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OT: Any downsides to using a cable amplifier?

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  • OT: Any downsides to using a cable amplifier?

    We've got a long drop from the cable service at the street to the junction box on the house, and another long run to our bedroom. The signal level there isn't good enough to use an HDTV box. We're considering having the cable people install an amplifier to get the signal level up to par.

    We've got an unused cable outlet right next to a power outlet in another room, so it'll be very easy to install the power supply for the amplifier.

    Is there any downside (other than the minor power consumption of the wallwart power supply) to having an amplifier in the system?
    Any products mentioned in my posts have been endorsed by their manufacturer.

  • #2
    Originally posted by winchman
    We've got a long drop from the cable service at the street to the junction box on the house, and another long run to our bedroom. The signal level there isn't good enough to use an HDTV box. We're considering having the cable people install an amplifier to get the signal level up to par.

    We've got an unused cable outlet right next to a power outlet in another room, so it'll be very easy to install the power supply for the amplifier.

    Is there any downside (other than the minor power consumption of the wallwart power supply) to having an amplifier in the system?

    The only other downside is the money that will leave your pocket for the amplifier. I just bought one off Amazon for my house. In my case it's working as an amplifier/active splitter. Entrance cable comes in - 8 cables come out going to different places. I had one for years and it worked like a charm but gave up a few months back. The one I bought is from a different company but seems to be basically the same thing - here's the model I got. Again, off amazon.com

    "Electroline EDA 2800"

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    • #3
      2 way services typically won't work like cable internet, PPV, maybe even new 'on demand' stuff, with an amp in the way.

      That said, the amp should be placed at the cable box itself for best results, where the signal is strongest and should be your first 'splitter', unless you need 2 way services then you should split it before the amp and run the cable to your modem off that split.
      Play Brutal Nature, Black Moons free to play highly realistic voxel sandbox game.

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      • #4
        Electronically speaking there are two possible problems that can occur.

        First, each amplifier or other electronic device in the line from the cable company head end to your TV will add some amount of electrical noise to the signal. If you are using the older analog TV channels this will show up in the picture as "snow". For digital channels the situation is more complex and generally you MAY see missing blocks of video and/or audio instead. It is what is called an avalanche effect in digital transmission where the picture is almost perfect up to a certain point and after that point it deteriorates very rapidly to nothing at all.

        The other electronic problem is that such devices can be subject to the reception of other signals and noise (including 60 Hz hum) that are present in the air. I have seen this in many installations for building distribution systems. Good grounding is usually the key to preventing this. If the cable company installs it, this should not happen and they should be able to correct it.

        As for the noise situation of the first problem, if you are already getting noise from a signal level that is too low, it is generally best to install an amplifier at a point BEFORE the line level is too low to boost the signal level so having the amplifier at the pole is the best location. So if the problem exists, go for it.

        Edit: I forgot to mention that these problems are caused by a loss of signal level in a long (well any length actually) transmission line. In some cases, a better cable, one with less loss per 100 feet, would also solve the problem without any amplifiers. Generally such cables are characterized by the use of a foam dielectric (insulator) between the inner and outer conductors and by a generally larger size or diameter. Thus RG-11, about 3/8" diameter with a foam dielectric would have much better specs than RG-59, about 1/4" diameter and with a solid dielectric. If the cable company is responsible for that cable run, you may not have a choice.
        Last edited by Paul Alciatore; 04-20-2012, 04:13 PM.
        Paul A.

        Make it fit.
        You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!

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        • #5
          Time Warner here will increase the signal level at the pole where your cable attaches to their system. Better to increase the signal there on their dime and before the signal degrades on the way to your house. All they need to do is use a lower signal drop level splitter on the pole.

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          • #6
            They told me they'll install the amplifier for free with no additional monthly charge.

            The connections in the junction box are as Black Moons suggested: a 2-way splitter with one leg going to the cable modem for the computers, and the other leg going to a 3-way splitter for the TVs. Two of the TVs are on new home runs (in the crawlspace) to that splitter. The one in our bedroom is an old cable in the attic with some barrel connectors in it.

            The technician also said the amplifier would only work for the TVs.

            They want to replace the old cable to our bedroom first with a new home run in the crawlspace. If that doesn't fix it, they'll install the amplifier. Based on your comments, that sounds like a reasonable plan.

            Thanks!!
            Last edited by winchman; 04-20-2012, 05:06 PM.
            Any products mentioned in my posts have been endorsed by their manufacturer.

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            • #7
              we had comcast, with an amp for years. no problems
              associated with it. we had video on demand, phone,
              internet, hd, all going through it. no problems.

              i suppose the only down sides are that it's one more
              box to have around, one more wall wart, and one
              more thing that has magic blue smoke that must not
              escape.

              ("had" since we switched to verizon/fios recently for
              reasons having nothing to do with the amp)

              Frank

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