Where to get best quality Freeview fly lead?

Rambles

Distinguished Member
I think I must have purchased from satcure previously, but they seem to have gone out of business.

I need a really good quality, WF125 preferably, although WF100 might do, 7 metre flylead, with male connectors on both ends to connect a Freeview TV to the wall plate. I am struggling to find one.

Any ideas?
 

SeeMoreDigital

Well-known Member
Why not make your own? You can most probably buy everything you need from somewhere like B & Q or Screwfix...

Personally, I recommend that the insulation (dielectric) around the centre copper conductor, is solid rather than open channelled.

Cheers
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the reply, but going to B&Q, buying the cable and the connectors and tools (?) does not seem time or money appropriate, when I just want one fly lead!

Usually there is someone online who will custom build a cable to spec, but I cannot find anyone at the moment for this. Well, one ebay seller, but only going up to 5 metres, so I have messaged them.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
Thanks Graham.

This looks considerably cheaper for the cable - same thing do you think?


And, if I do have to make it up myself, wouldn't it make more sense to put the coax plugs on to the cable, rather than fit f plugs and then use a converter to coax?

Not sure which connectors are good quality that would fit to that cable.
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
What exactly are you using this 7 metre cable for?

WF125 is only needed for extremely long cables to minimise losses and that only really at the higher satellite IF end... Coaxial Cable Specifications WF100 CT100 WF65 RG6

10 metres of WF65 (thin $ky shotgun) is -2.5 dB, WF100 -1.5 dB and WF125 -1.3 dB. (At UHF 600 MHz)

Justin at ATV aerials offers a custom cable service and will be able to offer good advice over the 'phone. Attach plug to "Custom Cable" - A.T.V. Poles, Brackets, Clamps & Aerials

CAI approved should detail the cable maker ideally CAI Certified Cables (updated 07 September 2020)
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
What exactly are you using this 7 metre cable for?
Hi, I am using it to connect a TV to the freeview aerial wall plate. I am getting a lot of picture break ups and lost signal with the current cable. I managed to stretch across the room a couple of pieces of joined better cable, I think they are WF100 but they have nothing written on them and it was several years ago that I acquired them, possibly from satcure.

This temporary and joined cable seems to work pretty much perfectly, so I need a 7 metre cable to run properly around the room, with no joins, at the best possible quality I can get, to replace the one that clearly isn't up to the job.

Thanks for the ATV cables link, good to know someone is making custom cables still, but it's not a very user friendly website.

I have gone with the ebay listing above with a couple of hopefully good enough connectors and making up my own. I remember doing this before and it being very fiddly, but in the absence of a ready made or custom made one being easily available, there seems to be not too much choice unfortunately!
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
OK - so noname moulded fly leads of unknown quality and losses. But they should be around the WF65 end of attenuation and even if double (5 or 6 dB) makes reception that problematic you're too close to the digital cliff edge for my liking.

Justin would have advised you and supplied over the phone, but anyway... Agreed the sales site leaves a fair bit to be desired since he revamped it fairly recently.

Wiring up plugs, aerials and wall plates - A.T.V. Poles, Brackets, Clamps & Aerials is a fairly useful page from his Knowledge bit.
Belling Lee TV plugs should be soldered on the pins as per How to wire a Belling-Lee connector but Justin's wavy centre core method is one I have used with few issues over the years.

Wallplate? Consider joining the cable and losing that item?

How old is the aerial and down lead. Does it supply just the one TV, if not where and how is it split to more outlets? Where are you located (approx) for reception predictions - postcode of a pub, shop, church or school as close as possible not your precise address!

There may be reasons your reception has degraded over time that should also be addressed?
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
Hi @Rodders53 thanks for the help.

Eugh, the connections of the plugs is even more trickier than I remember, I don't do soldering so that's out. I'll see how it goes, and if no good, will try ATV. The shipping costs on there are about the same price as the cable!

It is a new build property that we moved into five years ago. There is an aerial on the roof, a Labgear LDA206L distribution amp in the cupboard under the stairs, and wall plates in 7 rooms. I had to replace some of the wall plates when we moved in, as we weren't getting any signal at all in some rooms, I don't think the original installers were great, so it is all far from ideal.

The room I am working on now, we haven't really used for TV very much, but we are just starting to use that room a bit more. I am going for the new fly lead first, and hoping for an easy-ish fix.

I might consider changing the distribution amp - it is a 6 way serving 7 rooms, and has been powered on permanently for five years plus - do they go bad in that time do you know?
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
LOCATION matters the most for transmitter and signal level to aerial. Where are you?

