Request for New OTA Setup Assistance

I have a Tablo 4 Tuner and Winegard FL6550A FlatWave Air arriving tomorrow and could use some help with initial set up.  


I plan to run RG6 18 gauge from the Air 50-75’ to the Air powered amp and then 6’ RG6 to Tablo.  Tablo will then split the amped signal to its 4 tuners.  I want to connect with an iPad initially to get Tablo to scan channels. The idea is to use iPad to verify signal quality of channels when moving around the Air to find the best location on the roof for final placement.  I’m hoping Tablo indicates signal strength in the interface that will allow us to fine tune placement.  The channels I want are all broadcast 25 miles or less from my house.  Clear line of sight for most.  I plan to only run OTA through Tablo to 3 TVs.  

I think this will work.  Can you confirm? 

I have 3rd generation Apple TVs and read Tablo works with Apple TVs but am also perplexed as to how it can work.  There is no Tablo app on Apple TV so I’m missing something.  Where can I read up on Tablo / Apple TV integration?  I’ll also be doing this all wirelessly on n since Tablo is limited to n (I have ac capability).  

Any tips or insight would be appreciated.  Meanwhile I’ll continues searching the the large amount of information here. 

Hi @UGADog. I don’t have an Apple TV or iPad, but I can tell you that there is no Apple TV app for Tablo - as Apple wont allow there to be one. 

You can AirPlay from your iPad Tablo app to AppleTV though, which is how Apple folks get Tablo to their big screen.

As regards antenna strength and positioning, I’m afraid the TabloTV app isn’t going to be a huge help. The Tablo app doesn’t have dynamic signal strength indicators, just a static snapshot from when you perform a channel scan. So it is a bit cumbersome and time consuming to use it to fine tune an antenna. 
Once you run the channel scan, you’ll get a series of 5 green dots (for excellent reception) or less than five for somewhere in-between. But this isn’t dynamic, so if you adjust the antenna, those indicators wont change until you re-run the channel scan. This is under the Tablo “Settings” menu BTW.
I can recommend taking a compass (or compass app on your phone/tablet) and using that to point your antenna towards the antenna farm you are trying to capture and see if that doesn’t just get everything you need. Take a look at antennaweb.org and you can see exactly what compass heading you need for each TV station’s antenna.

Lots of smart folks on this site are willing to help you work through any setup issues you run into.
Good luck!
Thanks for your tip on aiming the antenna.  Antennaweb.org and TVFool.com agree on where the main cluster is.  Then there are a few stations further west.  I was just going average them out signal strength wise but am probably overthinking how precise the aim needs to be.  In your opinion, is a 3 dot good enough?  Looking for a benchmark to target and call good enough otherwise my OCD self will spend all day tweaking for improvements that may not matter.   

Tablo AirPlay compatibility only?  Uh oh.  Then Tablo's advertising the product as working on an AppleTV is stretching Tablo's capabilities in my opinion.  Tablo should say it is iOS compatible only I think or AppleTV compatible through AirPlay.  Practically anything without HDCP will AirPlay to AppleTV but that doesn't make my son's app store games AppleTV compatible in my book.  

So is there any way to have Tablo work with one device (AppleTV, Roku, Chromecast, FireTV)?  If so, which options can accept a feed direct from Tableo's tuners?  Or is there always a second device (phone, tablet, PC, Mac) required?  I was expecting to just tune one device an watch but now it seems more complicated than that.

@tablosupport should make this a little clearer so people know what they are buying.  If it is in support pages already, I apologize for overlooking it. Thinking back, it explains why the manual has a "How to use Roku" section only while I was wondering why no AppleTV section.      

There is a Roku channel, and a FireTV app.  The Roku 3 is currently on sale most likely because the Roku 4 will be out soon.  If your TV has a HDMI then Roku 3 is the best.  If no HDMI, then the Roku LT has the RGB output.  If you have a really old tv without RGB connections, then you will need an RF modullator, such as http://www.amazon.com/RadioShack-15-2526-RF-Modulator/dp/B00112JX68/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1426927677&sr=1-2&keywords=rf+modulator. The new Roku channel for Tablo is currently scheduled to be released by the end of this month according to @TabloTV but the beta test on it has not started yet.  See http://support.tablotv.com/hc/en-us/articles/202479393-Chapter-7-Using-Tablo-with-Roku for using Tablo with a Roku.  The Roku channel is in the store now and NOT a private channel like the support page says.  @TabloTV the link about using the Tablo with  Roku still says the Tablo channel is a private channel and mentions Roku interface being different than other devices.  I assume after the new version of the Roku channel is out, the documentation will be updated to match the new channel.

