Digital cable issues (signal strength?)

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by yg17, Jul 27, 2007.

  1. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #1
    So, lately, I've been having issues getting some channels on my digital cable box. Most of the premium channels like HBO don't work (yes, we have them, and they work on the other digi boxes in the house), neither does Video on Demand, it just says "Please wait" and sits there (I have Charter btw :(). And a lot of the channels that do work cut in and out, and the picture and sound is real choppy. The picture looks like a poorly encoded MPEG or something, it gets all blocky and stuff.

    I remembered that I had put in a splitter so I could have both the digi box and my DVR (Windows MCE PC) hooked up at the same time. And I know splitters = bad for signal strength. I then proceeded to use the digi box's handy diagnostic mode that Charter doesn't want us to know about to check the signal strength. It was right around 18db, which, the box said was "fair". I removed the splitter and hooked the box up straight to the cable line, and signal strength went up to about 20db, which the box said was "good". But I still had problems. So I thought maybe I just have a bad line coming into my room. Nothing that an amplifier wouldn't fix.

    Well, I just got back from RadioShack with an amp, and hooked it up. Now, my signal level is up to 23db, but I'm still having the same problems. I've tried both configurations:
    Code:
    Incoming line--------Amp--------Splitter
                              PVR----|  |----Cable Box
    
    and:
    Code:
    Incoming line----------Splitter-------Amp--------Cable Box
                               |-----PVR
    
    So, my question now is, what is the optimal signal strength? The box says 23db is good, but should it be even higher? Or perhaps it's too high and distorting the signal?

    If 23 is sufficient, then I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's just a bad box (These damn things break all the time, we're exchanging one of ours in the house once a year at least. I think mine's the oldest at 3 years or so). I'm just avoiding having to deal in any way with Charter. Because I don't want to do the "We'll send a technician between 9 and 5" crap only to have them show up at 6. Or, go up to the local office which is always so pleasant :rolleyes:

    If 23 is too low, how do I get it higher? I've turned the gain on the amp all the way up (I know the gain can be set too high. I tried turning it down to see if I could get those channels and no go). And I don't think I can hook 2 amps up. Nor do I want to, at 30 bucks a piece ;)

    Any thoughts? Thanks
     
  2. RBMaraman macrumors 65816

    RBMaraman

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2002
    Location:
    Prospect, KY
    #2
    First off, get rid of the Radio Shack amplifier IMMEDIATELY!

    A few months ago, I bought one for my house. 2 days later, when I got home from work, I found my cable had been cut off. I called the cable company (Insight) and they informed me that I had a massive 'cable leak' (?). "What the heck does that mean?", I asked. Apparently, the Radio Shack amp I had attached had created a signal so strong, that it was actually interfering with radar and radio traffic of all planes flying over my house! And I had the thing on the lowest setting! The cable guy came out and told me that, basically, Radio Shack stuff is complete crap. The cable company put one of their amps on (it was cheaper than Radio Shack's POS!), and I've had no problems since.

    As for your issue, I'd say your cable box is the problem. Mine's less than 2 years old and it's starting to crap out. It's a Motorola, btw. What brand is yours? It could also be the coax cable. Try replacing the cable from your outlet to the box and see it that helps.
     
  3. yg17 thread starter macrumors G5

    yg17

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2004
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #3
    Motorola as well. Thanks for the advice, I'll try a new coax and if that doesn't work, I'll swap the box. And I'll unplug the amp. Thanks
     
  4. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    CT
    #4
    Call the cable co and request a house call. If there is a problem with signal strength they will come out and test the lines. You can't split digital cable to many times without the proper filters or you will lose signal. Also get the proper coax, no less then RG6U. I have quad core and its great.

    What do the ends of the cable look, if the splices are worn that will hurt the signal.
     

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