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How much would/did you pay for OTA?

  • Less than $100

    Votes: 270 29.1%
  • $100 to $500

    Votes: 480 51.8%
  • $500 to $1,000

    Votes: 118 12.7%
  • The sky's the limit. I need the best!

    Votes: 21 2.3%
  • I'm broke, you insensitive clod!

    Votes: 38 4.1%

  • Total voters
    927
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setup costs

My setup was relatively inexpensive since my antenna went onto a mast already on my roof that previously held a satellite dish. Antenna + PVR = appr. $500. A splitter distributes it to 3 tv's in my house. I was paying over $100/month for cable. I sold the cable boxes and a PVR from my old service provider which helped finance the new PVR purchase. I even sold my old satellite dish for $40.

A friend had an antenna installed on her roof for about $300, and yet another friend just needed a $20 set-top antenna to pull-in many stations. The location of the set-top antenna could be further optimized.
 

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Before I found this site, too much for not enough!

Used to have cable, was $40 US/mth. for analog, now basic digital (the cheapest) is $60/mth., and two of my favorite PBS OTA stations are not even offered (maybe on the high-end package, don't know). Satellite is more for less. I had to cut the cable, as the cost was just beyond my means, and the few channels I really liked kept moving to more expensive packages! I had heard of the digital transition, of course, and wanted to see what it was all about. I grew up with the giant LPDAs, everyone had one if you wanted to get TV, but living in an apartment has restrictions. First, I bought a set-top amplified antenna for $30-35 US, had a hard time getting three stations to lock. Then I bought a cheapo "outdoor" amplified antenna on a rotor on sale for $20 US, and stuck it in the kitchen on a fan stand. On good days, I got a lot of stations, albeit with pixellation, but enough of a tease to both frustrate me and to send me on a quest to build my own antenna, and consequentially find this great site! :D

Built a reflectorless M4, cost me (in USD):
13' 8ga bare solid copper wire $8.58
5' 12ga THHN solid copper wire $1.75
1/2" conduit strap clamps $.86
10' piece of 1/2" sch.40 elec. conduit $1.37 (using leftovers to build GH!)
1/4" screws, washers, nuts $4.72
Had the RG6 and several baluns, as well as some additional nuts and screws.
Bought some tools, about $20, but I needed them for other projects anyway, so I'm not including them in my total.
Total parts, with tax, $18.32 :cool:
Reception is phenomenal!

Considering how much cable and satellite costs, for just a few 'special' stations, and how much variety there is OTA, as well as the cool stations not offered on cable or satellite, and true HD, I can't see why anyone would waste their money every month unless they were in an OTA 'dead' zone!
 

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Spent over $1,500 - but a year(ish) later, finally broke even

We are in a very difficult are to pick up Buffalo stations. It's weird, because just a mile away, others can pick up the channels we would like to get, without a problem. SOMETHING is in the path of ths signal.

So, I wanted to build a system to receive Toronto, Hamilton and Buffalo, without having to use a rotor.

So the long and short of it, I have 5 antennas, pointing towards each city/station.

I have 2 deep fringe UHF antennas ganged together, attached to a dual UHF apm (each antenna has its own cable to separate connectors on the amp). These are separated by 24.5 inches and pointed towards Buffalo. This brings in several Buffalo channels, but not the ones we'd like to receive fully.

(I don't think I'm allowed to mention the brand and model.. too bad though, because these work very well).

We then have another one of these antennas, pointed towards Toronto and those stations come in at 95% to 100%.

Then, we have 1 VHF antenna for CTV channel 9.1 (Toronto).

Sadly, when CTV2, Channel 35.1 started working, the signal was so low due to these antennas all trying to pick up the signal, that the signal beats against each other and reduces what would be a 100% signal.

I could buy a filter to block channel 35.1 (actually, it's real channel) and put that on the main feeds, but that things would cost $100. So I just threw up a 8-bay bowtie antenna, pointed right at the channel. This works.

