Friday, December 25, 2009

TPT's KTCI going full power soon!

KTCI will be moving from DT-16 to DT-23 on January 28th, 2010. It is in their DTV info ad and in their monthly magazine. This should push their range to similar results as KTCA, while slightly weaker due to the different in power levels on KTCA (662kW ERP) and KTCI-DT-23 (375kW ERP)

Friday, November 6, 2009

KTTC's LaCrosse translator W67CH goes offline

On Wednesday November 4th, a member of the AVS Forum's LaCrosse/Wausau, WI - HDTV thread posted a confirmation that W67CH (ch. 67), KTTC's analog translator to the LaCrosse area was no longer in operation.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

KTTC La Crosse Translator W50DR Online

At 2:10PM today, W50DR went on the air, from an antenna that is about 606 meters above sea level. Side mounted, the antenna is on the Wisconsin-side leg of the WXOW tower.
I am getting traces of it in Kasson, MN and it is at 15kW ERP, so it should get out well with decent LOS.
Rescan to get channels 10.1, 10.2

Thursday, October 8, 2009

KTTC's LaCrosse Tanslator to go Digital

A member of the AVS Forum's LaCrosse/Wausau, WI - HDTV thread posted an e-mail from KTTC's chief engineer Tim Morgan regarding the station's LaCrosse translator. The e-mail reads:

We will start installing the broadcast antenna early next week, perform
some testing and hopefully start broadcasting a digital channel 50
signal by the end of the week. Stay tuned to WXOW or KTTC analog channel
67 in the La Crosse area as we will be promoting the start date for this

Thank You,
Tim Morgan, KTTC-KXLT-NTTC Director of Engineering

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

KAAL Digital

As of October 9th, 2009, KAAL will no longer be broadcasting on both DT-33 and DT-36. This means that viewers will now need to make sure their antennas are aimed at the Grand Meadow tower that KAAL-DT/KXLT/KSMQ share.

EDIT: Right around noon today (Oct. 9th) KAAL-DT-33 went off the air and DT-36 became the ONLY way to receive their programing (that is until the Mason City translator comes online)


It has long been known, that KTCI (TPT 2.3/4) would like to move its' digital OTA RF channel from 16 to 23 and increase power from 50kW to 375kW as well as use an antenna mounted much higher on the current tower. This morning their filing with the FCC was entered into the FCC database.
They are guessing that everything will be in place to make the final move in January 2010.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dolby Digtal 5.1 Suround Sound Audio?

I recently finished installing a surround sound audio system for my living room at home, and I have become interested in which stations pass Dolby Digital (DD) 5.1 or 2.0 channel audio.
5.1 audio stands for 4 surround speakers (one each side of the viewer), 1 center channel (dialog), and the ".1" stands for the sub woofer. 2.0 channel audio is just basic stereo audio composed of two channels of audio.

Many shows produced in HDTV (if not all) include 5.1 audio, but it takes special gear to handle the audio in most cases, so it also depends on the encoder at the local affiliates.

So as to which stations push 5.1 audio when available by market:

Rochester/Austin/Mason City:

KIMT > 5.1
KAAL > 2.0
KTTC > 2.0
KSMQ > 2.0
KYIN > 2.0 (see note at the bottom)
KXLT > 5.1

Twin Cites:

KTCA > 5.1
WCCO > 5.1
KSTP > 5.1
KMSP > 5.1
KARE > 5.1
KTCI > 2.0
WUCW > 2.0
WFTC > 2.0 (see note again)
KPXM > 2.0
KSTC > 5.1

LaCrosse/Eau Claire:

WKBT > 5.1
WEAU > 5.1
WXOW > 2.0
WQOW > 2.0
WLAX > 5.1
WHWC > 2.0
WHLA > 2.0
WEUX > 5.1

(notes: KYIN is a member of Iowa Public Television and they are rumored to be adding 5.1 audio to the HD sub channel in the coming months on all of their stations.
WFTC surprised me, but then I went and looked and in the 3 biggest markets (NYC, LA, and Chicago) Fox owned My Network affiliates are also not running 5.1 audio, so in the Twin Cities, it is probably not a high priority. WFTC is an Owned and Operated [O&O] of Fox. Also remember that only the HD sub channels include 5.1, depending on station of course.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

WEUX now in HD!

Months after the digital transition, the chief engineer for Eau Clare's FOX affiliate WEUX announced on the AVS Forum that they began broadcasting in HD this afternoon (9/10/09) at around 2:08PM. The HD subchannel is on 48.1 and the SD version is 48.2.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


WFTC switched to RF channel 29 tonight. I am waiting for some reception reports to see how it has helped or hurt most people. My signal strengths are not as great as I had hopped, nowhere near the power of KSTC. Please reply and let us know what you think of the new channel.

