Had a change of reception...

vbMark

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#1
Hello,

The other day it seems half of the stations I usually received I can no longer get. Now I just get "No Program" or "Weak Signal" and not even a hint of any picture. This just started happening about three or four days ago and has not resolved itself.

I am not knowledgeable in antenna technology so am here looking for some guidance and/or insight.

Currently I am using the simple, classic rabbit ear type antenna and must usually perch it precariously on the very corner of the television with one pole horizontal pointing directly into the middle of the living room.

I do not understand why this blackout has happened. Where before I could get the lower channels (3, 8, 13, 16), now I can only get 40 (ABC 7). I really miss PBS and the news channels I could see.

I do not have a lot of money for a fancy antenna, so my questions are:

Would buying a different style of indoor antenna help?

Here is my location:

TV Fool

If so, what inexpensive antenna would you recommend for my location?

Also, why do you think I just lost so many stations all of a sudden?

Thanks!
Mark
 

O-O

DTVUSA Member
#2
Welcome to the forum Mark. There are others on here with much more experience than me, and I'm sure they'll help you out, but one thing that stands out to me is the distance from you to the broadcast towers. Were you ever able to pick up a lot of stations with that indoor antenna? If so that's impressive at almost 30-40 miles away from the towers. Would you be able to put up an inexpensive outdoor antenna?
 

vbMark

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#3
Welcome to the forum Mark. There are others on here with much more experience than me, and I'm sure they'll help you out, but one thing that stands out to me is the distance from you to the broadcast towers. Were you ever able to pick up a lot of stations with that indoor antenna? If so that's impressive at almost 30-40 miles away from the towers. Would you be able to put up an inexpensive outdoor antenna?
Yes, I though I would not get any stations at all once I had to switch over. I just figured it was because it is so flat here. I was able to get 3-1, 3-2, 3-3, 3-4, 8-1, 8-2, 13-1, 16-1 and 16-2. I may be skipping some, but those and about a half dozen others.

I actually have a rusty, old antenna pole on the side of my house. I just really don't know how to connect that kind of stuff. And also I have coaxial going through the wall at my tv going outside that used to be used for cable tv a long time ago.

Thanks,
Mark

Cool picture by the way.
 
#4
is it possible the box just ended up faulty? from your description i sounds like you have a DigitalStream model. they're the only ones i remember seeing 'no program' and 'weak/no signal' when they lose it or it's not up to snuff.

Is the antenna amplified? (plugs into the wall outlet to power it?) if so is there a little red light emitting diode (LED Light) on it? does it come on? if not it's not getting power or it came loose.

have you tried re-scanning from scratch? sometimes converters 'forget' channels even though they're fine and direct-entry causes the same false 'no signal' alert and you have to rescan. it's possible they changed their channel for some reason.

Try doing a 'full reset' by going into the menu, where it shows something like 'reset to factory' or 'default settings' and then when it does so, unplug the box, wait 5-10 minutes, plug it back in, you should see the 'welcome' screen as if it was new out of the box, and just start over.
 

vbMark

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#5
No, the antenna is not amplified. Would that help? What brand/model is recommended?

Yes, it is a DigitalStream model. (wow, you're good.)

I will do a factory reset, unplug, and rescan tonight.

Thanks,
Mark
 
#6
If it was working fine before i don't see any reason to buy an amplified antenna. for some it 'overloads' the signal and you get no signal too.

a previously working system which suddenly stops working without any change to the setup or any extreme weather points to something going bad. if you did have an amplified antenna i would diagnose that first. but since you don't that's not the problem.

I would do the reset and rescan and post the results. if it still acts up try another converter (or if you have another one somewhere, just put that one in and see) if the 'new' converter works that's your problem.

I had a DigitalStream, so i knew the errors. it, too, died suddenly, first it just acted like there was no signal (but going into the 'signal strength meter' it was in a perfectly acceptable level) and i had to 'reboot' it and it would work for another hour or so. then it just said 'no signal' for good.
 

FOX TV

Contributor
#7
If it was working fine before i don't see any reason to buy an amplified antenna. for some it 'overloads' the signal and you get no signal too.

a previously working system which suddenly stops working without any change to the setup or any extreme weather points to something going bad. if you did have an amplified antenna i would diagnose that first. but since you don't that's not the problem.