So for everything I bought to build this, the total was just over $1,500. The reasons:
- 40' tower
- rotor (that's only used for the buffalo antenna, which is at the top, to adjust in case the wind moves things).
- 5 antennas (deep fringe)
- 3 amps
- lots of RG6 cable as each antenna has their own cable (makes troubleshooting and maintence much easier)
- off-the-shelf PVR
- computer with Window7 media center and a dual tuner HD card
- distribution amp
- signal combiners
- several channel filters
misc parts

The good news is, that with the $$ we saved by cancelling cable, we broke even some time in Nov. 2012. Now, it's all free! FREE I SAY! heheheh :D
 

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My story is basically the same as MelG. Can't justify the cost of a tower so built a reflectorless M4 for about $20 and spent an extra $20 for chimney mounting hardware. I tried a couple of commercial antennas since then but they couldn't beat the M4 for my location. The other costs were tuners for HTPC. Tried a couple of Hauphauge cards but settled on a HDHomerun dual. Added a preamp but it doesn't make much difference with the HDHomerun. The final tally of components actually in use is about $220. The total for all things tried, whether in use or not, is about $550.
 

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Lucky with existing LOOK TV antenna installation

My old 19-years old 32-inch Sony tube broke its RF input (found out when the kids tried to play the Wii). Not a big deal but that triggered a new HDTV :). In the process of hooking up existing SAT TV, I found an indoor HDTV advertized. This triggered the re-use of an old bowtie antenna connecting to the TV ant input. Like a genius out of the bottle, I got a few good channels, CBC 4-1, CJOH 13-1, CTV 24-1, CHRO 43-1. The reception were solid, well most of the time, until I tried to get the 2 channels 13 and 43 to co-exist, it was a bit of tweaking...

Long story short, I found a local installer, a veteran cable guy if you will, negotiated for a package, parts and labour to install a CM-4228HD on the existing LOOK antenna on the roof top. Since the cabling is there -from roof to inside basement, all required is to remove the old antenna, replace the new 4228, aiming for the "better" transmitter out of the 2, re-terminate the coax cable ...etc. I have to say the investment on the house pre-wired with 2 set of coax cable paid off, or saved some for this instalation too. Given this amount of work, I paid about $230. Note that the installer is great, he went up and re-aimed the antenna for the Manotick transmitter, also helped troubleshot the 2 separate coax video I have installed...etc.

http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29&q=id=1dda35812f60a5

I now have 10 English and 4 French channels. And on the "odd" days when tropospheric scattering effects went into play, I got the extra 3 PBS channels, 18-1,-2 and -3(HD), and even 2 more CBS channels 28-1&2, sweet!

Thus my nagging issue is how to design, build or buy a long-range antenna and combine (if possible) its output to the CM4228 to get those extra channels :)?
 

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I spent $500 on the nose including taxes. A bit more than I expected.

But for that money I had two Channel master 4228 Antenna's installed on a pole attached to my chimney, 50 feet of cable, neatly run into my furnace room. A copper lightning arrestor installed just before the cable entered the house.

I'm near Hamilton in Waterdown, ON. One antenna facing Buffalo and the other Toronto. 27 channels, but minus duplicates, the french station and two religious channels from crossroads, I've got a good 20 channels for free. At the current rate for basic cable in my area (Cogeco, $33/month plus tax). The setup will be paid for in 14 months.. not bad!
 

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We've spent about $70 for a basic antenna that does all we expected (basic Ottawa stations).

If we could get Global in the not to distant future that would be a bonus.

Our old Bell TV bill was a little north of $100 a month and now we are down to a little north of $20 a month for Netflix and Hulu Plus. If you want to count any required ISP "upgrades" our cost for that actually went down since we no longer have to pay for the dry loop (Old cost for 15/1 - 150GB was $51.95 including dry lop, new plan is 25/10 - 250GB for $45.95).

Bought a new modem to get those speeds ($120) but sold the old one ($30).

I upgraded our media PC from a Popcorn Hour to a Mac Mini but those plans were independent of our transition to OTA.

Since integration of Netflix and Hulu with XBMC and Plex isn't very good at the moment I may drop another $109 for an Apple TV.

All in all, this transition has been a win (much lower monthly costs) / win (much faster internet speeds) / win (no more dealings with Bell)!
 

