recommend a quality CATV splitter please!

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today I had my cable box lock up and when I rebooted it the picture was
all shaky and jaggy, so I took it back to the service center and traded
it in on a shiny new one.  I found that upgrading to a HDTV box would
only cost $2 plus $2/month, and apparently my cable co. (Cox) is
surprisingly cool about HD, everything that I already get, I get in HD
just by paying the higher box rental fee.  So I came home with a shiny
new cable box, hooked it up, picture fine but I found that many channels
still weren't watchable - just a poor signal.  So I got to
troubleshooting... I determined that the cable from the splitter to the
TV was causing signal loss (took some lengths of coax that I had laying
around, connected them together, ran to TV, improved signal, but still
not great, but I figured that was because not all of the cables were
good quad shield) so I ran some new quad shield.  Better, still not
good.  Bypassed the surge suppressor, better yet, still not getting all
channels.  Bypassed splitter (have a 4-port splitter screwed to a floor
joist in the basement, so I can have TV and cable modem both connected)
now it's good.  Put surge suppressor back in circuit, still good.  Dug
in junk box, found an old 2-port splitter, still good.  So it's the
4-port splitter that is the problem, even though I just bought it a
couple years ago and it was clearly labeled "HDTV" and listed for the
appropriate frequency range.  GRR!

So...

given the above, what should I buy?  Can someone recommend a good brand
of 4 or more port splitter that isn't a pile of cheap crap?

OR...  is the 3dB or whatever loss between the 2-port and 4-port
splitter likely enough to be causing my problem, and I should simply get
an amplified splitter?  If so, I'd still like a recommend.  I would like
the add'l ports because future plans involve running cable up to the
bedrooms - in fact, I might have been doing it today had not my cable
box crapped out.

FWIW I did have the unused ports capped, although I don't know if that
really makes a difference or not.

Oh, and this is making the decision as to whether to buy a new TV or not
harder.  Prices seem reasonable right now, but I don't like having a
cable box, am wondering if I should wait until the next gen cable card
is available.  I know, you guys can't help me with that one (but if any
of you have done your research and can recommend a good HDTV, appx. the
same size as my old SD Sony projector (53", but not 16x9) or perhaps a
little smaller that isn't ludicrously expensive, that would be
appreciated too...  I don't actually have a HDTV hooked up to the cable
box, but I wanted the HD box in case I had guests and they wanted to
watch TV in one of the bedrooms, I could just move the box upstairs.

On the upside, now ALL the cable in my house is quad shield save for the
maybe 3' long piece between the outside connection and the splitter.  I
would have replaced that too but it's 90+ and sunny out, and it's
working now...

thanks for any help

nate

--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel

Re: recommend a quality CATV splitter please!
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Nate,

There are incredibly varying qualities in splitters.  Look for one that's
all metal, soldered around the edges and is made by a reputable outfit.  I
like gold plated connectors but nickel ones work just as well, although they
film over in humid areas.  Splitters are often rated for certain frequencies
only.  If I were powering four devices, I'd definitely put a signal amp in.
Also, on a four way, one connector will be marked IN with the other three
marked OUT, although you can use it in reverse as a signal combiner, but few
people need that.  Make sure you've got that right - all four connectors are
not created equally.

I'd split the cable coming in with a dual, one leg going to the cable modem
and then take the other leg and run it into a signal amp and to the TVs.
Why?  Because when the cable modem F's up, it's easy to remove all the TV's
and signal amps from the equation by removing the splitter and using a
barrel to replace it.  That way only the cable modem is connected to the
incoming wire, and Comcast can't BS me about "you may have 'customer
installed equipment' (they say those words as if they were bitter poison)
that is interfering with your cable signal."

Also, if your terminations is bad, or you're using the wrong sort of cable
you can seriously screw up reception.  A cable guy once told me he was
astounded by the RF leakage he finds in houses where the owners have done
their own wiring.  I believe him.

For years I thought screw-on coax connectors were just as good as
crimped/compressed until fellow newsgroupers beat some sense into me and I
got a Snap'n'seal compression tool and a box of gold-plated compression
fittings.  The foot massager that had always put noise on the bedroom TV no
longer did so when I redid all the fittings from screw and crimp to
compression.  The difference on TV's at the ends of long cable runs was
incredibly noticeable.  Cabling is like plumbing, to be good, it has to be
tight without leaks.  The problem is that it's much hard to find cable
leaks.  No puddles!

--
Bobby G.



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