GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. -- KARE 11 boosted its TV power output on May 11, 2010. KARE 11 technical operations manager Tony McDonald said the station had applied to increase its signal power because many of its viewers could not receive the over-the-air signal after the DTV conversion in June 2009.
Power boost approved
"We were granted an increase in power which should push our signal out and hopefully cover more, or at least what we had, in our analog coverage," McDonald said.
The analog signal had been able to travel greater distances, since the digital signal is line-of-sight and largely limited by the curvature of the earth. Potential viewers, more than about 50 miles from the transmitter towers in Shoreview, were often unable to pick up the DTV signal.
Digital conversion mandated
The conversion to all-digital was mandated by federal law, mainly to free up VHF channels (2-13) for other uses such as emergency communications. Most commercial and public TV stations moved to the higher UHF frequencies (channels 14 and above). For several months prior to the conversion, KARE broadcast both an analog and digital signal while viewers were informed of the coming changes. During that period, KARE's digital signal was on channel 35, while the analog signal remained on channel 11.
KARE chose to move back to 11
However, after the conversion, when the analog signal was stopped, KARE chose to place the new DTV signal back on channel 11. The allowed power level of television stations in the United States is controlled by the Federal Communications Commission. The power level of the DTV signal proved insufficient to reach all of KARE's usual viewers, geographically. Thus, the power increase was requested, and finally approved in May 2010.
67 percent power increase
"On May 11th, we increased our power. It will be a 67 percent power increase," said McDonald. "If you live in a wooded area or out on the perimeter (of the signal) where you are getting a lot of dropouts and things, we hope we can push through that with the power increase and make that signal stronger and more stable. So, it will look good for people that used to get the analog signal good. We hope that the digital signal will look just as good."
McDonald urged distant viewers of the station who had lost the KARE DTV signal to try again on or after May 11, 2010. He did offer some caveats.
"There are going to be some physical weaknesses, like if you live behind hills or big groves of trees. It is going to be a little tougher. To get around that, the best thing to do is move your antenna outside and get it up a little bit higher or away from some of those elements, if you can," McDonald said.
Rabbit ears vital
For those who rely on an indoor antenna, it is vital that the antenna include "rabbit ears." The adjustable V-shaped "rabbit ears" are the part of an indoor antenna that receives VHF signals. The "loop" at the base of the antenna receives UHF signals. It is important to have both on your indoor antenna.
Rescan is crucial
Most important for over-the-air viewers is to "rescan" on or after May 11, 2010. Tony McDonald explained, "You will want to rescan your tuner. Now, if you have a modern TV, you will probably go through and just do a "re-acquire" of your channels. If you have a set-top converter, you might want to take the antenna off of the converter, rescan the channel, so it cleans all the memory out of it and then put your antenna back into the converter and scan it again for channels and see if channel 11 comes in. "
McDonald said that even after the rescan, there might be some problems. "If it breaks up a bit, you want to start adjusting your antenna to see if you can get a solid signal. There's a signal strength meter on almost all the devices that will show you what the best location for the antenna is."
McDonald hopes the power increase of May 11, 2010 will end service problems for KARE 11 viewers in difficult reception areas.
(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)