Friday, 24 June 2011

How Many Channels

We are settling into our temporary accommodation and gradually accumulating the ‘bits and pieces’ we will need on board Waiouru.  I found an old CRT TV in a cupboard and carried it into the front room.  Whilst the TV worked there were no channels!  After some searching on Google I concluded the TV was analogue and the signal in this location is digital. 
In the afternoon we walked to the nearest ‘Comet’ electrical  appliance shop and enquired whether they had a very cheap Freeview set top box.  We were able to purchase a ‘Proline’ for just under £18.
I should explain to our non UK readers there are two types of free TV transmissions in the UK.  Freeview which is a terrestrial signal and Freesat which is a satellite signal.  The latter requires a satellite dish whilst the former uses a conventional aerial.
Originally we had planned to use Freesat on the boat but having read it is sometimes difficult to find the ‘dot in the sky’ we have purchased a TV with both the Freesat and Freeview tuners.  So what will we do with this extra Freeview set top box?  Well we intend to have a ceiling mounted flip screen TV in our bedroom.  It will need a digital set top box.
Anyway,  I fitted the Freeview set top box and unfortunately we couldn’t receive any channels.  I waited until the rain stopped (yes… I know it’s currently summer in the UK… and we were warned about the weather before leaving Australia)  then traced the coaxial cable back to a junction box on the outside of the house.  It didn’t have a lid and was full of water.  The ends of the coaxial cables were also very corroded.  With a bit of jiggling around I was able to create sufficient spare cable to cut back the ends and remake the connections in the box.  Then I make a temporary lid with masking tape.
Back inside and the Proline suddenly found hundreds of channels.  I’m used to a maximum of five.  Hundreds are just overwhelming!  Skimming through the list I realised many of them specialise in a particular area of interest.  “Gray Rabbit” caught my eye….. obviously a children’s channel.  <Oops; backtrack>.  It’s “Gay Rabbit”!  Maybe not a children’s channel.Smile
Jan didn’t come to bed until the early hours of the morning.  I suspect she has been ‘surfing’ the "Adult” channels <just joking>!
It’s going to take us some time to work out which channels are of interest and those we can ignore! One thing is for sure; there is a large selection to chose from.


Peter and Margaret said...

Hello again Tom, You have embarked on a fairly complicated subject here if you are new to our broadcast systems! First, areas are transferring to a digital signal, and switching off the analogue signal step by step, with the whole country changed to digital by 2012. As you have found out, old analogue equipment can still be used in a digital area by obtaining a cheap set top box. However, all new equipment currently on sale, should now be already equipped with a digital tuner, marked with the UK digital trademark "tick" on the box to confirm this. There have been many problems during change over, relating to signal quality and strength. Too good an aerial will receive transmissions from outside areas in preference to the local channels, and will need to be attenuated, too poor a signal will either result in no reception at all, as you also found, or an intermittent and pixilated reception that is of no use. As areas change to digital, the transmitted signal strength is increased, as it will no longer interfere with the analogue signal. This in itself has also caused problems by stopping equipment from receiving a satisfactory reception, when it did previously. Again, signals may have to be attenuated, or aerials used with a large enough back baffle to stop it picking up the transmissions from other areas in favour of the local ones. This, as you can imagine, will have a serious impact on the narrowboater, who in the past, could watch a poor quality, but still watchable picture on the old system. You are also correct on the difficulties of finding the correct satellite within a mobile scenario, but the Camos system has self tracking facilities, so, should be much easier to set up, and maintain reception. (I was an electronics and TV engineer before my "other" career!) Regards, Peter.

Tom and Jan said...

A much more comprehensive explanation.

Thanks Peter