Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Troubleshooting Your DTV Setup (Updated 12/19)

Many viewers have called with issues setting up their convert boxes or digital television sets.

For some it has been issues of wiring and setup, but for most it has been antenna issues. We encourage you to convert ASAP either with a convert box or the new purchase of a DTV set. APPLY, BUY & TRY... APPLY for the coupon, BUY a box and TRY it now! Act now to work out the bugs... you really don't want to be climbing on your roof next February if its an antenna issue.

NEW INFO (12/19)- This past Wednesday we conducted a soft analog shutoff test. WWNY sent a message to viewers of only our analog signal that they needed to take action as this signal would be turned off in February. We have taken a great volume of calls from viewers (please be patient we are doing our best to return calls). A great number of viewers have made the upgrade either by purchasing a new DTV television set or DTV Converter-box but still saw the message. This is an indication that they were watching the analog signal, not the DTV one. Many new sets have both an analog and DTV tuner built-in. An indication that you are receiving the DTV signal is the channel will display as 7.1 WWNY-HD or 7.2 WNYF-SD. Channel 7.0 is the analog signal. If you cannot see 7.1 or 7.2 you may need to go into the setup menu of your set or box and re-scan for DTV channels...or you may need an antenna upgrade.

One thing as it relates to WWNY. In February WWNY will be changing DTV frequencies and power levels. If you experience difficulty with reception now, these changes should improve your chances of getting WWNY. We suggest you re-scan your DTV channels often, after antenna adjustments, and especially after 2/17/09.

Official FCC info on DTV Converter Box and DTV Set Troubleshooting


NG said...

I also read that in dtvquestions.com that the antenna issues have been receiving a lot of attention since the Wilmington trial and that more education will start to emphasize the antenna issues. However, I have not seen any change in the normal ads that cover the DTV transition.

Jim Corbin said...

It’s tough to get the complete message in a 30sec PSA. WWNY has produced a PSA that encourages viewers to try now to get our DTV signal now so that viewers give themselves time to fine-tune boxes and address antenna issues. We also have a National PSA mentioning that antennas can be an issue and viewers should visit www.antennaweb.org. I suspect you will see even more messages as we approach the deadline and organizations produce new PSA's. I also suspect you will see more news coverage on DTV, where there may a bit more time to explain all the issues.

Anonymous said...

One thing I've noticed recently is that the on-screen program guide no longer contains any event info on WWNY 7.1 and Fox 7.2; the channels appear normally but there are no program names nor descriptions. This used to work; it stopped working in the last few days and trying another TV and antenna doesn't fix anything.

Anonymous said...

Apparently a couple hundred calls from the Wilmington trial were from viewers who lost signals that *used* to work just fine on analogue VHF.

WECT 6 (NBC, Wilmington) dropped in coverage area from this www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=80&q=call%3dWECT%26type%3dA right down to this www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=80&q=call%3dWECT%26type%3dD due to an unfortunate change in transmitter location and a move from channel six to channel forty-four.

Now to see if anyone learns anything from the Wilmington experience... if not, expect more channels to drop for viewers in fringe areas come February.

Jim Corbin said...

The computer generating the on-screen guide sometimes needs a reboot. We suspect its because the tables of information are so complex. This is an issue with many DTV stations. I suspect over time we'll see an improvement to the equipment generating this info.

CarlB said...

I'm wondering if the PSA's should have been written in such a way that each addresses a different portion of the transition. So far, it seems that, if the FCC wants the spots run three times in each day part, running the same PSA 84 times a week would meet their requirement - while doing little to inform viewers. Repeating the same message 83 more times adds no new info, after all.

Indeed, there is a lot of confusion out there and one could fill an entire PSA just debunking existing misconceptions (does this affect cable subscribers? what are these special HDTV antennas all about? do I need the amplified rabbit ears? and can't I just get the Watertown stations from the dish or something?)

The antenna question is enough to fill a PSA on its own, and then there's the whole converter question (complicated by LPTV and Canada switching later - Aug 31, 2011 for the Kingston stations - and the need for analogue passthrough).

