Thursday, December 04, 2008

Oh them DTV no signal blues

Is anyone else feeling the DTV switchover blues? It hit the balou household full force this week. The TV ads and booklets make it all sound so simple. That is until you have problems or questions.

We own three televisions; one in my office (in a separate building), one in the kitchen (a tiny 20 yr. old black & white TV/Radio), and one in our living room which is connected to a Dish Network satellite. I braved Black Friday and picked up a small 10" digital to replace my kitchen set and a $40 antenna from Radio Shack. They said I wouldn't need a more powerful antenna unless I lived in a valley or a hollow. Which we don't. We live on top of a hill and as a crow flies, about 45 miles from the major TV transmission towers.

We got a converter box and hooked it up to the TV in my office. We're fairly technologically savvy and made sure connections were correct. There's a very large antenna in the attic of my office which pulls in the current analog signals just fine. When we turned on the TV and converter box, a real pretty blue box with "No Signal" popped up. Wait! Excitement! There was a blip of football! Oh. Disappointment. Back to the blue "no signal" box. This was the same with all the stations we tried. My PBS station didn't come in at all. No blips even. Only the blue "no signal" box. Unacceptable. This was the same scenario when I connected the new digital TV to the new indoor antenna. I searched the internet looking for answers and made some phone calls. The only answer I got was that we would have to adjust our TV antennas for each station and possibly put it in a higher location and perhaps buy a new antenna. Way back in the anals of the documentation were the words "digital TV signals can be finicky." Well. They don't tell you THAT in those nice TV announcements aired on our local stations.

Would we have to tune the antenna to each station? I had visions of my childhood. Oh the horror! First we had to WALK to the TV set and TURN the dial WITH OUR HANDS to change a station. Then we had to turn the dial of the contraption on top of the TV - again, WITH OUR HANDS. This tuned the antenna so we could receive signal from one of the, hang on, THREE stations we had to choose from. I can remember being scolded for turning the antenna rotator too far and having visions of the it's wiry arms spinning out of control on top of the metal pole that was strapped to our old farmhouse.

I thought digital TV is "the way of the future." I guess it is as long as you have cable, live directly under the TV transmission towers, have satellite TV or have wiry antenna arms reaching into commercial air space. I think this is close to the end of free TV. It is for us anyways. Tomorrow morning an installer from Dish Network will be here to wire up this 1896 house and my just as old "pump house turned office." Dish Network will get $10 more a month from us, all three TV's will get their signal beamed in from contraptions spinning in space above our big blue ball and there will be PBS.

9 comments:

Sornie said...

When I lived in Prior Lake I was able to get the HDTV signals with simple rabbit ears but now that I live in a valley I am tied to having cable and I hate it because I want more HDTV and I refuse to pay additional bucks for it when they could just as easily include the channels in place of the crappy analog cable channels they air.

dmarks said...

Yes. There is no reason they should charge extra for the channels.

Bill Stankus said...

I say, "Bring back rabbet ears and black n white TV!"

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I'd have the blues, too, if I were you. Major bummer.

actonbell said...

Nothing's ever easy, is it? Yes, free TV is over. We pay less than anyone I know, but still: $10per month for just the networks plus some stuff we don't even want, just to avoid the rabbit ears (which weren't working for us) spelled the end of free for us a long time ago.
Good luck!

standing still said...

I heart cable TV. I would be lost, LOST I SAY, without my MSNBC.

Minnesota Matron said...

I did not read this. No. You have no idea what we're up against here.

Denial is a friend.

Balou said...

I think investing in Satellite TV carriers is a good idea. Come February, there's a lot of people in the non-urban areas that will be signing up for satellite.

KFarmer said...

My son and I were watching the AL vs. FL game yesterday afternoon and it was blip-blip-blip! Why in the world did they fix something that twernt broke? It has to do with money I'm sure~ but won't swannie on it...