We Have Some New Digs

June 26, 2008

We have a new home for the Tech Blog.  You may wish to point your browser to the new site



DTV Questions Answered Live On CET Wednesday Evening

June 17, 2008

If you live in the Cincinnati, Ohio area you can tune in tomorrow, Wednesday evening for a special program on CET TV called “DTV, Ask US.”  It is your chance to ask questions and get some good unbiased information about the digital transition. 


So if you are wondering about getting a new set or what type of DTV converter works best, tune in.


We will have a phone bank of experts and I will be joined live in the studio by Neal Schmidt. Neal heads up CET’s Engineering Department.  He and his colleagues have a wealth of good information.


I promise that we will give good advice and information you can use and we will do it in simple non-technical language.


That is Wednesday, June 18 from 8:00 – 8:30 PM on CET.  If you miss it, you can watch it on demand at   www.cetconnect.com beginning Thursday morning.  Tell a neighbor.

Phones will be open beginning at 6:00 PM for your calls to 800-808-0445.  Note this number is only good from 6 to 9 PM.  You can use 513-345-6512 any other time for your technical questions.

More Converter Questions

June 16, 2008
I have several questions about converter boxes after looking at their specification information on-line.
1) Some boxes say they have SDTV-Tuner – 480i. If a box just says SDTV-Tuner without the 480i does it have less resolution? That is, is a box that designates “480i” better than those that don’t mention it (or e.g. are they all 480i) ? 
It is Hype….your analog TV can only display standard definition, i.e. 480.  All DTV converters are the same in this respect. There are DTV TUNERS for use with HD monitors that output different resolutions.  That is an entirely different thing
2) One model says under Video Processing: “MPEG-2 Video Decoding”. What does that mean? Is it considered desirable- is it something other models have and don’t mention? Or if other models don’t have it, what do they have instead? 
Again. All are the same.  They all do MPEG.
3) I live in Hyde Park. Is there any reason to have analog pass-through? Will there be any broadcasts in my area that I would need that for?
A pass through box will allow you to continue to get the Low Power stations CH 25 and 38.  If you are now a viewer of those channels get a Pass through so the analog signals will continue to be receivable.  The Low Power Stations are not converting  to digital in Feb 2009
4) Would a smart antennae be useful in my area? 
Not sure what a smart Antenna is….You do need a UHF/VHF antenna (either indoor set-top or outdoor) since the DTV signals are in both bands 
4) A friend lives between Amelia and East Fork State Park. Is that an area where analog pass-through would be beneficial? 
See above…has nothing to do with location 
5) Would a smart antennae be useful in the East Fork State Park area? 
see above 
Thank you in advance.
Margaret from Hyde Park 

Don’t wait to connect your DTV converter.

June 13, 2008

I’ve had several questions about “when” to connect your DTV converter. All of the local full power stations are already broadcasting with digital signals. Most have added multicast channels that can be received using a DTV converter or new DTV TV set. There is no reason to wait to connect your DTV converter.

Do it now and when you tune to CET you will not only get your favorite programs that you have been watching on good old CH 48, you will get CET World, a channel that features repeats of your favorite PBS programs and some programs that we have, in the past, not broadcast locally. The other local stations have other services on their multicast channels such a continuous weather updates.

It is also a good idea to connect your DTV converter now so you can see if you will need to modify your antenna or add a new one. Better to do it now than at 6 AM on Wednesday morning, February 18, 2009. It might be a bit cold to go up on the roof!

“Pass Through” DTV Converter works well

June 10, 2008

I had a chance to test the Digital Stream (Model DTX9950) DTV converter available from Radio Shack® stores.   John Kiesewetter, Radio and TV Writer at the Enquirer brought one by the station this morning.  This is one of the first converters I have seen available locally that has the “pass through” feature.  Many of the standard DTV converters, once connected to your analog TV set, will effectively block out any analog reception.  If you want to continue to watch the area’s low power stations like Channel 25 and 38, (neither will be converting to digital in February 2009) you will need a “pass through” DTV converter.


