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anyone have trouble with the DTV transition?

Original post made by Sarah, Midtown, on Jun 16, 2009

I live in midtown Palo Alto and use a rooftop antenna to receive broadcast TV. I've noticed an improvement in TV signal quality since the DTV transition. In particular, channels 2 and 4 changed their DTV broadcasts to frequencies that are easier for my antenna to receive.

However, I have heard others complain that they can no longer receive channel 7, even with a VHF/UHF antenna. Channel 7 was the only station to switch from a UHF frequency to VHF during the DTV transition.

Anyone else see a big change in TV signal quality (pro or con) in Palo Alto after the DTV transition?

I do see a lot of rooftop antennas in the neighborhood; but I don't know how many of those are really used vs. people who buy cable TV.

Comments (21)

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Posted by Hannah
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2009 at 9:46 am

I also live in Midtown and have a rooftop antenna. Since the transition, I no longer receive channels 7,4 or 2. I've rotated the antenna, repeatedly re-scanned and still nothing. Don't know what to do next. Maybe I'll just give up TV altogether and read more.

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Posted by Sarah
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2009 at 10:29 am

Many of the TV stations are installing new antennas this summer and will be boosting their signal power in October. Maybe you should enjoy the daylight savings time outdoors, then try TV again in the fall. Old outdoor antennas may work better then.

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Posted by WilliamR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 16, 2009 at 11:45 am

Sarah and Hannah,

I'm a little ways south of you, with a very old rooftop antenna and a digital TV that I bought last fall, and all of the local channels come in fine. Channel 2 was almost impossible to get with the analog signal, but no problems with the digital signal. I had to rescan the stations last weekend. I know that doesn't answer your problems, and I don't have any suggestions; I wouldn't think that a mile difference would matter that much.

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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2009 at 1:40 pm

I've lost 5 and 2
4 comes and goes

7, 9, 11 are pretty solid for me.

I read that Sutro tower is getting rebuilt and that come fall the signal strengths will be better for the stations that use it.

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Posted by Sarah
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Here is a FCC consumer advisory that may help some people:
Web Link

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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Have a roof top antenna and a DISH. We can get 5, 7, 9, and 11 and higher but not 2 and 4. Live near Edgewood Plaza. Called channel 4 and was told that it is in the process of rebuilding its transmitter. Since I'm not technically savvy, don't know about rescanning. Can someone tell me whom I can ask about that. I only use Channel 2 for some Fox sports and the 10 o'clock new.

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Posted by RS
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 17, 2009 at 7:30 am


Here it is. You must know how to scan for channels.
Find a menu button on your TV and look for it
On mine it was under a submenu "channels"
Remove the antenna cable from the back of your TV
scan for stations, none will be found, but this will have the side effect of clearing your station memory.
Now that you have no stations, reattach your antenna cable.
Scan for stations again and it will add stations to you TV.

I tried it. Now I have 2,5,7,9,11, but no 4
2 while having been detected is not strong enough to watch
5 was coming in strong.

So I am writing off 2 and 4 until fall.

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Posted by Les
a resident of Los Altos
on Jun 17, 2009 at 11:09 am

2 (now 44),4 (now 46),& 9 have not been readable so far in Los Altos. I'll try the re-scanning bit I found on Sarah's recommended FCC web site as 5 does not come in on one set, but does on the other two. Thank the Lord for rotors on the rooftop antennae !!!!

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Posted by Rob
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Like others, lost 2, 4, 7. I'm near Oregon Expressway.

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Posted by Lovin DTV
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 17, 2009 at 1:10 pm

Hi all,
Everyone should be enjoying strong signals from all of the major networks for those of you responding in this forum. You don't need a special antenna, but you do need to adjust your antenna in most cases. The digital signal is very very directional. The good news is that almost all the channels you want are in the same direction because the transmission tower that feeds most of Palo Alto carries all the major networks.

So, first of all you need an outdoor antenna. Next you need to point it in the right direction. Use this website to orient your antenna.
Voila, all the channels (I get over 48 channels) to include PBS from San Jose, San Francisco and Marin County. I live in a one story Eichler surrounded by huge trees and use a small directional antenna that is installed on my very low chimney, but is pointed in the right direction. Straight at the signal tower. To find your signal tower go to:

Web Link

If you live behind one of the few tall buildings in Palo Alto, or if these building block you from the signal tower, then you are indeed out of luck. I am near Edgewood Plaza between Embarcadero and the Oregon Expressway and have been enjoying great reception since we moved here over six months ago.

