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HR20-700 Antenna Issue, Can Anyone Help?

Discussion in 'DIRECTV HD DVR/Receiver Discussion' started by susanandmark, Jun 23, 2010.

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  1. susanandmark

    susanandmark Godfather

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    Feb 15, 2007
    I set-up my friend's DirecTV system about four years ago. They get their locals via off-air antenna (not available in HD from DirecTV) and have an HR20-700 DVR. Several times since Christmas, when we had a big storm that they also got hit with, the HR-20 has "lost" the locals, with a constant "searching for off-air signal" message (no signal strength in set-up screen either). The antenna and line are both good. We can hook the exact same coax feed directly to their HD TV and it picks up the channels instantly. It's also working fine on a second HR-20. (We even swapped the cables between receivers with no problems. And hooked the other HR-20 to the main living room set-up and it can get locals using same outlet, cable, etc.)

    We've tried all the usual tricks, clearing and resetting local channels (multiple times), removing and reinstalling coax cord, resetting receiver (again, multiple times), etc. In the past the locals have always "reappeared" eventually (we don't know why or how) but it's getting annoying--this is maybe the third time it's happened and they've been out for days she told me yesterday. I don't really want to advise her to get a new receiver because 1) I'm not nearly as big a fan of DirecTV as I was back then and don't want to lock her into another two-year contract and 2) I also set them up with external hard drive for this DVR and they'd be highly annoyed to lose all those shows, which would be inevitable with a receiver swap.

    The sat channels come in fine, it is just the off-air locals that are non-working. I'm not at her house now (they live about an hour away) but I was just after Christmas, when I tried all of the above. At some point they just came back on, but I couldn't tell you what combo caused it and she says she's tried everything I showed/told her again with no luck this time at all.

    Any thoughts or ideas I haven't tried yet?
     
  2. Leftcoastdave

    Leftcoastdave Legend

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    Apr 2, 2004
    Whenever I lost locals on my HR20-700 it was caused by two problems. Either my OTA antenna was slightly off target or the local station(s) were tweaking their transmitters or power outputs.

    The fact that your TV can pick up the locals but your HR20 cannot might be a red herring. Most TV's have better OTA tuners than do the HR20's.

    I suggest calling the station engineers at one or all of the locals to see if they made any changes that might have affected his/her reception. My next step would be to re-tune my OTA antenna using the signal strength meters on the HR20.

    I use a Zenith Silver Sensor OTA table top antenna and I am always surprised at how even a small variance in antenna aiming can cause the locals here to come and go.

    Good luck.
     
  3. susanandmark

    susanandmark Godfather

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    Feb 15, 2007
    It's ALL locals, not just one or two stations.

    Thanks for the advice but as I said in the OP the other HR20 in their bedroom, hooked to the same attic antenna, can still get locals. That same (bedroom) machine can be brought into the living room, hooked to troublesome unit's cables and the locals come in. (Or so it was at Christmas when I was there to try it out and see for myself.)

    Is it possible that the sat inputs are fine but the antenna one has failed on the unit?
     
  4. spartanstew

    spartanstew Dry as a bone DBSTalk Club

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    Wylie, Texas
    Replacing a defective receiver does not add a 2 year commitment.

    As for losing shows, it happens. I lost almost 1TB worth of shows 2 weeks ago, through no fault of the receiver - the external HD went bad. Having an external is a risk anyway you look at it.
     
  5. dwcolvin

    dwcolvin Icon

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    Oct 4, 2007
    The off-air tuner in the HR20-700, er..., isn't very good. :nono:

    It reacts poorly to multipath, and is nearly 'deaf'. Stations that even the cheapest current TVs can receive are invisible to the HR20-700 (in my experience). So antenna positioning is critical.

    The AM-21 is reported to be better (but you can't attach one to an HR20-700).
     
  6. billsharpe

    billsharpe Hall Of Fame

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    Jan 25, 2007
    Southern...
    I had a bad OTA tuner on my HR20-700 three years ago. Technicians, after some argument, replaced the receiver and all was well. As stated elsewhere in this thread, replacing a defective receiver won't incur an additional two-year commitment. However, you will lose the recordings on the external HD.

    I get the same 70+ OTA channels on my HD TV as I do on the DVR.
     
