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.