Mary Robinson is all about real-world information on the switch to digital television signals. The success of the DTV switch will depend on regular folks understanding new technology and getting it running in their homes. Ms. Robinson is weighing in on those nitty-gritty details, sharing her enthusiasm for TV-signal technology with those who are less technically inclined. She’s developed an expertise through years of hands-on experimentation, pulling in signals from the rooftop of her Texas home. Now she’s a resource for consumers struggling with the digital switch. We discovered Mary right here on TVWeek.com, where she reliably dispensed information in the comments section of this story, First Digital TV Converter Box Wins Government Approval about the digital switch. Let’s keep the conversation rolling!



Digital Transition Answers

First Digital TV Converter Box Wins Government Approval

September 21, 2007 1:55 PM

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration has issued its first approval of a digital-to-analog converter box, the device that will allow analog set owners to continue to watch free over-the-air broadcast TV after the national switch to digital-only broadcasting Feb. 17, 2009.

Manufacturer Digital Streams announced Friday that two models of its approved converter box will be available in stores early next year for a suggested retail price of $69.99.

The NTIA, a division of the Commerce Department division, is overseeing a federally funded program that will make available to qualified TV households coupons worth $40 toward the purchase of the converter box. The coupons will be available starting in January.

The Digital Stream boxes measure about 7 by 4 by 1.5 inches.

The company said it plans to unveil a comprehensive retailer/partner and customer-support plan for the converters, including telephone technical support for consumers.

—Michele Greppi


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Comments (377)

Jenifer Simpson:

Does this converter box pass through captioning, used by 30 million Americans who are deaf and hard of hearing?
Does this converter box pass through any video description, used by millions of persons with vision loss?

Francis T McVetty:

Jenifer, you are right on the money, good thinking!I do hope that you get a response to your questions. I am sure that there will be many people also waiting for a response. Francis "frank" McVetty.

according to the specs the units will have closed captioning, with Digital CC (Comply with EIA-708-B)

Rich L:

Will a DTA converter box be able to serve multiple analog TVs? Or will a box be required for each analog TV? If one is required for each TV, what is the limiting factor?

mc op:

The DVS (descriptive video service) and other language audio in the analog service have been until now broadcast in your analog tv's SAP (Secondary Audio Programming) channel that you can select in your television's menu.

With Digital Broadcasting, these services (and possibly many more, only limited by ATSC bandwith) will still be available. It is up to your local stations to determine what audio to offer, and to encode it properly.

Any DTV decoder that is ATSC compliant should be able to decode any alternate audio programming that was encoded by the broadcaster.

That said, I work at a PBS affiliate, and we have yet to offer secondary audio on our digital broadcasts. We do, and have for quite some time, offered on our analog service either DVS or Spanish when it is available from the producers of a show.

As far as captions, that is an FCC requirement. As for whether the box will do the decoding, or will rely on the analog decoder in your tv is unknown to me. (possibly both.)

It is likely that a single box, much like a vcr or cable box, will tune only one channel, therefore only serving one tv.

Hope this helps!

I have now seen some demos by at least four manufacturers of the digital-to-analog signal converter boxes (LG, Thomson-RCA, Samsung and Omnibox?? I might have got the last one wrong). And yes, it looks like you need a converter box for each tv set. These all seemed to pass through captioning.The LG remote control had a CC button on it to make it easier to find the caption menu. All of the converter boxes seem to have ANOTHER remote control!! Finding this menu-- and finding the right remote control! -- is getting harder and harder on any TV. Try finding it on a hotel TV for instance! I can't seem to check any audio description pass through but am asking around on this...

Renard Gervais:

Several questions.

1. in this day and age of ever-increasingly overburdened landfills, what about the tons of discarded televisions, VCRs and other devices now usable with analogue signal broadcast that will be discarded? Is there any governmental program to deal with the volume? Or does this all just get buried, dumped - wasted?

2. digital television broadcast is very different from analogue in terms of threshold signal strength required to maintain a viewable and hearable product. Many broadcsst siganl users undoubtedly have noted the 'blue screen' that appears on current digital tuners now in use when a signal is on the edge of receptibility. Older sets go to the "old-fashioned" grainy fuzzy picture (but still partially viewable)....with audio information being the last to disappear. Thus even in severe weather situations information gets through. The shift to solely digital will cause a total loss of information in times of the greatest need. Is there to be a signal strength boost in the current licensed broadcaster's signal to offset this?

3. the hue and cry within the FCC has been that the freed airwaves will now be able to be used for emergency services. While this is an exact truth, it would be "ABLE" to be used is not a statement that it "WILL" be used in this manner. When is the FCC to admit that corporate pressures to cause all Americans to abandon free television and change to subscriber paid-for-use is the goal? Furthermore, such subscriber television has the ability to monitor the actual viewing usage of any broadcast while standard free usage is unmonitored - what forces have been brought to bear on the FCC to cause this change to a privacy right of all Americans to view without intrusion or scrutiny by vendors?

4. When an inexpensive televison may now be had for $100 or even less (even in the $30 range for some units) whereas the least expensive digital television starts at a minimum of apx. $300 - the question is being begged to be asked - How is this of apx. x10 price increase of economic benefit to Americans? In addtion, the D-to-A converter boxes being touted start at the cheapest in the $60 range; yet, with declared inferior output compared with a digitally tuned televison - the question too then is who is to benefit from this transititon? Certainly not the American citizen.
5. Finally, as the implementation of this new FCC law takes effect, what will the results be to those many nations and areas be that have not the infrastructure to support at this time digital quality broadcasts? Indeed, the vast majority of the world will not make a changeover. Can any of us imagine some central African viewer, or a person living in a border area to the United States, Free televison broadcast viewers throughout the world - those viewers hustling down to his or her local cable company to plug in? As the current broadcast system is world-wide, what provisions are being made for the rest of the world?....( Most especially those without any financial means to either purchase a vastly more expensive receiver/TV set let alone a cable/digital connection)

Stanley Storer:


You have asked all the questions I would like answers to. Being retired with Social Security as my main means of support I do not forsee paying for a satalite service.

I look forward to proper response to your comments.

A Tsar:

The FCC will be selling the old analog TV frequencies at auction. AT&T, Verizon, Google and others have already indicated they intend to submit bids.

The sale of these frequencies will bring the Government (FCC) billions of dollars at the expense of American taxpayers. AT&T is paying Aloha Partners LP of Providence, RI over $2.5 BILLION for analog frequencies now covering Channels 54 and 59. Just imaging what the other frequencies (channels 2-69) will go for.

Just imagine the pile of "old" TV's, VCR's and other electronics which will go into garbage dumps.

Isn't it interesting the U.S. Government hasn't made any effort to inform the average American citizen of this coming change.

By-the-way, that $40 coupon is valid only for a TV. If you also have an old VCR or DVD recorder with a built-in analog tuner, your out of luck. No coupon for those items.

I predict, when the average person learns of this "scheme", and the BILLIONS they will have to pay out for new TV's, VCR's etc., there will be another "Tea Party" except this time in Washington not Boston.

If you are concerned about this subject, I would strongly suggest you call or write your representatives in Congress....TODAY.


Hey, I was just a reading along and I though Renard Gervais asked some very important questions. So I thought I should add some of my on info to the mix and try and answer them.

The US government wasteful? No, that just can’t be!!! :-)

Although I agree with you about the wasteful part, there will be no real volume increase. That is what the converter boxes are for. The TV, VCR or DVD player will continue to work if plugged in to the new digital converters. Your TV will still get the shows, your VCR will still be able to record the shows and your DVD player will still of course play DVDs. Although is appears that in order to watch and REC shows with your VCR you may have to do it via the input mode, like you have if you are playing a video game.

I understand your concern but luckily a weak digital signal is different then your VCR or TV cutting off an Analog signal. When you are getting a very weak grainy analog signal you will still be getting a completely clear digital signal. When you are getting no analog signal (that means you get chhhhhsssssssssssh) then you should get the blue screen of death from your digital signal. To understand this you need to understand that a digital signal is nothing but 1s and 0s, but an analog signal is waves of varying frequency.

Here is an example to explain what that means. Imagine a guy is standing a long way off and that guy is trying to give you a message. The guy can hold up a sign with writing on it and you can do your best to try and read what he has to say (that is kind of like analog). Now if the guy then gets a white board that he can wave up and down he can then flash you Morse code (that is kind of like digital). Now on a foggy day you may not be able to make out the details of what is written on the board ( a grainy analog signal) but as long as you can see the guy at all, you sure as heck will be able to make out the flashing Morse code (a digital 1s & 0s signal). So a digital signal will last much longer just because the information it is receiving is so specific. Now if you got a stupid guy standing next to you that can’t read Morse code, then that represents an analog TV that can’t understand a digital signal without a box to do the interpreting for it.

That is more of a statement then a question, but you make an interesting point.

Well, many of us poor people have good working Analog TVs, and we are not yet ready to buy a cheap Digital TV to replace a TV that has many good years left. Wouldn’t that just be a waste? Besides with a government coupon I am just spending 20$ instead of around a 100$ for a TV I may not like.

Dude, do you know how far an over the air signal goes. Now if you are taking about signals like the one we are sending to Cuba, then that signal is broadcasted from a plane to that area for propaganda reasons. As far as other nations go, it is up to the individual nation as to when or if they make the switch for their own broadcast. No nation is forced to change. In fact the US is a bit behind other nations when it comes to making a full transition with the new technology.

I thought I should also throw in an answer to a question I have heard elsewhere. The signal that you get through the converter box will not be as good as just having a new digital TV. This is because your analog TV is sucky compared to a Digital TV, and the box can’t magically make your TV set better. But the signal will be as good or better then what you get now. Signal grain is now gone for good.

Well I got to go, hope this was helpful. That's all folks.

The government has deferred to the industry to educate the public about the transition to a new digital TV standard and the industry hasn't stepped up to the plate because they have their own agendas. So there's a lot of misinformation around. That's why I started www.dtvprimer.com in 2005.

The transition really is good for the public and the industry due to the the better picture and sound quality, and the greater efficiencies of digital. Most other countries in the world are going through their own transitions to digital TV; everyone is doing it a little differently.

Jenifer Simpson:

And here's another question. I hear that the digital broadcast can be subdivided into up to 6 "sub" channels. But that due to interference issues, most tv stations will only use 4 of these subchannels, also referred to as multicasting. Now, what I want to know is what is going to go on all these channels?
Re-runs? more boring talking heads? weather?
sports? ads? games? SOmething interactive? IF so, what???
How about a community use sub channel? after all, don't we own the airwaves?


I am assuming the converter will convert the signal to analog into the TV and the old analog VCR and DVD will still work....Am I right?

Doug Malloy:

I've now seen demo's of the LG, Thompson (RCA?) and Microprose (micro-prose ?) boxes.

What I've seen - they all seem to work the same, the menu's and guides are just like cable and satellite guides and info's, something I forgot that most people now take for granted, but has never been on old analog tv's

They tested the Microprose box through a VCR and a PVR (Tivo box) and you can record the shows perfectly, so you don't need to chuck the VCR or worry about the PVR investment (of course, if someone can afford a $300 PVR, they can afford a low end 20" or so HDTV too.)

The boxes had Coaxial and Composite AV out, so essentially they'll plug into literally anything.

The LG box was kind of blah and boring, the Thompson box looked like it had some tape over the Zenith logo which was weird, but it was a nice looking box, the Microprose box looked nice too. So they are attractive looking for the most part and are very easy to use.

I've got Direct TV, but not in 2 other rooms in my house, so picking up 2 boxes for those rooms will keep those spare TV's up and running and for under $100 and $40 off each, its a pretty good deal, beats having to go out and buy two more sat receivers and having to pay a $5 per month (lease fee) on each one.



Checked with my cable company about their converter boxes $3.99 for first TV, and $7.99 for second TV. They also mentioned my having to assure the boxes that I might want to buy from any electronic store allows for an insert card for future updates to their cable systems. Whatever I have read so far about the boxes to be sold at different stores, nothing is ever mentioned about insert cards for future updates to my cable service. It leads me to believe I have to pay the $11.98 because if the converter boxes do not include the insert card capability, I would have to purchase new boxes every time the cable company made changes or upgrades to their cable systym. Is that a possability or are they putting the pressure on to rent their boxes?

Doug Malloy:

Dee -

Your cable rep is mis-understanding the situation, all cable companies - under FCC rules, requires them to transmit fee over the air local channels (through what is called OpenCable) and any QAM equipped device can receive TV through a cable connection.

What he is talking about are cable TV reception boxes, that would subscribe to the pay-for programming (cable news, HBO, specialty channels, etc...)

These new Digital TV Converter boxes are for receiving free TV via an antenna or through OpenCable/QAM connections.

The NTIA regulations require that the qualifying boxes do not require in-field firmware upgrades and work correctly through their qualifying program and certification.

This is why you'll set two different classes of converters - the NTIA certified ones, the only ones the retailers are going to carry and then all of the non-qualifying devices (aka - crap) that all have firmware ports on them and are basically "Work in Progress" devices that don't pass the muster.

Stick with the LG, Microprose, Samsung, Panasonic and other Certified devices, don't both with the 2nd rate junk.


A Nylen:

How will these converters work with Direct satellite TV and old TV's.


whereas the least expensive digital television starts at a minimum of apx. $300

Not true. Here is a list of of ATSC-ready sets starting at $110.

the D-to-A converter boxes being touted start at the cheapest in the $60 range; yet, with declared inferior output compared with a digitally tuned televison

Also not true. The converter boxes will offer access to all digital channels including the multicasted ones, program metadata where available, closed captioning, and the superior reception that goes with digital broadcasting (no more snow, shadows, smeared colors and color shifts). An old analog set won't display in HD, but it will show a very clean SD image on the HD channels.

Indeed, the vast majority of the world will not make a changeover.

Not true.


How will these converters work with Direct satellite TV and old TV's.

With Direct Satellite, not at all. These converters have one purpose, namely to allow older analog TV's to continue to receive over-the-air broadcasts.

Satellite and cable aren't affected by the broadcast changeover. However, over time cable users will see more and more of their channels go to a digital tier, requiring them to either rent a digital receiver box (which is a completely different thing from the over-the-air converter boxes) or get a CableCard, if their TV's are new enough to be able to use them.


Someone on this forum asked if a covrerter would be required for each tv they own.

Yes! with an explaination.

1-If you have a distribution system with a coax wall jack in the room where the 2nd tv is located.

2-But the converter plus a modulator will reqiured.

Here's how:
1-Connect your roof antenna cable into the converter.
2-Then from the converter a short rg6 cable into the modulator.

3-Connect a second short rg6 cable from the modulator to the primary [living room] tv.

4-Finally the cable from your distribution system to a 2nd port on the modulator for tv #2. Some modulators can furnish the signal for more than 2 tv's.

If you do not have a home distribution system,
but you want to have a second tv in another room, you would have to run a cable from the modulator to the room where the 2nd tv is located.

BTW if older 300 ohm [flat twin-lead]cable is still connected to the roof antenna, it should definetely be replaced with high quality rg6 cable. It not only makes connecting everthing easier, but will produce a higher quality picture on your tv.
Rg6 should also be utilized for all the cable runs through out the house if possible.


Who ever asked:
How will these converters work with Direct satellite TV and old TV's

Satellite receivers that Dish and Direct offer do not require a converter. But with Dish Network, you must subscribe to receive the local networks on you tv @ $5.00 per month.

If you live close to the local networks antenna, and you have a late model tv with a converter, you could hook up your roof antenna directly to your tv. You will be amazed with the picture quality. In many cases better than the local network channels you would not have to pay Dish the $500 p/m.

BTW everyone is referring to this set top box as a converter. Which is correct. But it is really an "ATSC" tuner. It displays standard definition [SD]on an older analog tv, and will display high definition [HD] on a new HDTV set.

If you are looking to buy a new HD flat panel tv being offered on some of the recent special low priced sales......make very sure it includes an ATSC tuner. Otherwise you will have to buy what everyone on this forum refers to as a converter, [ATSC tuner] to receive the new digital off the air broadcasts.


Does anyone know if any of the converter boxes have the ability to automatically change channels by some kind of timer?
The reason I am asking is because if a person hooks up one of the converter boxes to a DVDR/VCR and wants to program the DVDR/VCR timer to record from its line input at various times, can the outboard tuner change channels by itself, or am I stuck with a DVDR/VCR timer that will only record from one channel unless I manually change the channel on the digital tuner device?


The law says if we have cable or satalite we will not be able to get the coupons towards purchase of converters. This is totaly unfair

With the billions being paid the gov for the broadcast frequences, they should set up a program for a converter at no cost for every analog receiver in the us at no costs to t v owners. I would love to know how much the cable companies have paid the idiots in washington to pass such stupid laws and regs with no regard to the expense to each citizen but to the benefit of the cable companies


BUDDIE: The law says if we have cable or satalite we will not be able to get the coupons towards purchase of converters. This is totaly unfair

With the billions being paid the gov for the broadcast frequences, they should set up a program for a converter at no cost for every analog receiver in the us at no costs to t v owners. I would love to know how much the cable companies have paid the idiots in washington to pass such stupid laws and regs with no regard to the expense to each citizen but to the benefit of the cable companies

We will have to see what takes place. But did you know that, not all satellite receivers have ota tuners included.
The very latest receiver Directv is offering for big bucks has NO OTA TUNER.
Many people are saying it isn't a big deal not having an ota tuner. I disagree completely. The quality of ota for local networks is far better in many cases than the quality received from satellite providers. Especially if you live near the networks antenna. Also iwhen Dish and Direct encounter rain fade signal loss, you can still watch ota,


my television is 35 years old, will converter box be sufficient


my television is 35 years old, will converter box be sufficient


Who came up with this scheme? I suppose if some checked under the covers, you would find the instigators of this plan are preparing to go to the bank. Massive tranformations of this need to be transpired over a period of many years (many years), bet the greedy will loose some interest in that idea, and the alternative should be still offered to those whom cannot afford it or choose not to change over. I thought we lived in a Democracy in this country. The government should supply each home with at least the first two converters, since most every home in america has at least two tv's This should be front page news on all the tv stations and newspapers.

Bruce Ernest:

I beleive that Digital TV is just pree programed
obsolescence con at its finest hour,and another way to spy on the viewer by subscriber services that sell the info to anyone that has the $$$$.
First digital TV in Europe and the Pacific Rim
still use Analog Europe 1200 scanning lines and above, Japan has had 2500 for many years and the
visual quality is superior to our Digital.
The depth of feild and chaoma color here in the US is inferior
with digital let alone the pixel distortion.
And it does not matter how much you pay for the display unit or Manufacturer.
As far back as six years agao and even today
in the EU market all TV sets or panels display units
what ever type of signal you put in that is what you will put out regardless if it is NTSC, SEACAM,PAL
Once again it is large corps cornering the market on public property for free,by purchasing
Broadcast frequencys for little or nothing
By the way HD is a dead issue .
Wait until you see the Polymer Nanotube display screens
hit the market then cable companies and Satalite
broadcast and other
communication services are going to fry their
little golden chips.
Otherwise Holography moving display is thirtyfive years over due.
Folks I say just go out an purchase a good quality Digital converter box and save you bucks.

Rod Soto:

My wife and I are living out of really "low budget", and really rely on TV sets for some entertaiment together with our two grandkids; so I really hope that these Digital converter boxes aren't too expensive, and we are expecting getting those boxes with a realllllly good brake from the government. Thanks all.........(-^-)


One of the reasons for disabling the over the air analog signals is to free up the bandwidth for other more advanced uses. not that this only goes for OTA analog, so any wired analog signals will still be allowed as long as they stay on the wire.

One of the reasons for shutting down analog signals is because of the low frequency waves they use are very very good at long range and for going through walls. so if Google or some other internet business buys the bandwidth, they have the ability of making a city-wide wireless internet network using only a few towers to transmit the data (and even without any dead spots). If a cellular phone company gets hold on a few frequencies, they can use their same towers they use currently, add anther frequency, and have almost complete coverage of the entire country. Everyone here seems to be trying to find the negative in this move, but honestly they are only banning over the air analog signals. if they were banning analog altogether, than 95% of computer monitors would need upgrading along with hundreds of other devices that never leave your house.

Ron Burgundy:

Renard Gervais: whereas the least expensive digital television starts at a minimum of apx. $300

JimBOB: Not true. Here is a list of of ATSC-ready sets starting at $110.

Sorry, JimBOB - any tv with anything less than 720p is no better than getting a converter box, and is way more expensive.

480i does not provide any better picture resolution than existing analog signals.

The cheapest tube digital tv is list priced at about $450, with likely discounts offered to make the actual cost perhaps 30 percent less. At least it's an 1080i, with a 27 inch screen, made by someone I've heard of (Samsung).

And Best Buy (your link goes there) is not necessarily the cheapest place to do anything except improve sales of Best Buy - but, looking there at tvs under $250, as of 1/1/08 1240 Zulu, the only current 720p digital tv listed there is an Insignia® - 15" 720p Flat-Panel LCD HDTV (Model: NS-LCD15 SKU: 8205417) which is i) on sale, regular list price is $299.99 and b) a 15 inch set.

Since most people have at least 20 inch sets to replace, apples to microshaft comparisons are unacceptable.

Renard Gervais: the D-to-A converter boxes being touted start at the cheapest in the $60 range; yet, with declared inferior output compared with a digitally tuned televison

JimBOB: Also not true. The converter boxes will offer access to all digital channels including the multicasted ones, program metadata where available, closed captioning, and the superior reception that goes with digital broadcasting (no more snow, shadows, smeared colors and color shifts). An old analog set won't display in HD, but it will show a very clean SD image on the HD channels.

Proof for either statement is lacking in my basic research to date - can either of you provide links to back up what you say?

And, JimBOB, given your first answer, I can't believe your second answer more than I can believe that you work for Best Buy, desiring to make all Americans pay $1 million each, directly to Best Buy, under penalty of death by waterboarding (enforced by the US Government), to replace perfectly good TV sets with a 2.4 inch, 720i, mono audio, tv with all the quality of a Ronco product.

If you don't like that, too bad - as I have been told, "In God we trust, all others (including the FCC) pay cash...."

Vivian M. Davis:

How will i be able to get the coupons,to change my analog tv's.So that i want lose my tv signal in Febuary 11,2009.Please send me the name of the stores to go to.If i don't get these boxes,iwant be able to see tv after this year.

TV Guider:

For your coupons, go to the US Government official website: http://www.dtv2009.gov


i have a converter box "zinwell" from ebay i like it a lot helps with out older 27"rca tv the converter does the stations and the volume controls but i bought a newer lite-on dvd recorder "to record and watch scrubs"instead of a vhs and the digital signal is not allowed to be recorded so this may be a issue for others as well so now i have a dvd recorder that plays Barbie movies for the kids. thats just great i hope they get thing to work with each other. think since im a beta tester for the government i should at least get paid a lil for my efforts

best bang :

im with crappy that is shitty. something i didn't know about. but i have found the best bang for the buck is the VOOM on ebay they avg. about 40.00usd and work great for the over the air high def channels that what we use in the pacific northwest work fine for us

Bill Shaw:

I haven't seen any comments about the antenna that would be required for us way out in the sticks. I read the old VHF/UHF outside antennas are really not suited for the new different UHF frequencies that digital tv will be using. Might have to invest in a deep fringe UHF antenna along with the converter boxes for good reception.

Wake UP!:

Free/coupons from the government ? ? ?

1. When was the last time the Government was efficient and cost-effective at anything?

2. Where does the government get it's money? Answer: your paycheck and anytime you purchase anything (taxes).

1 + 2 = those $40 coupons are costing you much more than $40.

The dirty little secret is that any time the government 'gives' anything they first take your money, take their cut, then redistribute in a manner that will retain/increase power and wealth for those in charge.

i.e. I will give you a $40 coupon after taking $120 in taxes.

Quote A Tsar: I predict, when the average person learns of this "scheme", and the BILLIONS they will have to pay out for new TV's, VCR's etc., there will be another "Tea Party" except this time in Washington not Boston.

The average person needs to wake up first then the Tea Party will be for more than TV's.

Nothing Goodontv:

I'm actually looking forward to not being able to watch TV anymore. My IQ might even go up.

Bob Simmons:

I read on a previous comment that if you have Direct tv satellite you can't get the coupons,
well Direct tv doesn't offer local channels in
my zip code 39422, so we're getting screwed again.

Mort Karman:

As far as the antenna goes as a rough rule, if you get a very clear analog signal from a station you should get a clear digital pix from same. Where you will be out of luck is if you are in an area where you get grainy signals from distant stations. Digital is an all or nothing transmission. You will either get first rate reception or nothing. Where a major loss will be is those of us who like to DX, or try to receive distant signals, like we do on shortwave radio, or on AM radio at night. You won't get any on digital TV.Where police and other emergency communications services went to digital they got clear sound but reduced range and had to put up additional repeater sites so the units in the street could broadcast back to dispatch I have a feeling many TV stations in areas where they serve viewers a large distance from the transmitter
may have to go this route eventually.
Within ten years or so AM and FM radio as we know it will also be a thing of the past and radio will be all digital. This is not a big thing for the person with a $20 radio. But for those of us with multi thousand dollar shortwave radios and high end portable sets like my Grundig Eton E1, it is a major expense.
So get ready to dump your radios.
As it is now most of the programs which we used to get via shortwave off the air free we now have to get via Internet (better sound quality-but we have to pay dollars for Internet service).
Another problem is on shortwave no one knows which station we are listening to and the signal is difficult to jam. On Internet big brother can find out what you are listening to. Yet all the major shortwave broadcasters have either dropped beaming to North America or shut down shortwave altogether.
As retired people, my wife and I now have to pay out even more money so I can listen to what used to be free.
Enjoy what "blessings" we will be receiving. And get your cheque book out.

Charles Wilson:

Remember when they took some of the HAM radio (HF) spectrum for CB. Those freqs are lost and who is using CB now? Yes these frequencies have some highly desireable characteristics and powerful interests are willing to pay big bucks to get them but the cost to us is more than the government is getting. For example it has been stated that you can still use your DVR to record a program. What has not been said is that my $500 DVR will no longer allow me to record one program for later viewing while I watch another or be able to record several programs on different channels while I am out. Yes you can hook up a splitter and/or a distribution amp to the analog RF output of the ATSC tuner but since all the sets will get the same channel, why bother?

American Joe:

Has anyone ever considered that the majority of poor people in america will just be left out.
This will allow for thousands of pirate analogue tv stations to spring up as a revolt.
I say lets throw out the TV and listen to Radio.
Screw 'em. All TV's are manufactured in Asia anyway. The Asian market is the only beneficiary to this "upgrade" and when did TV become so darn important to us anyway? This is just another government tool to kill free speech in the USA. Digital TV, Digital Radio, Digital Voting.
Who will be falling of the grid and how many thousands? No need.

Mary...the cat lady:

OK piople, calm down about the converter boxes just being used on TVs. If you have a vcr that is only analog, merely hook your digital converter box to that, and use it like you always have. the only difference is that you will have to watch what you are recording instead of being able to record something and watch something else. But wiat... you get two coupons so hook one of the boxes up to the vcr and pass it through on channel 3 or 4 and hook the other one up to the line inputs on the TV. Very simple...very easy.

Mary...the cat lady:

EVERBODY is eligable for 2 coupons no matter what. In an emergency and the cable goes out you will still be able to get the local channels, just be sure to purchase some rabbit ear antennas. My concern is that the battery powered emergency TVs are no longer going to function without the converter and how is the converter going to be powered after a hurricane like Rita or Humberto??? The first thing that I did when I awoke to SURPRISE an 85 MPH hurricane howling outside my bedroom window was grab my $19 battery powered TV off the shelf and find out what the he** was going on outside. I won't be able to do that next time without firing up the generator in the middle of a tropical blast.

Mary...the cat lady:

For American Joe...
Where do you think the radios are made?????

dave the tech:

As usual the government is taking control of everything even your TV.oh heres another thing the coupons that they giving out are only good for 90 days!!but the first approved converters wont be available till early 2009.so that means good luck getting one when you got a million converters and a billion people that want TWO.JUST TYPICAL !!!

mary... the cat lady:

Geez take a chill pill d t t! the converter boxes will b avialable in Feb 08. 2008 d t t. That is next month. duh.

Wrah Tin Tu:

This may sound like a stupid question, but why do you need an antenna? Why isn't it built into the decoder box? Obviously they won't be sending out the same signals. These creative geniuses just keep coming up with new ways to steal our money. Only in America! We don't manufacture anything here anymore either. I'm sure the boxes are being manufactured in Asia. We are the brokering nation. The Rich Get Richer!!!! We'll be a third world country pretty soon. That's what Corporate America wants.



mary... the cat lady:

Thus the canverter box program, BUDDIE. I think that almost anyone who can afford a TV can scrape together $10 along with the coupon to get a converter box.
The new digital channels use the exact same frequencies that the analog channels use. The only difference is that TV stations can, if they so choose, transmit up to 5 "channels" of programming in the same space that they used to only be able to broadcast 1. Here in S E Texas we did not have a CW affilliate, so our longtime CBS station chose to broadcast CBS in Hi-Def on channel 6.1 (which can be received in standard definition with the converter box) and the CW on channel 6.2 . KALB in Alexandria La., a longtime NBC station uses 5.1 for NBC and 5.2 for CBS giving them a local CBS affiliate for the first time.
An internal antenna would not be strong enough to pick up analog or digital channels. If you are getting your TV over the air now, and you get a clear picture, you can continue to use the same antenna you have now. You don't need to go buy a new one. Remember, the frequncies are the same.
Years ago, the TV spectrum went all the way up to channel 83. Channels 70 through 83 were lopped off and auctioned to the original cell phone providers. After the transistion to digital, channels 52 through 69 (with some rare examples) will be lopped off and some of it will be auctioned for expanded digital personal devices and the rest will used for public safety. The auction which will probably provide HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS if not BILLIONS of dollars is where the money for the converter box coupon program will come from.
I want to address another thing that I read in one of the early posts. A new standard definition television set as large as a 20 inch can be had for less than $100. I have seen them as low as $92. The prices have really come down and I do beleive that they will continue to fall. But if you've already got a good TV, just use the box.

Meow Mix:

per Cat Lady:

The auction which will probably provide HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS if not BILLIONS of dollars is where the money for the converter box coupon program will come from.

Yeah!!! Not a dime will we citizens in this country see. Not one cent will go towards better health care, SS, Roads, Bridges, etc.

It will ALL go to Haliburton/Brown n Root via Iraq.

We are not Americans...We ARE stupid.
Probably from watching too much TV as kids.

mary... the cat lady:

I guess I asked for it by name... Meow Mix. Not true! You are going to goet not one but TWO $40 coupons M M! :)

mary... the cat lady:

Oh, and M M I think you're right! I think it was too much Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres that did it when we were kids. No, wait! That was last weekend on TV Land. Oh well.


My home is an average of 45 - 70 miles from current analog television broadcast towers. I have a large 20' analog antenna mounted in the attic of my two story home. Currently, I get very good signals from 9 stations, and acceptable (meaning some snow) from 4 additional stations.

This is all the television I need, and I don't have to pay for it.

I hear conflicting information as to what kind of reception I can expect on my current setup: from "as good, or better" to "you are S.O.L.)

Does anyone here have any definitive information on over-the-air digital reception?

Thank you!

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Geewiz.
I won't say that I have definitive info for you, but I will give you an idea from my experiences.
The 45 mile away stations will probably be OK with your set-up after the transistion. However the 70 mile distant stations may need some tweeking. I am going to estimate that your antenna is about 22-24 feet high. I will tell you hthat higher is better. Outside is better than inside. That being said, the first thing I would recomend is a signal booster. Do it now and see if it improves your analog reception. If it does, that would be encouraging. The next thing that I would do is if you have multiple TVs hooked up to the antenna, I would invest in a distribution amp. They usually have an input for the antenna and then 4 outlets to go to different parts of your home. These can be added at different times if cost is a factor. I know you can find them at Radio Shack if you have one nearby.(Or even online if need be)
The next thing that I would do is go ahead and obtain a digital reciever of some kind, be it a digital converter, DVD recorder ASTC tuner, or Digital TV BEFORE the transition so that you will know what it is exactly you will be able to depend on afterwards.
You can also go to the FCC website, click on "Media" on the right-hand side (down just a little bit), when that page comes up, click on "Video Division, Including TV" on the left-hand side and the when the next page comes up, click on "TV Query".
When the TV Query comes up, there is a spot for "Call Sign". Put the call sign for the stations that you recieve in the box (i. e. KHOU). Scroll down to the box with the various formats listed and click on "TV Query (detailed output, including CDBS links)"
Information about the station will come up. Scroll down to the section that has "Digital" to the right of the page, it will be in red. Click on "Sevice Contour Map" and you will get a coverage map of the usable signal for the station. This will give you an idea of how far inside (or, alas, outside) the contour you are and your chances of contuing to recieve the station. You can do this for all of them. Be sure to click on the full power section or you may pull up info on a "Special Temporary Authorization" that does not indicate the final coverage for the station.
Reception also depends on the terrain where you live. I live down on the Gulf Coast where Texas and Louisian and the Gulf Of Mexico come together. It is FLAT. FLAT,flat, flat. We also have a lot of marshy areas which is excellent for TV broadcasting. Mountainous is the worst. Heavy forested land is not so good and desert is not so good.
As for my experiences, i live about 45-50 miles from the Lake Charles, La. full power TV transmitters. I get KPLC Digital TV 7, 24 hours a day. I do not get KLTL DT 18 except occasionally on clear nights. :( However KLTL is owned by the state of La. and is designed not to transmit to us here in Texas. Full power Lake Charles station KVHP is probably 30 miles away. I get the analog clear 24-7. and I have no doubt that once they get their full DT up and running I will get it also. (Right now they are operationg on a very low power STA because after they recieved the digital transmitter, they discovered that it would not fit in the transmitter building with the analog transmitter. LOL)
I am about 100 miles from the Houston antenna farm. I have recieved all of the 16 Houston DTs, but they are not reliable. (Better at night) I watch KHOU DT 11 news frequently at 10PM. Their local news is in HD.
I have a VU-190 Antenna mounted outside with both a mast mounted signal amp and a distribution amp and I am also up about 22 feet. I am seriously considering going up to about 36 feet. My friend and I just put up the same set-up as mine for her brother, and his is up to 36 feet. He lives just west of Beaumont and gets all of the houston stations 24-7. Good luck, and please post back here your results. I will look forward to seeing them.


