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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!

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Digital Transition Answers



Delivering Digital Transition Answers - Welcome!

July 14, 2008 11:48 AM

Hi everyone and welcome to the newest blog here at TV Week. My name is Mary Robinson and my focus will be all things having to do with the transition from analog to digital broadcasting here in the U.S. The good and the bad. The pretty and the ugly.

What I would like from you, our readers, is feedback on how the transition to digital is going for you. You are the ones that are impacted by the switch-over. Are you satisfied with the reception and the number of channels you are getting now on digital as opposed to what you were getting before on with analog?

Are you getting more programming choices with the sub-channels, or are you pulling your hair out because you used to get 7 analog channels and now you only get 2 with digital, and on one of them, you get the dreaded frozen pixels and "no signal" icon as much as it locks in?

Or maybe no reception at all with digital? I want to know how it is going out there in the real world.

What we will do here, if we can, is try to solve any reception problems that you may be having. We will try to work together to try to get as many people as possible on board before the mandated powering off of the analog transmitters on Feb. 17, 2009. As I write this, there are only about 200 days until that happens.

So where do we stand now in relation to the shut down of analog broadcasting? According to the FCC, at the end of May, there were 1,034 full-power TV stations that had fully constructed their final DTV facilities, and there were still 778 that were still in some stage of construction, some of them on temporary channels.

Many of the those 778 stations that are still building will not be able to start construction on their final DTV channels until after ending their analog broadcasts, especially if they are going to revert to their original analog channel.

The good news is that the freeze on maximization of signal has been lifted by the FCC. So that means if you are in a fringe area of a fully constructed digital broadcast station, your chances of receiving the signal may get a bit better after the increase to the maximum authorized power by the FCC.

The bad news is that it could take up to 3 years for that to happen after the applications are approved. This is going to be a tumultuous period for television broadcasting, the likes of which we have never encountered before.

I will try to cover individual television markets, large and small, as we plod our way through the muck and mud of the transition to digital only broadcasting. But remember, even after the transition to digital by the full power stations next year, we will still have the transition to digital of the 7,122 low power, translator, and Class A stations to deal with in the future...

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Comments (87)

Cheryl:

Thank you, thank you, Mary, for this very timely and important blog!
Problem # 1-Can NOT FIND the boxes! Have looked everywhere-all retailers tell us that they sell out the day the boxes are delivered, and my coupon is running out on the 17th!
HELP!!!

EmmGee-Ohio:

Note to Mary Robinson:

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:

Hi Cheryl,
I checked 4 of the big box retailers that available in most places her in the U.S. I found no boxes available at Wal-Mart within 100 miles of where I live. I talked to an electronics department manager the last time I was in Wal_Mart. She informed me of the same information that you got. As soon as they come in, they are sold out. However, I also checked with Best Buy, Circuit City, and Radio Shack, and all 3 have boxes in stock, and I even found a unit with analog pass-through at Radio Shack.
So I hope that you have one of these retailers near you, I would hate to see your coupons expire wihtout redeeming them, because they cannot be replaced. Good luck.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi EmmGee-Ohio,
WOW! You are in a delimma... The FCC antenna rules first. A landlord cannot prevent you from erecting an antenna in "common space" that you control in an apartment, condo, trailer etc. But the limiting "common space" criteria is the key phrase.
For example, if you have a balcony, the antenna cannot extend beyond the balcony. And as a general rule, you cannot impose upon an area that is used by the the other residents of the complex. You cannot install the antenna in a hall or on a fire escape for example. You CAN install the antenna inside your apartment if you so desire. If you own your section of the building along with the outside walls, you can erect your antenna for up to 12 feet above the roofline, or enough to recieve the signals. If you do not own the exterior of your unit, then you must get permission before drilling any holes for mounting the antenna or for lead-in pass-through to the interior for connecting to the TV.
Complete rules can be found on the FCC web site at www.fcc.gov/mb/fcts/facts/otard.html and complaints can be forwarded to the FCC at www.esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm
I would do this if you have already tried to install an antenna where you are, and were denied the opportunity to do so. If the fcc rules against you, the rules site states that you will generally have 21 days to remove the antenna and it is highly unlikely that you will be fined. It is also forbidden for the governing body to enforce rules that would drive the cost of erecting an antenna. I hope that this helps.
As far as multi-path goes, that is a tougher bug to tackle. Have you tried an off the shelf directional antenna? A small Corner-Yagi may solve your problem. Even if you are getting a signal that is bounced off of another building, if you have enough signal strength to drive the tuner, you should be OK. There are no ghosts on digital like there are on analog. If you were to dicide to install the antenna hanging from the ceiling in a spare bedroom, being that close to the transmitters, with a signal amp, you may be able to get the stations through the apartment building. It might be worth a try.
As far as the education of the public goes, I think the NTIA and congress relied on the old adage of "keep it simple". I think they looked for the lowest common denominator when dealing with the public. I think they had in mind the people who still have trouble setting the clock on the VCR. That is why I have stepped up to share what I know with others. Even the ones that are somewhat electronics savvy, but hook the converter box up, or the HDTV and go "what the heck? Where did my TV stations go. Digital is not as user friendly as analog was, by any stretch of the imagination.
My suggestion to people that hve issues with the transition to digital contact the FCC at the complaints site, if I can't help you solve your reception problems. Let them know that it is not working for you.
May this give you a glimmer of hope...

Cheryl Jones:

Thank you, Mary!
I did find not only one but TWO today at Radio Shack-and on the day the coupons expired, no less, so I was lucky!
Now-They sell an extended warranty for $5.99, good for an additional 9 months, which will give me one year's warranty. If anything goes wrong, I simply take the converter back to Radio Shack and they will give me a new one.
Question # 2-should I have bought one? If you'll give me your answer, I'll let you know what I decided. What would Mary have done?

Cheryl Jones:

Hey-instant posting! I like that! Thanks Mr/Ms Blog Person!

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Cheryl,
We had a little glitch when the blog first started, but I think we have got that taken care of, so posts show up pretty quick now. In answer to your question, no, I personally would not have bought the extended warranty. I usually gamble on things lasting well past the warranty date. That being said, I bought a RS antenna mounted pre-amp that has already bit the dust. It has only been up around a year. I would not recommend this signal amp. I am getting ready to replace it with a Channel Master model 7777 next week. And still, if there is an extended warranty available, I will again roll the dice. But from all the comments I have heard about this unit, it is the one to buy, and has a history of great quality and long life.
If you need anything else, just post back.

Pam, soon to be TVless:

I am very frustrated. My husband and I went out and bought a conversion box at Best Buy. They had just gotten a shipment in that day and had plenty. We took it home and tried to connect it to our 1983 TV. I can't figure out for the life of me what to do. Our TV has small screws for the indoor antenna so I don't know what I need to connect it with the coaxile. I also don't know what to do with the RCA cord. There is nothing conpatible with the converter box and our TV.

We have already lost one station here in the Gainesville FL area. One channel shut down their analog early to make way for a new station coming soon. So now we are down to 2 stations. My husband is retired and there is no way we can afford cable or satelite. I have been all over the internet but can't find any solutions for our problem.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Pam,
There is a simple solution to your problem. What you need is called a "transformer" or sometimes called a "matching transformer". The technical name for it is a "balun", but don't go to a big box store and ask for a balun, the store clerks will get a deer caught in the headlights look, and will go into default mode...
This will cost about 5 dollars, give or take. They were available at Wal-Mart the last time I was there, and they are also available at Radio Shack.
If your antenna has a twin-lead instead of coax on it. the package at Wal-Mart has a reverse transformer too.
If your antenna has coax, just screw the coax straight onto the antenna in connection on the converter box. Take the coax from the converter box, and attach it to the transformer. The transformer will have a short length of twin-lead that you can use to attach to the screw terminals on the back of the TV. Make sure you attach it to the VHF terminals and not the UHF terminals.
I hope that this solves your connection problem. Good luck, and please let me know how it turns out, OK?

