Saturday, September 29, 2012

Television Conversion

This blog was done in real-time, to give you an idea of how my Saturday went.

So after the umpteenth time that DirecTV decided to jack up the price for HALF the channels, my family decided that officially, enough was enough. It was time for a change.

Now at the moment, I can't afford my own Roku box, so while there is one working perfectly in the living room, my personal TV was without a box. 

Of course the first step was the easiest one. I had to completely remove the DirecTV box from the TV area, and check to make sure I didn't leave in any extra A/V or RF cables.

The next step was figuring out which one of these cords was the TV and which was the DirecTV box. For the sake of safety, I turned everything plugged into the strip OFF.

Once the box was done spewing dust everywhere, it was time to tend to the TV set.

I tried hooking the house cable feed directly through the television set, and set the TV to Channel 3:

So I tried setting the TV to different channels, using the menu to add channels, setting through the VCR/DVD combo, aaaaand I still got static. 

So it was time to get a digital converter.

The lightweight box came out with a booklet and a start-guide. The instructions are simple. just use the RF cables to hook the box to the TV set, and away you go.

What the hell? 

So I take a look at the start guide.

.... So wait a second. In order to work an HD receiver... that picks up digital television.... I need the Bunny ears??? In 2012. 


Fortunately my mother has one.

And we open the box and WTF??


So out come the bunny ears, and I have to say this model is smaller and lighter than the set that we used to have in the living room when I was a baby.

Nothing says "upgraded" like UHF.

So before testing it with the converter box, I tried hooking the ears just to the TV, to see if it would work.


Ok I blew up this picture, because I want to talk about screw-on RF cords. Can you see the long strand thing in the middle on the top? That is the bane of every 80's kid's existence. See, the strand goes into the TV's RF feed, and the outer, metal casing is supposed to hold it it. Now modern RF cables have the casing in a simple, plastic plug form, so you can just plug it in as easily as you can an A/V cord.

This thing has a screw-head, and it's a pain in the ass to attach. But that's not the worst part. MOST RF cables have a very thin stem, so it can slide right in. This one is thick.

When it's thick, you need to put more effort into attaching it to the TV set, or in this case, a converter box. You can't just shove it in, or it will bend and become useless. This requires another person, a careful twisting, and a good 10 minutes out of my afternoon.

I believe that screw-head RF feeds, RF feed stems that are thick and AC adapters with large plugs, should all be BANNED. 

Ok so now we have the cord firmly in place. The bunny ears are attached to the converter, and the converter is attached to the TV set. 

And the set up is complete. I hook the VCR/DVD combo to the converter, and everything is fine....

for five whole minutes.


Ah wait, I forgot the basic thing.

See, with bunny ears, you can't just set it and forget it. For each channel you have to adjust them.

This is a trial and error process, and it does take a bit of creativity to get the picture to stay put. Plus if it rains, if the weather is bad... or in my case (true story) if the next door neighbor slams his car door just a tad too hard, the picture goes the hell out.

So after cussing out the window, I find a solution to the ears issue.

My LJN Piper seems to work quite nicely.

Total installation time: 1 hour.

Total channels this gives me: 18

Total channels NOT in Spanish: 10

Also, there is NO guide button. If you want to know what's on, you need to consult each channel's website, and hope that the monkeys coding the websites have the program order correct.

Happy surfing.

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