What about low powered analog tv stations? I understand that low powered stations are not required to change to digital. Does that mean that some college stations etc. may still be around in analog ? These stations are not in my area though but are in the nearby cities only. Does that mean new analog low powered community
access channels could spring up in cities? Cable
companies don't worry about these because they
broadcast only a few miles from their towers.

mary... the cat lady:

Roger that!
By going to the FCC web site and doing a TV query, you can input any community to see if there are low power stations pending. There are several in our area that have new construction permits that don't expire until 2010. So, yes, there my be other analog LP stations that come online. Some LP stations have already fired up digital transmitters anyway. A prime example of that is our local KUIL LP ch.64, our local FOX affiliate. They have continued to broadcast on analog channel 64, but have begun broadcasting digital on their "digital companion" channel 36. However, KUMY LP ch.22, will continue to broadcast My Network TV after the transition in analog. LPs will have to transition to the digital format at some time however. I am anxious for KUMY to get their digital up because I get too much interference from full power channel 22 in Houston. Back to KUIL, however, their digital coverage about 3 times what the analog coverage is. They have a really awesome signal going and it is in HD. I will be able to watch the Super Bowl (the only football game I watch a year) in HD. :)
KUIL is on our cable, but KUMY is not.
I was in Gunnison, Colorado last March, and all of there local broadcast stations were low power translators for full power stations in larger cities and I do not know if they are going to transition by Feb. 17 2009 or not. I need to look at the FCC website to see what their status is.


Cat Lady.. thanks for your very helpful insight and sharing of your obviously extensive knowledge on this subject. I think the first step is to get a digital-analog converter and determine how far that gets me, and will point me on the path I'll need to go!

Ric S.:

Ditch the dish AND CABLE. Box up your old TV and mail it to the Senate in Washington. Turn on the radio and spend quqlity time with your family. THATS WHAT I"M GOING TO DO!

mary... the cat lady:

Thank you for your kind words Geewiz. I have been hobbying around with TV and radio reception for a few years now. It all started with the cable going out one afternoon. I had a tuned FM antenna that I used to pick up the Houston radio stations. I wanted to watch the news at 5:30 when the cable went out. I got curious to know if I could use the FM antenna on the TV. (I knew that channel 6 was at the bottom of the FM dial, so I thought I might be able to.) Anyway, I was successful... IT WORKED! When the local weather was over, I got curious if I could get a Houston TV station with it. So, as I was rolling the antenna around with the rotor from NNE to SW, I was hitting the channel up button going up to channel 26, There on channel 23 was a perfectly beautiful picture. I was stunned, because we only have the Gulf of Mexico south of us. I watched for a while, and it turned out that it was KVEO channel 23 out of Brownsville, Tx. My jaw dropped.
I scanned up and down the channels and I could also pick up KORO channel 28 out cf Corpus Christi, channel 16 out of Corpus, and channel 60 out of Harlingen. I know that this was unusual, so I jotted the stations down. The next day, they were gone. But I was hooked. Every now and then, I would hook the antenna up to the TV, to see what I could get. I eventually found a TV antenna on a trash pile and put it up. When I bought my first house, I was able to purchase a tuned UHF antenna and mount it on top of a tuned VHF antenna both with mast mounted signal amps and distribution amps. I eventually was able to recieve over 200 stations at one time or another. I have them verified on vidoe tape.(Which I need to burn onto a DVD) I have even watched XERV channel 9 out of Reynosa, Mexico. (Liquor and cigerette ads and all)
It became kind of like fishing for me. I would "fish" the airwaves hoping to catch the next "Big One". I even had a few "Get Away" from me. One that got away I think was channel 2 out of Albuquerque, NM. Alas, I could not confirm it. :(
Anyway, good luck to you, and once again, keep me posted here on your ability to get the stations. Remember though, that even if you can't "catch them" now, keep doing an add on search every now and then, for they may not be up to full power yet, and may be still operating on a "special temporary authority".


i just want to said this

where i can get that digital converter?
where to ask for that cupons?
if that converter can work with regular cable signal to convert to digital?
I search for hours and I just find this site can some one answer my questions?
I just tired to many information is not working for me I just want to enjoy my tv shows and football games


Just what I need - Oprah and Dr. Phil in HIGH DEFINITION!!! How have we made it this long without HD???

mary... the cat lady:

Hola, Sanchez,
The digital to analog converters will not be out until sometime in February. You can go ahead and order your two $40 coupons now by calling 1-888-388-2009. I ordered mine on January 2, and have not received them as of yet. You will not NEED the converter until Feb. 17 2009, so you have a year yet. However, the coupons are only good for 90 days.
No, the converter will not work to convert analog cable to digital. The converters can only be used for converting the new over the air digital transmissions back to analog so that people can continue to watch TV on the televisions they already have.
If you have cable, nothing is going to change for at least 3 years after the transition date of Feb. 17, 2009. However, I would encourage everyone to go ahead and get a digital converter and an antenna for wheneve the cable goes out. In an emergency, you would still be able to see the newscasts.
When the converters become available, you will be able to get them at almost any department store that sells electronics: Sears, Best Buy, Circuit City, Target, Wal-Mart, etc., and I would not be surprised to see places like Walgreens or CVS selling them.
So, hang on, and good luck. I hpe this helped you.


Thanks for sharing everyone. Here's something I found:Can I recycle my analog TV?

Yes. For more information about how to recycle your television and other electronics, visit mygreenelectronics.com.


WOW all I can say about all of uninformed complaints posted. The analog channels (in almost all cases) do move to new UHF channels. Near border towns (Mexico and Canada) analog tuners will still come in handy because these countries will not be changing to HDTV on the same timetable as the USA. So use a coax switch for bypassing the convertor box if it doesn't have a "pass thru" feature, or buy a convertor that has this handle feature. Some convertors will also have "pass thru" functions and most while not. Many HDTV sets now have both analog and HD tuners....the analog tuner is a few dollar item to include for a while.
I've seen the cheapest CRT HDTV set 13" at $129.

mary... the cat lady:

Bob, are you sure that the 13 inch $129 TV was HD? I am thinking that maybe it was Standard Def, and if that is indeed the case, I have seen them bellow $100 at Wally World. I would like to know though if it was HD.
Bob is right about the lower vhf channels migrating to the uhf band. However for most of the vhf high band (channels 7-13) the migration is for the most part temporary, and most will revert back to their original channels. The vhf low (channels 2-6) stations for the most part will stay in the uhf band. This is because, according to the engineer at KFDM channel 6 in Beaumont, TX., these channels are prone to interference from electrical utility lines. He told me that there was one of their family of stations that had to stay on the vhf low band because there was no room in the upper channels for them.
This does leave open the chance for a future station to apply for the newly opened frequencies on the lower channels. It will be interesting to watch this unfold because as in the example of our local full power KFDM CBS affiliate, they are broadcasting their HD signal on uhf channel 21, but will remain branded as "channel 6". If another station comes along, applies and is granted the now open channel 6, can they make KFDM rebrand as channel 21? KFDM channel 6 has been on the air since 1955. It will be interesting.


I have been reading these posts and wondering how on earth you all get the prices for these digital tvs. I JUST bought one from Wal-mart....a 20 in digital tv for $160.00 and that was the cheapest 20 in. It is an Emerson. My new tv looks just like the analog tvs except it weighs only 41 lbs!!! They had many other types and sizes to choose from. They also had the LCD and plasma tvs. I still have to pay for 2 d-to-a converter boxes but my living room tv will at least have a nice picture.


1. The gov should reserve one analog channel for emergency transmissions, weather etc.
2. The gov should be leasing these frequencies and using the income stream to support schools.

mary... the cat lady:

Hey rlm.
The under $100 dollar price I quoted in my previous post was for a 13" TV. $160 for a 20" sounds about right. If you just bought it, like since the first of the year, you DO NOT need a d to a converter, since all TV's manufactured in the last few months have been required to include a digital tuner. Check out the users guide that came with the TV and I bet you will find instructions on how to tune in the standard definition digital TV broadcasts. Good luck.
Indeed, your TV looks just like your old one because it still uses the CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) display. It is older technology but has served us well for decades, and will continue to serve us well into the 21st century for the standatd def market.

mary... the cat lady:

Hey rlm,
I think I misread your post. I realize now that you understand that you have a new digital TV for your living room, and the two converter boxes you need to buy are for the analog tuner TV's in other rooms. Oops. My bad. Sorry 'bout that.

The Ratpuppy:

Just wanted to report on my reception experience.
I have two HDTV's. A 42" plasma in the living room, and a 26" LCD in the bedroom.

I live in a little farm town of 250 people on the prairie in the southwest corner of Minnesota. When I bought this house last year, it came with an eight-element antenna mounted on the roof with a rotor that allowed it to be pointed in any direction. My closest broadcast stations are in Sioux Falls, SD about 55 miles away. There are also stations in Sioux City, IA (115 miles away.) I have a 10db video amp as the antenna comes into the house, and a second one in the back bedroom where the signal splits to the HDTV there.

I have no problems picking up the Sioux Falls stations, except for FOX but I can normally always get that without moving my antenna from Sioux City. If I turn the antenna, I can pick up three more stations from Sioux City, IA. The signal sometimes gets lost due to snow or fog, but it is unusual for that to happen. The antenna is about 25' in the air, the land here is flat farm land.

I also found a good cheap solution that allows me to record in true 720p or 1080i HD. Being a computer guy, I have a PC that I have dedicated to the big HDTV in the living room. I use it to watch movies that I have stored on my hard drive through the VGA connector on the HDTV.

I also decided to get an HDTV capture/tuner card for the computer. Now with the antenna signal hooked up to it as well, I can record TRUE HDTV in it's original resolution, and play it back on the HDTV whenever I wish. I had to add a faster CPU (2.8 Ghz Pentium 4 or better,) and a VGA card with 256 Meg memory to handle the higher demands of HDTV playback, but I am thriled with the results. The upgrade including the new CPU, Video card and HDTV card was less than $150. That beats the heck out of the price of a Blue-Ray or HD-DVD recorder. You just need a really big hard drive... An hour of HDTV at 1080i uses about 5 Gig of hard drive space. I can also time shift with it, so if I want to replay a touchdown during a commercial, I can do that, and the software also allows for setting timers for programs you want to record, just like a VCR. It is a nice toy.

But anyway; In good conditions, an outside antenna will do a very good job pulling in stations if you live in a fringe area like I do. However, there are times when I can get a viewable yet weak analog signal from some stations when they can't be received digitally. Another thing I will miss when they finally drop analog broadcasts, is how easy it is to fine tune the antenna position using the analog signal, before watching a program digitally.

I do have my request in for two $40 converter coupons for the 13" in the bathroom, and the 27 year old RCA XL-100 in the dining room.

Happy viewing,

The Ratpuppy

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Ratpuppy
I found your post interesting. While I may be knoweledgable about TV transmitting and reception, I am rather computer unknowledgable. LOL
I am on the plus side of a half a century old (not much though) and I have never in my life had to receive TV through heavy snow. The most I have ever seen here is 3" in 1960 and 1973. As a TV reception is a hobby of mine, I have a couple of questions about really cold weather reception, if you son't mind. I know that when it is cold and clear here, (mid thirties) (OK, that's cold to me. Quit laughing) the reception is a lot better. I can get stations from Baton Rouge/New Orleans to Houston (not much past Houston 'til you get to San Antonio) to Lufkin/Nacodoches. Nothing to the south except the Gulf.
How is it when it gets below zero? (I assume that it does get that cold where you are)?
Does the antenna ever get covered with ice or snow? And what happens to the reception then? Is it still good or does it degrade?
Have you ever lost an antenna element due to ice or snow? Just curious.
I have lost several antennas due to severe thunderstorms and hurricanes. Humberto was kind to me (85 MPH sustained and 118 gusts) but Rita (125 sustained) and Bonnie (100 sustained) were not so kind. Alas.
I am always interested in reception reports. I don't know why, it just interests me.
Are you a farmer? If so, what do you grow? I would like to know. i work in a chemical plant but we do grow a lot of rice in this area.(I'll trade you some Rice Crispies for some Wheaties or Corn Flakes)

mary... the cat lady:

According to a press release from the NTIA (National Telecommunications Information Administration) over 2 million requests for 4 million coupons have been recieved since Jan.1.
The coupons will begin to be mailed out on Feb. 18. The mailing will include a list of eligible recievers and a list of approved retailers where that boxes are supposed to be available.
There was a statement included in the press release that requests for coupons could be made until Mar, 31, 2009 "as long as funding is available". The NTIA suggested that the public request the coupons sooner than later.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Everybody,
I just went to the Wal-mart web site and found that there is one model of a D to A converter box available at most of the stores in my area. It showed to be in stock. It is a Motorola unit with remote control and has line outputs and a RF output with a "digital audio" ouput for use with a surround sound system. It retails for $49.87.
They also listed a RCA 800B for the same price but none were available within 100 miles of my home here in SE Texas.
So, they are here, at least in limited quantities.
They are not available online for some reason, probably because of the coupon redemption.

Sharon Sherwood:

Please explain how to hook up the regular VCR DVD recorder to a digital converter. Also can the dvd recorder be programed and while the programs are being recorded can you watch another digital channel.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Sharon,
I am going to presume that you have a DVD-VCR recorder that has an analog tuner because of your description of "regular DVD-VCR".
I am going to explain how to hook it up going on the assumption that your TV has line inputs and not just a RF antenna/cable input.
To record one program and watch another you will need two digital to analog converters. Unscrew the antenna lead in from the back of the TV and screw it into a 2-way splitter. These can be bought almost anywhere and are cheap. Screw another section of lead in to both sides of the splitter. Screw each of the lead ins to a converter box. Take another section of coax and attach it to the antenna in on the DVD-VCR. Now, take an A/V patch cord ( it wll 3 cords in one with red/white/yellow terminals) and attach it to the line inputs on the TV. Connect the last piece of coax to the antenna input on the back of the TV.
One of the D to A boxes will be dedicated to the VCR and the other to the TV.
If you buy the same brand of converter box, be sure to cover the remote receptor of the one attached to the VCR-DVD so that when watching TV you don't accidentally change the channel on the one you are recording from.
I hope this helps, and if you need more info, please post here and I will be happy to try and clarify.

The Ratpuppy:

Hi Mary... The Cat Lady,

52 years old here. (Guys are allowed to say...) Been working with computers since 1985, but started DXing with TV's when I was a kid in the 60's.

Anyway... I do notice some degradation when the outdoor antenna gets 1/4-1/2" of frost on it. That happens often in the winter here. Haven't experienced ice on it yet, so am not sure about that. The signal loss due to frost on the antenna does not seem as great as when caused by fog or snow falling, or even when there are leaves on the trees in the summertime. I seem to grab signals best on a clear cold night.

Out here in the prairie, it was 18 degrees below zero last night (2/9,) according to the digital thermometer in the kitchen, and I was having no problem picking up what I can normally recieve in the wintertime, and that old Radio Shack antenna rotor was working even though the water line to the toilet froze up again... (But that is a different technology...)

I am seeing the same thing regarding those new D to A converters at Wal-Mart in Minnesota... No RCA just the Magnavox. But I see that they both come with remotes, but only the RCA shows the picture.

And, no I am not a farmer, I just enjoy the peace and quiet after spending many years living in urban areas. I am a computer guy myself. But there are loads of farmers around me, and my backyard opens up to farmland as far as the eye can see.

But I like Rice Krispies. On a dull Saturday morning, I like to pour a bowl, listen to them, then do whatever they tell me to...

Happy viewing,

The Ratpuppy


how do i sign up for it?

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Ratpuppy, I enjoyed your post, thank you for writing back.
One thing that I forgot to ask was did you log all of the stations that you have recieved over the years? I would llke to know how many different stations you have gotten. I have recieved now over 230 stations from 2 different locations about 2 miles apart. (And I am counting the analog and digital station as one)
18 BELOW?!?!?! Geez, I can't even imagine. The coldest I have ever seen is 9 above. We were in Colorado about this time last year and we took a picture of the outside thermometer in the car... It was 15 above. 18 BELOW?!?!?! You have my sympathy. It was a low of 53 I think yesterday with a high of 71. Sorry. But alas, no snow skiing here. Or snow-mobiling either.(That was some of the most fun I have ever had) Take care and stay warm. Of course I will think about you this summer when it is 97 outside and 99 per cent humidity...

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Robert,
The easiest way to request the coupons is to call: 1-888-388-2009 It only tades 2-3 minutes.
Just follow the voice prompts and the coupons will be on their way soon.

Riani Labuschagne:

Im from South Africa and would like the contact details for the manufacturer Digital Streams for the Digital TV Converter box's if possible....

Kind regards

Harry Feld :

I just received a notice in the mail from Comcast that states: "The following channels will continue to be available on our Expanded Basic Services; however a digital converter will be required to receive uninterrupted service of these channels." Two of these channels(TCM & CMT) I watch all the time.
It states the above change is in affect starting February 14, 2008, which is today, the day I am receiving this notice. How nice of them to give me a little notice. What gives? I thought cable subscribers had nothing to worry about with this change and did not have need of this converter box/added expense?

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Harry,
Cable has had a two tier system for a while now. They can add or delete or move channels around at will between the basic and digital tiers of their service. Moving TCM and CMT to the "digital tier" means that they just want you to have to pay extra for what you were getting for less before. It has nothing to do with the switch to digital by broadcast stations. If you have basic cable, you will still be able to get what they offer on your analog TV withour a converter. It just won't be the exact same channel line-up as before. Basic analog cable service should last until 2012.
It is just a business decision (indeed a sorry one) for them and they are banking on the idea that more people will sign up for the digital tier cable because viewers will want to continue to watch those channels.
Please don't confuse digital cable with digital broadcasting. Apples and Oranges.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Riani,
That is a really pretty name. I have never heard it before.
I would suggest that you do a search for the corporate name or the individual converter box you are interested in to see if you can find the address or web address for Digital Streams. I am not familiar with the company. Good luck.


What about us folks with the OLD sets, say 27 years that only have rabbit ears (and that funky round UHF antenna) with screw terminals for the wire from the rabbit ears?

Oh yea, the we have satellite for the front room and bedroom, but the old TV is in my office and don't really have the $ to buy a new one just for the occasional viewing...

mary... the cat lady:

Hi NCDaveD,
OK, so you've got the old set with the screw terminals for an antenna input. Not a problem. There is an adapter for converting the coax to the screw terminals. It is sometimes called a "matching transformer". It converts the 75 ohm coax to the 300 ohm twin lead. It has a coax terminal on one end and a short antenna lead-in wire for conecting to the screw terminals on the other. They are cheap. Maybe a couple of bucks. The best place that I can suggest getting one is Radio Shack. You might find one at Wally World or Target, but heir supply of connectors and adapters leaves A LOT to be desired.
Post here if you need anything else.

mary... the cat lady:

As I stated in a previous post, Wal-Mart is listing the Magnavox D to A converter for $49.87. Circuit City and Radio Shack both list the Zenith DTT900 for $59.98 and Best Buy lists the Insignia for $59.99. None of these is listed by the manufacterer as being able to pass through analog signals (for low power or translater stations).
None are available by internet. All are only available in-store.


I've got several TVs. Relatively new. Do not wish to purchase new digital ready TVs. I have an outside antenna, a coax lead into house with a video amp sending signals to all TVs in the house. Currently from above posts, it appears that I will have to get a converter box for each TV.

Have any techies, manufacturers, et. al., considered the possibility of a single signal converter that I can install immediately after the video amp and forget about a box for each TV in the house?

Thank you in advance for an intelligent response.

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Peter,
I have not seen anything like you refer to for converting all incoming channels available to all the TV's in the house. What you are refering to is called a "block converter". It converters the whole digital "block" of channels to a "block" of analog channels that you could continue to pick at random from any TV. In the early days of cable this was possible. It converted the whole "block" of cable channels to the over the air channels. If my memory serves me, this was possible when cable only had about 36 channels available. It just so happenes that my best friend asked me the same question this afternoon. I guess great minds think alike...

mary... the cat lady:

Hey NCDaveD,
I was in Wally World this morning (for cat food... go figure) and I looked to see if they had the "matching transformer" I mentioned in my previous post. They did have it. It is a Super Wal-Mart. They ahd a package that contained one for going from coax to antenna lead-in and one to go from antenna lead-in to a coax F-connecter. Why you would need both in one package is beyond me, but that is how they were packaged. The package was $4.94.



I am located in Metro NYC. Are there any TV stations currently broadcasting in Digital and/or simultaneously broadcasting Digital & Analog signals?

It is hard to figure out that the 2 free coupons are good for only 90 days (and issued shortly in Feb/March 2008)... and there are no converter boxes to buy currently (The just approved one recently?).

Second, If I do buy a box in the next three months.... what will the warranty be on the product? That is if I need to wait until February 2009 when there is a manditory switch over... I will lose 6-9 months of a warranty (assuming it would be a 1 year warranty from time of purchase)?

Third, are their other nations who are currently using this converter box.. is it proven..



I live in the Detroit area and have analog channels I enjoy watching from Canada. Do the convertor boxes allow analog signals to bypass the box or will I have to disconnect the box and attach my rabbit ears directly to my analog tv every time I want to watch the Canadian programs.


Bob ET:

By following the posts here, especially with "mary ...the cat lady" participation, and actually seeing one of the devices at a store, I believe I now have an understanding how the "analog to digital tv converters" will work and not work.

To confirm my understanding I would like to describe my current TV/VCR setup, how it is used, and what it will mean to use the TV converters.

My current setup is simple:

One TV with remote control
One VCR with remote control
Rabbit ears antenna connected to the VCR
RF cable connected from the VCR to the TV

With this setup I can:

Tune and Watch the TV directly using its remote control.

Use the VCR to record broadcasts at a specified time (time shifting) while at the same specified time watch a different channel on the TV. An example would be to watch the NBC nightly news while at the same time record ABC news.

Use the VCR and the TV to watch a recorded broadcast. In doing this I set the channel on the TV set to channel 3 and then play the recorded broadcast from the VCR.

Use the timer on the VCR to record, unattended, multiple broadcasts (one at a time) with each broadcast coming from a different channel.

Now looking at a setup using TV converter boxes.

It is my understanding that 2 TV converter boxes will be required to keep most of the capabilities available with my current setup. The TV and VCR will both need one. So essentially the tuners in the TV and VCR will become a "dumb" tuner by being set to a channel that matches to the TV converter box connected to it.

Since each TV converter box requires an antenna connection, a splitter adapter and extra rf cable will be needed to connect both TV converters to the one antenna.

The cable setup for the TV and VCR becomes more complex. Since the TV will need the RF Cable connection for its TV converter box, the connection between the VCR and TV will need to be made through Audio/Video Cables. My TV and VCR are new enough to have Audio/Video connections.

The number of remote controls doubles to 4, but the 2 for same brand/model TV converter boxes should be identical.

To watch TV, using the TV's remote control, set the channel on the TV to 3, now using the remote control for the TV converter select the desired channel to be viewed.

To use the VCR to record broadcasts at a specified time, the following things need to be done:

Using the TV's remote control, set the channel to "Video" or "Video 1".

Using the VCR's remote control, program the VCR's timer through its on screen
display on the TV, except always set the channel to be recorded to 3.

Using the VCR's remote control now set the channel on the VCR to channel 3.

Using the remote control for the TV converter connected to the VCR select the channel
to be recorded.

To watch TV while the VCR is recording a program, using the TV's remote control, set the channel on the TV back to 3, now using the remote control for the TV converter select the desired channel to be viewed. But you will need to be careful to not change the channel on the TV converter connected to the VCR.

To use the VCR and the TV to watch a recorded broadcast, using the TV's remote control, set the channel to "Video" or "Video 1" and then play the recorded broadcast from the VCR.

What will not be possible is to use the timer on the VCR to record, unattended, multiple broadcasts with each broadcast coming from a different channel. This is not possible because the VCR will always be tuned to the TV converter (channel 3).

Does what I stated appear to be correct?

Looks like a simple TV and VCR setup is going to get more complicated with more ways to make a mistake when using the timer feature on the VCR.

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Bob ET,
Let's look at some of your observations first...
1.Yes indeed, it is going to be a bit more complex to program your VCR to record shows at different times on different channels, but I think that as we get into this, it will become more familiar and will become second nature after a while.
2. You will still be able to use one antenna for both the converters for recording and watching another channel, just obtain a "splitter". It will take one antenna input and split it into 2. Yes, you will probably have to get some more coax cables.
3. Some of the D to A converters will have a built in timer for switching channels for when no one is home. You will have to do some research to find the one that fits your needs.
4. Some of the supplied remotes that come with the converter boxes may have a "universal remote" capability to run your TV, VCR, and converter box.
5. Hopefully, You will be able to just jog between channel 3 on the TV and the line inputs. On my parents TV, you have to go into the menu to get to the line inputs. Maybe you won't have to.
6. The VCR will still be able to do unatended timer recordings IF the converter box has the ability to change channels via timer. Just always set the channel when programming the VCR to 3 (the ouput channel of the converter)and match the start times on both timers. The converter will do the tuning.
7. Yes, you seem to have a grasp of what it is going to take to record and watch different channels and to time shift your recordings of different channels.
Just double check all the programming that you do and you should be OK,
One other point I would like to make. I am glad that you are going ahead and getting set up now, ahead of time. I do not know if your "rabbit ears" are amplified or not, but you may find that you may need to upgrade a bit for digital, but then again, you may be fine. The point is that you will know way ahead of time if you do, and not after the transition.
Good luck.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi joe,
Yes, there are 3 converter boxes that are certified by the manufacturer that will pass through analog broadcasts that I know of. They are: Magnavox TB100MG9 Philco TB150HH9 and Echostar TR-40.
I, however have not had any luck finding one of these converters in a 50 mile radius of Beaumont or Houston Tx.
The exact same stores in my area are the exact same stores listed for Houston. Maybe in Detroit? I don't know. Happy hunting. Or you can use an A/B switch, maybe.

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Skipper,
Take alook at my post titled "FYI" above. You will find a list of stores and converters and prices as listed on their respective web sites. As for warranties, they are probably listed on the web sites as well. They are in the stores.
Also, see my post above titled "Roger that!" By following the instructions, you will be able to see how many NYC stations are broadcasting in analog and digital. Look for stations that are licensed. If they are broadcasing in digital, there will be a "digital" notation to the right of the listing and it will be in red.
As far as other countries using converter boxes, probably not. We are the first in North America to convert. However, Japan converted to digital years ago. I don't think that you have to worry about them being "proven". All of the manufacturers are reputable companies, but that is just my opinion. Stick with a name you know and trust and you should be OK.

Bob ET:

Hi mary...the cat lady,

Thank you for your thoughtful and detailed reply.

Per lines 3 and 6:

That is good to know about some of the TV converters having "a built in timer for switching channels for when no one is home". With that feature present, I will be able to do everything that I am currently doing with my TV and VCR. Do you know of a brand and model that provides that feature? I live a "little ways" up the road from you, near Tyler, so I have access to most of major stores (Best Buy, Circuit City, Target, Wal-Mart). Do you know if any of those stores will stock a model that has this feature?

Per Line 4:

My biggest concern with the remote controls is inadvertently messing with the TV converter connected to the VCR while it is recording when I change channels on the TV converter connected to the TV.

Per line 5:

The remote control for my TV has a TV/Video button to "jog between channel 3 on the TV and the line inputs", so I think I am good shape there.

Per line 7:

The "rabbit ears" are not amplified. Generally I can pick up all the stations fairly well, with Fox (channel 51), the farthest away, coming in the worst. I indeed will probably want to invest in an amplified antenna to improve the reception.

Thanks again,



i'd like to know how many more channles this box will bring i only get 3 channles

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Bob ET,
Thank you for your kind words. And thank all of you in Tyler for your hospitality while we were there evacuating from Rita. It took me 17 1/2 hours to get from beaumont to Tyler. That is usually about a 4 1/2 hour (well, a 3 3/4 hour drive the way I drive :) ). I pray that I never need to do that again as long as I live. There really are some wonderful people in your hometown. I evacuated with 9 cats and found a vet near you that took them all in and gave me a tremendously discounted price on boarding them while I stayed in the motel before I could move on down to staywith the daughter of my best friend in Houston. Thank you all.
Per line 3 and 6: The Insignia at Best Buy has the time shift feature. It is a little pricier, but has a lot of extra features. Do a search on the Best Buy web site for "digital to analog converters" and you will see what it can do.
Per line 4: Yeah, I know that this is going to be a problem. Possible solutions... Converters of different makes? Maybe when programmed in timer mode the change channel commmand from the remote won't work? Just cover up the remote sensor on the VCR converter? A delimma.
Per line 5: Glad to hear about the jog button.
Per line 7:You'll just have to experiment with the different antennas to find what works for you. Good luck with that.
If I can be of further assistance please post here and I will help if I can.
Thank you all so much again for your hospitality during and after Rita. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Tyler. It was pure chaos here when I left and the first thing that hit me when I pulled into town, was just how normal everthing was...

mary... the cat lady:

Hi redman,
It may be that you will still only get 3 channels with the converter. However, if one of your local broadcasters happens to deliver extra programming on one of the sub-channels, that will be that much better. Are you in a position that would allow you to erect an outside antenna to possibly grab some more distant stations?

Bob ET:

Hi mary...the cat lady,

Rita was some kind of storm, usually we don't get the high winds here from a hurricane, but we did with Rita. Your appreciative words about the help you received in Tyler makes me feel proud for the people of this area, they really did step up when the need arose.

I looked at the Insignia NS-DXA1 ($59.99) on the Best Buy website. Among its product features it lists; "Other convenience features include electronic programming guide, program information, auto tuning, auto time setup, closed captioning and TV power on/off from remote". So I guess one of those features will provide the time shift capability.

I may get an Insignia for the VCR and then get one of the cheaper units (Magnavox/RCA) for the TV. As you suggested, if their remote controls don't affect each other, this would solve problem of having the channel inadvertently changed on the TV converter connected to the VCR.

I ordered my coupons last weekend, so I am assuming it will be at least several weeks before receiving them. I am looking forward to getting them so I can buy the converters and try it out.

Thank you again for your help and kind words,


mary... the cat lady:

Hey Bob ET,
I am hoping that the feature listed as "auto tuning" is the time shift feature. That is what I take it to be, but I could be wrong... (X- Mary keeping fingers crossed).
I guess the thing to do is get one of the sales-people to go through the menu. The people in the electronics dept. at Best Buy are usually pretty knowlegable. I would make sure before I bought, because that is a feature that is pretty important for recording when not at home...
I ordered my coupons on Jan.2, and just did a status check. For a week now it has been saying that "my applications has been approved and the coupons will be mailed soon".
I am really hoping that as time goes by, more of the converters will become available. My best friend's brother really needs a converter that has pass through, and there is not one around anywhere nearby. We have a low power station that carries the America One network along with My TV network. They usually have a pretty good movie at night. It gives him one more option. If we can't find one with passthrough, I'll just set him up with a remote controlled A/B switch. It just takes more $$$.

mary... the cat lady:

To check the status of your application go to www.dtv2009.gov . Click on the circle that says "recent updates". When that screen pops up, there is a circle that says "check status". Click it, and you can check your status by the confirmation number that was given you or by your address.



Digital TV Stations In Operation
1629 Stations in 212 Markets Delivering in Digital


mary... the cat lady:

Hey Skipper,
Thanks for the heads up on the web site. I was not aware of it. It is an interesting site because it lists the market size of each viewing area. Bob ET is in the 111th largest market in the nation. I am in the 141st. Detriot is the 11th largest market for joe, and Dkipper, you are in the largest TV market in the US. I had always wondered where we ranked. (101 from the bottom...)
I want to note that these are stations that have informed the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) that they are broadcasting in digital. There are others that are, but are not listed here. A good example is our local Fox affiliate, KUIL. It is broadcasting an HD signal, and it was not listed. So, there may be others in your area that are doing digital, but not listed here, but it is a great place to start.
Thanks for sharing it.

Norma Pitkins:

How do you get the coupons?

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Norma,
As I stated in my post to Robert above, the easiest way to request the coupons is to call 1-888-388-2009 and follow the prompts.

Bob ET:

Hi mary... the cat lady and others,

Here is a link to website that provides more information on the TV converter boxes that are available including where some of them can be purchased.


From their list of TV converters, a few of them will have the analog pass through feature, including a Magnavox model.

On its Questions and Answers page, someone asks a question about still being able to do time shifting with their VCR while using a TV converter box. This is their answer:


Answer: The NTIA coupon approved converter boxes have limited capability. They are not programmable like a VCR and cannot switch to a specified channel at a set time. By far the easiest thing to do is to replace your VCR with one that has an ATSC and NTSC tuner built-in. ATSC being the new digital format and NTSC is the old analog format. This would allow you to record programs in both formats during and after the transition. If you want to keep your old VCR and use it with a DTV converter box, you would program your VCR to record channel 3 or 4 and tune you converter to that channel you want to record. This could be really tricky to get to work every time. Another complication is the FCC mandated energy star compliance for every certified box and it requires the converter box to power down after a few hours of non use. Being able to record a program hours in advance would be difficult. Another option would be to use a DVR like TiVo with all the bells and whistles. Expensive yes, but worth every penny. We have two that we use constantly.


That power down feature on the TV converter is something that would really mess up doing timed recordings with the VCR.

mary... the cat lady:

Good Morning Bob ET,
I thank you for your input on the subject of time shifting. You obviously did a good bit of research on the subject. Thank you for doing that. I still wonder just exactly the feature listed as "auto tuning" is on the Insignia converter at Best Buy. The only other function that I can come up with, would be "auto channel programming"... but that is usually what it is called. If I get a chance this weekend, I am going to run up to Beaumont to Best Buy to see if maybe I can get a definitive answer for everybody.
I also wonder what is defines as a "few hours of non use" . How would the box know if you were gond for the weekend or just watching a horror movie marathon on Halloween?
If you think about it, when programming a VCR you turn it off after it is programmed, kinda putting it in a "sleep mode". I would think that would be rather energy efficient... I know that the boxes were supposed to have limited features, but geez, not having a timer? I mean, some of them have on screen guides and a digital audio output for surround sound.
My best friend was in Houston yesterday and I had her look at Fry's Electronics when she was there to see what converters they had. They only had the Zenith DTT900. I have yet to find a box with pass-through at a retailer.
The search goes on...

mary... the cat lady:

FYI 3,
TV stations are starting to submit their "DTV Transition Reports". This is a filing with the FCC on their status and what the plans are for the analog and digital signals. Things such as: Are they going to continue to broadcast the analog signal at full or reduced power untill Feb, 17, '09, Do they have the post transition final channel facility built yet. (Some are broadcasting their digital signal on a temporary channel). What the plans are for construction and future permit applications will be for digital broadcasting. A lot of interesting info can be gotten from these reports.
When searching the TV Query, look at the "Application List". When it pops up, look for an entry that says "Accepted for Filing" around Feb. 20 or 21st. Click on the "Application" link, and in a couple of seconds the application will pop up. You can then see what the final channel will be and what the plans are. If you scroll all the way down the page to the bottom, you can see any comments that are there concerning obsticals (sp?) to the final transition. Some are ready to go, and others are not.

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Bob ET,
Alas, you wwere right about the time shift thing. I got up to Best Buy and was able to look at the instruction manual that comes with the unit. It ahs a clock and a TV shut off feature, but no timer. The "Auto Tuning" feature tunes in "all available digital channels". Sounds to me like a fancy way of saying something that I would expect it to do anyway. Oh well. Sorry if I gave you false hopes. It did look like a nice unit though. I did not get to see it working, but it has a lot of other good "bells and whistles".
One thing that you mentioned was getting a recorder with a digital tuner. That is a good option for anyone who is not on a limited budget, but as you probably know, the coupons are not valid for these units. The good news is, they have come down in price. I bought a combo RCA DVD Recorder/VCR with the analog (NTSC), and digital (ATSC) tuners at Wal-Mart right after the first of the year for $198, and they have come down to $149.

