low end Sencore meter. I have about $1,300.00 in mine. I really takes the guesss work out of the situation.

Someone else mentioned the water in the outside down the street cable enclosure. I'll go with that. More times than not, and if your neighbor has the same problem, it's the local provider, not your wiring.

A hint: call and tell them that the signal makes a popping noise and it sounds really loud. If your cable company is good, that will bring the senior techs running to your location.

Good luck

Mike
Mike Gibler
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