Digital TV and Indoor Antennas

As we continue to move toward the end of analog broadcast TV, Mike Laemers, our Director of Engineering, wrote the following article to address problems some people have had getting WOOD TV in digital …

“We have received many emails and telephone calls from our viewers who have indicated they watch WOOD TV analog signal but cannot pickup the digital signal when they purchase a converter box or a new TV.

“WOOD TV does not recommend indoor antennas for digital reception. We do understand that many people have used indoor antennas with varying results for analog reception. The reason was that a certain amount of degradation of the signal still produced acceptable results. Viewers were able to accept some pictures that were slightly snowy or had a limited amount of ghosts. With digital those kinds of imperfections may cause the receiver to unlock, resulting in no signal at all.

“Rabbit ears may work if the viewer is within 15 miles of the tower. In this area, WOOD TV, WXMI TV, WOTV, WLLA-TV, and WWMT are all located in the geographic center of the intended coverage area. WOOD TV and WXMI TV are just Southwest of Middleville, MI. WWMT TV is located east of Shelbyville and WOTV and WLLA-TV are located East of Orangeville. All of these are about 20 miles from the population centers of Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Holland and Battle Creek. Muskegon is about 50 miles.

“In areas like Detroit, most viewers are within 15 miles of the tower, because the population center is a metro area, many times indoor antennas work in this type of area. Grand Rapids is considered a hyphenated market because it serves multiple cities and their transmitters must be located in the center of the area intended to be served.

“What makes the indoor antenna problem worse is that many retailers are selling amplified indoor antennas that supposedly are designed for digital television. There is no difference in antennas sold for digital and the old tried-and-true antennas used for the past sixty years for analog.

“These amplified antennas are usually designed for UHF signals even though the box may say UHF/VHF. Testing has proved these antennas as having worse performance than plain $8.00 rabbit ears antennas at VHF channels. This area is mostly VHF. WWMT-TV (CBS), WOOD-TV (NBC), WZZM-TV (ABC) and WGVU-TV (PBS) will all be on VHF channels eventually. If the viewer has no other choice than to use an indoor antenna, we recommend a simple set of rabbit ears antenna located near a window that has a view to the Gun Lake area between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. WOOD-TV will come in best with the elements collapsed to half of their length.

“WOOD-TV highly recommends that you buy your converter box early. This will give you the time and weather to acquire our signal by having an outdoor antenna installed. Make sure the antenna is a VHF/UHF model. They may be purchased from places like Radio Shack, T&W Electronics in Grand Rapids, Bursma Electronics, Menards or any antenna dealer that also may do installations. A listing of antenna dealers that do installations can be found at Techhome.com or http://www.homeblue.com/electrical-1-antenna.htm

Michael Laemers
Director of Engineering
WOOD TV / WOTV / WXSP

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