FAQs — Troubleshooting

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I am having problems receiving some OTA stations ?

Reception problems usually occur with stations operating on the higher channel numbers (higher frequencies). For example you may have problems receiving WKMG-DT 6-1 while not have any problems on WKCF-DT on 18-1. Remember that the channel number shown on the TV does not necessarily match the channel the digital TV station is broadcasting on. In the case above, WKMG-DT is broadcasting on channel 58 while WKCF-DT is broadcasting on channel 17. The signal loss due to coax and connector problems is much greater on the higher channel numbers like WKMG-DT than it is on the lower channel.

One of the first things to check is the picture quality on analog channel 65. If the picture is snowy, you probably have coax, antenna and/or connector problems. If the picture quality is good, may need to do a re-scan of the digital channels (See the section below on PSIP).

Reception problems are usually caused by problems with the coax cable and/or the connectors. Something as simple as a loose connector can be the culprit. The Florida weather can also cause connectors to loosen either by wind moving the coax around or from the heat causing the connections to expand and then contract at night when it is cooler. Remember that wall plates have connectors on the other side of the plate than can come loose and you have to remove the plate to get to the connector.

Loose connectors which are exposed to the elements can cause additional problems. Rain can collect inside of the connector and can be absorbed by the center foam insulator of the coax. The water can cause your signal strength to be reduced by a factor of 20 or more. It is not uncommon to suddenly have reception problems after a heavy rainfall and have it go away a few days later when the connector(s) dry out.

Coax which has been contaminated by water for a period of time will become discolored, specifically the center foam insulation will turn from white to yellow or black.  You should also periodically check the condition of your coax cable. Any nicks or cuts in the outside jacket can allow water in be absorbed by the coax. Coax also ages in the Florida sun and it is unreasonable to expect it will last forever.

A connector which has survived the elements.

 A connector which has had rain water collected. Note the discoloration of the foam insulation.


Connectors which have allowed water to contaminate the coax should be cut off and the coax trimmed back until the center foam is no longer showing discoloration.  Do NOT use crimp on connectors, use good quality water proof connectors for those connections exposed to the elements. It is also best to use coax sealing tape which can be bought at Radio Shack, AES (Orlando) & TedCo (Melbourne) to keep the connections water tight.

Always use good quality RG-6 coax and not RG-59 or RG-58. For long lengths of coax (greater than 100ft) you should consider using RG-11 coax.

While it might be obvious to most, some homeowners (past or present) like to paint their wall coax outlets (and  the female coax connector) to match their walls. Paint is not a conductor and will severely affect your ability to obtain a good signal.  It is also not a good idea to paint the coax cable itself as the paint can be absorbed through the outer plastic jacket and change the characteristics of the coax.

It is also possible that the antenna itself has failed.  Antennas are mostly likely to fail after a strong storm. Check the connection at the antenna and verify that none of the matching feed lines on the antenna boom are shorting to each other or the boom. If there is a balun at the antenna, check its connections and consider replacing it if looks badly weathered.

Note: Antenna mounted amplifiers rely on DC power being supplied through your coax, as do DirecTV, Dish and VOOM STBs. If you are doing any work on the coax or connectors, unplug your amplifier or STB so you don't accidentally short out your equipment (possibly causing it to fail). 

It is unlikely your reception problems are caused by a station reducing their transmission power. Stations may reduce their power in extreme conditions, such a a hurricane but otherwise try their best to operate at full power. They may reduce power when work is being done on the tower; however this usually happens during the day time and they try to return to full power during prime time hours.


I am having problems with HD Channels over cable.

Many of the same issues affect reception over cable. 

Things to check:

  • Check all connections to see if they have come loose. Connections can come loose just from day time heat expansion and night time cooling contraction.

  • Check to see if any outside connections have water in them. If so you may need to trim back the coax and place a new connector on it.  Always seal outside connections to keep the water out using coax sealer tape.

  • If you are using a HDMI cable, it can come loose if it's bumped even slightly.

  • The HD channels are on the highest frequencies of the cable system. Do not use low quality coax, even for short runs.

  • When using a power strip to lightning protect the cable signal be aware that not all surge protectors are the same and the loss from having the surge protection in the loop may be enough to degrade the signal.  If the problem goes away by removing the surge protector from the loop, you'll know where the problem lies.

  • You can reboot the SA8300HD cable box by holding down the power button on the front panel.
    If that does not fix the problem call the cable company.

    If you are using the hdmi connection and do not see a picture or any warning messages make sure the 480i scan rate is turned off in the advanced settings menu. Settings>more settings>Digital output>480i unchecked.


What size antenna do I need ?

To find out what size antenna you will need to receive over the air HDTV broadcasts, click here. Follow the 3 steps and you will receive a map showing the direction to point your antenna and a list of stations that can be received. The TV stations are grouped and color coded to indicate the size of the antenna needed to receive the station. Click on a TV station to see the recommended antenna size to receive the station. Radio shack carries a wide variety on TV antennas that will most likely fit your needs; Lowes, AES (Orlando) and TedCo (Melbourne) also sell antennas. See the hardware page links to various equipment manufacturers

If you plan on placing the antenna in your attic, you should consider going to the next larger size antenna because the roof will will attenuate the signals and the antenna will probably be lower than if it were mounted outside on a mast.