Monday, August 17, 2009

New Channels

CSPAN2 and CSPAN3 are in Clear QAM this afternoon. They were added late this morning or early this afternoon.

CSPAN2 is 116-3 at 720x480i (4:3)

CSPAN3 is 116-4 at 720x480i (4:3)

As to the Charter boxes, I am going to check and see when the new channels become active and post a reply back about the new HD channels.
Also, Zap2It is not currently listing CSPAN2/3 yet in the listings. (this usually takes 1-7 days)


As of this morning, the new HD channels are active in the digital boxes and the analog channel moves and deletes have been made.

Monday, August 10, 2009


WFTC will be shutting down its' channel 21 digital broadcast (remember it remaps to channel 29.1/2) and firing up its' new channel 29 digital broadcast. This will be happening on August 18th, so remember to rescan your converter boxes, HDTVs or Home Theater PCs on the 18th.
The new broadcast will also be at 1MW (1 million Watts) but will be a decent amount higher up on the tower, so that should make it a bit stronger for anyone over the horizon from perfect LOS (Line Of Site)
I know that at my place in Kasson, MN channel 21 digital is the weakest digital full power station that I receive, so I am hoping that this improves greatly:)

Channel Changes on Charter for Rochester

Here is a list of channel changes coming on August 18th on Charter cable:

CSPAN2 from analog 17 to 85 Basic Digital Only
TBN from analog 24 to 183 Basic Digital Only
EWTN from analog 25 to 180 Basic Digital Only
Inpsir from analog 27 to 181 Basic Digital Only
WE from analog 38 to 307 Digital View
MSNBC from channel 72 to 27 (analog)
MTV2 from channel 73 to 76 (analog)
Univision channel from 74 to 38 (analog)

New HD Channel additions: Lifetime 750, FoxNews HD 751, and CNN HD 752. (Expanded Basic with HD box)
Digital Additions: CSPAN3 86 BDO
Great American Country: 330 Digital View

I would expect CSPAN2, CSPAN3, TBN, EWTN, Inpsir to all be in Clear QAM as well. (usually "Basic Digital Only" channels are in Clear QAM)

8-11-09 Followup:

It has come to the authors attention that some of the channels that will be digital only in the coming week, have already popped up on Clear QAM in the Rochester Charter system. These include: 92-4 TBN, 91-4 INSP, and 90-5 EWTN. I cannot promise that these are the final channel assignments, but at least at the time of writing, I can verify.

Friday, June 26, 2009

WEUX Back On The Air

On this past Wednesday, WEUX got back on the air at full power digital. If you are not receiving them now, rescan your tuner (wether HDTV or Converter box)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

KMSP At Full Power

KMSP got approval from the FCC to boast to 30kW ERP and did so on or around June 16th. So this is as good as their signal is likely to get. If you do not receive them now, think about VHF-HI antennas. If you need help with antennas, just reply to any post here and Matt and I will gladly help!

WEUX Off The Air

WEUX (Eau Claire, WI) is completely off the air at the moment, I see on their website, that part of the transmitter went bad late Monday morning. The engineer (Mark Burg) said that he hopes to bring it back online today around 5PM. Link To Story

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

WLAX Analog Tower GONE

Jay Matthews at WLAX just got back to me:

"WLAX-TV currently took down its old analog tower. In order to protect the tower climbers, it was necessary to reduce our Digital broadcast power on Thursday, June 11th, 2009 until 12:00 noon on Saturday, June 13th, 2009. If you scanned your TV during this time and did not get our digital signal WLAX-DT (25.1/25.2) please rescan as we are back to full power."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

WLAX Back At Full Power

It appeared that WLAX out of La Crosse, WI (broadcasts 2 miles west of La Cresent, MN) Was down for around 30 hours, from Thurday, just after 7PM to early this morning. I am now locking it with my normal signal strength. People as close as Holmen, WI were not able to lock it during this time...

Good Reports Thus Far Out Of The Twin Cities!

KMSP and KARE, look to have a much larger range with VHF-HI signals. KSTC running one million watts on RF channel 45, is a killer tonight. KSTP, looks much better on RF 35 compared to the weird RF 50 issues... Please reply and let us know what you are seeing!

Friday, June 12, 2009

KAAL-DT-36 On The Air

KAAL-DT-36 came online around 5PM today. It is hitting my antenna with super strong signal, so it is at least equal to KXLT/KSMQ!

Last Rochester Full Power Analog Off The Air

Well, at 12:12PM today, KIMT-TV shutdown, its' analog service. This was the last analog left on in the market, after KAAL-TV shutdown at 8:55AM this morning.