Pam, no longer TVless:

Now that I've connected my TV, I understand your directions perfectly. They make perfect sense. But when I first read them they were pretty confusing. So first THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.

Now, I will post you my experience and hope it will clear up any confusion for others.:)

Pam, no longer TVless:

Thank you for your help with my older TV. I want to tell you what happened and where my confusion lie. I am hoping that if I write this all out it will help others. First of all I bought an Apex brand converter box. The set up page in the manual has directions for composite, video and stereo connections. These all have directions for plugging in that cute little cord with the multi-headed multi- colored plugs on both ends. (Can you tell I’m a very technically oriented lady with a lot of experience in these matters?) I didn’t notice the box itself and the manual has TWO different set ups, one for composite setup and one for RF setup. I still have no idea what these terms mean and how to tell one type of TV vs. the other type. But I assume that a TV with the multi colored holes is a “composite”.
So there I am, with your recommended “transformer”, coax cord, and multi headed cord in hand and feeling as confused as ever. What the heck I thought, I’ll just go ahead and connect some stuff and see what happens. (The worst that could happen is the TV blows up and we’ll have to buy a new one!) So I put the transformer on the VHF screw thingy onto the TV. I hooked up the other end of the transformer to one end of the coax. Then connect the other end of the coax to the converter box where it says “TV out”. Now what about the antenna? The picture in the booklet has the antenna hooked up to the converter box too. But I have old rabbit ears with two different U style hooks. One is for UHF and one for VHF. They fit nicely into my old TV with the screws on top. But how to connect that to the converter box? So I got another transformer and connected that to the UHF screw. Kept the antenna still connected to the screw on top of the TV. So I have two sets of U style hooks connected to the screws at the top of the TV. Then I connected the transformer to another extra cable I had. I don’t know the name of it but it’s got the same thing on each end. It’s a round head with a pin in the middle of it. It fit nicely into the transformer and into the converter box.
After that I had to do an “initial setup” using the manual. Later I decided to get a better antenna. So I went out and got an indoor amplified antenna. It works better for the digital signals. And it connects directly to the converter box. (Yeah)
Now I get 6 digital stations. But I’ve mostly lost the color. My TV has an AFT button. When I press it on, the color comes back, but the buzzing is so annoying that I turn it off, losing the color. Any suggestions??
Anyways thanks for all your help

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Pam,
I am so glad that you are no longer TVless!
You showed a lot of spunk muddling your way through the hook-up process. Congrats are in order on your reception of the digital channels. The old rabbit ears without an amplifer are just bout useless for digital reception.
I would need to ask how the color was before hooking up the converter box. Was it OK before? If it was the first thing that comes to mind is do you have the output channel of the converter box set to the same channel you have the TV on. Just jog the TV between channel 3 and channel 4 to see what happens. If my memory serves me, the AFT button is an "Automatic Fine Tuning" button. I am thinking that maybe the output channel is not the same as the channel on the TV, and the AFT is trying to do all that it can to correct to the next channel, and it is causing interference. Maybe. I hope it is that simple.
I had a TV of about the same vintage as yours a few years back. Whenever a bright blue or bright red graphic would come on the screen, the TV woudl start to buzz, and the picture would start to fade out. If it lasted long enough, the TV would shut down, and I would have to reset the circuit breaker on the back of the TV. Unfortunately, the TV did not last that much longer. I AM NOT saying that this will happen to yours, but I have to wonder.
Please post back here and let me know what happens. And also, please post back and share what brand of amplified antenna you bought and the model number if you can so that we will know what works out there in the real world. Where you bought the antenna and the cost would be nice to know too.
Take care.

Cheryl :

Well, I guess I failed the Mary test. :(
I did buy the extended warranty, but get this...when I asked which of the two converters it covered, the guy said it DIDN'T MATTER! :)
He said just bring in the one that failed and they would replace it. So I figure I got one warranty that covers both...kinda.
Anyway, thanks for your input.
Hugs.

Pam, no longer TVless:

Let's see ... I bought a Radio Shack "VHF/UHF/HD/FM Indoor TV Antenna" model # 15-1878. It cost $32.99

About the color problem. You're right my TV is not tuned to 3 or 4. The digital only comes through on 2!. When I move it to 4, I can get the sound. At three, nothing comes through. Interestingly when I move back to 2, the color comes in a little better. Perhaps the tuner is off.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Pam,
Please verify what the digital converter box is set to for it's output channel. It should be channel 3 or channel 4. I think this may be your problem. Once you have the output channel set on the converter, set the TV's channel selector to the same channel. Hopefullyu this will work. Good luck.

Pam, no longer TVless:

Yes My converter is set for 3 or 4. But the TV does not work on 3 or 4. It works on 2. In other words, the digital channels come through on the TV on 2. I don't think I can change the converter boxes settings. Well, I can live with it. It's not perfect, but I don't think perfect can be expected on a 25 year old TV.

It's really great that you are available for all of us.

Is this just something you're doing out of the kindness of your heart?

As far as cats go, my neighbor and I share a cat. He spends time at each house according to his desire. It's great if one of us leaves town for a while. We live in the country, so he's safe from a lot of traffic or dogs.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Pam,
Well I am glad that you are at least no longer TVless. I am happy that you did not have to spend any more money than you did to get the digital channels.
I enjoy helping people and have a passion for television broadcasting. I just kind of stumbled into it. It is not my career. I work full time in a chemical plant.
I was just doing this on my own until I was contacted by the editor of TV Week. He offered me a chance to write about my passion and possibly help people at the same time for a nominal amount. I was very grateful for the chance to do so.
If I can do anything else for you, just post, and if I can, I will certainly try to do so.

mary... the cat lady:

Hey again Pam,
Sandy, Smeezie, Dottie, Mr. Ying, Xena, Nermal and the others told me to ask you to give your kitty a pat on the head from all of us if you will.

Nick:

Hi Mary,

I've been reading similar forums to your blog and am amazed to find no one addressing the huge loss of programmability.

I'm a big collector, have been for years, and have two perfectly good VCRs and two DvD recorders only 2-3 years old and, as I understand it, will loose the programming features come Feb.

e.g. How will I be able to watch one channel and record another - how will I be able to record PBS at 8, CBS at 9 and NBC at 10 when I'm out for the evening ??? I'm close to tears that these four units appear to be becoming redundant.

When England changed over, they had the same problem but thought of the people more than it appears the US government has. They started a few years back and are doing it over a 10 year period giving people 'a lot' more time to throw out their old and buy new. What would be the big deal for the FCC to do the same here? Everything is in place, just leave the old system turned on for a longer period.

As it apparently doesn't appear to bother anyone else, I guess I'm on a lone crusade.

Thanks,
Nick. . .

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Nick,
If it is any comfort, you are not alone. Not being alone will not solve your problem though, will it?
Do not blame this on the FCC. It was congress that passed the laws that mandated the conversion to digital broadcasting only for full power TV stations.
If you think you have it bad, think of the television stations, some of which have had to spend millions, not only for one new digital transmitter, but in most cases two. One for the temporary digital channel, and also for their final DTV channel. They have had to buy new antennas, hire tower crews multiple times, install new transmission lines, build new transmitter buildings, etc., etc., etc... That is for all 1,759 full power stations in the U.S. It has been especially hard on the small market stations.
So how do we address your dilemma?
The easiest solution that I can see, is the need for 5 converter boxes. Even if you need to buy 3 of them at full price, it will still be cheaper than buying one decent sized new digial TV and at least two new recording devices with digital tuners.
One word of caution here that I have covered before in others posts: Make sure that your recording devices are configured in such a manner that when changing the channel on one of the converter boxes it does not change the channel on one you already have set up to record. This can be acomplished by purchasing different brands of converter boxes whose remotes are not compatible.
Dedicate one converter box to each analog receiver that you wish record on, and dedicate one channel for each converter box. Dedicate one converter box to the TV.
The easiest way to watch one program and record another is hook-up one converter box to the recording device with the RF coax, and hook another converter box to the TV by way of the line inputs ( the RCA plugs usually color coded with red/white/yellow).
Not knowing how you have all of your recording devices oriented, it is not possible to know how you are accomplishing watching what you have recorded from the other 3 devices. Are you using a 4 way selector switchbox? Are you taking what you have recorded from the other devices and watching from the one hooked up to the TV?
I must ask if you have a converter box that you are using as of yet. Do you know for a fact that you can receive the digital signals for all of the stations tha you want to record? I would also like to know what kind of antenna you are using to get your programming.
Please post back and give me some more information if I can further assist you, OK? Good luck, and will watch for your post.

