Not so much a fan of this digital TV "revolution"...

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by atomheartmother, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. atomheartmother macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    #1
    So I got my digital converter boxes today--two Echostar copies of the DirectTV DTVPals. They're supposedly the best ones out there. With my rabbit ears hooked up directly to the TV receiving and analog signal, I get maybe 6 channels. They all cone in a bit fuzzy to some degree. One or two come in pretty clear with some tweaking, whereas the others are always a bit fuzzy--but I can still see and hear what's going on enough to enjoy it.

    However, I've been messing around with these boxes, and I just can't get anything now. Apparently, the signals aren't strong enough. I can get one or two channels, but the video is all garbled and there's no audio. The rest that are detected just say "no signal" with a blank screen. I've even gone out and bought a $30 antenna, but it doesn't work any better than my $2 rabbit ears.

    So, I guess it's back to the stone age for me starting February whatever. This is a nice big middle finger from the FCC or whoever's idea this is.


    And it's not like I live in some isolated cabin in the middle of nowhere. I do live in a smaller city (maybe 15,000...but with a college campus of 10,000-11,000), and there are two big cities (210,000 and 700,000) within 40-50 miles in each direction. I guess I might as well live in that cabin.

    So I guess it's going to be me and one million elderly people without TV come February. I just simply can't justify dropping $30+ a month on cable when all I want is a few local channels and I watch maybe 3-5 hours of television a week (there are only maybe 3-4 shows that I follow total in a year). I guess I'll just have to watch them online. If only TV stations would stream online...

    Rant over.
     
  2. Tilpots macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #2
    I work at a TV station in Wilmington, NC. We were the first city in the country to make the switch to DTV on Monday, Sept. 8th. the guinea pigs, if you will. I've been helping people with the exact same problems as yours for weeks. So here's the best advice I can give, and bear in mind every location and piece of equipment is different:


    If you are trying to get signals from 40 miles away, buy an outdoor amplified antenna and put it at the highest possible location you can. Make sure the line of sight from the antenna is not pointing at tall trees, power lines or cell phone towers. Within 25 miles and a clear sight line, a non-powered antenna, either roof mounted or placed in your attic should work fine.

    These digital signals are pretty much all or nothing. You either get it or you don't. If you see a lot of macroblocking and picture freezing, you're dealing with a bouncing signal (meaning you're getting the signal from two different places, like once from the tower and once bouncing off something else).

    Moving the antenna a few feet left or right could make all the difference, so before you mount it and try to rotate it, make sure you can get all the signals from where you plan to place it.

    If none of this works, PM me and I'll give you a plethora of information from our station, the FCC and the NAB.

    Hang in there, it will work...:)

    PS- All stations will start as UHF but some will switch back to VHF soon after the switch, so check your stations websites' to see what type of antenna you will need now and down the road.
     
  3. atomheartmother thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    #3
    Thanks for all of the information. Unfortunately, I live in an apartment, so I can't get a rooftop antenna. I'm pretty much stuck with the kind you sent on top of your TV (or wherever). I've tried little powered/amplified ones, but they don't seem to work any better than my cheapo, basic rabbit ears. I was able to get one station in relatively fine once. I find it strange that I could get that one station but not any others, considering all of the towers are supposedly in that same city. I was also able to get another in but with no audio and lots of macroblocking (or whatever it's called).

    Is there any hope for me, or am I screwed? It just bums me out that a few can come in fairly clear (though, my standards of clarity have become much lower since I've moved here) in analog but not at all in digital.
     
  4. Tilpots macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #4
    Being in an apartment is tough. Hopefully you're on one of the upper floors, say third or higher? If you have a window facing in the general direction of the city who's stations you're trying to get, this would be the first place I'd place the amplified antenna you have. You might need some extra cable, but I guarantee it will be worth it. The picture quality is really amazing, in SD or HD. Atmospheric conditions do come into play, so keep this in mind when you're trying to find your best antenna placement. Let me know how it goes...
     
  5. atomheartmother thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    #5
    I'm on the first floor of a two story building. I've tried facing the antennas (five different ones, 2 amplified) in all directions with the antenna poles in pretty much every position. Nothing is working out. I can't even get that one channel that I did earlier this afternoon. I guess I'll just have to live without TV from February until I move to a bigger city (hopefully) in about a year. Thanks for the help.

    EDIT: Yay! I messed around with the antenna on my living room TV and I can get two channels now. I still need the one other channel I watch, though. What I don't understand is that it supposedly shares the same transmitter as one of the two channels that I get, yet I don't get it.
     
  6. motulist macrumors 601

    motulist

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    #6
    Really? I love the switch to digital tv broadcasting, but not for the reason you might think. I like it because broadcast tv is awful and I've been meaning to stop watching broadcast tv altogether and just watch downloaded and streaming net tv, which is VASTLY superior in almost every respect. So I've used the switch to digital tv broadcasts as the final reason to get rid of it altogether. Just a few weeks ago I unplugged most of my tv antennas and have been watching computer received tv shows only, and it's been great.

    I highly recommend that people don't even spend the $40 to $60 on a convertor box, take that money and put it towards a computer-to-tv video system. You'll be much happier.
     
  7. Tilpots macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #7
    It all depends on the power output and tower height of the broadcasting stations. So even if two stations share the same tower, chances are their configurations are not the same. I'm glad you've at least got a couple. Keep messing around with it and you may get more.