Also: KIMT is now 16x9 aspect ratio. Not as great as HD 16x9, but even still, pretty cool!


KAAL's analog will sign off the air forever at 8:55AM today.

KYIN-TV Off Of The Air!

KYIN's analog feed as well as the rest of IPTV's (Iowa Public TV) analogs went off the air at 12:01AM this early morning!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

WXOW-DT-48 On The Air

I have been checking as often as I have time and just noticed that WXOW-DT-48 is online. Rescan your converter boxes/TVs/tuners!

The End of Analog!

Tomorrow (June 12th) is the official end of analog tv broadcasting in the US. By the day's end tomorrow, all full power tv stations must stop analog broadcasting forever. This does NOT include low power stations and translators, they can continue analog operations as normal. As for what will happen in the Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin area:

In the Rochester, Austin, Mason City Market, KIMT, KAAL, and KYIN will turn off their analog broadcasts during the day. KYIN goes first, it will sign off the air at 12:01AM tomorrow morning.
KIMT will be turning off its' analog during the Noon News tomorrow.
And I do not have an exact time for KAAL, since their engineering department has not returned any of my emails.
Only thing changing in the digtial side from Rochester, is KAAL firing up DT-36 from the KXLT/KSMQ tower near Grand Meadow. People in Rochester should tune to it. (I will also post when this comes online, so people know when to run scans.)

In the La Crosse/Eau Claire market:
WXOW digital will move from channel 14 to 48 at 9AM. This is only change will happen for our neighbors in Wisconsin. It should improve their signal range greatly (I will post here tomorrow morning, when the new signal comes online!)

In the Twin Cities market:
Channel 2 (TPT, KTCA) and channel 17 (TPT KTCI) will stop analog broadcasts at 9AM.
Channels 4 and 5 (WCCO and KSTP) analogs will stay on as nightlights (a FCC program to help people with the transition)
Channels 9, 11, and 29 will leave their analogs on until the very last minute.
KSTC-DT will move from channel 44 to channel 45 at midnight, as well as KARE-DT moving from channel 35 to 11, KMSP-DT from channel 26 to 9. (29 will stay on channel 21 for a few months, before switching back to 29) KSTP-DT will move from channel 50 to 35 while it uses KARE's current DT-35 gear, until KSTP's get installed later this summer.
WCCO-DT, KTCA-DT, WFTC-DT, KTCI-DT, and KPXM-DT will not see any changes tomorrow.
KARE-DT, KSMP-DT, KSTC-DT, and KSTP-DT should see HUGE improvements in their signals at 12AM Saturday morning.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Iowa Public Television Stations: Analog Shutdown

All of IPTV's stations will shutdown their analog counterparts at 12:01am, June 12, 2009, according to their senior engineer: Mike Stover. As for the R\MC\A (Rochester\Mason City\ Austin) market, there will be no change to the digital (KYIN-DT on RF channel 18), it is at 533kW ERP, where it is licensed.


This just in from the chief engineer at KIMT. KIMT will shutdown its' analog broadcast during the 12PM News on Friday June 12th.


As some of you may know, WXOW is getting a new RF (radio frequency) channel number: 48 for post-transition operation. They have been on RF channel 14 with their digital signal up until now (their analog was on RF channel 19) Now they are switching out the 19 antenna for the brand new 48 antenna. I got word from Dan Rasmussen at WXOW, that last week, the tower crew, got the top mounted 19 antenna on the ground and are preparing to get the 48 antenna up top, today (Tuesday) If the weather holds and they get it up, they are on target to start up the DT-48 transmitter at 371kW ERP (effective radaited power) Which should push their signal out about as far as WHLA-DT. Dan is going to be providing me with pictures, which I will be sure to post!

EDIT: On the WXOW homepage, they are reporting that the new antenna is installed! They should be good to go on Friday at 9AM for bringing it online! Congrats to the crew that did the install!


Monday, June 1, 2009

KXLT-DT2=RTN, Not So Fast!

Tim Morgan (an engineer) from KXLT/KTTC said that they would like to add RTN (Retro Television Network) to their KXLT digital signal as a sub channel, but there are no plans with ETA dates for it. So where ever the rumor about RTN coming to KXLT started, it is not correct.


Friday, May 29, 2009

KPXM Moving to Shoreview

The FCC just allowed Ion station KPXM-DT a CP (construction permit) for an install at the Telefarm Tower number 1. (see this link) They are planning a non-directional signal at 1MW (Mega Watt) from 407 Meters AGL (above ground level) This should make KPXM-DT just as strong as the other Twin Cities stations running 1MW! Good news, this is, for those of us viewers south of the TC DMA. Now, if I can find out when the station will get moved, although I highly doubt that it will be online from Shoreview on June 12th.

