OK, I'm Stumped??? Digital ABC Problem- Orange County, Ca.- HELP!!! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 43 Old 09-16-2009, 06:06 AM - Thread Starter
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I hope this is the right place...

I live in the 92683, Orange County, Ca.

Mt. Wilson is Line-of-Sight and is 34 miles away.

I have a Direct TV/TIVO HD-250 (5 yrs. old).

I "had" a CM 4 Bow-Tie antenna prior to the transition.

Everything was fine.

After 12 Jun 09:

Was having picture brake-ups and signal lock-on issues on digital channels 7-13 .

Did research and discovered that digital channels 7-13 converted back to VHF.

Did research and discovered I needed new VHF/UHF antenna.

Purchased Wenguard HD7694P.

Installed (roof mount) about one week ago.

"PROBLEM" now is - KABC 7-1...signal will not lock - 0 to 80, constant picture breaking up.

All other channels lock and indicate strong signals, did antenna alignment using PBS (95 signal).

Checked all cables, connections, moved antenna around, rescan, etc.

I don't know what else to do?????

Do my TIVO - receivers (ATSC) need to be replaced????

I have searched the net with no luck.

Please help.

Dave

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post #2 of 43 Old 09-16-2009, 06:51 AM
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0-80 - 0 usually means you have a multipath problem.

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

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post #3 of 43 Old 09-16-2009, 09:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Scooper,

I already have a "Directional" vhf/uhf antenna.

What other recommendations can you offer???

Thank you.

Dave

"Appeasment only makes the Aggressor more Aggressive"
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post #4 of 43 Old 09-16-2009, 09:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheridave View Post

Scooper,

I already have a "Directional" vhf/uhf antenna.

What other recommendations can you offer???

Thank you.

Dave

You're going to have to experiment on where you get the best steady signal for all stations. You could be getting bounce off a tree , or a building, etc.


Start with the www.tvfool.com for your location.

You CAN put antennas on your owned and/or controlled property...
http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

Being A Beacon of Knowledge in the darkness of FUD
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post #5 of 43 Old 09-16-2009, 10:38 AM
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Digital tuners unlike analog tuners will not receive a signal if it is either too strong or too weak. Your digital channel 7 may be too strong with the rooftop VHF antenna.
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post #6 of 43 Old 09-16-2009, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walford View Post

Digital tuners unlike analog tuners will not receive a signal if it is either too strong or too weak. Your digital channel 7 may be too strong with the rooftop VHF antenna.

There is no way to overload at that distance unless a pre-amp is being used. I'm using a 91XG only 4 miles outside of Wash DC with only a slight amount of overload.

I'm thinking this is a multipath issue. A diifferent aim may be needed for 7 to catch a reflected signal.
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post #7 of 43 Old 09-16-2009, 04:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses.

Multipath....different aim....do you mean moving the antenna around? higher? lower?

What other things should I try while I'm up there?

Dave

"Appeasment only makes the Aggressor more Aggressive"
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post #8 of 43 Old 09-16-2009, 04:37 PM
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Two very interesting things you mentioned got my attention, one being the Winegard 769X antenna and two, reception on channel 7.

I'm in NJ and like you have a good lock on all but channel 7 (WABC). I have the Winegard 7697p and can't figure out why channel 7 is such a problem. On TV fool, it is the strongest station in my area comming from NY, but has the weakest signal rating in Vista Media Center. It goes from bad to no signal depending on the day. I'm starting to wonder if the antenna design is at fault.

Any other Winegard 769Xp owners have issues with channel 7?
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post #9 of 43 Old 09-16-2009, 05:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheridave View Post

Multipath....different aim....do you mean moving the antenna around? higher? lower?
Dave

I would first try raising and then lowering the antenna 6-12 inches on it's present mounting location. If this doesn't help, you may want to try aiming 10-20 degrees off axis in both directions. One of my stations comes in best with the antenna pointed 30 degrees off axis because of reflections created by obstacles around the antenna. (Trees, houses, etc.)