So, instead of one PSA repeated 84 times a week, perhaps this should have been produced as a series of three. Each daypart would contain one of each section of the message, not back-to-back but reasonably close together, with each of the bits scattered at short intervals within station breaks much like the Burma-Shave signs used to be sequenced, line-by-line, along the side of old farm highways in the 1960's.

Unfortunate that so much erroneous information is already out there - ranging from "if you have cable or satellite, you're good to go" (PBS PSA) to images of fading and dynamic multipath to the point that the snowy people are colour-shifting with the promise that DTV will magically fix this (CEA PSA). Um, fix the fading and multipath *first* or be watching a blank screen in DTV, and no, satellite is not a replacement for an antenna in this region but an addon. Our locals are still OTA.

Anonymous said...

Is Watertown DTV signal available between Canton & Potsdam? We've been able to get the analog for years (although admittedly there are sometimes "issues" with our reception) but since hooking up our box, we have no DTV signal. Doesn't matter where we point the anteena, our onscreen "antenna adjustment" says there is no signal.

Jim Corbin said...

The signal is active and might be available between Canton & Potsdam depending where you live and if you encounter any terrain issues etc. WWNY is taking steps to improve our signal post 2/17. I have personally viewed our DTV signal between Canton & Potsdam when we were only running low-power...we are now operating full-power. As is the case in many locations, you may need to experiment with you antenna and its alignment towards the station. You might visit www.antennaweb.org for more info.

W said...

The anonymous viewer between Canton and Potsdam may not have a deep fringe UHF antenna necessary to get channel 35, but a deep fringe channel 7 antenna may be OK after Feb 2009. If they can't get 16 or 50 analog, they probably wouldn't get 35, either.
Antennaweb, while perhaps more consumre friendly, is not the most accurate tool. Perhaps the TVSignal locator at TVFool.com would be better as a diagnostic tool for frings reception problems.

By the way, how soon after Feb 17 will the FCC be granting Construction Permits for all the maximization applications? I see in the FCC database that all the maximization applications (like youts for 24.9 kW on ch 7) are still in the 'application' state.

Jim Corbin said...

WWNY had great hopes that the FCC would grant the maximization application prior to 2/17/09. It seems logical that if there are no interference issues etc the FCC would want to grant ASAP, esspecially based on the public's reaction to Wilmington. Unfortunately logic doesn't always follow, and I suspect there are a lot of applications they are dealing with with limited resources.

Anonymous said...

I'd suspect there are quite a few stations waiting to be maximised to some more sensible amount of power; WWNY is just one of three in its market (the WPBS/WNPI pair, at 40kW digital and two-thirds of a megawatt analogue is often watchable on 18 in the fringes of Ottawa long after DT 23 is nowhere to be found). Plenty of Watertown -DT's have been good all year and deserve an extra 20kW or so for the holidays, and I'd expect a lot of complaints to your government come February if the FCC dragging their feet causes more fringe-area viewers to unnecessarily lose more channels.

Anonymous said...

Guess I'm lost with the "deep fringe" stuff. We just purchased this antenna (had one prior for 10 years that fianlly gave out) and it has both UHF and VHF on it. We pick up all the PBS DTV stations and a couple of Canadian HD stations with it, so we know the box is hooked up properly. And we've followed the on screen instructions for antenna adjustment and pointed the antenna southwest, with no signal at all received. I'm also all confused with the whole channel 7/channel 35 thing. The autoscan didn't pick up anyting except the PBS and Canadian channels, so I tried the "add a channel" for 7 after turning the antenna, but nothing. Am I supposed to be trying 35? All the stuff I was reading on the blog said the box would "name" it cahnnel 7. Am I wrong?

Anonymous said...

Guess I'm lost with the "deep fringe" stuff. We just purchased this antenna (had one prior for 10 years that fianlly gave out) and it has both UHF and VHF on it. We pick up all the PBS DTV stations and a couple of Canadian HD stations with it, so we know the box is hooked up properly. And we've followed the on screen instructions for antenna adjustment and pointed the antenna southwest, with no signal at all received. I'm also all confused with the whole channel 7/channel 35 thing. The autoscan didn't pick up anyting except the PBS and Canadian channels, so I tried the "add a channel" for 7 after turning the antenna, but nothing. Am I supposed to be trying 35? All the stuff I was reading on the blog said the box would "name" it cahnnel 7. Am I wrong?

carlb said...