I would do the reset and rescan and post the results. if it still acts up try another converter (or if you have another one somewhere, just put that one in and see) if the 'new' converter works that's your problem.

I had a DigitalStream, so i knew the errors. it, too, died suddenly, first it just acted like there was no signal (but going into the 'signal strength meter' it was in a perfectly acceptable level) and i had to 'reboot' it and it would work for another hour or so. then it just said 'no signal' for good.
I am not familiar with the Digital Stream box, but it sounds like these may have thermal issues like the Magnavox boxes did, causing them to fail. With all of those line of sight paths, and those high signal levels from TV fool, it looks like an amplified antenna may not be needed.

There are many plans around on the internet that show you how to build antennas for DTV for very little to no cost using junk that may be lying around, with the DB series of antennas being the easiest to build. Here is a link to a web page that has good detailed plans for a UHF antenna project so you can make your own antenna for practically nothing using screws, a piece of wood, and some old copper wire or even coat hangers. It looks like most of your channels are UHF, so the home made antenna should work well for you.

How to Make a TV Antenna for HDTV | TV Antenna Plans
 
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#8
All of the converter boxes that I have dealt with have needed a re-boot, on occasion.

Treat these like a computer or satellite receiver. Acting up? First line of response is to reboot.
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#9
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vbMark

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#10
Hi All,

Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you with the results, but I had a hard drive death in the family and it's taken a lot of my time.

Anyway, I did a factory reset and let it rescan all the channels. All that did was remove all the channels that I recently stopped receiving from the list of available channels. At this point the only station I can get is 40.

Is a reboot different from a factory reset?

Thanks,
Mark
 
#11
a reboot is merely unplugging it for 10 min and then plugging it back in and turning it on.

But sometimes the 'software' gets so confused a factory reset should fix it. but in this case it did not.

do you have another converter to test? that way you could rule out the box as the culprit as it seems you were getting the channels and now suddenly lost them. if there's no extreme weather and none of the setup has changed i don't see why the antenna would be to blame?

to to TVfool.com and get the 'real' channel numbers (not the ones the box shows, known as 'virtual' channels) and direct-tune them in the box. (ignore the weak signal or other errors) and bring up the signal meter. if it shows an acceptable signal (will be green or yellow) and you still see those errors that's the box failing.

There have only been two boxes i had fail. an RCA DTA series which decided to never work again (got an LED on the front but no picture) and the DigitalStream model which said 'no/weak signal' even when it was a perfectly good one (green or yellow).

To add, the DigitalStream boxes absolutely hate any signal which fluctuates. that is, if it's moving around, even within an acceptable range, (still green but alternating from, say 45%-80% as if there was wind) it will 'red zone' which means go to the red permenantly. the DigitalStream and Zenith boxes do this, for whatever reason, as if trying to keep a signal which moves is bad for some reason, i have never figured it out.

they 'give up' after so many retries.

signals which move are usually caused by winds or high winds or rain/snow. they can also be caused by cheap cable (RG-5 and 'push on style' connectors which don't screw on) that normally comes with budget antennas.

they can also be from loose screw on type cables that aren't tight enough. if you have a box which doesn't like fluctuations, my solution is fix whatever's causing them, or get a more forgiving box (Dish DTVPal Plus, Magnavox TB110MW9) or both.

It's also possible the stations have increased their power and you're getting overload--too much signal (you never needed an amp because it was so strong, but if it's too strong the box will either peg 100% or show 0% and give up) and you will only need to adjust the antenna a little.

is Channel 40 an average signal (not perfect but good?) and are the others normally very strong (within 80-90%)? if so i would consider overload as well. no box replacement needed.
 
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FOX TV

Contributor
#12
More ideas !!

Hi All,

Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you with the results, but I had a hard drive death in the family and it's taken a lot of my time.

Anyway, I did a factory reset and let it rescan all the channels. All that did was remove all the channels that I recently stopped receiving from the list of available channels. At this point the only station I can get is 40.

Is a reboot different from a factory reset?