Do you remember having any ghosting issues with analog reception?

I am also assuming you aren't using any type of signal amplification.
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post #10 of 43 Old 09-17-2009, 03:12 AM
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Install an FM trap as a first step. They're cheap and will eliminate a common but often undiagnosed problem.
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post #11 of 43 Old 09-17-2009, 05:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Digital Rules -

Will try your recommendations.

Did not have analog, only Direct TV and Digital...with no issues prior to 12 Jun 09.

I do not use any type of signal amplification.


ProjectSHO89-

Will look into the FM trap...I am not familiar with this.


ZombieTheater-

Boy I hope its not a defective antenna and I wouldn't know how to detect if it was defective or not.

Again thanks for the help so far.

Dave

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post #12 of 43 Old 09-17-2009, 06:18 AM
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Good morning Cheridave -

How is your signal on KCAL-DT 9.1, and KFLA-LD 8.1? It is possible you are having an issue with the VHF side of the board.

Thanks,

Andy Crowner
Winegard Company

For more information including Product Manuals, Engineering Specifications and questions answered by Winegard technicians please visit www.winegard.com.
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post #13 of 43 Old 09-17-2009, 10:24 AM - Thread Starter
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winegard,

I am not familiar with KFLA-LD 8.1 although according to AntennaWeb I see it is within the same LOS, degrees and miles as the other channels, but it is rated in the "BLUE" zone and my Winegard HD7694P is not rated for that zone.

KCAL-DT 9.1 shows a strong signal (80's) and is locked.

Like I said I just installed the HD7694P last week in the same spot as my CM 4-bay UHF antenna was and I am receiving the VHF digital channels except 7.1 KABC as decribed above.

Dave

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post #14 of 43 Old 09-17-2009, 12:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winegard View Post

Good morning Cheridave -

How is your signal on KCAL-DT 9.1, and KFLA-LD 8.1? It is possible you are having an issue with the VHF side of the board.

Thanks,

Andy, thank you for looking at this thread. If there were an issue with the VHF section of the downlead board would it only effect one channel? For me VHF 11 + 13 are as strong as my UHF channels its just channel 7 that has a very low or no signal. Maybe an impedeance issue?

I'm not looking to steal the thread, but two of us are having the same issue with the same brand antenna on different sides of the contry. Just want to make sure its not a known issue.

ProjectSHO, that was my first guess, second order FM harmonic. I installed a CM7778 with the FM trap in place. The amp helped with one weak UHF station but did not help the channel 7 issue, nor did it hurt. Being that there was no change at all I'm thining antenna issue.
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post #15 of 43 Old 09-17-2009, 03:07 PM - Thread Starter
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winegard,

Got home and checked KFLA-LD 8.1 signal strength....0-35....flucuates just like KABC 7.1, but as I stated before KCAL 9.1 is in the high 80s and solid.


ZombieTheater,

Good point.

I would be willing to change the "downlead board" ( little black box that snaps on), but where do we get one of those???

dave

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post #16 of 43 Old 09-17-2009, 05:23 PM
 
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THIS ENTIRE THREAD NEEDS TO BE SENT TO ABC HEADQUARTERS IN NYC - INTACT!

This is what those FOOLS over there that think they need to stay on the "channel 7" frequency they've been on since Howdy Doody, to be channel 7 - need to read. It's called VIEWER TESTIMONY, and you won't get it via Nielsen ratings.

Like I said, this is the age of "mapping" and "Translation". They can pick any UHF allotment that is available, and then TRANSLATE so that they show up as ch.7, 7.2, 7.x on consumer digital receivers and HDTVs.

Original poster - your ABC problem is not "yours"! It's ABCs - and THEY have to solve it. Read my thread "The Hill" and my digital reception saga. Like you, I've got above 90% signal strength on all channels from Manhattan out to Long Island except ABC7 - NY.