What sort of aerial is installed (a picture will help identify).

I trust the supplied 75 ohm terminator is on the Full (17dB gain) output socket - it is essential I'm told! 10dB gain on a distribution amp is quite high. It's in a less than perfect location though as the downlead loss will be higher than if it were in the loft, closer to the aerial. You could use that 17dB outlet to feed the 'problem' TV, possibly.

Most TVs have signal strength and quality meters built in. They can give an insight to the signals received via the system if all multiplex frequencies are checked in turn.

New build cables can vary from good/excellent to the cheapest rubbish ever. Poor terminations and unscreened wallplates can give issues. Check the centre cores with a magnet if/when you get a chance - it may be copper clad steel. OK enough for indoors but not ideal externally.

NB Justin states clearly that a call will reduce carriage costs (by using Royal Mail) for smaller items such as the lead you need.

F-plugs plus adapter to B-L plug are a bit easier to terminate?
 

TJT1

Member
HDMI interference?
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
Oh yes, you did ask about location. I am in a village in Essex, nearest shop is about a quarter of a mile away with postcode CM3 6AH. We are midway between Sudbury and Crystal Palace transmitters, Crystal Palace is favoured due to BBC News HD and BBC Four HD, and generally we can get those channels okay. It can break up a bit in certain weather conditions.

The aerial seems to be an SLX Digidome:

Amazon product
I trust the supplied 75 ohm terminator is on the Full (17dB gain) output socket - it is essential I'm told!
I don't know what the 'supplied 75 ohm terminator' means! None of the cables are labelled, so I have no idea what goes where. I did re-cable on some of the F plugs when we moved in, as there were stray cables, this did seem to help a bit, as did changing and re-wiring some of the wall plates.

All of the cabling is run indoors. There is one small piece of visible cable going from the aerial into the house through the cladding, the rest is then all distributed throughout the house, in the cavity walls.

I think the installers may have been general electricians, rather than dedicated TV aerial specialists.

There are 5 TV's in the house and only one of them has the signal condition meters that I can access when watching a channel. It usually shows excellent strength but variable quality.

Good to know that the shipping costs are negotiable at ATV. Another ebay seller just got back to me and is doing me a custom 7 metre WF100 cable with male coax terminations for £10 delivered, so I am giving that a go as well as the self build cable.

If I were to change the distribution amp, for an 8 way one, any thoughts on which would be the best one to get?
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
OMG an omnidirectional aerial with amplifier built in. Probably the most wrong aerial a builder could possibly choose to install. :facepalm:
Of course as with much SLX/Philex stuff no meaningful technical specifications can be found on their website. But it appears from Screwfix and CPC (User Manual) that it is claimed "up to 28 dbi" = 26dB ref a dipole, thanks to the "20dB amplifier included".

A dipole has 0dB gain. Omnidirectional aerials require that dipole to be vertical which CP transmissions are not...

NB The UK network of transmitters is designed on the use of directional aerials at 10 m above ground. Directionality ensures that unwanted transmitters are rejected

For the Post Office/Nisa shop Freeview predictions from CP are pretty good - albeit 40 miles (64 km distant) - but only with a directional aerial.
However there is high ground between the location and transmitter hence signals are diffracted rather than line of sight and only 45 dBuV/m.
Sudbury is 51dBuV/m and line of sight.

Other nearby postcodes (Sailing Club and a Farm) are very similar. (Your bit of Essex is fairly flat, I think).

Now let's do some math:
CP 45dB at aerial +20dB SLX aerial amplifier = 65 dB
10 m of cable plus termination to D-A -3dB = 62 dB
Distribution Amplifier +10dB = 72 dB
Cable and termination to any TV outlet -2dB = 70dBuV

Naturally if the claimed up to 25/26 dB is accurate add 5 or 6 dB to the above... and Sudbury's multiplexes will be received at 6 dB higher than that.

(NB the DA you use can supply the external dome's 12V power requirement from its aerial input. So there may well not be another power unit anywhere.)

TVs ideally need between 45 and 65 dBuV to work well. Too little they lose signal and breakup occurs.
Too much and overload / inter-modulation of signals within the tuners resulting in distortion occurs.
Often a sign is varying quality on a TV meter with high signal strength.
This may well be your problem.

Signal levels at a receive point will vary a bit with time and that may mean sometimes you have trouble (as the received signal is higher) and others its OK (lower). It's probably not interference from other transmitter sources as you might believe.