If you buy a HDHomerun there is a iOS app that will display live signal strength when moving/aiming your antenna. That is what I used.


http://genhelp.com/Generally_Helpful_Software/Signal_GH.html

http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GY0UB54/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1




In addition to everyone’s helpful posts above I recommend you split the OTA signal, 1 cable direct to the Tablo and 3 cables directly to the tuners of the HDTV.

This way you can watch live TV directly on the HDTV and not have to tie up a tuner on the Tablo. Plus channel switching is so much faster directly on the HDTV. Just use the Tablo for recording and then playback to devices.

Of course you can also use the Tablo for remote Live TV viewing when you’re away from home. But when at home, just use the HDTV tuner.

WARNING  Assumptions made in this text may not be correct!

I did a quick search for the specs on the Winegard FL6550A antenna, and couldn’t find anything except marketing literature.  The antenna is rated at 60+ miles, which is a meaningless rating.  What you really need to know is the gain figure for the antenna and internal amplifier.  Based on physical size alone, I assume the internal antenna is either a printed Gray-Hoverman design or a single bow-tie.  That means that the gain figure is probably between +3dB and +6dB; let’s call it +5dB as a working figure.  The amplifier is also not fully specified in the marketing literature, but it does show a noise figure chart.  This noise chart is suspiciously identical to the Winegard LNA-200 pre-amp, so I am assuming that the internal amp is actually the same as an LNA-200.  This gives us an amplified gain of +18dB and an induced noise of -1dB. 

You mention that you plan to run RG6 cable 50-75 feet, and then some more cable.  I’m assuming a full 100 foot run of cable.  Good RG6 cable has a loss of 6dB per 100 feet, so that is another -6dB.  Each splitter mathematically halves the input signal (-3dB), so you have at least -12dB from the 4-way splitter in the Tablo.  There has to be an impedance matching balun in the antenna, right there is another -2dB.  There is a power block barrel connector also, -2dB. 

So, your signal path looks like this:  +5dB -2dB +18dB -1dB -6dB -2dB -12dB = +0dB. 

If my assumptions are correct, you are not adding any gain from your OTA antenna system.  That may not be a bad thing depending on the signal strength in your area.  In my experience, the Tablo is very sensitive to weak signal.  It has good tuners, but I see pauses, dropouts, and even dropped channels on my Tablo stream from weak signals. 

Tablo AirPlay compatibility only?  Uh oh.  Then Tablo's advertising the product as working on an AppleTV is stretching Tablo's capabilities in my opinion.  Tablo should say it is iOS compatible only I think or AppleTV compatible through AirPlay.  Practically anything without HDCP will AirPlay to AppleTV but that doesn't make my son's app store games AppleTV compatible in my book.  

@tablosupport should make this a little clearer so people know what they are buying.  If it is in support pages already, I apologize for overlooking it. Thinking back, it explains why the manual has a "How to use Roku" section only while I was wondering why no AppleTV section.      

This information on the web page is pretty clear in my opinion.  This is on the How it Works page.


So is there any way to have Tablo work with one device (AppleTV, Roku, Chromecast, FireTV)?  If so, which options can accept a feed direct from Tableo's tuners?  Or is there always a second device (phone, tablet, PC, Mac) required?  I was expecting to just tune one device an watch but now it seems more complicated than that.

@tablosupport should make this a little clearer so people know what they are buying.  If it is in support pages already, I apologize for overlooking it. Thinking back, it explains why the manual has a "How to use Roku" section only while I was wondering why no AppleTV section.      

I also recommend the Roku 3 as a solid device to use for TalbloTV big screen playback. The current Tablo App UI on Roku is underwhelming (standard/basic Roku UI), but that is being addressed within a couple of weeks (new Tablo App for Roku being rolled out by end of March with vastly improved UI!!). But the current Tablo App on Roku works very well and reliably.

The FireTV app is brand new and just being Beta tested, but is very promising as well. I have both devices and am on the fence as to which I prefer. I think the FireTV will eventually have the edge over Roku 3 once Amazon polishes the UI a bit more, but I’d say it’s a toss up at this point and to go with which ever you prefer. 

I definitely recommend not using the ‘stick’ version of either, as they are WiFi only (no physical Ethernet port) and are considerably slower than the ‘box’ versions. Same goes for Chromecast - WiFi only (and no physical remote, which you can work around using your phone/tablet - but I much prefer tying all my devices into a universal remote for ease of use for everyone involved).