Ann tennant:

Hi,
My brother has an old T. v. and can not afford cable or another T. V. Where can I get a coupon for him to get what kind of box???????????????

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Ann,
The easiest way to order a coupon is to call
1-888-388-2009 and follow the prompts. If he calls from his phone number, the computer will recognize his address from the caller ID, and he will not even have to relay that information. He will just have to confirm his name and address, and answer a couple of more questions. Be sure ot have him ready with a something to write on and with, because he will be given a confirmation number at the end. It is very simple and very easy.
The digital converter box will take an over the air digital broadcast and convert it to an analog signal that can be displayed on an older analog TV. If he watches any low power television stations, he may want to get a converter box that has a "pass through" feature. It alows signals from low power analog stations to get through, so that they can still be watched without have to set up an A/B switch.
A list of available converter boxes and coupon retailers is available at www.dtv2009.gov.
You can also order coupons from this site as well.

wyndwalkr:

Hello to all. And to Mary, I am the person who has cats (2 of 8) named Dweasel and Moon Unit. Remember my TV confusion from the previous thread? Well, here is what I ended up with:

Ordered a Artec converter box from 'Bsat' online. I do not recommend Bsat as they ripped me off ('nother story) but I got the box with no problem. Got it 2 days after I got a DTVPal box from my local Radio Shack. Sorry I cannot report on the Artec as the DTVPal was already hooked up and working and I have never disconnected it to try the other one! Keeping it for spare.

With Radio Shack 'frisbee' antenna we had been using, we got 5 of the 6 channels we had gotten before attaching the box. For some reason the normally strong NBC station out of Madison WI (came in without the converter box)signal could not be found by converter box. Yet it found a lower power independant station we had not been able to see with the antenna alone. Go figure? (I checked...the NBC station IS broadcasting in digital.) Sub channels we gained were 3, all from the PBS network.

Our signal strength ran from 58 to 79, on various channels. A couple channels had enough digital breakup on occasion to be aggravating.

We sprung for a different antenna (directional, UHF only - about the size and appearance of a wire refrigerator shelf)and a pre-amp ($114 for both) and now we get the NBC station and one sub channel from that station (weather 24/7) and our signal average is in the 80-90 range.

Ah, Mary, I am afraid I might have bought the pre-amp like the one you had that only lasted a year. (Radio Shack) They just had 2 choices and I didn't spring for the higher priced Channel Master. Fingers-crossed it lasts a while anyway.

So I am satisfied pretty well at this time. Wouldn't have minded if there were a few more sub channels, and haven't checked if any are still in the works.

Oh, specific report on the DTVPal: Easy instructions. Good guide, goes beyond just the next hour. Only problem I note is the volume drops considerably when you turn on the box and the volume control for the box/remote 'isn't much' and you still have to grab the TV remote to adjust sometimes.

I guess you can call me conspiracy theorist ;) but I don't think these boxes are real sturdy goods, and when they fry, I'll bet the ones on the market then will be some serious bucks.($$) Enough for people to decide to buy a digital TV. That will tick me off then, because my TV (1999 RCA)is really good for picture and sound PLUS I have another 1999 RCA sitting in a closet with very few hours on it.

Hope I'm wrong. We be needin' to stay home and watch TV. Can't afford gas to go anywhere... :D :D :D

mary,,, the cat lady:

Hi wyndwlkr,
I am so glad to here from you! And I am glad that for the most part, you have had success finding the right combination to get the digital broadcasts. Congratualtions.
I know what you mean about the gas. Seems like free TV is about all any of us can afford these days.
Will you please give a pat on the head to all your kitties for me!
I think what will happen with the boxes is they will last a decent aomount of time, but they will disappear from the shelves after a couple of years, and you will have no option but to buy a digital TV. But I will keep my finger crossed with you .
Take care, and please stay in touch.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi again wyndwlkr,
I want to thank you too, for the detailed report on the DTVPal box that you got from Radio Shack. I forgot to mention that in my previous post. So thank you again.

EmmGee-Ohio:

Mary:

Thanks for the responses. Here's the update....

I talked woith the apartment manager with a slight bit of success. They agreed to look into putting a "community antenna" outside. This was decided that it's the best option for several reasons....


1) All current information on DTV is not for those in apartments or condos. It's mainly for those who have outside antennas and can mount them.

2) The information does not include those who cannot pay for cable. Its also known that local cable comapnies are not going to subsidize an income based program (I personally asked, since I am also in the media too). Therefore, the poorer of the masses will lose out on some information.

3) according to the FCC in 1996, 1999 and again in 2001, US citizens are entitled to information, which can be life saving.

4) My youtube channel on "DTV ISSUES" that I and others are facing, shows that its areal problem that nobody is choosing to tackle. Not even the FCC, itself.

With those 4 things pointed out as the manager and the Maintence Man both saw, an even, uninterupted signal is a challenge, even with a Channel Master 4228 (a high end HDTV antenna) inside or outside (youtube comments to my videos show outside as well).

None-the-less, they decided that that's a best angle to get the issues solved.


CAVIAT: In order to put up an antenna, a TV engineer MUST be able to come out, confirm what the issues are in the area and confirm the simple facts. To date, nobody had come out, when asked.

Below is the results of whom I talked to:

WTVG (DT19): "Pound sand" per thier "radio engineer. Why he handles HDTV stuff, is beyond me, since he's not qualified to even deal with thins. Jim Dussel, the TV Engineer there said re-complain to the FCC (which got refused, a 2nd time). He was not going to come out.

WGTE (DT29): The chief engineer promised to come out, but didn't call to make sure I was home, or didn't show up. Note that this is the state run/my tax dollars supported (Corp. for Public Broadcasting guise). They didn't get the job done.

WLMB (DT 05): Mr Jenks was going to come out, but didn't as well. This is the WTOL weather guy/Traffic Guy's (Larry Watley's) religious/commercial independant station.

WTOL (DT 17): contacted engineer, Steve Ames and Ryan Vetter. Both gave me minor things to try... both unsuccessful, in keeping a steady, ininterupted signal. Gain reducers, different antenna's, etc. none worked.


I finally broke dsown and faxed a complaint to my local Congresswoman. I was told by WTVG's Chief Engineer, Jim Dussel, that congress had to keep tabs on how many people cannot get a DTV signal correctly. Therefore, they did not have the authority to refuse my complaints 2x. He said congress mandated this.

If you look up youtube, Check for the channel called "EMMGEEIMAGES". You'll see 3 youtube videos on DTV issues and bad reception.

I tend to get detroit cleaner and more stable. But that's another market, other than my own.

I also have not heard anyone suggest that bouncing siganl off of cars, where the antenna is directed, can impede signal, like a plane going overhead would do the same. Remember those in the olden days? You got the waves of god and ghosted signal?

I hope these facts help you understand better. I am also keeping a file on what I do, who I speak with, the complaints I make, The comments I provide, etc. This will assist, eventuall, in getting issues such as mine and others to be more solvable. The problem is, these issues are too real to not keep those records.

