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Thread: DVB-T dongle outside...

  1. #1
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    DVB-T dongle outside...

    So I was trying to figure out how to get an external antenna hooked into my DVB-T usb dongle (my home PC is in my basement, and the cheap 10 inch antenna that comes with is not working well).

    I was all set to just run some coax out the wall up to my roof and mount a home-built collinear antenna. Then someone pointed out in a post here that signal loss would be something fierce (would need to be at least 20 feet, more if I try to make the cable nice and tidy on the outside of my nice suburban home) and suggested using an active USB cable.

    Found a seller on Ebay flogging a 32 foot cable for $12.95 with free shipping. PVC jacket, so it should be able to handle our Montana winter weather.

    My plan was to mount my antenna on the fascia, run 2 feet of coax to a junction box under the eave (we have finished soffits) and place the dongle in that box with the USB cable running down the wall to our basement.

    Considering the dongle cost a whole $13.95 I don't feel like I am risking much if it gets wet, but my question has to be- will the cable supply enough power to the dongle? Also it has vents on it so what kind of heat can it build up if I place it in an air-tight small enclosure? I would plan on sealing any openings with silicone or elastomeric caulk.

    Any ideas appreciated- have not yet visited my local home supply store to look at outdoor electrical enclosures, but figure any wet location single gang box would work.

    Thanks!

    Mark
    Last edited by madkiwi; 2013-09-27 at 23:13. Reason: typos!

  2. #2
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    Good question, I didn't manage to get my dongle to work on a powered USB cable at all - but many have.
    I'm running a Raspberry PI + dongle + Wifi setup and am thinking about putting the whole thing an a waterproof box and mounting it under the eaves - would only need a power cable. The advantage of using the Pi is it's low power requirement.

    We don't have your continental weather extremes (as we are surrounded by lots of water and that moderates the weather) - to me the question would be will the equipment work in when it's that cold or indeed as warm as it gets in summer. You could box the electronics with some long wires and see if it'll run if placed in a freezer and pre-heat an oven to plate warming level, test the temperature then place the electronics inside and and see if it'll work there.

    If you can you want the antenna to have 360 degree clear sky view - so above roof level and the level of surrounding trees since they will 'shade' your signal in those directions.

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    Well, I purchased the cable, and I will see if the dongle works when plugged into it. That is step one.

    I am in Missoula, Montana, the so-called "Banana belt of Montana" where the coldest temperature I have seen was about -10 F (about -23 C) in February. Most of the time the coldest we see it here is in the low single digits. I can't imagine electronics will stop working then, or most cars would not work!

    Highs- well I believe we had 3 days this year where it went over 100. Barely 38 C.

    I see more experiments in my future.

  4. #4
    Purser attigliano's Avatar
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    Electronic that didn't work in cold is mostly electronic with a magnetic storage (hard drive).
    The temperature inside the box (containing the dongle) will be a lot higher as long as it is powered. The dongle I have, I think it's temperature (I don't have anything to measure it) is about 20 C over room temperature and in a closed box it will be a little higher (Ice free).
    A processor work faster in a low temperature.

    Poul
    Last edited by attigliano; 2013-09-29 at 17:43.
    T-EKCH5: Raspberry Pi type B+ + FlightAware Pro Stick Plus + 1090MHz Bandpass Filter + A3-ADS-B Antenna

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    I received the 32 foot active USB cable on Thursday. Plugged the dongle into it then into the computer. No problems whatsoever.

    If anyone is interested I got it on Ebay, brand is Sewell for $12.95 with free shipping.

    Once I finished my window repainting project I will be running this cable out the exterior wall and up to the peak of my roof with the dongle outside for the winter. What is the worst that can happen?

  6. #6
    Captain fungus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by madkiwi View Post
    I received the 32 foot active USB cable on Thursday. Plugged the dongle into it then into the computer. No problems whatsoever.

    If anyone is interested I got it on Ebay, brand is Sewell for $12.95 with free shipping.

    Once I finished my window repainting project I will be running this cable out the exterior wall and up to the peak of my roof with the dongle outside for the winter. What is the worst that can happen?
    Make sure it's UV protected as the sun will eventually cause it to deteriorate prematurely if you dont.

    Regards,
    Gregg

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by madkiwi View Post
    I received the 32 foot active USB cable on Thursday. Plugged the dongle into it then into the computer. No problems whatsoever.

    If anyone is interested I got it on Ebay, brand is Sewell for $12.95 with free shipping.

    Once I finished my window repainting project I will be running this cable out the exterior wall and up to the peak of my roof with the dongle outside for the winter. What is the worst that can happen?
    Waterproof box in the shade should be OK (I would be worried about the sun cooking it in the box or degrading the box)

  8. #8
    Super Moderator speedbird1960's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by madkiwi View Post
    Once I finished my window repainting project I will be running this cable out the exterior wall and up to the peak of my roof with the dongle outside for the winter. What is the worst that can happen?
    It would make more sense to locate the Dongle in the loft away from the elements, you would only need a short length of cable to the antenna and the USB cable could be routed internally as i have read that USB cable does not last much more than a year if its exposed to the elements.

    The other option is to enclose the cable in conduit or trunking, here's an article about it: http://compnetworking.about.com/cs/c...t5outdoors.htm
    AMS Daily Fight Information: http://schiphol.dutchplanespotters.nl/

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    The box will definitely be under the eave, and it will be on the east end of our house so actually the best possible location to minimize the heat and UV issues.

    I would love to run the usb through the gable vent and down inside the wall to the basement- but here is Montana the walls are stuffed full with insulation so I have no way to route it through- plus no way to drill through the wall floor and top-plates.

    The problem with conduit is that it would have to be wide enough to fit a usb male plug- 16 mm minimum. Here in the US the light duty 1/2" conduit is 17 mm inside, so that will work, but it is going to be quite noticeable on the outside of the house. I suppose I could paint it before putting it up...

    OR I just don't care because it cost me $12.95 and I figure it will have to be replaced every 2 years (conduit will cost me twice that).

    Would wrapping the usb cable in electrical tape for the outside locations offer any UV protection?

    EDIT- I just discovered that Scotch Super 33+ electrical tape is UV resistant, and rated for -18 C to +105 C. Weatherproof for outside use and I have a bunch in my garage already. So I will try a wrap with that.
    Last edited by madkiwi; 2013-10-06 at 19:37. Reason: More information added

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