You may need to reduce the signal in to the DA to a lower level using an attenuator Splitters, amps and diplexers - A.T.V. Poles, Brackets, Clamps & Aerials

Probably a better technical solution would be to fit a proper directional aerial. ATV's choice of TV aerials and WHY we chose them - A.T.V. Poles, Brackets, Clamps & Aerials
These would give a gain of 8 to 10 dB on the 45 available, -3 cable, +10 amp, -2 = 58-60 dBuV.
At least in theory.

Terminators 75 Ohm - A.T.V. Poles, Brackets, Clamps & Aerials shows what a terminator looks like.
To split more ways just use the 7th +17dB high level output to feed passive splitters. (2 way -4dB, 4 way -8db cf the input) - though beware the high level and potential for overload. ;)
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
@Rodders53 thanks for your time and thoughts there, that is all very interesting, and certainly a lot for me to think about!

Yes, changing the aerial is something we thought about since moving in. But, that does seem like a nuclear option. We have a three story house, on the coast, where we get very high winds, and the house is cladded with a cement based fibreboard, which is difficult to get good fixings on, so changing the aerial will involve very long ladders, lots of brackets, quite a few quids, and as you say, no guarantee that it will perform significantly better than the omni thing.

The 6 + 1 DA is fully connected as it is feeding 7 wall plates in 7 rooms. Two of those wall plates are in rooms with no TV's, so they never get used. I am now very curious to know which wall plate the 7th output is feeding (the high power one) so I will do some investigations and I think I should probably switch that one to an unused wall plate, which I presume would do the same job as terminating it?

Now, the attenuator option looks very do-able, I am definitely wanting to give that a try and see if it improves things. Can I just buy a variable attenuator and add it in between the lead that runs down from the aerial, and goes into the distribution amp, will that still allow the DA to supply power back to the masthead amp? Or, do I need to add one on each wall plate outlet, or maybe on each output from the DA?
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
3-storey will add another dB from CP, possibly. Still diffracted though.
Loft?
Although the height will be less if you can get the aerial high up and pointing 240 degrees to CP it could work. Managed to get my son's system working OK with the same signal level (on Sandy Heath) in his town house loft (through the brick/insulation/block gable end). Not ideal, but an option to consider?

Good spot about the power supply.
You'll need a DC (power) pass attenuator e.g. https://cpc.farnell.com/sac/ae5199dc/variable-attenuator-f-dc-pass/dp/AP02315 other sellers are available.

A TV tuner terminates a cable/output. One that is not connected is unterminated. A splitter will terminate the signal on its input, not the outputs.
All that's needed is a tiny very low wattage 75 ohm resistor between centre pin and outer of the connection.
In most cases a termination is not important but https://www.labgear.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/LDA204LR.pdf says it must be terminated.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
This is all very interesting, I'm learning lots here, thank you :smashin:

There is no loft, it was built as a three storey house with rooms and a bathroom in the roof space. There is also no brick! The house is timber framed with large cavity's in the walls, filled with insulation, pipes and cables. Problem is, we have no access to these without cutting into the internal plasterboard walls. We did this once to have AC installed, and it was difficult.

Those attenuators are very low cost aren't they? I'll definitely give them a try. Does the attenuation have to happen before the signal gets to the distribution amp?

I need to look into this termination issue also then.

Option 1 is to figure out which outlet goes to which room and wall plate. Move the high gain output to an unused wall plate, disconnect it and terminate that output.

Option 2 is to add termination to the two unused wall plates, perhaps by using a coax to f connector adapter.

Would option 2 work do you think?
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
Attenuate before the amplifier otherwise you need multiple attenuators and cost.

Ideally identify every cable/room by disconnecting in turn (and label them). Take a small portable TV to the disconnected rooms to prove they work/stop when disconnected. OR use a meter to buzz out the cables when disconnected (shorting the output in the rooms).
This will make life easier if/when things stop working in the future in one or more rooms.

Terminators: either option would work - but only one - the high level output is a 'must have'. You could connect a fixed 6dB attenuator to the high output and it's connected socket to make it roughly the same 10 dB gain as all the other outlets and use it on a known 'in use' room? Costs about the same?
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
I have done some investigative work. We have two Samsung TV's, two Sony TV's and one Panasonic TV. It seems that it is only the Samsung ones that don't report signal details, the Sony's and Panasonic do, so that was useful. Strength is maxed out on all of them, and quality is 80% to 100%. I have ordered the attenuator that you linked to, it will be interesting to see what effect that has.

I left all five TV's on and disconnected the cable from the full power output on the distribution amp. All of the TV's stayed on, so that cable must go to one of the two rooms that we don't use for TV. I have kept the cable disconnected and ordered a terminator for that output.

