Saturday, January 5, 2013

It's ALIVE!!!

Back in September of 2008, a month after we moved to Bend, I tried to receive digital over the air (OTA) channels from the transmitting towers atop Awbrey Butte. But even though the towers are less than a mile away, we got nothing on a pair of cheap UHF rabbit ears. So I got a second-hand high-gain antenna and pointed it at the top of the butte, and still got nothing watchable.

I figured that the antenna could not "see" the towers, that there must be a ridge between our house and the transmitters. The only other source of digital TV transmissions was from Grizzly Peak -- on the opposite side of the butte from us and completely invisible from our side.

So I shelved the project and signed up with Bend Broadband.

A few months ago we cancelled our TV contract with them -- cut the cord -- and switched to streaming programs and movies on the Internet, using an $80 Roku with HD output, and haven't looked back.

Except in two areas: local news and sports.

Because news and weather make me feel more connected to the community, I sent an email to the engineering staff at KTVZ, requesting help; and the next day their broadcast engineer, Cliff Peck, came by to check out the signal situation. From the cab of his pickup truck on the street he was able to pull in a perfectly fine picture using an UHF antenna similar to the one I used back in '08 (a four-bay bowtie with a reflector screen).

Why was he able to get a good signal now, when there was nothing earlier? It's unclear -- he speculated that the digital transmitters weren't up and running back when I first tried it.

I fetched my antenna out of storage, leaned it against the front of the house, pointed toward the top of the butte, tied it to the unused cable feed to the living room, and Hey Presto! we had picture. We got PBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox. Also CW -- whatever that is. CBS doesn't have a digital signal hereabouts. But what we have is fine: I can watch NewsChannel 21 for local news, and the football games shown on those networks. ESPN I ain't got -- those are "away games" for me: "Away" meaning I have to watch those games at a sports bar, or a friend's house, or by other means.

The antenna's location wasn't ideal: every time a vehicle drove by on the street it disrupted the signal because it was between the antenna and the top of the butte. So this morning I mounted the antenna up on the side of the house. Climbing around on top of a ladder in 25 degree weather. But it wasn't going to mount itself.

And now we have perfect reception.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations!

    I believe "CW" stands for "Country Western." Which would make sense, in Bend.


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