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 > Analog to Digital Transition FAQ

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pulsar

Lewisville, NC

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Posted: 11/21/08 09:43pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

  • What is the Analog to Digital Transition?
    The switch from analog to digital broadcast television is referred to as the digital TV (DTV) transition. In 1996, the U.S. Congress authorized the distribution of an additional broadcast channel to each broadcast TV station so that they could start a digital broadcast channel while simultaneously continuing their analog broadcast channel. Later, Congress mandated that February 17, 2009 (see next paragraph) would be the last day for full-power television stations to broadcast in analog. Broadcast stations in all U.S. markets are currently transmitting in both analog and digital formats. After February 17, 2009, all full-power television stations will broadcast in digital only.

    Congress has changed the date to June 12, 2009. About 1/3 of the television stations have applied to the FCC for permission to go ahead with the transition on February 17. Although the FCC chairman has stated that they will not let all stations in a given market terminate their analog broadcasts, it is very likely that many stations will be broadcasting only digital signals after February 17.

    Digital and High Definition are not equivalent terms. All High Definition signals are Digital. But not all Digital signals are High Definition. The mandated changeover is to Digital, not to High Definition.

  • Why the switch to digital television?
    To free up portions of the broadcast spectrum for other purposes, such as public safety communications and advanced wireless services. Although less of the broadcast spectrum will be devoted to over-the-air television, because digital transmissions are more efficient than analog, there will be more channels available. In addition, the average viewer will have substantially better picture and sound.

  • Who is affected?
    The mandated change is for all full-power over-the-air television stations. If you currently use a roof-top antenna or "rabbit ears," then you are affected.

    • Satellite TV users already receive digital signals.

    • In September, 2007, the FCC finalized the rules for cable companies relative to the digital changeover. Cable companies are required to provide all local broadcasts in analog, if they provide any analog service. Some companies will choose to go to all digital and could require you to rent or purchase a "digital cable set-top box."

  • What do I need to do?
    • If you have digital TV(s), you do not have to do anything. A TV is digital if it has a digital tuner (ATSC). Digital TVs should have a label; for example, "Digital Tuner." Note: "Digital Ready" does not mean it has a digital tuner.

      One way to tell if a TV is digital is to look at the remote control. A remote for a digital TV will have a period '.' or a dash '-' with the numbers so that one can enter 7.1, 7.2 (7-1, 7-2) etc.

    • If you will continue to use an analog TV, then you will need a Set Top Converter box, a device that converts the digital signal to an analog signal. Converter boxes will be discussed below.

  • Will I need a new antenna?
    No, not if your current antenna receives channels 2 - 83. This includes RV-style 'batwing' antennas. If you have an old-style antenna that connects to your TV with two wires, you will need to purchase two adapters, because the converters use coaxial cables. These 75 to 300 ohm adapters can be purchased at electronic stores, such as Radio Shack.

  • Converter Boxes
    As stated above, a digital to analog converter converts digital signals received from an over-the-air antenna into analog signals that are required by "older" televisions.

    • Converter Box Coupons
      The Government established a coupon program to defray the changeover costs to consumers. Each household can receive up to two coupons worth $40 each. The coupons can be applied toward the purchase price of "eligible" converters. The eligible converters range in price form $40 to $70.

      You can apply for coupons at https://www.dtv2009.gov/

      Added 1/25: The following notice is on the government coupon site:

      Important: The TV Converter Box Coupon Program has reached its funding ceiling. However, coupon requests from eligible households will be filled as funds from expiring coupons become available. If you would like to apply for a coupon today and are eligible, you will be placed on a waiting list and will receive coupons an a first-come-first-served basis as funds from expiring coupons become available. Coupons will expire within 90 days or the date they are mailed


      Although you may need the converter boxes for your RV, the program is for households that receive over-the-air transmissions. Thus, one should be careful in filling out the application form. You don't want to mention the cable or satellite TV you use at home. You must provide a home address, not a business address. (Note: I know of only one person that was, seemingly, turned down because he noted that he had cable service.)

    • Which is the right converter to buy?
      The coupons will come with a list of "eligible" converter boxes. To use the coupons, you must purchase converters from that list.

      Not all converter boxes are created equally. Some have RF "pass-through," which allows analog signals to pass through the converter box without being changed. This is particularly useful now, while stations are broadcasting both digital and analog signals. The pass-through should allow analog cable signals to pass through. It will also allow low-power (LP) stations, who are exempt from the digital conversion, to still be viewed on a legacy analog television. (There are hundreds of these transmitters, and some cities will remain almost exclusively analog because the whole town is served by LP transmitters.)

