DTV interference, doppler, and reception

06 Nov, 2008 | Eric Adler |
I took a trip out to some transmitter sites recently with my DTV Pal, a few different antennas, a monitor, a power inverter, and a consumer set with built-in DTV tuner - also, I brought my 2.5" rear-projection Sony Watchman NTSC TV (that runs on 4 AAs which I haven't changed in a few months).
Unfortunately, I forgot my remote control, so the DTV Pal was left on the last virtual channel it was tuned to, luckily this was one of the channels at the transmitter sites. First test, right outside the main transmitter of a local station, 2-bay bow-tie antenna. The DTV Pal showed a beautiful picture (as was expected), as did the NTSC set.

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The hook-up.

30 Sep, 2008 | Eric Adler |
After I bought my CECB, a DTVPal, I came home to hook it up. I opened the box to find 3 plastic bags, 1 remote control, 2 AAA (LR03) batteries [at least they were included], a power supply with an oddball connector, a short piece of coaxial cable (3C-2V) with F-connector ends, and the converter box. I hooked the feed out of my A/B switch into the converter box with its existing cable and hooked the feed out of the converter box to my TV with the included cable. Simple enough.

Next, I hooked up power, turned my TV to channel 3, and went to press power on the box, finding no power button. So, I grab the included remote control and batteries, slap them in, and press power. Nothing. I grabbed the manual, started reading, found where it said that the last step is to press power on the remote, and walked into the next room and back before the converter box booted.

Ok, so the box finally booted, good. There was an option to help me tune my antenna, which I opted for, but found that this option asks for a channel number and listed a frequency for each (in other words, it uses the true channel not the PSIP channel) - not good for your everyday consumer who expects 46-1, 46-2, and 46-3 to be on channel 46, not channel 42. It was getting to be a pain to tune my coat-hanger, so I went through the auto-search which, due to an ongoing storm and the amazing power of my coat-hanger antenna, found one channel. Knowing that my coat-hanger had picked up other stations in the past, I re-oriented it to be pointing closer to the transmission site. With the antenna re-oriented, I went to add new channels. Looking at the remote, I found a Menu button, then chose "Setup", examined my options and decided on "System Setup", then "Channel Setup", then "find New Channels" which (after five menu selections) started an auto-search again that only shows a progress bar. This did not find the channel I was looking for, so I went back to the "Channel Setup" menu and chose "Add a New Channel".
At the "Add a New Channel" screen, I must again set the true channel number, not the PSIP channel number – a no-brainer for me, but the leap to having two (or more) numbers for the same channel is a lot to ask of some people. I set the channel to 42 and saw a Signal Strength meter appear, with No Lock around 65 (the meter was yellow, at 0 it is grey and towards 100 it is green). I re-tuned the antenna a bit, waited for it to settle, and looked to see a "Lock" along with a picture and some audio. Then I noticed that the system hadn't seemed to add the channel as it lists "Services found: 0, Transport ID: 0, Services added: 0." Hmm... it was definitely seeing a service as it was properly decoding the MPEG program stream as embedded in the MPEG transport stream that is the ATSC broadcast. I then saw the "Scan" setting and decided, "what the heck – let's try it." I pressed right on "Scan" and it switched form "Stopped" to "Started", did it's own thing for a few seconds, flashed black with no audio then back to picture with audio, and showed "Services found: 3,, Transport ID: 84F, Services added: 0". Good, it found them, unfortunately it uses words commonly associated with other processes to 'manually' add channels (Scan to most consumers would mean to search through all channels, not check the current one which it clearly already sees). That done, I pressed "Done" and found a menu whose closest option to "exit" was "Cancel" – I didn't want to cancel my channel add, but I decided to try it anyway.
Four (4) presses of cancel later (back through each menu), I was able to successfully change channels between that which was found on initial install and those three that were just added.

The interface on this box leaves much to be desired and I hope that I'm not answering phone calls about its interface come February. Hopefully the other boxes are more