Bob ET:

Hi mary... the cat lady,

Thank you for taking the time and effort to confirm that the TV converters available through the coupon program will not provide a timer feature.

I was thinking about the energy saver mode on the TV converters. I am guessing "non use" means not using the remote control (i.e. changing channels) or doing something similar to the controls on the unit itself for several hours. I doubt the TV converter is sophisticated enough to sense the TV or VCR connected to it is off or in stand by mode, and use that to base its "non use" criteria.

I use the daily timer feature on the VCR to record the nightly news during the week and then watch it the same night it was recorded. When the TV converter is doing the tuning in this situation, someone or something will need to activate the TV converter before the timed recording starts. I wonder if the TV converter is turned on when it is plugged in? If it is, then an option would be to have the TV converter plugged in to a timer device, that could power it on and off.

If there is no way to have TV converter powered on when needed for timed recordings on the VCR, then purchasing a new recorder will be necessary. I have seen some good reviews for the Magnavox H2080MW8 that is available at Wal-Mart for less than $200. It is a DVD recorder that has a 80 GB hard drive and can receive both analog and digital broadcasts. It does not have a VCR feature, but I could use my current VCR for watching saved VHS tapes.

Thank you again for your feedback,


mary... the cat lady:

Hey Bob ET,
I still am baffled as to why a timer device was precluded from being incorporated into the converters. I am not a conspiracy advocate, but that reeks of corporate influence in that they would want people to go out and have to purchase new devices. It just would have been so simple...

Bob ET:

Hey mary... the cat lady,

I agree not having a timer capability built into the TV converter does seem odd.

But I did find some more information on the energy saver feature for the TV converters. The link below is the government specification document (PDF format) for the TV converters.


From looking at this document, it appears that the TV converters should provide a way to disable the default energy saver mode.

That is good news. You still won't be able to record multiple channels unattended, but at least with the energy saver mode turned off, you should be able to use the TV converter with a VCR.


I am so confused. I subscribe to cable tv. I have a digital box on my main tv and the other two tv's are connected directly to cable. Will I need converter boxes for these tv's? I called the cable co. and received two different answers.

Bob ET:

Hi Mimi,

No, you will not need the TV converter boxes that are being supported by the government coupon program.

These coupon supported TV converter boxes are only for TV and VCRs connected to an antenna.

I agree, it is confusing.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Mimi,
Bob ET is absolutely correct. You do not need the broadcast TV digital converter. Broadcast Digital TV= Apples. Cable digital TV= Oranges. The terminology is cross used and that creates the confusion. The only thing that I will say is what I have previously stated. if there is an emergency of some sort, such as a tornado, earthquake, blizzard, ice storm, severe thunderstorm, hurricane, wildfire, etc. you will not be able to use the emergency battery operated TV's anymore after Jan. 17, 09. I do not know if you live in an area that is prone to some type of disaster, but if you are, it my be prudent to go ahead and aquire the coupons and obtain a digital to anlog converter and an antenna for just such emergencies. The cable may be out for days or weeks. Of course, it will only work if you have a power source such as a generater if there is no electricity. If you do it now, you will know what you will be able to depend on.
I have been encouraging everyone I know to go ahead and get set up for after the transition. you never know when it might come in handy...

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Bob ET,
That is good to know about the cut-off override. I just hate to think that if I had to depend on a D to A converter to record that I would have to choose between recording Lost or Jericho (different channels) on a 2 week vacation. Lost would win, but I would miss Jericho... Nuts!

mary... the cat lady:

I checked my coupon status last night and supposedly my coupons have been mailed. I should recieve them in 2-3 weeks. Two to three WEEKS? Geez. Our government at work for you, huh?

I find it sad there is virtually no effort to re-use all those CRT computer monitors which with the right equipment are capable of providing a really sharp digital picture. All one needs is a converter box capable of supplying VGA and audio. I'm currently using a Hisense digital tuner with an S-Video to VGA converter and I'm getting excellent results--much better than LCD.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Loaded4th,
So, I am more or less TV broadcast savvy, but not as much in computers. Am I understanding that a computer CRT can display video at better than 420 SD? 720 or 1080HD?
Is the digital tuner you are using a HD tuner or are you using an out of the box D to A converter? I understand that some of them have a S-video output. Also, what is the cost of a VGA converter and what is the availability of a VGA converter? Is this something that can be aquired at most electronic stores or is it something that could only be obtained at a computer supplier?
I would really like for you to expand on this subject for us mere computer mortals...


Hi. O.k. ... so I ordered my 'coupons' from the government back in January and they arrived in the mail today. Up until now I have just used the free analog stations and have been able to watch NBC just great.

I bought the converter box, took it home, plugged it in, scanned through all the channels, and no NBC! We got CBS, which we didn't have before, though. I have heard you might gain channels with a converter box but nobody has said anything about LOSING ANY!!!! I was wondering if maybe NBC has not switched to digital programming yet, or what? Or am I just doomed to not be able to watch my favorite NBC shows anymore!?!

mary... the cat lady:

Well Geez Louise, (Sorry, I couldn't help it...)
Hhhhmmmmm, Let's see here. I'm not sure what the problem might be. There are several things that could be the going on.
!. Your NBC station might still be operating on a "special temporary authority" (Government way of saying they are broadcasting their digital signal on a short-term very low power)
2. It may be that the NBC station tower is just out of reach for you right now, or they are using a different tower to transmit the digital signal and the antenna is not aimed properly. (This is the case with many stations)
3. It would help to know what kind of antenna you are using. Is it just "rabbit ears" for VHF (the kind that makes a "V" with no little "loop" in the middle of it for UHF?
4. Most channels are using a UHF signal for their digital and not the original channel that the analog is on. For example: KBTV channel 4 is using UHF channel 40 for their digital on a temporary tower because the tower that the analog is on will not support the digital equipment. They also are on a "special temporary authority".
5. I am going to ask you some questions of general nature to get an idea of where you are and what channels you get normally. (I love a good mystery) Also, I need you to rate the analog picture quality for me. 0 being unwatchable to 5 being a good crisp, clear picture. If you can, give me the call signs of the stations that you normally get, along with the call sign of the new CBS station so I can try to figure out where you are in relation to the stations. It would help if you could give me the community in which you are closest to, along with the city the stations broadcast out of. Only state here what you are comfortable divulging, OK?
In a nutshell:
A. Call sign of NBC station
B. Call sign of CBS station
C. Call signs of any other stations you get
D. City they broadcast out of
E. Your community
F. Describe your antenna: Inside, outside, amplified or not, etc.
Please post your answers here and tomorrow afternoon after work, about this same time I will try to come up with the scoop on what is going on.
This is why I have been advocating going ahead and getting the boxes now so that you will know what you can depend on and work out the bugs before the transition. I truly believe that all will be well in the end for you after the transition. We'll just have to figure out where the heck that NBC station is. In the meantime, Law and Order on analog and CSI on digital. LOST, on ABC anyone????? :)
I ordered my coupons on Jan. 2 and still have not gotten them... So congratulations are in order!


Hello again,

To the Cat Lady from the middle of Feb: I never did keep a log of the stations I found, and since I was either in the Navy or receiving cable most of the time, I wasn't even on an antenna for many years.

I am still waiting for my coupons, but I figure I will be getting them soon. I already have two HDTVs beyond my old sets, and one way I use to get a good signal is to rotate the antenna and look for the best analog signal, then switch over to the digital for the HDTV signal.

I will miss being able to adjust the antenna by keying off of the analog signal, but I guess the FCC is licking it's chops for the cash the old analog frequencies will bring into the government next winter.

Louise: To compliment what the Cat Lady was talking about... NBC seems to have been pushing hardest to get their affilates broadcasting in 1080i HD. They also run more HDTV programming than any other major network. If you are getting the analog signal and not the digital, try to adjust the antenna to the best analog signal before running the channel scan.

I live in the country and the closest network station is 50 miles away, but I also regulary recieve stations over 100 miles away. I have found that on some stations I can get a great analog picture, yet "No Signal" on the digital... Other times I can barely see the analog, but get a crystal clear picture on the digital side.

So the tuning experience can be strange. For example: I can't ever get the HDTV signal for the FOX station 50 miles away, but have no problem getting the other FOX station from 100 miles away.

Confused yet?

I don't know what antenna you have. Mine is a big outdoor antenna stuck about 25 feet in the air and I use a rotor to position it. Indoors or out, the position of the antenna is critical. Some of the distant stations I pick up will only give me a signal if I have the antenna set exactly. If I move the antenna as much as two degrees in either direction, I lose the signal.

So anyway, try playing with the antenna by bringing up the analog signal for the station you want, and using that to adjust the antenna for the best picture before switching to digital and running the scan.

As the Cat Woman mentioned: The channel number of a digital station may have very little to do with the actual frequency it is using. Most stations now use the UHF frequency so channel 4 may actually be broadcasting on channel 32 on the digital side. The ADSL tuner is told what channel to display, and they are tied by channnel number to make it the same as the old frequency so if you ask for channel 11, you see the channel 11 signal regardless of it's actual frequency. That could explain the difference in the quality between the analog and digital signal of the "same" channel.

But the DIRECTION of the signal should be constant as far as positioning the antenna is concerned. If you are using indoor rabbit ears with a loop, make sure that the UHF connectors are tied to the VHF if the wires are available separately, and when you get the best analog signal, try to ensure the UHF "loop" is on the same plane as the VHF "rabbit ears." Then try running the channel scan. If you only have rabbit ears without a loop that you can spin around, then you will probably have to get an an antenna that also has a UHF loop on it. Wal-Mart sells a nice amplified GE indoor antenna, if you can't have an outdoor antenna.

Are the eyes glazing over yet?

If you want a listing of all available HDTV and analog stations in your area, their actual broadcast channel, transmitter distance and exact direction from you in degrees for antenna positioning...

Go to www.antennaweb.org/aw/address.aspx

Enter your zipcode in the form, and your street address if you want greater accuracy. (Be sure to remove the checkmarks where they ask how much you like spam.)

They will tell you exactly what you might recieve based on your location, (as well as if NBC is in HDTV in your area.)

But the position of the antenna is MUCH more critical with the new signals than it used to be in the old days.

I have found this website to have tje cheapest service for all telecommunication services for new and old televesion.

I have found this website to have tje cheapest service for all telecommunication services for new and old televesion.

Bewildered by People:

I just cannot for the life of me believe the crazy crap people have just plain made up, or the amount of people that feel free to capitulate rumors that someone else made up, over a relatively simple thing like catching up to the rest of the world when it comes to the type of signal on our Televisions!

On the other hand, I cannot believe there are that many people that have enough savvy web surfing skills to locate this site but cannot locate the answers to their own questions without posting here.

EVERY single legitimate question here is easily answered by reading the information provided by your friendly neighborhood government.

And just for fun, I'll also provide some answers for a few of the ridiculous questions asked that were just plainly ignored. Let's see, oh yeah hehehe how can the government force us to go digital. Well, no one is being forced to do anything. Broadcasters that don't want to provide HD don't have to. Of course the government will no longer issue them a License to broadcast their analog signal, but no one is going to go to jail or be hauled off to some secret government location for questioning if they don't provide HD. And on our end we certainly are not being forced to do anything either... You don't want to get a $100 HD TV? YES THEY DO EXIST $100 for an HD Compatible Television set! Or you refuse to get the "Converter Box" for your Analog Set?? Big whoop! You will not be watching much, but no one is going to come knocking at your door and shove one down your throat either.

Those of you that have been perpetuating the lie that Cable and Satellite Companies monitor what channels you are watching, need to drop the Big Brother paranoia before you step into this type of question, comment, and answer forum. Save it for the 911 conspiracy wackos, they feed on the stuff!

For the poor woman who cannot yet get NBC on the HD converter box? 99% chance your local NBC station is not yet compliant with the February 2009 Federal law. And instead of asking here, why in the world didn't you mosey on over to their website and find out??

For the people who are stating with no scientific proof that you will get better reception on the HD channels with a BRAND SPANKING NEW HD ANTENNA. Tests have shown new antennas in most cases are performing WORSE than the old UHF antenna that is already on your roof...

The mention of some HD channels being on channel number 4, 5, or 11 etc.? Please site your source as this would certainly be a new development!
Addressing the closed captioning for the hearing impaired.... First of all NOT all things, i.e. television sitcoms, Made for TV movies, NOT made for TV movies, adult movies, etc. are Closed Captioned even on ANALOG TODAY! So to try to say ALL programing must be Closed Captioned by Federal Law is again, just not true...
Is there a Federal Law pertaining to Closed Captioning For The Hearing Impaired? Yes.
Is the same Federal Law in effect for HD? For Now....

This all reminds me of the rumors that flew around when the funky CCTV boxes came about! (Read as a precursor to actual cable)

So to be blunt here, most of you that have Satellite or Cable, very, very, very little will change. For those of you without a Satellite or Cable box? Yes you will need a converter box. Otherwise very, very little will change for the majority of you. There will be exceptions, but for the most part, just STAY TUNED to your TELEVISIONS, your trusty government will be giving out more information in the Months to come. I live in a MAJOR METROPOLITAN AREA, and we have less than a dozen HD channels available as of this morning. So don't be shocked if you have to wait a while for this transition to take place.

And most of all, RELAX and stay calm. No need for panic and anger people, we have been through worse.

P-E-A-C-E !!

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Ratpuppy!
Good to "see" you again. Thanks for the feedback on the log, or lack thereof, of stations that you recieved over the years. It would be interesting to see all of them if you had kept a journal.
I have one HDTV in the living room and I watch probably as much TV in the bedroom as I do in there, so I was thinking that I might buy a smaller one for the bedroom. Maybe a 26". I got a bonus at work the other day, and I was going to use it on the new TV, but then I figured that I really needed a weed=eater and a new mower more, so I gave up on the idea for a new TV. So what happens???? The TV in the bedroom gets fried somehow. Kaput. Nada. Guess I have an excuse now to go ahead and do it. Oh darn. :)
Ratpuppy, antenna web is OK, but it does not always have every station. Case in point... KUIL channel 64 carries the analog signal off of a tower a little SSW of Beaumont. The digital is carried off of a tower a little East of Orange. Antenna Web does not even list the digital station on it's "digital companion channel" 36. If you did not know it was there, you would miss it completely unless you were to do a digital add on search and catch it by chance. The two towers are probably 20 to 25 miles apart.
What I have done is use the rotor on my outside antenna to make a digital add on search at every 22.5 degree mark, starting at due north and working my way arount the circle until I get back to due north. I do an add on search starting at N, then NNE, then NE, then E etc.
There is no reason why that could not be done with an inside antenna too.
I know what you mean about using the analog station as a beacon for finding the digital signal. That is how I tune in the digital for Channel 7, KPLC in Lake Charles, La. It is an NBC station that carries the HD Locally we have HD for FOX, CBS, and ABC, but not NBC (yet). But I can get it when watching channel 7 out of Lake Charles. Channel 7 and our ABC station on channel 12 will be the only local stations remaining on the VHF dial after the transistion. Locally instead of channels 4, 6, 7, 12, 22, 29, 34, and 64, it will be channels 7, 12, 22, 30, 33, 36, 40, and 50.
Ratpuppy, when did you order your coupons? Also, I would like to know what two Fox stations you are refering to in your post above. I would like to look them up on the FCC web site and try to solve that mystery too.... It was good hearing from you.
Louise, if you're still interested I would like to research that NBC station for you.

mary... the cat lady:

Wow Bewildered!!!!!
Did we drink too much coffee today? Been hitting the Starbuck a little hard, huh?
I feel that I must address some of your statements...
As far as a $100 HDTV... Doesn't exist. Not today. Not in the U.S. anyway. A $100 13" SDTV... Yeah, those are a dime a dozen now.
Who said anything about cable or asatellite companies monitoring what you watch???
Nobody is forcing a full power TV station to go HD. Digital yes, but not HD. That is up to each individual station as to whether to go HD or SD. It seems to me you are very confused as to the difference bewteen a digital broadcast and a HD broadcast. Maybe you should use some of your computer savvy to navigate to some of the many websites and actually read them to try and figure out the difference.
My source for the fact that there are HD channels on 4, 5, and 11? The various web sites for the individual TV stations and my own HDTV, thank you very much.
I have never stated that anyone need get a brand new spanking HD antenna. If you were to have really read my posts, you would note that I have stated the the frequencies for digital are exactly the same as the ones for analog.
You know that there are people out there who still have not set the clock on their VCR. Not everyone is technically inclined. So why not come here tho this web site and get answers from myself of someone else. One stop shopping so to speak. I enjoy helping out here, myself.
Houston is a fairly large metropolitan city, which has 17 full power TV stations. As of this morning ALL are broadcasting digital. At least 7 are broadcasting HD. And One of them is channel 11! Go figure.
Besides BbP, the government will tell you that if you have satellite, you won't need a converter box. That is not absolutely true.
So, please do us all a favor and switch to de-caf, OK?

Bewildered by People:

mary... the cat lady are you a bit paranoid? Where did you get the idea I was referring to only your questions? Very typical behavior of an ego-maniacal person. Not saying you are one, just stating the behavior pattern is the same.

I never said it was your posts about buying a New Antenna.

I never stated that just because you have satellite or cable for that matter, you would not need a converter box.

I have not had any coffee today and when I do I certainly don't drink Starbucks Commercial Crap Coffee.

If you bothered to read ALL of the other people's posts, you would indeed see " Who said anything about cable or satellite companies monitoring what you watch???"
Read all 129 posts, it's in there if you really want to know, if not why comment about it? Oh yeah, I bet you thought I was referring to you again!

As for the Type of TV I was talking about for $100 ??? Sharp AQUOS LC15SH7U 15" LCD HDTV I guess AQUOS must be some super secret code that only you know about that makes this a 13" SDTV because God know you know everything HDTV. It has been on sale 3 weekends in a row for $99.95

Down south you may indeed be getting Digital TV and not HDTV. Here in the St. Paul/Minneapolis MN market area we so far have not had a single channel tell us to tune into the "Digital" version on another channel. Everyone has announced it as their High Def, High Definition, or HD version. Maybe we will be lucky and have them all (locals) go HD, as we are not as special as you because we have hills, bluffs, valleys, and other natural boundaries that have kept other cities channels from reaching the local television market. So we have 8 "Locals" all going HD, go figure huh? So really I had no idea there were any markets going Digital and not HD. Seems like a waste to me, but what do I know..

And do I know the difference between HD and Digital? Yes, should I have written it differently? Yes.

But as far as you knocking everything I've said? You were right once. I did screw up the Digital and HD... You were just wrong on everything else.

So, you keep on helping people, looks like you're doing a good job of it, but leave your ego at the door, you're not as smart nor observant as you think you are.


Bewildered... Hmmm...

I understood you to state:
"As for the Type of TV I was talking about for $100 ??? Sharp AQUOS LC15SH7U 15" LCD HDTV I guess AQUOS must be some super secret code that only you know about that makes this a 13" SDTV because God know you know everything HDTV. It has been on sale 3 weekends in a row for $99.95"

That is strange, because according to Sharp the model LC15SH7U is NOT an Aquos... It isn't even an HDTV...

Product Description:
Sharp's 4:3 LC15SH7U LCD TVs provide a slim, versatile television solution with a black sleek and stylish design. The LC15SH7U features a high-performance LCD panel for high brightness, a high contrast ratio; low reflection glares protection and includes ATSC/NTSC tuners to receive digital and analog off-air broadcasts. The LC15SH7U is compatible with a wide range of mounting brackets.

Product Description:
A stylish 15 inches, the LC-15SH7U is an SDTV with an impressively clear LCD display. Its many inputs and outputs make it larger than life in its ability to coordinate with other components.

Not only is it just an SDTV... With a 4:3 ratio, it isn't even wide-screen... Sheesh!

In addition, this model lists today for between $320-360 new, and between $200-250 refurbished. So please let us all know where you are finding the $100 ones, (so we can make a killing on eBay...)

And you stated: "I just cannot for the life of me believe the crazy crap people have just plain made up..."

Tell me about it Bewildered...

I personally think you have a lot of nerve sitting there with your hands in your pockets and whining like a little child and think for a minute that anyone will have any respect for your opinion when we have someone here as special, friendly and helpful as Mary the Cat Lady...

At least she and I know the difference between an SDTV and an HDTV... And you do not based upon the example that YOU have chosen to provide...

Did you actually say:
"And do I know the difference between HD and Digital? Yes, should I have written it differently? Yes."

"But as far as you knocking everything I've said? You were right once. I did screw up the Digital and HD... You were just wrong on everything else."

Mary is wrong on everything else??? (Jeeeez!)

Got a good laugh out of the little game that you played with Mary in your last post... Now how did that go?

"Very typical behavior of an ego-maniacal person. Not saying you are one, just stating the behavior pattern is the same."

What a funny little guy you are... Can I play too? Not saying that you are an ignorant, hate-filled posing tool of a troll, just stating that YOUR behavior pattern is the sane...

Oh darn, I forgot to include creep...

So why don't you consider following the advice that you seem to desperate to provide and:

"...leave your ego at the door, you're not as smart nor observant as you think you are."


Hey Mary the Cat Lady.

Great to hear from you too. Hope you are finding a good HDTV for the bedroom, and I am sure that the mower will understand...

One thing that I will miss will be the ability to pick up very weak TV signals that have bounced from the stratosphere from hundreds of miles away when the conditions are right.

But I guess we still have radio...

You asked me about some HD signals...

I live in Wilmont, MN and regarding the FOX signals... I can get KDLT in Sioux City, IA, but no digital with KTTW in Sioux Falls, SD. At 47 miles away, KTTW is about 43 miles closer than KDLT is at about 90 miles away as the crow flies.

I asked for my coupons sometime in late January, after reading an article that half of the 4 million available had been claimed. I don't recall printing or writing out the confirmation number, but I would guess that they are on their way.

I have a 26" HDTV in the bedroom, and it is very adequate for my space. An SDTV signal is about 22" on that screen. I wall-mounted it just above eye-level when standing, and it looks great from the bed.

I have computers connected to the VGA inputs on both of the HDTVs (living room and bedroom.) I keep movies or recorded HDTV videos on the large hard drive on the living room computer. They play in the bedroom whenever I want through the home network connections.

For example: If I want to watch "Yellow Submarine," I just switch the HDTV input in the bedroom to VGA, click on the shortcut that points to the large hard drive in the living room, select the Yellow Submarine file, and it starts playing on the HDTV in the bedroom.

That hard drive can hold about 300 movies compressed, and I have about 70 on it so far.

These HDTVs are great when you hook them up with a computer through a home network with high speed internet. And if one of those computers has an HDTV tuner card installed, you can record and time shift in perfect 720p on FOX or ABC OR 1080i on PBS, NBC or CBS and play then back with the same definition in which they were originally transmitted.

If you ever want to compare notes, you can always email me at: ratpuppy@hotmail.com

mary... the cat lady:

No, I am not paranoid at all! Not in the slightest. The only way that I would be paranoid is if I was a long tailed cat in a room full of raocking chairs...
But wait, can I see 3 forms of ID please???? LOL

Here it is a few months later, and I've already received my coupon.

There are so many boxes approved, figuring out the best is the biggest challenge!

But free, over-the-air digital television impresses me for not only the clarity of the channels, but also the number of available channels. My converter box detects over 30 channels!

mary... the cat lady:

Hey William,
What part of the country are you located? I ordered mine on Jan. 3, and still have not gotten them. I am glad you had such good success in you rreception. What type of antenna are you using? QWhat box did you decide on and where did you purchase it? Please give us a report so that we can use the info to help us make our choices. Thanks.


We only get one channel (NBC) and the call letters are KSBW on channel 8. Its transmitter is located on Fremont Peak near San Juan Bautista, California and I live close to Santa Cruz, CA.
I am not sure what type of antenna I have, it is just a little wire indoors, nothing fancy. On a scale of 1-5 I was recieving NBC about a '4' before, but '0' with the box.

mary... the cat lady:

OK Louise,
Just got through doing a little research... That was fun! I don't get a reason to look at California coverage maps very often.
First the good news... There are actually 3 stations that you should be able to get.
KSBW, which you already get is the NBC afilliate.
KCBA is a Fox affiliate analog channel 35 and digital channel 13.
KION is the CBS station you used to got on analog on channel 46 is broadcasting the digital signal on channel 32.
OK, here is the bad news... KION is fully licensed but is only pushing 46,000 watts effective radiated power. That is not a lot of power. However, you are fully in the service contour of all 3 stations.
Good news 2... KION has an application pending to go to 5,000,000 watts. When that will be approved, I have no idea, but it may happen eventually.
There is hope, however, in the meantime. As my friend Ratpuppy posted above, if you are not in a situation where you can put up an antenna outside or in your attic, then by all means go out and purchase an amplified indoor antenna. As I have stated above, it does not need to be an expensive "HDTV" antenna, although it may indeed say something on the box about digital or HDTV. The frequencies are the same for digital and analog. But please, if you buy a new antenna, get one that is amplified. When you look at the boxes, there will be different degrees of amplification. Find one that fits your budget and take it home and try it.
Actually, you are in a rather rare situation. Most digital broadcasters are moving to the UHF band. Not only is one of your stations renaining in the upper VHF range, one of yours is moving from UHF to VHF. Very rare. You will have 2 stations on VHF (Rabbit Ears) and one on UHF (Loop).
The KSBW tower is Southeast of the center of Santa Cruz. Both towers for KCBA and KION are South Southeast Santa Cruz.
Once you get the antenna ($10-$30) at Wal-Mart, take it home and try to aim it in those directions and do an add on search. Hopefully, you will be able to get all 3, and possibly even more programming on a sub-channel.
If you live in Santa Cruz, or to the north of it, you may also be able to get some of the San Francisco stations with an amplified antenna. Some of the S, F. stations have applications pending that will encompass an area even well to the south and east of Santa Cruz. So every so often, just do an station add on search to see what else you might get. Kinda like looking for buried treasure...
Good luck, and please let me know if you are successful, OK?


Thanks for your help. I really appreciate you taking the time to explain this to me. Hopefully when the applications go through for higher watts and with a new antenna I'll have no problems. Thanks again.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Again Louise,
I didn't think to mention mention last night. I thought of it at work today. You can always jog back and forth between analog and digital as long as the analogs are still broadcasting. If you need help figuring out how to do that, post back and let me know if you have line inputs on your TV or not. Line inputs are the little plugs on the back (or front of some models) that are usually labled left(L), right(R), and video(V), and are usually colored white, red, and yellow. Even if you don't have these, it can still be done. It just makes it easier. but neither way is hard, and I will walk you through it if you want me to. Cost would be around $10, give or take.
Just let me know.

mary... the cat lady:

Just wanted to let everybody know that I got my coupons this afternoon. I ordered them Jan. 2.

Bob ET:

Hi mary... the cat lady,

I am looking forward to seeing your feedback on your TV converter purchases.

From observing the postings on www.avsforum.com, it appears the Zenith DTT900/Insignia NS-DXA1 are the best converters at this point in time.


mary... the cat lady:

Hi Bob ET,
Of the ones that I have been able to look at, the Insignia NS-DXA1 was my choice.
I will be getting both of my boxes this weekend. My best friend's brother lives just outside the west side of Beaumont, and only has antenna for TV. He has the same set-up as I do, but whereas mine is only about 25 feet+/-, his is up a full 36 feet high. (Hi gain/ bow tie reflected/ corner yagi/ VU-190, with antenna mounted amplifier and distribution amp)
He procrastinated and did not order his coupons until about a month ago, so I am supposed to go over to his house Saturday evening and set him up with one of my boxes. When his coupons come in, he will use one of his to replace mine. I am really curious to see what is available to him with the box. I just wish that I could have found one with "pass through". We have a couple of low powers that will continue to broadcast in analog after the transition. He does not have A/V line inputs on his TV, so I told him that I would set him up with a remote A/B switch, and he could pay me back at a later date.
I will be sure to give a status update on the quality of reception here in the days to come. As they used to say... Please Stand By.


I need a 'block DTV converter'

OK, I want something more useful than the $60 converter boxes.

I have an Analog PVR, suitable for cable.

However, I want a 'block DTV' converter that outputs analog (NTSC) signals on the channels I specify, and that I can program to put new digital (ATSC)

For example:

DTV station WCPO (ABC 9) -> NTSC "channel 7" [to match cable]
WKRC (CBS 12) -> NTSC "channel 13" [to match cable]

Something that only puts an signal on NTSC channel 3 is of limited use, since I lose all of my PVR capabilities. The trick is to simulcast a couple of different NTSC channels so I can PVR one program and watch another.

This box wouldn't have to cost $60, it's worth $180 because of the capability of transmitting on multiple analog channels. The trick is to tell which NTSC channel the PVR is tuned to (by looking at the local oscillators).

I could do this with a PC full of DTV tuner cards, but that's cumbersome and expensive.

This way, I can get rid of cable if I want too, get the stations from 50 miles away that my local cable system doesn't carry, and still PVR 90% of the programming I care about.

This might be a good homebrew project for some college students.


Hi again. I just purchased a dvd/vcr recorder with a built- in tuner. I connected it directly to the cable line without the cable box and set it to scan the channels. I am receiving many digital channels but I don't know what many of them are. How do I find out what these high number digital channels are? Thanks.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Everybody,
Houston, we have a problem... But more on that in a moment.
Mimi: unless there is a logo in the one of the corners, I would try to catch an ID or a "coming soon" type of preview near the top of the hour or at the end of a program to see what the channels are and make a list of them. Maybe go online to your cable company web site to try to determine something that way. If i think of any other way to determine what they are, I will post here.
Ralph: A "block" converter would be a desirable unit to have, but I have not run across anything like it out there on the market. My best friend and I were discussing the very same thing the other night. I remember them from the early days of cable. It convertered your uhf channels on the TV to cable channels. maybe someone will come up with a marketable unit...
I, on the other hand am baffled and bewildered. Went to my best friend's brothers house to set him up with a digital converter box, and was sadly unsuccessful. I bought both the Insignia and Zenith boxes, which happen to be exactly alike. They are the same unit down to the last detail. But that is not the problem. He has the exact same set-up as mine except that he is about 15+/- feet higher than I am. The signal meter was all over the place... good-medium-good-bad-good-bad-medium-bad-medium-bad-good-bad-etc. I really don't understand why that was happening. We tried all kinds of configurations. Both boxes. Gain up, gain down, distribution amp, without distribution amp. With the A/B switch and without. different lead in cables. Everything I could think of... My fingers are sore from screwing and un-screwing coax terminals. He is only 15 to 25 miles from the transmitters. Leaving me baffled and bewildered...
I am going to try the second box on my set-up to see how it behaves, so until then... Please Stand By.


I have an old GE 19" tabletop portable tv that is 24 years old and has an antenna attached, no remote control and NO places for RCA jacks for audio and video cords. Will the new digital converter boxes do any good on such a tv?

mary... the cat lady:

The short answer and good news to your question is yes. It will work with your TV.
Now, comes the "but"... You probably will need to get an antenna. The attached rabbit ears that came with your TV most likely will not be adaquate to drive the tuner in the digital to analog antenna.
What you will probably want to do is buy an amplified indoor antenna to start with. Like our previous posts, it does not need to be a real expensive antenna, but it does probably need to be amplified. Most of the new digital signals are on the UHF band. There are varying degrees of amplification listed as "dbs". The more dbs the better is the general rule. But the more dbs, the more expensive, too. but still way less than buying a new TV. Find one that fits your budget, and take it home and try it. If it works, fantastic. Just be sure to aim it toward the stations that you want to recieve. digital signals are way more unforgiving than analog. One thing about the Insigia and Zenith digital to analog converters that I really like is the fact the you can go into the scan mode and pick a channel and then rotate the antenna and watch a signal strength meter untill you get the best signal. That is a feature that I wish my HDTV's had.
Remember too, that the "channel number" you are used to watching is more than likely NOT the channel number you need to tune to in the set up menu. For esample, our local channel 4 on analog is channel 40 on digital. Channel 12 is on channel 50. Channel 6 is on channel 21. Yours will vary. Just do an auto channel scan first and see what you come up with. If they are not all there, you can go in and pursue the others individually.
Good luck.

mary... the cat lady:

"We have a problem" update...
I just got an e from an engineer at one of our local TV stations. It seems that his opinion is that I was overloading the signal. He suggested that I try the antenna without the amplification and maybe even lower it a little. That, however. would preclude my friend's brother from recieving the Houston channels. So... what to do, what to do. My friend's brother informed me that the original antenna is still in the attic. So, the next time I get a chance to get over there, we will hook up the old antenna in the attic to the D to A converter to see what happens. If that works, I will set him up to use that antenna for the local stations and the big, tall outside andtenna for the distant Houston stations. So, until then... "Please Stand By"

mary... the cat lady:

Once you have the digital to analog converter set up to the old TV, you will be able to change channels and raise and lower the volume with the remote from the converter. The converters I mentioned also have a closed captioned generator included with them, so if you are like me and spent too many nights in front of groups like AC/DC, Aerosmith, and Van Halen you can start to understand the dialog again. :)


Thanks to "mary...the cat lady" for responding and helping me with the solution to my problem. Just what is an amplified indoor antenna? Does it require AC electricity to make it amplified? And do you know what kind of connectors I will need to buy since the UHF and VHF wires each have two "U" ends that are held down by screws. The digital converter box comes only with female and female ends with the little pin inside.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Bob,
Yes, the amplified antennas require electricity to operate. They come with an AC adapter and they usually come with a short piece of coax to connect to the converter box.
What you will need is called a "transformer" or "matching transformer" to connect to the screw terminals on the back of the older TV's. They are not uncommon, but you may have to look around for one. I know that you can probably find it at Radio Shack. The last time I looked at our Wal-Mart, they had one. It is not very expensive and has a terminal for the coax on one end and a short twin lead with two u-terminals to slide under the screws on the back of the TV. What it does is convert the 75 ohm coax to 300 ohm twin lead to match the TV.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Bob Again,
You will need to hook the transformer up to the VHF screw terminals and tune your TV to channel 3 or 4. An amplified indoor antenna kinda looks like the old rabbit ears, They have a small base maybe wiht some knobs to adjust the gain (amplifier) or maybe to turn the UHF loop (the center part) of the antenna to aim it. They come in different configurations. Some come with a gain for the VHF and UHF.
Just connect the coax to the "antenna in" on the converter box and then a piece of coax to the antenna out (To TV) on the converter box. Connect that end to the transformer and attach that to the VHF screw terminals on the TV.
You should bew good to go from there...


Mary...the cat lady,
I found a source to identify the digital channels I am receiving. Thought others would find it useful. www.silicondust.com Thanks for all you are doing to enlighten people.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Mimi!
Thank you so much for your kind words. I am so glad that you found the info you were looking for, and thank you for sharing that with the rest of us.


