Page 1 of 3


Posted: Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:02 pm
by Mark R. Obtinario
Hi Sharkey,

I posted here because I thought you might be the go-to person to find out what exactly I need to be able to receive broadcast tv once the system goes all digital.

Currently I have a two new Emerson HDTV sets. The newest one has a line on the bottom of the screen that says digital television when the power is turned on.

Most of the time I am able to watch KBTC 15-1, 15-2, 15-3, and 15-4 along with all of the regualr broadcast channels, including KBTC channel 15.

My problem is that when the different broadcast stations have done HD tests my tv's have gone to snow.

I put an analog/digital convertor box in to see what would happen.

I went from several stations that included digital broadcasts to no stations.

I have a large UHF/VHF antenna mounted 10' above the high point on the roof with a Radio Shack amplifier on it.

Since I don't live where cable is available and I don't want to have to pay for a satellite system, what do I need to do to get digital broadcast tv reception?

Thanks for your input.

Mark O.
Winlock, WA

P.S. Currently we are usually able to pick up a good signal from channels 2, 6, 8, 10, an 12 from Portland and channel 15, 25, and 42 from Seattle/Tacoma. MRO


Posted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 4:22 am
Hi Mark, TMAX here. I might be better able to help you with the digital TV issue better than Sharkey due to his location. Where he is, is served by low power television translators which will not be affected when the transition comes. Translators, low power broadcasters, and station transmitters located within 50 miles of an international boarder (ie: Mexico) will remain unchanged.

As far as your television sets are concerned, this is what you will have to look for. On your two newest sets, check with the owners manuals for the tuner type. It should list the type of tuner your sets have. The "old" standard is called "NTSC" (national television system committee) or in a throwback to the old days, "never twice the same colour", the new, digital standard is called "ATSC" or advanaced television system committee. All newer television sets should have both types of tuners built into them, newer meaning built after 2006 with a screen size of 27" or larger.

On the channels you receive, if they are 2, 3, 4, etc. on up, they are analog and subject to elimination after 17 February of this year. Any channel that comes up with a number like 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 7.5, or anything dot anything, they are digital. In fact, all broadcast channels popping up as anything.1 is a simulcast of what is being regularly broadcast in the analog format for now.

From what littile I know at this time, the digital signal will be sent in the UHF spectrum (for now anyways). Your VHF/UHF antennae should work just fine with the exception that it will have to be in good condition and aimed carefully at the transmission source. The reason for this is that the power of the digital signal is much lower than the old analog type. What you will notice is that with an analog signal, if it is weak or otherwise not right, you will get snow, ghosting, weak and/or distorted image or (in the sound) static. With digital, for the most part, you will get a good signal, or no signal and not much else. If you do, the weak or marginal signal will show up as a mosaic type image.

I hope that what I have written can be of some help. If you have any more questions, please let me know.


Posted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:17 am
by Mark R. Obtinario
That would explain why sometimes when I can't get channel 15-1 I can get channel 15 but it is sort of fuzzy.

I am beginning to wonder if I should purchase a better signal amplifier.

The Radio Shack unit I have doesn't seem to be doing the job any longer.

I am thinking a Channel Master or Archer unit will be better than a Radio Shack brand.

I wish I had a signal strength meter. With one of those I would be able to determine just what exactly is or is not going on with what I have.


Posted: Thu Jan 15, 2009 6:56 am
Hi Mark, I would hold off on a new amplifier for now unless you know that yours is shot. A good way to tell is to tune in to an analog signal with the amp in place and then take it out and just have a straight thru connection to your TV. If the signal degrades, then your amplifier is working. If the signal remains about the same or improves without the amplifier, then it should be replaced. On replacing the amplifier, make sure that the new one will work in the UHF range.

Two other things to be concerned about is the cable you are using and if you have splitters on your line. First the cable, it should be RG-6 quad shield. That is the most desireable kind and should be listed on the side of the cable. The other two common types are RG-6 and RG-59. Both of these types (especially RG-59) will have more loss in the UHF range. Also keep in mind if you are using any splitters as a one to two splitter will introduce about 3 to 4 db of loss to signal strength and a one to four splitter about 7 to 9 db of loss.