EDIT (6-01-09):

Got an email back from Ion (the parent of KPXM), and they said that they have no exact install date for KXPM-DT in Shoreview. As in, it could be quite a while.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

KMSP/WFTC Digital Transitions

I just heard back from the engineering staff at KMSP:

KMSP-DT will switch from DT-26 to DT-9 at 11:59PM June 12th. They will run their analog right up until the very end. I would expect the switch to take between 5-30 minutes and around 12:30PM June 13th, I would expect to see the new signal online.

WFTC-DT is going to move back to RF (radio frequency) channel 29 for their digital, but they need parts from another station in Austin, TX to make the channel move. So they will continue running on RF channel 21 until roughly 8/18/09. I would expect that since it is same engineering staff as KMSP, they will run their analog until 11:59PM June 12th as well.

If you currently get WFTC-DT, you will not see any change on the 12th of June. KMSP viewers may notice a bit of change as VHF-HI should have a stronger signal out in the fringe locations at the outer limits of the market.
Make sure to check that your antenna is VHF-HI (or VHF-LO/HI, commonly grouped together as just VHF) and UHF rated. We had a lot of people in Rochester, MN, who were not ready when KTTC moved back and lost signal from their digital.
Most people within 15 miles of the Shoreview transmitter location, should be able to receive the new signals even a UHF only antenna, but beyond that is not likely.

-Garrett Vrieze (KD0GTI)


I have been researching the DTV transition with interest to the Twin Cities market. Wanted to update everyone as to what to expect with KSTP-DT.
Many forum members online, have noticed that KSTP-DT-50 signal is the hardest of the TC full power stations to receive. This is caused by the fact they are actually using a DT-35 antenna for their DT-50 signal, which creates weird issues with only their digital signal.
They have made an agreement with KARE to use KARE's pre-transtion DT antenna, feedline, and transmitter, just as it is, until KSTP can complete their new transmitter system. It will run 1MW (1 million watts)just as KARE-DT-35 does and should come in exactly the same as KARE. Once KSTP finishes their transmitter work, they will switch to their own hardware and continue to run 1MW.

As to the other stations in the Twin Cities, stay tuned, I will be adding more later on this coming week:-)

-Garrett Vrieze (KD0GTI)

KAAL-DT Update

We have known for some time that KAAL has filed paperwork with the FCC to use KTTC's old Ch. 36 facility instead of their existing ch. 33 location. They have finally issued a press release as to their plans regarding this change.

Basically, here's the executive summary. KAAL-TV Ch. 6 (analog) goes off the air on June 12th. KAAL-DT Ch. 33 goes off the air August 18th. KAAL-DT Ch. 36 will go on air on June 12th.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Current Power Levels For Rochester\Austin\Mason City WXOW Info

I have been in contact with many of the engineers at the local TV stations asking various questions. Some of the info I will directly pass on as it helps with antenna aiming and selection.

ERPs (Effective Radiated Power)

KTTC-DT is 26kW ERP, with plans to add a new transmitter into place that will boost them to 33.7kW, which has been approved by the FCC. This will also allow them to use the older 26kW max transmitter for backup.
KIMT-DT is 800kW, where it will stay. It was increased from 200kW, because KIMT would like to begin sending out mobile DTV signal and a much stronger signal is needed to make mobile DTV work well on small devices with small antennas.
KXLT-DT is 220kW, with no plan on a power increase.
KSMQ-DT is 322kW, they were planning to go to 400kW, but this would have required an additional transmitter cabinet, and their signal testing, showed that they do not believe to need to the extra power. (Which, I agree, their signal is very strong as it is.)
KYIN-DT is 533kW, recently upgraded from 250kW. This one is tough to receive at the authors home, just North of down tower Rochester, even at 533kW, a tight aim for the shared tower with KIMT-DT is required)

As for KAAL, that one is a mess and I wish I knew what the FCC is going to concerning their request to move to the KSMQ-DT/KXLT-DT tower in Grand Meadow and start a translator in Mason City. I have an email out to the engineer, but have not heard back in the last week.

As for our neighbors in La Crosse:

WXOW-DT will be moving from RF channel 14 to channel 48. Also will be increasing power to 371kW, from a brand new top mounted antenna. This signal should be as strong or a but stronger then WHLA-DT currently. The antenna will be installed in the next few weeks (weather permitting) with final move at 9AM on June 12th, 2009.

