The Wonders of a Battery-Powered Converter Box
October 20, 2008 4:21 PM
I finally got around to checking out the Winegard digital to analog converter box that I ordered a couple of weeks ago that can be operated by the external 9 volt "D" cell battery pack. The converter box also includes an adaptor to power the box on household current for times when the battery pack is not needed. I found the converter box is very user friendly. The operation manual is clear and concise, and the menu in the onscreen display is almost self-explanatory—very simple to use and operate. After doing an initial channel search, more channels can be easily added with the channel add-on feature.
I set up the box first with a pair of un-amplified rabbit ears with fixed position telescoping VHF elements in a "V" configuration and a simple loop UHF antenna. This is the simplest antenna that I own. I was able to get two digital stations that way. One was our local CBS affiliate, KFDM, broadcasting on UHF channel 21 (virtual channel 6.1). The other was the TBN station, KITU, on channel 33 (virtual channel 34.1). So there was only one channel, KFDM, that would have news, weather and radar in case of a tropical storm or hurricane. But one is better than none.
I conducted a channel search at tvfool.com and used an antenna height of 8 feet as the standard for the indoor antenna. I found that KFDM had a signal strength of -47.6 dBs and KITU had a signal strength of -30.3 dBs. KBMT, broadcasting on channel 50 (virtual channel 12.1) had a signal strength somewhere in between, but I could not lock it in. I live in an older house that has asbestos siding and shiplap walls inside and out, with a shiplap ceiling, so there is considerable signal loss inside the house.
I then tried an indoor amplified antenna and was able to get our local ABC station, KBMT, broadcasting on channel 50 (virtual channel 12.1). But an amplified antenna is of no use when the electricity is out. Or is it? The amplified indoor antenna uses an AC adaptor to power the antenna at 12 volts DC. So my question was what if I could power the indoor antenna from a battery pack?
I found, online, an 8 cell "D" battery pack that stacks the voltage up to 12 volts. My next project is to attach the correct barrel plug to the 12-volt battery pack to see whether it will power the amplified antenna. My goal is to have a self-contained setup with battery-powered amplified antenna, battery-powered Winegard converter box and battery-powered television. The AC adaptor for the converter box is rated at 9 volts DC and 1 amp of current. The adaptor for the indoor antenna is rated at 12 volts DC at 200 milliamps, so I believe that the 12-volt battery pack for the antenna will run it longer that the 18 hours claimed for the battery pack on the Winegard converter box. That will be a blog for another day. As they say, please stay tuned ...
As of right now, we have no digital channels locally that are broadcasting on VHF, but KBMT is slated to revert to the analog channel 12, 30 to 45 days after the transition and has a maximization application pending to go to 160, 000 watts effective radiated power (ERP). KFDM at this time is broadcasting 50,000 watts ERP but has a maximization application pending to go to 280,000 watts ERP. KBTV broadcasting on channel 40 (virtual channel 4.1) is transmitting a micro signal of 1,280 watts ERP and has a maximization application pending to go to 1,000,000 watts ERP, so I am hoping that these increases in power will eliminate the need for the battery-powered indoor antenna. But I still want to know if it will work if I need it.
I have also become aware of another Web site that is a good source of information with reviews of converter boxes. I am including a link to this site for your convenience.