  7. susanandmark

    susanandmark Godfather

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    Feb 15, 2007
    Well my friend called this afternoon (I had spoken with her yesterday) and after 30 minutes or so on the phone with DirecTV she's ready to cancel. Replacing a defective receiver may not incur a contract extension, according to the rules (or at least so I've read here), but in practice it often (usually) does. She's not currently under contract and was told that not only were there currently no specials to buy one (it's $199 or nothing), but they were no longer selling AM21s for their new DVRs because she is expected to get HD locals "within the next year." She was also told that it would require an install (i.e. home visit and time off work for her or her husband) and would extend her contract.

    I know show loss "happens," it's happened to me over and over through the years, but that doesn't mean she's happy about it. And I don't think telling her to call back and play customer service roulette until she gets a better offer is the way to go either. Not when she can get cable installed tomorrow.

    I told her I didn't blame her one bit and I'm sorry I got her involved in this mess in the first place.
     
  8. prozone1

    prozone1 AllStar

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    Sep 22, 2007
    Right after we got locals my ota turers in both hr20-700 quit picking up locals I had been getting since the ota module went live. Signal strength to my eye tv on my imac and to the 1 pioneer I have on the same line have not changed, but nothing I try with the hr20-700's work for ota now. To big of a coincidence they both stopped at the same time???????
     
  9. Davenlr

    Davenlr Geek til I die

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    Some people are just better off with cable, no commitments, and a local office they can go to. Hope she has that option.

    Also, the AM21 can be bought right off the DirecTv web site, or Solidsignal.com, if that option would suit her better.
     
  10. Davenlr

    Davenlr Geek til I die

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    Sep 16, 2006
    Its not something purposefully done.

    1...Was it right about the same time as the analog shutdown? Many stations reverted to their old analog channels with their digital stations.

    2...Have you removed, rebooted, and readded your local zip code under OTA setup?

    3...Do you have any "secondary locals" zip code entered? Its known to cause loss of the primary stations any time a new software download occurs.


    Might check some of those items, since, I have a HR20-700 as do my parents 4 blocks away, and we both get OTA locals as well as the LIL locals on both units with no problems whatsoever. My parents automatically know to switch to the "-1" station if they get a "771" error on the screen to check for local radar to see if a storm is approaching.
     
  11. spartanstew

    spartanstew Dry as a bone DBSTalk Club

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    Wylie, Texas
    If she doesn't want to call back and would rather cancel, that's certainly her option.

    However, if her unit is defective, it would get replaced for free (maybe a $20 shipping charge), there wouldn't be a contract extension and she wouldn't need an install. Either she didn't explain that she had a defective unit (it sounds like the options they gave her were to buy another DVR outright), or that CSR was extremely misinformed - and although many are misinformed, I've yet to see one that went 0 for 3 and was that uninformed.
     
  12. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

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    Here's what I find puzzling; losing the locals "several times" implies that they also came back "several times". That would imply that something made them come back, and that it was not just constant poor reception. That usually means an antenna system that is on the edge, or is sucking water during a rain storm and eventually dries out, or some other intermittent technical issue.

    I am not so sure that you should blame the tuner in the DVR. Rumor has it that it is the NeXtWave 4th-gen tuner, which was a significant improvement, a giant leap in fact, over tuners of the day (2006) regarding active EQ of multipath interference. While it is true that newer TVs may have even better tuners for areas with multipath, my 2004 Sony HDTV and my HR10-250's certainly did not; they were in the era of 2nd-gen tuners.

    When we went back to VHF locals here after the analog shutoff there was a period of weeks before a couple channels maximized their power where I would get some breakup occasionally, but the tuners in my HR20's seemed to do much better than the HR10 tuners or the Sony tuner, so the HR20 tuner simply is just not as bad as some are saying.

    There are a lot of things that can be done to improve an antenna system, many inexpensive, and I would look into those. This forum, the TivoCommunity forums, and local reception forums on AVS have tons of tips in their archives. That's probably a better option than either cancelling and going to cable or moaning about how bad things are instead of taking control of the situation.
     
  13. susanandmark

    susanandmark Godfather

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    Feb 15, 2007
    Which I would agree with IF her other HR20 was also having problems (they also have antenna only to, I think, two other TVs directly and those work fine).

