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cutting the cord and dumping satellite / cable TV -- who here has done it, and how?

xj_nate

Poser
Location
UT
We ditched Comcast (just the cable, still have the internet) last month and I'm loving it. We noticed that we spend way more time on Netflix than watching shows on our DVR so we figured it was time. I've made no effort to get any local channels or even mess with other apps besides Amazon Prime Video and I'm happy as a clam. Plus if I put the $90/month in a savings account I can totally build a pro-mod buggy in like 17 years hahaha
 

Stephen

Under Construction
Supporting Member
Location
Salt Lake City
I updated my setup since this thread popped up as well. I now have a Fire Stick, which I have enjoyed much more than the AppleTV. Much more versatile and if I really wanted too, I could root it and do a lot more. But mainly I just use it to access my Plex.
And thats been awesome! I went up to University Surplus and bout an older Dell Optiplex with a Gen 2 I7 in it, scrounged 16GB of RAM from work and threw two 4TB drives in it. Cost me $50. Now I have that thing humming along as my Plex server and I LOVE it. I've also got a half dozen friends who also now have Plex's and so there is basically no TV show, or movie that I miss out on. I rarely even watch Netflix or Amazon Prime anymore.
 
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Caleb

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Supporting Vendor
Location
Riverton
We ditched Comcast (just the cable, still have the internet) last month and I'm loving it. We noticed that we spend way more time on Netflix than watching shows on our DVR so we figured it was time. I've made no effort to get any local channels or even mess with other apps besides Amazon Prime Video and I'm happy as a clam. Plus if I put the $90/month in a savings account I can totally build a pro-mod buggy in like 17 years hahaha
The only time local channels are nice (if you don't have another service) is for things like the Super Bowl. I don't personally care about it or other sporting events but my wife likes to watch them, so...

I updated my setup since this thread popped up as well. I now have a Fire Stick, which I have enjoyed much more than the AppleTV. Much more versatile and if I really wanted too, I could root it and do a lot more. But mainly I just use it to access my Plex.
And thats been awesome! I went up to University Surplus and bout an older Dell Optiplex with a Gen I7 in it, scrounged 16GB of RAM from work and threw two 4TB drives in it. Cost me $50. Now I have that thing humming along as my Plex server and I LOVE it. I've also got a half dozen friends who also now have Plex's and so there is basically no TV show, or movie that I miss out on. I rarely even watch Netflix or Amazon Prime anymore.
I just bought a new server for my Plex. I've been running on an HPZ800 Workstation. Dual Xeon processors, 48G of memory, etc. I used to have up to 24 people streaming from my server at a time. Now, in the last 30 days I haven't had more than 6 and I'm tired of the power it consumes so I just bought a new Dell Optiplex 7060 micro with the 8700 i7 in it and a 512G M2 drive for the OS.. Setting that up tonight, should be a nice little machine. All my storage is external on a NAS (kind of embarrassed to say how much media I actually have :rofl: ) so I didn't have to worry about trying to fit drives inside it.
 

nnnnnate

Well-Known Member
Location
WVC, UT
I just bought an Intel nuc and loaded up my Plex stuff into it. It's nice to have it back online after shutting it down in April.

I was also going to suggest olex for DVR using a tuner card but Caleb beat me to it. To expand that a little though the tuner card basically just connects your antenna signal into something your computer can read. Using Plex to read that signal you can then record shows. To get that ability you have to pay monthly or buy a lifetime pass for like $150.

I don't watch OTA tv except for sports so I haven't cared much about DVR but was just looking at it to help a friend who is upgrading his hardware.
 

TurboMinivan

Still plays with cars
Location
Lehi, UT
Behold, my friends--the great experiment.

I am in this less than $5; I only needed to purchase wood screws, washers and some heat shrink tubing. Home Depot gave me a piece of scrap 2x4 they were going to discard; my brother-in-law gave me a spare balun he had (which Amazon sells for $4), and I scrounged up half a dozen unpainted metal coat hangers. Even if you need to buy the balun, you're still gonna be out less than $10.

I decided to go for proof of concept first; if this thing works, I figured I'd sand and paint it to make it more attractive later (which I still have not done LOL).



I merely propped it up on a speaker in the corner of my living room, connected it, and scanned for channels.



After a few minutes, the TV had found 20-something and finished. That sounded a little disappointing... until I decided to tune through them and see the actual result. Since most stations transmit multiple digital signals 'sandwiched' together on each frequency, I actually ended up with 70 distinct, viewable channels! Some were duplicates (from different sources), some were in Spanish, and there were four or five shopping channels; even if I ignore all those, I am still left with about 50 channels... all for free.

Here are two images I used to design and build my antenna:





The first photo told me how to space the holes in the board (though I decided to move the middle holes inward a bit, like in the second picture). The second picture told me how to shape/size the metal pieces. I did use a grinder to scuff the hanger surfaces everywhere they contacted each other and/or they contacted a washer, just to ensure a good electrical connection. Note that heat shrink is used to prevent electrical contact at the two crossover points. But that's really all there is to it.
 

Caleb

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Supporting Vendor
Location
Riverton
That's gotta be one of the coolest DIY tech projects I've seen. That's awesome.
 

mesha

By endurance we conquer
Supporting Vendor
Location
A.F.
So amazing. Dempsey is my current hero.
 

nnnnnate

Well-Known Member
Location
WVC, UT
That is pretty slick Dempsey. I bought this antenna and it worked well at my old house so I bought another one for the new place.