UPDATE (5-29-09)
I heard back from over at WXOW. They are planning to get the old RF channel 19 antenna pulled off of the tower on Monday or Tuesday (weather permitting)This tower stuff is VERY dangerous and needs very calm weather to work out well. They may be off the air or at 1% power while the tower workers are near the RF channel 14 antenna (the current digital [DT] antenna). (which will affect everyone, cable, DBS, and OTA)If they can stay at 1%, cable and DBS will stay up, but if the radiation levels are too high, they will pull it off the air completely.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Updates on Digital Cutoff Dates

Sorry folks, it's been a while since we gave you an update so some of this is actually old news. My apologies. I'll try to be a little bit more on top of things in the future.


First order of Business: KSMQ (PBS - Austin, MN) decided to cut their analog (Ch. 15 from a tower near Austin) by noon on Friday, May 1st.

Second, Wisconsin Public Television also decided to pull the analog plug on all their analog transmitters back on Sunday April 5th, so that means no more analog WHWC (ch. 28 Mennomonie, WI) or analog WHLA (ch, 31 LaCrosse) for us Rochester viewers.

Third, the other day (think it was Wednesday or Thursday), KZSE 90.7 (NPR Talk), KLZE 91.7 (MPR Classical) KNXR 97.5 (Easy Listening) all went down for maintenance for a few hours. All three are up on the same tower east of Rochester (the big one). It was a pretty rare opportunity to DX (distance listen) on those frequencies. Anyone pick up other stations during that time?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New HD Channels In Minnesota On Charter

Well, the weather is great in Southern Minnesota, and Charter Expanded Basic customers with HD STBs (set top box) will be getting new HD channels on March 31, 2009. The following channels will be added on or before the date given: FX HD Channel 753, Sci Fi HD Channel 755, USA HD Channel 757 and MLB HD Channel 759. The channel placement puts them in between the Encore channels, so many users on are hoping that Charter switches the numbers to a better area..

Also, if you have not noticed, Charter is now carrying KIMT-DT2 on Channel 391 (SD or HD STB reqiured) Also on Clear QAM channel 82-3 (KIMT-DT is on 82-6)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A table of ERPs in the Rochester/Austin/Mason City Market

Just thought everybody could use a handy little reference for output powers of various stations.

Analog Ch. 3: 100kW
Digital Ch. 42: 800kW, formerly 200kW. Before the KIMT-DT tower, the station broadcast at an extremely low power from an antenna on top of their studio

Analog Ch. 6: 100kW
Digital Ch. 33: 224kW
Soon to be Digital Ch. 36: 324kW, eventually increasing to 620kW.

(Former) Analog Ch. 10: 316kW
(Former) Digital Ch. 36: 324kw
(Current) Digital Ch. 10: 20kW

Analog Ch. 15: 1200kW
Digital Ch. 20: 322kW, formerly 34.2kW

Analog Ch. 24: 1740kW
Digital Ch. 18: 250kW with an app in for 533kW (we are unsure which ERP they are currently at, but leaning toward 250kW)

(Former) Analog Ch. 47: 1510kW
Digital Ch. 46: 1Mw, formerly 220kW. They used 55.3 during the "special temporary authority" (STA) period.

KIMT-DT increases ERP

We have known for some time that KIMT-DT (CBS. Mason City, IA) has been operating at 200KW and had paperwork approved by the FCC to increase that to 800KW.

As of later Tuesday (3/10/09), reports began to surface on the AVS Forum's Rochester, MN - HDTV thread of increased signal strength readings. This most likely means that they have increased their output power to 800kw. Hopefully, that will fill up most of KIMT's analog footprint.

In the Rochester market, all that's left is for KAAL their act together with digital channel 36 and for the analog channels 3, 6, 15 and 24 to shut off on June 12th. It would be nice if KTTC increased the output power, but don't hold your breath on that one.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

TV Tower Pictures

Matt asked me a while back, if I could get pictures up of the area Transmitter/Tower locations and I finally have time to get it done.

KTTC-DT-10 and KROC-FM share this tower near Ostrander, MN; used to be KTTC-TV-10, was converter to digital on February 17th, 2009:

(KTTC-10 is the top mounted red antenna, while KROC-FM antenna elements can be seen on the left side of the tower in the photo to the left)

KAAL-TV-6, KAAL-DT-33, and KAUS-FM share this tower West of Austin, MN

KXLT-TV (now off the air) KXLT-DT-46, KSMQ-DT-20, and DT-36 (was KTTC-DT-36 pre-transition, will be KAAL-DT-36 soon) share this tower near Grand Meadow, MN:

(KXLT-TV/DT are the top mounted antennas, while the DT-36 is tube that is half red/white, and KSMQ-DT-20 is the white antenna, lowest in the frame)

KIMT-DT and KYIN-DT share a tower just south of the Minnesota/Iowa border south of Adams, MN:

Author's notes:
(1) Anyone interested, can see high resolution copies of these pictures (and more) on my Photobucket listing:

(2) I left out the analog towers, since the end of analog is near or has already happen for most stations.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Digital VHF-HI: Not Everything as Seem

For years, digital over the air viewers waited with baited breath for that magical day: February 17th, 2009. A day when analog would die and digital stations would move to their final destinations. Well.. that kind of happened. Because the transition deadline got pushed back to June 12th, 2009, only a fraction of stations went all digital.