EmmGee-Ohio:

By the way, RCA'S DRC 8335 ATSC TUNER/VCR AND DVD RECORDER are being used as the "converter box". The manufacture date is April, 2007. Therefore, The converter is greater than "4th generation", which should be able to bring down the noise (below 16 Db) and filter out most multipath adiquately. Just to make it clear, before that gets asked.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi EmmGee-Ohio,
It sounds to me like two steps forward and one step back. I am sorry you are having so much trouble.
Off of the top of my head, I was wondering if there is a university nearby that has a broadcast engineering school. I would think that whoever is in charge would jump at the chance to get some hands on, real world experience for the junior and senior students. Maybe that would be worth a try... I don't know, but good luck. Other than that, I would try, ever so politely, to contact the engineers at the stations you mentioned once again, to see if maybe they would make another attempt to come out.
One question that I have is, who is mandating that an engineer come out? Is it the apartgment manager? And if so, I think that is a bit of overkill on their part. Surely there are commercial antenna companies that would be willing to come out and analyze the situation and give a warranty on expected reception quality.
In the days before cable (yeah, I go back that far), I lived in an apartment complex in Houston that had a community TV system, and it worked quite well. Of course, that was in the days of all analog, and not digital, which, as you are well aware of, is much more challenging...
I have in my possesion, a RCA DRC 8335 that i bought early in January of the this year. I had it for about 4 months when it locked up on my and would not "re-boot". I tried all of the tricks that I know to do to get it to work again without success. I fianally had to send it off to get repaired, but it was still under full warranty. It was gone about 5 weeks when I got another brand new unit FedEX'd to me. It has worked fine since, and I have had no more problems with it, but then, it has only been back a couple of months... I cannot find them at Wal-Mart any longer though.
I did, and still do, get the waves of ghosting with an airplane in the area on analog. It is hard, though, to diagnose what is causing a signal loss with digital. Unless you actually hear the plane, it would be hard to guess what is causing the signal interupt. I personally have not experienced a bounced multipath caused by a car. The closest thing to car interference that I did ever experience is I have an uncle, who back in the early 60's had an old car that emmited engine noise that showed up as white sparklies in the TV picture. We always knew when he was coming down the street...
I do thank you for your update, and you have my utmost sympathy in your plight, believe me. I hope you keep trying to get the engineers to come out. IN the meantime, try to get the attention of someone in an engineering school. Or maybe fire off an e-mail to the general manager of one of the stations, and ask them to make an appointment between you and their engineer. Make it a pocketbook issue. You can'tr get their signal, you can't watch their ads, you won't buy the products that are advertised on their station... They understand $$$.
Good luck, and please keep me posted, OK?
And I will check out your youtube videos when I get a chance.

EmmGeeOhio:

You put it on the head of the nail. I already put it in the same exact words you did. I also went one further with a few general manager's secretaries (oops, not PC to call them that). I told them I cannot get the signal and advertisers are losing penetration along with the loss of revenue shares with lost paper diaries. They both mean something, since ratings show what they can and cannot charge for spots.

As for apologizing, that's not your thing to claim. They (TV station GM's and Chief Engineers) must claim that.

The one's who are mandating, "Arlington South Apartments" manager, "Andrew". I think that it was to discourage me from getting DTV access, which is why I started to take records. I'm no dummy. Its a passive way of saying "no DTV access" without breaking the law. Not sure that it'll work that way though. I also have a feeling since I'm also in the Media, they may try to manipulate my status. Hey, most people who got to know me have, for various things... So why not an apartment manager?

As for the broadcasting college(s), I have a few possible choices. One is the tech college in Detroit, the lesser known University of Toledo, and Bowling Green State U. I'll admit, I never thought of that as an option. I also toyed with getting ahold of our last Chief Engineer, who used to Engineer for WXYZ-TV/DT. Now at WJR-AM.

As for the DRC 8335, I'm glad I'm not the only one who has to reset it. I called the company and they have not had too many problems. I have to reset it everytime, without any recalls to that particular unit. It also didn't help that the "800" number on it wasn't the proper number to call for RCA/Phillips. It also didn't help that I spoke to someone in India either.

I'm going at this issue as a community one. I am the one who is the squeeky wheel, but can show that there are many who have the same issues. That's what started the Youtube videos.

I know its a long journey, but it can get done, people can get educated. That is what I hope for most... educating the public...giving them hope.

mary... the cat lady:

Hey again EMMGEEOHIO,
You sound like you are a true trooper, and I bet you are a squeaky wheel! Good for you, and I think your approach is the best one to take, that is that this is a community problem, because it is. That is why I started trying to help out on the original forum.I could see the potential disaster that was to come from this if people did not start to make plans for the transition ahead of time. I thik I made my first post on the forum back in January, and here we are 7 or 8 months later, and still people are discovering that it is going to take more than getting a converter box and hooking it up to the old rabbit eared antenna and all will be well with the world. Those that are not heeding the call to get on board are going to have a rude awakening. And some of those heeding the call have already had their rude awakening.
I got the same impression that you did when you stated that an engineer had to "come out and address the issues." I think you should put it back in their lap and let them know that THEY are the ones who sould hire the engineer to come out and find out what the issues are. It is their complex, and they are the ones that need to get their act together so that the tennants are able to receive the OTA signals that you have a RIGHT to receive.
Being a child of the 60's, I am thinking that a petition signed by the tennants would be something to think about, also. Have you talked to your neighbors about this issue at all? What did they have to say about it?
I hope you keep being the squeaky wheel, for my mom always told me "that it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease..."
Educating the public and giving them hope is precisely why I am here also.
Good luck, and keep me posted.

doglady:

Hey Mary, what if anything do you know, or have you heard about transmitting power? What I mean is this. I see from checking each station, by call letters, on Wikipedia that each one list the power they use to put out analog and the power they use to put out digital. I am wondering if after feb 17 that power previously used for analog will be used to ramp up the digital signal, or is this just a silly notion?

mary... the cat lady:

Hey doglady,
this certainly is not a silly notion, and in fact it is going to happen and is happening as we speak.
There are a lot of stations that will be ramping up their power after the transition, but generally speaking, not to the levels that they are transmitting on analog.
The FCC just opened the way for stations to submit maximization applications a couple of months ago, and some have been approved, and some are still pending, but most of the applications used the guidelines set up by the FCC and it is just a matter of time until they are granted.
To give you an idea, and there will be exceptions, here is what you might expect in regards to power upgrades.
On analog, these were generally the maximum powers allowed by the FCC. On the VHF low band, channels 2-6 100,000 (100 KW) watts was the maximum effective radiated power (ERP). On the VHF high band, channels 7-13, 316,000 (316 KW) watts was the highest ERP allowed. And on UHF, channels 14-69 5,000,000 (5,000 KW) watt ERPs were common.
From what I can see at this time in the maximization applications, 45,000 (45 KW) will be highest ERP. For the VHF high band, 160,000 (160 KW) watts was the highest that I saw, and though I did not look at them all, I went through channels 7, 8 and 13. And for the UHF band, the highest ERP that I have seen 1,000,000 (1,000 KW) watts.
So you can see, in answer to your question, there are a lot of stations that will be increasing their power before and after the transition, but not to the levels of analog broadcasing.

mary... the cat lady:

Hey again doglady,
I did not make it clear that the 45,000 (45 KW) watts was for the VHF low band, channels 2-6. Sorry 'bout that...
And too, give those puppies a pat on the head and a scratch behind the ears for me, OK?

doglady:

