Common problems with DTV converters, reception, and solutions
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Common problems with DTV converters, reception, and solutions


This is a discussion on Common problems with DTV converters, reception, and solutions within the Converter Boxes and ATSC Tuners forums, part of the Over-the-Air (Antenna TV) category.


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  1. #1
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    Common problems with DTV converters, reception, and solutions

    I figured i'd contribute with some of the top issues regarding the use of DTV converter boxes and reception based on my experiences, which were far from successful until recently.

    TOP CONVERTER BOX PROBLEMS:

    Problem 1:
    Remote stops working, or only works on some functions and not all.

    Possible Solution:

    If the channels don't change, most likely it's from using the up/down arrows instead of the actual channel up/down button. on some satellite receivers, it doesn't matter but on most DTV converters it won't change channels by using the arrow buttons. the box can be 'confused' and resetting to factory through the menu, unplugging the box, replacing the batteries in the remote, and then plugging the box back in, and reinsert the remote's batteries can solve a problem such as that. usually it's a confused electronic state that can also cause the box to get 'frozen' or stop responding to the remote entirely.

    Problem 2:
    Converter Box loses reception, but reception does not return, after wind, rain, or snow.

    Possible Solution:

    Box has possibly gotten into an extended state where the signal was nonexistant or in the 'red zone' of the signal meter and after a few seconds some boxes do what i call an 'unrecoverable signal drop' and refuse to lock the channel in question or even so much as forget the channel if you scan up/down to find ones with signal and return. usually you have to simply turn the box off, wait 5-10 seconds and turn it back on. this will force the box to attempt to aquire the channel again. usually this works if the condition that caused the error is over. it's also important that some boxes won't do as well when set up during bad weather, they seem to use the signal they get when scanning the first time as an average so it stays near or on that percentage. so re-scanning (not easy add or update scans) from scratch during optimal conditons will help alleviate this problem in the future.

    Problem 3:

    Signal drifts back and forth from good to zero (no signal) off/on or when viewing signal meter, picture constantly has pixellations and loses audio stream (Cliff Effect)

    Possible Solution:

    Check antenna wires, or connections, this is sometimes caused by the smallest of connections or bad cable even if it seems to be ok. it also can be the weather having a similar effect on the reception as it would on Satellite TV reception (rain/snow/weather fade) even though there is no satellite signal the same issue can be done by the weather when it was normally not an issue with analog reception. you may just have to wait for the condition to clear.

    Problem 4:

    Program Guide is missing, incorrect, or time/date is wrong.


    Possible Solution:

    You may not be getting an update from your local station, or it doesn't support it, or you have the wrong time zone selected during initial setup. sometimes however, the program guides either don't exist for awhile, or they are 'off' such as times when the station pre-empts it with sports or paid-advertising. try verifying the time settings and zone and any Daylight savings time settings are correct.

    Problem 5:

    Converter box shuts down

    Possible Solution:

    The Converter Boxes are Energy Star compliant. this means they are pre-set to turn themselves off after a certain preset time. (usually an hour or two) you can change the time delay or even disable it entirely in the menu (under OPTIONS or ETC or SETTINGS, usually)
    Last edited by DTVuser2009; 02-19-2009 at 01:52 PM.

  2. #2
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    Great Post! I'll add one more:

    Problem 6:
    I connected the converter box, but receive a "Weak Signal" message?

    Possible Solutions:
    1. Have you done a channel scan yet when you connected your converter box? To do an auto channel scan, go to your converter box menu guide (by pressing the menu button on the remote), select options, and choose the auto-tune or auto channel scan feature.
    2. Have you connected an antenna to your converter box? Most converter boxes and TVs with a built-in digital tuner require an antenna receive digital signals. If you have an old set of bunny ears (also known as a dipole antenna) laying around the house, connect them to your converter box, and try another channel scan.

