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Digital to Analog Converter - Problems

 
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mikewhite
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:54 am    Post subject: Digital to Analog Converter - Problems Reply with quote

I thought I would be the first on the block to hook up a converter box so I could watch the digital stations on my anolog TV. I got the Gov't cards worth $40 each. I purchased a converter at Wally World for $10 after rebate. So far so good.

I hook it up and I can not get anything on it. As I understood things, if you could get the stations pretty well with anolog you would be able to get them pretty well with digital.

I took the box back. Wally World, because I used the gov't card, will not give your money back. They will only exchange for another box just like the one you bring back.

I hook up the 2nd converter box and, you guessed it, nothing. The chances of two boxes being bad in a row is small. I start suspecting a reception problem.

I call TV 7&4 which has a tower only 10 or 11 miles away. The engineer is amazed that I can't get a signal, but suggests that I aim my UHF antenna more directly at the tower. So I do that. 7&4 is broadcasting on 35, but can make the channel appear as 4.1 to you and me.

I move the antenna and re-scan with the box. I get channel 57.2 and 57.3 which is PBS broadcast from 45 miles away. These stations are on a heading that is only about 27 degrees apart. So, I can get a station 45 miles away but not one that is 10 miles away in almost the same direction. The antenna is not directional. it is 4 bowtie dipole with a rectangular grid reflector behind. At least I know the box works.

The reason I can give angles between stations and know names of antennas is because I have been studying and searching for the reason why I can't get signals.

www.antennaweb.org is a good place to start. it gives compass headings, distance and the frequency assignments for the stations around your home. But, beware, some of the freqency assignments are wrong. If your in Michigan, go to www.michiguide.com/dial/tv.html and you will find a more accurate list. Plus, when you click on info, you will get some good details about tower locations

All the digital signals in this area are UHF except WGTQ - ABC - 29&8. They broadcast from Goetzville in the UP and will be channel 9 a VHF frequency. I am not certain that they are even broadcasting digital yet.

Here is a real stick to jam in the gears. In 2009 the FCC will give each station the choice of staying in UHF or moving to VHF if that is possible. Each band has advantages and disadvantages. One opinion that I read was that VHF-high is the best band for DTV, given that VHF-low is plagued by appliance noise problems and UHF is plagued by TREE and hill problems.

What this all boils down to is that if you get good analog signal, it does not mean you will get good digital signal.

I think I might follow the advice of this guy at www.hdtvprimer.com and mount a channel 7-13 yagi on the mast with the UHF antenna.

Anyone else on this site been running into problems or have any suggestions?
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blue72
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Geez, Louise, whatever happened to the good old days of three channels and a roll of tin foil? Something else you may want to check into is who is switched to digital and who isn't. I've heard the same complaints from colleagues down here and what they are being told is, if you try to pick up a station that is still analog with the digital converter, it will come in, but very poorly. Of course they aren't forthcoming with who is up and who isn't. And I'm pretty sure that no one has done the research that you have Mike. Hopefully it is as simple as waiting for the channels to actually go digital
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lighthouse
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like a master government conspiracy to make you buy these little converter's from some officials brother-in-law. These systems won't work, so after being extremely frustrated you will be forced to buy cable. By the way, the cable contract was made in a late hour deal, by a group of lobbyists that contibuted heavily to our favorite political party. And they lived happily ever after!!!!!!
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We have a tv that has analog and standard DTV on it.. We are picking up more channels than we got before by utilizing the DTV part.. Excellent PBS, FOX, CW and Create. We are also getting 29&8 ABC. We aren't getting 7&4 NBC and 9&10 CBS on the digital yet.. We still watch it on the analog.. We have one of those old rotor antenna.. It works for the digital part too.. If it says no signal we rotate and whala! Every once in a while we scan to check for new channels.. Get a rotor antenna,it will be easier for you to scan the skies for reception, Mike.. Cool
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Conis
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mike... I sense some frustration?

The games have just begun with this debacle. If you are getting PBS from 45 miles but not cheboygan even with antenna alignment, To me this suggests a transmission problem?

Quote:
One opinion that I read was that VHF-high is the best band for DTV, given that VHF-low is plagued by appliance noise problems and UHF is plagued by TREE and hill problems.


This is correct. UHF is more line of site. The higher the frequency, the narrower the bandwidth and the more easily is it is impeded by trees, hills etc. Same reason lower cell phone frequencies are used in rural areas... Distance over quality.

I have a high gain channel master yagi-type (beam) vhf/uhf with rotor. On a 30 foot mast. Right conditions, I can get Toledo, SSMarie, Milwaukee. 150+ mile radius. PBS 20 miles away in Mount Pleasant... I have to turn the antenna 90 degrees to detune or otherwise wath PBS from a more distant site. You might be looking at an antenna upograde as well?