    Since you're on the first floor, try placing the antenna in front of different windows in your place, even if they're not the right direction. Some times you can get a good bounce of a nearby building.
     
  8. atomheartmother thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    #8
    Can you explain more on the computer-to-tv video system thing? Also, are you just streaming episodes of shows off of network sites after the shows air? Or have you found some other way to stream live TV?

    I'll keep at it. I actually faced the antenna toward a nearby window, which is what got those few channels. Anyway, if it makes any difference, the one channel I'm trying to get but can't is VHF, whereas all of the other channels in the area (including the 2-3 I can now get) are UHF.
     
  9. Tilpots macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #9
    That could be your problem. Initially, all station's digital signals must be UHF. Even if it's currently Ch. 5 for example, they will remain at 5.1 on your TV or convertor box, but they will really be broadcasting OTA on, let's say, channel 46.

    Broadcasters embed what they call PSIP technology (I think that's right) to tell your TV where to locate the channel. So the OTA channel may not be the same as what your TV says it is. This allows a station to keep it's branding. The PSIP info is just one little bit of information digital TV will allow broadcasters to send out in addition to audio, video, and closed captioning. The possiblities for different bits of information embedded into the signal have not really realized it's potential. This is another huge advantage of digital over analog.

    I'm not sure how long after the switch occurs that broadcasters will be able to return to VHF, but currently if it's a VHF station and it's broadcasting a digital signal, it will be on a UHF channel. I'd contact the station to see which channel their signal is on and try looking for the signal on that channel number instead of their VHF number.
     
  10. motulist macrumors 601

    motulist

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    #10
    Live as in the actual second that it's being broadcast? No. But the second after the show is finished airing its all over bittorent. And actually, if you're anywhere other than the east coast then you might be able to download the show BEFORE its broadcast on tv in your area! And bittorrent can be automated so you can just "subscribe" to a show and then it automatically downloads through your bittorent client. Much of my online tv viewing is also through http://www.hulu.com which lets you watch tons of different shows and click exactly which episode you want to see when you want to see it and with very very few commercials.

    So all you need is a good computer monitor to watch it on or a way to output video to your tv. Depending on which Mac you have and which TV you have, you may already have all you need to output video from your computer to display it on your tv.
     
  11. atomheartmother thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    #11
    Hmmmm...Here is some info from their website:

    "Analog Channel 3 CBS WISC, is the only analog VHF station in the area, all other stations are UHF. We are located on the same tower as Channel 3. Therefore, as an antenna alignment aid, tune your tv to analog Channel 3 and adjust the antenna for the best reception. Your antenna should now be properly aligned to pick up the WMSN-DT digital signal on Virtual Channel 47-1, which is VHF Physical Channel over-the-air 11. Your antenna must be properly aligned BEFORE you perform a channel scan. If you can't pick up Channel 3, you may have a UHF only antenna."

    "WMSN is UHF since it transmits on Channel 47. WMSN-DT is VHF since it transmits on Channel 11."

    The 47-1 channel is the one I'm trying to get. I cannot, however, get that channel 3 in analog. I can kind of get audio from it with a vague outline of video, but that's it. So I can't get to the 47-1 channel using their tactic.
     
  12. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Location:
    On tenterhooks
    #12
    Rabbit ears are designed for analog signals.

    Your UHF bow-tie is closer to a digital antenna.

    If you search Google there is a guy who made a digital reflecting antenna out of coat-hangers and some aluminium foil.

    EDIT: Never mind, I saved you, and others, the trouble. Here.
     
  13. atomheartmother thread starter macrumors regular

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    Aug 27, 2006
    #13

    Thanks for that info. That things not going to work out for me, though, as it'd take up half of my living room.
     
  14. Tilpots macrumors 601

    Tilpots

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Location:
    Carolina Beach, NC
    #14
    WMSN is the first station I've heard of that was UHF in analog and was assigned a VHF digital signal. Very odd. That's our government at work! I'm a little confused, but it sounds like you need both a UHF and VHF antenna now to get all the stations in digital. If your digital antenna is UHF only, then you won't be able to get WMSN-DT. Make sense? Strange, I know.
     
  15. atomheartmother thread starter macrumors regular

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    Aug 27, 2006
    #15
    All the antennas I own are both UHF/VHF. VHF is picked up by the rabbit ear part and UHF is picked up by the loop, right? Or do I have that reversed? If that's the case, my basic rabbit ears have been able to pick up one digital UHF station, but not that VHF Fox one. My (slightly) more advanced antenna (has a loop and rabbit ears) picks up a few more UHF digital stations, but not that VHF one. Though, I credit that to that antenna being next to a window facing the general direction of city in which the towers are located.

    I'm returning the two powered/amplified antennas that I bought along with a non-amplified one. They didn't work any better than the two cheapo antennas I have; in fact, they picked up fewer stations no matter how much I messed around with them.

    Maybe things will get better once Feb. 17 rolls around. Until then, I always have analog stations.
     
  16. Berlepsch macrumors 6502

    Berlepsch

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    #16
    Over here, they also switched polarization for digital TV (from vertical to horizontal, IIRC), probably to reduce interference with analog broadcasts in neighboring regions. You can try and rotate your antenna to see if there is an effect.
     

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