March 30, 2009 by Graig Stephens
Q. Now that I have a new converter box, my old antenna will not pick-up any of the stations it was reaching before. What gives? - Paul
A. In theory you should be able to pick up the digital stations, but that is not always the case. Here are three possible explanations as to why you aren’t getting the digital stations:
Cliff effect defines the sudden loss of signal with digital reception. With the old analog system, you were able to get channels whether the signal was good or not. If the signal was weak, there would be static. It doesn’t work this way with digital. If the signal is too weak, you will not receive picture at all.
Antenna amplification could be the culprit as well. In the past, when an antenna wasn’t strong enough for certain stations, we would add an amplifier to the system. The more signal strength - the better. But with digital, this rule of thumb does not apply. Too many db (decibels) can actually ruin the digital box or digital tuner in a digital TV. Ideal amplification is 10-14 db for digital.
Type of antenna is the most frequent cause of this issue. There are 2 types of antennas, Directional and Multi-Directional. Much like the names imply, a directional antenna picks up the signal from one direction while a multi-directional antenna picks up a signal 360 degrees. A multi-directional antenna is your best choice for digital.
The best way to test your antenna is by using the signal strength meter on the digital converter box. You can usually find it in the system set-up menu. Go to this feature and move around your antenna to find the strongest signal. If you are unable to lock onto great signal strength, I would recommend visiting antennaweb.org. They recommend digital antennas depending on your zip code. You could always call your local A/V contractor to ensure not only the right antenna, but that your system is fully optimized.
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