Summer arrived briefly
about 2 weeks ago, when we had a St Patrick's Day with 70-degree F
temperatures. Unbelievable and temporary. That week of nice
weather made a nice welcome to spring, although we've had some
white-colored setbacks since then, with 4 or 5 more inches of snow
predicted later this weekend. It could be worse, as folks in the
Dakotas and Minnesota had up to 20 inches of snow the other day, while we
had rain. Anyone expecting a clean break from winter to spring is
usually going to be disappointed!
I did get some things done during that brief period of warm weather.
Thought it a good idea to remove some unneeded things on top of our tower,
and re-arrange the off-air TV antenna system, in time for the completion
of the digital transition. Eventually all broadcasters in the
Madison, Wisconsin market will be on UHF---therefore no need to maintain
separate UHF and VHF antennas. Our local analog channel 3 has been
fulfilling its "nightlight" obligations since February 17th, so
when it disappears soon there will be no more analog locally on VHF.
The local PBS affiliate will be turning off its analog signals in a few
days, with the final transition being our Fox affiliate---now transmitting
on analog 47 and digital 11. On or about June 12th it is scheduled
to fire up digital on UHF-49. A pity for digital coverage in
outlying areas, as VHF-11 was much better for getting out through the
hills. Sometime during the month of May we should see a boost in
signal coverage for the local NBC affiliate on digital-19. It is
temporarily constrained by the presence of an analog signal in LaCrosse,
Wisconsin--also on 19. Once they shut off analog in LaCrosse, our
NBC station will be able to crank up the power as well as increase the
height above ground. Step by step, it keeps getting better. I
removed all TV antennas, including a 10-element high band VHF for channel
11 (Fox), other than an ancient 5-foot Parabolic UHF antenna which has
been raised to the top of our tower and put into full service for ALL
Madison stations. It even works for getting VHF-11, while it is
there temporarily until June. Consolidating TV reception will
simplify things here, and allow the elimination of a lot of clutter from
extra wires, etc. Satellite antennas are dangerous to maintain at
the top of the tower, and often inaccessable during the winter. I'm
adding a bench at the next level down from the top to provide a relaxing
vantage point for watching wildlife from a still-elevated location.
A lot of time and expense went into building the entire contraption;
now is the time to make it functional as well as "pretty".
Pansat has just released
a new MPEG-2 receiver that gets high marks from this reviewer. It
uses a similar "ALI Editor" program for maintaining satellite
and channel lists via computer, and has an extremely fast processor.
Maybe not as perfectly set up in this version as what I am familiar with
on the Traxis DBS-3500, but it has two things that the Traxis does
not....a VHF modulator as well as a USB port that allows connection of
devices such as memory sticks or external hard drives for a DVR (digital
video recorder) function. Quite a combination and only 149.00 plus
shipping! We'll be happy to supply an editor program as well as a
setup satellite and channel file for our customers. Pansat
definitely has a winner with this new product. See our MPEG-2
section for full details and specifications.
THIS TV continues to
expand its national ad-supported movie channel. Soon available in
Minnesota's Iron Range and in Duluth-Superior. Already on the air
and available to most of Wisconsin. Adding more affiliates every
week around the country, with a few new Equity Broadcasting stations
transmitting this service on Ku-band / 123 West (Galaxy 18) for
Free-To-Air satellite reception.
We continue to update our Off-Air Television section with more information
as digital channels are added, and new digital facilities go on the
air. For the benefit of our Madison, Wisconsin area viewers, here is
an updated listing of permanent digital channels after June 12th.
15.1 WMTV-NBC (HD) 15.2 News & Weather
UHF-20 21.1 WHA-PBS (HD)
21.2 Wisconsin Channel 21.3 Create
UHF-26 27.1 WKOW-ABC (HD) 27.2
RTN-Retro TV Network 27.3 THIS TV
UHF-32 57.1 WBUW-CW (HD)
UHF-49 47.1 WMSN-FOX (HD)
UHF-50 3.1 WISC-CBS (HD) 3.2 My
That's 12 sources of TV so far in our market. Six in High
Definition, and an interesting mix of standard definition multicast
Bigger cities such as Milwaukee and Chicago have two and three times
(respectively) the number of digital channels as we enjoy.
While there may have been hiccups getting this digital system going, I am
optimistic that it will turn out to be an excellent delivery system at the
end of the transition away from analog broadcasting.
STAR CHOICE news from Canada. On the negative side, viewers
subscribing to the Buffalo, New York network standard definition
affiliates will lose them after April 30th, when all East Coast SD feeds
will be transferred to Detroit (ABC-NBC-CBS-PBS) and Rochester, NY (Fox).
Those with HD equipment will still get Detroit and Seattle networks as
before. Spokane and Seattle standard definition remains unchanged.
Reason for this transfer of resources is supposed to free up some space
for a new HD channel or two. Let's hope they are worth losing a
choice in East Coast reception.
In other news, Bob Cooper turns 71 this week, and to celebrate he has
published his last monthly newsletter, which has been written as a
continuation of his SatFacts Magazine, which ended a year ago. Bob
wants to put all of his efforts into publishing a collection of books on
the satellite industry, so he's not really putting down the
keyboard. Just focusing on what he feels need to be accomplished
while he's still "young" enough to do so. Stay tuned---we
will let you know when his new publications become available.
Until next time,