      Not all remote controls are equal. Some will allow you to control features, such as on/off and volume of the television, as well as change the channels on the converter box.

      Let's note here that your TV will be set to channel 3 or 4, depending on switch setting on the converter, and the converter box will be used to change the channels. It is the converter box that has the digital tuner. (Also, all of the converter boxes have analog Video and Stereo Audio outputs that can feed an external V/A input on a vast majority of analog receivers.)

    • Installing the converter box in an RV
      Most of the converter boxes will require 120 VAC - the eligible boxes were designed for households, not RVs. There is one on the list specifically designed for 12V.

      The connection sequence is:
        Antenna to distribution switch, if your rig has one.
        Distribution switch to converter.
        Converter to television.

        antenna -> distribution switch -> converter -> TV

      Note: Apparently, there is a great temptation to connect the converted box to the cable leading directly from the antenna. In most cases, not only will this not work it could damage the converter box. This cable carries power to the built-in amplifier.

      Do you see the problem, if the converter box doesn't have analog pass-through? There is only one cable that runs from the TV to the distribution switch. How does the VCR or DVD signal reach the television? There are workarounds, but the analog pass through feature simplifies the connections.

    • Multiple Televisions
      Unless you want to watch the same channel on all TVs, you need a converter box for each television. The setup for each TV would be the same as described above.

  • Comparison of Analog and Digital Coverage Areas
    The FCC has issued a report showing the coverage maps for all full-service TV facilities, including 1,749 stations that have both an analog and DTV facility and 69 stations having only DTV facilities. The maps show each station's digital TV coverage as compared to its analog TV coverage (except for the 69 DTV-only stations) within each Nielson Designated Market Area.

    Map Book of All Full-Power Digital Television Stations Authorized by the FCC

  • Links to existing threads

    TV Converter Box Review

    HD Converter Boxes

    DTV conversion

    Home built HD antenna


* This post was last edited 02/12/09 06:56am by pulsar *   View edit history

bldrbuck

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Posted: 11/21/08 10:11pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We have been told this for months by TV stations. Thanks for trying to make it clear.

ronfisherman

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Posted: 11/22/08 06:04am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

pulsar wrote:

Let's note here that your TV will be set to channel 3 and the converter box will be used to change the channels. It is the converter box that has the digital tuner. (All STB’s also have analog Video and Stereo Audio outputs that can feed an external V/A input on a vast majority of analog receivers.)

A note about TV channel.
The converts that I have installed use either channel 3 or 4. Depending on where switch on rear of converter is set. Others switch the channel during setup.


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davelinde

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Posted: 11/25/08 06:58pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I nominate Jeff's picture for the FAQ

thread


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cavu2u

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Posted: 12/06/08 06:55pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I am not certain if my RV televisions are digital. I have a 2007 RV which came equipped with a TV so I assume it is digital.

At my home I have two digital tvs and one that I am not certain about. Last week the local tv stations turned off the analog signal for two minutes so we would know if we needed a converter box. I, of course, have an broadcast antenna for my home and an antenna for my RV. NONE of my tvs received the digital signal. So, I am extremely puzzled. I don't know what to think or what to do. Does anyone have any ideas?

ronfisherman

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Posted: 12/07/08 03:28am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

cavu2u wrote:

I am not certain if my RV televisions are digital. I have a 2007 RV which came equipped with a TV so I assume it is digital.

At my home I have two digital tvs and one that I am not certain about. Last week the local tv stations turned off the analog signal for two minutes so we would know if we needed a converter box. I, of course, have an broadcast antenna for my home and an antenna for my RV. NONE of my tvs received the digital signal. So, I am extremely puzzled. I don't know what to think or what to do. Does anyone have any ideas?

Check your TV manual to see if TV's will receive ATSC format. Some TV's, even if they are HD will not display the ATSC format.

pulsar

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Posted: 12/07/08 05:22am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Look at the remote. With the numbers, is there a way to enter a period '.' or a dash '-'? If no, then it is not digital.

Tom


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dennislanier

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Posted: 12/10/08 10:48am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Let me see if I have this straight. If I understand correctly, even though I use an antenna on my fifth wheel to get tv reception, if I already have a "digital" tv, then I do not have to do anything. In other words, it is the TV that determines whether I need the converter box, NOT the antenna. Is that correct?

MrWizard

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Posted: 12/10/08 11:35am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

YES !!


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tazmangk

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Posted: 12/23/08 08:53pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

just wondered if anyone knows if they make a 12 volt digital tv?..I camp out in the woods at times and still would like to catch the news, weather etc without the noise of a gen set.


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