Set up my first converter box RCA DTA800 Walmart $48. received 40 channels clear. To my disapointment NO VCR timer to change channels for my analog VCR`s and DVD recorder. So on the hunt and found that Echoestar/Dishnetwork TR-40 Digital to analog conver box will have a VCR timer selling for $39. Not available until until May to July. Just dont want to replace all my analog VCR and DVD ecorders . So along with the search for other converter boxes with timers.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Tony,
Did you find a retaioler for the Echostar/Dishnetwork TR-40 converter box? This has been a topic of great discussion on this forum. The fact that none of the boxes we could find a retailer for had the timer. Please post back if you can give us any more info. Thanks.


Apologies for the delay, and yes, depending on the CRT, it can usually display video better than a TV monitor, especially LCD. This is due not only to resolution but also contrast. However, there are, and will be, exceptions as technology advances.

The HD tuner I am using (Hisense) is one of the early HD tuners, used, and purchased for about $30 from the internet. It has RGB, S-Video and Composite Video out as well as audio.

The VGA converter allows you to watch videos at high resolution on a computer monitor, or any other VGA display. It accepts both composite video & s-video inputs plugged in at the same time and outputs at 3 selectable high resolution VGA signals. Using video adaptive technology, this unit can produce a sharp & crystal clear image using S-Video.

This site sells them for $65, but they may go for less elsewhere:


I have not seen them in stores.

Even though I'm going to get a couple of converter boxes, using the government coupons, the boxes must have S-Video for me to utilize old CRT displays as I can acquire them (preferably black units with built-in speakers, like the Dell E771P, or larger display size).

If anyone has knowledge, or links, comparing the S-Video units under the TV converter program, I'd be grateful for such information. Here's what I know so far (corrections welcome):

Insignia NS-DXA1 -> no S-Video
Magnavox TB100MW9 -> no S-Video
Magnavox TB-100MG9 -> no S-Video
Philco TB150HH9* -> no S-Video
Philco TB100HH9* -> no S-Video
RCA DTA 800B -> no S-Video
Sansonic FT300RT -> no S-Video
Zenith DTT900 -> no S-Video)

MaxMedia MMDTVB03 does have S-Video included.


CLARIFICATION: Thanks to mary the cat lady for all your help but I still need to ask something else. I got the Amplified Indoor Antenna and it is as you said. My question concerns one thing you said in "Hi BOB" that most of the new digital signals are on the UHF band. And in the "Hi Bob Again" you said you will need to hook the transformer up to the VHF screw terminals. I am still not getting a clear screen on Channel 3 or 4 when I connect it to the VHF screw terminals. I was wondering if that is correct or if I need to connect it to the UHF terminals. Or, if I need to go into a splitter and use 2 of the matching transformers, one to attach to the UHF terminals and one to attach to the VHF terminals. Sorry I am so illeterate on these electronic issues. Any help form you or anyone else would be appreciated.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Loaded4th,
Thank you for the feedback.
If anyone has knowledge of a retailer that carries a converter that has an exeptional feature, it would really be appreciated if that info was posted here.
I know that I ran across a converter box while researching them that had a digital audio out included, and I did not take note of where I found that info, and for the life of me, I cannot find that information again.
I keep researching retailers, and all I have found so far is the 4 units being sold at the the big box retailers. Best Buy/Circuit City/Radio Shack/Wally World.
So if you have other retailer info, we will thank yo for passing it on.

mary... the cat lady:

"Houston, we have a problem..." update:
Got a chance to get back over to my friend's brothers house yesterday. We hooked the converter box up to the antenna in the attic, and that seemed to solve the signal overload problem at the converter box.
The problem now is that the low power Fox digitatal station still does not come in, and the local NBC station was not there as well. The ABC station was there, but weak. The CBS and TBN channels came in really strong.
I read yesterday that an antenna in the attic will lose 20 to 50 percent of it's signal dependant upon the construction of the house, so I think our next step is to move the antenna out of the attic and place it on the pole 3 to 5 feet above the roofline. Most of the stations are basically East of him, so I don't think a rotor will be required. I hope not anyway...
So, until we can get back together to make the switch... Please Stand By...


Mary...the cat lady:
Well I never could get enough signal strength to scan for channels with the Amplified Indoor Antenna (27 dB), so I remembered that I had an antenna in the attic (haven't used it in 32 years) so I hooked it up and the setup program ran beautifully and now I have a nice picture on many VHF and UHF stations. Thanks so much for your encouragement and help. Bob

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Bob,
I am so sorry that I did not get back to you before this. i simply did not see your post asking about the proper hook-up on the VHF terminals. I guess your post showed up while I was writing Loaded4th. My apologies,
I am so glad that you figured it out and that you had the good fortune to have an antenna at your disposal when the indoor antenna did not work out. I am happy that it worked out for you.
For others who may need an explaination... the converter box is hooked up to the VHF terminal because the output channel of the converter box is either channel 3 or 4 (VHF). All of the digital channels are converted to an analog channel 3 or 4 signal. (You can choose which)
Bob, where did you find the matching transformer? I looked on the Radio Shack web site after my post and found them for around $7. i am glad you were able to find one.
I found my first TV antenna on a trash pile. The rest is history...


I actually found the Philips matching transformer with the twin U leads on one end and the coax on the other end at Wal-Mart for $4.94 and it also came with F" Plug Transformer (PH61008).


After some more research, I figure that I need to concentrate on at least three factors:

S-Video included
Signal strength
Full EPG (all stations over time)

The following units have S-Video:

Apex DT1001
Apex DT1002
Channel Master CM-7000 (a bit boxy)
DigitalSTREAM D2A1D10
MaxMedia MMDTVB03

So I need to discover Signal Strength and EPG data.

Here's a site that is starting to gather some specifications on the TV Converter Box Program units:


I'm in Southern California and have used my own antenna, which is a 7.25" copper ring connected directly into a matching transformer (I get these Xformer's for a couple of bucks at the local swap meet). Even though I'm in a fringe area (the local cable company even has to provide basic [local] service), I can pull in all of the LA and Orange County stations when I place an antenna strategically in my single story attic. One antenna feeds an amplifier (powered by a 12v solar line) which then splits out to four (4) TV's.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Loaded4th,
Fry's Electronics has the channel Master CM-7000 listed on their website for $79.95. I know that they have 3 stores in the greater Houston area and I talked to a friend of mine at work the other day who wa going to one of them in Houston and he was asking me where the one on the Gulf Freeway was located. I asked him if he had ever been to one, and he said that he had been in one in California onetime. So maybe there is one near you, I don't know.
EPG (all stations over time) is not something tha I recognize. Will you please explain what that is? I would appreciate it very much. Thanks.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Bob,
I am happy to hear that you found the transformer you needed without too much trouble.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Everybody,
I found a really good site that explains in common english all about antennas (indoor and out)(outside and inside), recreption, down-leads (coax and twin-lead), aiming, VHF and UHF etc. I found it while researching the MyTV network. I just happened to click on the link for their affilliate in San Antonio, Tx. It was on their website that I found this info. It covers all the basics and has some really good info. The web address is: www.kmys.tv/kmysinfo/reception.shtml
I hope that some of you find this site informative, useful and fun.
I bet some of you now know more about TV reception than you ever thought you would want to know... :)


For everyone out there, the picture-in-picture (PIP) feature on all family main analog tv's will be DEAD on Feb-17,2009.

Yes we have Fry's Electronics here in California.
EPG (Electronic Program Guide) is typically sent with the DTV broadcast. This data is meant to contain the program start time and title, and additional program descriptive "metadata". The source may be the local station or a third party.
EPG is a feature that seems to be implemented between being very limited, to that which one would expect of a TV guide.
In it's simplist form, EPG only displays a small window to identify what is currently showing on each channel.
In it's full implementation, EPG shows a complete screen of what all selected stations are showing currently and for hours ahead, even days, (somewhat like a text only version of http://www.zap2it.com/ ).

Thanks for the tip about the Channel Master CM-7000.


I have the same question as Rich L. Can you use one converter box to distribute to an entire house of tv's. I saw the answer connect to modulator, that i also understand. So, set up the converter box plugged into antenna, plug output into modulator, modulator send signal to all tv's connected to it's cables. my question.... how to change the channels at each respective tv. for example, distribution system is in the basement. does each tv have to be on the same channel at the same time. that doesn't seem that great, and would seem to require one converter box per tv.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi thegreatbriguy!
Yes, you could run multiple TV's off of one converter. Yes, in that instance, they would all have to be on the same channel. No, it is not that great. How to change the channel... You could buy what is called a remote control extender and do it that way... but only in the room with the extender. Dependant upon how many TV's there are, you would probably spend more money on the remoted extender than you would using a converter on each TV. That is probably the way to go. Especially with the coupon program.
Alas, that is the way it seems to be.
One of the ways to use a converter box to multiple TV's would be to feed it into a distribution amp ( the channel 3 or 4 output) and then run it to the various TV's.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Loaded4th,
Thanks for the explanation. I guess I was just not familiar with the acromym. I had never seen it refered to that way, but I have been enlighened, thanks to you. Much obliged. :)

mary... the cat lady:

Houston, we have a problem..." update.
Tried a different approach to the overload problem with by friend's antenna. Got back over there and attached some 10db attenuators in line with the lead-in to the converter box. They sorta worked... but I think that I was using too high of db attenuator, but a 10 was all I could find on short notice. Maybe will try some 3db's if I can find some.
I did rotate the antenna around 180 degrees from where it should have been aimed, and using the back of the antenna, I was able to get him 4 of our local digital stations. The low power Fox station still does not come in. HHHhhhhmmmmmm, I will have to ponder that some more. The 1 redeeming factor in all of this, is that the Fox station is a low power, and will probably still broadcast an analog signal after the transition. So that will hopefully carry him for a while longer. So, until further notice... Please Stand By.
On a side note, his sister (my best friend) got a new HDTV yesterday and we set it up last night. Fantastic picture and sound. Totally cool.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi everybody,
I found some 3db attenuators (pads) online, so I will try them when they get here. Until further notice,,, Please Stand By


You folks seem to have answers, I have 2 questions. We use an attic antena. Bought a converter box to use on a 5 year old Sony picture in a picture tv. No more picture in a picture, right? And how do you go about hooking a tv up so you can toggle between digital and analog? My ch 7 won't come in in digital on the above tv or the new hdtv we bought for a different room. bummer. And just a comment....out 5 year old Sony works great and is a 40". So what's with the signal being sent thru to that nice sized tv screen so small??? Now what's up with that? the spanish station and old-show station fill the screen with picture....but not the big networks. Any possible explanation? Thanks in advance for whatever help.


I forgot one more important question. I live in a suburb 20 miles from City of Chicago Il. My ch 7 (ABC) comes in the very best of all my channels using just my attic antena. Now, on both my one month old hd lcd tv and my 5 year old tv with the new converter box..."no signal". I have to watch in in analog on the hd tv and can't watch it at all on the converter box tv. I know previously you folks advised tuning the channel in on analog and then the feeling was it would come in on dgital. Not the case as that was my best reception channel before. Any ideas? And what will come of it when there is no analog signal? No ABC for me? ;( thank again for any advising.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi skinshi,
Here is to your first question: You have correctly come to the conclusion that there will be no more picture in picture unless the TV has dual digital tuners. Sorry.
Here is to the second question: Keep the faith. I looked WLS up on the FCC web site, and right now they are broadcasting the digital signal on UHF channel 52, but that is not the final post transition channel for "Channel 7". They are going to revert back to VHF channel 7 for their final poat transition channel. If you are getting channel 7 clearly now, you should be OK after the transition. According to the digital status report filed with the FCC, they have 2 analog transmitters. Around the first part of January, '09, one of the analog transmitters will be converted to broadcast digital. At midnight on feb. 17,'09, the channel 52 digital transmitter and the redundant channel 7 analog transmitter will be turned off, the digital channel 7 transmitter will be turned on, and the redundant channel 7 analog transmitter will then be coverted to digital. So, keep the faith...
Now, how to toggle back and forth between analog and digital... There is an item called an A/B switch. They can be cheap ($5) for a mechanical witch that you have to get up and physically move from A to B, or they can cost a little more ($40) and come with a remote control, so you don't need to get up out of the chair. Radio Shack has a really good remote A/B switch and they also have the cheap ones too. Using your antenna lead-in, go into a splitter ($5+/-) and now you have two antenna lead-ins. Place one into the digital converter and then out of the converter box into the A/B switch (I use the "B" side for "Box") and the other antenna lead-in to the "A" side of the A/B switch (A for "Antenna"), then go from the A/B switch into the coax input on the TV.
One other option, is to have the antenna go into a splitter, and have one lead-in from the splitter go into the converter box, and the other one go straight into the coax input on the TV, and then connect the converter box to the TV using an A/V cord to the line inputs on the TV. (Red/White/Yellow). That way, you can jog between the antenna input on the TV, and the line inputs.
Whatever works best for you...
In your second post, you wanted to know why you have to watch channle 7 in analog on the HDTV and cannot get a signal on the second TV at all. You could also watch the analog on the second TV if you set it up like I posted above.
It is the digital signal that you cannot get on either TV. But, once again, you should be OK after the transition, when channel 7 switches from digital channel 52 to digital channel 7.
The picture size may be due to the fact that the "small screen" stations are not broadcasting in HD yet, and that may change after the transition also, so hang in there. There also may be a "format" or "picture size" option on your TV, so check there, too.
I hope that I have answered your questions, and if anything needs clarifying for you, I will try to get back to you if you post again, I will be out of town the remainder of the weekend, but will check here after work on Monday....
Take care.


Hey Mary...the cat lady, I'm grateful for you knowledge. I was able to resolve the "small picture size" issue...it was a setting on the converter box remote, but not very clearly stated. I only found it due to experimentation.
Either way, one thing settled. My husband is hugely bummed about the picture in a picture issue........sports and such. But the information on my ABC channel non reception, thank you for sharing your information. I feel a little easier about this. I know this was answered earlier, but am I to understand people who use cable tv will automatically receive the digital signal no matter what/how old there tv is? Or will they be dealing with an entirely different "box" issued by their cable provider be it free or at a cost. My college age kids are in this situation. Thank again for sharing, much appreciated :) skinshi

mary... the cat lady:

Hi skinshi,
From my knowledge, those who have basic or expanded basic cable will continue to recieve an analog signal for their TV's. The cable company will take the digital signal from the TV station, and convert it down to an analog signal for distribution to the cable system. I read somewhere the the cable associations have only agreed to only do this for 3 years after the transition. I figure that some cable systems will continue to do so for some time after that, and some will not...
Your college aged kids more than likely will not have to do anything more than what they are doing now.
I know that is a relief to the pocket book on your part!


can you watch porn on it?


1.First, I would like to show my gratitude to all the people who are taking their time to help us.

2.I spoke to the customer service people in Comcast (my cable company) and they told me that for next year I will need to rent a box from them to be able to wacht TV. Comcast never mentioned that cable companies must distribute analog signal for 3 years. They mentioned that the cost of the box will be less expensive, only a couple of dollars per month.

3. I got only one coupon instead of two, I do not understand why....

I will continue to read this, to decide what TV converter box I should purchase.
Thank s again

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Cotufa,
Your gratitude is showing. :)
I am sorry to hear that about Comcast. I guess they may not be a member of the cable company association that agreed to carry the analog for 3 more years.
My best friend's daughter had Comcast in Philidelphia and loved it. She has since moved back to Texas and is living in Houston now and has Comcast and she hates it...
I think it is sorry of them not to carry the analog for a while longer. But alas, they don't listen to us. No one has said that they HAVE to continue the analog. It was just an agreement from the cable operators association.
However, I don't want you to confuse the coupon eligible converter box with the one that you get from Comcast, they are two different things. The converter box that you get with the coupon is only good for "over the air" television, not cable. You cannot use it for cable.
I do not know why you only got one coupon. I know that there was an option when I called to ask for one or two, and I chose the two coupon option, and did indeed get the two coupons. I am sorry you only got the one.
One thing I would do, is maybe wait and see what happens down the line. I would probably call again and ask another rep if you are going to need a cable box next year. I give it a 50/50 shot you might get a different answer. Who knows.
I know that they are running ad like crazy here, (Southeast Texas) stating that if you have cable, you won't need to do anything, Those are over the air and cable public service announcements. But we have Time Warner cable here. I will ask my friend's daughter if they are running those ads on Comcast in Houston when I see her next time.
Stay tuned....


I have a question...if you do not have a digital TV or converter box but receive basic cable service will you be OK after the conversion?

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Sandy,
Please see the above posts from skinshi and cotufa and my return answers to them. That should answer any questions you might have. However, you might want to contact your cable company, because as cotufa states above, her cable co. (Comcast) is telling her that she will need to get a CABLE BOX CONVERTER next year. That may or may not turn out to be true. And once again, please do not confuse the Over The Air digital converter boxes with cable boxes. The coupon eligible digital converter boxes will only work over the air with an antenna.
I will state once again, that I am urging people to go ahead and get one or two OTA converter boxes and an antenna for use when the cable goes out...

mary... the cat lady:

For Everybody,
I had a brainstorm last night just before I went to sleep. It may or may not work. I have not tried it yet and probably will not get a chance to try it untill next weekend. But if someone wants to try it and report back here, I would appreciate it a lot.
Since the converter box only puts out a channel 3 or 4 signal, I wondered if you could split the antenna lead-in coming in and put one through the converter box and then take it coming out of the converter box and put it into a splitter backwasrds (combiner?) and the other piece of coax straight from the splitter to the "combiner" and then into the TV, thus bypassing the need for an A/B switch. You would get whatever analog channels you would get normally on 6,9, 13, 34 ,38 etc, and when you tune into channel 3 or 4, you would get the converted digital to analog signal. Then use the converter box tuner to access the digital channels.
If someone knows why this might not work, please post here.
Like I said, I think I will get a chance to try this next weekend.


I am a "snow bird" can I take my converter to Florida when I head down for the winter or do I have to buy two?

mary... the cat lady:

Hi lighthousefan,
Yep, you can take your converter down with you to the Sunshine State, and not only that, it will work too! Just kidding. for $10 to $20 with the coupons, I would buy two anyway.
I was watching the Weather Channel this morning and still seeing the blizzard conditions some places up north, I don't blame you for heading south for the winter. It's already been in the upper 80's here, but I will ask for your sympathy later this summer when it gets to 98 degrees and 100 percent humidity. We have a saying down here about our air... "You can either breathe it or drink it".
Have fun in Florida next winter, and enjoy watching digital TV.


I have a question for Mary the Cat Lady. Mary, you seem to be very knowledgable about all of this. I have an Analog Tv hooked up to 2 VCRs with a signal splitter switch.

From your previous answers I'm guessing that in order to record 2 different channels simultaneously I will need 3 converter boxes, 1 for the TV and 2 more for the 2 VCRs. Is this correct?

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Nightshadow,
Yeah, regretably, that seems to be the only way to record 2 shows and watch another at the same time.
And just to re-state something that we have talked about before, make sure that the remote that you are using for watching TV does not interfere with one of the converter boxes that is being used to record and change the channel on you without you being aware of it...
My suggestion is to obtain a converter box for watching TV that is a different brand than the ones being used to record, to reduce the chances of that happening.
And for the record, once again, the Insignia box at Circuit city is the exact same box as the Zenith at Best Buy. They are good boxes, but the remotes are the same. I have used one for the other.

Patricia Ann Hecht:

I just got two converter boxes, but I am either doing something wrong or it will not be in service till next year! I am at a loss here!!!!!! I just need an answer!
I love in a rural area, and while we have satelite for the main tvs, I need local news to track the weather. I need the boxes to work. If anyone can help me, I need it!!!!!!!

I live in tornado alley and a news channel 100 miles away is NOT gonna help!

Americanjust gettin by..:

Well,I have the converter box and I can't get anything to stay in .We live 2 miles from our PBS station that is already all digital because their analog antenna broke,so the gov told them they could go all digital now.We are lucky if we even get 1or2 stations that have a strength of 30 or more.We got 8 channels with our antenna and now we are lucky to get 3.So I think this is crap and I really don't want to go waste money on a new Tv when I have 2 tv's that work great...if the gov. wasn't taking my signal away.Besides is the new tv gonna come in any better than the stupid converter box...if not I guess I just become Amish and don't watch tv.This just really stinks!!! If anyone can tell me how to keep the channels in I would appreciate it...I really don't want to be w/o my tv.We have tried differant antennas and it hasn't helped .We have not gone so far as getting an outdoor antenna.From what I read in one of the posts if you got the station before clearly then you should get it with the converter ...THAT'S JUST NOT TRUE!!!!

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Patricia Ann Hecht and americanjust gettin by,
Beleive me, i understand your frustration.
Listen y'all, if you want to, please post here again and let me know what part of the country you live in and (1) What stations you get now on analog {channel # and call sign will help a lot}, (2) the city of license if you know, (3) what direction you are from that city or what part of the city you live in, or (4) about how far away you are from that city.
There are a lot of stations that are only broadcasting on a very minimal signal right now. Some are broadcasting on different towers than the analog. For the most part, it is true, that if you get the analog signal really clear, you should be able to get the digital, but not always, for the above mentioned reasons. If a station has its analog channel on channels 2 through 6, they will probably be moving permenantly to the UHF band. If a station has it's analog channel on channel 7 through 13, they will more than likely return to the analog channel after the transition. a very few on 2 through 6 now will have to return to that channel afterward. The vast majority of stations are broadcasting on the UHF band right now in the interim. So, in a nutshell, (pecans for us) things are in a state of turmoil, and we hope that light at the end of the tunnel is not just and oncomming train... Please post back here, and I will do my best to research to see what problems are out there and if there is indeed some promise of a return to television sanity. (Is that an oxymoron?)
americanjust gettin by, a new TV will not help you. If you are not getting a signal to the converter box, you won't get one to the new TV. I don't think that converter box or your TV is the problem. When you say that you live 2 miles from the PBS station, are you talking about the studio or the transmitter? The studios are usually several miles from the transmitting towers.
Patricia, I live in Hurricane country, and if had no way of getting warnings during hurricane season, I would be freaking too. Do you get any local analog stations now to the TV you have the converter box hooked up to?
It would help to know what y'all are using for antennas now, too.
I just need to know what the situation is, so that I can maybe figure out what is going on.
I will help if I can.

mary... the cat lady:

The idea of using a splitter and then taking one leg and running it through the converter box and then taking it out of the box into a reversed splitter or "combiner" while taking the other leg from the splitter and going straight into the other leg of the "combiner" did not work. I guess it looked good on paper, but didn't work in the real world. There seemed to be too much interference for it to work. Alas, an A/B switch seems to be the best meathod of watching digital and analog when you don't have line inputs on the TV. I was hoping to find a less expensive way to accomplish that. Oh, well, you learn something everyday, whether you want to or not...

mary... the cat lady:

Houston, we don't have a problem anymore...
The 3db attenuators that I got solved the problem of the tuner overload. I placed one just before going into the converter box, and another one just before going into the remote A/B switch. No more blanking out when pointing the antenna in the direction of the transmitters.
I guess more power is not always the best solution...


I have a HDTV Digital TV and it is hooked on an outside ant. When there is heavy rains, the tv goes nuts with checker board squares all over the screen. A couple years ago when we had a hurricane here we could not see or hear any thing on the TV. The analog TV's worked fine. Since then the Congress has mandated the change to digital singal. I called the FCC and they told me that they did not make this change. Congress is the ones mandating this change. I think congress needs to be written by everone that is living in a area that can't get a real strong singal after this is jammed through. I live 40 miles from the transmitter and I have a HDTV antenna on a tower and I can not recieve the singal in a heavy rain. I think that the people should start writing there congresmen and get them to change there way of thinking, and start doing the will of the people.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Larry,
Yeah, you are right about the concerns of us in Hurricane Country. I have voiced my concerns about this in previous posts here. We have been hit with 2 hurricanes in the last 3 seasons.
My bigiest concern is the loss of using the battery powered and crank powered emergency TV's.
When Humberto hit at about 3 AM, I awoke to howling winds outside and the electricity went off just a couple of minutes later. I had gone to bed thinking that we were going to have a minimal tropical storm. The first thing I did was grab my battery powered TV off of the shelf and turned it on to find out what was going on. Now I do have a generator, but I think it not wise for anyone to be out in the middle of a hurricane, even if it is a catagory one, to fire up the generator. I was able to get the info I needed instantly. There will be no way to do that after the transition. I know of no battery powered emergency digital TV's on the market. I doubt seriously that a digital signal could be recieved with just a stick antenna like the emergency TV's have anyway. I am a fan of all that digital Tv can do, HD, surrou nd sound and all, but I believe that this was a grave oversight on the part of congress. I am beginning to think that there should be a reserved analog TV channel in each area of the country that could be activated in an emergency... be it a severe thunderstorm, tornado, hurricane, flash flood, or whatever.
I believe that this could be accomplished everywhere in the country on channel 3 or 4 on VHF. The VHF low band (channels 2 - 6) are going to be very sparsely used anywhere for digital. They are in the "in-core" available channels, and they are extremely susceptible to power line interference, making them relatively unsuitable for digital transmision.
So, yeah, I agree with you that this needs to be adressed.
We got hit by Rita and Humberto, which one did you get hit by?

Americanjust gettin by:

Hi Mary I can give you some of the info you asked for.Also here the studio and transmitter are in the same place.We have just a regular antennna ,we did however go and purchase one that was suppose to work better and have the ability to get digital,uhf/vhf.
It was suppose to have a greaTer distance...it didn't work any better than what we had.
Channel Call Location
16 WNDU South Bend IN
18 TBN ?
22 WSBT South Bend
25 WCWW ?
28 WSJV Elkhart/5-8 miles
away SWest
34 WNIT Elkhart/2 miles away West
46 WHME South Bend
57 WBND ?
69 ? ?/this was the station we watched the most..it has brady bunch,andy griffith and those kind of shows.
I live on the westside of Elkhart and I really have no clue where the transmitters are except the 2 in Elkhart there could be others I don't know about.
You would think that the stations we live close to would have a really strong signal I was watching Idol and the thing kept going out.
With the converter since our pbs channel is all digital they have 2 stations and most of the time they both go in and out.It wasn't bad weather today and it seemed like nothing wanted to come in or stay in even if you mess with the antenna, if you sit down or someone walks in the room the thing looses signal or the pixels get all distorted and of course no sound and then usually thats when you loose it.We thought about investing in an ariel antenna but we are not sure what to do yet.We really feel like we are being forced to getting cable or a satelite.
For example today we got 34,22,28,46,16,and the highest signal I got was 52 and that was on 46.The rest came in but wouldn't stay I think 34 had 42and that was the highest today but it was still in and out.At least with analog you could tune something in and make it good enough to watch.We never had a problem with channel 34 coming in,it has always come in good.Channel 18 and 69 were always a lot harder to get in and sometimes 18 wouldn't come in at all.I don't get 18 at all now and 69 is hit and miss.So if any of the info helps and you can help me figure out what to do I would so much appreciate it.Thanks so much for the info on the TV we were getting ready to just go get a new one to see if it would help.So now we won't .
Thanks so much for the help.


I have a few questions for anyone in the know ...I have attached to my TV the following: a C-Band analog receiver, a 4DTV Sidecar Digital receiver and a VCR ... my question is ... Where do I connect the new digital receiver? Should it be TV, new rev'r and then all the others? or should it get sandwiched after the other rev'rs then the VCR? ....... And while I'm back there in that mangle tangle of cords and cables, I would like to add my FTA receiver [I've bought it about 2 yrs ago but never hooked it up] where should that go? Should the FTA get hooked up after the satellite receivers? [Note: I don't subscribe to satellite anymore, I use them just for the wild feeds].
I dread going back there and would like to get all this hooked up in one or two trys, or at least, before Feb. 2009. (Note: The last time I was back there I remember having at least one splitter, there is an A/B switch and the roof antenna is on a rotor but I can't tell which one of the extra cables is for the rotorbox [box available but not hooked up] and there is a box to amplify the roof antenna). Also, do I need to buy any other items like cables, splitters, or switches, etc.?
I appreciate anyone's input, especially if you do actually know if there is a proper order to connect all these things ... or if there is something out there on the market that lets you plug everything into it (sort of like what a surge protector does) then you only need to hook up that to the TV. Thanks.

mary... the cat lady:

OK americanjust gettin by,
First the good news... Your KMYS channel 69 is a low power and does not have a digital channel yet. It will not be affected by the transition and you will have it for the forseeable future :).
You are absolutely right however, you should be able to get all of the stations that you listed in digital. So why aren't you. That my friend is the $64,000 question.
As far as I can tell, you are not more than a few miles from any of the transmitting antennas. (Less than 10 maybe?)
I am going to guess that when you say "regular antenna" you mean possibly rabbit ears with a loop in the middle. I figure that the antenna that you bought was an amplified indoor antenna.
Here is my best take on what you are experiencing: I just don't believe that an indoor antenna is going to work for you. You didn't get good reception on either of them.
Almost all of the transmitters that I looked up were just on the south side of South Bend. The TBN station is a low power that is almost due south of Elkhart. WCWW,WBND, and WMYS (your analog channel 69) are all low powers, but you are well within the service contour for all of the stations. (All have digital except WMYS)
I am not familiar with the terrain around you, so I will ask if there are many hills between you and the transmitters, or are there many tall buildings near you? Are you in a low spot? That my be why you are not getting the digital with an indoor antenna.
My suggestion is to get an outdoor antenna. I don't believe that you will need a very big one at all. I suggest that you go to antennaweb.org and put in your address (be sure to "unclick" the boxes that allow them to send you stuff, if you don't want it) and you will get a listing of all of the stations in your area, both digital and analog, and once you have that, you can use the color code to pick your antenna. I would recommend that you do not use an antenna mounted signal amplifier, for you run the risk of overloading the tuner like I did with my friend's brother's antenna. I boosted it because we wanted to get stations about 90 miles away, and we overloaded the locals...
I would go up maybe 20 feet, give or take. You can mount it on the roof if need be. If you have restrictions on antennas in your neighborhood, you could mount it in the attic if need be, but if you do, I would go one step higher on the size of the antenna to get just a little more gain out of it (you will lose some of the signal having it come through the walls of your house). I would recommend outside though if you can.I would invest in a rotor (you can find them online, or at radio shack)especially if you are interested in the TBN station. I have used the RS ones for many years with very little problem. (a re-synching of it after a really high wind sometimes, 40+ MPH). Once you are on the antennaweb web site, use the street level map to determine how much variation there is in the direction to the transmitters. You may decide not to put a rotor up afterall.
Please post here if I helped you at all, and good luck!

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Brzzi,
Ah, I know the mangle and tangle of masses of cords and cables well my friend! It just wouldn't be home without them...
Let me think on this for a day. I will ponder it tomorrow at work and try to come up with a viable set-up for you. In the meantime, if you could post back here what kind of inputs your TV has, that would help. Also, what do you want your VCR to be able to record?
It may take an A/V switchbox with at least 3 inputs and 2 outputs to acheive everything...
I will mull it over in my head and check back in tomorrow after work.
I got to be post number 200!

mary... the cat lady:

Hi again Brzzi,
The best way that I can come up with get full function from all of your recievers is to hook them up with a 4 in and 2 out line level A/V switch-box. Example: (Input 1)C-band reciever (Input 2)4DTV digital reciever (Input 3) Digital
converter box (Input 4) VCR
(Output 1) To the TV and (Output 2) to the VCR
This way you would be able to record any of the recievers and still watch the VCR. This would allow you to record one show and still watch another at the same time.
The last time I was in Wally World they had one that would serve your purposes. It had input for line level A/V, S-video, and composit video.
Hope this works for you.


Thanks Mary ...tcl.... you are amazing!!! I ran the same scenario with the local "electronics" shop and they were telling me to get some more splitters and another switch ... and I'm thinking to myself "they don't really know how to figure it out".
You mentioned "Wally World", I'm on the Eastern Shore of Va and we don't have that here (actually, I thought Wally World was an alligator place in FL ...lol) but I'll check online to see if they have a website.
Again, thank you, I think your way will work.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Brzzi,
No Wally Worlds in eastern Virginia??? I am aghast!
Thank you so much and you are so welcome. Wal-Mart is the only place that I have seen recently that had a 4 in and 2 out switch-box. Circuit City and Bext Buy had a 4 in but only one out.
I have searched high and low for a switch-box that was remote controlled and I don't believe tha one exists, and I really don't undrestand that. It seems to me that it would be a good seller... but alas, what do I know... :)

mary... the cat lady:

Hey again Brzzi,
I think the Sony SB-V60S is the switch box you will be looking for. It has 4 in and 2 out and is passive so it does not reqire power to operate.
I found it on the Sony web site for $89.95, but also found it on the Wireless Hut web site for around $54.
Good luck!


Digital Tv Converter Box. Our DTV Converter Box are NTIA coupon Certified.



Do I need an antenna with the new tv converter box? I live about 55 miles from the tv stations, if I need an antenna, about how many feet it is?

mary... the cat lady:

Yes, MEL, you will need an antenna to recieve the digital signals just as you would to recieve the original analog signals.
Are you using an antenna now to watch TV? It does not take a "digital antenna" to watch the digital channels. The frequencies are the same. It is, however, a lot less forgiving than analog.
If you are getting clear reception with the antenna you are using now, if you are using one, you may be OK for digital.
The thing I would suggest is to go to antennaweb.org and input your address to see what stations are available to you where you live. They will give you a list of stations that you should be able to recieve, along with a street level map that will help you determine what direction the transmitters are. There, you will also find a colot coded antenna selection guide for recieving the stations. you will probably need a fairly large antenna, if you are 50 plus miles away from most of the stations. The antenna that I have, which is the largest antenna available through Radio shack is over 13 feet long, and is about 22 or so feet high. My best friend's brother has the same antenna that I do, but he is up about 36 feet. My best friend also has the same antenna up about 16 feet. If you are indeed 50 plus miles from the transmitters, then I would suggest an antenna mounted signal booster.
I will state once again, that as a general rule, outside antennas are better than inside, and higher is better than lower, especially if you have hills, tall houses or buildings, or trees in the direction of the transmitters.
Again, if you are using an antenna now, I would try hooking up the converter box to it to see if maybe you can get the stations you are seeking. Even if you don't get them now, I would not panic until some research is done to determine if the stations are putting out their final full power digital signal. Antennaweb.org is a really great place to start. Good luck!

odell battenfield:

how does one get a voucher to help with the cost of the hd converter boxes?i have two tv, and need two converters.i am on a fixed 650.00 a month income.am i elegiable for the government help? thanks odell battenfield

mary... the cat lady:

Hi odell,
Yeah, you are eligible for the coupons. Everyone is eligible for 2 coupons. What you have to do is call 1-888-388-2009 or go to www.dtv2009.gov to apply. I used the phone number and found it very easy.
Happy TV watching odell!


