I have been reading Broadcast Engineering for the past three years and never really had hands-on experience in the field. About a month and a half ago, I started an internship at a production facility in Los Angeles and was put to work doing signal processing/engineering.
The first project I was given (after only 30 minutes on the job) was to redesign the video patch system the facility was using. To complicate things, I had been brought on as a visual artist — not a technician. But my job was to integrate SDI HD/SD and standard NTSC equipment with multiple SD and HD decks, a rack of signal processing cards and TC generators. I had never actually touched a patch board, let alone any of the high-end equipment we are working with before that day. However, due to the theory and articles in your magazine, I was able to navigate quite well with only a few minor hiccups.
After the job was finished and everything was working, I was asked how I knew how to do that kind of work. I was able to say I knew how to do it based on what I read in your periodical. Thanks!
Analog died while I was running
In response to your “Analog died while I was running” post on your Brad on Broadcast blog, I understand your grieving about the loss of analog broadcasts. I have a small analog LCD TV. It's portable, got great reception and ran for four to five hours on four AA batteries. It was a great TV for emergencies.
Unfortunately, I've found that there are no good replacements for this TV. There are a few “off” brands offering portable digital TVs. However, they have much larger screens than I need, much shorter battery life, nonuser replaceable batteries, and are virtually worthless without external antennas.
I purchased a battery-powered weather radio at the beginning of the year in preparation for losing my little TV, and I forgot about the TV band issue. So I also now have a brand-new emergency radio that is missing this handy feature. Luckily, it has a NOAA weather band setting on it.
I'm sure that the digital signal will work fine for many people. I will be the first to admit that the picture does look quite good without any “snow,” but there are many aspects of analog that will be sorely missed. For instance, I'm out in the country, 30mi away from the local transmitters, and I have completely lost our local ABC and CBS stations since the switch. With analog, we sacrificed a little bit of picture quality for a reliable signal, but with digital, we sacrifice reliability for a great picture. In my opinion, this is a step backwards. My satellite signal goes out when it drizzles, so I always end up relying on the over-the-air signal during foul weather. If a tornado is on its way, I would much rather have a reliable signal and a slightly grainy picture than no picture at all with the potential for a perfect picture.
I imagine that many years down the road, the sensitivity of ATSC (digital) tuners will improve, and this type of situation will not be as problematic. Until then, I guess we must accept the “downgrade,” buy larger antennas, and put a few of our beloved gadgets on the shelf for good.
Someone should do a follow-up or survey on what the DTV conversion left us with. Many in the Puget Sound region lost most of their channels due to weak signal transmission. Technicians willing to measure for a better antenna location are expensive, and are trying to push satellite or cable TV instead. I have a fringe antenna and two preamps. I only get KBTC-TV and FOX now and then. I lost all the Seattle stations.
This will also hurt the TV stations and their marketing money. Will they be allowed to increase power or set up satellite transmitters? Or are we all being forced by the government to convert to cable or satellite TV?
Personally, I'm going to try to get away from TV more, go to the gym to fill my time and rent Netflix. I do miss some favorite shows from NBC and ABC though, and winter will be a real drag. I won't get storm and emergency alerts either.
What are the TV stations saying? The FCC? I've read online many similar stories everywhere, especially the East Coast.