Posted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 3:07 am
by Griff
Hey Tmax,

Great info, thanx!
TMAX wrote:...a one to two splitter will introduce about 3 to 4 db of loss to signal strength and a one to four splitter about 7 to 9 db of loss...
Is the reverse also true?

The reason I ask is that where I am currently situated (boondoggles), the broadcast antennas are all around me (and NOT close to me) and I have to reposition my current single antenna depending on which channels I want to watch. I am considering buying a second antenna so I can aim both in opposite directions, then I planned to use a 1 to 2 splitter hooked up in reverse to combine the signal inputs to my converter box.

I don't watch much TV, but when I do want to watch, it's annoying having to run in & out, back & forth repositioning the antenna for a signal. HD may provide a good picture, but I had better antenna reception (more channels with less antenna adjustment) when I was 'analog-ing' it.

Thanks for your input!



Posted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 6:19 am
Hi Griff, sorry about not getting back to you sooner, computer issues.

For your question, a splitter will not work in reverse. It is pretty much a one way device. What would work is a combiner. It looks like a splitter, but is made to mesh 2 or more sources into one feed.

I would not recommend this way to go in your situation. If only using 2 antennae pointed at 2 different transmission sources, I would run 2 cables to an A/B switch near the TV set.

If you pick up your signals from more than 2 directions, as much as I don't like to go this route (cost and it is a maintenance issue), I would stick with one antennae and put it on a rotator. Take care


Posted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 12:47 pm
by Griff
On the contrary, Tmax, I wasn't expecting such a fast reply! (...and liviing on the trailing edge of technology with a dumpster-diver-developed computer myself, I'm no stranger to computer issues either, heh, heh!)

I think my ultimate solution is to just keep things the way they are. I don't really watch enough TV to make it worthwhile anyway, I just figured for those few times I do, it'd be nice not to have to schlep out to adjust it in inclement weather. Maybe I'll just put it on a telescoping pole, mount it between a couple windows and just reach out a window to adjust.

Now that I think about it, I think I have all the materials I need to make my own basic positioning device!

Thank you again for the enlightenment (and the impromptu brainstorm)!



Posted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 6:11 am
Hi Griff, was checking out some antennae gear yesterday and found out that now they do make and sell splitter/combiner units and they are not much more than straight splitters. Still, that would not be my favourite way to go.

I really like your idea about placing a pole outside a window. Between 15 and 25 years ago, I had a setup like that and it worked very well for me. I live in a large metropolitan area (Los Angeles, where you don't trust air you can't see). Our local TV station transmitters are located north of us on Mount Wilson. With my hand powered rotator, I could turn it east and pick up Palm Springs stations or south for San Diego. The only issue I had with this setup was it was placed over what became a second story deck and the antennae was a great source of bird droppings.

I eventually placed the new antennae on our front house and ran an underground cable to our place.



Posted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 4:37 pm
Hello everybody, it's a relief for a lot of folks (me included) that the DTV transition date has been moved out 4 months to June of this year (note: this is voluntary and some stations may still pull the analog plug this coming Tuesday). The main reason given for this is that there is a tremendous backlog for the $40 coupons for the DTV converters and no more funding for them. The hope is that many that expired without being used (they all had a 90 day expiration date from issue) may be re-issued for a second chance. Also (and this is just starting to be addressed in new service advertisements) is the need for a proper antenna. I obtained my new DTV converters about 6 months ago and they are still sitting in the closet. Connected to my old VHF/UHF antenna they brought iffy reception at best. Also the converters block all the existing analog signals from getting through to your TV unless your lucky and your set has a video input along with an antenna input (you will still need a splitter or A/B switch). There are a few DTV converter exceptions to this, but the one available from Radio Shack is the only one I can think of at this time.