If there were so-called "reflectivity" and "bouncing" issues - they would affect all your/my channels.

Reflect THIS - ABC engineers and executives need to replace the Andy Griffith calendars with new ones. It's 200-freakin' 9 already!!!
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post #17 of 43 Old 09-17-2009, 06:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by D-6500 View Post

If there were so-called "reflectivity" and "bouncing" issues - they would affect all your/my channels.

Not true. Out of 3 stations coming from the same tower 40 miles away, only 1 is affected by signal bounce at my location.(UHF 38). The same problem exists, no matter what antenna I have used. An antenna rotator was the only solution.

Multipath can be a real PITA.
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post #18 of 43 Old 09-17-2009, 06:16 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital Rules View Post

Not true. Out of 3 stations coming from the same tower 40 miles away, only 1 is affected by signal bounce at my location.(UHF 38). The same problem exists, no matter what antenna I have used. An antenna rotator was the only solution.

Multipath can be a real PITA.

All I'm saying in a nutshell is that average folks should not have to go through hoops & hurdles just to get one network when to get everything else available to them they just literally threw a C-2 or such out the window and were fine otherwise.

The problem with ABC is nationwide - LA, Chicago, Miami, NYMetro. All these regions cannot possibly be experiencing the same bouncing/reflexology issues just with the ABC flagship or affiliates. The

problem

is

with

A

B

C

i
t
s
e
l
f



...period...
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post #19 of 43 Old 09-17-2009, 07:45 PM
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I would love to see KABC/7 move to a UHF channel and I have suggested that to them, right after WLS in Chicago applied for 44 (which is now approved).

I don't have much to add to the suggestions, except impulse noise, but if you have the problem constantly, it is unlikely, especially if 9-13 are ok.

Most of these have been suggested already:

FM Trap
Remove any amps
Attenuator/splitter
Turn the antenna to an off-angle
Raise/Lower the antenna
Run new cabling/check cabling
Check/replace the balun
Turn off all non-essential electrical devices
Do an AM radio test (for RF noise)
Check for flickering lights
Try a different antenna

I use a YA1713 for upper VHF reception, combined with a CM4228 by way of a diplexer (part of the 7777 pre-amp) and it is solid at home.

Still, I still believe we were better off with UHF only, before the transition. If so, I could get by with a 4221 just fine. The 4228 turned out to be much more UHF antenna than I needed, but I don't feel like fishing it out of the attic.
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post #20 of 43 Old 09-17-2009, 07:49 PM
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Also, have you checked out the LA thread:

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...page=250&pp=30

It has good info, but most of the potential problems seem to have been covered above already.
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post #21 of 43 Old 09-17-2009, 10:39 PM
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I'm not sure if this is relevent to the issue, but it is an interesting find. The last few nights I had noticed channel 7 is comming in around midnight. Oddly, channel 5.1(FOX) started breaking up around the same time. Tonight I left 5.1 on in the next room, around 12:30 the breakup started and by 1:00am it went dark. I then tuned to 7.1 and it was steady! The signal is not strong on the VMC meter(in the yellow) but it is rock steady and watchable.

Now, FOX is on real channel 44, I can't think of a way these two channels could interact unless there is a power problem, meaning ch7 gets a boost in voltage when 44 goes off the air.(just assuming 44 is off the air cause there is no signal at all)
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post #22 of 43 Old 09-17-2009, 11:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital Rules View Post

Not true. Out of 3 stations coming from the same tower 40 miles away, only 1 is affected by signal bounce at my location.(UHF 38). The same problem exists, no matter what antenna I have used. An antenna rotator was the only solution.

Multipath can be a real PITA.