You get Canadian HD stations? *shocked look*

I presume then that you must be in the Ogdensburg or St. Lawrence County region, as no Canadian digital signals have been spotted over-the-air anywhere in Kingston.

When you mention PBS, which set of channels are you seeing, 16.x or 18.x? The channel 18 transmitters are in South Colton (near Potsdam) so being able to receive 18 doesn't ensure that you will receive any Watertown stations.

If you do have the WPBS 16 stations, try tuning to channel 35 (the box after all doesn't know where to look for a 7.1 until after it finds the station) and try pointing the antenna just a wee bit further east (WWNY is nominally east of Watertown and was founded on Champion Hill, near Fort Drum and on the road to Carthage, while other Watertown stations transmit from the south in Copenhagen).

Depending on the box, you may need a full rescan for channels with some models, while just tuning in "35" and pointing the antenna at the transmitters works well for others. (RCA TV's seem to want "35." with nothing after the dot.)

Telling the box to "add channel seven" doesn't work if the box has never seen WWNY-HD 7.1 before and therefore has no idea where to look for it; the only way the box can learn that the WWNY HDTV signal is on UHF 35 is if you tune to 35 and point the antenna directly at Champion Hill.

Only once it finds the station, it will remember WWNY-HD and place CBS and Fox in their respective corresponding positions 7.1 and 7.2

carlb said...

One thing you could try (if you have a box that can add channels without a full rescan) is tuning the box to 35, then slowly turning the antenna between south and west to see if it finds a signal anywhere. It usually seems to take a second or two for a digital tuner to display a picture after it finds a signal, so you do have to go more slowly than for analogue.

It may also be worth trying to get a good analogue signal from the Watertown station (seven or sixteen, not eighteen) then switching to digital 35 to see if the box can find the signal.

carlb said...

One more thing to watch: there is an analogue channel 35 (télévision quatre-saisons) in Montréal. It itself might not be watchable much past Cornwall-Massena, but its presence on the same channel as WWNY-DT may cause interference as you're trying to watch the Watertown station. While a directional antenna does reduce interference (by turning its back on Montréal entirely) under some conditions the co-channel station could be a cause of unreliable reception.

Jim Corbin said...

One thing to keep in mind with all this discussion on "Channel 35". That is WWNY-DT's current DTV assignment (branding makes physical channel 35 display as virtual channel 7). After 2/17/09 WWNY-DT will operate on channel 7. So a good UHF/VHF antenna is the best choice now and later. Sets/boxes will need to be rescanned after 2/17/09 to accept the change of frequency.

carlb said...

Mr. Corbin, I believe the original poster had "We've been able to get the analog for years (although admittedly there are sometimes 'issues' with our reception)" and then "We just purchased this antenna (had one prior for 10 years that finally gave out) and it has both UHF and VHF on it" so hopefully the new antenna is well-chosen to be ready for WWNY-DT 7 this winter.

It's hard to extrapolate (based just on the information posted) how well the new antenna would be working on 7 both now (analogue) and in 2009 (digital). By "issues", is this a bit of snow on otherwise-stable analogue reception, or is this a mess of fading, reflections and interference? Does the signal fade out entirely at times? More importantly, did the new antenna fix some of the issues bring in analogue 7 in a stable form?

Good reception on analogue 7 may well be a key first step to good digital reception on VHF 7 after the end of this transition. It doesn't have to be perfect, just so long as it is a clean, stable signal.

TV7 does appear to be the best possible frequency in all of North America on which to build an HDTV station. Any shorter wavelength is less able to diffract around the edge of obstacles, while any lower channels are plagued with impulse noise and stringent power limits.

Hopefully, then, all is ready.

Encouragingly, the original poster does seem to be on the right path - apply, buy, and try - and already has the new VHF/UHF antenna both in place before winter (I think Beth Hall was calling for lake-effect snow later today?) and tested. Odds are good then that the reception will improve when WWNY-DT comes home to VHF 7.