For the Orlando area, all the digital stations are currently broadcasting on UHF channels except for WESH-DT which is on a VHF channel. A VHF/UHF is necessary to receive all stations unless you live close to the TV towers.

Any regular TV antenna will work, special HDTV antennas are nothing more than re-branded TV antennas.

Those who need only a small antenna can also consider the Silver Sensor and the Square Shooter.

Many of those who live in this area report the Terk TV antennas achieved poor results.


Where do I Point my antenna?

Go to www.antennaweb.org and enter you address. The site will give you headings to all the stations in your location.


I have a strong signal on a particular station but no picture?

First check the Orlando OTA AVS forum to see if others are experiencing a problem. Often the station is in the process of changing something and the problem will go away in a few hours. Particularly with older receivers, it may be necessary to re-scan the OTA channels.


What is PSIP ?

PSIP stands for "Program and System Information Protocol". PSIP is data that is sent along with a station's digital signal that tells HD receivers information about the station and what is being broadcast. The most important function of PSIP is to provide identification of the station and the stations channel mapping information. PSIP also tells the receiver whether multiple program channels are being broadcast and, if so, how to tune them. It also  identifies whether the programs are closed captioned, conveys V-chip information, and programming information. If a station does not include properly encoded PSIP data in their signals, receivers may not correctly identify and tune to the station. If a station changes the PSIP data, a viewers' STB may need to re-scan the digital channels to obtain the updated information.

More information on PSIP can be found at the ATSC website.


When I tune to the digital stations I still see bars on the side of a 4:3 picture.

Typically the bars you see on the left and right side of  4:3 picture are either black or gray. For stations which are broadcast in 1080i or 720p,  the station purposely places the gray bars on the left and right side to help reduce burn-in effects which can occur on CRT and especially Plasma displays.  Burn-in is not a problem on LCD, DLP and LCOS displays.

Stations broadcasting in 1080i & 720p are broadcasting in 16:9 and the bars on the side are  there because of the program material is 4:3 rather than 16x9. The stations which are currently placing gray bars on the side of the picture are:  WKMG-DT, WKCF-DT & WOFL-DT.  WESH-DT, WFTV-DT, WRBW-DT & WMFE-DT do not program in the gray bars, so the bars are black.

Stations which are broadcasting in 480i are broadcasting in 4:3 and your TV is placing the gray bars on the left and right of the picture. The list of stations broadcasting in 480i include WRDQ-DT,  WCEU-DT, WBCC-DT, WOTF-DT, WOPX-DT, subchannels of WMFE-DT, WMKG-DT, WESH-DT, WRBW-DT & WFTV-DT.


I have a picture but no audio?

Check to see if you have not accidentally changed the audio stream to a secondary audio stream. Many of the digital stations have secondary audio streams but there may not be any audio being broadcasted by the station.

Many displays which have HDMI ports do not know how to handle Dolby Digital audio. You may have to supply stereo audio from the STB to your TV with another set of cables to use the speakers in your TV, use a separate DD decoder (like a Home Theater receiver) or disable DD audio in your STB.

If you have a SA-8300 cable box, you may need to go the the advance settings and change the Audio Output to Dolby Digital from HDMI (or stereo). If you have just received the box, you may have to re-enter this setting even though it is already selected. You may also have to reselect this setting if the box has rebooted.


What to I need to receive HD signals From Tampa (or other out of market stations)

It is possible to receive stations from Tampa, Jacksonville or Ft Pierce if you are close enough. To reliably receive a station you need to be within 60-70 miles of the transmitter. This is due to the curvature of the earth limiting your line of sight to a little over 75 miles. For stations which are 60+ miles away you will need a large antenna and most likely an antenna mounted low noise amplifier. The higher you can raise your antenna the better.  Also consider these stations can shape their transmission pattern to cover their market and they may have purposely shaped the pattern so not to interfere with stations in our area or other neighboring markets.

Do to the unique conditions which exist in Florida, it is possible to receive stations all over the state early in the morning and later after dark. Unfortunately the signals will vary greatly and you may only be able to receive the station for a few hours. The conditions will vary with the time of the year, the weather and solar activity.


Should I take down my Dish or Antenna in preparation for a hurricane?

If a hurricane is approaching your area, you should take down your antenna and satellite dish. They are not made to withstand strong winds and if they come down, will do damage to you or your neighbor's property.


How come the lip sync does not match?

When you see the sound is not lined up with the picture your first instinct is to blame the broadcaster but they are rarely the cause. The likely suspect is actually your display. The cause is the picture is run through much more circuitry and processing than the sound so it arrives later and causes the out of sync look. If you have a digital AV receiver for your surround sound look for a lip sync delay feature and adjust it so the sound arrives later and lines up with the picture. This is normally adjusted using a "ms" millisecond scale. It could be anywhere from 16 to 100 depending on your display. Watching the news anchors on local news is a good way to eyeball this setting.