2017 Cable Cutting Rig

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!

Tales of a Road Warrior – Watching the Cleveland Browns 760 Miles Away!

With the CableFreeUSA.com’s 2017 Cable Cutting Rig I was able to live stream the Cleveland Browns’ first 2017 Preseason game in Hilton Head, SC. The antenna in my attic caught the signal, TabloTV device monitored the signal and streamed it over the internet to the Amazon TV that I brought with me.

On a technical note the TabloTV had to be configured (via one checkbox on the settings page) to provide content over the internet, and my Amazon TV’s TabloTV app had to be paired with the TabloTV once on my local home network.

I set my streaming on TabloTV to 3GB and I had excellent video quality signal 760 miles away from my antenna.

Bundling a ‘Huge Deterrent’ to Cord Cutting?

https://tech.slashdot.org/story/17/03/22/1525242/cord-cutting-isnt-nearly-as-significant-as-cable-providers-make-it-out-to-be

I call B.S. on this story. More and more people are abandoning the cable box. OTA is rising again, and YouTube content producers are making a ton of cash. What’s REALLY happening is a whole generation of users (those in high school and younger) are consuming content through YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon. You can shift two speed tiers up on your internet cable and decrease your cost by half.

After Cutting the Cable Cord: How to Watch Fox News?

A friend of mine asked me about Fox News viewing options after cutting the cord. Fox News has a very nice app that is available for Amazon Fire TV. All shows seem to be posted a few hours after initial broadcast. Each show is broken down into individual segments and can be scanned through easily or watched consecutively. This is actually a very interesting development in the evolution of content programming. I’m not sure how Fox News actually makes money on this service at this time because there are no commercials. We’re in the 3rd inning of this transition away from cable proper to smart devices and the Internet. Enjoy this commercial-free golden age of programming consumption!

Additionally, Fox News posts their clips on their YouTube channel. As I’ve mentioned before, the family has shifted a considerable amount of time to YouTube. YouTube does inject 15 second commercials periodically and longer commercials that can be skipped after 5 seconds.

Network TV Without Cable

You can absolutely receive network TV broadcasts without cable. It’s interesting that TWO generations simply do not know that this option exists. If you were born between 1988-2010 when cable TV household penetration was at an all time high, you never watched TV via an antenna!

Broadcast TV is still a big business for the five big networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, and PBS) and the NFL and the NCAA. Over 40% of the content that you currently watch on cable is probably coming from those networks.

Check out our Call to Action to show you how to capture this network content without cable.

Call to Action

Can I Get Local Channels Without Cable?

YouTube Content

Our family has found that we watch much more interesting content targeted to our specific tastes through YouTube. We probably spend at least a 1/2 hour a day watching programming from YouTube channels. The content is placed directly on YouTube from the big media networks, independent networks and organizations, and even PBS.

I find myself spending time watching interesting cooking shows that have totally replaced my FoodTV viewing from Zagat, Munchies, Molto Mario, Jamie Oliver, and Gordon Ramsey’s personal channels. The gate keepers have left the building, and these organizations are embracing the power and reach of the Internet!

With YouTube, you can follow your favorite music artists, painters, and travel hosts – again – directly from the source.

The kids use YouTube to watch videos on their favorite games, or science experiments, and show and tell videos on their favorite crafts.

You don’t need to cut cable to try this out. Experiment with a week or two of streaming content from YouTube through your streaming device’s app. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised what’s available.

P.S. I even streamed Donald Trump’s thank you tour stops LIVE via YouTube. Very cool!