Fortunately, I have a dish and watch that 95% of the time... I don't believe dish transmissions are going to be affected. I do know that to get dish HDTV, you have to purchase a HDTV receiver and of course, pay extra for those channels. Thanks but I'll pass.

In 2009, there will be 300 million perfectly good TVs in landfills or hopefully recycled.

How have we survived all these years with crappy pictures?

I have an 8mm movie camera for sale. CHEAP!
c
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Kevin Gibbons
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a rotary attena and tripod on my house that I will sell. I went to cable since they ran it out in cordwood.
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mikewhite
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 1:21 pm    Post subject: Trees Reply with quote

Trees is "the word" I made BOLD in my origial post. I can receive the lower frequency VHF though the trees, but the digital UHF transmissions are blocked. Actually, I have a set of rabbit-ears in the attic that are on a rotor. Also, there is the UHF antenna separately mounted to get Fox channel 45. Those "y" into a power booster. This system worked so well that I gave away my tower last summer. I am now kicking myself for doing that. I have to point the rabbit ears at the lake to get my best signal, not at any station. I suspect the lake reflects the signal.

Conis, you are correct about an antenna upgrade or should I say a reconfiguration. The frustration stems from reading that "if you can get it analog, you can get it digital"; and I believed it; and gave away my tower.

I am in the process of putting up a home made eave mount that I will put my rotor on. Then I'll mount my UHF antenna up about 5 feet. That will put me 30 feet up. The trees are still blocking, but not so much, and it gets me out of the attic too. I refuse to mount on the roof.

Are you receiving analog or digital with the high gain yagi? Do you have an analog TV? If it is analog, borrow one of those converter boxes, hook it up and see how well you will get the digital signals.
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mikewhite
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PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 7:54 pm    Post subject: New Antenna Setup Reply with quote

I got pipes for a mast, bought wall mount hardware, and bought a VHF HIGH antenna (ch 7 thru 13). I mounted the VHF antenna about 5 feet above the peak of the house and mounted the rotor above that at the end of my 1.5 inch pipe. I then mounted my UHF antenna about 5 feet above the rotor.

I pointed the new VHF antenna at Goetzville near Detour. That is where ABC and CBS come from. I pointed the UHF, using the rotor, at the NBC tower near Cheboygan.

My analog signal is crisp and strong on all stations including FOX ch 45. Fox has a tower down near Vanderbilt on Thumb Lake Rd. No ghosts in the picture.

I switched over to the digital to analog converter box. The results were very "vexing". All the time and money made no difference. I can only get channel 57, PBS, 45 miles away. I moved the UHF antenna to every point on the compass but could not get channel 4, 10 miles away. I do need to note that I did not expect to get anything from Goetzville, because I have a VHF antenna pointing that way and they are temporarily broadcasting digital in the UHF band. They will switch to VHF in February.

So now I'm looking at getting a different converter box. I've read some reviews and found that the Insignia NS-DXA1 is a better box. A Zenith DTT900 or 901 is almost the same thing. They are both made by LG. They are sold at Best Buy, Circuit City (if they are still around) and Radio Shack.
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lighthouse
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PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2008 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just an off the wall question, if any one knows. Who authorized this switch in the first place? I don't recall ever hearing of the switch until last winter. This is going be a real big mess next February, especially for the seniors who can't afford this or don't have the ability to do all the stuff Mike did in an attempt to get a signal. It will be very interesting to see if our older sets will actually work with cable or dish as the said it will.
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Squeaky
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PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2008 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Will be very interesting. Another way to take our money or get us to spend more money. Our cable bills are way to much now. Mike, do you not have to get above the trees to get real good reception?
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mikewhite
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PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2008 7:55 am    Post subject: Height Reply with quote

The higher the better. UHF has a hard time with trees. My main complaint was that I heard that if you get a good analog signal, you will get a good digital signal. I then gave away a tower I had, because I had a good analog signal. I now have a great analog signal.

The higher you go the harder it is to do, it costs more, and the chance of wind blowing it down is greater. I wanted to avoid guy wires too. I hoped that by moving out of the attic and getting up above the roof would increase the signal enough. I will go higher as a last resort.

The not so funny thing is that the station I can't get is the closest and should have the strongest signal of them all.
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doug miller
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PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2008 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe you could call that close station and ask someone there if they have any thoughts on the matter.
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NJean
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PostPosted: Wed May 14, 2008 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is also a flip side to this discussion. For a country with an energy problem, did anyone figure out the additional electricity needed to run all of the new converter boxes. Another thing to mention is that Plazma and LCD TV's use more energy than our present televisions. Doesn't seem like a wise decision for a country with an energy problem.

