I have a 4 tuner Fire TV Recast. Everything has been working great, except that I seem to get intermittent pixelation on VHF channel 13 in my area (broadcasting on that channel).
I have an antenna pointed at the stations, going to a two way splitter. One line goes to recast, the other to another TV upstairs. What's strange is that the TV upstairs is having none of the pixelation issues, but recast seems to just pixelate, lose picture, but then restore and continue on fine. I tried the recast at a completely different location (15 miles away at my parents house), and had the same issue. It would be reasonable to assume that it's the signal that bad, but because that's the case in two different locations, and that another tv from the same antenna feed is not having issues, could it be something with recast's handling of VHF channel 13? VHF channel 12 has a channel in our area, and not experiencing issues there (though I didn't test for as long as 13).
Is there any way to diagnose what's going on? Is there any way to enable some kind of debugging screen to see what the signal strength is for that channel? The other TV (upstairs) has 100% strength for that channel. Could it be a bum recast unit? Makes no sense, because no other channels seem to be affected. Is there anything special about high VHF? The issue seems to be worse at night... I read some internet chatter that air circulation could make TV signal worse in early evening/night but I couldn't find any reputable report as to why.
This is really a bummer, because recast has been working great, except for this channel 13 issue. Has anyone else had issues with digital VHF signal tuning?
What's even bigger bummer is that this station is transitioning to VHF channel 11 in 2020... but that's a whole year away.
Different tuners have different sensitivity. I was using a desktop computer when I was testing antennas and it appears RF leakage from the computer caused some TV stations to vanish entirely. When using a laptop to test the antennas I had no such problem. Is your Recast located near a source of interference?
You don't give us any details about your location. It could be that station doesn't transmit with much power. Maybe you don't have an antenna that's appropriate for VHF reception. If you don't use the splitter does the Recast work ok? Do you amplify your antenna?
On a side note: to determine signal strength I was using an app that comes with the WinTV software available with most Hauppauge TV tuners.
The antenna I am using is an RCA ANT751E (used a compass to point it). The cable run from the antenna to the indoor outlet is between 25-35 feet, with a well insulated RG6, so I did not do an amplifier. I tested without a splitter at my home location (there was no difference, still had pixelation). The station is WJZ in Baltimore. It's a CBS station. I think it's a major station so I can't imagine they're broadcasting with low power, but I don't know.
The reason the station is moving channels is because parts of VHF 13 were sold to cell phone companies, and many TV broadcasters are moving out of that band (depends on your area, I guess). It's something to do with FCC band auction, I am not sure, but Wikipedia lists that WJZ is moving to VHF 11 by 2020. Doesn't help me this year, but maybe after, assuming I don't have issues on VHF 11 :)
I am surprised recast has no signal strength indicators. At least to see what it thinks the signal strength is... I could then at least try to adjust the antenna, maybe a different angle or something could help.
So, after installing the Amazon FireTV App on your phone/tablet, registering the Recast, and setting it up, does it not give you the option on how to position your antenna? The slightest movement in antenna placement greatly effects the received OTA signal. It takes usually many attempts at location of antenna to get overall desired results for all channels. You could even put in an Antenna rotation device to select antenna movement remotely from within the house.
Have you tried the Ethernet connection, or are you using the WiFi aspect of the Recast?
What FireTv Device are you using to view the Recast signal?
Ok, I'm stumped. Antenna seems to be a proven design. Interference from nearby radio stations? At 7 miles you should be able to pick it up with rabbit ears. What about aiming in the opposite direction for the stations 28 miles away?
Roginator, that's actually what I tried: pointed antenna south... I didn't get any interference yet. I'll have to check over the next few days but I am not sure the two are related. My antenna is in the attic though, not outside, so that probably does reduce the reception, but as you said, at that distance, even rabbit ears works.