Thanks again for your help :)
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
Doh! Just found the menu on the Samsung TV's that report signal information. 91% strength and 100% quality in the lounge with 0 bit error rate. That seems okay.
 

SeeMoreDigital

Well-known Member
Doh! Just found the menu on the Samsung TV's that report signal information. 91% strength and 100% quality in the lounge with 0 bit error rate. That seems okay.
Just so you know.... There 'signal information' can be slightly different depending on the multiplex frequency your TV is tuned into.

For more information about the transmitters (and their multiplex frequencies) near you look here: Crystal Palace and Sudbury

Cheers
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
Yes. Check every tuned frequency on the TVs.

91% signal level is high. Possibly too high?

Signal meters are a very variable feast though.

My Panny GT60 reports 10/10 on all muxes and did so before and after DSO when the transmit powers increased tenfold (10 dB). Only the weaker local TV showed lower.
That suggests the metering is after the tuner automatic gain control.
My Humax PVR box reported more realistic numbers.
I have another more recent Panny TV that also reports more sensible figures.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
I have a bit of an update.

The fly leads are good, I have cabled up a couple of rooms with them and they seem fine. I have also added the terminator to the full power output on the DA.

I have narrowed down the signal issues a bit more. Com 7 seems a bit flaky, especially first thing in the morning. When the signal starts breaking up, it behaves the same on all the TV's in the house. We are generally trying to watch BBC News HD, switching to BBC1, and the signal is fine.

I have added the attenuator in whilst this problem is happening, starting at the lowest setting, then half a turn (its an analogue adjustment) check, half a turn more, until it is up to full power. Then take the attenuator away. Anything below half(ish) power makes the signal worse. Anything from half power up to no attenuator at all makes no difference.

My conclusion is that we just can't get Com 7 very well.

Any thoughts?
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
My conclusion is that we just can't get Com 7 very well.

Any thoughts?
COM7 is a Single Frequency Network of transmitters... so aerial directivity matters perhaps more than one might think. You have an aerial with no directivity at all.

If more distant transmitters are being received in high pressure weather conditions this can disrupt reception of any frequency. SFNs are more tolerant than normal DVB-T/T2 but even they can be affected.

At the postcode you provided for ch55 COM7:
from Crystal Palace: 77% of locations in the 100 m x 100 m square are 'served' (interference <1% of time) and 77% marginally served (< 50% of time).
from Bluebell Hill: 96% are served and 99% marginally served
from Sandy Heath no predictions are given (although PSB 1-3 have figures). That site might interfere more if subject to a 'lift'?

(NB the above prediction numbers assume the use of directional aerials)

I'll also point a finger at other COM7 transmitter sources which will be so delayed as to wreck reception more often: Belmont and Tacolneston being my favourites.

"First thing in the morning" rings co-channel interference bells for me to confirm this diagnosis. (Around Dawn and Dusk is when the enhanced propagation temperature inversions are most common.)
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
The investigation continues....

Just had an event where BBC News HD was working fine in the kitchen, but not at all in the lounge.

I tried swapping the outlets on the distribution amp between the kitchen and the lounge - made no difference. I thought I saw a spark as I was undoing and redoing the cables so switched the DA off at the mains plug whilst wiring it back up, then switched it on again, and now everything works!?

I remember a while back, the TV server was showing no signal at all from any tuners, and power cycling the DA bought them all back to life again.

I am thinking I should change the DA? Is there one better than Labgear, or is my Labgear one as good as it gets?
 

Rodders53

Distinguished Member
The sparking seen is nothing to fret over. It's all to do with double insulated things and no real earth/grounds.

DA: only factors will be amplifier added noise levels worsening any signal to noise in the system, and absolute max input signal levels with nn channels of multiplexes being close to or exceeded by what your amplified omnidirectional aerial sees from multiple transmitters. Read the specs of your and compare to others you might consider using?
NB Rubbish in (from that omni aerial) = rubbish out. That's where a real benefit could be had.

Amplified splitter/DA: Labgear stuff is not especially better nor especially worse than similar makes. Justin of ATV aerials has a thing for Proception (Blake?) kit as well made/screened and reliable.

Dodgy connections can come from repeated heating/expansion and cooling/contraction of parts and may account for the issue seen?
The power cycle is an odd one - most logical is that the 12 V line out to power the SLX aerial amp locked out in the 'off' state (excess current out overload?). So no signal in = none out. Power cycle meant it reset and worked again.
 

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