Antenna reception has traditionally been a participation sport, and it still is. That means being able to adjust your antenna for the various channels you hope to receive. You've got 360 degrees of aim to deal with. A compass gives you the best chance to get all of the channels from one location, but offers no guarantee. You can look for a magic aim for all stations from a single location, again, no guarantees. My local ABC affiliate and CBS affiliate broadcast from the same tower, and antenna. Prior to the analog shutdown, I got ABC by aiming for the tower farm, and CBS by aiming 180 degrees opposite, this using an indoor antenna. Today, CBS is still 180 degrees off of the "correct" aim. ABC switched to VHF, so this directional UHF antenna doesn't receive it. On a traditional indoor antenna, another set, (rabbit ears/bowtie), both ABC and PBS have been flawless since June 13. Those networks both reverted back to VHF, rf 9 and 10 respectively.
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post #23 of 43 Old 09-18-2009, 12:28 AM
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Orange County? Mount Wilson? Wasn't the LA fire threatening Mount Wilson? OK I know it didn't burn, but the vicinity of the fire may have disturbed some equipment. You checked with other people in your area? They are not broadcasting with reduced power due to damage or anything are they?

Solution: FREE. Explanation: I will have to charge$ you.

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post #24 of 43 Old 09-18-2009, 06:23 AM
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Quote:


winegard,

I am not familiar with KFLA-LD 8.1 although according to AntennaWeb I see it is within the same LOS, degrees and miles as the other channels, but it is rated in the "BLUE" zone and my Winegard HD7694P is not rated for that zone.

KCAL-DT 9.1 shows a strong signal (80's) and is locked.

Like I said I just installed the HD7694P last week in the same spot as my CM 4-bay UHF antenna was and I am receiving the VHF digital channels except 7.1 KABC as decribed above.

Dave


Quote:


ZombieTheater

Andy, thank you for looking at this thread. If there were an issue with the VHF section of the downlead board would it only effect one channel? For me VHF 11 + 13 are as strong as my UHF channels its just channel 7 that has a very low or no signal. Maybe an impedeance issue?

I'm not looking to steal the thread, but two of us are having the same issue with the same brand antenna on different sides of the contry. Just want to make sure its not a known issue.

ProjectSHO, that was my first guess, second order FM harmonic. I installed a CM7778 with the FM trap in place. The amp helped with one weak UHF station but did not help the channel 7 issue, nor did it hurt. Being that there was no change at all I'm thining antenna issue.



Quote:


Got home and checked KFLA-LD 8.1 signal strength....0-35....flucuates just like KABC 7.1, but as I stated before KCAL 9.1 is in the high 80s and solid.


ZombieTheater,

Good point.

I would be willing to change the "downlead board" ( little black box that snaps on), but where do we get one of those???

dave

I'm sending your information over to engineering for a more complete answer. I will probably not have anything back until Monday morning but we'll get this figured out.

It does not sound like you are having an issue with the VHF side of the cartridge board because of your strong signal on 9.1. I have never seen a single channel go out on a board before but that will be one question I send to the engineers just to make sure.

I'm also assuming 8.1 is broadcasting at a lower power which is why it is rated blue. The 94 should still have no problem bringing in this channel however.

I'll let you know as soon as I hear back.

Thanks,

Andy Crowner
Winegard Company

For more information including Product Manuals, Engineering Specifications and questions answered by Winegard technicians please visit www.winegard.com.
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post #25 of 43 Old 09-18-2009, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
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All,

Excellent responses and suggestions.


winegard,

Thank you and I look forward to your next post.


I appreciate all your help thus far guys.

Dave

"Appeasment only makes the Aggressor more Aggressive"
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post #26 of 43 Old 09-18-2009, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cheridave View Post

winegard,

Got home and checked KFLA-LD 8.1 signal strength....0-35....flucuates just like KABC 7.1, but as I stated before KCAL 9.1 is in the high 80s and solid.


ZombieTheater,

Good point.

I would be willing to change the "downlead board" ( little black box that snaps on), but where do we get one of those???

dave

Different part of the country, SAME channel, SAME problem.

Our channel 7 was doing digital in high UHF, but at the analog cutoff they moved that digital broadcast over their traditional home, channel seven.