W said...

I see from the FCC website that your application to run 24.7 kW on channel 7 had been granted a couple of weeks ago. This is good news. I notice that many other applications to maximize that were filed back in June are still in 'APP' status.

Anonymous said...

I'm the "anonymous" with the new antenna, but no lcuk with my converter box. I thank carlb for his comments. I'm still not having any luck, but I think i understnad things a bit better. My new antenna did help somewhat with my analog reception, but for some reason it's nowhere near as clear as it used to be. I rarely have any color, there's always at least some "snow" (usually quite a bit) and at times it's totally unwatchable, although that doesn't happen as often since the new antenna. I've had no luck picking up a DTV signal on 7 or 35. I've visited both antennaweb and another site (I forget the name of that one) and as near as I can tell fromthose when I put in my address, it appears that I am in a rather poor location to pick up WWNY. Apparently I would need some monstrous antenna much higher above my house than I have. Call me crazy, but I think I should be able to watch TV with a $200 antenna that is 25-30 feet from ground level with a rotor and a booster (both of which cost more $$). Oh well, I guess come February I will watch nothing but Canadian TV and PBS and turn on the radio for local news. By the way, the PBS I get is on 18, not 16. I can't remember which "poster" asked that question. I never knew until I read that comment that 18 came from the Colton area - is that correct? At any rate, can anybody give me a "good" answer as to why this whole transition is even happening? From what I've been reading on some sites and in one of the newspapers, there are going to be a lot of people in the same situation as I am, losing their TV stations. Do we really need MORE stations broadcasting to LESS people? Seems a little counter-productive to me. Of course, all there "new" stations can be picked up by satellite and cable providers to offer to their customers at an increased cost. Hmmm - am I seeing a pattern here? Well, there is no cable where I live and I refuse to pay what they want for satellite TV to then have to pay "extra" to get the local channel - if it's even provided in this area. Like I said - more radio in my future! What a waste of $$$ for my converter box! I'm definitely not buying another one for my other TV.

CarlB said...

One thing that may happen, if the signal goes from snowy to bad now, is that WWNY after this is over will work perfectly for you a bit of the time and not at all the rest of the time - which is very frustrating. There is no "snowy" in digital, it's all or nothing.

As far as I know, the Watertown local channels are not on any satellite anywhere. DTV conversion is being done so frequencies currently occupied by TV channels 52 to 69 can be auctioned for mobile 'phone and data (with a few set aside for emergency use). Congress stands to bring in billions of dollars, which is why they're the ones forcing this on everyone. I'd expect that it will be people living more than fifty miles from the stations, or behind hills, mountains and obstacles who will be most likely to lose channels. I think TVfool.com estimated that the number who'd get nothing at all could nearly double, while most others would at least break even. For instance, viewers in Kingston lose NBC (3 Syracuse) and gain Fox (WNYF 7.2 Watertown) if they can find any converters - which isn't easy.

One issue with rotors: they can only point in one direction at a time, which is awkward if you have two TV's. Unfortunately, sometimes they're the only way to get what little TV is available if it's scattered everywhere from Ottawa to Kingston or Watertown.

Canadian stations don't have to convert until end-August 2011, so many have done absolutely nothing to go digital in small towns like Ottawa, unlike the Watertown big-city stations who are presumed to have millions of dollars lying around to sink into DTV equipment.

Still, I can't say that forcing this on rural areas or on low-VHF channels serves such an important purpose. The only channel I can get out here anywhere in the 52 - 69 range (the channel range being auctioned by the US government for cellular use) is one duplicate of TV Ontario. The rest are all empty.

Blame Congress, I guess...

W said...

If Anonymous "rarely has any colour" I doubt he would get WWNY at all, except perhaps during a temperature inversion in the summer.

He'll have better luck pointing the antenna to Ottawa to pick up some of the 11 English channels available there (4,6,11,13,14,24,32,43,60,65 analog, 4.1, 20.1 digital - 20.1 is digital only), as well as four French stations.