I have the old fashioned C-Band satellite dish and receiver (not 4DTV). Will a TV converter (the kind that is eligible for the $40 coupon) enable me to receive digital C-band stations?

mary... the cat lady:

Hey nonnie,
The converters that you can get with the coupons are only good for the TV broadcast bands... VHF and UHF, channels 2 through 69. They will do you no good for satellite.
If you are using an antenna for local stations and you are using an older analog TV, you will need the digital to analog converter to continue recieving broadcast TV after Feb. 17, 2009. That is the date of the transition to digital by all full power TV stations in the U.S.
If you haven't already, you can order the coupons over the phone at 1-888-388-2009.
Take care.


Hey Mary,
Thank you for the information! I guess I'll have to get a new satellite receiver to receive digital satellite stations or a "side car" that someone mentioned above.
I've been reading some of the other postings and really appreciate the time and effort you've given to help people with their technical problems.
Thanks again!

mary... the cat lady:

Hi nonnie,
I thank you so much for your wonderful comments. You have made my day! Thank you.


Can anyone explain. . . I currently use indoor antennas on each of our 4 TVs. We just got our cou[ons for 2 converter boxes. [JUST A NOTE: We have satellite TV, but would have to pay for local stations. We were able to receive coupons for the converter boxes. I've noticed a lot of concerns about this.] Back to my purpose of writing. We have 4 TVs. Two are just over 1 year old; the other two are over 10 years old. I set up the converter box on one of the newer TVS, but all I got was NO SIGNAL. I tried it on 1 of the older TVs and was able to pick up 4 of the 7 digital station in our area. Can anyone explain why this is?

And if I currently get excellent analog reception on a TV station, why can't I pick up their digital equivalent with my converter box? I'm told at some stores that I neded a stronger antenna. But that doesn't seem to matter. The stations are up and running. I just keep getting "NO SIGNAL" from the converter box.

Is there a diference in converter boxes? Is one better than another or stronger than another?

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Lori,
Let me see if I can shed some light on why you get no signal on the newer TV's but you do on the older sets.
It will be pure speculation on my part, but I will try to come up with maybe a couple of reasons.
Could it be that the older TV in on the side of the house closer to the transmitters? The more walls the signal has to go through, the more it will deteriorate. Is the older TV on a second floor? (Higher is better for reception) Are the antennas equal? You might try putting the antenna that you have on the older TV on the newer TV to see if it makes a difference.
Getting excellent reception on analog certainly, at this point in time, does not translate into recieving the digital signal. It may well be that some of the stations are broadcasting on what is known as a "Special Temporary Authorization" which means that they are transmitting at a "Really Low Power". It is more than likely that the stations are now transmitting on UHF instead of VHF. They may or may not stay in the UHF band, but more than likely there now. I would say that there are far more stations that are not on their final DTV channel than there are on it.
If you want to, post back here the analog stations that you get, and your orientation to them, distance and direction, and I will try and research them and try to find out the details.
I hope I have enlightened you at least a bit. Certainly, all is not lost. When the stations finally get to their final DTV spots on the dial, all may very well be OK in Camalot.
I do not believe that there are inherent differences in the converter box reception. I think the difference in price comes with the features available on them. So I do think you are OK there.
I will repeat what I have stated before. Digital is way more unforgiving than analog. You either get it or you don't. And once again... if it is feasable, outside antennas are better than inside, and higher is better than lower.
Lori, post back here, and I will get specifics if I can.
Television is trulely in a state of transition in this country, ya think?


if anyone is interested, there is a site that maps your location to stations you will receive. you can enter your zip code or your address. it asks you for other info, but you most of it is optional if you want to remain anonymous.


mary... the cat lady:

Hi, madamt,
Antenna web is an OK web site, and itis a good place to start, but it is not all inclusive. It is not always up to date. I have found several omissisions while researching. A prime example is our local Fox affiliate, KUIL, which has had it's HD transmitter up and running since before the Super Bowl, and still is not listed on antenna web.
But you are right, it is good for a quick reference. Just know that it is not the whole story.

T Bentley:

I made the purchase of a magnavox dtv converter from WalMart. I have a 27" JVC TV the hookup on this was very simple. The picture quality is very good, I live out in the country & I have a vhf & a uhf antennae connected to my tv by a signal combiner that has an rf cable going to the tv. It was simple to hook up the cable to the converter box, as I said before I have great picture quality. The only problem is some of the channels are not coming in on digital that worked on analog. That & the fact that the remote that came with the dtv converter is very user unfriendly. The buttons are very small & they can cause problems for people that have big fingers in using them. I'd highly recommend anyone to check out a different brand of DTV converter box. As I saw some like the Zenith model that have remotes with bigger buttons. I have not purchased my second converter box, I plan on buying a different brand. Due to problems with the remote on the magnavox. There are only 2 retailers in my area to choose from WalMart or Radio Shack.


to mary the cat lady
thanks for the heads up on antenna web. i assume that site reflects current channel reception. what i can't figure out is whether the number of channels received will increase closer to the conversion date. can i assume that the stations will begin to increase their transmission power? it looks like i will get less channels after the conversion. this whole thing is pissing me off. especially the issue of the inability to record multiple programs on my vcr after the conversion.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi madamt,
Stations may or may not be increasing their transmission power.,, but more than likeley, they will be... amybe...
Here is what I would suggest to anyone curious about what is coming with digital broadcasting.
Go to fcc.com and when the page comes up, scroll down and look on the right side under "Bureaus" and click on "Media". When this page comes up, click on "Video Division, including TV" and under "Internet Queries" click "TV Query". At this point, you can put in information on a specific TV station such as "State" "City" or "Call Sign". In the "Output" section, be sure to click on "TV Query (detailed output + CDBS links)". This will enable you to go in and search the database for all the stations listed in your search, be it individual stations or listings for a city or the entire state. Please note that if you do a search for a large city, all the stations my not come up for they may be licensed to another nearby community. For example, if you were to look up stations for the city of Houston, several will not show up due to the fact that they are licensed to Galveston, Conroe, Cleveland, Rosenburg, etc. If you can input the call sign for the stations you are not getting in digital, it may save some confusion.
Once you get to the stations listing page, look to the right for the RED "digital" notation. Under these, there may be two or three listings. One may be "Special Temporary Authority" or "Licensed" or "Application" or "Construction Permit". If you are not getting the station, it is the construction permit entry you may be most interested in. There will be a link there that is labled "Service Contour Map". If you will click on this, it will show you the coverage of the stations signal. It will show the location of the transmitting tower, and the area covered by the signal. Thus you can get an idea of the direction the antenna needs to be aimed, and if you are in the coverage area. Do a comparison of the all the digital listings for the station, to see if maybe there is an increase in power or coverage coming. You can even look at the applications by going to the "Application List". When the application comes up you can generaly scroll down to the bottom of it and find an explanation of what is left to be done before the transition. Ther will be a listing on the "Application List" page filed around Feb. 20 or so that says "Accepted for Filing". There is a wealth of information there about whether the station has completed it's transition or not. Look it over carefully and you will see if the station is on a temporary channel or on it's post transition channel.
Also, if a station you are watching is a "Low Power" station, it may not even have a digital channel assigned yet, and won't be affected by the transition anyway.
happy hunting, and if you need any help, post back here, and I will try to be of assistance.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi T Bently,
Take a look at my post above, and I hope that I might help you also. and like a told madamt, if you need some help, post here, and I will try to be of assistance to you also. Good luck.


Hi I am wondering about hooking up my vcr/dvd to the converter box and tv. Right now the vcr is the tuner and I change channels with it. I have hooked up the converter box to the tv and it works--we actually get about 8 stations from an inside antenna--and if I move it I get some of the others. Is it possible to use the vcr/dvd as the tuner with the converter box? (It is not a digital model). ALSO--we have a TV-G box hooked up between the tv and the vcr/dvd player (this filters out profanity using the closed captioning). The antenna at this point goes to the vcr--the tv goes to the TV-G box. Then there are yellow/red/white cables between the TV-G and vcr.. Does that make sense?? I am trying to come up with a way to use the converter box AND still have our TV-G hooked up. Any ideas??

mary... the cat lady:

Hi debbwym,
Ok, let's see if I have the "picture" here...
The antenna goes directly into the VCR. There is a coax cable that comes out of the VCR and into the TV-G box. From the TV-G box, there is an A/V cable (R/W/Y) that goes from the TV-G box back into the VCR. And I am going to assume that there is an A/V cable that connects the VCR to the TV...If it is a coax cable that goes to the TV, that will be different. Maybe not.
OK, my first question is, is it really important to you to not have the VCR record the non G=rated language, or is it OK to just filter it out before it gets to the TV? This makes a difference too. Right now I am up to 3 different hook-ups just off the top of my head.
As a side note, you will not be able to record one show and watch another anymore with only one converter box. To do that, you will need two converter boxes, but let's just stick to your present delimma for now. AS for your question about whether or not you can use the tuner in the VCR/DVD, kinda yes and no... You can use the channel 3 or 4 input on the vcr, but the digital to analog converter has to do the tuning of the digital channels. I am trying to figure out how to enable you to not only watch DVD's, but also record on the VCR and still have the function of the TV=G box. HHHHHhhhhhmmmmmmmm... Aha!
I believe that the only thing you need to do, if the set-up you are using now is satisfactory, is to place the digital converter box before the VCR/DVD. So, you come from the antenna to the converter box, and then to the VCR with the supplied short piece of coax. You will have to leave the VCR tuner on channel 3 or 4 (whichever you choose), then on to the TV=G box and everything else will be the same. I think. I hope. I really do believe that will work. Whereas you used to do the tuning with the VCR, the tuning will now be done by the converter box, and the TV-G box will think that The VCR is perpetually stuck on channel 3 or 4. (The TV-G box will be right!) By George I think we've got it!
I was not aware that there was anything such as a "TV-G" box. I thank you for your question, as I try to learn as much as I can from the people who post here as I can, and you have enlightened me this afternoon. So thank you. Now I have a couple of questions for you... How long have you had the "TV-G" box? What do they cost? And where are they available? I ask because if the need ever arises, I will be able to pass that info on to others.
Please take care, and please let me know if it works.

Eagles @ Norfolk, Ne:

mary... the cat lady

I spent all day reading this blog and see you have everyone in your heart. You seem to either go out of your way to help or you also work with the industry. Or You go out of your way and you are a TV Hacker as some of your fellow bloggers are Computer Hackers. For those who don't understand Hacker in the sense of a person who takes the unknown and lives to resolve ones curiosity to ones benefit or for others. I myself enjoy the challenge, but this pipe-wrench thrown into our lives, was ill conceived by non-technical beurocrats trying to look like they are doing something for us. The frustration level is truly understood, but falls on deaf ears. We are a consumer society who have been forced to consume more than we need to and with no one-stop help center.

All our problems were solved in the past with the industry leaders bringing us along in phases while trying to sustain past-present-future standards.

This converter box issue was a hack forced on us to consume so we don't lose what we already had without consuming. The industry could have easily been supplying TV's for over 10 years now with dual reception options. When I was stationed in Greece serving in the Air Force I had the option to buy a TV with dual reception capabilities to view U.S. (NTSC) and European (PAL or SESCAM) TV transmissions.

Now we are here stuck trying to get what is out there without buying what we truly don't need nor have the money to waste on. Yes! It's all about money. If we had it to waste we would toss our old TVs and buy new ones immediately without a blink of hesitation.

What I've found is low power / repeater analog stations will stay analog till they are mandated at a later date to be set. We here have no transmission locally for our population of nearly 25,000 except PBS. The remaining stations are repeaters. So, we need a box with Analog pass-through or do the splitter. Retailers like Wal-Mart don't except the cards online, but some web based stores I never heard of do. All local retail - Wal-Mart, Sears, and Radio Shack will not be selling the pass-through option. ShopKo and Target have yet to receive any. And none of them have a clue of technical issues on most anything I ever ask.

The following specs I saw important to have:

-Analog Pass-through capable
-Smart Antenna (Auto Rotates Antenna-sig.strength)
-EPG (TV Guide)
-S-Video (Better quality connection + Computers)
-Signal Strength Indicator (Ext. nicer)
-Unniversal Remote
-External Channel Display

I got my 2 discount cards 3 weeks into expiration (16 June) and I'm now down to 1/4th of the list not crossed off. The RCA @ Wal-Mart in a ZDNET review was the best they reviewed for reception with an inside antenna over the Magnavox which needs an outside antenna for better reception. But, it doesn't have all the bells and wistles I listed. I may be forced to get it since cashing in these cards are very limited to what I see as first attemps by the industry which knew this was coming years ago.

Sell an ill-conceived product to make a profit to then trickle in new and better products to keep us needlessly consuming!

Thank You, mary... the cat lady and all her friends whom have helped others. Your blogs were informative and non-agressive except the fool who must have forgot his chill pill. Wish me luck finding that dream box in time. :)

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Eagles @ Norfolk, Ne,
I thank you for your kind words. I am merely someone who stumbled into the hobby of DXing distant radio and television signals long before I realized that it had a name. If you read all of the posts, then you got an idea of how it all started for me. I do like helping people, as I had others help me along the way. I try to pass the knowledge along.
Yes, you are right about the a lot of the aspects of the transition being ill concieved. A lot of it. And I believe that the most ill concieved aspect of it is the lack of converter boxes with analog pass-through or dual tuners,along with emergency battery powered television recievers (That is my soapbox). The fact that the big box stores don't carry the pass-through boxes is purely due to, I think, ignorance on the part of the buyers. It is another case of "We will save money, no matter what it costs". The FRY's web site claims that the converter box will allow you to recieve "Free HD programming over the air". That is a bald face lie, but I really think that the person who put that in there just has absolutely no clue. I saw a public service announcement on a local low power station the other night urging everyone to "keep them on" by purchasing a converter box with pass-through" but yet made no attempt to educate the public as to where one might find one. Hello?!?!?!
I had an oportunity onetime to purchase a tri-tuner TV (NTSC/PAL/SECAM). It was at a pawn shop and the guy wanted WAY too much for it. I never could talk him down on the price, but it was still there when I quit going. I don't know if he ever sold it or not... I did not have a need for it, I just wanted it for the novelty of it.
I do believe that the reason dual tuner (NTSC/ATSC) recievers were not available in the beginning was that the industry wanted us to buy (at the time) $8,000 HDTV's.
There are things I like about the transition, however. I like the HD, and the sub-channels. That is really neat technology, and I think it will give those who only get their TV via over the air, more choices in programming, and that is nice. What I worry about are the people that get their TV over the air, and live in apartments or other restricted areas where an outside antenna is just not an option. I think there are going to be A LOT of p'd off people in the long run. You just cannot depend on digital like you could analog.
Thank you again for your kind words. You made me smile today. I had never run across your definition of a Hacker before, but I like it. Yes indeed, I do try to resolve my curiosity of the unknown for my own and others benefit.
I do wish for you to find that dream box before it is too late, but alas, I fear that you may not. Maybe somewhere in a galazy far, far, away...


We have a outside antenna and also a booster on it and as it comes into the house, we have a spliter on the cable to go to other rooms. Do we still have to get other converters to each tv or can we use just one?

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Jeano,
Yeah, Jeano, you will have to get a box for each TV. Basically, if you wanted to watch the same channel on every TV in your house at the same time, you could get by with only one box. It would be possible... But to watch a different channel on any TV, a seperate box will be needed.
I hope this answers your question, and if you need more info, I will be glad to try to answer you.


Okay, I've read all this and learned a lot. And to think, my coupons just came today and already I am on info-overload!!

I ask but 2 things: :D

We use a Radio Shack "frisbee" antenna which is outside but just mounted on an 8 foot pole on our deck. It is amplified. We get 6 stations (happy with that) with clarity of the picture solely dependent on weather conditions. I.E. a channel that was clear as a bell one night can be fuzzy the next night. We are about 50 miles from the city where all these stations are and high on a ridge so this frisbee antenna has served us well considering it was free. What do you think I can expect when the signal goes through the converter box? One night you got the channel, the next night--nada? Or will digital signal get by the weather variables? I mean next February, when everything is digital and at normal strength. I realize that now yet I will be dealing with perhaps weak digital signals of alternate channel numbers and having to switch from digital to analog unless I find pass though units. But will the messin' around be done by next Feb. and I might expect to see my 6 channels? Or here come more $$ for new tall outdoor antenna? G-r-r-r-r!

Question 2--or request, actually: Report on likes and dislikes of various (coupon eligible) boxes, please. I have priced some off the list at as little as $3 each after coupon with $10 to ship the pair. That's $16 for two. But are they get-what-you-pay-for-junk?? Should I get from store near me? Can you return these things? What happens to your coupon value if you return for exchange?

Sometimes I think I should give up TV...


(SMILE) I guess that was lots more than 2 questions. Let's call it 2 CATEGORIES of questions...

mary... the cat lady:

Hi wyndwlkr,
Well, the best I can give you is you may or may not be OK with the frisbee antenna... but my gut feeling is it may not serve you all that well. I base this on your own description of "one night the picture will be clear and the next night fuzzy".
It is the fuzzies that concern me. But all is not Lost (tonight at 9...LOL). I would suggest you review my post about searching the FCC web site, and study the digital licenses and, constrution permits, applications, and especially the coverage maps for each to see if improvements in signal coverages are on the way. Also, upon getting your first converter box, try it out and see what shows up. If, indeed, you need a stronger antenna, you may need to get a directional antenna, but with a high gain antenna, you may not need to go up any more than you are now. But to sound like a broken record... generally higher is better.
At the distance you stated (50 miles), weather could occasionally be a factor. I do not know where you are, but heavy snow or a good southeast Texas style "gully washer" may break up your signal. If a new antenna is needed, I would work in steps, but at your distance, I would not scrimp on antenna size. I would start with an antenna on the order of a Radio Shack VU-190. Try that, and if it is still not acceptible, then I would try an antenna mounted signal booster, and then add height if needed.
I only have experience with one box, and that is the Best Buy/Circuit City model. It was in my opinion a good box. Easy to use, a tuner that allows you to check channels that don't "lock in", and a decent,remote accessable signal meter. No pass through though. Anybody else have comments on other boxes?
From what I know, you lose the coupon if you return the box. And I have no idea, how it would be handled online.
Also, the "frisbee" antenna that you are using is an non-directional antenna, so I just realized that you may need a rotor too. Sorry... cha-ching.
It all depends on the direction of the transmitters, but you can use antennaweb.org to help with that. If they are relatively close together, you may get by without it.
If I can be of anymore service, please post and let my know, OK?
On a side note, the full power analog transmitters will indeed be turned off on Feb. 17, '09 but the turmoil my not be over completely. For thos stations that are going to revert back to their original channels may only be able to do so after the analogs are turned off. They may still be transmitting on their temporary channel while the digital transmitters on the final channel are set up, so be aware of that. There are even cases that I am aware of where the digital equipment cannot be installed until the analog equipment is removed in the transmitter buildings. But it should not take long after the transition to get it all sorted out.
Are we pulling our hair out yet????


Thank you Mary,
(I have 8 cats myself!)
I will check into your generous info, but too much cha-ching is not possible, for me. I will probably have to get one of the cheapest converter boxes for now and see what I have to deal with.
The FCC site has shown that I am within signal service area for all the stations I have now. I do suspect direction may be one of the variables I am dealing with, although all of the stations are from Madison WI but I don't know all of their exact locations. Could "across town" from one another (10-15 miles as the crow flies) be enough to have to rotate antenna?
People in my rural area are still pretty out of the loop on this info yet and they think the boxes will be simple solution. So did I until I began reading up...
Thanks again.
(I think it is a good thing I have Internet and like to read books. TV may be a lost cause!)

mary... the cat lady:

Hi wyndwalkr,
A inexpensive converter box would be where I would start. If your read the post from Eagles @ Norfolk Ne a few posts above you will find a reference to a review of the converter available at Wal-Mart. Supposedly it did very well with reception on inside antennas. So my thinking is if it did realy good with an inside antenna, maybe with your antenna mounted outside it would be OK. You might give some thought to purchasing one of these units. they retail here for $39.99. So that would be 10 dollars, give or take. But it may be worth it if it has a good tuner. It may be worth the extra few dollars. It is a gamble I know. I think if it was me, I would not sink both of my coupons at the same time on an unknown box. I would try one to see how one did, and if it was OK, I would get another. If it was not OK, I would roll the dice and try to make a best guess at a different brand.
At 50 miles away, it may not make much difference that the stations are 5 to ten miles apart. If you do end up with a high gain directional antenna, I would go to antennaweb.org and try to split the difference first. That is one good thing about digital... if you can get the signal to lock in, you will get a good picture. There is no "ghosting" with digital.
Good news! i just looked at the coverage maps for all of the digital stations licensed to Madison, Wi., and ALL of them look like the broadcast from the virtually the same area. I bet there is not more than 2 miles between the transmitters, so you can relax about direction. I would guess that that takes the rotor out of equation. One of the stations however is a low power with a construction permit for a digital channel and I doubt seriously that you will be able to pick it up after the transition. But the good news there is that low powers are not affected by the Feb. 2009 mandate, and will continue to broadcast the analog channel, so if you are getting it now, which you may not be, you will keep getting it for the forseeable future.
My kitties: Sandy, Smeezie, Dottie, Mr. Ying, Xena, Nermal, Rascal, and Joan asked me to tell you to tell your kitties "Hi" for them.
If you would, please pass on the things you learn about the transition to others so that they may be ready when the switches are turned off. And as always, I am here to help if I can.


Hello again Mary,

Sassy, Cootie, Raven, Bunky, Dweasel, Moon Unit, Spike and Cleo, say hello, too.

A local bulletin board has someone mentioning that Wal-Mart was out of stock on the RCA boxes and a website (BSAT e-shop)for ordering was also out of that one. That site has a really cheap one called Artec T3APro for only $2.99 after coupon plus shipping ($8.00 for me)and I am looking for info on that one, for now. Yes, I am only going to use one coupon at first.

The antenna you mentioned is over 13 feet long and about 8 feet wide! Yikes! No can do unless I go up high, and I don't think height is necessary on this ridge where I live.

Got to get a box and see. Maybe I am worried for nothing.

Thanks again.

My husband "Snowbirds" to Texas 3 months every winter. Rockport. I stay home here in Wisconsin and well...read, do needlework and DIY projects, constantly clean up cat hair...and watch TV!

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Wyndwalkr,
Ah, I see you are a Frank Zappa fan. I had named 3 of my cats after rock artists. 2 of them are gone now :( but I had Lenny (Lenny Kravitz) (He was the coolest cat I ever knew), Pattie Cat (Pat Benetar), and I still have Joan (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts). Joan is a white cat with black spots, and one of them on her side is in the perfect shape of black heart, but tilted.
I checked the Wal-mart web site and found that there was no way to check the availablity of the RCA box in stores, and the Magnavox box was not available within 100 miles of where I live, and that includes most of Houston, so I don't know what deal is with them.
You have ridges up there? You mean it's not flat like it is here in southeast Texas? LOL Glad you have a Texas connection.
I hope that the box will be OK for you without any modification of your antenna. I would like to know if it works out, so please post back, OK?
Take care of those kitties...

mary... the cat lady:

I was at Wally-World this weekend and they must have had 25 or 30 of the magnavox converters in stock for $49.97. I just wanted to pass that along in case anyone was interested.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi everybody,
FYI... I was in Wal-Mart yesterday, and all of the Magnavox converter boxes that they had last week were gone. They had the display model on the shelf, but 25-30 boxes they had for sale were not there anymore. I don't know if they sold them all or pulled them from the shelf for some reason.
I just thought I would pass the info on.

Say RAH:

Hi Madam Cat Lady and whoever else might have the answers to this one. I have read through the whole blog and honestly thing this is a new one....I run my old TIVo into my old TV by way of my old VCR...and I don't have cable. And I don't mind the crappy fuzziness...but then I also still play records on a record player. When i get the converter box, where does it fit in this miasma of electronica and will my darling TIVO still work? I am in fear. I paid the lifetime subscription and I will have a meltdown if it won't work. Any thoughts would be most appreciated.

Perry Roberts:


2 questions:
1) If the analog channels are sold to cell phone companies, could I get the phone calls on my tv without a converter?
2) If I hook up now will I receive additional channels as there are several digital channels being broadcast, or do I have bad info?


mary... the cat lady:

Hi Say RAH,
Unless your TiVo has a digital tuner, I am afraid that it may be past it's prime. I would look in the book, if you have one, or go online, to see if maybe it does, but I too, fear not. If it does not, then I would maybe contact the TiVo people and see if there is something that they can do toward a newer unit maybe? I don't know...
In any case, I would just place the converter box first thing after the antenna. As you probably read in previous posts, you will no longer be able to watch one channel and record another without hooking up a second converter to the VCR. There are instructions on how to do that in those same previous posts, but if you have difficulty, you know that I am here to help if I can.
By the way, I still like the sound of music off of a turntable is better anyway... :)
One thing that worries me is your statement about the "not minding the fuzziness" . If you are not getting a clear picture on from the analog channels, you may be in trouble in trying to get the digital channels. I hope this is not the case.
Take care and let me know how it works out for you, OK?

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Perry,
Nope, sorry you won't be able to get cell calls on your TV without a converter. Not only that , you won't be able to get them on your TV with a converter either...
In the olden days, (back in the 80's LOL) when cell phones were analog and the tuners on TV's went up to channel 83 you could catch parts of cell conversations in the upper channels.They origianllly lopped off channels 70 through 83 from the TV UHF band for cell phone use. After the transition, the UHF TV band will lose channels 52 through 69, but not all of it will be for cell phones. Some will be for use as emergency responders. Anyway, cell calls are digital now and also encrypted, so without the software installed on the digital channels on your TV there would be no reception of cell dialouge. Also, the TV channels are very wide, several megahertz, whereas the cell is only audio, and you can cram many more multiple cell calls across the space of one TV channel.
As to your second question, more than likely you will get more channels than you are getting now on analog. It depends more on how many sub-channels the stations in your area are transmitting. For an example,we have 4 full power TV stations in our area. They cover NBC, CBS, ABC, and the Trinity Network. We also have 2 low power stations, coverin Fox and MyTV network. One of which, Fox, has a digital companion channel on channel 36, that puts out HD on 36.1 and SD on 36.2, labled as 64.1 and 64.2
As for the 4 reamaining full power stations, only two of them have their final DTV transmitters established and up and running. They are the CBS station, permenantly on channel 21, that covers CBS HD on 21.1 and the CW network on 21.2, labled as 6.1 and 6.2 . The Trinity station, permenantly on channel 33, has 5 channels of programming,labled as 34.1, 34.2, 34.3, 34.4, 34.5 . So, on those two stations, there are 7 channels of programming. As for the remaining two stations, the ABC station is temporarily on channel 50 and has one HD channel labled as 12.1 . It will revert back to channel 12 after the transition. The NBC station, permenantly on channel 40, is only broadcasting a SD signal lablred as 4.1 . I do not know if either of these stations will add sub-channels when they install their final post transition transmitters or not, but I would like to think that they will. From what I have seen from other stations that I get from time to time the sub-channels sometimes carry other networks like CW, MyTV, America One, and others or 24 hour local and national news and or weather. FYI: The reason that our, and most other, local TV stations on VHF low channels are moving to the UHF band, is that channels on the VHF low band (Channels 2 - 6) are highly suseptible to power line interference. Not good for digital broadcasting... That is why our local channel 4 is moving to UHF channel 40 and channel 6 is moving to UHF channel 21.
I know for a fact, that a digital TV transmitter can tranmit two HD channels, a HD channel and at least 2 SD channels, and up to 5 (Ihave also heard up to 6) SD channels of different programming. So it all depends on how many sub-channels your local TV stations are transmitting.
I hope I have answered both of your questions. Thanks for asking.


thanks mary :-) It "says" digital video recorder on the TIVO but i dunno. I was on hold with TIVO for about an hour this morning and at first the woman said I was outta luck since I didn't get my TV from cable. I blustered a little about buying the lifetime subscription with my TIVO and she said hang on...When she came back, she said that a "software update" was scheduled to be released over the summer and that that, plus the converter box should enable me to use my tivo. I will let you and this list know when that happens!

I am not so worried about taping one channel and watching another - can't do that right now with TIVO - i can watch something alread recorded, while it is taping.

So you think i may have trouble with my fuzzy channels??? some i get are crystal clear, almost dvd quality...and then when the windo blows the other direction, it is a mess....it goes to the blue screen of death, or freezes up.. oh Phooey - this whole thing just irritates the you know what outta me

Thanks for your help. My dad lives in the Big Thicket, so next time I will shout a hello to you as I pass through town :-)

mary... the cat lady:

Hi again say_rah,
Alas, I believe that the "digital video recorder" reference on the box is stating the way that the unit records, not that it has a digital tuner. I was glad to hear about the software update, though. That is a good sign, so we will see how that turns out.
I was afraid that all of your channels were "fuzzy". I am glad that you get good reception at least some of the time.
I will be waiting for the "howdy" as you pass through on your way to your dad's house. Will he be inpacted by the talk of expanding the Big Thicket National Preserve?
Take care, and keep us posted...


ya know, I am not sure if he will or not. He has not mentioned it, but he is just off 92 near Dam B.

and fuzzy picture has always been ok for me. I don't always wear my glasses so it is pretty out of focus anyway :-D

have a good weekend

mary... the cat lady:

Hi say_rah,
AAAaaahhhh, now I SEE. LOL


I just bought my converter box from walmart it is a magnavox and the picture is great,i have one question how do i get rid of the close caption i tried everything but its still there.please help

mary... the cat lady:

Hi margrit,
I am not personally familiar with the box from Wal-Mart, but I will tell you of what I know from the one that I have and others that I have seen...
On the one that I have, on the remote, is a CC button. It has several different options for Closed Captioning. What you do is push the button until the display on the screen says "off". Yours may or may not be different. On some models, the CC option may be found in the "Menu" access.
Is it possible that the the CC is turned on on your TV?
These are the variations that I know of. If you follow the instructions the manual that came with the box and it still remains on, it may be that the box is defective.
Good luck.


What happens if our coupons expire? We live in a small town and our Walmart doesn't have enough converter boxes. They have us on a list and will call when they get some in and we are next in line, then we can only get one. My coupon expires the 10th of July. What happens if they get to my name after my coupon expires?

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Granny,
I am sorry to say, but from what I understand, once the coupons expire, they are invalid, and they cannot be replaced.
Since, you have access to the internet, it might be wise to take the other coupon and see if it is redeemable online somewhere.
From conversations that I have had with others regarding this matter, there are some web sites that will take the coupon online, although I have no first hand knoweledge of which ones do. I would go online and do a search for the converter boxes, and see what pops up...
I would not panic at this time, as you still have over a month to go, but please keep an eye on the calendar.
And I don't see why Wal-Mart can't ship enough to satisfy everyone on the waiting list. That doesn't make sense to me.
I know that you said that you live in a small town, but I do know that Radio-Shack carries a model too that you can use the coupon on. It is $10 more though. But if it was a last resort, I would not lose the value of the coupon.
Good luck, and if you do find a web site that accepts the coupons, would you please post back here so that others in your situation could have the information too? Thanks.
I just checked the Wal-Mart web site and found that there are no boxes available within 100 miles of where I live, and that includesmost of Houston. The RCA box that Wal-Mart originally carried is "Not sold online" and "Not sold in Stores". Huh? And the Magnavox box (I like saying that... Magnavox box) has gone up $5 and now sells for $54.99.
I really do wish you luck in finding a box.

Integral ... from STL:

I know that Wal*Mart is not selling any of the boxes on their website and that the RCA one is getting hard to come by in their store.

Like everyone else this transition to Digital is making me have one hell of a headache.

I live at home with my mom. We work different shifts, like different show, like some of the same show and Record a lot… which means we use 3 VCRs.

I can not go to recording with DVR due to the fact mom is… well it is like mixing electronics and water… it is hard enough to have her to program one of the VCRs.

My set is as follows:

TV A (upstairs/main) is set up to a VCR, 5 disk DVD/ surround sound unit
TV B (downstairs /my room) … 2 VCRs… (VCR 1 is VCR/DVD player. VCR 2 is VCR/DVR.)

I had used all 3 VCRs at one time just not all the time and watch a different channel then what I’m recording... I don’t like using the DVR for it doesn’t work that well...
From what I can tell none of the units I have, have a digital tuner.

From what I am seeing I will need 3 of the convert boxes, if not 4 of them…

My question is, if I get a new TV that has the digital tuner, will I only 3 boxes for the VCRs. So that the upstairs TV will be able to watch one channel and use that VCR with the converter box attach would be able to record a different channel. And then have the TV B would have 2 converter boxes before each of the VCRs.

Or am I screwing my self over and just should buy new TVs or VCRs with digital tuners? If that is the case has anyone see the VCR’s (even with DVD combos) with the Digital Tuners???

Integral ... from STL:

also. from what I Understand is that if you use the coupons to get the converters, and they dont work you will get store credit for them not the $40.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Integral... from STL,
Your second post first... I think you are probably correct about most stores giving a store credit if you bring a converter box back, but some might give you a refund, BUT, (and you knew there would be one...) it is my understanding that the value of the $40 coupon is not refundable, just your out of pocket expenses for the converter box...
Now to the first question. I do have a VCR/DVD recorder with a digital tuner. The good news is that while it worked, it worked really great. The bad news is that it locked up on me a couple of weeks ago, and I tried all the usual little tricks to get it to unlock, but it would not. So, as of this moment, it is in the warrenty repair center in El Paso, Texas. I sent it in last week to be repaired. The good news is that it had a one year full warrenty on it. FYI, it was a RCA branded VCR/DVD recorder.
If you get a new TV's with a digital tuner, you will only need 3 boxes for the VCR's. In my mind, it boils down to do you want to spend the money on a new TV, or do you want to spend a little less $ on another digital converter?
If you are looking for an excuse to go out and get an HDTV, by all means you have my support... LOL
Once again, I want to caution you that if you get a converter box for the TV's, that you are diligent about not changing the channel on the TV and inadvertantly change the channel on the converter box connected to the recording VCR's.
In a nuthsell: Digital TV or converter box (1) for TV A and a converter box (2) for the VCR upstairs. Digital TV or converter box (3) for the TV B downstatirs, and a converter box (4) for VCR 1 and a converter box (5) for VCR 2.
So I count up to 5 converter boxes if you will be using all 3 at one time to record, and cover the possibility of watching different programs at the same time on the 2 TV's.
Once again, the converter boxes are way cheaper than new equipment... Also, don't quote me on this, but from what I read earlier this year, if you only get your TV via over the air, then more money would be made available for more coupons in the future. So that may knock off some of the cost of buying more converters.
I have a converter box that I bought at Circuit City hooked up to A/V input on my HDTV in the bedroom. I use it for comparison to the reception that I get on the HDTV.
I was in Wal-Mart Saturday morning and they had 1 Magnavox converter box out on the shelf.
I hope that I have answered your questions, and if I can help any more in any way, please let me know.
I am going to presume that STL is ST. Louis and not Studio To Transmitter" link... LOL Go 'Stros!

