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AM21 Fun/Cavaet Emptor

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by nmetro, Apr 10, 2014.

  1. nmetro

    nmetro Godfather

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    A couple weeks ago, a co-wroker told me he could get OTA from Denver and get a number of channels. I know with analog, trying to get signals, where I live, was next to impossible. So, I bouught one of those powered flat antennas, and it could easily pull in 38 main and sub-channles. Including channels like MeTV, AntennaTV and the like. I thought, how cool it would be to integrate my antenna with an AM21.

    So, I purchased an AM21, hooked it up and discovered the following:

    1. With an HR34, it will scan for channels. which is not bad, when you think about it.
    2. The AM21 uses a database,, which is no longer maintained by DirecTV, thus you do not get newer subchannels if they beocme available.
    3. The AM21 could only pull in half the channels, it did find in the database, than my Sony Bravia could do with its own tuner.
    4. It has a very bright blue light that stays on all the time and the unit does not turn off when you turn off the receiver.

    So, I thought, for the missing channels in the database, I would just add them; feature does not exist with the AM21. Because of this limitation, I could not get AntennaTV and GetTV, among others. In these two caes I would only get the primary channel, not the subchannels, because the subchannels were never put in the database. Some users, have resorted to adding an out of market city, with the missing PSIPs, to try to get the missing channels; milage will vary if this works or not. I did try Houston, but it did not work.

    So, Instaad of 38 channels, I was left with somewhere around 19 or 20. I tried several thinsg with the antenna to no avail. And most of those channels I get with DirecTV anyway. So, I thought, well my master bedroom, is 2 1/2 stories up and has a clear line of sight to broadcast towers in Denver and Longmont; surely it would work better. I have an HR25. So, it does not scan, it just loads in channels from Denver, Fort Collins and Boulder. Same good powerful anteanna, but again, it could only pick up 19 or 20 channels out of the 38 available. My upstairs TV does not have a tuner, but its antenna has a better line of sight than my living room TV does.

    So, I returned the AM21 to Amazon. I decided that a simple switch, on my TV remote, will allow me to go between OTA and DiecTV. For teh upstairs, for less than the price of an AM21, I bought a tuner, with the capabiity of a DVR, if I want it.

    The AM21 seems like a first generation OTA tuner. Maybe I am being too kind, the tuners made available, for free by the FCC, were actually better. My TV is circa 2006, and there are tuners now which perform even better.

    So, anyone consireing buying the AM21, should be aware that it has a number of limitations. Some I mention here and some I saw mentioned on various blogs.

    I know DirecTV is in the pay TV business and wants their customers to watch their content. The AM21 certainly woudl discourage people from even attempting OTA.

    So, if you want OTA, I would buy one of those OTA tuners, with DVR capbility, and add it to a spare HDMI slot on your TV. While not ideal, it is more modern than the AM21.
     
  2. peds48

    peds48 DIRECTV A-Team DBSTalk Club

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    1. Nope, the HR34 does not scan, it relies on the database
    4. IIRC, the blue light goes off with all receivers but the HR34
     
  3. RAD

    RAD DIRECTV A-Team

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    Dripping...
    The HR34, and HR44, used to scan but a few months ago DIRECTV decided to remove that function from the Genie's so they now operate just like all the other DIRECTV receivers with an AM21 attached. The lack of scanning is something that has been discussed in many different threads over the years and is nothing new. While DIRECTV has never officially said why they aren't keeping the data base up to date the rumor is that the guide stream just doesn't have the room to handle all the OTA channels/sub channels that are available.
     
  4. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    Using secondary locals it is possible to add most or maybe all of your subchannels. There are others who can describe the process for how you decide which local markets to add, but if you want the subchannels you aren't getting it is possible but is much more of a pain than it should be. No one knows exactly why Directv removed the channel scan feature, it doesn't make a lot of sense to limit the AM21 in such a way.

    The change even affected the H20, which hardly ever receives updates anymore. It still scans, but scans based on the database so it picks up the same set of channels as the AM21.
     
  5. bertman64

    bertman64 AllStar

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    The AM21 is worth 55.00 just to get HD locals from OTA so when it is raining you can still watch TV! When ME-TV was on 47-4 here in Dallas/Fort Worth you could get it by scanning Zip code 60712 as secondary local. When ME switched to TXA 21-2 it was in the Directv database immediately so that shows it the station makes an effort and has some clout they CAN and DO get their sub stations into the AM-21 database. Lower power stations such as Retro and HOT are also good to have as well as COZI, and THIS. Got them all with a second scan using 90210 as secondary local.
     
  6. KyL416

    KyL416 Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    The only reason why 21-2 is in the database is because it used to be a SD simulcast of their sister channel KTVT and Tribune reused the ID, it has NOTHING to do with "clout". It's the same reason why all of Ion's -4's are in the database, Tribune just reused the previous IDs when they carried Worship on -4.
     
  7. nmetro

    nmetro Godfather

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    I thought so too, but the HR34/AM21 was loading less channels., than the HR25/AM21 was, using the same zip code combination of 80503 and 80301. I used the same AM21 unit on both TVs and I was getting two different sets of results. The only conclusion I could come to was the HR34/AM21 only dispalyed channels it coudl actually connect to. The HR25/AM21 provided me with channels in Denver, Boulder, Stewsmboat Springs and Grand Junction. Even though there are 14ners between me and Seatmboat Springs and Grand Junction. Oh yeah, when I did try 80503 and 77001 on the HR34/AM21, no Houston channels ever showed up, but did with the HR25/AM21.

