Hardware Hell: Prepping for OTA TV Mapping Scout

Hey Conky,

Finally hitting the road tomorrow to start mapping OTA TV signals available within Ontario’s County of Lennox and Addington.

In the spirit of embracing the digital economy, I will be mapping OTA TV signals using a netbook, a USB ATSC/NTSC Tuner, and a pair of standard rabbit ears from my CRT TV (the baby rabbit ears that come with the USB tuner are laughable).

After 5 hours of work, I seem to having the hardware up and running. Sort of.

Where to begin.

Well, I first had to spend $59.99 plus HST for a Diamond ATI TV Wonder HD 750 USB tuner for my netbook.

My netbook doesn’t have an optical drive so I had to spend far too much time searching ATI’s website to find the right driver to download.

I then discovered that Microsoft Windows 7 Starter does not allow for OTA TV viewing, even if you have a USB OTA TV tuner attached.

$140 plus HST later, I downloaded the Windows 7 Professional upgrade that includes Windows Media Center.

After agreeing to a 57 item long user agreement (to watch free OTA TV), Windows Media Center scanned for signals.

Windows said that it could only find “Analog” signals. I wanted to get it to search for digital ATSC signals but the menu didn’t have such any option.

One of the first OTA TV signals I saw on my netbook was an interview with David Cronenberg on TVO where he’s talking about Videodrome.

I was also able to pick up CTV in Toronto (CTFO). You can see here my new (netbook/USB tuner) meets old (rabbit ears) set up.

Now, when you’re setting up to scan for OTA TV signals using Windows Media Center, you have to say what country you are in and your postal code.  After saying I’m in Canada, giving my Greater Toronto Area (GTA) postal code, and getting no digital OTA TV signals (even though there are at least a half dozen already available in the GTA) I thought I would make like an American.

Since the U.S. has already switched over to digital TV, I figured I would be able to pull in some digital OTA signals.

After saying that I was in the United States and plugging in a New York zip code, the software identified analog (NTSC) signals and digital (ATSC) signals.  After scanning dozens of channels, the tuner in the end could only display two digital OTA signals: 5.1 CBCT-DT and 44.1 OMNI 2. These two digital OTA signals are Canadian, but I can only tune them in from Toronto if I say that I’m in New York. Huh?

Here’s a photo of 5.1 CBCT-DT in my netbook. You can tell it’s digital HDTV since it’s 16×9 and it’s really clear.

I’m really fried from working on this so I’m going to bed.

Next stop, Napanee, Ontario!

Steven

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