I have to say that I was impressed with the unit.  We were able to pull in all the major analog stations with the unit attached and set in the “pass through” mode, i.e.  effectively “turned off.”  In this mode you use the tuner in your TV to tune in the analog stations. On the digital side we received perfect pictures from all the local DTV stations plus three stations from Dayton.  Since we were using a small inexpensive set top antenna and the TV was located in CET’s Central Parkway lobby -not an ideal TV reception location – one could presume that the unit will function well in a more ideal setting.


One warning however…the digital signals can be somewhat erratic so there is no assurance that your reception will be perfect.  Sometimes a difference in the location of your TV of only a few feet can make the difference between a perfect picture and no picture at all.


I can say that is one of the most sensitive DTV receivers I have tested and well worth the $60 price tag.  Use one of the DTV coupons and the price drops to $20.


I am always interested in your experiences.  Let me know about your DTV reception using your DTV converters and TV sets.  I will share them here on the blog.

DTV on your Grandma’s 1960 Zenith

June 6, 2008

I got an email question asking if the DTV converters would work on old TV sets.  The short answer is YES.  Some older sets might require an inexpensive device to adapt the antenna wire so you can attach it.  Some older TVs have two small screws instead of the new connection that uses what is called and “F” connector.  If you have two screws on the back of your TV for attaching the antenna you can buy what is called a “75 ohm to 300 ohm matching transformer” at most Radio Shack stores.  It is about the size of a roll of dimes and should cost less than $5 bucks.  This adapts the wire coming from the DTV converter to one that can be attached to the two screws.


Even the oldest TV will display the DTV pictures albeit with less clarity.  Yes,  even a black and white set will work.


It is kind of neat to be able to use your grandma’s 1960 Zenith to watch programs designed for HD. 

Do I Need a NEW Antenna for DTV?

June 5, 2008

I got a question the other day from a reader who was going to purchase a new Digital TV.  He asked if he should first replace his outdoor antenna and antenna cable.   I suggested that he wait and see how the existing antenna works.  If he is getting good reception now, there is a very good chance that his new TV will too with no changes required. In that case “let sleeping dogs…”


Remember, there is no such thing as a DTV antenna or an HDTV antenna.   There are antennas that are more sensitive and some are manufactured to be sturdier.  All things being equal, the only difference between a good indoor or outdoor antenna that you bought five years ago for your analog TV set and the antennas in the stores right now is the label on the box.  Oh yes…and the price.  I guess the letters “HDTV” are more expensive to print.

More info on this topic at http://jackatcet.blogspot.com/2007_12_01_archive.html

Watching TV when the lights go out post February 2009

June 4, 2008

Back in April I wrote in my newspaper column that the digital conversion may have some unintended consequences when it comes to portable TVs.  I noticed that Channel 9 mentioned this again recently. 


With the recent rough weather in our region, many may have been watching TV on battery operated sets or listening on portable radios which are able to receive the audio portion of the local TV Channels.  Unfortunately the radios will not continue to work after the February 2009 analog sunset. 


While there are a few battery-powered digital sets available on line, I would not expect to see many of them in stores in the near future.


One option is to purchase a USB digital receiver and plug it into a battery powered laptop.  Not an elegant solution, but it will work.  There are several USB receivers available on line and at most computer stores.  You can watch the local digital channels on the laptop. 


If you have a battery – powered analog set, you will not be able to use a DTV converter as none currently are available with battery power.

Everything you want to know about DTV but were afraid to ask?

June 3, 2008

We are going to try clear up some of the common DTV misconceptions and answer questions about the DTV switch during a live show on Wednesday, June 18 at 8 p.m. on CET. 


During the live program I will be joined by CET Chief Engineer Neal Schmidt (the real brains behind our DTV service.)  We hope to tell you all you will need to know about watching television after local full power broadcast stations stop using analog transmission in February 2009.


If you or a friend have questions that you would like answered on the program, just send them to me at techinfo@cetconnect.org or via phone at 513-345-6512. 

Best Buy® To Stock Hybrid DTV Converters.

May 29, 2008

While I have not yet seen one in a local store, it has been reported that Best Buy® has agreed to begin stocking hybrid DTV converters.  If you see one let me know.