Oneacer_: I use Fire TV Stick 2nd gen. I just bought the 4K version and hope it will be better. I did try ethernet for the recast, but the channel switching was actually slower than wireless. I think recast might form a direct recast->stick connection and bypass the router, and that might actually be faster than my router being a mid point. I don't have an ethernet adapter for the fire stick.
I just wanted to make sure there is no other folks having similar issues. Because if it's just me, chances are, it has to be signal strength or something like that. This channel is the worst one of all of them. I am getting most channels using a small TERK antenna that's just a plain square, even VHF, but not 13... The only thing that threw me was the other TV that didn't have problems, that's why I was worried about the recast. But I can get most CBS programming from the DC station, except football. I guess I'll give it a week and see how it works out.
It is one of those channels which did not migrate from VHF to UHF frequencies in 2009. I believe the TV stations which remained in the VHF band are severely power limited so as not to interfere with the new licensed users in the VHF band. In my area one major network remained (ABC) and PBS remained on VHF as LPTV. They are about 10th the transmitting power of the others in the area or a 50% signal reduction. As a result on rainy days the VHF stations (only) here are pixelated occasionally.
Here's my TVFool output. In my area it isn't very accurate. I use a Clearstream 2V (discontinued) aimed north through a second floor window. No amplification. Most antennas I had couldn't pick up the station on channel 7. I'm not in an area with much radio interference. The stations 15.5 miles away are blocked by a hospital building.
I can get the two nearest stations easily anywhere in the house. I had pixelation on PBS channel 8 last week -- either due to a snowstorm between me and the tower or temporarily reduced power. The station engineer never got back to me.
I'm thinking your problem station might not be operating at the power level suggested by TVFool - judging by how inaccurate my chart is.
I’m having the same issue with CBS WJZ-13 Baltimore (VHF 13). I live 19.3 miles from the station tower. I’ve been troubleshooting this issue ever since I hooked my Recast on 11/14/18. Let me start by saying the lack of a signal meter in the recast make this issue so much harder to diagnose. The picture comes in great majority of the time but it pixelates and drops out every 3-5 minutes. I have a “Winegard Platinum Series HD7694P” antenna mounted in my attic pointed at Baltimore. I only have about 15 feet of coax cable from the antenna to the recast.
Naturally I thought the issue was due to a weak antenna signal. I’ve tried 3 different antennas and a “Winegard LNA-200 Booster” and I still get the same results with WJZ-13.
I ended up purchasing a used “HDHomeRun Connect Duo” just for the signal meter feature on their PC application. I was surprised to learn that the signal was very strong.
I’ve been reading in the other OTA forums and they claim that too strong of a signal can also cause pixilation and interference.
I recently added four (2-way splitters) [-14dB] between the antenna and the recast reducing my signal strength level down to 89%. I have noticed that the other levels are now at 100% and appear to be stable. It still fluctuates at times but overall the stability has improved. I’m going to give it a few days to a week to see how it performs and will let you know of my results.
Trying to reduce the signal strength by using the splitters didn't help with the pixelation on WJZ-13. Might have to look into RF attenuators.
Something like that happened to me when I set up the Recast. I had an old Motorola cable TV amplifier laying around and had attached it to my antenna cable. It probably wasn't designed for TV frequencies, but it seemed to help with the weaker antennas. I had to take it out to get one station on the Recast.
@Brandon1627 Thanks so much for this update. It's good to hear that I am not the only one with the issue, because that means the recast unit is actually fine. I am having the issue with the same CBS station (WJZ). Can you tell me if HDHomeRun had the same pixelation with the "strong" signal? Do you have both now? I have considered HDHomeRun since I don't care that much for DVR functionality, but I wasn't sure about the quality of their app, and I found the Recast integration with Fire Stick to be very good (in addition to the guide that seems better than HDHomeRun).