Integral from STL:

walmart is give the $40 back ifyou return it on a walmart store card

Integral from STL:

Mary... the Cat Lady

Yes STL means St. Louis. and i'll have to say 'Stros! mean nothing to me.. i'm not a sports fan.. i'm just getting in to nascar.

a while back yous said you got the Insignia and Zenith. Which one have you found you like better? I've been looking at them and the Magnavox (when i can find it) trying to figure out what makes them different besides the name.

Attention: Loaded4th and others looking for cheap used converter boxes and for using computer VGA/SVGA monitors as cheap HDTV receivers

I sent an email to the government's DTV website saying their coupons should have supported converters being able to use VGA/SVGA computers monitors. However I have some good news.

A lot of used satellite recievers have ATSC (over the air digital tv) tuners built-in with antenna inputs (and some with antenna outputs also) and can thus be used as inexpensive digital tv converter boxes. For example I have a Samsung SIR-TS160 (Direct TV compatible) and it can recieve the ATSC signals, it does need an access card in order to use it for those signals (nor to set it up it for those signals) and it includes VGA/SVGA outputs (great for computer CRT monitors), as well as DVI-D/HDCP, S-Video, components color, composite video, and a coaxial RF output! (DVI to HDMI adapters are available for about about $50-$60 at Best Buy stores). The SVGA connector works great for HD-TV. Apparently the SIR-TS360 also has the above features. It looks like the Samsung SIR-S60 and SIR-S300 can also be used as digital to analog tv converters (they have composite video out) and many of them are have been listed on eBay for under $10 without receiving any bidders. These units can thus be purchased cheaply. I think the SIR-TS160 has programmable timer in it (I have tried using that feature yet, so I'm sure I saw it listed in the setup options). Used RCA DRD420RE satellite receivers might also be capable of being used as a digital TV converter. These units thus have more features than the converter boxes which qualify for the $40 coupons and many these units can currently be purchased for less than $10 since most people don't realize they can be used as converter boxes (and some of them even as HDTV receivers). The Samsung SIR-TS160 also receives analog/conventional tv broadcasts and analog cable signals!

mary... the cat lady:

Hi again Integral from STL,
That is good to hear that Wal-Mart will refund the entire cost to you. Thank you for sharing that with all of us.
I am not a sports fan either, but I always did like baseball and I try to follow the Astros each season. Top of the division or bottom, Astros or Lastros, they are the only team that I follow.
The Insignia and Zenith boxes are exactly the same box with different names. I like the box just fine. I especially like the fact that it has a manual tuning feature, which allows you to place it on a digital channel that has not been "locked in" by a digital channel search or add-on search, to see how the reception is and make any antenna adjustments that might make the channel come in better so that it can be locked in. I also like the signal meter, which can be accessed directly fromt he remote. It is simple but functional. The box has a really good picture using either the line inputs or the coax lead-in. I liked it well enough to purchase it as my second box also. I have not had any personal experience with the Magnavox box. I read somewhere (maybe in a previous post?) that it was supposed to be better at locking in weaker signals, but I do not know that for a fact...
Maybe it would be a good idea to buy one to see if you like it and get another if you do or buy on of the others if you don't. Just a suggestion.
Y'all take care and please post back here and let us know how it is working our for you.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Gavin Young,
When I was first starting to look into the digital TV broadcasting, I was in touch with an engineer at one of our local stations, and he stated to me that a satellite receiver could be used as a converter box, but I kad no model numbers to go by, and I looked at some of the big box stores and talked to some of the salespeople who stared at me like a deer caught in headlights, so I quickly gave up on that idea and deleted the file from my memory until you memtioned it in your post. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing that info.
Could I ask you to give us a short tutorial as to how to set one up? I really would appreciate it a lot. I guess I have several questions off the top of my head...
1. How are the channels labled on the tuner? Does it display the anlog and digital channels from 2 through 69 like on a TV?
2. On digital, will it tune in the sub-channels?
3. Does it have closed captioning?
Please post back, for I am really interested in finding out more about this.
Thank you.

Integral from STL:

I got the Insignia today.. i'll be hooking it up tomarrow.. i got it late this afternoon and didn't feel like moing the 3-piece tv cabinet.

when reading it, which doesn't give alot of info, it reminds me of reading about Star Trek Ship numbers.

Hello mary... the cat lady,

Attn: in my previous post I said "For example I have a Samsung SIR-TS160 (Direct TV compatible) and it can recieve the ATSC signals, it does need an access card in order to use it for those signals (nor to set it up it for those signals)...", however I meant to say "For example I have a Samsung SIR-TS160 (Direct TV compatible) and it can recieve the ATSC signals, it does NOT need an access card in order to use it for those signals (and it can be set up it for those signals)..."

The only satellite receiver I have thus far used is the Samsung SIR-TS160 (which is DirecTV compatible). Since I don't have a DirectTV account nor a satellite dish, here is what I had to do.

1) Setup can be accessed on this model by both the remote and buttons on the front of the receiver. I only used the buttons on the front of receiver. I pressed the Menu buttom and then the cursor buttons and Ok button in order to go the setup screen. 2) I then went to the screen for specifying the type of satellite (the "Set Dish" option under the "Installation" option) used and I selected "no dish", a must step for those not using this as a satellite receiver. 3) Once I did that the receiver allowed me to setup up the options for the ATSC functions, analog tv functions, and cable tv functions. In setup I had it scan all channels and it found all of the local analog (NTSC) channels and all of the local digital channels (including subchannels) and analog cable channels. For example when flipping through the channels, the top of the screen would briefly say Channel 2 Air, Channel 2 cable, Channel 2-1 Digital, etc. For example I get all four PBS subchannels. On my receiver the screen (such as after I press the menu button) will say the following for the those four channels: 10-1 KOPB-HD, 10-2 KOPB-SD, 10-3 Create, and 10-4-OC and it will say that those four subchannels are each Digital English. Some of the digital subchannels would say SD and some would say HD. The highest channel number it goes to is 122 (for cable, but the largest analog cable number from my provider is 71). In my area the digital channels are 2-1 (ABC/KATU), 6-1 and 6-2 (CBS/KOIN), 8-1 (NBC/KGW) and 8-2 Weather, 10 (PBS/OPB) [the four subchannels mentioned above), 22-1 Ion, 22-2 qubo, 22-3 Ion Life, 22-4 Worship, 32-1 KRCW-D1, 32-2 KRCW-D2, and 49-1 KPDX-DT and the Samsung receives them all. Under Setup, Preferences, it has the option for Captions. It asks me to pick from 1 of 6 caption services. After I enable captions, it does display captions on the screen for both the analog shows, the digital shows, and the analog cable shows.

There is setup screen for asking the manufacturer of my VCR and TV, which I assume is for setting the remote control (but maybe it makes the timer setup active). The option for timer recording is inaccessible, probably because I don't have the satellite feature enabled (I don't have the manual for this receiver, though I think a pDF version is online).

Apparently there is also a digital channel 12.1 in my area, but my receiver did not see it when scanning for channels - I possibly did not have my rabbit ears antenna pointed in the right direction in order for it to find it during the scan.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Integral from STL,
Good luck with the insignia, and I am anxious to see how it works out for you. I will be out of town tomorrow and Saturday, (I took a one day and am playing hookey from work tomorrow :) ) so I will chenk in on you Sunday.
Star Trek, huh? I tell you, I just can't do it captain...!!! LOL

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Gavin Young,
I think that the satellite recievers are going to be a really great option for a lot of people. I am so glad that you posted that info here, and thank you for the tutorial as to how you set up the Samsung SIR-TS 160 that you have. I know it helps to kinda have an idea of how one is set up even if it is not exactly the same. I am really grateful to you. And thanks for the deads up about the manuals online.
It just so happened that today at work, a guy that I work with is switching satellite providers, and he told me that he is going to give me the DVR that came with his previous company, so I may get a chance to play around with it an see what I can do with it. I had not even mentioned your post to him when he told me about it. I do not know if it will work like that or not, but it will be interesting to "spearament" around with it.
Thank you so much for answering all my questions, especially about the closed captioning. As I have stated in my previous posts. I can hear it but not always understand the dialog. It sounds like it has a CC generator uncluded with it, which is nice for the TV's that were built before it was mandated.
Have a great weekend, my friend.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi again Gavin Young,
KPTV channel 12 is broadcasting thier digital signal from an antenna that is 297 meters above ground. It looked to me like the tower was just west of the center of town, and is putting out 741KW Effective Radiated Power, which is decent, but not spectacular. So, you mich try to get it again at a later date. They will revert back to channel 12 on Feb. 18, 2009. I just wanted to pass that info on to you.
I was up in "your neck of the woods" in '98 (Geez, has it been ten years???). You live in a very beautiful part of our great country.

Just received a Channel Master CM-7000, and it works quite well receiving all the local channels I can usually pick up. The picture is quite good using the S-Video connection. While the EPG only gives extended info for the current channel, the text size is way too small to read properly.
The other unit was a Coship N9988T which we got just to use up the other coupon. Although this unit has a full EPG line-up for all channels, the low amplification makes this unit useless as some of the channels show a weak signal.

Hello mary... the cat lady,

You are welcome. Thanks for the info about KPTV channel 12.

Today I bought another satellite receiver for use with another TV/VCR and to see if it could also be used as a digital tv converter box. I paid only $5 for it from the local thrift store. The store removed the access card (and through it away) when I brought the receiver to the checkout counter. I was not able to get this one to work as a digital tv converter box. This one is an actual DirecTV brand (instead of a third-party brand which is DirecTV compatible) and that is probally why it didn't work as a converter box without a DirecTV account and satellite dish (maybe it was also because their was no access card included). This one is model D11 (manufactured in August 2006). When I turned it on it immediately tried scanning for satellites and it continued to do so for about 4 or 5 minutes (it could not find any satellites since I did not have a dish hooked up to it). After it finally stopped searching and then gave me an error message, I was then able to go into the setup screen. The setup screen asked me to pick a dish type, but it did not give me the option of picking "no dish", nor did I see a setup option for antenna input. It wants to locate a satellite before it will allow itself to be used for anything else, therefore it did not let me use it as a digital tv converter. It also wanted an access card to be inserted in order to save/access settings. I thus don't recommend using those satellite receivers which are made by the satellite companies (unless you plan to open an account for those companies), if you want to use the satellite receivers strictly as ATSC digital tv converter boxes. A Samsung SIR-S300 might work as a converter box, but I have not tried it. The local thrift store had one (without an access card) for $10, but I did not buy it.

Hi Gavin;

Thanks also for the great post about the satellite receivers. I already had an S-Video to VGA converter, and I had not seen your post, so I went ahead and used the coupons we had. I'll certainly look into getting a receiver that I'm sure will be useful for myself or others in the future.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Gavin Young,
Thank you for the added info about the satellite receivers. I have gotten my hands on a RCA receiver that ws given to me by afriend of mine. I was in Galveston the last couple of days, and have not had a chance to try it yet, but I will keep you posted. It does have the card in it, so we shall see...
Thanks again for the additional info.

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Loaded4th,
Good to see you again. Where did you purchase the CM-7000? Was it online or at a retailer?


Dear Cat Lady,

I’ve been appreciatively lurking, blown away over your generosity to help so many people, and in ways that are bound to be time-consuming for you. I’m a little worried that we’re ganging up on you and imposing on your good will. :>) However, as I’m sure you have already foreseen!, I am also one of the group who is going grey because of DTV frustration.

If you’re still willing to help (!), here’s my situation: I bought a Maganavox TB100MG9 converter box and had to wring my hands when I saw how we went from a dozen good analog channels to just ONE digital channel! My wife and I live NW of Salem, OR. Our house is at an elevation of 1,000 feet, but there are four hills around us, one to the N, one to the S, one to the W, and one to the E. The top of each of these hills is probably 100-300 feet above our house. How’s that for a pickle?!

We have a 2-story house with an antenna in the attic. The antenna is about 12 feet across and 8 feet wide. It’s suspended from the (very low – 4 ft high) attic ceiling on strings. The attic is horrible to try to do anything in – it’s more like a crawlspace. And it’s filled with blown in insulation, so you have to search and shuffle with your feet for the 8 inch wide plank that is the ONLY walkway so you don’t fall through the drywall ceiling below. Moving the antenna is NOT FUN.

We have an antenna amplifier, and with this all the analog stations are very clear. We presently receive good, clear analog signals on channels 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, and 22.

From antennaweb.org, below a list of what they identify as the best (green) stations. With the Magnavox box, we get ONLY channel 22 now. Antennaweb.org says that transmitter is only 4 miles away, so probably that’s why. Here’s a list of the channels we’d LIKE to get (basically the same ones we get now in analog). The PBS channels (7 and 10) are the ones we watch most. You can see that most of the channels are in the same direction 13-15 degrees from north.

KOIN-DT 6.1 CBS PORTLAND, OR 15° 38.1 40 (miles from here)
KOPB-DT 10.1 PBS PORTLAND, OR 14° 38.2 27 miles
KOAC-DT 7.1 PBS CORVALLIS, OR 176° 28.7 39 miles
KGW-DT 8.1 NBC PORTLAND, OR Feb 17, 2009 (post-transition) 14° 38.2 8 mi
KATU-DT 2.1 ABC PORTLAND, OR 15° 38.1 43 mi
KPXG-DT 22.1 ION SALEM, OR Feb 17, 2009 (post-transition) 14° 38.2 22 mi
KPTV-DT 12.1 FOX PORTLAND, OR 13° 38.1 30 mi
KOPB 10 PBS PORTLAND, OR 14° 38.2 10 mi
KOAC 7 PBS CORVALLIS, OR 176° 28.7 7 mi
KPXG-DT 22.1 ION SALEM, OR 15° 38.1 4 mi
KGW 8 NBC PORTLAND, OR 14° 38.2 8 mi
KPTV 12 FOX PORTLAND, OR 13° 38.1 12 mi

I read in one posting here that the Wal-Mart RCA box seems to work well for some people with an attic antenna. Have you found that different brands have tuners that are more sensitive than others?

My wife and I would be beholden to you for any of your sage advice. Many thanks!

James Alexanderson:

My apologies for the double posting. I got an error message and reposted.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi, Going Grey,
I am suprised that you did not pick "Going Bald" as your handle because of pulling your hair out over the stress of the transition frustration... LOL
Let me do some reserch, to see what I can come up with. You know, you could always move down here where the land is flat, flat, flat, and you would not have to deal with those pesky hills anymore... :) Just kidding. At least I bet it is not 140 degrees in your attic like it probably is in my attic here.
And I thank you for your compliment about the help. Yeah, it takes time, but I enjoy it. It is a challenge sometimes to come up with answers from so far away, but that is what makes it interesting. Sometimes I can help.
The only experience that I have with other converter boxes, is what others have posted here, so I have no first-hand knoweldge of the reception qualities of boxes other than the Zenith. I do know that the RCA boxes are non exitant at Wal-Mart right now.
So, excuse me for a while, and I will see what I can do for you.

mary... the cat lady:

OK Going Grey,
Here is what I know...
Good news first. KPXG channel 22 is broadcasting its digital signal on channel 4 right now. That's good. But, and you knew there would be one, they are going to revert back to channel 22 post transition. So, what does that tell me? There is hope in the future for digital channels 8, 10, and 12. The tower for analog channel 22 is the one that is only a few miles from where you live it looks like to me. Right now, the channel 22 digital signal is being broadcast from the same couple of towers that the other station are broadcasting from near the center of Portland. So, that means that you SHOULD be able to get the above mentioned VHF channels after the conversion for they all have constrution permits to revert back to the VHF channles after the transition. Right now channel 7 is broadcasting digital on channel 39, 8 on 46, 10 on 27, and 12 on 30. It looks like to me that you may not have trouble getting the VHF channels on your antenna after the transition.
I can almost garantee that you will need a rotor to get channel 7 after the transition. All of the others are 13, 14, or 15 degrees which is OK, but channel 7 at 176 degrees is a goner in digital.
HOWEVER, the UHF channels may be another story...
I say this because channel 2 is broadcasting digital on channel 43, and 6 on channel 40, and that is where they are going to stay after the transition. They both have their final facilities built, up and running. So that would indicate to me that you are having trouble getting the UHF channels from Portland.
The reason that may be is that VHF channels will "bounce" around a little better than UHF channels. UHF is more a "line of sight" type of thing. It's those darn pesky hills again.
I want to stop right there for a second. You listed channel 5 as an analog channel that you get right now. Is that KRCW? If it is, It also is transmitting it's digital signal from the towers in Portland, and that would indicate that you are not getting the digital signal from it on channel 33. That would further bolster my theory.
So, what can be done you ask? If you can, maybe get that antenna out of the attic, on a pole or a tripod, outside above the roofline. Is that a possibility? If you can, you will gain probably 5 to 10 db's of signal strength, and that may be enough. It is good that you already have a signal booster, but you may want to add a distribution amp if you go to multiple TV's. Each time you split the signal, you lose more Db's.
Please post back here and let me know your thoughts on this. I know it is a pain, but his is why I have an advocate of starting early so that you could know what you were dealing with before the transition.
You might also try an inline siganl booster to see if that helps before you crawl back up into the attic again... I am not a big fan of inline boosters, but I have seen them work. I had an old one and it worked on my best friend's antenna. With it, it pulled the only station that we could not get without it. So... maybe.


Dear Helper in the Battle against Grey Hair!

Wow, I can’t imagine how you do it! You must have a horn of plenty of energy AND generosity! Thank you so very much for writing at length (and for writing so clearly!). I actually understood almost everything you wrote, RF-incompetent that I am! (My shortcoming was with vocabulary, since I don’t know what a distribution amp vs. a signal booster means; more on this later.)

I had to laugh when you wrote that it might be a pain for me to post back. Not even close! The real pain is struggling with converter box store employees who think they know everything, and finding out that virtually everything they’ve told me is wrong! You are a blessing to find, and thank you again for your kind help.

What you wrote is encouraging since analog PBS channels 7 and 10 have identical programming (I forgot to mention this). We only need to get either the digital equivalent of 7 or 10. From what you wrote, and your encouraging optimism!, maybe we’ll be able to get channel 10 after the transition, which would be great.

It also makes good sense that we must be having problems getting UHF channels, and not good news that channels 2 (sending on 43 now) and 6 (sending on 40 now) are going to remain that way.

Yes, the analog channel 5 that we get is KRCW, which we can sometimes receive, depending on weather, also on analog channel 32. You’re right that we don’t get their digital signal on channel 33. So I bet your “VHF=good / UHF=bad theory” for where we live is right.

Yes, $$ permitting, we could put an antenna on the roof – it’s rural here, no restrictions. Is there any way to find out in advance if a roof antenna would likely help, before shelling out the $$ and the labor on the roof? Are there rentable signal strength detectors or something like that? If we need to put an antenna on the roof, would it be prudent to waitto do this until after next Feb. when the stations are set in their ways?

Back to distribution amp vs. signal amp: I don’t know what the amp should appropriately be called that we have. The coax cable comes down from the attic antenna through a wall to the 1st floor of the house. The 2 inch x 5 inch amp that I have plugs into 110V; it has variable output; it has an input socket from the antenna and an output socket that goes to the tv. I put a signal splitter (I hope this is what it’s called: it’s a Y connector that gives two outputs from one input) in line after the coax cable comes from the amplifier. One coax cable then goes to the downstairs tv and one cable goes upstairs. – So is what we have (I guessing) an inline signal booster? If so, what is a distribution amp? I’ll trying anything. :-)

The coax cable that goes upstairs is pretty long. It’s about 25 feet TOO long. Would it help for me to cut it shorter? I don’t know if digital signals degrade through a long coax cable. If you think it’s worth getting rid of the extra 25 feet, I’ll do it. (Because of the way the downstairs tv is installed in a big wall unit that takes half a day to unpack and move out to expose wiring, I’ve only used the digital converter box on the upstairs tv.)

Well, this is most certainly long enough, and I hope not too long to impose on you. Thank you, thank you. Best wishes from Oregon....

mary... the cat lady:

Hi again Going Grey,
Let's see if we can help clear up some of the stuff here...
When I said I knew it was a pain, I was refering to making adjustments on the antenna, be it moving it or just getting to it... From what you described, it seems like a pain...
What you have is an in-line signal amp, also refered to as a booster. My bad for mixing terminology. Sorry. I should know better.
I would at this point recomend an antenna mounted signal amp. It mounts just off the antenna and boosts the signal several Db's for the run down inside the house.
I would not worry too much at this point about the excess 25 ft. of coax going upstairs.
Alas,there is no way that I can tell if moving the antenna outside will be successful or not. I wish I could do that. If I could, we would not have had the trouble we had with my best friend's brother's antenna at first... But you should have a signal strength meter associated with the converter box. If it shows some signal, but not enough to lock in, then maybe a move outside will work.
Do you have any neighbors nearby that have antennas ouside that you could try your converter on if they don't have one yet? That would be a good indicator. Talk to people, and see what experiences they have had, if there is someone.
OK, I am going to give some definitions here, just so that I am sure I use the same terminology.
Antenna Mounted Signal Amp: I covered this above, but I wanted to put everything in one spot. This is a signal amp that has a unit in the house that plugs in and sends power up the coax to drive an signal amplifier from the antenna.
Distribution Amp: This is an amplifier that does the same job as your signal splitter. (Yes that is the proper name for it.) The only difference is that it is powered and covers the Db loss from splitting the signal. In reality, what you havewith the in-line signal amp for all intents and purposes accomplishes the same thing. So I think you are OK there.
So here is what I would do in your shoes... I would invest in a good antenna mounted signal amp first. I think you will need it no matter what. Yeah, I know, I hear you wimpering about having to go back up in the attic. :( Sorry, 'bout that. But I do know that having that antenna in the causes a pretty good loss of signal strength. From what I understand from my engineer friend at one of our local TV statios, A 3Db loss of signal strength cuts the signal in half. so if you have a 10Db loss, you have cut in half, and then that in half, and then that in half, and then that by 1/3. so it makes a big difference. I had to learn that the hard way, because I overloaded the tuner of my friend's brother's antenna. More power was not better. I had to find some 3Db attenuators (also called "pads") to bring the signal strength back down. Oops.
Togive one last insight, yes, there is some loss of siganl strength over a long coax run, but it is negligible until you get over 100 ft. or so.
Thank you again for your com;iment, and it is not an impostion at all. Lost, Jericho, and Prison Break are over for the season... LOL
I hope I am right about the VHF vs. UHF thing, and if I can be of service for anything else, please, just ask, and please keep me posted, because I too learn from the feedback that I get from people like you.
Take care from the great state of Texas. Bye y'all,


Dear Cat Lady,

Again, I am bowled over by your generosity, time, and thought. Like a lot of the people who've posted here, I'm already tired by this, for me, unwanted "improvement" that is causing so much frustration and, probably, expense. And the end result, again for me, sounds like it won't add up to what I had with analog. But where is the government bureaucrat who will care what I think?

Anyway, to respond to your suggestion that I check with neighbors -- well, there aren't any, at least not any who live between these hills. There are large farms here, no close neighbors.

I'll go to Radio Shack and look into an antenna-mounted signal amp. And I'll begin to look at possible roof-mounted antennas.... :Dear Cat Lady,

Again, I am bowled over by your generosity, time, and thought. Like a lot of the people who've posted here, I'm already tired by this, for me, unwanted "improvement" that is causing so much frustration and, probably, expense. And the end result, again for me, sounds like it won't add up to what I had with analog. But where is the government bureaucrat who will care what I think?

Anyway, to respond to your suggestion that I check with neighbors -- well, there aren't any, at least not any who live between these hills. There are large farms here, no close neighbors.

I'll go to Radio Shack and look into an antenna-mounted signal amp. And I'll begin to look at possible roof-mounted antennas.... :

I called and talked with a technician at the PBS tv station. He understood all too well what the attic problem is with all the blown in fiberglas insulation two feet deep, and the need for a "space suit." He suggested that I buy (and return if necessary) a small amplified tabletop antenna that I could rotate, as an experiment to see if rotating an antenna would help (since rotating the one in the attic is such a pain). Do you think this is a good suggestion?

Thank you again for your kind help!!!

mary... the cat lady:

Hi, Going Grey,
I know what you mean about the bureaucrats... Whenever something like this comes up I always interject, "Our gevernment at work for you". It usually gets a chuckle from everyone. :)
For those of us who live in the metro areas, the digital transition does add up for us. Usually there are more programming choices, and the HD to boot. But for the folks who live in the outlying rural areas, this is going to be a big pain in the the behind. And there are A LOT of you, and y'all have my sympathy. This is more of a take away, than an enhancement. And expensive, too. a full fledged ground to 30 ft. pole mounted, high gain antenna, signal amped, amplified distributed, rotated system costs $300 +/-.
Antenna: $100
Rotor: $80
Outside signal amp:$60
Distribution amp: $30
30 ft. pole: $20 to $50
Plus the coasx, converter box, hair pulling, cussing, and everything else...
Well, I really think that buying a table top antenna will be an exercise in futility, but it can't hurt. Like the man said, just bring it back when it doesn't work. Our land is flat down here, but we do have lots and lots of trees. (Well, not as many as before Rita, but that's another story.) Anyway, we tried that when my best friend got her HDTV. She is maybe 11 to 17 miles from the transmitters, and we could only get one station well, and one that kept freezing up. Needless to say, she took it back. Maybe if you took it up on the roof.... Just kidding.
Good luck and keep me posted.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Going Grey,
I meant to tell you in my previous post, that the antenna you have now, may be adequate if you get it out of the attic.
Also, I was wondering if you checked your converter box to see if it had a signal meter. Does it have a manual tune feature? If it does, I would like to know what the meter indicates on each of the stations. Remember, the digitals are being broadcast on different channels than what appears on the screen after they are locked in. For example, I can go in the manual tune feature on my converter box, and go to the actual broadcast channel... channel 40 for analog 4, channel 21 for analog 6, channel 50 for analog 12 etc. and it will give a bar graph reading of the signal strength. Bad to good. Without rotating my antenna, there are two stations that don't come in. Both are Lake Charles, La. stations and are about 50 miles away, give or take. But my meter reads that there is some signal there, it just falls in the "Bad" area of the readout. If your converter box has this feature, I would like to have an accounting for the ones that show up, even though they don't lock in.
Take care and I will check back tomorrow.


First off, I like The Beverly Hillbillies. 2nd, I believe the US is doing something. I have always heard that the billions of dollars being spent for this war is worth it. I'm beginning to think it's a waste.

Why don't we pull out of the United Nations, build a pipeline underground through Alaska, and set a new emissions standard?


Sounds like a bunch of government manipulation not in our best interest. I have 2 old tvs, like 20 years old, bad reception, no cable, using rabbit ears, I bought one of these stupid boxes against my better judgement but thought maybe I should, can't get anything to work.
Several thoughts go through my mind, like it sure is nice that the government is so worried about us getting good tv reception to force us to do all this crap, next is-that this is a ploy to force us to buy crap most of us can't afford, the next is, does anybody know if these converter boxes can be used to track your tv habits or can they be used as spyware of any kind, kind of 1984 Big Brotherish ain't it??????

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Tex,
I am not a conspiracy theorist, so no, I don't think that the government is going into the business of trying to determine what we are watching on television. Teh only poeple that care are the advertisers and they already have an army of volunteers that have "People Meters" in their homes for instantanious results. the box would have to be one heck of a lot bigger to contain a transmitter bit enough to get your TV habits back to the television station. It ain't happening. Cell phones yeah, probably. But not the converter boxes, I don't believe. I would worry more about all the cameras that are pointed everywhere, than I would this. Cameras in the grocery stores, banks, malls, street corners, freeways, alleys, fast food places, etc., etc., etc. I think you can relax about the digital converters.
Is it a pain? Yeah. Is it costly? Yeah. Was it REALLY necessary? Nah. Are there going to be some really ticked off people? Yep. Was this thouroghly thought out? Nope. Are some people gong to be left high and dry? Yeah. But it is coming, and alas, there is not a whole lot we can do about it...
If you need some help getting the converter to work, let me know, and I will try to help, OK?
The first thinkg I would suggest, is to get an am;lified table top antenna to see if that helps. Even if it does not help with the digital, It should surely help with yout analog reception while you still have it. If you do buy one, be sure to check with the retailer that you get it from to see what their return plicy is if you decide that you want to take it back.

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Greg,
I like the Beverly Hillbillies too.

The DTV Coupon Program only has like 30 million coupons available. Aren't there like over 200 million analog televisions?

mary... the cat lady:

Hi DTV Help,
I had not heard those numbers. However, it may be entirely true. Remember, households that get their TV via satellite or cable are only eligible for 2 coupons, and from what I saw more $ would be made available at a later date for those that only get their TV via over the air. So, indeed, there may be more coupons available at a later date...
And too, I myself have 8 television sets. 3 of which are not hooked up to anything and are in the srorage closet, and one battery powered one that I have in my hurricane preparednes box which I will still be able to use this one last hurricane season. So, I am not sure anyone really knows how many analog TV's are still in use at any one time.
One statistic that I did see is that there are about 50 million households (estimated) that don't have cable or sattelite...
There are a lot of people that I work with, that despite my encouragement to do so, state that they are hooked up to cable and don't need or have a desire to have a converter box.
And just FYI, from what I have heard, coupons will no longer be available after Feb. 17, '09. so if you want a coupon, it might be wise to go ahead and apply.


Dear Cat Lady Guru,

Thank you (again!) for your two posts. Yes, the box I bought does have a signal strength display, and I will write down what it shows for any stations I can pick up. It doesn't have a manual tuning feature, though. Things have been too busy here lately with house fix-up work, so I'll be back in a day or two. Again, many thanks for your faithful help.

Integral From STL:

Okay sorry for taking so long to reply. i did have the Insignia. after 3 hrs of trying to get the darn thing to work. i tryied Insignia's website. they have a "" we'll call you"" thing.. I use it, it connects you to Best Buy.

The Folkes at Best Buy were NO help. onces i said something about haveing a sounds system.. they were like.. " oh well in that case we can send a tech out to you in the next week for $150."

I was like Hell no. the book and the website said to call if you need help.. to have help over the phone. and they want to now Charge me..

I call Insignia 1-800 #. got someone that can't speak English.. After another 2 1/2 hrs and alot of really dumb questions he tell me my unit is defective. so returen it to the store i bought it and get a different one.

I did that. 2 days latter i try to set the thing up. . as of now.. i have only 3 channels and they do not stay on all the time.. i get ' NO SIGNAL' quite a bit.. i'm hopping the magnavox is alittle better.

but i dread even getting behind the TV/sound system right now..

Mary - I'm the editor of TVWeek. I wonder if you could shoot me an e-mail at gbaumann@tvweek.com. I love your participation in this discussion and would like to follow up. Regards, Greg.

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Going Grey,
Take your time, i am going to be away this weekend myself, so I will try to catch you Sunday evening or whenever you can get back to the forum. See ya later.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Integral From STL,
It may not be as bad as it seems, OK? The fact that you are getting some signal on 3 different channels may be good sign. I know that it is not as good as hooking up the box and bang... you're in business, but it seems to me that you are almost there.
I do know that the insignia has the manual tune feature. If I am to help, I need to know what analog channels you get now and a report on a scale of 1-10 how the reception is. (10 being best) Then I need you to go into the manual tune feature of the converter box, and give me a reading of every channel that even gets a little bit of signal... bad or good.
I did a search of about 6 of your television stations and found that all of them are to the South or South-Southeast of the center of town. I need to know where you are in relation to St. Louis, OK? ( And how far) I also need to know what kind of antenna you are using. An in-line siganl amp may be all that is necessary to pull everything in, but it may take more, I just don't know at this point. but if you get me that information, maybe I can help get you set-up.
You have your signal split a few times, and that is what I suspect is the culprit. I do not think all is lost by any means at this point. Get back wtht me, OK?

Integral... STL:

well i have the Insignia disconnected.. i'll try to get it working on tuesday on my day off

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Integral From STL,
Beofre you hook up the Insignia again, be sure to get the reception info that I asked for from the analogs, OK? Have a good week at work, be careful, and I will see you next week.


Hi Cat Lady - GoingGrey is back with the information you asked for -- also am a little grayer, and will explain. ;>)

First, I bought a second converter box, this time a Digitalstream DTX9950 from Radio Shack; like the Magnavox TB100MG9, it has analog passthrough. I'd hoped it would pick up more channels here, but the two boxes get exactly the same ONE good channel (channel 22) -- and only one other channel (channel 7), and for that the reception varies from poor to "no signal."

The signal strength meter on the Magnavox converter box shows a strength of 28-32 for channel 22 and its subchannels, and 16-18 for channel 7.x. (The 16-18 reading is the best ever here, due to recent clear weather; but at 16-18, the signal is so weak that the sound comes and goes.)

I hope I haven't forgotten to answer any other question you had.

Incidentally, IMHO the Digitalstream is a much nicer box compared with the Magnavox. The remote is a lot nicer, and the interface is easier to work with. The Magnavox seems to me like the cheapest available. Also, Radio Shack (here, anyway) will give a complete refund (and give you your coupon back to use elsewhere) if you don't like the box. Sears, on the other hand, won't give any refund at all.

Thanks again for your much appreciated help!

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Going Grey,
Well, my friend, it seems it is time to move on up in the world... A trip to the attic is in store for you I am afraid. Sorry.
Here is what I will suggest to you: Invest in a good antenna mounted signal amp. I am hoping that it will do the trick for you.
Because you are getting the exact same channel with the same results on two different brand boxes, it tells me that the signals, if they are indeed reaching your house, are losing too much signal going through the walls to the antenna. It is not the box, it is the signal.
What you might want to think about, is when making that trip up to the attic, make it your last trip. Go ahead and get the thing out of the attic. Get it outside. That will probably get you 10 Db's, or more, of gain right there.
I still worry about the hills, though. I cannot guarantee that you will get the stations, but I do think it is your best shot.
If you want, get the signal amp and try it first. It my work. I am encouraged by the fact that you do get two of the channels, although one loses sound occasionally.
Digital channel 7 is broadcasting on channel 39 right now, and is not too far from you I would expect, so that tells me that you can get the UHF stations, but poorly. So that boosts my theory of the difficulty of getting the UHF stations.
Remember, even if the antennal mounted signal booster does not do the trick in the attic, it might when you get it outside. And too, you may benefit even more with a high gain VHF-UHF antenna. The most common type is what is called a Corner Yagi, Bow Tie Reflected, UHF-VHF combination. If yo look at the Radio Shack Web site at the VU-190 antenna, it will give you an idea of what you will be looking for.
Please keep me posted, and I look forward to hearing from you, and will be delighted when you are successful. Good luck.


Dear Cat Lady - I wish I could reciprocate for your generosity. I do really, truly appreciate the time you give to this list, and have given to the fight against GoingGrey's going CompletelyWhite!

I'd like to follow your suggestions. First, then, can you recommend an antenna-mounted signal amp? Brand? Model? Remember, as Juan said often on Fawlty Towers, "I know nothing!"