Thanks for your quick response, cat lady.
Just one puppy, a 5 year old sweet basset hound.
Lovvvvvvvvvve those bassets!
I read your answer and compared the info with some of the transmitting power numbers I am seeing on wikipedia. I see some that are quite a bit higher than those you mention. Guess I should also mention that I am no in Ohio. I am in the southern part of Illinois. I have been do extensive research the last couple of weeks in preparation for this cut-off. I got the box and bought a new indoor antenna( with a amp). It pulled in two of the main networks(along with 2 channels out of Nashville, which is about 200 miles from me) but I can't get CBS(Kfvs) no matter what I try. According to wikipedia it is being transmitted out of Paducah, KY and Cape Gireadeau MO. I get that channel analog, but nada on digital. According to wiki, the are transmitting at a low power for for digital. I was hoping that would increase on the 17th enough for me to get it again. At this point, I am checking longitude/latitude and tower height comparisons, in an attempt to understand why I can't get that channel but I get one twice as far.
Thanks for listening. :)

mary... the cat lady:

Hey again doglady,
KFVS-TV is broadcasting an analog signal on channel 12 with 316,000 watts effective radiated power (ERP). KFVS-DT is broadcasting the digital signal on "out of core" channel 57 at this time wiht an ERP of 246,000 watts. (Channel 51 will be the highest "in core" channel after the transition) KFVS-DT will be reverting back to channel 12 after the transition and has been granted a construction permit to do so.
According to the DTV transition report filed with the FCC back in February, KFVS-DT expected to have the final DTV facilities built by July of this year. On Feb. 17, 2009 KFVS will cease analog broadcasing and interim broadcasting on channel 57 will commence broadcasting the digital signal on channel 12 with an ERP of 6,800 watts.
I beieve that it is because KFVS-DT is broadcasting on UHF channel 57 that you cannot receive it. Hopefully, after they revert to channel 12, you will be able to, especially if you get a good clear picture on KFVS-TV on analog.

doglady:

Hi Cat lady
Wellllllllllll, "good clear picture" (wink, wink) might be stretching it just a bit). But then that has always been ok, since the analog enviroment is NOT an all or nothing situation like digital. Grrrr As I sit here Sunday morning mulling over everything I have read and tried and learned (yes, I have learned way more about digital tv than I ever thought I wanted to, as you mentioned some time ago.)I have come to the conclusion that maybe many of us should give it up and just plan on coming to this site for entertainment. While reading the responses on your site I have been amused, been educated, gotten angry, empathized with others, etc. Aren't these the same emotions we get from television and wow it's sure easier to get here. Awhile back my sister and I had a conspiracy theory about this whole thing. Our theory concerning these "boxes" was "...it's not what's coming in that is important to the gov, but what is possibly going back out." Hey, laugh if you must. With this gov anything is possible. At any rate, we pledged not to undress or speak the unspeakable in front of the little spies until we were sure. Yes, I know it's funny.
Sadly, I think the gov really has taken the approach of "Let them eat cake." No amount of nudging or tapping them on the (email) shoulder seems to be getting their attention. And also sadly there are millions out in tv land on cable/sattelite that are all set and all is well. These folks are also not interested in the fact it doesn't work for many of the rest of us.(more Let them eat cake, in otherwords Let them get cable.)
Sorry to be so long winded, but Sunday mornings are a "Nothing" TV enviroment ( don't know why). So, I'm here for entertainment. :)
Oh yeah, I finally heard back from the General Manager of KFVS and he was very nice and also said the same thing you did. So, I can only hope that(like you said earlier) "The light at the end of the tunnel isn't an oncoming train." LOL

doglady:

Oh forgot to mention a couple of things I have learned along the way.
-antennaweb.org -mostly useless, info never seems to change and much info is missing
-TV Fool FANTASTIC SITE, up to date and very informative http://www.tvfool.com/

Also, many people have never before used the UHF channels on their sets. Before doing/changing anything they need to make sure they can recieve UHF channels. I have two tvs almost identical. One picks up uhf fine the other will not without a vcr as it's tuner. Turns out the tuner in this set never did work. I just didn't know it since I always had a vcr hooked to it and used the vcr remote to tune into uhf channels.
After buying another one just like it I discoverd it locates uhf channels just fine (sans vcr).
After much research online, turns out this tv's tuner probably is/was always defunct. I urge everyone that has never watched UHF channel on their set to find at least one channel(with their VCR turned off).

doglady:

Oops, one more thing. Regarding the build your own antenna. Wellllllllllll, I did that. Follow the directions to the letter. (tried two different styles actually) I won't say it didn't work for them, BUT, one thing I have learned is that the next time I hear someone say "WoW, works great" I must remember to ask myself 3 little words. COMPARED TO WHAT?

mary... the cat lady:

Hi doglady,
Your post made me laugh, so thank you. And yes, I know, there are a lot of you out there to which this is no laughing matter.
I took the old saying about "you learn something everyday" and added a little something to it...
"You learn something everyday... whether you want to or not". I laways said that would be my epitaph.
Actually, with the converter, it does'nt matter if your TV can pick up the UHF channels or not. It is the converter that will do the tuning for you. You just have to be sure, if the TV has two antenna inputs, (one for VHF and one for UHF) that you be sure to hook it up to the one for VHF. The converter, just like a VCR, will output its signal on channel 3 or channel 4, both VHF channels.
Yeah, Antenna Web, has a lot to be disired. After 6 months they still don't list our low power Fox digital HD station. The TVFool web site really is a cool site. I wrote about it in the blog on the 18th. It, too, has some limitations to it though. I found that when creating the chart of receivable stations, you can request the post transition facility specs., but when you go to the coverage maps, unless there has been a construction permit issued by the FCC, then they ignore the applications still pending.
What kind of antenna are you using? If you have an outdoor antenna, you might want to think about an antenna mounted pre-amp. It will make those (wink, wink) clear pictures really clear.
I think you are absolutely right about the lack of the governments concern for those that live in the fringe areas. The only group of people that I know of that got the ear of congress is the people along the border with Mexico. There are two bills pending, one in the Senate and the other in the House, that will grant an extension to continue analog broadcasting to stations with transmitters within 50 miles of the border until 2014.
Most of those that live along the border could recieve a digital station if they wanted to. I fear more for the family out there on the plains of Nebraska during tornado season that, no matter what they do, are too far away to get a digital station. I guess congress will let them eat cake too.
Maybe George Orwell was right, he just got the timing wrong... Wait, I didn't say that. :)

doglady:

Unfortunately, my tv has only one antenna input. Originally, I had to use a splitter to hook up my vcr and I still have it hooked up. Not that it will do much good without another converter box. Oh well.
But on the bright side, while surfing for info today I found another useful site you might want to take a look at. http://www.antennapoint.com/ Really nice. Scroll over the towers for more info and down for a chart. Very helpful and easy to paste into a xls for later reference.

doglady:

Also, was over at ebay while ago looking for an antenna. I have decided to try a AntennaDirect DB2 Oh forgot to tell you I am using an inside antenna and would like to stay with that. I am a widow and don't have anyone that can stand in the house while I holler "HOWS THAT?". Easier to deal with inside if I can find one that works well, possibly with an amp. I bought a Phillips (has an amp) 32db. It did pull in some DTV channels, but others not so much. Taking it back and gonna try the DB2 from Antenna Direct, hear good things about it.
At any rate, just wanted to let you know that if anyone is looking for a antenna at ebay. Be sure to do your homework first. The wording I saw on some of those ads can be iffy at best.

mary... the cat lady:

Hey doglady,
Thank you for the info about the antenna point web site. I learn just as much from y'all as I hope you do from me. Thanks.
Maybe you could get that basset hound to woof once for OK and woof,woof for keep going... Just a thought... :)
Good luck with your DB2 purchase, and please let me know how it turns out, OK?

doglady:

I liked that site cause I'm so visual and found the animation to be neat. She is woofing at me as we speak for her dinner.
I will let you know how things work out with the DB2. I want to buy it at brick and mortar incase I have to return it. But not sure they sell any way other than on the net.