What's interesting is that NBC 11 is on VHF as well, Physical Channel 12, I think, and I see NONE of the issues. WJZ is supposed to transition to VHF channel 11 in 2020, and I am hoping then, I won't even have to care as much about this issue, but that's still a long time away. The issue for me is I am trying to get DC stations as well, so I don't want to weaken the signal too much, but once Football season is over, I don't really need DC stations.
Recast's lack of debugging information is very frustrating. I wish they had a "pro" screen with all this info. I also found no way to reach recast support on amazon's website, because I think the devs can probably address this with a software patch.
I am going to try your splitter idea now and see what happens tonight. Has it been stable for you? Have you compared HDHomeRun quality to recast to see how they compare?
I tried putting a splitter in between (it's an 8 way splitter, so quite a bit of loss) with not much difference. Channel, surprisingly, comes in well (without pre-amp) but still same pixelation and loss.
Thank you for the links. This will definitely help to pinpoint the issue. I'm leaning towards interference from something, possible FM/LTE or too strong of a signal.
Unfortunately trying to reduce the signal strength by using the splitters didn't help with the pixelation on WJZ-13. The issue seems to come and go at random. Some days its fine, other days it just for an hour or so and some days its unbearable regardless of the weather. I experience the same pixelation when using the HDHomeRun. NBC on VHF 11 comes in great. I'm thinking that there is something out there that's interfering with VHF 13 in my area. I just haven't been able to pinpoint the cause. I don't notice any quality difference between the Recast and the HDHomeRun. I like the Recast because it has a nicer interface and guide plus its integrated into my FireStick menu.
I'm also pulling the stations from DC to get the Redskins game through a second antenna. Here's my current setup.
Roginator, thanks for those links. Very good explanations and ideas.
Brandon1627, I have very similar setup: RCA ANT751 and Antennas Direct DB4E. I don't have a VHF kit on DB4E so the idea was to have RCA as a VHF and DB4E as a UHF, combined. They worked well together. But pointing just RCA at DC was actually giving me pretty much the same signal. Using JUST DB4E does not get me DC stations an still provides issues on CBS 13. (I was concerned that maybe I mounted the antennas to close together, but I wasn't getting ghosting or other issues)
I do think it's something with the recast, because when I connect directly to TV, I don't see any pixelation or cut-outs. Do you see the issues if you skip recast and connect directly to TV? However, it's interesting that HDHomeRun seems to have the same issue on CBS 13. I have set up my parents with the same RCA antenna and a recast, and they have the same issue with CBS 13 (and I mounted that antenna outside, not the attic). So that's 3 different locations, with the same identical issue. The only variables that seem to be constant are "recast" and "CBS 13"...
I am having the same issues with channel 20 in the Indianapolis area. Again antenna into TVs no problem, antenna thru recast to TV periodic pixelation, drop outs and then back to a perfect picture till the next occurrence. And 20 is one of my strongest stations, signal wise.
I think you guys are on to something. I connected the antenna directly to my TV and VHF 13 (WJZ) comes in perfect with no pixelation. I wonder if there is some signal overload issue with the Recast? Maybe it's more sensitive to stronger signals.
I ordered some RF attenuators and a LTE filter that only passes (5 - 699 MHz) to eliminate possible interference from outside the normal VHF/UHF range. Should arrive later this week. I have my eye on a FM block that filters out (88 - 108 MHz). At this point i'm running out of ideas here, lol
Welcome to the thread. Is channel 20 virtual or real channel (VHF or UHF)?
I haven't contacted the station engineer. I wouldn't expect them to provide much support if any.
I have the same issue with pixelation on channel 13 from Baltimore. It is my strongest station signal wise, just over 30db and works fine on on built in TV tuners and a Hauppauge hd quad in a HTPC. It seems to me it is the inability of the Recast to deal with too strong of a signal. I have to wonder if changing the antenna distance in the initial setup to more or less of a distance would help. One other thing I have tried that seemed to help was unplug the power to the mast mounted preamp which made all other channels to weak but I think did help on 13.