They immediately lost a huge part of their viewing area, despite the fact the FCC had told them they'd do fine in digital on channel 7.

Apparently nothing's changed, and with FCC permission they're currently simulcasting, having gone back to using the UHF channel they'd been on before, but also still doing digital on 7.

It's...strange. (My DTV Pal box scans for the channel and finds both, but identifies one of them as channel 70. And that's the one that comes in better.)
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post #27 of 43 Old 09-19-2009, 09:30 AM
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gastrof, it seems that the station in your area is at least trying to do something about the issue.

I found an article written july29, WABC NY has asked the FCC to increase its power from 11KW to 27KW but they know it will interfere with a non-comercial PBS station. I guess they are reluctant to leave ch7 and the FCC has not granted them a power increase.
http://www.tvnewscheck.com/articles/2009/06/29/daily.3/

I'm starting to get the impression that this is a nation wide issue.
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post #28 of 43 Old 09-19-2009, 03:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZombieTheater View Post


I'm starting to get the impression that this is a nation wide issue.

Your instincts are correct, young Jedi!
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post #29 of 43 Old 09-20-2009, 09:50 AM
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How bout that, I just happened upon this article while browsing my homepage this morning.



Don't change that channel: DTV woes still abound
NEW YORK, Fri Sep 18, 03:57 PM

Think the digital TV transition is over? Not quite.

Many viewers have found that they can't pick up certain stations after the switch, even with the right TVs or converter boxes. The stations are still trying to figure out ways to help them tune in.

The main problem is that when the last major stations turned off their analog TV on June 12 to broadcast entirely in digital, some of them moved their digital signals from the UHF frequency band (channels 14 to 69) to VHF (channels 2 to 13). To most viewers, these channels are just different numbers on the remote. But as signals in the airwaves, they have very different characteristics.

VHF hadn't been used much for digital signals, and there were indications that there would be problems with the switch, partly because viewers had inadequate indoor antennas. Still, the switch went ahead.

Since then, at least 20 VHF stations have asked the Federal Communications Commission to move their digital signals back to UHF, and more would like to do so. However, the government has sold off some of the UHF band to cell phone carriers, leaving less space for TV channels. Another portion is planned to be used for emergency services, which was another reason for the digital TV transition.



Philadelphia's ABC affiliate, WPVI, switched its digital signal to channel 6 on June 12, and got thousands of calls per day from viewers who couldn't find the station on their sets any more.

Within a week, WPVI got emergency permission from the FCC to quadruple its transmission power. It could do that because the closest station that also uses channel 6, in Binghamton, N.Y., also wanted to increase its power, which meant it wouldn't be overwhelmed by the stronger signal from Philly. But in other cases, increasing power is a complicated proposition involving several stations. More than 50 VHF stations have applied to increase their signal power.

The power increase helped WPVI punch through to a lot of viewers, but the station still gets calls every day. Hank Volpe, director of engineering at WPVI, says he understands the loss of the station's UHF slot, "but I would have loved to have a UHF channel to play with."

Mark Colombo, a TV enthusiast and electrical engineering student who maintains an online database of the country's TV stations, said "everyone who had any sense" knew that broadcasting digitally on channel 6 or lower would yield terrible reception. Those channels are susceptible to interference from household electronics, spark plugs in passing cars and distant thunderstorms.

What was more surprising was that channels 7 to 13 also had problems, though there had been clues it would happen there, too. WVUE in New Orleans, a Fox station, turned off its analog signal last December, before most other stations, and moved its digital signal to channel 8. The reaction was immediate.

"We fielded thousands of phone calls," said Al Domescik, WVUE's director of engineering. "We did everything we could. We talked to people on the phone. We sent technicians out to people's houses. We brought antennas to people's houses. We just kept beating our heads against the wall for months."

In June, the station started simulcasting on UHF, which mollified most viewers.

