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Storms and digital TV

zogger (617870) writes | more than 5 years ago

Television 8

This is my report on digital Tv and no fooling around storms-it sucks. We've had some few bad storms before last Friday (Good Friday turned into medium Bad Friday), but that was a doozy, tornado warnings all around, we heard our local tornado/civil defense/whatever siren going off for the first time actually. I went OH NOES.....

This is my report on digital Tv and no fooling around storms-it sucks. We've had some few bad storms before last Friday (Good Friday turned into medium Bad Friday), but that was a doozy, tornado warnings all around, we heard our local tornado/civil defense/whatever siren going off for the first time actually. I went OH NOES.....

    The report, short and to the point: Zip and nada for digital TV when you REALLY want and need it. Before with analog you could still get at least some sort of fuzzy radar map picture no matter how bad it got, and understand the audio, and keep getting it with a 15 buck black and white battery operated portable Tv. But with digital, nope and nope and nope, it doesn't work, and no cheap portables anyway. We didn't get hit directly with a tornado, but south of us a little took a lot of damage, and there's general damage all around (as most are aware I guess, the news has been covering southeast US storms pretty good.)

    We lost power from friday afternoon until saturday morning, and I just got internet connection back a little while ago. We had just switched a few days previous, getting the bugs wortked out with help from the techs, to wireless internet again (barely get a signal, but still faster than dialup and cheaper, 1/2 price for what I was paying for a landline and dialup service) but dang if their tower didn't get smashed in the storm! What timing, huh? HAHA!

Anyway, the government will need to adopt some sort of slow scan radar image that could be gotten on a dedicated *analog* weather report device, like the have the radio service now, something that will _work_. This all digital TV stuff is NOT going to cut it with general storms like the US gets all the time. There's no way around it. No idea how to go about haranguing them to do it either, open for suggestions though as to what to recommend to pull this off (some of you radio and EE nerds might have some good input there).

Oh, and here's a bad storm survival tip if one does not have a storm/emergency bunker or basement, have motorcycle helmets with face shields handy. Protect your head and eyes for cheap.

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8 comments

Distance (1)

chill (34294) | more than 5 years ago | (#27560899)

How far away from the station transmitters are you?

I'm about 30 miles west (in Chicago), but all the transmitters here are on top of the Sears Tower or Hancock Building and there is 100% clear LOS the entire way. The indoor digital "rabbit ears" did a good job, and when I stuck a good antenna on a chimney mount, I get 30+ channels in super-clarity even is some nasty storms. Two of those channels are weather-radar channels. Nothing as bad as tornadoes, yet but some pretty heavy thunder storms.

If you don't have your HAM license, I'd suggest getting a Tech or better and learning about SkyWarn. http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/ham.htm [noaa.gov]

Re:Distance/calculated (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#27564235)

About 45 miles or so according to my calculations courtesy of the fcc thingee. Rolling hills here, some baby mountains. Not sure about real clear line of sight. Right now running a dual reflecting rabbit ear/loop thing I made inside. The outside antenna is beyond worn out, needs total rewiring or something, it just doesn't work. I might just trash it (well, use it for something else, not just throw it away, see if I can fix it or mod it better) and eventually get a new one with a smart rotor. Right now the main station I like for weather is operating at reduced power, sometime third quarter they are going to about triple their output, it should work better then.

What, exactly, was the problem? (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 5 years ago | (#27562183)

What, exactly, prevented you from getting a TV signal? Was it that the storm interfered with the signal, or was it that you didn't have power to run the converter box, or what?

Around here, DTV is beneficial in that two of our local stations run a 24/7 radar feed as one of their multiplexes - so that if I want to see the current radar picture I just tune to 12.2 and there it is, no matter what is running on the main multiplex of 12.1.

If the problem is a lack of power for your converter box, here's an article one of my Radio Club's members did on modifying a DTV converter to run on battery [warc1.org] . Also, any modern battery powered TV should have an ATSC tuner in it.

If the problem was storms interfering with your reception, then I wonder how well you did with analog - due to the changes in the modulation scheme between NTSC and ATSC you actually have a lot better signal to noise on the ATSC signal (less power wasted in the carrier). However, many stations are still running on lower-power transmitters for ATSC rather than their high-power transmitters they used for years on NTSC (due to Congress wimping out on the cut-over date many stations are still running in a temporary mode).

But yes, if you don't have a 162MHz Weather service radio you should get one - preferably one with Specific Area Messaging Encoding [wikipedia.org] support.

Getting your Tech ticket would be gravy on top of that.

Storm (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#27563557)

Storm interference near as I can tell, and like I said, it was bad enough for the town to run their emergency siren, first time since we have lived here, which will be five years in July. We've had bad storms before and just got a little artifacting and some choppy audio(of course this is just this year since we got the converter box and hooked it up), but this storm the signal was lost on many stations and what we got that had weather on it was too rank to view or listen to, just shut it off even before we lost power. If it is clear out, it workls great, more stations than ever and real clear signal.

    As to weather radios, yes we have them, multiples, and that's what we were listening to, albeit it was LOUD outside and hard to hear inside. It was just rain, if it had hailed here I doubt we could have heard anything, tin roof and all... I'd still like a better way to see the radar map though. No matter how bad storms got with analog I could always see at least a fuzzy picture and hear the sound, and that is going all the way back to when I was a kid, every Tv I remember. The only digital channel we had that worked correctly was some childrens cartoon channel.

Re:Storm (1)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565075)

If it's the first time they've run the storm siren, how often do you get exciting weather?

Re:Storm (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565273)

Fairly often in rainy season, lot of thunder and lightning all the time and the power goes out here *all* the dang time, we are the last home on the electric and phone lines, it stops here, so any break upstream we lose power. I think they only run that siren with an actual tornado on the ground locally. And I only heard it because I was outside rounding up the pets, unmistakably different from any other siren I have heard around here. Inside with the rain hitting, couldn't hear much of anything. We have an old oak in the front yard, it is not far from the porch, the rain was so heavy you couldn't see that tree. I don't know how you want to class that, but it was frisky and breezy and rainy, plus the lightshow and the noise. Like I said, up the street some guy lost his pole barn, chunks all over his field, and a lot of trees down, etc. We just seemed to miss the real heavy nasty stuff a couple miles south of us, although it was still exciting here. This is the first time we went and sat in the closet, I was that concerned. Right before that I was trying to monitor the TV and the radio a little bit in between getting the pets squared away and hustling ye aulde ladee into the closet and grabbing a few extra emergency things to stick in there with us. Then it just blew over and calmed down! From windy as heck to about nothing and it got nice out! Like 90 seconds and a world of difference. The power stayed out a long time though, but it didn't matter, just kept the fridge and freezer shut, and we have battery reading lamps and radios, etc. Wasn't that bad, didn't need to do the generator or anything, we had prepared a lot of stuff to eat previous because I predicted we would lose power hard this time, based on past events.

Re:Storm (1)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 5 years ago | (#27565957)

Thunder, lightning, and intermittent power - not too bad.

Barns tumbling down - now we're talking a storm. Are tornadoes common or not down there?

I presume that the lay of the land is a bit different in Georgia than Iowa - a little more "closed" where you can't see very far anyway - that would bother me.

I've been out storm spotting a few times in the last few years (usually get called out 4-5 times per summer) and I've seen skies that were truly scary a handful of times (scary enough to warrant a call home to get everyone downstairs).
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