Whether you go LCD TV, Plazma TV or Present TV +converter box, your energy use will increase with any one of these.

(Took this from the Energy Star Website) In the U.S. alone, depending on viewer behavior and product design, EPA estimates that conventional DTAs could consume more than 3 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) per year and cost Americans $270 million annually in additional electricity bills.
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Kacy_Martin
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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2008 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The FCC/Government is forcing the conversion because the FCC just auctioned the 700MHz spectrum off (which is what currently carries analog broadcast TV.) Once they stop broadcasting Verizon/AT&T will be using the 700MHz band for communications.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/700_MHz_wireless_spectrum_auction

The switch to digital allows for broadcast television to use much lower power broadcast power (a digital signal will cover the same area as an analog signal at about 1-5% power of an analog signal). They will also be able to transmit many more channels in the same amount of bandwidth.

The converter boxes are pretty pricey (around $50 - $60) but worth it. I bought 2 for my apartment (http://dtv.bsat.net/pc-17-2-artec-t3a-ntia-certified-convertor-box.aspx - it ended up being about $13 after shipping using the DTV2009 coupon: https://www.dtv2009.gov/)

I am actually able to pick up quite a few more channels with the digital boxes than with my prior analog setup (and the channels come in crystal clear now). So it seems like a bit of a rip forcing everyone to convert to digital, but hopefully the 700MHz spectrum will be used to roll out a better 3G or 4G broadband cell network.

**EDIT** response to the power consumption: the DTV2009 boxes have to conform to power consumption standards to be eligible for the coupon, also the reduction in broadcast power when the analog towers switch will be pretty huge also.

I am also using my converter box on an old CRT "tube" TV and works perfectly fine. Also my 27in CRT television consumes much more power than a larger LCD panel television would (most LCD and Plasma televisions have digital tuners built in anyhow). So I don't think that power consumption as a result of the digital switch would really be much of an issue.
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mikewhite
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PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2008 8:18 am    Post subject: City vs Country Reply with quote

The comparison here is not quite equal. You are comparing city vs country. If you are close to the stations and not buried in the woods, your reception should be good. There are many people in this country that live in the country a long way from the stations. These people are going to have trouble with the conversion, especially if they are in the woods.

I have a longer pipe and intend to extend the height of my antenna, but, there is no way I can get above the tree tops. I may be screwed.
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Kacy_Martin
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PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2008 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're right, but thats true for analog reception as well. The closer you are the the transmitter the better your reception will be. But for digital if you are picking up the signal at all you're going to be getting it at 100% quality. And the range of a digital signal is actually further than analog, the digital signal just isnt broadcast at as high of power.
You also have to keep in mind that a lot of stations haven't started broadcasting in digital yet either. In my area CBS is analog only. You can get the digital to analog boxes that have analog pass through which will allow you to watch both the digital and analog stations at the same time.
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Kacy_Martin
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PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2008 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Conis wrote:


Fortunately, I have a dish and watch that 95% of the time... I don't believe dish transmissions are going to be affected. I do know that to get dish HDTV, you have to purchase a HDTV receiver and of course, pay extra for those channels. Thanks but I'll pass.

In 2009, there will be 300 million perfectly good TVs in landfills or hopefully recycled.

c


Dish is broadcast in digital already (same with DirecTV) no analog signals are used there. So the DTV2009 switch isn't going to effect dish users.
Cable television will still be broadcast in mostly analog as well. Most cable television stations <80 are all analog. The other cable television stations are already broadcast in digital (hence the need for a cable box, it converts the digital signal into an analog signal for analog TVs).

The analog signal being transmitted over your cable provider's coax consumes typically around 70% of the bandwidth (Internet, on demand services, HD stations, telephone services etc.. are all using that remaining 30%) so cable providers stand much to gain by switching their broadcast to all digital as well. There is no definite timeline for cable television digital switch although I have heard estimates around 2011.

Once the broadcast stations switch to digital older (analog) TVs will still be perfectly fine, provided that you are using a digital converter box. The boxes will convert the digital signal into an analog signal your TV can handle, as well as down-sampling the HD signal into a Standard Definition signal.
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mikewhite
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PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2008 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Remember channel 4 analog out of Cheboygan is my strongest station. They are broadcasting digital on channel 35. They are not going to drop down into the VHF range after Feb. 09. The converter box will not pick up the UHF channel 35, even though it IS being broadcast. The tech. at their station says there will be problems.

That UHF signal will not penetrate the trees.

I can't get 8 or 10 digital either, because they are right now broadcasting on UHF. But, I have hope, because they are going to drop down into the VHF band in Feb.
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