    As I mentioned, I tried Houston, because it had 15-1 - 15-3, 32-3 - 32-4. These channels provided the subchannels for the missing ones in the Denver database. But, all the HR25/AM21 would list were 15-1 and 32-1 (14-1 and 31-1 respectively).
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. nmetro

    nmetro Godfather

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    Yes, but so does connecting the antenna to teh TV tuner, and switching the input from the HDMI that teh HR34 uses to the TV Tuner. Yes, I would have liked a seamless place to watch DirecTV and OTA, but the AM21 did not look like a viable solution. By teh way for between $30, - $50 one can get an OTA tuner, with DVR capability, which also provides an EPG. Not seamless, but at least it it is a viable alternative.

    I am just amazed that I could get as many channels as I could considering the distance and terrain issues. The tuner in my TV did a better job picking up signals than the AM21 did, by far. Effectively, it was about a 33% to 50% drop in signal. So, the AM21 just did not work for me. But, peopel should know that this unit is not an ideal solution.
     
  9. peds48

    peds48 DIRECTV A-Team DBSTalk Club

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    Hmmm, there is no HR25 receiver.
     
  10. NR4P

    NR4P Dad

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    I have multiple AM21's including an AM21N on Genies and HR24's.
    Using it with a reasonably well designed antenna system that is outdoors, there is no appreciable difference between any of my televisions.
    I get about 70 stations including sub channels from two different markets.

    Is the AM21/N a great product, no it is not.
    Is it a bad product, no it is not.
    It is adequate to good in performance.
    I wish it did scan like my TV but I do like the integration into the HRxx DVR's so I can record and playback at will from the Directv guide.

    If you are using indoor indoor antennas YMMV as suspect the AM21 does not perform well at very low signal levels.

    Outdoor antennas solve almost all OTA problems.
     
  11. slice1900

    slice1900 Well-Known Member

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    ATSC tuners have improved greatly over the past decade. Likely Directv is using the same generation of tuner in the AM21 today as was used in it at introduction in 2008, but if your TV is more recent than that it would have a newer generation tuner that does a better job of rejecting multipath, co-channel and other interference.
     
  12. nmetro

    nmetro Godfather

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    OK. What is the difference between an AM21 and an AM21N? Or, are they one in the same?

    What I had wereAM21s. at elast taht is what it said on the back.

    I mention HR25 before, I may have misread the name. It is a DVR less H2x series circa 2010. H26?
     
  13. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    Tuning-wise, there hasn't been much commentary about notable differences.

    There's currently no such beastie as an HR25 nor an H26. The HR2x series tops out at the HR24 and the H2x series tops out at H25 (the dinky model that is SWiM-only).
     
  14. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    18-19 channels would be quite a feat to coordinate with only two ZIP codes.
     
  15. KyL416

    KyL416 Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    There's a trick to stack multiple secondary zip codes where the previously detected stations remain in the guide after you change it.
     
  16. HarleyD

    HarleyD Hall Of Fame

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    Second this. I live in Winter Haven, FL and I get the full slate of OTA from both the Tampa and Orlando markets...over 70 channels altogether. I also have a deep fringe UHF/VHF/FM antenna and I am near the midpont of a straight line from the Tampa transmitters to the Orlando transmitters. This allows me to pick up channels on the backside of tthe antenna and I don't need a rotor to tune to channels across the two DMAs.

    I have AM21s on all but one of my DVRs and that one is an HR20 with onboard ATSC tuners. I get quite a lot of OTA mileage out of my system.
     
  17. nmetro

    nmetro Godfather

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    OK it is an H25, sorry for the confusion.

    So, with the following device ($29.49 at amazon.com):

    Mediasonic HW180STB HomeWorx HDTV Digital Converter Box with Media Player Function, Dolby Digital and HDMI Out
    I was able to pull in 52 channels in my upstairs bedroom; where with the AM21, it was 18. All sub channels show up, and some channels which I thought I could never get; like a low power station from Denver and a station from Castle Rock which is over 60 miles away. Also, this unit has the capability, if you need it, to manually add chanels. It does not have a fancy EPG (one channel at a time over several hours) and it displays the time in 24 hour format, but it does the job.

    The antenna:

    AmazonBasics Extreme Performance Ultra Thin Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna
    This box (much smaller than an AM21 and teh saem size of an H25) also has DVR capability with USB stick up to 64GB. Though some people have connected larger USB disk drives and got them to work.
     
  18. veryoldschool

    veryoldschool Lifetime Achiever Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    This seems strange, as it doesn't match my experiences with the AM21, Bravia XBR2, and fifth generation ATSC tuner.
    This makes me wonder if your AM21 might be defective..
     
  19. ejbvt

    ejbvt AllStar

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    The AM21 still scans, but it only displays those that are in the database.

    To trick the AM21 into finding missing subchannels, add secondary zip codes from those cities with contain PSIP channels that you're missing.

    Example, I am missing 40-3 and 40-3.
    Run initial set up, add your zip and your neighboring market zip, then run the initial set up again with a zip that contains the missing PSIP. It builds on your personal list and doesn't erase it, so you can add to it, in a sense. I run my zip and the neighboring market's zip. Then, i run it again and use my zip and the 3rd market I can get 2 stations from. Then, initial set up once more. I use my zip and Los Angeles. It scans in 40-3 and 40-3 shows guide data for the LA TBN stations, but when I tune there, It's Bounce and GetTV. If you do some research, and have some luck, you might be able to find a missing zip code in a market that has the same subchannel on the same PSIP as you. I could not find a Bounce or Get in the database on 40-3 and 40-4.

    Is this a good system? NO. But it's better than nothing. I have 6 zip codes in my AM21 now to be able to tune all of my subchannels, except my "local" HSN on ION-6. You have to repeat this process everytime there's a RBR or reboot of any kind, so keep track of the zips. The database can be found on this site.
     
  20. peds48

    peds48 DIRECTV A-Team DBSTalk Club

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    so it does not
     

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