September 16, 2008

I want my DTV (part 2)

Setting up the Zenith DTT901 Digital-to-Analog Converter was easier than setting up a VCR (though I had to set the VCR back to channel 3, the default for the DTT901). Then I selected the time zone and set the default RF out to channel 4. The DTT901 sits in the TV-VCR RF loop.

With my hand-made, 300 ohm UHF dipole antenna, the initial auto scan found 18 channels, 10 of which belong to the two PBS stations and the Utah Education Network. Obviously the cost of DTV--once the equipment is up and running--is the programming. And PBS/university stations have lots.

The DTT901 grabbed Larry Miller's independent (owner of the Utah Jazz), but as with the CW station, it gets iffy at times, like a scratched DVD. KUPX, an Ion affiliate, never came in well in analog and didn't come in at all, even though it's got the most powerful transmitter.

Checking the signal locator site at TV Fool, I see that the digital transmitters in Salt Lake City are all in the same place. I reoriented my dipole closer to 312 degrees north (adjusted the strings holding it to the bookcase). A rescan added the four Ion channels.

Two of the problematic channels are 46 and 48, and my dipole is tuned for the bottom of the UHF spectrum (meaning when I made it several years ago, I just guestimated). The next project will be to retune the dipole (which can be done with a pair of wire clippers).

Otherwise, my initial impression of DTV is the same as when I got TV Japan: Wow! No static! A completely clean signal. One of my hobbies when I was a kid was fixing old tube TVs (going extinct at the time). Static and interference and hum and signal echoes were facts of life. No more.

The only glitch so far is the remote. My current One for All universal remote handles all the functions of the TV, VCR, DVD player and Dish receiver. But not the converter. I'll have to get a new one that can be programmed with the necessary functions of the DTT901.

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