Monday, April 28, 2008


First, let's start with the fact that I'm a confirmed Luddite (don't let the blogging fool you, I'm a Luddite). Second, that as a Luddite I am among those very few Americans that refuse to send a check every month to some cable/dish company to get TV, when I can receive it for free through the air.

So with the impending switch from analog to digital broadcast, and being cheap enough that I didn't want to go buy an HD TV, I did what any self-respecting Conservative would do... I stuck my hand out and got one (actually two) of those HD converter box $40 coupons from the government. They arrived last Saturday. So off I went to a local electronics store and bought a converter box (again actually two).

Saturday night I sat down and installed the darn thing. OK first problem... How do I configure the rabbit ears? I mean when you use analog rabbit ears, you can see how strong the signal (how good the reception) is by simply pointing them and looking at the screen. This does not work for digital. With a digital signal you have no picture or a perfect picture (in special directions you can get random oscillations between these). So how to find the best direction? This web site will tell you which direction and distance the HD broadcasters are in your area and the type of (outside) antenna to use. If you use rabbit ears, they "point" in the direction perpendicularly to the plane defined by the two antennas.

Anyways, after fudging around for about 10 minutes (which included the unbox and cabling time) I now have over the air digital TV on an old 27" analog TV set. The picture is terrific (except for those every now and again block artifacts). I did lose the local ABC affiliate, which broadcasts from the same mountain top as the CBS affiliate which comes in great, so I'm stumped on this one, but still experimenting.

One last thing... When I was at the store, a clerk told me that I need to replace my analog rabbit ears with an HD set. Huh? Rabbit ears are two long wires. Both analog and digital TV are broadcast at RF frequencies. How can the rabbit ears be "digital"? There is a built in amplifier, maybe, MAYBE, that matters. But I sure couldn't figure how why. Since I was buying two converter boxes, one for our main TV and a spare TV in the back that I thought I'd get going for when my In-Laws visit, and only had one pair of rabbit ears at home, I figured, OK I'll buy one HD rabbit ear set and test the thing. No Difference! Now I won't tell you that this was a scam, but I'd suggest you try your old "analog" set before you plunk down cash on a "digital" set.


K T Cat said...

Err, you don't have cable?

Ohioan@Heart said...

KT - Correct. No cable TV - I do have cable modem internet. No dish.

Air waves.

And it seems to work just fine. That's $45/mo I don't give to someone else in order to have access to shows about barely civilized folks building motorcycles, or two gumbas sitting behind a desk showing homeruns and yakking, or people shouting about the news. I do wish I had the Padres Channel and History Channel, but there are always choices to make.