I don't have a NAS yet but have looked at them on and off for a few years. All my content fits on a 1 TB drive for now but I should probably get some redundancy so I don't lose it all. Are you guys using an off the shelf NAS or something like FreeNAS on surplus hardware? I've read really good stuff about Synology but haven't been motivated enough to slash the cash for one.
 

Caleb

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Supporting Vendor
Location
Riverton
I've ran FreeNAS for a while, it's not bad. I then bought a drobo DAS and used it for a while. Now I use a Synology 8 bay. I've liked the Synology the best. I don't run anything else on it but if you want, there are tons of apps you can run on it including docker which means almost anything can be ran on it.
 

Brad J

Registered User
Location
Woods Cross, UT
That is pretty slick Dempsey. I bought this antenna and it worked well at my old house so I bought another one for the new place.
I bought the same antenna and I was amazed how well the local stations come in. Prior to that I was using a huge old antenna in the attic or switching out to several small antennas in my Basement Office without good results. I watch very little TV since I work 2 jobs and only have one show that I watch when it's in Season. We had a SimpleTV DVR to watch on the Roku's and it was great until they went under and it stopped working. I went back to a 15 year old Hauppauge TV Tuner card in an old PC and that has been working well. I save those shows to a 2TB Apple AirPort Extreme and watch those from any of our TV's since they all have small Computers attached to them. Last month when Dempsey mentioned Pluto TV I was surprised to see that I could watch these free stations from a Computer as well so I usually have it on when I am home.
 

Caleb

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Supporting Vendor
Location
Riverton
I'm using a Mohu Sky 60 for my OTA watching. I have three tuners hooked up to it. The signal from it was so strong, I had to knock it down to get all the stations (I never knew that was a thing, too strong of a signal). I also have a Mohu Leaf 50 that I'm not currently using but may try it up at my cabin.
 

TurboMinivan

Still plays with cars
Location
Lehi, UT
For anyone considering building or buying an antenna, it might be helpful to know what signals are in your area... and, more importantly, which direction(s) they are from your home. Here is a web site I used in my research for that information.

https://www.tvfool.com/index.php?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=29

And, yes, terrain can play a major role in your signal reception. A co-worker wanted to follow my lead and build an antenna of his own, but he lives right by a large hill and was worried that might block his signal. I took my antenna to his house, and we attached it to a TV. It was worse than we feared, as he could only get two very weak channels. Seeing that, he abandoned his plans for an antenna and decided to do 100% streaming services instead.
 

moab_cj5

Well-Known Member
Anyone willing to walk me through how to setup a Plex server and DVR for my house so I can drop Direct TV? I don't understand all the tech stuff discussed above, but the only thing keeping me on satellite is the DVR and my lack of knowledge to switch. I was thinking tevo, but i know there has to be a better solution for what I want.
 

nnnnnate

Well-Known Member
Location
WVC, UT
There are pretty good tutorials on YouTube for getting Plex installed. I bet you could find one for setting up a DVR as well but don't have experience with that.
 

Caleb

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
Supporting Vendor
Location
Riverton
Anyone willing to walk me through how to setup a Plex server and DVR for my house so I can drop Direct TV? I don't understand all the tech stuff discussed above, but the only thing keeping me on satellite is the DVR and my lack of knowledge to switch. I was thinking tevo, but i know there has to be a better solution for what I want.
Plex is probably overkill for what you're looking for. Plex takes a bit of work and you still have to come up with the media (rips, usenet, torrents, etc). To give you an idea, to run a semi-automated system that would pull tv shows, you would need to setup plex, sabnzbd or nzbget or similar, sonarr or sickrage/medusa or similar and then have storage for all the media you wanted to watch. To use the DVR of plex, you have to have a service and tuner card. It could be OTA, but if you want shows that aren't on OTA, then you will still have to have cable and get a cable card (I'm sure it's possible to tie in Satellite but I don't know how you would do it).

If you want shows that aren't on OTA channels, then I'd look at one of the streaming services. Directv Now, PS Vue, Youtube TV, Hulu, Sling, etc. Find one that has the channels and shows you want, most of them have DVR (in the cloud) as well and I've found the DVR doesn't get used a ton because they also provide on-demand for most popular shows. Most of these services are around $40 or less and there's no commitment so you can try each one and then settle on the one you like the most.
 

Stephen

Under Construction
Supporting Member
Location
Salt Lake City
Got bored this weekend and made some tweaks to my setup. Snagged a 250GB SDD and installed Server 2016 onto that. Then setup Hyper-V and created a Win10 VM and installed Plex on it. That points to one of the 4TB HDD's on the root machine to pull the media files off of. Mainly I did this so that I've got Plex segregated and in the event that I ever have an issue with it, I'm just dealing with a VM that I need to redo instead of the whole machine. Also, having it running on a separate drive from the media (and an SDD) makes it a bit faster. Tonight I'm going to create another VM running Ubuntu and set that up to function as my download "machine". Again, to have it segregated but also to play with Ubuntu for the first time in years.
 

nnnnnate

Well-Known Member
Location
WVC, UT
Take a snapshot of your win10 vm so if/when you bugger it up it'll only take 2 minutes to restore it back to pristine state.
 

lhracing

Premium Member
Supporting Member
Location
Layton, UT
Does anyone know the minimum speed needed for Directv Now to work fairly well?
 
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