time we are having a break from the
Instead, I present a saga that
has gone on for about 2 years, involving
- standard definition set-top
boxes for Digital T.V. reception,
- fringe area signal strengths,
- and really old T.V. sets.
I have reached the limit on
what can be done in this sorry saga!
It all started about 2 years ago …
My partner’s father was interested in, and subsequently purchased a
standard definition set-top box for his T.V. set in the lounge.
He was worried about the Government’s decree about phasing out analog
T.V. in the near future.
The target date for this happening has been postponed several times!
He is of the age that “doesn’t understand modern technology”…. In other
words …. Can you hook it up for me?
It should only take you 5 minutes!
His current set-up was hopeless
for Digital T.V.
The T.V. itself was quite
modern and presented no problems as it had
external video and audio inputs.
The antenna system was the
He lives in what is best
described as a fringe area as far as UHF
signals are concerned.
His analog T.V. reception was
quite reasonable as there is a local
translator transmitting the analog signals on the high band UHF (Band
Trying to get a signal for
digital T.V. was another story.
The only source is Mt.
Wellington here in Hobart.
His antenna was pointing the
wrong way and was not suitable anyway as
it was a dedicated Band 5 type …. and his house was built on the side
of a hill.
Just looking at the height of
the antenna from the ground made me feel
dizzy! (I’m not getting up there …. No way!)
I contrived a makeshift antenna
from indoor “rabbit ears” and mounted
them in his lounge room up as high as possible. This produced a
passable result for the time being.
It was prone to electrical
interference resulting in the picture and
sound breaking up occasionally.
I told him that a proper
outdoor antenna would be the only way to
improve the situation.
He said he would get up on the
roof one day and move the antenna.
He subsequently did this but it
still didn’t work.
In the meantime, he kept
pestering me to get the reception better for
I tried in vain to improve it
but to no avail.
I told him to get a new antenna.
He had more or less learned to
accept the situation.
The months went by with the
situation still the same …
I then predicted what would
happen next …
He’d want the little set in the
bedroom to show digital T.V. one day
In anticipation for this, I
purchased a R.F modulator from the tip shop
for a modest sum.
I knew that his little set was
fairly old and did not have external
video and audio inputs on the back.
This was when the real saga
It began with a request that I
“retune the telly in the bedroom for
Now our TDT is a digital only
station! (Basically channel 10 but with
I told him that it is digital
only and that he would need another
set-top box to receive it.
I don’t think he believed me at
first, asking several times over the
next few weeks to “retune his telly”.
One day, he announced that he
had purchased another set-top box for the
little T.V. and "could I set it up please?".
I gathered up all the things I
was likely to need … Cables etc.
I tested the R.F. modulator
before I left home to make sure it worked.
I headed up to his place and
set everything up.
The antenna situation was still
the same so I used “rabbit ears” again
for the antenna.
The result wasn’t as good as
the set in the lounge.
I figured that the signal
strength wasn’t as good in this part of the
I mentioned the antenna
situation to him again.
He basically didn’t want to
know about it as "the expense would be too
Anyhow, after a lot of mucking
around, a reasonable result was obtained
…. For a couple of days!
He was soon on the phone with a
complaint about most of the channels
either saying “No Signal”, or breaking up badly. I thought it strange
because it worked reasonably well previously.
I mucked about with the “rabbit
ears” a bit but couldn’t get a
I then tried re-tuning the
set-top box and that seemed to improve the
I thought it a bit strange but
put it down to “one of those things”!
The same thing happened a day
later … I was suspicious now!
I told him to bring the set-top
box to me as I was going to test it at
my place with a known good signal strength.
It behaved just the same .. It
needed to be re-tuned again!
Right! That set-top box is
faulty … The tuning is drifting!
I told him to take it back to
wherever he got it from and get another
Of course he lost the purchase
receipt so it couldn’t be returned.
I then tried to re-instate
analog reception for his little T.V. but it
“wasn’t as good as it used to be” …
Yes, the outside antenna was
pointing in the wrong direction after he
tried fiddling with it again. (refer back to my comment about the
height of the antenna!).
The “rabbit ears” were
Eventually, another set-top box
was purchased and I went through the
setting up process once again.
I “re-discovered” a Band 4/5
UHF antenna around the side of my house.
I was intending to put it up on
the roof but I didn’t have a ladder
It had languished there for
This may well have been the
solution to the reception problems
the”set-top box man” is having! After a clean up, it looked quite
He was on the phone to me with
a problem … ”It is stuck on one channel!”
I had to go up and investigate
He was right!
This set-top box insisted on
grouping the channels into several groups.
The group that was currently
selected only had one channel … hence,
that was the only one that could be brought up.
I had no idea why it did this,
and assumed that the wrong buttons were
being pushed on the remote control to get it into this mode.
I got it back to normal with
all the channels arranged alphabetically.
I mentioned the antenna that I
had, and my idea of swapping them.
He agreed to that and, in
exchange, I could try his antenna at my place.
He brought it to our place,
along with a suitable ladder, so I could
mount it on the roof in place of our old pay T.V. antenna.
His antenna worked well …
My antenna also worked well at
his place with only the occasional
flicker of bad reception.
I mentioned to him to try
getting an R.F. amplfier and installing it
before the splitter.
In the meantime, his set-top
box was playing up again … Same problem
... It was stuck in one group.
I suspected the wrong buttons
being pushed again … until I was
presented with the remote control!
His wife had wrapped it in
packing tape and a carefully cut out piece
of cardboard that blanked out EVERY button except, channel up and
down, and the power button!
Of course I had to remove all
this mess to get it back into it’s normal
It at least ruled out the wrong
buttons being pushed this time!
I suspected this set-top box
had a fault too!
It was confirmed when it did it
a third time.
This time I found it very
difficult to get back into normal mode.
I felt sorry for him and gave
him one of my set- top boxes to use … I
knew that worked
He kept the receipt for his
set-top box this time and convinced the
shop to refund his money!
Until part 2 next time … Bye
© Rick's Workbench 2009