As many have commented, due to tower changes and adjustments, it is wise to rescan your channels every couple days until things sort out. Some stations are broadcasting their apologies for not having their digial signal equipment up and operating. This will all be sorted out by next January. All the PBS stations broadcast three to four different channels specializing in news or kids programming or british tv programming etc. The other major networks normally have in addition to their regular programming, a all news channel and usually a local weather channel. NBC has an all sports channel. In short, over the air DTV is great. Plus the HD signal you get is better than cable or satellite, which compresses the signal to maximize their bandwidth availability. So you even get a better HD signal if you have an HDTV then those that are paying for it.

You gotta love it.

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Posted by Janet
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 17, 2009 at 2:09 pm

we leave a block off oregon in midtown and use a rooftop antenna. we cannot get channel 2 or any PBS stations although we were receiving 9.1, 9.2, and 9.3 before the transition. go figure.... ironically, the only stations we watched were pbs and one show on fox and that is precisely what we can't get now.

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Posted by Norm
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2009 at 4:49 pm

I can get 2, 4, 5, 9, 11, 20, 32, 36, 44, 54, 60, 65 and their varients. (Also several foreign language and infomercial channels.)
7, per their web site, I 'll forget about until July.
I live near El Carmelo School (just barely Midtown), and use a damaged indoor antenna w/ built-in amp. However, I have to readjust the antenna and rescan about 1 in 3 times I change channels.

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Posted by Sarah
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2009 at 10:09 pm

I live near Middlefield & Oregon and get great reception on all the major stations: 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 54, 60 (plus a bunch of others that I have no interest in). Only 54 gets a little noise at times. I did spend one afternoon on the roof trying to point the antenna for optimal reception. That makes a huge difference. Most of the stations are broadcasting from Sutro tower in San Francisco, so aiming your antenna in that direction is a good starting point.

I think DTV is great. I get maybe 10 different PBS channels for free. I have no interest in cable TV now.

Note that channel 7 is a VHF station, so you do need a VHF or VHF/UHF antenna to receive it (most older antennas are VHF/UHF).

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Posted by Feisty Grandma
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2009 at 10:58 pm

What is TV?

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Posted by Dave Bell
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2009 at 4:45 am

Here in the UK, we had all this fun years ago.

Many of the details are different, but the lower power will show up any problems with the signal.

One thing I saw people forget was the quality of the connecting cable between antenna and receiver. It's out in the weather, and it ages. If you're having problems with some channels, especially on the higher frequencies, new, high-quality, cable can make a big difference.

It isn't a hard job, but be careful. I don't want anyone falling off a roof.

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Posted by TV problem
a resident of Addison School
on Jun 18, 2009 at 8:55 am

I have a rear projection TV. I used to be able to get couple channels (7,11,26,20,36). After the change and no outside antenna with two different rabbit ears no channel come in at all.

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Posted by One Dollar Bob
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Most TV stations in the area transmit from Sutro Tower. KNTV transmits from Mt. San Bruno, which is pretty much in line with Sutro from Palo Alto.

KICU and KTEH transmit from Monument Peak, which is roughly due east of Palo Alto. Both stations on Monument Peak are in the UHF band.

If you are having trouble receiving DTV stations with an outdoor antenna, first make sure your antenna was designed to receive VHF AND UHF. Many of the new channel assignments are on UHF. The next step would be to trot down to Fry's and get an amplifier for VHF and UHF signals. That might boost the signal just enough to stabilize it; if not, you can return the amplifier. If you are having trouble with KICU and KTEH, you might need a UHF antenna aimed at Monument Peak. This is what my brother did and he had me to tell him how to hook it up. Be sure to use 75-ohm coaxial cable -- don't even bother messing with 300-ohm twin lead.

Who reading this remembers Jack Morrisroe? Back in the day you'd just call Morrisroe's and they'd send a truck to your house. "Troublesome TV? Call me!"

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Posted by One Dollar Bob
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2009 at 8:21 pm

Indoor rabbit ears are going to be pretty iffy on UHF.

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Posted by casey
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2009 at 12:43 pm

casey is a registered user.

I lost 2.1 and 7.1 after the transition. I was able to pick up 2.1 by rescanning, but 7.1 is still MIA. I have no problem with the other major stations.

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Posted by dtvex
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 19, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Channel 2 & 4 are on the upper edge of the UHF spectrum. These channels are quite sensitive and likely to get reflected out. Try shorten the cable or clean the connector.....

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Posted by Sarah
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Channels 2 and 4 moved to better frequencies after the DTV transition. They should be much easier to receive now (after a rescan). They are both rock solid for me now.

The Mercury-News describes one reason why channel 7 is hard to receive now (with a fix): Web Link

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