doglady:

Hey catlady, do you or any of the other readers have familiarity with the A/V jack useage on the Magnavox converter TB100MW9? The sound seems kind of low on my converter so I hooked up the audio/video cables, but the sound isn't any louder. Actually, it is lower. Yes, I already went in and change the audio input in the setup and yes I only have one audio connection on my tv, so I hooked up the white one like the manual says. Any other ideas? Anyone?
Also, I have seen other places on the net where people mention having lost their manual. I located it online and if anyone needs it here is the link for that file. http://www.funai-corp.com/6pdf/om/TB100MW9.pdf

mary... the cat lady:

Hi doglady,
OK, here are a couple of things off the top of my head....
If you are using the converter box to turn the volume up and down, one of the first things to do is turn the volume way up on the TV, then control it back down to a comfortalble level with the converter box. That is the way my Zenith box works. What is probably happening is the TV volume is already set about half way, and then you are trying to control it with the converter box volume. Or the opposite could be the problem. The converter box volume is set half way or so, and you are using the volume control on the the TV. Either way, if you want to use the remote for the converter, just turn the TV volume up all the way and go from there. If you are using the TV remote to control the volume, set the converter box vlume up all the way.
One other thing you could do, is they make a two into one combiner for stereo RCA cords. You would take the red and the white and plug then into the Y adapter, and then plug the one RCA jack into the audio in on the TV. But that is probably not going to be neccesary. I think if you adjust the volume on one device or the other, you will be OK.
Let me know if I can be of any more help. And scratch that puppy behind the ears....

doglady:

Nope, volume is turned all the way up on the set as well as the converter. I think it may have to do with it being a smaller tv and the volume may just go so high. But thanks for the suggestions.
And my puppy thanks you too. :)

mary... the cat lady:

Hey doglady,
Sorry that didn't work out. I was hoping that it would. You might still try the Y adaptor thing I was talking about. It might help, it might not. I am just not sure. It would cost about $5 if you want to try it.
Take care, and stay in touch.

doglady:

I found a better solution. I happen to have an unused set of computer speakers that work just fine and have increase the volume.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi doglady,
Good for you! I applaud your resourcefulness. And now you will get your audio in stereo sound too. That is something that I will keep in mind for future use, if a similar situation ever arises. It is amazing what we can come up with when we need to. Take care, and give that puppy a pat on the head and a scratch behind the ears again for me.

olyne unruh:

so, that's us, we get the frozen pixels and "no signal" icon....help!!!! how can we fix this?

mary... the cat lady:

Hi olyne unruh?
I need some more information before I can help you out. I need to know what part of the country you are in, and the call signs of the stations that you are trying to get. I need to know how far you are away from the city where the stations are and what direction you are from that city. It would also help me a lot if you could describe the type of antenna that you are using, and how many televisions are hooked up to that antenna. If you could describe the terrain it would help a lot also. Are there a lot of hills or mountains near you? What channels were you getting on analog? Do you live in a valley? The more information that you give me the better I may be able to help out.
I would love to try to help out if you can get me that information. It may take a different antenna, or signal boosters and even a distribution amp to get your signal going. Please post back, and I will try to get you on the road to digital.

olyne:

we live in Eugene, Oregon...it's the Willamette valley, yes, it's a valley...we are in the burbs, mountains and hills around, but several miles away, and all the stations are in the local area. we previously got cbs, nbc, pbs, abc, fox, etc on analog. we have just one wide screen tv, a couple of years old, supposedly an hdtv, hooked to a rather alien looking antenna we bought at Best Buy....we now get about double the stations we used to get, and the reception is terrific, but periodically, our favorite station goes into the pixel freeze, for minutes at a time, followed by the no signal icon, and when it finally comes back on, we have missed the whole point of the plot of whatever show we had been watching.... it's maddening.....and usually happens just at the critical point of the show where we are going to find out who done it, or how the plot turned out....so, any help solving this problem would keep my husband's blood pressure at a more therapeutic level...thanks

mary... the cat lady:

Hi olyne,
OK, all is not lost here. It may take a little bit of an investment, but we can get you through this.
I am going to assume that the "alien looking antenna" is an inside table top antenna.
If you are getting double the channels you used to get, you are on the right path. It helps that you are only connected to one television.
I am thinking that an outside antenna is going to be your best bet.
I just looked up the KEZI coverage map on the tvfool.com web site. The siganl for KEZI is blocked off from half of the valley by what looks like a hill or a mountain. If you can go to this site and look at the coverage map for this and any other stations you are getting, and describe fro me what color is covering where you live, it would help me come up with an antenna to would suit your needs. About how far away are you from Eugene? And are you to the west of the valley or to the east? It is the east side that has the signal blocked.
If you within 30 miles or so of Eugene, I might have antenna in mind, but any further than that, and I will have to come up with something else.
By having the antenna inside, you are losing at least half of the signal strength. So by mounting the antenna outside, you will, if nothing else, gain twice as much signal strength as you are getting inside.
Please get back to me with a color from the tvfool web site if you can. About where you are in the valley (The valley on the map I looked at was to the north of Eugene?) and about how far you are from Eugene, and what direction. OK?
I think we can keep your husbands blood pressure in check. I will try anyway.

olyne:

ok, we live in the Santa Clara area, northwest of of Eugene, about 5 miles from the center of town. the skinners butte hill you are talking about shouldn't affect us, it's farther southeast from us.... yes, the antenna is on top of our tv, and before we got the new box, we had to turn it one way or another to get certain channels in at their best... but it has not been that big a problem with the converter box. I know years back, we had a big outside antenna on the roof, but my husband hooked something up to the tv that made use of the inside wiring of the house as an antenna source, which was better at the time....I don't know if he still has that hooked up, I'll have to ask....also, I don't know if he still has that big outdoors antenna stashed somewhere or not....another thing, previously, whenever the guy down the street was on his cb radio, we would get static on our screen, but that's not a problem since the converter box, now, he thinks the frozen pixels are worse....lol...there are only a select few shows we watch, otherwise, we just put a DVD in and watch a movie in the evening with no problem, so the few shows he likes, it would be good to not miss part of the action...I'll go up on that website to check out the coverage, but I don't think we are in a problem area......0

olyne:

went to the tvfool website and put in our address, and according to the graph, all the channels we watch were in the green, meaning tabletop antenna should suffice...KEZI is only 7 miles away from us. the rest, much closer. also, at the end of July, we cut down two huge cedar trees on the south end of our house, so that should have removed whatever signals might have been blocked up to that point. the CB antenna down the road isn't in the direct path of our tv reception, it's one block farther west....0

mary... the cat lady:

Hi again olyne,
The first thing we need to find out is if your husband still has that antenna, and if he is willing to put it back up. It will help to know if you used to watch any UHF stations off of that antenna, because a lot of the VHF low band stations (channel 2 through 6) are now on the UHF band, and even some the VHF high band stations (channel 7 through 13) are temporarily using the UHF band too. So being able to recieve UHF is a necessity.
A couple of the channels that you get are in the direction of KEZI and a few others are south of Eugene, so if you are going to use the antenna you had before, if you still have it, an antenna rotor may be in order. You may find that you can position the antenna kind of "in between" to get all of the stations at one position, but I doubt it. You are close enough that that an omni-dirictional antenna will probably do you weil. You can find one such as the Channel Master CM 3000 amplified outdoor antenna at solidsignal.com. When on the Solid Signal homepage, just do a search for CM 3000. It should pop up so that you can click it and get more information about the antenna. It retails for about $80. This is an antenna that gets reception from all directions, and is amplified so it gives a boost to the incomming signal to boot. No rotor is needed for this antenna, and it looks like you are well within the range from the stations to be able to use this antenna. I think it could keep the signal from dropping out causing the pixilation and your husbands blood pressure to rise.
It gets UHF from 30 miles away, and VHF from 45 miles away. Just get it over the rooftops and keep your lead in of coax as short as possible. There is a 3 dB loss of signal for every 18 feet of RG-6 coax, and a 3 dB loss is half of your signal.
Good luck, and let me know how this turns out, and please feel free to post back if you have any more questions, or comments for that matter ,OK?