    Solutions for Weak Signal Continued below by DTVuser2009

  3. #3
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    Possible Solution:

    'Weak Signal, No Program, or No Signal are usually the boxes' way of conveying the signal is too weak, nonexistant, or the channel is 'off air' such as in the dawning hours in some areas. (PBS goes off-air in some areas for example even if program guide info shows are in those time slots, that is due to a national feed but not always a time when the local affiliate is online)

    It can also be due to a bad connection, or the signal to a station is distant and may require extra gain, or the antenna/cable or anything inbetween the box or antenna is bad. some RVs have permenant antennas mounted that after they age or become out of adjustment, won't pull in strong signals, or the recepticle is faulty.

    The same rule can apply as rain fade. weather is one of the biggest factors in bad reception of DTV, be it OTA or satellite. as always in regard to weather, if the antenna is installed properly, and still has issues, you will have to wait for the condition to clear.

    For a list of stations in one's particular area with all stations from easiest to pull in to hardest, go to TV Fool - Home it's info is more detailed than that of Antennaweb.org, plus gives data on the stations' power, noise factors, and antennas likely to pull in the stations.

  4. #4
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    Adding one last bit of info, after some time, or as the official transiton date looms, or post-transition, some channels may move to different RF-air channels, resulting in a no-signal from your current scans. that means you will have to rescan afterwards since after the official switch, some channels will relocate to different bands. also as more channels are added as a feature of multicasting, update scans or easy adds are a great way of periodically adding new channels, some of them interesting.

    Other problems:

    Dates/times go to manufacturer defaults or program data or channel lists are gone after box is powered down or after losing power. date can even show as January 1, 1980.

    Solutions:

    While i have not yet taken apart a box to dianose such an issue, it is true that some parts of some converter boxes share some interesting components as your personal computer (there's even Intel ARM CPUs in some of them an a bit of non-volatile RAM) and it's quite possible there is some sort of power backup that normally saves the date/time in the event of a power down or power failure. if this device, in this day and age consisting of a capacitor or Integrated Circuit, instead of a CMOS battery, has become faulty, as sometimes happens on lower quality converter boxes that have hit the market, the box can lose info after being turned off and back on or after a power failure, or even show dates as January 1 1980, defaults used in personal computers since that date was when the first IBM PC was manufactured. if the converter box shares components with computers the date/time can actually default to that as well. in such cases it's annoying but it can be the harbinger of impending failure, if you're receipt allows exchange it's best to do so before the 30 days is up. coupons used to purchase these boxes don't give refunds.
    Last edited by DTVuser2009; 02-19-2009 at 03:07 PM.

  5. #5
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    Here's a good diagram for connecting a converter box with a VCR:


  6. #6
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    One can also use the RCA jacks in the back of the converter box to hook it up to a surround sound or home theater system as well. the box doesn't require manual selection of audio out, the ones i use automatically enable the A/V out soon as a connection is made (Zenith and Digitalstream).

    The above diagram is also good for hooking to a DVD Recorder, DVR, or other audio/video device (HDTV monitor, LCD computer monitor, etc).

  7. #7
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    thank's for sharing all of this. it really helps!

  8. #8
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    Happy to help

  9. #9
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    Great guide, I didn't notice the fix for buzzing, hissing, or staticky sounds coming from a converter box on here, so if anyone has that problem, take a look at this thread - http://www.dtvusaforum.com/dtv-recep...ise-sound.html

  10. #10
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    This was such a great post, sticky anyone??

  11. #11
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    Updated problems:

    Converter makes whistling, high pitched whine, or buzzing noises. the converter either stops working and the noise happens, or the converter makes the noise when off/standby or the noise worsens with use. converter may be hot to touch.

    SOLUTION

    Back in the early days of Home Theatre, this sort of thing happened often with low quality or inexpensive VCRs, LaserDisc Players, or other gadgets. it's usually the power supply transformer having an 'arc' or literal spark jumping a gap of winding inside. it will cause heat to build up and of course make the component warmer than normal to the touch. it's the result of bad or poor quality components in cheaper electronics. it's a fire hazard as well. in some cases the component may immediately stop working or power off and the sound changes to a high pitched squeal or whistle. that is after the transformer shorts the windings that were arcing and most likely it causes the component to smoke and even go boom (pop! no more component)

    If your converter is doing such things, it's HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that the converter is taken back to the retailer (during the 30-day return/exchange period, remember, if you used a coupon you're either limited to exchange for same item only or you may lose the ability to return at all so you're stuck buying a new box) as this condition is a power supply issue that can cause a fire or electric shock.
    Last edited by DTVuser2009; 04-12-2009 at 09:30 AM.

