Welcome to CableFreeUSA.com’s Cable Cutting Rig Case Study
This is a description of an actual known working system that I’m actively using to enjoy programming content in my home. It is comprised of three major subsystems:
A. The over-the-air system that catches local and national network broadcasts
B. The media server that serves ripped content
C. The streaming devices that are connected to the TVs in the house
1. The main wifi router is leveraged as part of the solution. The goal of the system is to watch video on different devices like TV, tablets, phones, laptops, and computers, while the devices are only connected to the network via wifi.
2. The wifi router is connected to a cable modem for internet only connectivity. I recommend purchasing the Arris Touchstone TM822G DOCSIS 3.0 8×4 Ultra-High Speed Telephony Modem. I LOVE it. I have only had to reboot it ONCE in two years of service. You will pay off the investment in a year of use. The cable companies love to rent it to you.
3. Purchase the internet only cable plan, preferably without the cable modem that you purchased separately. I am using Wide Open West (WOW!) and am actually pleased with my cable company.
4. My family home server (What!?! You don’t have a home server?!) runs Windows 10 Home with Plex installed. This lets me stream pictures, music, and ripped movies and TV shows to any device connected to the wifi router. By plugging the Plex server directly to the wifi router, you get the benefit of pumping the media data out as fast as possible to your devices. The throughput is then constrained by the capacity of the wifi links.
5. TabloTV is an Over the Air (OTA) Digital Video Recorder. I have a two tuner unit and pay $49.99/year for TabloTV’s ‘guide’ service. TabloTV is a Canadian company that had some initial issues with their software, but has since deployed very stable releases. Their customer support has always been top notch.
6. TabloTV requires an external USB hard drive that the customer must purchase separately. This is a hidden cost to the TabloTV DVR. Beware: TabloTV really only supports a few models, so make sure to verify that the drive model you intend to use is on the list. I’ve linked to the working model that I use.
7. The 30 Mile Mohu Leaf I use is a flat antenna that I hang on an outside wall on the third (attic) story of my house. It is pointed directly at my local transmitter array. It’s probably 2-4 yards from the very top of the house. The Mohu Leafs are reversible. One side is white, the other black. I have the white side visible as I prefer that color on my wall.
8. The RCA Digital Amplifier for Indoor Antenna is connected to the Mohu Leaf with a coax cable. The amplifier gets external power and helps boost the signal strength to the TabloTV. Many communities have issues with signal strength of a channel or two since the conversion of the broadcast stations to digital. In Cleveland, we specifically have a problem with Fox WJW/8 caused by signal interference from a station run by our Canadian friends on the other side of Lake Erie. BTW – The 50 mile Mohu Leaf comes with an amplifier included. Again, this device needs to be plugged into the wall.
9. An Amazon Fire TV is connected to the main family TV. Both a Plex app and a TabloTV app is installed on the device and is used to connect to each corresponding subsystem. Additionally we are subscribed to Netflix and Amazon Prime for access to recent movies and shows. There’s a TON of content available from those two providers. I’ll talk about all the content options in a future post.
10. An Amazon Fire Stick is connected to the basement TV. Launching of apps seems to be faster on the Amazon Fire TV. But the cool thing about the stick is that it’s very easy to take a long with you on trips, as it’s form factor is simply a USB dongle.
My hope is that this case study helps you on your quest to become free of Cable TV!