    I can't figure out what made them come back when I was there helping to troubleshoot, nor the times I wasn't. (It didn't happen right when we were messing with everything; I think a few hours later they were back.) It seems kind of random. No set sequence of events, I can think of, brings is back, and the locals always worked right away on the other unit (or switching that unit into this one's spot). When we did it at Christmas we put the bedroom HR20 out in the living room and the locals worked instantly after the boot. We put the original living room unit back and (after the boot) got the "searching" message right away.

    I don't know what the call with DirecTV was like or what she said exactly. I'm just reporting what she told me. I'd told her to ask about the commitment (warning her) and that she'd need an AM21 with any HD DVR to get over the air. This is what she told me they said when she called me tonight.
     
  14. SPACEMAKER

    SPACEMAKER Freethinker

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    Dec 11, 2007
    Mason, MI
    OTA and HR20-700's are just a bad fit. I hate my HR20-700.
     
  15. jdspencer

    jdspencer Hall Of Fame

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    My HR20-100 works fairly well with OTA. Not quite as good as the AM21 attached to my HR23.
     
  16. drpjr

    drpjr Icon

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    Nov 23, 2007
    Sakatomatoes...
    As spartenstew has already stated your friend got a lot of bad information. If you specify the need for OTA there is a place on the order for the CSR to check. In that case they will send something with the ability to receive OTA. Most likely another HR20. If you don't specify you can get anything as a replacement. $20 for shipping and a return kit are all that is required. And they might waive the $20. Call back and politely ask for someone who can straighten this out and don't accept anything less.
     
  17. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

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    Well, that changes things considerably. Instead of the HR20 being globally villified as problematic with OTA, it appears we have an example of one that is problematic and one that isn't, on the same antenna system no less.

    But if the antenna system is on the edge or the reception area is not great to begin with, it is not unusual for a particular distribution to have problems on one leg and not on another, because the reflection in the system when signals are low or already contain a lot of multipath can be enough to push the ability to receive over the digital cliff, just for that one leg of the distribution (especially if not done professionally in the first place, and by "professionally" I mean correctly, not simply done by professionals).

    That one tuner works and one doesn't is not enough in this situation to condemn one tuner over the other; it could simply be the difference in reflectivity due to it being a different leg or simply in how well the 75-ohm impedance of the system matches up with a particular tuner. You can at least eliminate a bad leg by attaching the same leg to each tuner in turn to verify reception, but that is still not a guarantee that both will work/not work or that one tuner is problematic in and of itself.

    What sort of levels or digital quality is being reported by the metering when reception is possible? That can indicate the marginal-ness of the system. If those numbers are good, the HR20 in question just may be a dud, and needs replacing.
     
  18. billsharpe

    billsharpe Hall Of Fame

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    I must be getting a pretty good signal with my 40-year-old rooftop antenna to my HR20-700. I get the same 70+ OTA channels on my HD TV set as on the DVR. I'm about 37 miles from Mount Wilson and my OTA leads are split four ways -- DVR in family room, HD TV set in family room, HD TV in living room, and analog converter box to SD TV in bed room. No amplifiers at all, just splitters.
     
  19. TomCat

    TomCat Broadcast Engineer

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    Aug 31, 2002
    That sounds about right, Bill. I have friends who can get signals from over 90 miles away in pretty good with a great antenna system. I am 12 miles away and I can use a FM radio loop antenna taped to a window. I have about the same distribution as you, but I found that I get better reception with an amp and an FM trap. Makes sense, as my antenna is not all that directional and has less gain than yours probably does.

    This sort of underlines a couple things:

    1) Even a cheap antenna can work perfectly if there is no multipath to speak of.

    2) Even a less-than-state-of-art tuner can work perfectly if there is no multipath to speak of.
     
  20. steelgtr

    steelgtr Mentor

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    Feb 4, 2007
    Old thread, I know but I still have an HR20-700 and it only gets some local subs. Many are missing from the same station; I get 2.1 and 2.2 but 2.3 and 2.4 are missing. Same for all the other local stations, I get some but not all the subs. I have reset the locals, not added a second zip, etc. I am in the SF bay area, zip 95127, FWIW?

    thx

    bob
     

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