WVUE's experience was repeated more than six months later, when Chicago's ABC station, WLS, tried to move its digital signal to channel 7. It says it got nearly 7,000 calls from viewers about reception problems in the week after the transition. Nearly half of the homes visited by the FCC in WLS's service area in late June had inadequate indoor reception.

WLS tried doubling its output power, but it wasn't enough. Now the FCC is letting it move to UHF channel 44.

TV consultant Peter Putman said a lot of reception problems for digital VHF channels can be attributed to the fact that VHF antennas need to be large. The long rods on an outdoor antenna are for VHF reception, and it's difficult to make a compact indoor antenna with good VHF performance.

TV watchers with indoor antennas had the same problem with VHF stations when they were analog, but often suffered through it. They would get a poor, snowy picture and decent sound, and considered that good enough. But because digital is an "all-or-nothing" technology, the weak signal they get on digital isn't enough to produce a picture at all.

Some TV viewers simply have the wrong antennas. For years, "HDTV" antennas were sold that brought in only UHF. Andy Couch, a Web developer in Austin, Texas, installed one in his attic and was happy with it until this summer, when the local Fox station, KTBC, disappeared from his set. It had moved its digital signal from UHF to VHF.

"Now I have to get a VHF antenna for just one channel? No thanks," he said.

Another problem is that FM radio stations can interfere with VHF TV channels.

Volpe at WPVI in Philadelphia said FM interference is easily dealt with by installing an "FM filter" or "FM trap" on antennas. Analog TV manufacturers incorporated such filters in their sets. However, digital TVs and converter boxes lack these filters, since they do nothing to improve digital reception in UHF, where digital signals mainly had been until this year's transition.

FCC spokeswoman Janice Wise noted that relatively few stations out of the more than 1,800 in the country have reported reception problems after the transition, and said the agency is working closely with them to resolve their issues.

"People are figuring there's someone out there to blame for this," Volpe said. "Well, there's nobody to blame."

But the nature of the DTV transition with nearly all major-city stations turning off on the same day as mandated by Congress didn't make it easier to identify and deal with reception issues. Colombo, the TV enthusiast, points out that in Wilmington, N.C., where the FCC encouraged TV stations to shut down last September as a test for the big day, all the digital TV stations used UHF. The area also lacks large hills that can block signals.

"It was basically the ideal market," he said. "You could not ask for an easier market to deal with than Wilmington."
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Originally Posted by ZombieTheater View Post

How bout that, I just happened upon this article while browsing my homepage this morning.



Don't change that channel: DTV woes still abound
NEW YORK, Fri Sep 18, 03:57 PM

Think the digital TV transition is over? Not quite.

Many viewers have found that they can't pick up certain stations after the switch, even with the right TVs or converter boxes. The stations are still trying to figure out ways to help them tune in.

The main problem is that when the last major stations turned off their analog TV on June 12 to broadcast entirely in digital, some of them moved their digital signals from the UHF frequency band (channels 14 to 69) to VHF (channels 2 to 13). To most viewers, these channels are just different numbers on the remote. But as signals in the airwaves, they have very different characteristics.

VHF hadn't been used much for digital signals, and there were indications that there would be problems with the switch, partly because viewers had inadequate indoor antennas. Still, the switch went ahead.

Since then, at least 20 VHF stations have asked the Federal Communications Commission to move their digital signals back to UHF, and more would like to do so. However, the government has sold off some of the UHF band to cell phone carriers, leaving less space for TV channels. Another portion is planned to be used for emergency services, which was another reason for the digital TV transition.



Philadelphia's ABC affiliate, WPVI, switched its digital signal to channel 6 on June 12, and got thousands of calls per day from viewers who couldn't find the station on their sets any more.

Within a week, WPVI got emergency permission from the FCC to quadruple its transmission power. It could do that because the closest station that also uses channel 6, in Binghamton, N.Y., also wanted to increase its power, which meant it wouldn't be overwhelmed by the stronger signal from Philly. But in other cases, increasing power is a complicated proposition involving several stations. More than 50 VHF stations have applied to increase their signal power.