As far as the antenna strength goes, you’ll probably just need to see via trial and error. There are so many variables associated with antenna strength and antenna signal quality it is impossible to make any absolute statements like “3 dots will always work, 2 dots won’t”. 3 dots “probably” will be fine, but you’ll really need to just try it and see. I can tell you that the 4 tuners in the TabloTV are on an internally amplified splitter, so that is good - and the tuners themselves are really high quality - which should also help minimize issues for you.

In addition to everyone's helpful posts above I recommend you split the OTA signal, 1 cable direct to the Tablo and 3 cables directly to the tuners of the HDTV.

This way you can watch live TV directly on the HDTV and not have to tie up a tuner on the Tablo. Plus channel switching is so much faster directly on the HDTV. Just use the Tablo for recording and then playback to devices.

Of course you can also use the Tablo for remote Live TV viewing when you’re away from home. But when at home, just use the HDTV tuner.

Good advice.  Thanks.  I hadn’t thought about freeing up up Tuners for live TV.  I was thinking the cleanest (least signal loss) was of getting a pic to the TV. I also hadn’t read yet that there is a 6-7 sec delay switching channels.  I’m used to a delay since DISH works this way too.  And I really hoping to avoid 7 splits in the antenna signal. (3 TVs, 4 Tablo tuners).  That’s a lot of signal loss. But I guess everyone lives with this.  

*WARNING*  Assumptions made in this text may not be correct!

I did a quick search for the specs on the Winegard FL6550A antenna, and couldn't find anything except marketing literature.  The antenna is rated at 60+ miles, which is a meaningless rating.  What you really need to know is the gain figure for the antenna and internal amplifier.  Based on physical size alone, I assume the internal antenna is either a printed Gray-Hoverman design or a single bow-tie.  That means that the gain figure is probably between +3dB and +6dB; let's call it +5dB as a working figure.  The amplifier is also not fully specified in the marketing literature, but it does show a noise figure chart.  This noise chart is suspiciously identical to the Winegard LNA-200 pre-amp, so I am assuming that the internal amp is actually the same as an LNA-200.  This gives us an amplified gain of +18dB and an induced noise of -1dB. 

You mention that you plan to run RG6 cable 50-75 feet, and then some more cable.  I'm assuming a full 100 foot run of cable.  Good RG6 cable has a loss of 6dB per 100 feet, so that is another -6dB.  Each splitter mathematically halves the input signal (-3dB), so you have at least -12dB from the 4-way splitter in the Tablo.  There has to be an impedance matching balun in the antenna, right there is another -2dB.  There is a power block barrel connector also, -2dB. 

So, your signal path looks like this:  +5dB -2dB +18dB -1dB -6dB -2dB -12dB = +0dB. 

If my assumptions are correct, you are not adding any gain from your OTA antenna system.  That may not be a bad thing depending on the signal strength in your area.  In my experience, the Tablo is very sensitive to weak signal.  It has good tuners, but I see pauses, dropouts, and even dropped channels on my Tablo stream from weak signals. 

On the amp that comes with Flatwave Air FL6550A, it seems to be an LNA 100 and I think they use it for Air and their amped indoor.  


From the spec for LNA 100:
• For use with indoor
non-amplified antennas 
• Gain: 20 dB (typical)  (You were pretty close!)
• Noise Figure: 1.0 dB (typical) 
• Bias (power supply): +5 V at 130 mA

I did need the ballpark for losses along the run.  Big thanks for the info.

No problem. I’m glad my limited knowledge can be of help to you.

 RF/Antenna theory is way to complex to model effectively (at least not without $1000’s in equipment and a good grasp of calculus).  Best rule of thumb I ever learned working in the field (I used to a professional installer of the things) is that the only way to improve the signal is with an antenna.  An amp will never make the signal “better,” only stronger at the cost of loss (noise).  Get an antenna that will pick up the signal you need (which is mostly derived from your location) and size the amp to overcome your distribution losses. 

Not to hijack this thread, but speaking of amps, I have a 4 output distribution amp.  I only feed 2 TV’s.  If each split drops the dB by 3, shouldn’t I see an increase in signal at a TV if disconnect one of the outputs?  I’m not, btw, the signal strength remains the same with one or two TV’s hooked up.  Might that be because if there are 4 outputs, it’s gonna split those no matter if it is connected or not?


On to my real question.  IF there is something lost in the 4 output amp, or rather something to be gained… is there such a thing as a 2 output distribution amp?  And if so, would that give me a better signal at the two TV’s.

I have a great signal on all channels with the amp now, except one.  It’s right on the ‘line’ and breaks up a bit now and then.