I have been asking questions and have been given different answers on what antenna to use. VHF/UHF or UHF only or what? Well, it looks like it may be something in between. Lets start with the TV bands, there are 3 of them, VHF low (channels 2 thru 6) and high (channels 7 thru 13) and UHF (channels 14 thru 83). The low bands have been the most coveted and have been sold by the government for public saftey and wireless services. They are for now, all but gone. The high bands I have been told are sort of in a state of flux. That is in some areas (I don't know which) the transition to DTV is just in signal configuration (analog to digital) and not in frequency. Here in the Los Angeles area, all TV frequencys will change with the transition. The kicker is that some of the high VHF channels "may" transition back sometime in the future. I have been told the best thing to do is get an antenna that is made to cover VHF high and UHF (right now, I don't know if this type of antenna is even in production). I guess the next best thing to do at least in my area is get a good UHF only antenna (keep in mind the new DTV channels reside in the UHF range of channel 30 on up). For information on the location of TV station transmitters in your area go to

If you have any questions, please let me know and I'll do my best to answer them.


Posted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:10 am
by Mark R. Obtinario
I am glad I am not the only one who is struggling with trying to make a convertor box work.

I had a long conversation with an engineer from KATU in Portland, OR.

Basically my problem is distance--I am at the edge of both the Seattle and Portland service areas. As a consequence, whatever I receive is pretty iffy at best.

I think TMAX said it best, I am going to have to upgrade to a better antenna.

My problem is I am not sure what I need is currently available.

What I do know is the people at Radio Shack don't have a real clue and there are no other alternatives for antenna purchases locally that are any better. BTDT.

What I have decided to do is to just wait and see.

Once the stations go all digital I will be in a better position to determine what I have to do.

Thanks for the help.


Posted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:47 am
Hi Mark, have done some more checking around and found some antenna options. There is a company called Winegard ( that makes several TV antenna types including (only one for now) that combines VHF high and UHF in one unit. To boot, their products are US made. I used to sell these antennas some 38 or 39 years (yikes!) ago before working at the phone company. In fact the (old and tired) antenna that is on my roof now (15 + years) is a Winegard. I would consider repairing (probably cleaning it would do) it if the DTV conversion did not include a frequency assingment change in my area. The one advantage to the change is that the new antenna will be smaller. Another antenna manufacturer to check out is Channel Master.

I feel the same way as you when it comes to Radio Shack. I go there only if I know that what I'm looking for is carried and that I'm emotionally prepared for a cell phone sales pitch.

Keep in mind, if you are going to change your antenna, make sure your cable is RG-6 quad shield.

On another subject, I am a bit of a computer dummy. What does BTDT mean?

bye 4 now / TMAX

Posted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:48 am
by Mark R. Obtinario
Been There, Done That

Posted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:55 am
Boy, was I wrong. I thought it ment before the digital transition. Thanks Mark...



Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:11 pm
Well, I just checked with and found out that after the new transition date (12 June 2009) that the digital (channels 7.1 thru 13.1) TV frequencys for my area will transition from UHF back to their now occupied by analog simulcast channels (7 thru 13). What this means is that a UHF only antenna will no longer work. I'll be needing to go with the VHF high / UHF type antenna, bummer, no coat hanger TV. UHF only types cost less, are smaller, and there are several to choose from. Since this information is recent (at least in my area, Los Angeles) readers might want to check with this website to see if they will be affected as well.

On a more progressive note, I have found a great source of antenna information at . Well worth looking into.



Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:25 pm
Please folks, don't think I'm attempting to SPAM. I'm just trying to help. I just got off Winegards website, and found out that they have 7 new roof top TV antennas that cover VHF high / UHF. These are so new that most don't have illustrations yet. I'll be ordering one tonight and let you all know how it works out. I will start out with a low price model for 2 reasons (beside that I'm cheap). First, my father-in-law will need a new antenna because the UHF only one he has now will fall short after the transition. And second, my new HDTV has a built in signal strength meter and will let me know if this low end antenna is enough or if I'll need something with more oomph. I'm between 20 and 25 miles from our local TV transmitters site location so this may be all I need.

More later