Wednesday, November 07, 2007

This one is kind of geeky

I like to keep myself occupied with surfing the internet, talking to my girlfriend, watching terrible movies, TV shows, and of course, lots of sports. But I find that those things don’t necessarily take up all my time. This requires that I engage in plenty of projects and activities to help fill up the rest of the time. Then, before I know it, I don’t have enough time any more. It’s a catch 22, but I’d rather be busy than bored.

Every once in awhile I get the chance to combined my projects with my already existing activities. Lately, the Mythbox has taken a priority and I’m happy to say that I’ve got a pretty nice setup. I’m watching free, over the air HD television. In my area, there are approximately 30+ HD channels that are free and over the air. You really can’t put a price on that, but if you had to, it would be around $10. That’s approximately how much it cost me to build the antenna that I use to receive these glorious signals. When I did some research online to find an antenna, they were going for around $100 or so. I thought that was a bit pricey, so I did some more research and found out that you could build one yourself, literally out of coat hangers if you wanted. It sounded too good to be true, but it wasn’t.

Turns out, if you follow the instructions here, you can build yourself a pretty crappy looking, but amazingly effective HD antenna. How effective you ask? Well, it’s based on a $100 antenna that claims to pick up signals from as far as 50 miles from the transmitter. It just so happens that I’m about 70 miles from the transmitter, and I get 95% signal strength on all the channels. Actually, full disclosure, I had to build two antennas and connect them in parallel so that I could properly receive all the channels. FOX broadcasts from a different transmitter, so I had to point one antenna in one direction, with the other pointed in another direction. It’s worked exceptionally well up to this point. There are a few glitches here and there, so I’ve made it my project today to add on a reflector to the back to help boost the signal strength. On rare occasions, mostly during the day, the signal strength goes down into the 60-70% area, which leads to slightly glitchy reception. Not tear your eyes out painful, but kind of annoying.

I’ve purchased some cooling racks to act as the reflectors. It’s really high tech, I know. Both of the antennas that I have built reside in the attic, where they get the best reception, so I don’t ever really have to see them. So the fact that they are hideous monstrosities doesn’t bother anyone because they can’t see them. All they see is the beauty that is HD.

My Mythbox project has reached a fairly advanced state now. I have made it girlfriend friendly, which is a fairly significant step. You can operate the whole thing now with a remote control, so it feels just like a regular DVR. Only it’s so much better… Ok, that’s enough Myth obsession for today.

1 comment:

cadiz12 said...

wow, you're handy! i'm thinking that's probably what's so girlfriend-friendly, not so much the cooling-rack contraption you've got locked up in the attic.