mary... the cat lady:

Hey olyne,
Well. we know that the table top antenna does not get the reception that is needed for constant reception of the channes that you want. So, my above post shoul provide you guidance on what you will need to do. Whereas indoor antennas workded quite well for analog, alas, they just don't fill the bill for digital reception. That has been one of the most maddening things about the switch to digital. Hopefully, you have not had the "alien looking" antenna all that long, and you will be able to return it if you decide to go with an outside antenna.
Let me know.

harry kitching:

Ihave converter box i can't get anything on chanel
twenty eight were you are supposed to get three,
can you tell me what is wrong?I did all the setup,
proceidures still don't have any twenty eight channels,Is there something wrong with boxes?please answer.thank you.Ilive into appartment,
were they won't let us have out side antenna,
any more sugestions.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Harry,
First off, you have the RIGHT as mandated by the FCC to erect an outside antenna. That being said, sometimes it is not worth the trouble to buck heads with your landlord...
I really need some more information before I can really help you out.
There are A LOT of channel 28s across the U.S., so I will need to know what city you live in. I need to know where you are in relation to the city you live in, such as are you on the north, west, or maybe the southeast side of the city. It would really help if you can name the call sign of the channel 28 station. Can you give me an idea of how well you receive the analog channel? How was your reception of that channel before trying the converter box. I would like to know what kind of antenna you are using... Is it an amplified antenna? (Does it have a power supply?) If you can give me as much information as you can I will surely try to help you figure out what is going on, OK?
I do not think you have a bad box. It is a lot more tricky to catch the digital signals than it is the analog, but it may be that it is nothing more than they are transmitting a low power signal at this time. Please post back, and I will see if I can figure out something, OK?
You may have to re-orient your antenna to get the signal. I will be looking for your post.

Lawrence Walters:

I can not locate the retail source for the Philco TB150HH9 converter. I spent 3-4 hours on the Internet to no avail. Its predecessor, the
TB100HH9 is plentiful, but it does not have stereo audio and smart antenna. I would appreciate your help. Thank you much.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Lawerence,
I, like you, did not find anyone who had this box for sale. Sorry. I did find one web site where someone had asked the same question 7 months ago, and got an answer 7 months ago that the box was "not yet available". That is as close as I got to real information other than a listing of the features of the box.
I did e-mail a guy that I know who reviews converter boxes asked him if he knew of a retailer. If I hear anything back, I will be sure to post here and let you know. Good luck in your search for the box.

Lawrence Walters:

Thanks for your efforts Mary...
just to demonstrate how confusing everything is getting check out this advertisement. (If you read it carefully to see the juxtaposed model numbers, so you can't really tell which is the older version which is the new!)

"We are finally back at it again here at the digital to analog converter box blog. Several months ago we provided 10-15 different digital TV converter reviews and now we will be providing 10-15 new DTV converter box reviews and ratings.

Update!!! The Magnavox TB100MG9 has been discontinued and replaced by an upgraded version called the Magnavox TB100MW9.

Today we are going to be reviewing the Magnavox TB100MG9. The TB100MG9 is almost exactly the same as the previously reviewed Magnavox TB100MW9. The only difference is the TB100MW9 didn't have analog pass through."

BTW, my cat is named "Addy."

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Lawrence,
I got an e back from my friend who also came up empty. He said that the TB150HH9 was highly rated by consumer reports and that he was surprised that they would give up so much of the money to be made by not making the converters more readily available. The $40 coupons are not going to be available for all that much longer. I would think that those with primo boxes would be trying to saturate the market with them.
I am sorry that I could not help you out in your search, but I will keep my eyes peeled, and if I come across something, I will post here.
I hope you have a great Thanksgiving holiday, and please give Addy a scratch behind the ears and a pat on the head from me and my kitties, OK?

felix:

I have three inquiries.
1. I can not receive channels 4 and or 13 on my home with the converter box why is it so?
2. I receive other channels that relate to specific languages but no video comes up.
3. I receive several repetitions of the same channel
why is this so? Any suggestions?
Thank You

mary... the cat lady:

Hi felix,
1. I really need more information from you felix. I would need to know what kind of antenna you are using, what the call signs of the stations are that you cannot get. What kind of reception did you get from the analog channels as opposed to the digital channels.
2. It may well be that the channels with no picture are actually merely audio programming channels such as a radio station that is being rebroadcast over a sub channel of a TV station to boost the area that it covers. This is my best guess on that.
3. Sometimes a digital tuner will lock in on not only the real channel that a station is broadcasting on, but also the "virtual" channel. This would give you two different channel numbers with the same programming. If you are getting the same programming with diffent call signs, then you are just in a unique local where you can get stations for two diffrerent markets, or where possibly one or more low power stations are broadcasting the same programming.
See if you can get me the call signs for 4 and 13. Let me know what city they are in, and where you are in relation to that city, and how far away, and what direction you are from that city. The more info you can get me, the more I may be able to help.
Please post back here and I will look for your answers.

Lee Peery:

Hi, about a month ago, I sent you a number of questions about the switch to Digital. I'm thinking I did something wrong in applying to you for information. If you didn't get my questions, would you please let me know so I can re-apply.
Lee

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Lee,
No I did not get your questions. If you would, please post them here, and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Sorry for the SNAFU.

Lee Peery:

Hi again, Mary, thanks for offering to help us in our distress. We live in a three floor apartment in Richmond , ten miles from the PBS transmission tower. We never watch anything but PBS. We get a pretty good analog signal. With our brand new Toshiba 19 inch TV with DVD player. we get a good analog signal, but the digital signals are so weak that the TV doesn't recognize them. Our UHF and VHF rabbit ears are in the best spot I can find, oriented in the right direction. The engineer at the station says that by government decree, their transmitter is much weaker than those permitted to commercial stations. Could this be true? Paranoia tells me that this is a gift to the cable industry, to force us to get cable service or to pay for an expensive antenna installation. I have read about an outdoor antenna connected to an amplifier which is what is probably needed, but that installation would be too expensive for us.(Perhaps I should have told you we are senior citizens, both still working, but just barely getting by.) We have DSL for our computors; is there any way to use it for TV?
I hope you now have enough information frtom us, to render helpful suggestions.
Gratefully,
Lee

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Lee Perry,
I am glad to hear back from you...
All may not be lost forever as appears at this time...
That being said, it may take awhile for you to be able to receive the station with the rabbit ears.
I am going to presume that you are talking about Richmond, Virginia. Is that correct?
If so, WCVE is broadcasting an effective radiated power of 160,000 watts. That is not a lot of power.
WCVE does have a maximization application pending to go to a much more decent ERP of 436,000 watts. That should get you were you need to be. The bad news is that the application has not been granted as of yet (but I do expect that it will be) and it may take up to 3 years to get the maximized station built.
So what to do in the meantime? Here is what I would suggest. If the TV and the antenna are not on the top floor already, then try that.
If you already have the antenna and TV there, then I have a couple of other suggestions, but they will take some money to accomplish.
If the indoor antenna you are using is not an amplified antenna, then I would suggest purchasing one, if you can. I know you are on a tight budget, but I am just trying to offer some options. If you do purchase one, be sure to check on the return policy if it does not work. Make sure you can get your money back.
If you are not already using an amplified antenna, then I am hoping that it will get you enough signal.
Another option may be to get an outside directional antenna and mount it in one of your rooms, indoors. Not very pretty, but it also might work. It does not have to be a real big antenna, just one that is directional. Once again, just make sure that you can take it back if it does not work.
If there are a lot of other apartments between you and the transmitter, or hills, that may be another problem to overcome.
The transmitter is west-southwest of the city. If you can, place any antenna you have on the side of the apartment toward the transmitter, and get it up as high as you can.
If I can assist you in any other way, please feel free to post back, and I will try to help in any way that I can.

