GETTING THE BEST POSSIBLE RECEPTION ON YOUR TV

Nothing is more frustrating than trying to enjoy your favorite programs on TV when the picture is noisy or full of static. We at KPRC Channel 2 want all of our viewers to enjoy our programming to the fullest, so we've created this guide to help you get better TV reception. So, if you're having reception problems, take a moment to read this guide before running out to buy a new set.

Often, TV viewers spend large amounts of money on the latest TV models, bring home the sets, and connect them to the same old antenna system or cable connection that they have been using for years. These folks wonder why the picture on their new TV isn't any better than before. Most people don't know that the antenna system or cable TV wire that you use to feed your television set is just as important to getting good reception as the TV set itself. Very frequently, reception problems can be cured by simply tightening the connections to your TV set, or by replacing a frayed or damaged cable.

Let's look at the different kinds of antennas and cables that are used to connect the programming to your TV.

GETTING KPRC CHANNEL 2 ON YOUR TV SET

All modern television sets have an input connector labeled "Antenna," usually a single round coaxial fitting, about 3/8" in diameter. This connector (known as an "F Connector" to TV professionals) brings in all of the viewable TV channels from an external antenna or cable TV system. Your set may have other connectors, often labeled "Video" or "S-Video," which are used to bring in pictures from VCRs or DVD players. Connectors marked "Audio" bring in sound from these types of devices. In this case, we will only be concerned with the Antenna connection.

In the earliest days of TV, the only sources of programming were the local TV stations. These broadcasters set up transmitters on tall towers or skyscrapers, and sent their signals through the air to your TV set. Many viewers continue to receive their TV signals in this way. KPRC Channel 2 operates a transmitter facility located in Missouri City for both analog and digital TV.

Nowadays, there are other options for receiving TV programming. Cable and Satellite TV services have given viewers more program options and made it possible for clearer and less noisy pictures to be delivered to viewers, especially those folks who live far from downtown Houston.

Again, Cable TV systems are often connected to home TV sets through the Antenna jack on the back of the set. Getting the best pictures from a Cable system will be discussed later on. First, let's talk about antennas.

TV ANTENNAS: WHAT WORKS AND WHAT DOESN'T

Surprisingly, some people will invest thousands of dollars on TV equipment, and totally ignore the antenna. However, if the antenna is unable to capture a good signal and deliver it to the receiver, the best TV in the world cannot produce a picture that you will be happy with.

PURCHASING AN ANTENNA

Suitable TV antennas are available at home improvement and electronics stores, along with the cable and other accessories you will need to complete the installation. It is recommended that viewers have their antennas professionally installed, if you are uncomfortable with the prospect of working on your roof. A competent installer can recommend an antenna suitable for use at your particular location, and ensure that the unit is properly pointed and connected to the TV set.

MOUNTING THE ANTENNA

The best type of TV antenna is one mounted outdoors, as high as possible. Most times, this means having the antenna mounted on the roof or chimney. A typical TV outdoor antenna looks like a long boom, with a number of elements mounted crosswise, with element lengths varying from longer to shorter. The farther away from a TV station transmitter you are, the more elements your antenna must have to work effectively. The antenna needs to be pointed at the TV tower/transmitter, for best results. To best receive KPRC Channel 2, the end with the shortest elements should be pointed toward Missouri City. Misalignment of the antenna will result in greatly degraded pictures.

Some neighborhoods have restrictions on having TV antennas mounted on the roof or chimney. In these cases, an outdoor antenna mounted inside your attic can deliver acceptable performance. It is very important to mount the antenna in such a way as to allow the elements to be fully extended and to have the antenna properly pointed at the station transmitter. Again, a professional installer can help those who are uncomfortable with working in the attic.

ANTENNAS TO AVOID:

The least preferable choice for a TV antenna is an indoor set-top type, commonly known as rabbit ears, or the monopole antennas sometimes mounted into the TV itself. This type of antenna never works well in receiving Channel 2, as the "ears" are too short to be electrically effective on our frequency. Rabbit ears would need to be in excess of 8 feet long to work well on Channel 2, too long to be practical. Also, the bowtie and round loop-style antennas are designed for UHF reception and will not work at all with VHF stations like Channel 2. Most people are disappointed with the performance of inexpensive indoor antennas.

If you have an outdoor antenna that has been up for many years, you should consider replacing it. A typical TV antenna mounted outside in the Houston area is subjected to a wide range of weather conditions, including wind, rain, hail and ice. This means that the average outdoor antenna begins to show the effects of the weather after about 2 to 3 years. Certainly by two years after the original installation, the antenna should be inspected for broken elements and bad connections. The loss of ANY element from an outdoor antenna WILL have a significant effect on the performance of the antenna, and the antenna should be replaced.

ANTENNA CABLE, AMPLIFIERS AND SPLITERS

The majority of TV reception problems are not caused by the TV station, but by the actual receiving antenna or antenna cable that brings the signal from the antenna to the TV set. Checking the integrity of the connections to the antenna and the TV is the first thing that a viewer can do to insure that he is getting the best possible signal.

Older antenna installations used a flat antenna cable, commonly known as twin-lead. In general, this cable is more trouble than it is worth, and should be replaced with the round coaxial cable found in newer installations. Twin lead line is probably the source of more reception complaints than any other cause. It just plain doesn't work very well. Coaxial cable and appropriate connectors are also available at home improvement and electronic stores. Again, professional installers can help in the replacement of old antenna cable. Any cable that has been out in the weather for 2 -5 years or longer should be suspect; as rainwater has a habit of getting into connections and deteriorating them.

When installing antenna cable, make the cable run as short and direct as possible. Long cable runs result in signal loss and noisier pictures. The line should be kept away from electrical equipment, if possible, and a single direct cable is preferred to one with many splices. Make sure that all connections are tight. F-Connectors should be gently snugged with a small wrench, as loose connectors are often the source of many reception problems.

And while we're on the subject of cables, look at the ones you are now using. Are the connectors firmly crimped or attached to the cable itself? Are there any frayed ends or broken wires? These are all conditions that can lead to bad reception of Channel 2.

A snowy picture usually indicates a weak signal. A preamplifier mounted near the antenna can eliminate or reduce the snow. Signal strength deteriorates as it travels down the antenna line to the TV. A weak signal will be non-existent when it reaches the television unless it receives amplification before the trip. The pre-amp boosts the signal to offset any loss from the antenna line.

Viewers often share a single antenna among many sets, using splitters to divide the signal. This is OK, as long as there aren't too many sets connected to the system. Remember, each splitter divides up the available signal, so you may need an amplifier to bring the levels up the amount that makes your TV work well.

An amplifier only prevents additional signal deterioration. If the signal is noisy leaving the antenna, the amplifier will amplify the noise along with the signal. The best type of amplifier is one that connects right near the antenna, in line with the coaxial cable, with a separate power supply that is located indoors. You can get this type of amplifier at the same outlets where antennas and coaxial cables are sold.

Amplifiers can and do fail. Electrical storms can easily destroy the components in an antenna amplifier. If you have noticed an abrupt change in signal quality, you should suspect your amplifier.

RECEIVING KPRC CHANNEL 2 OVER CABLE

Many Houstonians receive Channel 2 via their local cable TV system. Some systems put Channel 2 on a different cable channel, but regardless, Cable TV is generally a great way to get a good picture on Channel 2. However, if the cable installation is not done properly, it is possible to get bad pictures from Cable TV. Unfortunately, many problems typical of cable systems affect the lowest channels on the dial most severely, while higher channels are unaffected.