Second, I went to Radio Shack to get info on the antenna you mentioned. I got a printout of customer reviews, along with tech specs. Quite a number of customers wrote that this antenna tends to break in high winds. Unfortunately, we get PLENTY of high winds here -- often 50-75 mph, esp. during the winter. Some gusts are more than this, and can shake the house. (I think this is why the previous owner put the antenna in the attic, since this was probably more work, in the confined space, than putting it on the roof.)

IF I take the reviews at face value, and assume that these people are right about the fragility of the VU-190 antenna, can you recommend another that might hold up better in high winds? I wrote to SolidSignal, and didn't think to mention the winds here. Their tech recommended this antenna: http://www.solidsignal.com/prod_display.asp?PROD=ANC3679 . They claim in the specs that it's good in high winds (?).

Thanks again for your kind help!

mary... the cat lady:

Hi going Grey,
This is my second post to you this afternoon. I had an answer all written, and blooey, the computer locked up, and here I go again. AAAAAAaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrggggggghhhhh! I hate that when that happens. Ugh.
Anyway... I personally have a VU-190 and went through Hurricane Humberto last September. Here where I live, we had 85 MPH sustained, and 105 gust winds. The antenna survived without any damage. At the time I was writing you yesterday, we were having a severe thunderstorm. On the 6 o'clock news, they profiled a school about a mile from me that had a gust of 48 MPH. One thing to keep in mind though, is my antenna is only about 23 high. Enough to get me over the roofline. You, having a two story house, will be considerably higher than that, so it may be something to think about. The winds during Humberto were coming in at about 45 degrees to the antenna, and if they had been from a different direction, it maybe would have been a different story....
The ANC 3679 may well be adequate for your reception problems, but I would also suggest that you look at the CM 3651 and the CM3020. Both of these are a higher gain antenna than the ANC 3679, but I do not know how they would hold up in the high winds that you experience. I would maybe write them back and ask about it.
I looked at the CM 7777 antenna mounted signal booster (they call it a "pre-amp"). That may be a bit much though. It has 23 Db gain VHF, and 26 Db gain UHF. The 3 Db loss that I talked about in my earlier post works the same for gain. So 26 Db of gain would be doubling it more than 8 times. As I found out on my friend's brother's antenna, too much gain is NOT GOOD. You can overload the tuner, which is what I did. Oops.
I also saw looked at the CM0068 with 16 Db of gain VHF, and 23 Db gain for UHF. This may be more in line for what you will need. Both are ultra low noise.
I would not recommend the RS antenna mounted booster. I had 3 of them years ago, and they served me very well. I have one on my antenna that I put up here where I live now, and the VHF side has gone kaput. I went to the comments section of the RS web site for the booster, and the consensus is that it cannot take the Texas heat and humidity. I will purchase another brand, probably a Channel Master when I get the desire to lower the antenna, get up on the roof, and replace it. Probably around October or November when it cools off a wee bit.
I was thinking more of Sgt. Shultz from Hogan's Heroes. "I know nothing! I see NOTHING! (you can't see the channels you want to watch... :( )
And your kind words are enough reciprocation. Just out of curiosity, you said the area around you is farmland. What do y'all grow up there? Lots of rice, crawfish, soybeans, and we can grow some dang good tomatoes here. Lots of pecans, too.
Channel Master has long been a reputable company, and if they claim in their specs that the antenna is good with high winds, I would take it at face value, myself.
Once again, it may be worthwhile to get the signal booster and try it from the attic, knowing now about the high winds you have up there. There may be some truth to your theory that that is the reason the antenna is in the attic. If that is indeed the case, maybe the CM 7777 is the way to go... I wish I could be more specific for you. Yourhigh winds threw a kink in my gears... giving me second thoughts about moving it outside. Here, we may go 20 years without a hurricane, but I know you get cold fronts each season. With us it's a gamble, you can take it to the bank, I guess. HHhhhmmmm.


Dear Cat Lady,

So that you’ll KNOW that you make a difference: I keep your suggestions in a permanent Word file so I can re-read them until they sink in past the growing mass of gray hair.... ;>)
I haven’t done any shopping for an antenna-mounted pre-amp and will see if I can find a CM0068 locally, as you suggested. The wind problem here could be serious: The 2-story house is on the top of a 1,000 foot high hill, and the wind, esp. in the winter, can really blast up from the valley. This may well be why the previous owner put the antenna in the attic, and so maybe it will be worth the fight with the 2 feet of blown in fiberglas to try a CM0068 with the antenna that’s there.
I’m thinking that maybe it would be smart to wait to do this until after the transition to digital, when everything should be more settled. Do you agree?
Yes, the area around here is farmland: some of the farms are Christmas tree farms, and some are grape vineyards. I prefer the Christmas tree people because the vineyard operators use propane cannons to keep birds away when the grapes start to ripen: The cannons are on timers, and the explosions go from dawn to nightfall (unless they forget to turn one or more off, which sometimes happens). The explosions are very loud, and they’re frequent – often you can’t count to 10 without hearing at least one blast. This goes on for 3-6 weeks, depending on the weather and how fast the grapes are harvested. The birds (not the neighbors) get used to the blasts, and just move to another part of the vineyard (I can see flocks move from one spot to another; the explosions mostly make the farmers feel better, convinced that they’re doing something to protect their harvest. But I digress!)
Thank you again for all your helpful guidance in this forum. Occasionally I know we run into discourtesy, etc., but do overlook those people. You’re a great asset.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Going Grey,
You always make me smie with your kind words. Thank you so much.
Do you wait until after the transition or not... that, my friend I guess is the $64,000 question.
I guess there are pros and cons to both. However, the first thing that comes to mind is that if you wait until after the transition, you will be without TV for a period of time while you get set up, and it may take some tweakng to get everything right. (And it will be during February sweeps too). If I remember right, some of the VHF stations are going to have to shut down their analog transmitters and continue to transmit on their temporary UHF channels while they install the digital transmitters for the return to VHF. This may take a couple of days to a few weeks dependant upon whether or not they have to hire a tower crew to replace line up the tower or change the antenna for some reason. So, this could end up being an extended period of time without one or more of your stations, because you would no longer have the analog station to fall back on. It is something to consider, from my point of view.
I can only speak for me, but I think if it were me, I would go ahead and brave the attic and get the signal amp and try it. It may solve the problem, and you would be done with it. It MAY solve the problem. Might solve it. Maybe. Hopefully... Fingers crossed.
I would, however, opt for the CM 7777 amp if I was thinking about leaving the antenna in the attic. There is just so much loss from being inside the house.
I just want, right now, to go over some houskeeping items...
1. How close to the 13-15 degree direction is the antenna pointed? Optimal for your case would, of course, be 14 degrees.
2. If it is not aimed correctly, can it be turned?
3. You don't have ametal roof do you? I am willing to guess that you don't, but I wanted to ask anyway.
My intuition is that the CM 7777 might do it. I think it would be worth a shot. If you are getting the signal, it just might do it. It may boost it back up to cover the loss encountered by being inside. If you had a manual tuning feature, it just might show that there is some signal there, but just not enough to drive the tuner. We encountered that situation with me best friend's antenna. We could get 4 of the 5 digital stations, but the Fox channel is a "low power" station. Her tuner showed some signal, but would not pull it in. I had a an old in-line variable gain amp in my stash of goodies, and when we put it in, voila, we had Fox in HD. The signal was there, it was just not enough to drive the tuner before.
At least if it does not work, you will then know what kind of decision you will need to make.
I went to the Ralph's Electronics web site last night, and they had info on most of the Channel Master antennas. The 3679 model was listed (by Channel Master) to be very resistant to high winds.
My sympathies go to you when it is grape harvesting season. Wow, that would be enough to give me grey hair! There are people in Beaumont that are up in arms because they are doing seismic testing for oil and gas. They use dyamite in the ground for a few days, and then it is over. Cannons would drive me crazy. So THAT'S where Christmas trees come from :) .
One last thought before I go. The reason that I recommend the CM 7777 is that with a 10 Db signal loss (minimally) from being in the attic, that would mean that with 7777 you would end up with a net gain of 13-16 Db's. I think you will need all of that and I don't believe that you will run the risk of overloading the tuner from the antenna in the attic.
You take care, and we will talk later.


Hi Cat Lady & Antenna Pro –

Many thanks for your thoughts and your continued generosity with your time in trying to help!

You asked a couple of questions: First, about the direction the antenna is pointing in. I have to confess I haven’t had the courage to mess with the 2 feet of blown in fiberglas, so I don’t know. Although we’ve lived in this house for more than 20 years, this is the first time I’ve needed to know since the attic antenna has brought in all the channels we’ve wanted. The guys who blew in the added insulation about a year ago didn’t give any thought to a person’s later need to be able to see the cat walk, so I can’t even get to the antenna without shoveling the deep fine fiberglas out of the way to see the plank to find my footing. I guess I will do this eventually, but since I have to disassemble my whole computer work station to get into the attic (and this takes half a day in itself), it probably won’t be soon....

Your second question, whether the antenna can be turned, that, too, I don’t know. It is very wide, and I may not be able to rotate it in the space of the attic. So that’s another problem. :Hi Cat Lady & Antenna Pro –

Many thanks for your thoughts and your continued generosity with your time in trying to help!

You asked a couple of questions: First, about the direction the antenna is pointing in. I have to confess I haven’t had the courage to mess with the 2 feet of blown in fiberglas, so I don’t know. Although we’ve lived in this house for more than 20 years, this is the first time I’ve needed to know since the attic antenna has brought in all the channels we’ve wanted. The guys who blew in the added insulation about a year ago didn’t give any thought to a person’s later need to be able to see the cat walk, so I can’t even get to the antenna without shoveling the deep fine fiberglas out of the way to see the plank to find my footing. I guess I will do this eventually, but since I have to disassemble my whole computer work station to get into the attic (and this takes half a day in itself), it probably won’t be soon....

Your second question, whether the antenna can be turned, that, too, I don’t know. It is very wide, and I may not be able to rotate it in the space of the attic. So that’s another problem. :

Your third question: no, we don’t have a metal roof, but it’s ironic because we very nearly had one put on this year – until I realized that it would wreck the reception by the attic antenna. So we just have composition shingle roofing.

I have a long list of to-do house chores this summer (when all this needs to get done, before winter sets in with Oregon’s constant rain). But I’ll keep the attic visit in mind. If I get up there this summer, how can I tell if I’ve got the 13-15 degree direction right? All I have is a pocket compass. If I stand in the attic and move the antenna while my wife watches the signal on tv will my body next to the antenna interfere? (So do I need to get down out of the attic every time I’ve moved it to a new position?)

Thank you for recommending the CH7777. I’ll look for it locally and then online if I can’t find one here.

Ahh, for the good old days of simple analog reception, which I already miss!

Yes, the propane cannon noise is pretty bad, the main downside to living here. But there are plenty of pluses -- it's a beautiful area.

Thanks again for your faithful help!

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Going Grey,
Wow, I knew it was a hassle to get around once you got into the attic, but I did not realize what a chaallenge it was just to get up there... I am beginning to get a "clearer picture" of your situation, even if you are not getting the clearer picture on the TV.
I spent the night in Grant's Pass, Oregon on my trip in '98, as I was headed to Crater Lake N.P. What an absolutely gorgious place. It was about this time of year. Actually, I got to Grant's Pass on the 4th of July, in time to catch the fireworks display. It was really neat. I had left the San Francisco area that morning and traveled up California highway 1. It was a wonderful day driving up the coast. Of course gas was a little over $1.00 a gallon back then...
A compass is all you need to figure out the direction the antenna is pointed. You may not even have to get in the attic to determine that. If you know which way it is pointed in relation to your house, just use the compass to see if that is just barely east of due north. The antennaweb directions are in magnetic north, so it should give you a pretty good estimate. NNE is 22.5 degrees, so you would want to be facing a little more than halfway between north and north-northeast. It may not need turning much, if at all.
I am glad to hear about the metal roof. That is a signal killer.
Good luck with the CM 7777. I need to pick one up too. But like I said earlier, I will probably wait until October or so to lower the antenna and replace the malfunctiong RS one. We usually get a break from the heat around the middle of September, and October is usually a pretty good month for us.
Y'all take care. If you want, you can write me at MMRts@live.com


Many thanks, Cat Lady, for answering my question -- I wondered how precisely aimed the antenna has to be, and my pocket compass is definitely not very accurate! You're going to think I'm GoingGrey in one ways than one (!), but I honestly can't remember which general direction that antenna is pointing in. I think, to excuse myself a little bit, it's because the 4 foot high ceiling, while crouching down and teetering on the narrow catwalk, while in the dark attic -- all combine to make for a little bit of disorientation.... [;>) When I get back up there, I'll take my compass and will know better. I'll post any potentially "usable results" for others when I know more, and in the meantime will be in touch off the list.

Thank you again for your outstanding generosity. All best.

I found another model of satellite receiver which can used as digital TV ATSC receiver/converter by selecting the "no dish option". Moments ago I found it listed for sale on Craig's List at http://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/ele/734677219.html . The listing says the following about it:

Toshiba DST-3000 DirecTV / OTA HDTV Receiver - $35 (Beaverton)
Reply to: sale-734677219@craigslist.org
Date: 2008-06-27, 10:16AM PDT

Toshiba DST-3000 DirecTV Satellite / ATSC Over-the-air Receiver

I used this receiver exclusively for receiving local over-the-air DTV/HDTV signals. Technically it can tune NTSC signals as well but that functionality went haywire long ago. That won't matter come February anyway.

You do not need an access card or connection to a DirecTV dish or DirecTV subscription to tune over-the-air digital channels; you can select "No Dish" in the setup menu. These old DirecTV HD receivers are a great alternative to the boxes you can get with your government coupon for the upcoming analog transmitter shutdown since the coupon-boxes do not have HD output as far as I know. This box has selectable 1080i or 480i output so it will be useful for you if you have an HDTV without a built-in digital tuner (projectors, for example, or MANY HDTVs produced before 2007) or, of course, if you just want to be able to keep using your regular old standard-def TV (all HD signals are downconverted to standard def in 480i mode). Includes remote.

Has component output, optical digital audio output, two composite video/analog audio outputs, an S-Video output, and a channel 3/4 RF modulated output so you can hook up absolutely any old TV to this box. It does NOT recognize over-the-air program guide data. It should be noted that the ATSC tuner in this unit is not as sensitive as most current tuners so don't buy this if you live in a fringe reception area unless you have a good rooftop antenna or something.

Please note that I am ALSO selling a Hughes HIRD-E8 (with remote) which is functionally identical to the Toshiba box--it just has a different outside appearance. The price of the Hughes box is the same as the Toshiba.

Price: $35 firm. I am not interested in trades!

* Location: Beaverton
* it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Gavin Young,
Thank you so much for your research and input on this forum. (Also, I get to be post number 300! Whoo hoo!)
No, really, I do appreciate your help in this matter. Those are really good prices for the tuners, and like you said, so many more options. Thank you. I got a a RCA Dish Network reciever from a friend of mine, but I still have not tried it yet. Just have not had the time...
Anyway, thanks again, just for everyone's information, I believe that the thread that has been running here for the last few months is going to be moving to the blog area of tvweek.com in the near future., So if you don't find it here, look for it there. In the meantime, I will continue to monitor this site every chance that I get.


I just bought a Venturer converter box and set it up. It works great; I have it successfully connected to my DVD/VCR as well. I'm just a little confused about something. How in the heck do I timer record things from my VCR? Say, if I go on vacation I'd like to know everything would be taped on each channel.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Megan,
Alas, that is one of the biggest downfalls of the converter box. There is no timer to change the channels on the converter box while you are away. There has been a lot of discussion about that here on the forum. I, myself, believe that to be one of the gravest oversights that was made in the development of the boxes.
About the only thing that you can do, is to purchase a recorder with a digital ATSC tuner. It really was not the converter box manufacturer's fault. They were limited to the number and types of "bells and whistles" they could include by congress. Once again, "our government at work for you." Geez.
Megan, if you would, I would like for you to share some general information about what area of the country you live in, and an idea of how close you are to the stations. You are one of the few people that has posted here that had no trouble getting the digital stations. I would like to know what kind of antenna you are using, and if it is an indoor or outdoor antenna. Just give a brief description of it, and congratulations on your successful reception of your digital stations! You are one of the few success stories that I have seen here on the forum!
By the way, TV Week has asked me to start a blog on tvweek.com and that will be starting in a week or two!


I live in Florida and when we have hurricanes we have to use battery operated TV's. During the storms when we no electricity,what are we suppose to do? I
bet Washington hadn't thought about that!

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Louise,
I am in Southeast Texas. and I know exactly how you feel. I have talked about this in my previous posts. I thinks this was the gravest oversight in the transition to digital. And I can assure you that it probably was never considered in Washington. In previous posts, I related the story about how when we got hit by hurricane Humberto last year, that it was my battery powered TV that I reached for right after my flashlight. I pondered then what we would do after the transition. A battery powered TV is still listed on the hurricane preparedness literature as something to put in your kit. You can review my posts on this subject in the forum above on Feb. 25 and April 8.
One solution that I have come up with, is that a converter box could be run off of an "inverter" that is plugged into a 12V power source in your car. An extension cord could then be used to get 120 V/AC into the house to run the converter, which would then be hooked up to the battery powered TV. This, however, is not a real good solution. But in an emergency it would work. What I am thinking of doing is purchasing a somewhat smaller antenna that would get me a local channel or two, and permantly mounting it on the pole below the rotor without an amplifier. I have access to a generator. (this will do me no good during the storm however. I am not going to go out in wind gusts of 125 MPH to fire up the generator...) When the electricity is off, I get no signal pass through with the amplifier. Anyway, take care, and hope we all get through another hurricane season without a hit.


Mary, Same thing I discussed as we had tornadic activity and could not see Severe WX break-ins. You cannot see them on portables or on the TV, itself. I'm in Toledo, Ohio and only 9-13 miles from TX sites. Didn't get to view HDTV weather updates as a possible ornado was ABOVE ME, In South Toledo, Ohio. THis is clearly a safty issue


Please discuss all aspects of this transition. This include how one sided the educating is. One example, Why is it you do not hear about curing multipath issues, which I am experincing. I never see anything on what to do if you do not get DTV and what to do to stop the issue from continuing.

Currenty, I do not recieve reliable signals from "full power" towers 9 miles away. Reason, I am not facing the tower sites and have signals bounging off of traffic [metal cars, trucks ambulances, busses, etc.] and other buildings. I am in an apartment building, 3rd floor. I have contacted ALL OF THE TOLEDO TV engineers, without getting the problem solved.

I was told to look for a narrow beam width antenna. But without beam width specs, its hard to see what to get. I searched "17 degrees, beam width" lith littel success.

That's just one issue of the UGLY.

The other one I experience, apartment managers, condo associations, neighborhoods, etc., not allowing antennas. The FCC made a 1996 ruling and ammended it in 1999. The 1996 and 1999 Telecommunications acts say that in my local common area, I can have an antenna. My last apartment (ACCESSIBLE COUNTRY TRAILS, a "Preferred Properties" site , mary liggins manager) did not allow me to have an antenna and said I would be evicted if I put one out. This was in 2001, afte the 1999 ruling. My current building (ARLINGTON SOUTH APARTMENTS, in Toledo, Ohio) had made persons at their "3307 Arlington" location remove a dish, AFTER the 1999 telecom act. Why was there no punishment for either? Is it fair to waste our tax money for a ruling that isn't enforced???

These are 2 prime examples of the ugly.

These issues are important to iron out the issues and educate the public.

All I am asking, please investigate and try to do a thorough job. So far, I've only seen "half A*@ed" reporting and opinions on DTV, to make it look better than it is.

I've brought this set of issues to light to various "news agencies", with nobody picking them up. They seem to figure that everyone gets DTV perfectly and that NYC doesn't have a "blck hole", where DTV doesn't penetrate. BUT, THIS IS WELL DOCUMENTED. They can't ignore that documentation forever, Because diaries are at stake. We all know what that means.

mary... the cat lady:

Please see my response to your post at the main web-site. I apologize for the delay in answering you. There was a glitch in the launch of the blog, and the first posts were going into the netherworld. But I do believe that we have everything squared away for now. So, thank you for posting, and if I can be of further help, please post back.

A way to do timer recording:

I thought of another way to do timer recording from a converter box when you need to record more than one digital channel. If you don't have a VCR with a digital tuner (and if you did have one, then you would not need a separate DTV convertor box), you can use multiple VCRs each with their own convertor box. Since the government allows every household to receive at least two converter box coupons, you can buy two or more converter boxes. Leave each converter box turned on and tuned to the digital channel you wish to record, and have a separate VCR hooked up to each one. In each VCR set the timer to the times of each show, but only for those shows which come on the same digital channel. This works if you already have more than VCR. For example one converter box can be tuned to digital channel 6.1 and another to digital channel 12.3. One VCR would be set to record shows which air on channel 6.1 and the other VCR would be set to record to the shows which are on channel 12.3, however on the VCRs you would tell their timer programs to record either channel 3 or 4 (which ever frequency your converter box outputs to) or Input/Line 1 (if using the RCA jack audio and video outputs of the converter boxes). I rarely timer record more than one two different channels in any given day and I am rarely gone for more than 16 hours on any day, so this solution is workable for me.

Last week I ordered my 2 DTV converter box coupons from the government web site and hopefully the Echo Star converter box (with event timer) will available before the expiration date of my coupons (which will be about November 1st) and hopefully the Echo Star box will cost about $40 (before applying the coupon) as originally advertised and hopefully it will be available in stores so I won't have to pay for shipping. But even if the two converter boxes I buy with the coupons don't have a timer, I can use those converter boxes with my Samsung HD DirecTV/ATSC receiver and three of my VCRs to timer record shows from 3 different digital channels. I also have cable which makes things much easier since a DTV converter box is not needed for cable shows, except that my cable provider (Comcast) is not currently carrying all of the current digital sub-channels, not even on their digital cable service (for example though they are carry all four PBS sub-channels and all two of the NBC sub-channels, they currently are carrying only one of the 3 ION sub-channels and only one of the four TBN sub-channels).

Method to add digital channels which were not detected in the scan during setup:

At least with the case with my Samsung SIR-TS160 HD ATSC/Satellite receiver, I found how to manually add channels which will not discovered by the scan. One must use the remote (and I now have a compatible one for this receiver) to enter the channels and the channels must be entered by their actual broadcast frequency channel, not by their virtual channel. After that is done, then when I go into the Add Channels screen of the setup menu, it recognizes the new channels (and lists them by their virtual channel number) and allows me to add them. For example in my area PBS/KOAB digital channel 10.1 (called 10-1 on my receiver) is really broadcast on channel 27.1 (called 27-1 on my reciever and its remote). If use my remote to enter "27-1" then my reciever will tune in to it and recognize it as a valid digital channel (if I enter "027" it will also tune into it, but it will label it as an analog channel instead of a digital channel). Then when I go I go the add channels screen it displays channel 10-1 (the virtual channel name) as well as the other sub-channels (10-2, 10-3, 10-4, and 10-5 [the latter one is used for testing by the TV network]) and allows me to add them to my receiver's channel line up! I found this solution on another message board/blog. I did not see this proceedure mentioned anywhere in the Owner's Manual for my receiver (I downloaded the manual from the internet). If virtual channel numbers and actual frequency channel numbers were one and the same, this process would be much easier. To top it off, I heard to search the internet to find out what the actual frequency channels are, I did not find them mentioned on the website's of my local television stations.

Difficulty holding onto the signal:

My receiver often looses the signal. For some channels I must move the two rods of my rabbit ears antenna farther from each other, whereas for other stations I must move them closer to gether, that could be a problem when doing timer recording on one more than one channel from one converter box (such as the Echo Star and DTVPal boxes). I also have a Radio Shack bow tie UHF antenna, but I am currently using it for something else.

Many old satellite receivers do not have an option for selecting "No dish", and thus no way to use them as an ATSC DTV converter box:

Yesterday I bought four DirectTV satellite receiver boxes for $5 each from a local thrift store, but to my disappointment I could not get any of those to provide ATSC ouputs. The models are RCA brand with model DRD420RE, Hughes "Silver Edition" model HIRD-E1, Hughes "TruSurround by SRS" "Director Pack" model SAT-B65 (which is also named "Sony Model: SAT-B65"), and Sony model SAT-B65. None of these models had an option to select "No dish" in the setup, they thus did not allow me to scan for antenna channels since they were preoccupied with scanning for satellites. These models all have jacks for antenna in, but I'm now thinking that these older receivers merely passed through analog (NTSC) antenna signals, rather than also tuning into digital (ATSC) antenna signals, hence the reason why did not give an option of selecting "No dish". I've thus decided to not buy any more DirecTV satellite receivers unless they are also HDTV reciever and include at least component video outputs. I notice that mary... the cat lady said she recently received an RCA satellite receiver, I thus hope it was not the RCA model I mentioned above since that model does not seem to provide ATSC signals without a satellite dish.

Multi-ouput HD receivers are being sold for about the same price as DTV converter boxes:

I noticed that when I did a search on eBay for ATSC receivers (using the keywords of ATSC receiver, uing the keywords of digital tv receiver, and using keywords of DTV receiver) I found many HD terrestrial receivers (meaning they are not satellite receivers) with a vast array of outputs (like on my Samsung receiver) and many of these are selling for $5 to $70 plus shipping, but many of them are sold only by non-USA eBay sellers (such as one in Australia in the auction at http://cgi.ebay.com/HIGH-DEFINITION-HDTV-DIGITAL-TV-RECEIVER-SET-TOP-BOX_W0QQitemZ170241416146QQihZ007QQcategoryZ109869QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem ).

A "Zinwell ZAT-500HD ATSC HDTV Receiver w/Remote Control" is listed on eBay for $71.99 plus shipping (only $9.99 for shipping within the continental USA). This one seems to also produce the resolutions formats used in Europe (the analog version of those is called PAL instead of out NTSC, but I don't know what they call their digital format version). It does not appear to be a very recent model since it has DVI connectors instead of HDMI connectors for the HDTV ouputs.

The DTVPal by DISH Network (which includes the Event timer) is now being sold directly from DISH Network at their website at http://www.dtvpal.com/ . Their Echo Star branded model is not yet available, but that model is supposed to be less expensive.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Gavin,
Wow! Thank you so much for your input. I thank you not only for what works, but also for what does not work. I know a lot of people are on limited incomes, and they don't need to be spending money on units that will not do what they need them to do. So thank you, agtain.

mary... the cat lady you are welcome.

The specifications sheet of the Sony SAT-B65 is at http://www2.sony.com/SEL/consumer/ss5/office/digitalsatellitereceiversandrecorders/directvtmsatellitereceivers/sat-b65_specs.shtml" rel="nofollow nofollow nofollow nofollow . Notice that while it says "Receives Local-to-Local" and "RF input for cable or local antenna", there is no mention of ATSC (digital over the air reception through an antenna). It thus does not likely have an ATSC tuner, but it apparently has a NTSC TV tuner for regular TV and cable.

The manual for my Samsung receiver said it came bundled with a VCR control device (a device which plugs into the back of the receiver and which sends an IR signal to my VCR to control it for programming shows). I don't have the VCR control device. I notice that the manual and the setup screen have steps for telling the receiver which make and code type of VCR is being used with the receiver. Maybe if I provided it with that information it would let me use its Event Timer. But maybe the Event Timer can only be used if the receiver has also been set up for use with a satellite dish.

My dissatisfaction with certain aspects of DTV, even HDTV:

I'm finding the conversion to digital tv to be frustrating (especially in regards to holding a signal without an external antenna). I think that the OTA broadcasters are going to loose OTA viewers to satellite and cable companies due to the reception problem, however maybe the satellite and cable companies will be paying the OTA TV networks (such as CBS, NBC, and the local TV stations such as KATU) for carrying their shows on satellite and cable.

Another thing I don't like is that fewer colors are available in digital tv (at least in SDTV) than in NTSC. NTSC seems seems to have an infinite range of colors, whereas in digital the number of colors are finite. I don't know if ATSC and MPEG 2 supports 128 colors, 256 colors, 512 colors, or whatever, but I notice fewer colors when I watch shows in digital and as a result I see dithering of the colors when watching shows in digital. For example some objects (and flesh tones) in NTSC have a continous range of colors from one end of the object to the other, but in digital an object might be divided into four color regions. I especially notice this when the TV show was recorded in low lighting conditions (such as shot in a dimly lit room). I wish the color pallet in digital shows included a much larger number of colors. For example I have my computer video card set to 65,536 colors, but ATSC hardware and digital cable service don't seem to support nearly as many colors (because it would probably require too much processing time for live video).

I also notice that when there is movement in the video (such as when the TV camera was panning) the moving image sometimes becomes "blurry" in the sense that its digital pixels become much larger, probably indicating that the MPEG 2 processor is having a hard time keeping up with updating the picture information. This is also very annoying to me, because the same video on regular TV (NTSC) does not have that shortcoming.

While future DTV standards might transmit higher quality videos, it would likely require people to upgrade/replace their digital TVs, DTV converter boxes, VCRs, etc. in order to decode the higher quality video signal. I see these shortcomings whether it is on my Samsung receiver, on the digital cable service I tried out for a month with Comcast, on the converter box on display at a local Radio Shack, and on the various LCD HDTVs on display at various electronics stores. Has anyone else noticed the shortings mentioned in this post? Does this mean I am like those people who say that vinyl music records have a richer sound than audio CDs?

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Gavin,
I personally have not had the experiences that you have had concerning the color variations and the blurry high speed seqwunce filming. I may be that I am not as discerning as your are, but it certainly has not been a distraction to me. On the subject of the 4 color regions, I wonder if the difference may just lie in the "fuzzier" look of analog? Might it be that the clarity of skin tones in HD is picking up where the make-up ends and the true skin tones begin? I am not saying this is so, it is just something that I came up with in trying to explain what you are seeing. It may be that is so not so noticable to me in that I am using a 720 HDTV and not 1080. Whenever I watch network HD, I do so from OTA. Our cable Time Warner) only carries about a dozen non-premium HD channels (it's a good thing they are the home of "free HD") and 3 of them are for sports, and I am not into sports that much. With two execptions, I am watching the "Stros right now in HD (Go'stros!) and I watch the Super Bowl each year. We have 3 locals that are broadcasting HD at this time. One in 1080 (KFDM-DT-CBS) and 2 in 720, (KBMT-DT-ABC and KUIL-LD-FOX) and I notice no blurring at panning or fast action. But like I said, you may be more discerning than I.
You hit the nail on the head with your observation about the need for an external antenna. In my latest blog, I refered to how much some viewers are going to miss analog after it's demise. I think there are going to be millions of television owners that are going to be left in the dark. I am anxious to see how the "real life test" goes in Wilmington N.C. in September. If reports are all roses, I will have a hard time believing it, but we shall see...
Oh by the way, to me, vinyl definatly has a richer sound than CDs do. I really do not miss the hisses and pops of albums, but the music is so much fuller. I have to agree with you there. Take care Gavin, and it is good "see" you again. Stay close, OK?

It is hard for me to describe the video effects I mentioned above. However recently I was at a friend's family house where they have Dish Network hooked up to a regular TV. When I watched digital satellite shows on their TV I didn't notice any of the video effect shortcomings I mentioned above.

I sold my RCA satellite receiver today (to someone who wanted it for DirecTV) with RCA remote for enough to pay for my purchase costs of them and of two of the other receivers I purchased.

When a watched a local news show a few days ago (on KATU, KOIN, OR KGW) the news show said that only about 17 percent of the local population (or of their viewers?) is using an antenna to watch to their station. I found that surprising. I guess that means that a huge percentage of the local population is now watching TV by cable and satellite, instead of by antenna.

Regarding vinyl records, I didn't say that they sound richer/fuller to me compared to CDs. I can't tell the difference in the sound, except that the CDs don't have the hissing and popping sounds.
Instead I said that they sound that way to some people, and perhaps my impression of digital TV versus analog TV compares to the impression that some people have of vinyl. However I do have and use two vinyl record players, one of which has linear tracking with direct drive and I do like my vinyl records. I also have more vinyl records than I do CDs. I like my CDs as well (when they don't get stuck in playing the same audio segment over and over).

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Gavin,
I am sorry that I mis-read your post. I do find a difference in the "fullness" of the sound on vynyl. I have a couple of hundred CDs and about as many albums. I like them both. Most of my albums have never been played more than twice. I used to get the album, immediately record it and put it back in the cover. When the oxide would wear off of the tape, I would then pull it out and record it again. I, like you, do not miss the hisses and pops of albums however. In that regard, CDs have a tremendous advantage,
In as large of television market as the Portland-Salem market is, it does not surprise me that most people are using satellite and cable to get their television. 17 percent sounds about average. The Houston Chronicle had an article a while back stating that there were about 1 million TV households in the greater Houston-Galveston area that get their TV OTA. The article stated that Houston had one of the largest populations still getting TV OTA. The percentage was about 25%. So 17% is not too far off the mark, I would presume.
If you would like to, take a look at my latest blog, and you will find information on your market as to what to expect as the switch to digital takes place. I included who has erected their final DTV facilities and who still has work to be done, and a time-table for getting their final DTV facilities up and running. You might find it interesting and maybe informative.
Take care, and I will see you later.

mary... the cat lady,

It is ok, I just wanted to clarify the matter.

I read the blog at "Preparations Proceeding Along the Oregon Trail". Is that the one you are referring to and are you saying that one is yours? Are you also Mary Robinson? Have a good day.

It seems like everyone is happy with the picture quality of their DTV converters. But I wonder which brands/models are the most reliable (continue to work well for a long time).

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Gavin,
Yeah, that is my blog. :)
I, too, am happy with the picture quality of my digital converter. I am truly amazed at how clear the picture is when I fire it up. I am not so happy with the ease of receiving the digital signals though. My best friend has some land out of town and is in the process of getting a place to stay out there. She has an old building that was moved out there, and is going to fix it up to have a place to sleep when retreating there. She will be dependant on an antenna and digital converter when she gets it set up. I just hope she can get the 4 major networks, but I have my concerns about it. Our local NBC affiliate is going to have to move to a tower in Louisiana because their tower is "structurally unsound" and cannot take the stress of the added digital equipment. Therefore it will be about another 25 or so miles away. I am keeping my fingers crossed for her.
I guess we are in unchartered territory when it comes to the lifespan of the the converters. Already, I have someone that I e-mail back and forth with who thinks that the converter has fried his TV. He was watching an analog signal which was not that great, when he decided to try the converter box. He turned it on, and for about 1 to 2 seconds had a great, clear picture. then all of a sudden, the screen turned a milky white and then he got diagonal lines permenantly placed across the picture. The lines are there whether watching a DVD, or just hooked up straight to the antenna. He was using a Radio Shack bought Digital Stream box. It was a 12 year old TV, and now he needs to go out and buy a TV. He said it was something he would rather not have to do.
So what is the life expectancy of a converter box? I guess we will just have to take it day by day and see what happens...
Take care, and I hope you have a great weekend.

judith dunbar:


mary... the cat lady:

Well Judith,
Your "friend" is stealing cable service, but should be OK until she is discovered and charges are filed against her, at wheich time she will probably need a converter box to watch TV with the other inmates at the county jail where they don't have cable...