:Lee Peery:

Hi, again, Mary, thanks for the so prompt reply to my tale of woe, you have given me more hope that I can get WCVE without bankrupting us. I am so glad that I discovered you; I think what you are doing is admirable.
Lee

mary... the cat lady:

Hi again Lee Peery,
Thank you so much for your kind words.I am trying the best that I can. I know some don't have a whole lot to work with, so the little tricks that I have learned over the years just might help out someone else, and that is why I am here.
Good luck, and please let me know if anything works for your, OK?
Feel free to post back at any time.

Lee Peery:

Hey Mary, I was anxious to find out what you thought about DSL as a means of receiving digital TV. I heard that Netflix is planning to transmit its rental flicks. Any comments? Also, did you find there is anything to the information that PBS cannot have a strong transmitter? Lee

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Lee,
Although I did not find anything definitive as whether or not a PBS station can or cannot have a "strong signal", from the ones that I looked at on the FCC web site, it did seem that they had a slightly lower power than their commmercial counterparts on DIGITAL. The powers were the same as commercial stations as far as the analog channels went. I don't think that there is a "law" that says they cannot have maximum signals, but it just seems that the effective radiated powers (ERP) that the stations transmit did seem to be a little less than the commercials. It is an interesting point. It may be that since the PBS stations are viewer supported, and paid for by pledges, the utilities would be lower at a slightly lower power. But like I said, the analog channels have always been at the same maximum power. A very interesting question. Things that make you go Hhhmmmm...
My expertise is in broadcasting, and not so much in computers. I will say that a DSL line is pretty fast, and I would expect it to be able to download movies fast enough. I am sure that if you were to seach the internet for computer or movie forums, they would be much more in a postition to help in that regard than I am.
I did want to point out that many, many television web sites allow you to watch streaming, live video of their stations and also you can watch the network programs at will. That may be something you could use.
I have done this when there were hurricanes hitting florida. I have watched live streaming video from Miami stations as well as Orland stations. You will find many stations from all over the country that do this, so maybe look around on the internet.
In the meantime, if I can be of service to you, please let me know, and take care, OK?

Lee Peery:

Hi, Mary, I just stopped ny to see how your advice progran wis going, and amm dismayed to see that no one since my request has appealed to you for advice. I guess nobody knows about your help- ful asvice. You do manage to keep busy regardless, I understand. Cheers
Lee

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Lee,
It is so good to hear from you. Things are just kind of in a state of limbo right now with the transition delay. The 17th was trather anti-climatic. I am getting requests for info elsewhere on the blog from time to time, and I am still awaiting the end of the analog transmissions.
Did you ever try an amplified indoor antenna? Did it work? I would like to know. Please post back if you would.

Lee Peery:

Hi, cat lady, me again, I'm quite sure an amplified tooftop antenna would serve us well, but is not a practical solution in this apartment building. We have heard that some cable companies will reluctantly offer a bare-bones cable connection for perhaps $15 per month, which, if we can find such a service, is probably the best we can do.
Cheers, Lee

Sharon Peery:

Hi, cat lady, me again, I'm quite sure an amplified tooftop antenna would serve us well, but is not a practical solution in this apartment building. We have heard that some cable companies will reluctantly offer a bare-bones cable connection for perhaps $15 per month, which, if we can find such a service, is probably the best we can do. My message was refused "because I have contacted you too many times in a short period" so I changed to another address and used my wife's name.
Cheers, Lee

Sharon Peery:

Hi, cat lady, me again, I'm quite sure an amplified tooftop antenna would serve us well, but is not a practical solution in this apartment building. We have heard that some cable companies will reluctantly offer a bare-bones cable connection for perhaps $15 per month, which, if we can find such a service, is probably the best we can do. My message was refused "because I have contacted you too many times in a short period" so I changed to another address and used my wife's name.
Cheers, Lee

mary... the cat lady:

Hey again Lee,
The cable companies, I am sure, will offer special arrangements on a market by market basis.
Be sure to read the fime print to make sure that what you get is not just a "limited time" price, and it is not going to double on you in six months or so.
Localy, I saw such an ad the other night. I don't remember the details, but it was a really cheap price per month, for six months. So do your research. At least with cable, there usually is no "contract period", but be sure to check on that.
Don't forget, I mentioned that it would be possible to erect an antenna in a spare room if you have one. Use a Christmas Tree stand to hold the pole. It wouldn't have to be a very big antenna, and you could mount a CM7777 pre-amp on the antenna. Just point it toward the stations, and it just might work.
Once again though, make sure you can take it back if you need to.
If you read the latest column that I wrote about the DTS service, you might want to think about contacting the television stations that you want, and let them know there are reception problems in your area, and you would like them to look into setting up a DTS transmitter. That would be worth a shot too.
Take care, and please stay in touch.

mary... the cat lady:

I think the error message was in error. Don't pay any attention to it, OK Lee?
The first message got through, and you haven't contacted me as much as some have, so don't worry about it.

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Lee once again,
Don't think that when I mention an amplified antenna that I am only talking about a rooftop antenna.
They make amplified "rabbit ears", and they are sold almost everywhere.
I was wondering if you had tried one of them yet. If not, post back here and I will give you some pointers on what to look for, OK?

Scott:

I hooked up APEX converter to a fairly new TV. I unplugged the vcr and PS2 as well. The picture is excellent, signal strength is excellent and color sharp. Occasionally get a digital mess-up and messud up faces on screen...PROBLEM: I get a lot of buzzing in the sound..I can hear programming well but there is a lot of zzzzzzz/humming...sounds like when an antenna is not pulling in signal correctly. HOWEVER, I pull off the antenna (rabbit ears)connection and the humming and buzzing still exists. Is this a faulty unit?
Thanks!!

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Scott,
That is a good question.
It definitely is not right and you should not have to put up with it.
I am going to prresume that you have the box hooked up through the A/V inputs on your TV. If indeed this is the case, and you had the VCR and the PS2 hooked up the same way, and there is no hum, then I would think that the box is to blame.
Is the humming there on all channels that you tune in through the converter box? If it is, and it is on all digital channels, that would indicate to me that it is probably an inherent problem with the converter box.
One thing I would try first, just to see, is use the same A/V cables that you had the VCR and the PS2 hooked up with. Just to see. If there is no difference, then yeah, I would take the converter box back and exchange it for another one.
I would like to know if another box solves the problem, so please post back and let me know.

Lee Peery:

Hi, Mary, I just remembered that I never responded to your suggestion about an amplified antenna. I think that couldnt help , because the signal is so weak here, anywhere in the apartment, that our new TV does not even recognize that there are any digital WCVE signals out there. (Other digital signals thet produce no picture do register on the screen.) THANKS
Lee

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Lee,
How much signal shows up on the meter? I am jsut curious.
WCVE will be ending their analog broadcasts on March 30. That is 9 days from now. But don's forget that at some point after that, they will be maximizing their digital signal and whereas they are only transmitting 160,000 watts at this time, they will be going to 436,000 watts later.
You might want to call the station and explain your situation and ask when that maximization will take place, because you are completely and totally without their signal.
Good luck and post back.

Linda Stanhope:

I am a senior citizen and can't seem to hook up my converter box. I have tried every way in the instructions. Please tell me if there is someone that would come and hook this thing up for me.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Linda,

I would help if I could. The first place I would start is to call one of your local television stations and ask if there is someone they know, or could recommend to come over and get you going.
try that, and if you still have no luck, I will try to delve into it further with you, OK?
Good luck.

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