Signal Strength Display

I live 12 miles from my broadcast towers in flat as a pancake Florida. And I have an outside antenna about 10’ up.

And still I get choppy reception sometimes. Is the signal too strong? Is it too weak? I don’t know what I’m dealing with.

It’s the only thing keeping me on DirecTV.

I would LOVE to have a menu choice I could go to that would display the current signal strength on each channel.


I believe in Settings, Guide/Channel lineup/Your Channels, the 4 blue dots at the right side of the box for each channel indicate signal strength.
It may not apply to your situation, but: I am also close to the TV towers and got better reception after going into General in Tablo settings and turning the Tablo Antenna Amplification off.
I have a gen 4 Tablo.

This only shows the signal strength for the last scan.

In order to find out the differences, you’ll have to run a new scan – saving it is up to you.


If by choppy you mean strong signal that suddenly drops then goes back up probably mulitipath. Go here find your area post your antenna etc. will get plenty of answers. Local HDTV Info and Reception | AVS Forum Your TV probably has active signal meter you can use.

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You can come in too hot. It’s like opening an oven the heat hitting you in the face.

Do you have an inline amp in play?

If so, may want to considering turning it off and retesting. If not, turn off the Tablo internal AMP and retest.

A ghetto way of doing this is put a splitter in between the Tablo and the outdoor antenna. That will lower the signal 3-5DBM and retest.

Just giving you options to play with.

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I don’t find the Tablo signal strength “meter” useful. Mine always shows 4 green dots on every virtual channel. (Actually groups of virtual channels are multiplexed on the same RF transmitter, so signal is always the same for each group.) I have played a lot with signal levels going in to the Tablo, and a rescan seems to always show 4 green dots no matter what I do. The only thing that’s a slam dunk for me is Tablo’s internal amp always screws things up.

At least a percent scale like what is on most TVs would give you a bit more idea what’s going on. My Sony Bravia even shows SNR and RF transmitter channel, which is a bit more helpful.

FWIW, my “real” signal meter shows the following signal is currently hitting my Tablo:

And the all important SNR:

RF channel 28 is highlighted in blue in these scans, but all 6 of the RF transmitters I’m using are shown. With this input, the Tablo shows 4 green dots on all virtual channels and has a stable picture on all as well. (Tablo amp is off, of course.)

Note that by ATSC 1.0 standards, these signal levels would be considered well below the maximum tuner specs. As long as the Tablo amp is off, I can send much higher levels to the Tablo tuners and they are still fine. But I always see 4 green dots regardless. Thus my comment that Tablo’s “meter” is not very useful.


It might be worth adding that the ATSC 1.0 spec for tuner sensitivity is deliberately very broad. To be compliant, ATSC 1.0 tuners are supposed to be able to detect signals starting about -80 dBm, and tolerate up to -5 dBm before gagging. From what I have read, “real world” tuner performance typically ranges from about -65 dBm up to -30 dBm (some say up to -15 dBm).

What I see in my reading is it is more likely that RF amps become overdriven vs the tuner itself. Stacking RF amps in series is tricky business. Most inexpensive RF amps have much less tolerance for input levels, and are therefore much easier to overdrive and introduce lots of distortion.

In the rock and roll guitar player world, amplifier distortion is very desirable (“this one goes to eleven”). In the digital TV signal world, distortion of 1’s and 0’s is no bueno.

I have no amp. I’ve turned the amp within Tablo on and off. That’s why I say give me a strength indicator to let me know what I’m dealing with

When you fiddled with the Tablo Amp, did you rescan?

Did not rescan after turning Tablo Amp off and on.

Mess with it again and rescan and retest.

@classicrockguy: What tool is generating those graphs, if you don’t mind sharing?

That looks so useful for helping to position an antenna. Signal-to-Noise Ratio is so important.

It is called Psiber Signal Scout. I bought it from Ness Electronics. Painful at $400, but much less than the $1,000s a pro meter costs.

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Getting back to the Feature Request…

I definitely agree that Tablo could benefit from some display of current signal strength and quality for a given channel. It’s useful when placing an antenna, and also later when a channel proves to be unreliable, like during weather or when an LED light is on.

Ideally it would be displayed in each Tablo app when you are watching a channel and view the controls (pause, skip forward, etc). But minimum viable product would be to have the feature available just in the mobile apps.

To workaround the lack of this feature, I installed an HDHR unit (in parallel with my Tablo) and used the iPhone app Signal GH, which displays real time signal strength and quality of any channel from the HDHR. So basically I’m using the HDHR as a portable signal meter, but I and other Tablo owners would prefer that it is built into the Tablo.


Would prefer not to use a HDDR unit as a Rube Goldberg signal meter. (Former Ohio - Dayton)

My TV (Hisense) is generally showing 68 or higher on signal strength for the only 5 channels I care about. Signal quality shows 100. I’ll look up that multi-path thing. This is very frustrating.

Strangely, I see occasional random signal quality issues on the screen while every device in my house (Tablo, Recast, 4 TVs, and my signal meter) all say in their own way “everything is fine”. I find this very frustrating, as well. This leads me to believe that a “perfect” picture is something more than just proper signal strength and SNR.

My theory (at least for my area) is that there are so many steps (translators) between the original broadcast towers in Salt Lake City and those in my location, that “trash” can be picked up along the way. This “trash” gets incorporated into the actual re-broadcast signal by the time it bounces from translator to translator down here. For example, the weather can be perfect here, and my meter says signal strength and SNR look great from my local transmitter, but weather in SLC is crap and my picture is “trashy” or sometimes gone completely (RF carrier is there, but the tuners can’t lock and decode the digital content).

There are also a multitude of other potential sources of issues (e.g. multipath, led, blah blah blah) that can interfere with picture quality. Maybe some of these issues would show up on a meter, and maybe some won’t. But, they definitely show up in the viewing experience, which is the ultimate “meter”.

As much time, effort, and money as I have put in to this OTA TV game over the last 15 or so years, I still can’t get it “perfect” 100% of the time. I would sure like someone to share the secret to this!