Update on the Samsung SIR-S60 and SIR-300 receivers:

In my post of 2008-June-04 I said that I thought that the Samsung SIR-S60 and SIR-300 DirecTV satellite receivers could receive ATSC (digital Tv over the air by an antenna) signals. On 2008-June-06 I again mentioned that I thought the SIR-300 DirecTV satellite receivers could receive ATSC (digital TV over the air by an antenna) signals. However I now know for certain that they can't, nor can the Samsung SIR-S300W. That is because I found websites which list the specs of these receivers and while the specs mention NTSC tuners, they don't mention ATSC tuners.

I also mentioned that I won't be buying any more satellite receiver unless they are HD models (especially since only those seem to receive the ATSC signals). However I have decided to make an exception for one Samsung SIR-S300W, that is because I believe I can buy and then resell it for a profit. Of the 5 receivers which I decided to resell, 3 of them have already resold and at a profit (the profit was only $5 to $10, but that also means I sold them for 2 to 3 times my purchase price). I have also sold 2 of the remotes at a profit. Since I already have a remote for the SIR-S300W, since I can buy an SIR-S300W for only $5 and since I believe I can resell the SIR-S300W along with its remote for a total of $10 to $20, I will thus likely buy one SIR-S300W. The Samsung receivers also include 5 Samsung video games, thus those receivers can also be marketed as video game machines.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Gavin,
Once again, I thank you for sharing not only what works, but also what does'nt. You give insight to how one can obtain a digital OTA tuner on the cheap, and still have a quality product. So thank yo again, and please keep in touch, OK?

I received my 2 coupons earlier today. I called several local stores and they all have 1 or 2 models of converter boxes in those. I have not found any for $40. The least expensive ones I've found are Magnavox TB-100MG9 for $49.99 and Ventura (or Venturer?) STB7766G1. I saw a mock up of the Magnavox one in the stores and it did not look like it is of good enough quality (in terms of how long it will continue to work). I know nothing of the Ventura model.

In my previous post I meant to say "received my 2 coupons earlier this month." instead of "received my 2 coupons earlier today."

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Gavin,
I went to the Solid Signal web site and they have 15 D to A converter boxes, 8 of which have analog pass through, but all of them are $48.99 or more, some of which are right at the $80 mark.
They have 2 boxes for $48.99, one of which has analog pass through. The $79.99 box claims to have a "composit input."
I guess that on top of the cheapest box though, ther would be a shipping fee added to that, so getting one from a local store may still be the best bet.
It makes you wonder where all those boxes that were supposed to be available for $40 are, doesn't it?

Dish network announced around August 21st or 22nd they are no selling their $40 box and it has the new model number of TR-40CRA, but that this is a limited time offer. They also mentioned that some Dish Network retailers are carrying it. I called the Dish toll free number and they gave me the contact info for two businesses in my town of Beaverton and one in Gresham who are the retailers. Those stores are closed today because it is Sunday. I hope they have it in stock and that they are not charging a markup. However one forum says that the program timer has bugs in the DTVPal and the TR-40CRA, in that it looses stations and/or times. I prefer to buy the product after the bugs are fixed, but if I wait till then the limited time offer might be over.

One of my local news stations said that the small handheld/pocket TVS won't make the transition to digital. But the news person is wrong. He probably thought that since those TVs don't have an antenna input jack nor an audio/video audio jack, that there is no way to hook them to a converter box. However I found a way. I simply stuck a wire into center hole the coaxial RF connector on a Betamax VCR and I attached the other end of the wire to the antenna rod of a portable TV and then I played a tape in the VCR, and it worked! Since both the VCR and converter boxes all have a coaxial connector and since all TVs have an antenna attached (if they are not using a coaxial jack instead), then the pocket TV can be hooked up to the converter box the same way. However that would mean the pocket TV would no longer be fully portable.

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Gavin,
I know you have been looking for the $40 boxes for a while now, and it seems you have found them. And I give you a tip of the hat to your ingenuity in finding a way to hook up a converter to a hand held TV. Standing ovation to you. You seem to be very resourceful.
It may be that the bugs are the reason the boxes are at the minimum price and for a limited time only. They may have gotten to bugs worked out of them and are selling the first ones to get rid of them. It will be interesting to see if they come out with another box without the bugs and what the price will be.
I always enjoy your posts, Gavin, to see what you have come up with next.


i am tring to find out how i can recieve the 40.00 goverment coupon for a converter box.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Lisa,
It is very easy to apply for the coupons. You can do it either of two ways. The first is to go to www.dtv2009.gov or you can call 1-888-dtv-2009 (1-888-388-2009).
I used the phone line, and if you call from your home phone, it recognizes your name and address off of the caller ID, so you don't even have to input that information.
The system will ask you a couple of questions, and then ask you how many coupons you want. You are elegible for up to two coupons.
You will want to have a pen or pencil and something to write on at the end of the call because you will be given a confirmation number. You can use the confirmation number to track when the coupons are approved, and when they will be mailed at the web site.
I hope this answers your question, and if you need more info, just let me know.


To all those whom are worried about emergency power, there are many converters available which run on 12v dc power, I have 2 different converters, a zentec easy tv digital and a artec t3a , both use an ac to dc converter for home use and have a 12v dc plug in for areas with no ac available!


My above post should read a ZENTECH easy tv digital converter!

mary... the cat lady:

Hi gold4sure,
Thank you for the heads up about the converters that can be used on emergency power. I only knew of he one from Winegard. I have purchased two of these boxes for future use the next time we are hit with a tropical system. I have also found a battery holder that takes 8 "D" cell batteries (12 volts) that I am going to set up to drive an inline or distribution amp. I ordered 3 of the holders this afternoon online and expect them to arrive next week sometime. My goal is to have a self contained set-up with a battery powered indoor amplified antenna, the Winegard battery powered converter box input into a battery powered distribution amp or inline amp, and the battery powered television. All in all, it will take 22 "D" cell batteries to operate all the equipment before to the TV, plus the batteries to run the TV, but if I am still able to watch the radar in the middle of a tropical storm, I will be happy. Look for my blog about the reception on the Winegard box in a few days.


I returned faulty Box to R.S. just to find out that I lost the value of my $40 coupon - why? R.S. sold me what they had at the store, not what was advertised and I am now at loss... Not fair. Beside, Store manager (?) was extremely nasty... No help offered - some insult rather... I can not afford to pay full price for such converter. And I can not get a new coupon or replacement or credit for the one R.S. took. Other coupon my brother got for his TV. Question - who keeps that $4o which came from my taxes?

Love & Peace


mary... the cat lady:

Unfortunately, the store does. This has been discussed many times here and at other sites. This was a fatal flaw in the coupon logistics.
I would take the reciept that you got when returing the box to RS, and demand at least another box. There is no way they should be able to keep the full value of the coupon for nothing.
I just checked the RS web site, and they offer two different boxes for the same price of $59.95. They offer a Digital Stream box and a Zenith box, so whichever one you took back, I would request the other box. Good luck, and please post back and let us know how it went. Also, I would go to the RS web site, and post a review of what has happened, and maybe also find the "Contact Us" feature, and write an e-mail to the corporate office and ask just exactly what is it that they want from you... Once again, good luck.


Thank you for your answer. I am in disbelief. Maybe it is not true?

I just run across this information - what you think?


It is my impression, that $40 goes back to the NTIA so why not just credit the "gift card" and allow customer to make another choice at a different store since - in my case - RS did not have other boxes in stock - contrary what is advertised on their web site.

After this experience I will never shop there again. Their loss as well – I think.

I also did reapply at http://DTV2009.gov for new coupons. It was denied, but I am appealing! :)))


"The National Telecommunications and Information Administration says the law only allows them to give two coupons per household. So customers must exchange converter boxes at the same store. If you just return them, you’ll lose the coupon’s value.

We asked NTIA spokesman Todd Sedmak whether retailers know to tell customers that. Answered Sedmak, “The retailers and their staff all have that information, so they should be able to communicate that to the customer.”

If you lost your coupons, you can ask a friend who won’t need them to apply and give you theirs.

But we also wondered what happens to the $40 when a box is returned? Said Sedmak, “That retailer, the 40 bucks gets taken back from them. They don’t get to keep 40 bucks for a product they didn’t provide it for.”

To bad that at RS no one knew how to inform a confused customer...

mary... the at lady:

Hi Kath,
I am sorry this has happened to you. Is there someone else you know who would be willing to donate their coupons to you? How about your brother? Can he apply for coupons himself and then pay you back when his come in? A co-fworker maybe? I hope you can work something out.
RS salespeople are not what they used to be. They used to be resisitor heads in much the same regard as auto parts stores used to be filled with gear heads. Alas, 'tis not true anymore. Sad.
The last time I was in a RS store, I informed the clerk that I needed a distribution amp. I followed her straight over the PA address systems. She had no idea what I was wanting. She followed me over to the antenna and cable area of the store, where I promptly spotted them and picked one off the rack. When we got back to the register, she wanted to know what the distribution amp did. I explained it to her, but I really don't think she understood what the device does. It is almost as if RS is more interested in selling cell phones.
They used to have good products, but the quality has deteriorated in the past few years.
I am sold on Channel Master. I lost my antenna in Hurricane Ike and my best friend got me a CM antenna to replace it. I was astounded when I saw the box had "Made in USA" stamped on it. I did buy a CM 7777 signal amp that was made in China, but from everything that I have read and seen about it, it is a good product.
Good luck, and I hope you can get another converter some kind of way. Keep me posted, OK?


I purchased the converter box with the $40 coupon and it is not compatible with my cable company. I have Time Warner. Does anyone know which converter box is compatible with Time Warner? I also heard that the coupon will not be accepted for the other type of converter box. Any information you can share would be helpful.


mary... the at lady:

Hi Lynda,
You have made a common error in what the box is supposed to do. The coupons can only be used for digital to analog converter boxes that get a signal over the air. From an antenna. They cannot be used to get digital cable.
I am sorry, but you have mistaken your apples for oranges.
Broadcast television is in the process of switching from analog to digital telecasts. The boxes are for those people who get their local television stations by way of antenna, such as people who have satellite service but don't subscribe for the local stations or only get their TV over the air.
Digital broadcast television does not equal digital cable.
It is a hard lesson you have had to learn.

mary... the cat lady:

Oops, I left out the "c" in cat lady on my previous posts. Oh well. You knew it was me...
Any way, I should qualify something that I said in my previous post.
The coupons are for over the air transmissions and for people who only get their TV by an antenna or satellite subscribers who don't pay extra for the local stations, and I must say, for anyone who has a television that is not hooked up to a pay service like satellite or cable.
Every household is elegible for the two coupons. And what to do if the cable goes out? Get an antenna and use the converter box. At least you will still be able to get news and weather and watch shows that you might want to see.


"It is almost as if RS is more interested in selling cell phones.
They used to have good products, but the quality has deteriorated in the past few years."

I agree. I will never go back there. As for my brother, we are at the same address, so we used our gratis. Sad. Well, maybe November will bring some changes to US of A? ;)

Blessings to All! :)

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Kath,
I guess that you will just have to inform your brother that you get to decide what to watch on his TV from now on... Just kidding.
I still would search for someone else you know that does not want their coupons. Maybe you will get lucky, and get another chance to purchase a better box. Once again, I wish you good luck.


Yes, I did ask my friends and they will try to get those coupons for me. :)

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Kath!
I am so glad to hear that. I will tell you that the Zenith DTT900 converter box that I use regularly is a very user friendly box and has good reception qualities. It has a simple signal meter and no analog pass through, but I just looked at the Circuit City web site, and they have an updated version with analog pass through, the Zenith DTT901, so it should be the same box, just with analog pass through. Also, the Winegard
DT09A is a very user friendly box as well, and if you have a need to ever operate it on battery power, that function is there too with the optional battery pack. You can order the DT09A from the Solid Signal web site at solidsignal.com
Take care, and if you have any more questions, just post and I will try to answer them.


How am I going to get my 25+ year old black and white tv to work? No place to plug in a converter, am I to simply drill a hole into the back of a perfectly functioning television or am I to give up watching the News, Public Television and Dancing With the Stars all together?

mary... teh cat lady:

Hi fedupreally,
Nope, there is no need to drill a hole in the back of the TV, and your 25+ year old TV will still work just fine.
Along with the converter box, you will need to buy what is called a "matching transformer" most of the time just shortened to "transformer". These can be found at Wal-Mart or Radio Shack and cost about 4 bucks, give or take. You only need one of the items that comes in the package. The one with the coax terminal on one end, and the the two wires coming out the other.
What this will do is allow you to do is adapt the coax type of connection to the two screw terminals on the back of your TV.
Just be sure to attach the wires to the VHF screw terminals. The converter box will not work if hooked up to the UHF screw terminals.
Hook your antenna up to the "antenna in" on the back of the converter box and then attach a length of coax from the "to TV" output of the converter box and attach the "transformer" to the other end of the coax, and then to the two screw terminals on the back of the TV. Set your TV to channel 3 or 4, just like you would a VCR, and then follow the directions that come with the converter box.
If you have any trouble, please post back, and I will try to be of service.


I have a digital TV from the USA, if all broadcasting will all be digital, will my TV work in China ?

mary... the cat lady,:

Hello Movinghouse,
My best answer at this time is yes, maybe, and I don't know...
First it depends on where you are moving. Taiwan uses the same analog format as the United States. The People's Republic of China does not.
As far as digital broadcasting goes, I am not sure. I could find no definitive answers in a quick search online. A detailed search may produce results, but for me it was unclear.
If you are taking your DVD collection with you, you may want to note that the DVD formats are different for Asian, European, and Western geographic locations, so you may need your TV for playback of DVD movies.
I wish I could tell you for sure, but at least in Taiwan, you will be able to use the analog tuner in your digital TV to watch TV there.


Tuesday Nov. 4, 2008

Hi, I know this has probably been addressed here but I can't find it. We just recently hooked up the converter box to a TV in our bedroom and it is doing a lot of tiling. Like in and out, breaking up. We even invested in a good digital antenna too. The analog station came in perfect. We were expecting just as good a picture as the analog. I have no idea what is wrong. And then last night, the box's light turned to yellow instead of green and never did come back on until I got up and turned the box off and on with the remote. So, is this normal or do I have a faulty box? Now in our living room we have a HDTV ready TV and all we had to do was add an antenna and it never does this.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

mary... teh cat lady:

Hi Royjean,
The "tiliing" as your describe it is called pixilating. (I think that is spelled correctly).
It appears to me that the tuner in the converter box you purchased is not as sensitive as the tuner in the HDTV. Apparantly, it takes more signal to drive the converter box than the HDTV.
So I don't think you have a faulty box. I think that you may need to tweak your antenna selection a bit. It would help to know what kind of antenna you are using. It also may be that the station you are trying to receive in digital is not putting out a full power signal as of yet. It may be that it is not even on the channel that it will be on after the transition. If you will post back with the call sign, I will be glad to research it for you.
The converter boxes have an automatic power down circuit in them. This turns off the box after a pre-set selectable time span. It may be that the box was set to a default time frame to turn itself off (hence the yellow, I am guessing), after 2, 3, or 4 hours. Most boxes have a menu selection that allows you to turn off this function letting the box operate until you turn it off yourself. It is supposed to be a power conservation feature. I find it more of an annoying feature. I hope this is what was happening.
Take care, adn post back if you need some more information about the station you are trying to receive, OK?


Hello Mary,

Thank you so very much for getting back to me. What you have said makes a lot of sense to me. I did move the antenna. When I did this, I also ended up having to rescan and the channels I was having problems with, seem to be coming in much better now. I still get a few stutters but no more pixiling...and yeah I think that's how it's spelled too. :o) The stations that are doing this, there's two, one is our local ABC station and the other a public broadcast channel, I never got it in that great anyway when it was analog. Mary, not sure if this is what you mean by call letters, but it's WMDT-47, Salisbury, MD. This is our local ABC station. I'm not worried about the PBS channel. According to their spokesperson they say they are where they are going to be after the transition and just recently updated their digital signal October 1, 2008. They are no longer analog. So maybe I'm just not going to get it in any better. The antenna I have is for digital channels and looks like mickey mouse ears if that makes sense. Right now I can't get to it to give you the exact brand since our bedroom TV is on top of our stand-up bureau and the antenna my husband has sitting on top of the TV. I am very short.

I did check the owner's manual on my converter box which is a RCA and there is a default setting of 4 hours then it shuts off. So you say this is to conserve power? I'm going to see if I can just go in and change it NOT to turn off. My sister has a box that does this but it gives her notice. Like a warning will pop up on the screen and say in such and such time, this box will shut down. Ours gives us no notice. And I do know the first night we had it hooked up, it did it twice within an hour so it must have been nore no signal or poor signal quality than conserving power, the reason it turned off.

Thank you so much for your response.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Royjean,
That was exactly what I meant by call sign. Thank you for passing that on.
I just checked the FCC web site, and found that WMDT started transmitting 250,000 watts (250 KW) effective radiated power (ERP) on Sept. 11, 2008, up from 25.1 KW ERP.
In the DTV transition update filed on Oct. 21, 2008 WMDT states to the FCC in Exhibit 2 that "WDMT is authorized to, and will increase its transmitter power effective Feb. 17, 2009." They have a granted modification application to go to 350 KW ERP, which I presume is the power that they will transmitting on Feb. 18, 2009. So it seems that the possibility exists that they will continue to upgrade the signal, and you probably will be OK.
Please post back if you have any more questions. That is what I am here for. Take care.


Hi again Mary, so does this mean I should at that time, in February, rescan again? Now when I called them personally, they had told me on October 1, they had upgraded to a more powerful signal and that was going to be their last upgrade. So did they tell me wrong? Either way I did bring them in, just not as good as the CBS channel. Can you check them out and see if maybe the local CBS channel is stronger and that is why I get them in so much better w/o the pixiling? It's WBOC 16, they also have a local FOX station too, FOX 21, they are located in Salisbury, MD like the ABC station is. What I don't get is, why are some of these stations going digital 100% instead of waiting. I know the local CBS station is broadcasting in both.

Again, thanks so much.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Royjean,
I will try to answer your last question first. I think that the most likely answer is that there was possibly a station that is going to be permantly on a channel that another station is on temporarisly, and they came to an agreement for one station to end the analog broadcast on their final DTV channel so that they could permenantly start digital broadcasts on the analog channel and open up their temporary home to the other station. Does that make sense? That is my best guess. The airways are really crowded right now. In effect, we have twice as many full power broadcast stations as we did before the transition started and twice as many as we will have after.
The last DTV transition report to the FCC was filed on October 21, which is after the date stated to you. I don't know why else they would state that in the update unless it was going to happen. Then again, it may be a left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. If you really want to know, call them back and ask to speak to the engineer. He (or she for that matter) should have the facts. Tell him what is in the DTV transition update to the FCC, and what you were told in your phone call, and just ask if they still have an increase in power to go. Most of the time, they are happy to answer questions.
Yes, WBOC is licensed at this time for 635,000 watts (635 KW) ERP. They have a pending application to go to 749 KW. A much stronger signal than WMDT. The Fox network is carried on a sub-channel. This is one of the neatest things about digital broadcasting to me. The use of sub-channels to bring more programming options to viewers. The CW network is carried on a sub-channel on one of our local stations.
You should not have to re-scan unless one of your stations goes from a temporary channel to a permenent one somewhere else on the "dial".
Take care, and post back if you need anything else.


Hello Mary,

Didn't want to come back and NOT say thank you. Now I know where I can come if I have any further questions. You take care too. Happy Thanksgiving!!

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Royjean,
You are so welcome. I have really been enjoyiny my time spent here on the forum. Happy Thanksgiving to you too, and I hope that you have many happy viewing days ahead of you.


Hi again Mary,

I am really enjoying my converter box by the way. I can get about 7 channels now, they come in great. I have a stupid question though, and it's probably me being more nit picky than anything. But I had noticed when the time changed the first part of the month, the time did not change within the converter box. Like you change channels, and on the screen it shows what is playing, the channel number, and so forth, well the time was wrong. So I searched for a way to change the time like you do with a regular TV but there was no way other than going into "menu" and setting it to your time zone. Well, the default setting was set to show the time of the network you were watching, which all my channels I get are local, really local so why would their times be different? So I switched that setting to my time zone, Eastern. Now all the channels show the right time but for two channels. Do you have any idea why that is? And as I said, I know I'm making a big deal out of nothing. My husband said, what does it matter, you know what time it is. ha ha

Happy Thanksgiving!!

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Royjean,
Well, I'll tell ya, Royjean, I am scratching my head over this one... I really have no idea why two of the channels that you get are showing a different time than the others...
My first question to ask you is this... Are the two channels that show the incorrect time a main channel and a sub-channel of one television station, or is it two completely different station? If it is two channels coming from one station I would think that the stations sub-carrier time stamp is off by an hour or so. In that case, I would call the station and ask to leave a message for the engineer and inform him that the time stamp is off for the station, or maybe you could e-mail them and let them know. That would be my best guess.
If it is two different television stations, I would not think that the time stamps for two different stations would be off by an hour,and if this is the case, I don't have a clue.
If you find out something, please let me know. You have gotten my curiosity up about this one, my friend.
And a happy Thanksgiving to you and yours too.


Hi Mary,

I meant to let you know, the "time" problem I seemed to have had, well, it's okay now. I am wondering if it took time for it to "fix" itself after I changed the default setting. If you remember it was set according to the station's time and not for my time zone, even if we all are in the same time zone. So I changed it. I happened to turn the box off to watch on analog and when I switched it back to watch digital, all the channels now have the right time. So maybe it just needed to be turned off like when you reboot a computer.

Either way, it's okay now. Have you stopped scratching your head? ha ha

Again thanks so much. Happy Thanksgiving!

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Royjean,
OK, now that I have a bald spot, I have quit scratching. Just kidding. I am glad that it has apparently fixed itself. I would imagine that you stumbled onto the right combination to reset the thing. I thank you for getting back to me with the answer. I will file that away for future reference.
You have a happy Thanksgiving too, OK?


I have a big question. I bought the converter with the coupon a few months ago, but never attached it to my tv. A message started coming across my TV screen that one of my channels I watch is going digital on 11/9, so I decided to hook up the new box last night.

Is my TV too old? I only have two screws - one for vhf, and one for uhf, and my ex-husband had attached some converter thing that looks like a cable plug with a pin on the end of it. I can plug that in the "antenna in" spot on the new converter box, but there's no other output on my old tv for the converter that came with the box to be attached. what do I do now, other than throw out my tv, which I've been using for 25 years, and still get plenty of channels on. I'd hate to have to throw out a TV just because it's not "convertible." What a waste that would be, and I have no $ to go buy another tv, either.

The converter box I bought is an NHENS brand. Should I return it and throw out my TV in February and do without it?

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Diane,

You get to keep your TV.
I am not sure I get a clear picture of what your ex-husband attached to the the TV, but let me describe what you need to hook the converter box up to the TV, and then we will go from there, OK?
You may know this already, but the first thing you need to do is hook the antenna up to the converter box. You do this by attaching the coax from the antenna to the "antenna in" or "from antenna" terminal on the back of the converter box. There was probably another piece of coax that came with the converter box.
You need to attach this length of coax to the back of the converter box where it says "to TV".
Now you will need what is called a "matching transformer" or just sometimes called a "transformer". It is a short, usually round but sometimes rectangular item with a coax looking terminal on one end and short piece of twin lead coming out the other. On the end of this twin lead, there will be two u-shaped terminals attached to the wires. These will be attached to the two VHF screw terminals on the back of the TV. Then attach the length of coax from the converter box to the other end of the transformer.
The transformer can be bought usually at Wal-Mart or Radio Shack and are around $5 or less.
Now, this may be what you already have attached to the back of the TV by your ex.
If it has a piece of twin lead coming from the VHF screws to a barrel looking item with a length of coax attached, you are already there. Just attach the coax to the back of the converter box at the terminal marked "to TV". If not, just hook it up like I described, and you will be good to go.
This is the only hook-up you need to make. The A/V cords (the red/white/and yellow ones) cannot be used on your TV. Just hold on to them in case you need them in the future.
Just be sure to attach the coax from the converter box to the VHF terminals on the TV. It will not work if they are attached the the UHF screw terminals.
Good luck, and post back if you need some more info, OK?


Yes, the piece I had attached that my ex had put on was the piece with the two pronged pieces attached under the screws on the back of the Tv, and the other end I had plugged into the back of the new converter to the "TV out."

The converter came with a wire, for me to attach to the "antenna in". It's an "RF cable" with only two cable ends. My problem is that I didn't know where to attach this after attaching the converter end, because I had nowhere else to plug the second end into. I just went and bought an antenna...with a cable connection on the end, attached it, and it works.

I get lots of other channels that I could never pick up before. I guess I should have hooked this thing up months ago when I bought it.

I can't get the channel that went off the air yesterday, though. Any idea how to get that one back? It used to get all the sitcoms and movies I liked watching.

Thanks for your help with the rest of it so far, though. This thing is great! :)

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Diane,
I am so glad that you have had pretty good success with getting the digital signals. You are benefitting from one of the greatest things about digital broadcasting, the extra channels. Congratulations are in order!
Diane, I need to what channel you lost. If you could get me the call sign of the station, what city it is broadcasting from, where you are in relation to that city, and about how far you are from that city and what direction you are from that city, I may be able to do some research to see what the problem might be. If you are residing in the city, let me know in what part you live. Are you in an apartment? A house? Are there many obstructions around you like big trees or hills or buildings over 3 or 4 stories tall.
If you can get me some more info, I will try to diagnose what has happened.
It seems that it is always the favorite station that people have problems recieving.
I will be watching for your post.


I just tried the channel again, and it comes in! YEAHHHHH!!! :) Maybe THEY were having a transition issue themselves when switching over for a few days? It looks fine now. Another question...Will it be possible to not receive the signal on some days, but get it on others? Will weather affect it?

I've noticed two reception problems since I hooked this up: A constant issue on all channels - I have "steady, but fine, slightly angled lines about 1 inch apart" going across my tv screen, but otherwise, the reception is clearer than previous. My other problem I noticed is even WPRI, the best reception channel in the area, gets choppy with little blocks and the voice distorts; I think it was when we were having rain/wind the other day, I'll keep an eye on if it does it when the weather is clear, too. Do those issues make sense? Do I need a stronger antenna?

About the channel that I couldn't get before, their call letters are WLCW, and it's called "CW28." When the note was going across the screen about them switching to digital on Tuesday, they said their signal would be 28-1, but my converter kept saying "NO SIGNAL." It is out of Providence, RI, about 5 minutes away; in fact, I have a Providence exchange phone number, not even a Warwick one, which is where I live. My zip is 02888.

I can't get Direct TV in my condo because it's "facing the wrong direction." The condos back to back with me can, though; I know that's a reception issue. I also live close to the airport, but the only issue I usually have with my tv from that, is the plane sound drowning out my TV, but no reception problems that I've noticed. I live in townhouse condos (2 levels,) and keep my TV on the 2nd floor, near my computer right near a window. I am between the airport and Providence if that makes a difference, the airport is South of me, the city is North of me.

Thanks for all the help so far, you explain things well, and I appreciate it!

mary... the cat lady:

Hi again, Diane,

Let me do a little research to see what I can come up with.
The breakup of the signal that you described is called "pixilating". And it occurs when a digital signal is disrupted momentarily, just as you described, by heavy rain or snow, or something else getting in the way. It can be caused by what is called "multi-path". Multi-path occurs when the signal is being bounce back to your TV along with the direct signal that the antenna gets. It can be bounce back momentarily by trucks, cars, or in your case, even airplanes taking off from the airport.
It may be tomorrow or Monday before I can get you an answer to the disappearing channel, but I will get back to you.
And yes, you can get stations one day and then not the other. It depends a lot on the atmospheric conditions and other factors.
I will get back to you.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Diane,
I hope that youa re still getting channel 22, WLWC. If you are, I am sure that there was some kind of glitch when they tried to switch over.
As long as you continue to use an indoor, set-top antenna, you may continue to experience what is called "drop outs" occasionally. If it is not too bad, you may learn to live with it. If it is not troublesome, don't worry about it.
Right now, channel 22 is broadcasting an effective radiated power of 350,000 watts (ERP), but sometime in the next three years, they have a granted modification application to go to 440,000 watts. This should happen sometime before 11-12-2011, when the construction permit expires.
The diagonal lines across your screen would seem to me to be from an interference source of somekind. Maybe an appliance or something. since I believe you said you live in some condos, it could be coming from one of your neighbors, and is probably coming in through the two short wires that attach to the back of the TV.
You might try, if you feel like it, just attaching the antenna to the TV directly to see if the lines are still there while watching analog channels as well.
At this point, I need to ask you if there is a local television station broadcasting on channel 3 or 4 in your area. If there is, you may want to be sure that you converter box output channel is set to the one that is not a broadcast channel in your area. If you have a local station broadcasting on channel 3, set the output channel of the converter box to channel 4, or vice versa. This may clear up the lines on your TV.
Take care, Diane, and if you have any more questions, be sure to post them,OK?


Hi Mary,

Me again, Royjean. ha ha Like Diane, I have a very old TV. It might even be 40 years old. We just recently decided to drop our big dish programming. I'm talking a 12 foot dish on the roof, that sort of dish. We have been using two receivers and two remotes since 2002 and we just got tired of the programmer, NPS, raising their rates and taking away channels every year, so we switched to cable over a week ago. We had bought a box for one TV and the other had a built-in tuner, so with cable we didn't need the box. So I had a TV in my office, the old one, black and white with a dial channel turner. That's how old it is. My husband thought no problem, all he had to do is hook the wires up on the back because that's all there is on this TV, just screws and wires, VHF and UHF, just hook them up from the box to the TV. Well, it won't work. Do you have any idea how we can get this to work or is this TV one of the ones that a box won't work on?

Thanks Mary. Hope you had a nice Christmas and New Years.



Hi Mary,

Me again. I did want you to know we did use the VHF wires on the back of the TV, but my husband says after turning the TV to channel 3 and turning the box on and hitting menu, nothing comes up on the screen. The screen just stays all squiggly and snowy. He's sure he has it hooked up right but he says w/o being able to get the screen "clear" so he can see the menu, he can't do anything.


mary... the cat lady:

Well hello again Royjean!

What I would do first is hook the antenna up straight to the TV without going through the converter box. You should be able to click through the analog VHF channels in your area to see if you get a picture by using the TV's tuner. If everything is OK, and you could watch television on the TV with just the antenna, I would then try the converter box again.
Did you switch the TV (when using the caonverter box) between channel 3 and 4? Do you have an analog broadcast channel in your area on channel 3 or 4? If you do, and you are trying to use the box on the same channel as a broadcast station, then they may be interfering with each other.
Basically, the converter should work on any television. I am suspecting the old television first. Have you been using it all along? Or has it just been sitting idle for a period of time?
One other thing comes to mind. Did you try the "fine tuning" knob? I know that on the old televisions, they had a fine tuning knob to help keep the television on the right channel. But before you go adjusting things, try the TV with just the antenna going straight in first and let me know what happens, OK?
Oh, one more thought. You can hook the cable directly into the TV also. Channels 2-13 are the same on broadcast TV as they are on cable. It is only channels 14 and above that are different. So try hooking the cable directly into the TV to see if you get a good picture.
If the TV is that old, it may have a bad tube also. You may be able to find someone who can still check tubes, but I am sure it will take some searching. Gone are the days when all the convience stores had a "you fix it" tube checking machine and spare tubes in the bottom of the cabinet...
Good luck, and I hope we can figure this out.


Hi Mary,

I had my husband read right along with me what you said and he understood everything. First of all, let me tell you, we get NO VHF channels in this area. We live in the boonies and we only get two local channels thru UHF. So nope, nothing on the other channels. So are we stuck? ha ha I thought I'd ask you that first before we try anything else. So it would make no difference to try fine tuning on the VHF channels because there ain't nothing there. :o(



Hi AGAIN Mary,

Gosh, I need to get my thinking cap on, but in answer to your question about the TV, had it been sitting idle or not used? No, I use it quite frequently. It's a TV I keep in my office and at least once a week it's used.



Yoo Hoo Mary, me again. You're going to get tired of seeing my name but I hope this will be the last time......until the next time, ha ha. Well, guess what, I went up to my office and turned the TV on, switched it to UHF on channel 3, turned the converter box on and voila, I had channels. So I have no idea why my husband did not. Does it take a woman to get this? ha ha No, seriously, he did all the hooking up so I'm thinking he might not have had the box on and didn't notice he didn't. For some reason you have to turn the box on, at the box by pushing on the "on" button, the remote does not turn it on. I thought it did when I had it hooked up downstairs in my home but maybe not. So maybe I did directly turn the box on orginally and since I never turned it off, just thought I had done it from the remote. So once the box had a green light, the channels came right in w/o scanning.

Sorry for taking up your time reading all of this. At least I still have a working TV even if it is in black and white. So dumping it in the trash.



Oops Mary, should have proof-read my last sentence, I meant NO dumping it in the trash now. Forgot the "NO." Duh!!


mary... the cat lady:

Hi Royjean,
I am certainly glad that everything is OK. Sometimes we miss the most obvious things.
I paid to have a microwave looked at one time because it would not work after power failure. Turns out that it would not work if the clock wasn't set. Duh. An expensive lesson for nothing. I am glad that you figured it out, and it is working for you.
No need to apologize for posting here, my friend. I am happy to try to help solve the problems that arise in these forums.
Take care, and feel free to post back anytime.

Brenda Reed:

I still don't know how to hook up the satellite reciever, the RCA digital converter box and the DVD player to the TV

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Brenda,
It would help to know how you have the satellite reciever hooked up at this time. It would also help to know if your TV has line (A/V) inputs (the RCA type jacks that are colored red/white/yellow, and if their may be more than one set of these type inputs.
If your satellite is hooked up to the TV using coax and you tune your TV to channel 3 or 4 to get the satellite programming, and you have A/V inputs, then you shouldn't have too much trouble.
Please post back and give me as much info as you can to describe the hookups that you have, and how you are getting the satellite signal to the TV now.
With that information, I will try to describe for you what you will need to do to hook everything up. Also, are you using a
VCR at this time? If you are, that may simplify things even more.
I will watch for your post tomorrow afternoon.


hooked up the converter box all the channels come in but Channel 2 which is
CBS ....could someone help me with this?
Thank you


can't get channel 2 (cbs) to work on the digital convertaer box why

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Carol,

I need a little more info from you. In what city are you located?

What kind of antenna are you using?

How far away from the city are you?

What kind of home do you have? (apartment/single story home/etc.)

What is the terrain like where you are?

Are you in a valley?

If an apartment, what floor do you live on?

Be as specific as you can, and give me as much info as you can, and I will try to figure out what is going on.

What is the call sign of the channel 2 that you cannot get? And just as important for me to diagnose, what channels can you get, and give me at least some of the call signs for those channels.

If you can do this, I may be able to help...

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