Baltimore WBAL Channel Repack

Reception, channel detection, network issues, CableCARD setup, etc.
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revengineer
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Baltimore WBAL Channel Repack

Post by revengineer »

Yesterday WJZ and WBAL stations in Baltimore changes channels as part of the FCC Channel Repack Phase 10. I rescanned my channels and while I can pull in WJZ on virtual channel 13.1 (physical channel 11) just fine, I get absolutely nothing for WBAL virtual channel 11.1 (physical channel 12). When I check the HDHomeRun Config GUI, I get a white bar for signal strength of 61%, but no signal quality and no symbol quality. It does not even find the station. Does anyone else in the area have issues?

It seems that the FCC is deep in the pockets of the cable industries and working hard to kill OTA.

signcarver
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Re: Baltimore WBAL Channel Repack

Post by signcarver »

My understanding both are on at about half power until they get their new antennas in a month.

djp952
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Re: Baltimore WBAL Channel Repack

Post by djp952 »

signcarver is absolutely correct. Suggest following posts here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/BaltoMedia/ ... e_internal.

Greater Baltimore OTA reception is basically a mess right now, and will be for a while. There isn't much you can do other than wait it out or move your antenna(s).

signcarver
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Re: Baltimore WBAL Channel Repack

Post by signcarver »

At least they increased power to help compensate (opposite what i had heard) but too directional to do well for many.

revengineer
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Re: Baltimore WBAL Channel Repack

Post by revengineer »

Thank you for the responses. I was aware that the station is not yet broadcasting at full power and I expected signal degradation and marginal reception. I am used to Washington DC stations coming in weak and drop out under some weather conditions due to distance twice as far from my house as Baltimore. So I was surprised that the current WBAL signal is so weak that nothing at all is received. Let's hope it gets better in the past.

The reception issues are not an HDHomerun issues. Can you recommend other forums that discuss OTA reception, possibly even by region?

markfromBrooklyn
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Re: Baltimore WBAL Channel Repack

Post by markfromBrooklyn »

AVF Forum, TV Fool, and Rabbitears all might be worth looking at. I am not in your area but they have had good information regarding antennas and stations.

ebo
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Re: Baltimore WBAL Channel Repack

Post by ebo »

markfromBrooklyn wrote:
Sat Jul 04, 2020 5:07 am
AVF Forum, TV Fool, and Rabbitears all might be worth looking at. I am not in your area but they have had good information regarding antennas and stations.
TV Fool used to be excellent and it still has value but its database hasn't been updated in years. It doesn't support the current TLS 1.2 encryption so some modern browsers like Firefox will require enabling support for earlier versions and eventually FF won't even allow that.

revengineer
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Re: Baltimore WBAL Channel Repack

Post by revengineer »

Thank you for the pointers.

revengineer
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Re: Baltimore WBAL Channel Repack

Post by revengineer »

In the past weeks, I saw video footage of work on the Baltimore Candelabra tower that was quite impressive. Today I saw an increase in signal strength. WJZ13 is fantastic, WBAL11 not so great. For WBAL11 I get signal strength of 78% and signal quality is 60%. Symbol Quality however is 0% most of the time. Does anyone know what this is the final result or whether they are still not broadcasting full power?

Dalhia2019
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Re: Baltimore WBAL Channel Repack

Post by Dalhia2019 »

revengineer wrote:
Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:19 pm
In the past weeks, I saw video footage of work on the Baltimore Candelabra tower that was quite impressive. Today I saw an increase in signal strength. WJZ13 is fantastic, WBAL11 not so great. For WBAL11 I get signal strength of 78% and signal quality is 60%. Symbol Quality however is 0% most of the time. Does anyone know what this is the final result or whether they are still not broadcasting full power?
I don’t believe either is full power. End of week is what I read.

revengineer
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Re: Baltimore WBAL Channel Repack

Post by revengineer »

Per Balto Media, WBAL is now at full transmit power. I get good signal strength (~80%) on physical channel 12, but symbol quality is at 0% most of the time. The picture is pixelated and sound breaks up so that the channel is unwatchable. WJZ broadcast from the same tower at physical channel 11 and also received with 80% signal strength works perfectly. I wonder if the HD Homerun demodulator firmware is still buggy.

djp952
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Re: Baltimore WBAL Channel Repack

Post by djp952 »

I might consider contacting WBAL's engineering department to see if they might have any ideas. I've had contact with them in the past (2009-ish) about their DTV encoder screwing with Windows Media Center (frame rate switching problems), and they were actually quite willing to speak with me about it. In my case, the problem turned out to be Microsoft's, but being able to feed them information directly from the broadcaster helped a lot.

Given that WJZ works fine (how is WMAR?), they might really appreciate knowing that their setup might be "off" in some way. It's pretty unlikely that the HDHomeRun is at fault here unless WBAL has done something non-standard or has gotten something wrong.

I've long since removed any proper aerial capable of receiving VHF signals, but I do still have a couple O.G. HDHR2s here in a box somewhere, and a VHF antenna I could temporarily set up in the basement or something if you need any concurrence. I'm close enough to TV Hill (~13 miles) that it should work well enough to see if both WJZ and WBAL are at least 'equivalent' in signal. rabbitears is showing me as 'good' (yet yellow, at 97dBuV/M) after the repack for both WJZ and WBAL, but I think I could still be able to get something with a temp setup.

BTW, I don't think you mentioned what your antenna/amp happens to be, is there any possibility that either component has specific problems with channel 12, or might be something in your setup interfering with that frequency range? Have you tried some easy interference fixes like ferrite cores to try and eliminate any noise received on the coax itself?

I'd start with pinging WBAL about it. It could be that simple in the end :)

revengineer
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Re: Baltimore WBAL Channel Repack

Post by revengineer »

@djp952: The signal strength for both WBAL and WJZ is ~80% but signal quality differs greatly being 80% for WJZ and 60% for WBAL. Symbol quality for WJZ is 100% continuously. WMAR is fantastic: signal strength is 94% and signal and symbol quality are both solid 100%. I would be curious to hear if you get a substantial difference in signal quality between WJZ and WBAL, but only if it is not too much work for you.

It is possible that my GE 33692 antenna is not ideal but I do point out that it worked well while these stations were broadcasting off auxiliary antennas. I have also no trouble receiving NBD WRC station from Washington. Unfortunately, the antenna is mounted pretty much fixed to a beam in the attic and moving it is easier said than done. I was recommended here a while the wineguard 7694 antenna which I could mount on a tripod to keep it movable. I was trying to save the $100 expense for antennas plus tripod but I may have to go that route if I cannot resolve the issue.

EDIT: Per rabbitears, I am 14 miles from TV Hill and field strength should be ~90 dBuV/m for both stations, which is rated "good". Unfortunately I do not know how to convert the percentages of the HD Homerun to physical units. It also may not explain why the signal quality differs so much.

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