One of the touted benefits of the transition was that some digital stations were going to move back to their digital channels to VHF-Hi (ch. 7-13) allotments, meaning less output power and better coverage.

After a few weeks, it has become fairly clear that the proposition of VHF-Hi digital TV was an "Epic Fail."

Around here, WKBT 8 (CBS) La Crosse, KTTC 10 (NBC) Rochester and WEAU (NBC) Eau Clare all switched to their VHF-Hi channels.

WEAU 13 switched on Monday the 16th. Most Rochester viewers are at least 85 miles from the station. In spite of the distance, many were able to get a perfect color picture during their full power operation and a pretty good color picture during their months of reduced power output. Currently, I have yet to find one area viewer that can actually pick up their digital channel reliably, despite the fact that many of us were able to get their UHF digital channel quite reliably. The station is operating around 20KW and seems to be at that power.

WKBT 8 switched at around 1pm on Tuesday the 17th. Many people reported loss of signal strength when they moved over to ch. 8. Some even lost reception compared to the DT-41 signal.

KTTC 10 switched on the afternoon of the 17th. While my signal is about the same, I hooked up rabbit ears to a TV (where I could get a pretty good picture on analog KTTC) and was unable to get a stable lock on the station. Many people have also reported issues with the station.

What's the issue, you ask? Well consider this. Full power analog UHF stations get 5MW, while their digital channels run at 1MW and they seem to cover about the same area. Yet, VHF-Hi analog channels all operated at 316KW and now most digital VHF-Hi stations are operating in the 20KW to 35KW range. That's only 1/10th the power. Because VHF-Hi stations are also combating a higher noise floor than UHF, it seems the only probable solution is to raise the output to ~75KW. Hopefully, this will happen sooner rather than later, but we'll see.

If you've been effected negatively by the transition, now you know what's going on and um... your not alone.


KXLT Analog Bights The Dust

FOX 47 (KXLT, Rochester MN) left their analog signal on after Frebuary 17th to "nightlight," meaning that the station played a continuous loop of informational programming on DTV. As of today, the station shut off their analog transmitter for good.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The transition has begun: WEAU (NBC 13 Eau Clare, WI) switches to all digital

At around 12:34PM this afternoon (Monday 2/16/09) Eau Clare's NBC WEAU 13 shut off both their analog and digital channels (formerly ch. 39). They moved their digital channel from channel 39 to ch. 13. and should be broadcasting at 26KW. Reports are in that it is up and running.

As has been stated before, WKBT 8 (CBS LaCrosse, WI) and KTTC 10 (NBC Rochester, MN) will be switching tomorrow. WKBT will be moving from ch. 41 back to ch. 8 and KTTC will be moving from ch. 36 back to ch. 10.

Keep re-scanning those channels, folks.

UPDATE: From all that we've gathered, WEAU is extremely weak. Many viewers who got a perfect picture on WEAU analog can not lock WEAU-DT. It seems as if there's a major issue with the station it self. As always, we'll keep you posted on the station. Check out the latest developments for your self on the AVS Forum's LaCrosse/Wausau, WI thread.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Understanding Subchannels and the DTV channel system

I just realized that information about the physical digital channels might be confusing to the average person, so let me try and explain how the channel system works.

We know for a fact that two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Right? Same is true with radio signals. You can't broadcast analog and digital on the same physical channel at the same time. Thus, every full power station is currently broadcasting a digital channel on a different physical than their analog. After stations cut their analog signal, some will move their digital channel to their old analog channel (ie, KTTC moving from 36 back to 10), some will stay on their current digital channel (ie, KXLT FOX 47 staying on 46), and some will move to a completely new channel (not in this market, though).

Obviously, this would create a mess if viewers had to completely re-memorize their channel lineup and stations had to change all their branding to match their digital channel. For this reason, the digital TV standard allows stations to broadcasting a little thing called remap data. This tells the tuner which channel to display it as. For example, KIMT-DT tells your digital tuner (converter box, TV, whatever) "display me as 3-1 and 3-2). Without this piece of information, it would be 42-1 and 42-2. In fact, it has been reported that KIMT's equipment malfunctioned once and the channel came up as 42-1 and 42-2 for a few hours until the engineering staff fixed it.