Thanks,
Mark
One other thing to try if you don't mind a little bench work would be to remove the cover from the box and run it fir a while to see if it may be a thermal problem. You can also use a NON CONDUCTIVE probe to lightly tap on the circuit board and components to see if there is possibly a bad solder joint on a specific component. A lot of these boxes used the "Surface Wave" soldering technique, which is the cheapest way to do mass soldering, and is not 100% infallible.

MAKE SURE you use a non conductive probe tool such as a wood dowel or something made of fiberglass or plastic, and always be aware that you could come in contact with 120 volts AC, which CAN BE FATAL, so if you are not comfortable with working around line voltage, DO NOT try this in that case !!

You could have a heat problem or a bad solder joint that opens when it gets hot enough. The first run Magnavox boxes had heating issues, and I solved it by cutting two holes in the lid, and using a soldering iron to melt metal window screen inside the top of the box, and it now runs almost 17 degrees cooler according to my infrared heat gun, and it does not shut off as it did at first. (It was not the energy saving feature cutting it off)

Are you absolutely sure you don't have any type of antenna problems such as broken conductor, or a bad connection, or a water filled balun etc. There are many things besides the box itself that could cause these issues you describe. Have you tried another antenna? With your signal levels, a set of cheap rabbit ears or a wire dipole cut to length of about 6 inches on the center and the shield should be able to pick up something on UHF if the box is not the problem.

Please keep us posted to see if anything suggested here works for you, and good luck !!
 

vbMark

DTVUSA Jr. Member
#13
Unplugging the box for 10 minutes and letting it rescan did not change the situation.

I believe the antenna is fine as I get channel 40 in crystal clear once I move the antenna to the "sweet" spot.

I have no problem inspecting the circuit board for solder problems. However, I found the tech support number on the companies web site and I am going to call them and see if they can offer any suggestions first.

I'll let you know what they say.
 
#14
Did you replace the 75 Ohm transformer?

I've found that these don't necessarily fail completely. I've also found that within a batch of 50 new ones, I've had (probably) 30% that weren't good.
 

Fringe Reception

Super Moderator, Chief Content Editor
Staff member
#15
re: baluns

Did you replace the 75 Ohm transformer?

I've found that these don't necessarily fail completely. I've also found that within a batch of 50 new ones, I've had (probably) 30% that weren't good.
-------------------------------------------------
Hey Jeff, et al:
Echoing another posting I made earlier (somewhere here) ... my Avatar is the assumed field pattern of KVOS-12 (35) Bellingham, Wa. I am located just south of the red ring. I built a 15-bar cut-to-channel 35 Yagi and I receive them at a solid 65 with a coaxial balun. All home-brew. Using a standard Rad-Shack balun I get 55. There really is a difference.
Jim
 

Piggie

Super Moderator
#17
Did you replace the 75 Ohm transformer?

I've found that these don't necessarily fail completely. I've also found that within a batch of 50 new ones, I've had (probably) 30% that weren't good.
I have heard this before on other forums. That is an alarming percent!

How did you test them. And do they follow any brand where more are worse?
 
#18
75 Ohm or 'Matching Transformer' is what some use to convert twin-lead antennas (most rabbit ears) to a TV with a coaxial input (most cable-ready TVs) and usually have push-on type connectors only. it is notoriously loose and on some TVs, and converters, may not even stay on without help from tape.

Some 'Matching Transformers' also allow an older TV with twin-lead only antenna connections (usually with mechanical tuner knobs; most color TVs from the 60s-early-80s and all B&W TV sets ) to use newer antennas (or even analog cable) with coaxial connectors. although with cable you won't get Channels above 13, without a 'cable box' because the transformer is used on the VHF side and even using it on the UHF tuner won't allow it to tune cable--i've never understood why though.
 
#20
I have heard this before on other forums. That is an alarming percent!

How did you test them. And do they follow any brand where more are worse?
I have been testing Grabbit Ears and before I decide that the antenna's got a problem, I've learned to try a new transformer, first. It's usually the transformer that is the problem.

Due to their high cost, I purchased bulk and haven't been trying others. I purchased these through Skywalker Communications. Normally, everything they do is great. This particular problem is unusual and if I ever get around to talking with Craig, he'll likely make it good. I still highly recommend Skywalker. Skywalker Communications: Satellite Sales, Consumer Electronics

Picture of what it looks like attached.
 

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