The power increase helped WPVI punch through to a lot of viewers, but the station still gets calls every day. Hank Volpe, director of engineering at WPVI, says he understands the loss of the station's UHF slot, "but I would have loved to have a UHF channel to play with."

Mark Colombo, a TV enthusiast and electrical engineering student who maintains an online database of the country's TV stations, said "everyone who had any sense" knew that broadcasting digitally on channel 6 or lower would yield terrible reception. Those channels are susceptible to interference from household electronics, spark plugs in passing cars and distant thunderstorms.

What was more surprising was that channels 7 to 13 also had problems, though there had been clues it would happen there, too. WVUE in New Orleans, a Fox station, turned off its analog signal last December, before most other stations, and moved its digital signal to channel 8. The reaction was immediate.

"We fielded thousands of phone calls," said Al Domescik, WVUE's director of engineering. "We did everything we could. We talked to people on the phone. We sent technicians out to people's houses. We brought antennas to people's houses. We just kept beating our heads against the wall for months."

In June, the station started simulcasting on UHF, which mollified most viewers.

WVUE's experience was repeated more than six months later, when Chicago's ABC station, WLS, tried to move its digital signal to channel 7. It says it got nearly 7,000 calls from viewers about reception problems in the week after the transition. Nearly half of the homes visited by the FCC in WLS's service area in late June had inadequate indoor reception.

WLS tried doubling its output power, but it wasn't enough. Now the FCC is letting it move to UHF channel 44.

TV consultant Peter Putman said a lot of reception problems for digital VHF channels can be attributed to the fact that VHF antennas need to be large. The long rods on an outdoor antenna are for VHF reception, and it's difficult to make a compact indoor antenna with good VHF performance.

TV watchers with indoor antennas had the same problem with VHF stations when they were analog, but often suffered through it. They would get a poor, snowy picture and decent sound, and considered that good enough. But because digital is an "all-or-nothing" technology, the weak signal they get on digital isn't enough to produce a picture at all.

Some TV viewers simply have the wrong antennas. For years, "HDTV" antennas were sold that brought in only UHF. Andy Couch, a Web developer in Austin, Texas, installed one in his attic and was happy with it until this summer, when the local Fox station, KTBC, disappeared from his set. It had moved its digital signal from UHF to VHF.

"Now I have to get a VHF antenna for just one channel? No thanks," he said.

Another problem is that FM radio stations can interfere with VHF TV channels.

Volpe at WPVI in Philadelphia said FM interference is easily dealt with by installing an "FM filter" or "FM trap" on antennas. Analog TV manufacturers incorporated such filters in their sets. However, digital TVs and converter boxes lack these filters, since they do nothing to improve digital reception in UHF, where digital signals mainly had been until this year's transition.

FCC spokeswoman Janice Wise noted that relatively few stations out of the more than 1,800 in the country have reported reception problems after the transition, and said the agency is working closely with them to resolve their issues.

"People are figuring there's someone out there to blame for this," Volpe said. "Well, there's nobody to blame."

But the nature of the DTV transition with nearly all major-city stations turning off on the same day as mandated by Congress didn't make it easier to identify and deal with reception issues. Colombo, the TV enthusiast, points out that in Wilmington, N.C., where the FCC encouraged TV stations to shut down last September as a test for the big day, all the digital TV stations used UHF. The area also lacks large hills that can block signals.

"It was basically the ideal market," he said. "You could not ask for an easier market to deal with than Wilmington."

Once again, the government made short-sighted decisions that yielded long-term negative implications for digital OTA TV broadcasts in this country:

#1. Shrinking an already crowded UHF digital playing field by selling of sections of the UHF(14-69) band.

#2. Allowing anyone to move their digital transmission below channel 14(VHF zone 7-13).

Can our government do ANYTHING right???
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