So why do I need to care about physical channels again? For antenna selection. If you have a VHF only antenna (ch. 2-13), you will no longer get ch. 3 because it is actually on ch. 42. Also, when troubleshooting it's really handy to go into manual tuning and look at signal levels of stations which are too weak to actually decode.

Subchannels. Digital TV isn't so much TV standard so much as a standard to transmit a fixed amount data, be it television, audio or data. TV stations can allocate their bandwidth (19.4 Mb/s) for different uses. For example, KAAL-DT allocates all of their bandwidth to channel 6.1 (ABC) which allows for high quality high definition video and 5.1 surround sound. KTTC-DT on the other hand still broadcasts in HD on 10.1, but uses a portion of their bandwidth for standard definition CW on 10.2. Meanwhile, KSMQ splits their bandwidth into four Standard def channels (15.1,.2,.3,.4).

Wisconsin Public Television used to have an arrangement where they had five subchannels, four of which were SD and one HD. During the daytime, the four SD subchannels would broadcast programming while the 5th sub would display a message notifying viewers when the channel would start broadcasting. At said time, three of the SD channels would cut programming and display a message notifying viewers when the channel would be active again, while the HD channel and one of the SD channels had programming on them. This is a case where the station's channel bandwidth allocations were automatically reconfigured.

[It should also be noted that every station uses a tiny amount of that bandwidth for channel re-map information, guide data, ratings, their callsign, etc.]

Stations can also broadcast audio only channels, encrypted subchannels and datacsts. While audio only channels have not seen much use, there was a company (USDTV) that bought bandwidth from local TV stations where they broadcast a few cable channels to viewers with USDTV boxes and subscriptions. The company went bankrupt a few years ago, and so far as I know nobody uses this feature anymore.

Digital stations can have up to 99 subchannels and the standard allows for remap channels 1-99. There has been talk of national translator networks, such as TBN or 3ABN using one remap channel across the entire country for consistency. In the Twin Cities, Twin Cities Public Television (tpt) owns two channels (KTCA and KTCI). KTCA will be on channels 2.1 and 2.2, while KTCI will broadcast on ch. 2.3 and 2.4.

DTV Transition Delay and the Rochester Market

If you haven't heard lately, Congress passed a bill delaying the digital transition until June 12th, 2009. But some stations are still shutting off the analog on February 17th as originally planned.

Here are the plans for the Rochester/Austin/Mason City market:

KIMT 3 (3.1 CBS/3.2 MyNet - Mason City, IA): The station in broadcasting on analog channel 3 and digital channel 42. After transition, they will still be using digital channel 42. Their current plans are to keep analog on the air until June 12th. At some undefined point in the future, the station will increase ch. 42's power from 200KW to 800KW. As it stands right now, KIMT is pretty easy to lock in Rochester.

KAAL 6 (6.1 ABC - Austin, MN): Their currently broadcasting on analog channel 6 and digital channel 33. As has always been the problem with KAAL, their tower is southwest of Rochester, while all the other stations are south of the city. This creates an issue with antenna aiming. KAAL's digital station is also rather weak in the valley. To remedy this situation, KAAL is acquiring KTTC's ch. 36 facility when they vacate it on February 17th. For the time being, KAAL will simulcast the digital channel on both ch. 33 and 36 until they eventually increase the output power of the ch. 36 facility, when they will presumably end broadcasting on ch. 33. As far as the author knows, the termination date for analog ch. 6 has yet to be announced (we'll know in a few days).

KTTC 10 (10.1 NBC, 10.2 CW - Rochester, MN): The station is currently broadcasting on analog channel 10 and digital ch. 36. At approximately 1:35PM on Tuesday the 17th, both analog and digital will go off the air and then resume broadcasting at around 3:30, using digital channel 10 (at 20kw). This should give better coverage than ch. 36.

KSMQ 15 (15.1 PBS, 15.2 Mhz Worldview, 15.3 (PBS) Create, 15.4 (PBS) tpt-MN - Austin, MN): KSMQ broadcasts analog on 15 and digital on ch. 20. The analog 15 tower is located near Austin, while digital 20 is located on the FOX47/KTTC-DT 36(soon to be KAAL-DT 36) tower, which is almost directly south of the city. Their digital channel stay unchanged throughout the transition and they have announced plans to cut analog on June 12th.

KYIN 24 (24.1 IPTV Digital, 24.2 IPTV Plus, 24.3 IPTV - Mason City, Iowa): The station's analog ch. 24 will remain online until June 12th, as with all other Iowa Public Television (IPTV) stations. Their digital station is located on the KIMT-DT tower, but is probably the hardest in-market station to receive in Rochester (due to lower elevation and output power).