To keep this on topic for United Communications, perhaps Anonymous can pick up WNYF-LP 28 analog from Massena? I imagine when it converts to digital, it may have a chance in the Ogdensburg or Canton/Potsdam areas if it gets to use the 15kW maximum like WNYF-CA in Watertown will.

Anonymous said...

I've had my box since august and was very pleased with it. Channel 7.1 and 7.2 came in very clear and i got 2 adfditional pbs channels but lost my canadian channels. Now 3 days ago I completely lost my 7.1 and 7.2 channels. What Happened??? I'm completely lost with out my local news.

Jim Corbin said...

Nothing has changed, WWNY-DT is operating normally without errors at full-power etc. We occassionally get this complaint and can only chauk it up to DTV and perhaps atmospheric conditions. Often times it happens to folks who are only receiving marginal reception. We hope the technical changes we make in February might minimize these occurrences. You might try re-scanning your box or investigate an antenna upgrade or adjustment. Visit www.antennaweb.org for info.

carlb said...

One thing to watch (if you had Canadian channels before you installed the converter box) is that not all boxes provide analogue passthrough. You may need to be able to bypass the box to get any channels that aren't available digitally - usually low-power (such as 28 in Massena) or non-US stations.

I've also noticed that the antenna needs to be aimed much more carefully to get the digital signals - WWNY is slightly further east than other Watertown-area stations so what works for WPBS might not exactly work for WWNY/WNYF.

CarlB said...

The FCC recently posted a collection of maps (www.fcc.gov/dtv/markets) which claim to predict where viewers would be losing (or gaining) channels due to the DTV transition. It does indicate some loss of signal due to digital transition just east of Ogdensburg; it's also a wee bit flawed in that it ignores LPTV's like Fox 28 entirely, assumed "14.7kW digital on 7" for WWNY and ignores any images worse than B-grade for analogue reception.

I wonder what the map would look like if they hadn't made these assumptions?

Anonymous said...

A list of channels moving back to VHF has finally been posted on www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/vwapj/DTV_PLAN_Dec08-e.pdf for Canada; the US version has long been available on fcc.gov's TV query. These appear to be the VHF channels still in use after transition:

six - Ottawa, Albany
seven - WWNY 7NEWS Watertown
eight - 2 Bancroft
neuf - Ottawa-Hull
ten - Rochester, Montréal
eleven - Kingston
twelve - Peterborough, Montréal
thirteen - Rochester, Ottawa

As of 2008, antenna manufacturers (such as Channel Master) are beginning to introduce models intended specifically for channels 7-51; apparently these are a little smaller physically than the old antennas which covered 2-83.

Pity there's no standard as to what exactly gets labelled an "HDTV antenna" by marketers. The only way to be sure that new antenna reaches from TV 7 upward is to ask.

ameser said...

Well, it has officially happened and now I officially get NO American stations other than PBS. Fat lot of good that does me for any local news/weather here near Potsdam, NY. By the way, I'm the "anonymous' who posted several earlier questions/statements about this ridiculous switch. I've watched WWNY for years on analog (never could get the sister station FOX 28 though and never could reliably get the "competitor" channel 50). I did all the required "upgrades' of antenna and converter box, no luck. Hoped that once the "offical" switch was made and WWNY was then broadcasting it's digital the "better" way I would get it if i rescanned like they said you had to do. HAH! "no signal" is all I get on my screen. I can get American PBS, and 4, 9 and 20 from Canada. (And 9 id French which does me no good at all - sorry, my high school french isn't adequate!). I sure hope someone somewhere is benefiting from this "wonderful" new way of broadcasting, but it sure as heck isn't my household! If there are others out there in the same boat, i hope they ALL speak up and let the govt know what it's done for us.

CarlB said...

There is a Fox28 transmitter in Massena, but as it's not very powerful (950 watts analogue) it would be expected at best to just barely reach Potsdam http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wrapper&Itemid=80&q=call%3dWNYF-LP%26type%3dA

You could try aiming for Massena (analogue channel 28) instead of Watertown directly but results will still depend very much on your location. As a low-power station, Fox 28 is not required to go digital and it does provide the 7News Watertown-local news reports.