The amp is split 4 ways, whether you use them or not.  Best practice is to terminate unused connections, and you may see a slight increase in performance if you do.  Here is a link to them @ Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Type-75-Ohm-Terminator-Pack/dp/B000AAN76Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1426974167&sr=1-1&keywords=75+ohm+terminator

One test you might try is to switch the cables at the outlet port of the amp and see if your problem moves.  If so, then you may have an issue with the amp.  If not, you should probably check the cabling to that set. Also, not all tuners are the same.  It may just be that the tuner on your problem child is not as good as the others.

Thanks ddd, I tried the terminators, no diff.  Forgot to mention, no matter what TV I’m on, I get the same signal strength (and have tried moving outputs just in case).


I know the amp makes a difference (even split 4 ways) as my signal strength goes up 5 points with it vs. a single direct antenna to TV connection.

It’s like doing voodoo sometimes with this OTA stuff!   :wink:

Hmmm, it sounds like you have a weak signal issue and not so much a loss issue in your setup.  In general there are only a few ways to improve a weak signal. 

1. Get a better/bigger antenna. There is a lot of “art” in this decision, but generally bigger really is better.
2. Get a pre-amp.  This is an amp that is located as close to the antenna as you put it.  You get the biggest “bang for your buck” by amplifying the strongest signal (which is at the source).
3. Better tuning of the antenna.  This really means just pointing it very carefully. 

Good luck!

If you buy a HDHomerun there is a iOS app that will display live signal strength when moving/aiming your antenna. That is what I used.
http://genhelp.com/Generally_Helpful_Software/Signal_GH.html

http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00GY0UB54/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Turns out one of my TVs had a poor man’s signal strength indicator. Nothing like the detail from the Homerun but worked in relative terms to get the antenna pretty well turned, at least for today.  My toughest channel didn’t lose much (“2” of “100”, whatever that represents on a Sylvania tuner) when 4 degrees off direct aim in either direction. Flatwave Air claims to have an 80 degree reception field and while I doubt its truly that wide,  there might be something to it being accommodating.   I have a cluster at 355 and one at 3.  So I choose 359 since pointing directly at one showed little degradation on the other. We will see what that gets me in the long run. 


Any way, I get all 15 stations (about 37 channels) antennaweb.org says my area has to offer.  Not bad for a 14" square vs the 3’ x 2.5’ medium range Channel Master the local expert puts up.  If it continues to work. 

Hmmm, it sounds like you have a weak signal issue and not so much a loss issue in your setup.  In general there are only a few ways to improve a weak signal. 

1. Get a better/bigger antenna. There is a lot of "art" in this decision, but generally bigger really is better.
2. Get a pre-amp.  This is an amp that is located as close to the antenna as you put it.  You get the biggest "bang for your buck" by amplifying the strongest signal (which is at the source).
3. Better tuning of the antenna.  This really means just pointing it very carefully. 

Good luck!

Ok, thanks for the input.  I get great reception with all stations except one, so I’m not going to play around with a bigger antenna.  And the antenna I have (Mohu Sky) does come with a preamp, which I’m sure is helping.  What’s weird is that the station I have minor issues with is 28 miles away and one that is exactly the same distance and direction comes in solid.  I’m telling you, it’s voodoo!  :D

Yes, voodoo is a good word for it. 

What you are probably seeing is something called multipath.  In multipath, there is a reflected signal present as well as the straight line one.  Since the reflected signal has a longer physical path to follow, it is slightly time shifted (from the perspective of your Tablo).  If this time shifting is just right, the reflection actually acts as a loss to your signal strength.  I’ll bet if you turn your antenna 90 or 120 off center axis, the signal will actually be better!  Of course, all the others will be crap then. 

There is not much you can do with a strong multipath present.  If money, time, and expertise were unlimited you could build or buy a bandstop filter tuned for the exact frequency of the weak channel.  You would add that filter to your main antenna, and then mix in a second antenna with a tuned bandpass filter.  That second antenna would need to be carefully pointed to find just the strongest signal (wherever it may be).  Of course, all the new filters and mixing splitters would mean more loss, which means a second or stronger amp, which means more noise.  Maybe enough so that you would need to get a Yagi style antenna that is very directional.  And around and around you go. 

Then again it may not be multipath at all, although I think that is the most likely scenario.  Your broadcaster could be polarizing the signal.  Or impeding a side lobe on the signal.  Or a hundred other things.  It is not really magic, but it is ridiculously complex and filled with literally dozens of variables that cannot be controlled.  This type of thing always devolves to an iterative process:  try it and see. 

Good Luck!