KXLT 47 (47.1 FOX - Rochester, MN): FOX 47's analog channel is 47 and their digital is 46, both are on the same antenna and presumably broadcast from the same antenna. They will be cutting analog 47 on the afternoon of Feb. 17th and their digital signal will remain unchanged.

K56HW 56 (TBN - Rochester, MN): This TBN low power translator is located on an FM radio tower a few miles east of the city. They've filed paperwork with the FCC for a digital channel 39 allocation. Since the station is a low power channel, it does not yet have to comply with a transition deadline. Presumably, the station will cut analog and move to digital sometime in the 2009-2010 timeframe. The station also has to go online after WEAU moves their digital channel from 39 back down to ch. 13. TBN also has to upgrade a number of translator stations all throughout the US.

K58GC 58 (3ABN - Rochester, MN): This 3ABN low power translator is located on the same FM radio tower as TBN 56 is. They have also filed paperwork with the FCC for a ch. 51 allocation. Again, this should happen this year or possibly even next year, as the little network has a number of other translators in need of upgrades.

What this means for you: Re-scan your channels on February 17th/18th, as KTTC will move from 36 to 10 and KAAL will begin simulcasting on ch. 36 and ch. 33. Until the power increases on KIMT and KAAL-DT 36 come, it's about as good as it's gonna get. This means most likely that Rochester viewers will be able to get all market stations (with the possible exception of KYIN-DT) with an indoor antenna or small attic antenna.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

First post

Hi everyone, first post here, after Matt asked me to contribute...

First a few things to know about me: I am Rochester native and work as a computer tech for a small computer firm here in town. I have been into tv for close to 10 years. 3 years ago I got "into" hdtv and free OTA digital tv broadcasts around the area and that has to lead to even more interest in the entire tv system, from "nerdy" tech specs on the towers, to the ratings system, and of course, not forgetting actually watching LOTs of tv in my free time....You also will hear a lot about Internet/computing issues for the Rochester/Austin area from me in the coming weeks....

Now to a little "tv romantic" story from the past 24 hours....

I was coming home last night from Adams, MN after spending the day with family and was caught on the road late at night around midnight as I was driving back... The beautiful view in the clear sky and the visibility being probably the best that I have experienced in my lifetime, prompted me to get lost in OTA tv thought.... As I was driving North on Country Road 7 towards Elkton, MN, my rearview mirror was lit up by the safety lights on the KIMT/KYIN shared digital tower just south of the Minnesota/Iowa state line... This tower was constructed to get better coverage in the Rochester metro of the digital signals that are broadcast for the local market. Going back two years, the tower did not exist and Rochester had no good digital coverage of stations KIMT (CBS) KYIN (IPTV PBS) or KAAL (ABC) All of the three had no coverage in the Rochester area, leaving many such as myself, without CBS/ABC programing OTA.. Charter carried Twin Cities stations KSTP (ABC) and WCCO (CBS) to complete their line up with complete network coverage.. Most OTA the viewers were vastly without options for CBS/ABC programing, such as myself. The stations were originally planning a "super" tower, supposed they had obtained a Construction Permit from the FCC that allowed a structure to be built to the height of 3000ft! Well, as they were trying to hammer out a deal, we in Rochester went without the before mentioned stations for years, Finally KYIN/KIMT came to a deal and had a 1500ft tower constructed and promptly had antennas/transmitters installed and KIMT got on the air with full power digital. It was a great day in Rochester when in the process of testing out the new equipment, KIMT ran a football game Sunday at full power... KAAL later decided to "beef" up their tower and install their pre-transition digital antenna at the analog channel 6 tower site to West side of Austin..
As I drove home, I had Line Of Sight (LOS) to many of the areas broadcasting locations. I passed the KYBA-FM tower, made out the KSMQ/KTTC/KXLT digital tower clearly at 10miles, as well as the KSMQ analog tower in Austin in the far distance at almost 22 miles out... (not to mention, the bright clear sky, the stars and space sights that were clear to be seen)
I was reminded of all the programming we once missed during these years, Rochester at last, you see, has great coverage of all the major networks, as well as MyNetwork TV, and The CW With promises of RTN coming online sometime around the analog shutdown. In Rochester, we fight tough terrain which in most cases requires outdoor antennas, it is good to remember, that it was even worse without anything to pick up just a few years back.. As well, as the fact, that many in the area, wonder why downtown, KROC/KYBA FM radio loose quality, just remember the distances the signals are traveling, to grace our eyes and hears...

Those of us contributing to this blog, will try to keep up good current info on the digital communicating aspect of Rochester and surrounding areas, from TV to Internet to radio:-)