I Want My Antenna TV
I’d like to preface that this isn’t a things where better when I was a kid or a “back in my day” type of blog entry. No, this is just a reminiscence of time gone by. So without further ado,
Back in my day, capturing a television signal with an antenna was better. I recall getting my first television for my bedroom, it was Christmas 1989 and I got a 13 inch Symphonic set complete with coaxial cable and UHF connections. What a beauty! I mean that sum-bitch was cable ready! I didn’t have cable in my room though.
Technically the Symphonic wasn’t my first television. Growing up in Maine we lived in Gardiner from 1983 – 1987 and I clearly remember having a TV in my room with cable, it had the dual dials one for VHF and one for UHF. Then in February 1987 we moved to Litchfield and not only did we now not have TV’s in our room, but Litchfield didn’t even have Cable!
Back then you could plug in the TV, hook up the rabbit ears, and bam you had 5, 6, 8, 10, 13 & 51 just like that! NBC, ABC, PBS, FOX, and two CBS stations. Sure you had to move the rabbit ears around a bit to get 5 to come in, but that didn’t really matter much. Even if the picture was a little fuzzy you could still see and hear it.
Then the digital conversion happened, June 12, 2009. Now all television broadcast signals must be sent out digitally. It has its advantages, a clearer crisper picture; more channels can fit in the same spectrum of data, i.e. Channel 6, 6.1 and ect.
But it has its disadvantages as well; a weaker signal, as in the data can only be broadcast so far from the tower before it breaks down and the equipment can’t decode the data to present a picture. The digital signal lacks the feedback that the analog signal provided so you can adjust the antenna to clear the picture. What this means, for those that remember, when you put it on Channel 5 and the picture is fuzzy as you move the antenna around the picture either got better or worse letting you know where to position the antenna, with digital the picture is on or it’s off, there is no in between. A signal meter does help with this issue.
In 2012 I got divorced and I haven’t had cable since then incidentally. In my apartment when I first hooked up the rabbit ears I got channels 10, 10.1, 10.2, & 10.3 and 23, PBS and new Fox affiliate. That’s it, and most of the time Fox 23 just didn’t work because I couldn’t remember exactly where I had the antenna when I got it to come in. I put the antenna away after a few months because we just didn’t use it, we don’t have cable just internet, Netflix and HULU Plus. Once I got it back out and hit the auto program button and not a single channel appeared. I tried moving the antenna around to get channel 10 to come in. After several minutes of nothing I just decided to put it away.
When I was a kid I used to like hitting the auto program button, let the television run the channels and then see what it gave me when it was done. I always had 5, 6, 8, 10, 13 & 51. For a while though I got 26, another PBS channel and a religious channel that I didn’t bother with.
One stormy night I accidentally hit the auto program button and was shocked to discover that I was somehow getting Channel 4 an NBC station out of Boston! So on stormy nights I would hit the auto program button and see what signals the storms would bring me. I would get Channels 2 & 7 from Bangor, Maine regularly, and occasionally channels from New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Granted these pictures weren’t very clear and sometimes barely tolerable, but it was neat all the same.
When I moved to Pittston I was setting the Symphonic up down in the basement and using the rabbit ears just for shiggles I ran the auto program and my friends 5, 6, 8, 10, 13, & 51 where there along with 35 & 23!
The digital conversion made a lot of electronics obsolete. The old school battery powered handheld and portable televisions no longer function because you need a digital tuner or a digital converter box. Even with Time Warner Cable you can’t just plug the coaxial cable into the back of the TV anymore. You have to have one of their mini digital converter boxes, no matter what kind of TV you have, even it has a digital tuner built into it. Of course Time Warner charges you a monthly fee for those little boxes.
After the apartment lease was up my new wife and I rented a home in neighboring Randolph, a year we moved back to Gardiner and about a year and a half later we bought a home one street over. At the Randolph home my antenna didn’t get any channels, at the first Gardiner home I got PBS and Fox, so at least I could watch football.
The home we bought was only 200 feet from the one we were renting, you could see one from the other and they shared a neighbor. What I’m trying to emphasize that they were very close to each other and my antenna grabbed me 6, 8, 13, 10, & 23 including their sub-channels totally 15 over the air channels from just my rabbit ear. These channels are NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, and Fox stations so I got all kinds of football now.
This emphasizes the problem with the all or nothing digital reception, only 200 feet over and channels doubled. Someday I’m going to get a rooftop antenna and see what else I can pull from the stratosphere.
For those of you that missed it, the post title is a spin on a line from the Dire Straits song Money For Nothing.