A site about the radio listening hobby and my activities therein - longwave, mediumwave, shortwave, FM, and television DXing. A site about the radio listening hobby in all its forms, or at least the forms that interest me.

I am also a licenced amateur radio operator, callsign VE3LXL. Information about my amateur radio station is found on my station website.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Digital TV - Tivax STB-T8 Converter

Over-the-air television broadcasting is in the process of switching from analog to digital. In the United States the official switchover occurred in June; in Canada the switch will take place in 2011. However, many TV stations in Canada are already broadcasting in the new digital format as well as in the traditional analog one.

I was curious to see what digital TV is like, so in June I bought a digital-to-analog converter to connect to my purely analog Toshiba television. The converter is a Tivax STB-T8, which I bought at Durham Radio in Whitby, ON. I hooked it up to the TV and to an old TV antenna I had on my balcony. The results were much better than I had expected.

First, not only are most of Toronto's TV stations already broadcasting in DTV, I also get most of Buffalo's TV stations regularly, and irregularly I've been seeing Rochester, NY's stations. This was a surprise because I'd heard that DTV signals didn't travel long distances well, and so I expected only to see Toronto's stations.

Second, the picture quality is excellent. As good as cable TV. It's astounding to me to be watching a station like WXXI, the PBS station in Rochester, with a cable-quality picture over the air. (Actually, the picture quality would probably be better than cable if I owned an HDTV).

Third, I get a lot more stations than I expected. It depends on propagation conditions, but I've gotten close to 40 channels. I'm counting the subchannels of a station as separate channels - e.g., there are three channels from WGRZ-TV in Buffalo.

It's really cool and I've been having fun playing with it.

1 comment:

Radio-Timetraveller said...

Hi Greg,

Was also surprised here last year after the official US conversion when we hooked up the digital converter box to a simple 5 inch color TV in the kitchen. I attached a rabbit ear to it and extended it out horizontally along the wall.

Digital stations from the Rochester area (I am 20 miles south of Rochester, NY) and beyond came in clearly in cable-like quality, and was amazed at how many of them there were.

I never would have thought that either.