RCA Converter Box Problems
This is a discussion on RCA Converter Box Problems within the Converter Boxes and ATSC Tuners forums, part of the Over-the-Air (Antenna TV) category.
RCA Converter Box Problems
We purchased two RCA digital converter boxes with coupons in 2009. Both of them are no longer working. The lights do not come on. We tried resetting but has not worked. What can we do now?
We should not be forced to purchase cable (which she can not afford) or have to buy new boxes every two years. Thanks
It sounds like bad converter boxes, but have you tried any of the troubleshooting tips here Common problems with DTV converters, reception, and solutions
Unfortunately, most of the converter boxes were poorly made, and some were also built with bad capacitors: Capacitor plague - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia look at the pictures and notice the swelling.
Open the box and look for swollen capacitors. If you're handy with a solder iron, they can be replaced (Google the part # on the side of the cap to find replacements)
If that's not it, and you checked the troubleshooting tips in the above post, then you'll just have to buy a new box.
Walmart has converter boxes for $29. AccessHD Digital to Analog Converter Box, 1080D - Walmart.com
Not the answer you want, but better than buying a new TV, and certainly better than paying $25+ a month for "basic" cable.
we purchased our 2 boxes from Target and walmart. One quit after 2 or 3 months and the Apex brand just short of one year, under normal use.The attitudes across the board were ‘too bad – spend your hard earned money [social security] on another one. SHAME ON THESE COMPANIES AND STORES
Originally Posted by Unregistered
I have three of those. Two were purchased with the vouchers and one came from a thrift store---$3 I think. None were worth the trouble to go get them and bring them home, much less the many man-hours of frustration and recordings of content when not home which were later found to contain sound/no picture, picture/no sound or continuously appearing boxes stating that the antenna must be repositioned or another blasted scan performed.
Some of this is the nature of UHF propagation and digital stream decoding. Nevertheless these particular boxes seem as if designed to fully-exploit the potential in DTV broadcast "technology" for creating frustrating unpleasant experiences to the utmost degree possible.
Often when a channel becomes temporarily un-tunable due to the transient nature of the propagation these boxes will "hang" on the untunable channel for minutes before another channel number or up/down command may be entered.
The worst example I have has a particularly annoying defect. If you're still struggling with these not-worthy-of-a-warranty-of-merchantability abominations this may be useful for you.
When there are difficulties one of the first things to try is to cycle the device between standby and on. My worst example often will not come back on once turned off. That sounds like it might be your problem. Experimentally I found the cure on mine---you must pull the power cord out of the wall socket and then depress the standby/on key while plugging the device back in---hold the button down the whole time until you get it reconnected to the mains current.
That may very well restore your box(es) to what limited and sporadic functionality they were ever capable of at best.
The biggest tip in trying to work with these boxes is to try to site your antenna somewhere it almost never becomes subject to propagation anomalies. This is the trigger to most of the problems these RCA abominations experience. I'm fairly certain the problem is some lack of sophistication in error checking and correction/recovery software native to these electronic junkpiles. If the stream is interrupted by some propagation anomaly it must sometimes allow a string of code characters to pass into the decoding processor or whatever they have in there and the partial sets of ones and zeroes are no longer valid display data, but rather are pernicious commands acted upon by the processor having nothing whatever to do with the functions to which these devices have been assigned. In simpler terms I'm suggesting that interrupted partial bitstreams, when received by these devices, are becoming inadvertent viruses or malware and are forcing the poorly conceived programs to do things having nothing whatever to do with making a picture on your screen---like ( in one of the most common instances ) turning off either the sound or the picture. Such errors should be detected trapped and ignored/discarded by salesworthy firmware but apparently many of the producers of these devices didn't think we would be able to figure out it was their crap responsible for our frustrations instead of our lack of expertise in the digital world.
And if you think that's bad I foolishly ran out and bought a digital television of a very common and well-thought-of brand name and when it's little processor/firmware system gets confused by one of these partial segments of the expected bitstream it may become impossible to tune any digital station at all until the television is reset by removing it from power and repowering it. In that case the longer one allows the set to crunch the faulty numbers the worse the situation will be--if human intervention is immediate ( changing the channel and back again ) the problem is caught before the whole television becomes a useless combination blue nightlight and radiant heater. I dread the day when some unusual combination of propagation anomalies will add up to the unintentional malware capable of instructing the set to totally destroy it's firmware. They sure in hell didn't send along a USB memory stick or include a port to reload it...
By and large I would have to rate digital broadcast television technology as one of the most frustrating disappointing events to occur within my entire lifetime---I'm 60 years old. I despise and revile the bureaucraps who foist this travesty upon the broadcast tuning public and strongly suspect the whole thing was bought-and-paid-for by cable/satellite for-pay content providers who must have really "cleaned up" on this betrayal-of-public-trust.
Good luck with your electronic frustration-generators if you still have them. Broadcast television was originally developed and promoted as a method for weary workers to gain some cheap/easy/convenient recreation. The DTV broadcasting "service" can be so rife with frustrations and annoyances it totally defeats that function it was intended to continue serving.
