De-Comcasting: What’s that hanging off your house dude?

HDTV Antenna

Antenna

I bought some 1 foot 3/4 inch plumbing pipes,  2 90 degree elbows and 2 flanges, painted the mess with white paint and used concrete screws, and a masonry bit to put 8 screws in the stucco.  This will definitely hold!  I installed the antenna and pointed it in the generally correct direction. I purchased 100 feet of raw cable, and a 50 foot pre-made cable and a splitter (1 in, 2 out). I crimped the antenna wire to the new antenna (I use an extech cable tester for networking, figure if it could work for ethernet, its good to go for cable) and terminated it outside the house.  I then split the cable and wired one end along side the house and through the garage to where my Comcast connection is.  In the future, when I make the cut with comcast I can feed other TVs inside my house with the antenna signals.

Adding an antenna to an existing TIVO setup

This one took some investigation, you have to return to guided setup to add an antenna.  Your recorded programs are safe, in addition to your to season manager settings (although I talk about this more).  Be warned, this takes between 30 minutes and an hour to finish. so make sure you’re not recording anything.  Connect the new cable wire to the ‘antenna’ connector on the back of the tivo and start the guided setup.

When the process is complete you will have an integrated list of both cable and antenna stations.  So I ended up with channel 4 (KRON) from the Cable and channel 4-1 (KRON) from the antenna.  The Tivo will list in the upper right hand corner whether it’s cable or antenna.  Antenna channels generally range from channel 1 to 70, so when you watch live TV on your remote, channels 1-70 are now crowded and confusing.  Some antenna channels have 3-6 stations at the same number; so KQED has stations 9-1 through 9-5 and this is repeated for each digital channel.  I took a note pad and a pencil and I carefully scrolled through the channel listings and deleted the duplicate channels by removing the cable channel.  This will prepare me for cutting the cable cord.  This can be trickier than you expect, for example the Local NBC station is at channel 3 on cable, but channel 11 via antenna.  So delete 3 and keep 11-1 and 11-2 🙂

One issue that I’ve encountered before but will hit you like a baseball bat is I just essentually killed your season manager.  If you don’t do anything right now, your season manager will reactivate your deleted station to record your existing show on the now deleted channel; so when you kill cable altogether all of a sudden your shows won’t record.  If you’re planning on buying a ROKU which I highly recommend, you should now begin an exercise in planning: write down your season manager shows as a way to understand your TV habit.  I created an excel spreadsheet with the Show name, Was it on Hulu Plus, Was it on Netflix instant, was it available to purchase on Amazon, was it on netflix but I needed to get a DVD, and finally could I delete the episodes I currently have from my TIVO because the content was easily available on Hulu Plus.

Having 5 people in our house here was our prioritized list:

  1. Glee
  2. Community
  3. NCIS
  4. Frontline
  5. PBS Independent lens
  6. How I met your mother
  7. So You Think You Can Dance
  8. Project Runway
  9. My Boys
  10. Castle
  11. NOVA
  12. PBS Newshour
  13. Mythbusters
  14. American Masters
  15. American Experience
  16. Saturday Night Live
  17. Friends
  18. Bones
  19. Ken Burns American Stories
  20. The Daily Show
  21. Studio 42 with Bob Costas
  22. This American Life

 

So at this point to convert your Season manager to use the antenna, you need to re-add the show using the antenna channel as the season manager.  Remember to change any of the default recording options (like I want more than 5 shows), and reorder the list to add the same show with the new channel above your old entry, then delete your old entry.  What a pain in the butt, but once it’s done you’re not going to be screwed when you disconnect your cable.  Your Tivo conversion should now be complete.

Roku

While I was messing with my entertainment center, I installed a Roku.  This thing is awesome!  It supports lots of ‘channels’ some are free, some you pay for.  To begin with, it supports netflix and amazon video on-demand.  So, I linked my netflix account to it, then linked my amazon account to it.  Cool.  So far no money.  Next I signed up for Hulu Plus ($7.99/month), on my season manager, Glee, Castle, Nova, american experience, saturday night live, bones, and the daily show have all of this year’s episodes.  The only downside is you have to watch a few 30 second ads with a timer to tell you when your pain will be over.  At this point we are trading $7.99 a month for $800-$900 of a new tivo with more space to hold these shows.

Next I checked out amazon TV shows and we can pay $1.99 for non-hd versions of any show you want to watch.   I signed up for MLB.TV which is on the ROKU for $99 a season and I’ll see how useful it is.

My son got real excited at TED tv, free on the roku; he told me it has great content.  Saw one show with the egyptian google guy and it was interesting.  We also found ROKU Newscaster which support Al Jazeera among many others, which we can’t get on cable! Cool!  Finally Roku supports pandora, so we are listening to awesome sounding music on our entertainment system.

Problems and Issues

It rained today and weak antenna stations were breaking up.  Ah, the wonder of weather; I forgot about this one.  However, with so little rain in the bay area, this will only be a temporary, occasional issue.

If our internet goes down, we will lose a lot of TV content as we get addicted to ROKU.

Unrestrained teenage use of amazon TV to replace cable TV for shows could be expensive.  Project runway at 14 episodes will be $28 a year.  If my teenagers and young adults use amazon a lot, we should probably reconnect the damned cable. 🙂

That’s all for now….

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