The Bauminator

Mohu Turns Old Set-Tops Into New Cord-Cutting Tools

‘ReLeaf’ digital TV antenna made from old boxes really works 5/06/2016 10:00 AM

Old set-tops like the crusty DCT-2000 might make for a good door stop or bookend, but Mohu has discovered a new, more resourceful use for them – mash them into bits and turn that recycled material into antennas that can easily capture free, digital over-the-air TV signals.

 

Mohu, the TV antenna maker and courter of cord-cutters, has developed the ReLeaf, a “green” HD antenna made from set-tops that have been long been put out to pasture. They’re not talking about which specific models have been crushed into “MohoGrind” pellets that form the recycled TV antennas, but noted that the boxes are locally sourced from the company’s home state of North Carolina.

 

But Mohu sent me a ReLeaf to try out, and the box it came in clearly shows bits from a Scientific-Atlanta Explorer 3100, and a DCT-class Motorola digital set-top. To give you a sense on the age of that set-top matter, realize that Cisco Systems bought S-A in 2005 (and subsequently sold its CPE biz to Technicolor last year); and Arris nabbed Motorola Home in 2014. DCT boxes are pretty much the Model T of the digital cable era. 

 

In recognition of International Recycling Day (May 17), Mohu will be offering the ReLeaf for $49.99, a price that includes a 10-foot coax cable to connect the antenna to the TV. Mohu claims that the ReLeaf has a 30-mile digital UHF signal range, and a 10-mile digital VHF signal range.

 

According to the company, one pound of plastic from a cable box can be used to create 40 ReLeaf antenna “clamshells” – the plastic, flat portion of the antenna that covers the inner foil that receives the OTA signals.  

 

And I can say that this thing actually works, and works really well.

 

It took me all of ten minutes to remove the antenna from the box, connect it to a TV, and start scanning for local OTA channels. It found more than 40, and most were coming in crystal clear.

 

Channels that were coming in pixelated were quickly remedied by a quick adjustment of the antenna. And this was for a TV in my basement that isn’t placed near a window.