The FCC and commerce department hacks who brought us this "improvement" should, at the very least, all be forced to stand up in public on broadcast television and apologize profusely for what they've done. Better yet would be for them all to be fired and lose all pension and benefits. I've seen the government blunder around quite a bit in 6 decades but this one takes the cake.
Good luck to you and anyone else who might be struggling with these issues. It's too bad they didn't spend a little more time creating more robust error trapping/correction subroutines in their firmware and less on implementing the mysterious "smart antenna"---I've never physically seen one and the only one I found online was so ridiculously expensive you may as well have just replaced the set you were converting with a digital television. Anybody out there actually own a "smart antenna"? How's that working out for you?
While I can understand some of your fustration, I've found that the biggest cause of digital television reception problems is the nut behind the remote. Simply put, most reception problems can be resolved by simply pointing the correct antenna in the correct direction. No, you don't need a smart antenna. And no, they never gained widespread acceptance or availability. What you do need is an antenna designed for the RF channels that your local stations are broadcast on (not the virtual channels displayed by the TV or converter) sized and located in an appropriate location for your location.
Originally Posted by Guest
Personally I have two antennas. A VHF high antenna located in my yard and a UHF antenna located in the corner of my master bedroom. The combonation of those, and a good low noise distribution amp, provide 100% reliable signal to 2 HDTVs, a Digital Stream Converter Box, and a DTVpal DVR located throughout the house. While digital television is different from analog TV it is in fact FAR SUPERIOR to analog TV, and there is no way that those of us who have figured it out would ever want to go back to analog TV.
If you would like help with your reception problems (rather than just being someone who simply loves to complain) you can start by posting the URL for the "radar plot" report from TV Fool.
P.S. One of the useful features of the RCA DTA800 is it's signal "strength" meter that comes in really handy for pointing TV antennas.
Last edited by dkreichen1968; 07-06-2012 at 06:37 AM.
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!!!
Chief Content Editor
I agree with our guest about poorly designed Converter boxes, but what would you expect from a Government mandated program? Kinda makes ya wonder about what's coming along in ObamaCare, eh?
My first Converter box was a Dish DTV Pal and it misbehaved within the first week that I owned it. Frozen or scrambled pictures, no audio, etc. Its plastic enclosure was always very hot and I resolved it by drilling holes in its case for ventilation.
I replaced it with a Channel Master CM-7000 converter box and haven't had any problems in three years. That box was not on the Government subsidy list and it was made in Bulgaria rather than China. It has a metal case, too.
I disagree about our guests poor opinion about digital modulation and reception. In my area, analog reception is very problematic and in spite of years of work on antenna systems, I always had ghosting including leading ghosts which indicated the signals were arriving directly to the tuner, ahead of the signals collected by the antennas. That's a problem I couldn't beat being located under a mile from four 316,000 watt transmitters. Here is a shot of analog 4 at the best it ever came in and it is an 'excellent' picture compared to some of the other channels received here before digital.
Compared to digital, which makes a 1960s TV show look pretty good and it is received from 75 miles away.
Plus, we are now able to watch full-width letterbox (wide screen) pictures like this one transmitted in SD.
Here's what analog TV reception looked like in 1930. Progress!
Last edited by Fringe Reception; 07-06-2012 at 06:50 PM.
My two Magnavox boxes worked fine for 12-15 months then the remotes started going haywire. Began loosing the functions of the LH buttons, then the RH and finally the numerals. Then they didn't do jack. Took the remotes aparts and didn't see any visable damage. Opened both boxes and found a bad cap in one. The other looked fine. Both had good fuses. These boxes remained on practically 24/7 when they were in use. Any idea of what might of gone bad? Seems like something slowly went bad.
Here are instructions for repairing Digital Stream DTX9950 converter boxes. There were a lot of bad Chinese capacitors when these were manufactured, and that often is the problem on all models manufactured in China.
I've had two RCA units go out. Each one lasted less than two years (but more than the one year warranty). Frustrating for sure. I use rabbit ears on top of the tv and get pretty good reception when the boxes work. At least I'm getting a good supply of remotes. I like digital tv because of the additional stations. Kind of unhappy tonight, I was looking forward to a show for a week and I'm out of luck. I guess it'll be another $50 down the rat hole. No matter what, a better deal than cable.
While digital TV gives us viewers the option to watch additional channels and watch programs in letterbox(for converters), I found that analog TV signals were more reliable to receive than digital signals. With digital, receiving both local stations, and distant stations over 90+ miles away (with an amplifier), I get a "cliff effect" sometimes, since I'm in the fringe area for receiving the distant stations. In analog, the distant stations would be otherwise a little snowy sometimes, depending on atmospheric conditions. Now, It would start to pixilate, until it freezes, or the picture shows "No signal". Cloudy weather/thunderstorms or vehicles passing by are no help.