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My "free" tv has now cost me:
$300 for 2 antennas
$100 for 2 pre-amps
$650 for 2 PVR's
$150 for external hard drives
$300 for installation help
$350 for a satellite dish
$150 for wiring and and tools
I don't know yet what the concrete work will cost me to break up and re-pour the sidewalk, and to mount a pole on a concrete pad.
But that's $2050 so far. On the upside , I've saved $40 a month on cable bills.
 

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Apart from TVs and wiring accessories (which are used with a variety of other sources), my investment purely in receiving digital OTA is about $50+ for an older generation USB ATSC tuner, which works well in WMC. My antenna is a free built 4 bay cat-whisker type antenna.
 

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Cable-free since Nov 2013

I cancelled Rogers TV and switched my internet cable to Teksavvy and now I'm saving about $100 per month.

My costs for converting 2 TV's to OTA:
$200 for new modem and conversion
$50 for a 2-bay antenna and rabbit-ears
$120 for 2 ATSC PVR's (Homeworx 150)
$0 for a 1TB USB HDD which I already had

Total $370 will pay for itself in 4 months
 

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Yep, the old ones are on sale, the new DLNA enabled, non transcoding version is $110 USD and the DLNA + transcoding unit is $170 USD.
 

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Getting OTA reception was cheap - $20 at Princess Auto for a dipole+loop indoor antenna and 50 feet of RG6 to go from the attic to the living room.
Making it useful cost a bit more, I spent $500 building a WMC HTPC (AMD A6-6400, 4 MB DDR3, 128 MB SSD, 2TB HD, Hauppauge 2250 tuner, wireless keyboard).
I made $200 of that back by selling off my Shaw PVR and WDTV box though.
 

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Discussion Starter #256
% numbers still holding steady

It is quite revealing that after almost nine years of running this poll the percentages of the different expenditure categories have never really varied, and some day soon we'll have 1,000 votes.

Imagine the amount of $$$ a person who cut the cable in the GTA nine years ago and spent < $500 on OTA gear has saved! ;)
 

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Ok, let's see what it cost so far:

RCA ANT751R: $55 (retired and replaced by a CM4221HD)
CM4221HD: $65
Antennas Direct 91XG: $120 (retired and replaced by CM4228HD)
CM4228HD: $125
RCA Preamp: $45 (about to be retired and replaced by Kitztech KT-200)
Kitztech KT-200: $115
Mast: $25
Antenna combiner and 2 way splitter: $15 (for both)
100 ft of coax cable and cable terminals: $15

Total: $580

Not too bad, considering I essentially have an extra setup I can still sell or trade (2 extra antennas that weren't optimal for my location and an extra preamp). I do wish I had done more reading on the topic prior to buying the initial gear, as there would've been much less "experimenting" going on... and therefore much less $$$ spent!

;)
 

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By the way, what's the deal with people factoring in their PVR's, DSL/cable modems and internet service fees into OTA TV cost? Any TV made in the last 10 years or so has the proper tuner already built in, so a PVR is just an extra luxury for most, not a necessity for OTA. Adding these things up definitely skews the results of the poll!

I use my cell phone in "internet sharing" mode with my PC to type these lines (no home internet for the time being), does it mean I should factor in my monthly cell phone bill into whatever it costs to watch over the air TV? One has absolutely nothing to do with the other... I can kind of understand the cost of concrete for building an antenna tower or what not, but internet and modem fees? Really?

(maybe those people needed the internet to read up on OTA equipment and installation tips at digitalhome.ca, lol!)

:eek:
 

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Most people switching from a Cable / Satellite system, to an OTA system are looking to keep as many features and system functionality as they had. For many, that includes a PVR. Same for things like netflix. If you're supplementing your existing OTA setup with netflix or some other streaming service, then you should be including those costs as well.

I wouldn't include the cost of my internet service, modem or anything else that already existed, prior to making the switch, unless perhaps you've upgraded to a faster connection or a plan with higher bandwidth caps due to the use of netflix or something else.
 

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A DVR or tuner for an HTPC is not expensive, and usually part of a cord cutting system, rather than a standalone endeavour.

For me, having the DVR capability is a no-brainer, since I already run an HTPC with WMC.
 
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