  12. #12
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    UPDATED:

    PROBLEM:

    Converter worked fine, but then now shows only a blue or black screen.

    SOLUTION:

    Some converters, especially the cheap ones, are prone to failure. either the internal power transformer was of bad quality and therefore opened a winding which results in no power and a dead box (no LED on front) or the box is in a state of 'confusion' and before assuming the worst, try unplugging the box, let it sit for 10 min, and then plug it back in. this 'reboots' the box's internal memory and may bring it back to life. also verify that you didn't accidentally turn the TV channel to something other than 3/4 or if the box is hooked to a VCR, make sure it's also still on Channel 3/4 (or line input if using A/V cables) and turned on and in 'VCR mode'.

    PROBLEM:

    HELP! DTV was fine until just after June 12th, now i'm missing [some or all] channels!!!

    SOLUTION:

    Some stations didn't quite make it clear on the 'hidden transition' and didn't tell all of us that they were switching around to VHF from UHF or vice versa, meaning the channel list in your box's memory is now obsolete, and all that needs to be done is to go to the menu on the box, and do a 'channel scan' and reset the channel list to update and you should see the channels re-appear, maybe even get some new ones. if you are still having trouble, see the 'Reception' forum here and ask someone. it may be in a location (like VHF) where it's hard to receive with your current antenna.

  13. #13
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    Never received

    I applied back in Mark and never received. I work for the Federal Government and everyone is saying that they had no problems. But I didn't get mine.

  14. #14
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    They allowed applicants to re-apply for quite some time, but it's way too late now. The last day to apply/re-apply for coupons was 7/31/09.

    Check eBay for converter boxes. Avoid Magnavox or RCA. Look for Zenith, Insignia or Artec. There are other good ones, too. Ask around on this forum.
    Last edited by Eureka; 08-25-2009 at 12:51 PM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eureka View Post
    They allowed applicants to re-apply for quite some time, but it's way too late now. The last day to apply/re-apply for coupons was 7/31/09.

    Check eBay for converter boxes. Avoid Magnavox or RCA. Look for Zenith, Insignia or Artec. There are other good ones, too. Ask around on this forum.
    i think the converter boxes suck! my mom has one she gets less channels then she did before and half of them keep losing signal so she doesnt even get to really watch a tv sho and to top it all off she cant get a hold of anybody to ask any questions

  16. #16
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    PROBLEM: my RCA converter box has a orange standby power light on it. I've tried to turn my box on & the light doesn't go from orange to green. I've tried unplugging it & plugging it back in several times. At times it does that, other times the orange light goes out, but no green power on light comes on, it just stats blacked out. What could be wrong & is there a fix? Please help.

    I know nothing about converter boxes.

    ~Amanda~

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guest View Post
    PROBLEM: my RCA converter box has a orange standby power light on it. I've tried to turn my box on & the light doesn't go from orange to green. I've tried unplugging it & plugging it back in several times. At times it does that, other times the orange light goes out, but no green power on light comes on, it just stats blacked out. What could be wrong & is there a fix? Please help.

    I know nothing about converter boxes.

    ~Amanda~
    I'd say that the box is broken. In many cases they have bad capacitors (usually in the power supply). If you're electronically handy it is possible you could fix it, but otherwise it's time to look for a new converter or TV.

    The instructions below are for a Digital Stream box, but also work for other brands.

    Snappy Dan Reminds You:

    DO NOT install antennas anywhere where they could fall into overhead power lines!!! An antenna falling into power lines may result in electrical shock or death. All outdoor antennas must be grounded in accordance with the National Electrical Code (NEC). Be careful while working on roofs or towers. Always use appropriate safety precautions!!!

 

 

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