My TV Reception Grief
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(last worked on: September 2nd, 2021b)
Interference log

* Do you live in the Coos Bay / North Bend (Oregon) area? Are you using an antenna to watch Oregon Public Broadcasting's TV channels here? If so, please give me a toot. Maybe together we can profile this interference (against time or whatever) such that OPB's field engineers are able to nail it.

Meanwhile, and for the time being, I've given up on trying to help OPB's people isolate this problem. It's been taking up too much time and there are 18 other off-the-air channels to choose from. I'll be checking out Nova videos (and such) from our public library.

* Yes: I've written to OPB several times and have sent them 3 CDs with AVI video captures of the problem. Yes: I became an OPB member. Yes: I've three times been contacted by OPB's engineering, but the problem persists. As far as I can tell, I'm the only one complaining, so let's everone just move on.

* For about 2 years I've struggled, first to source the severe intermittent interference to our PBS/OPB channels, then to get OPB to do something about it. I've come to the opinion that it's city wide, outside interference, rather than being broadcast that way from our translator tower. This year it's been mostly unwatchable: like the below screen capture, but with stripes all the way and a peculiar buzzing in the sound, or it completely blanks out the 4 OPB channels. Usually, this noise repeatedly calls up that blue data /"Info" field --until our TV locks up.

Chronic Oregon Public Broadcasting interference in Coos Bay, Oregon

~ The channel signal itself is always strong: 20db over fail (using my old MATV installer's step attenuator, and as indicated above by that "Middle" strength).

~ Despite that it almost exclusively occurred on our 4 OPB/PBS channels ( #7.x two years ago, #28-x last year, now #7.x again), I at first I thought the television interference ("TVI") was due to our (then) relatively new 40 inch "Hisense" brand flat screen going bad, but after it suffered the "Black Screen of Death" (during a very severe session of OPB's signal interference, by the way), our new 32" RCA TV showed the same interference.

~ I can see a wee bit of it on channels #9.x, but our other 18 channels are clear. It's always OPB's channels that are vastly impacted.

~ I troubled to purchase a small, battery operated TV, originally thinking I might be able to chase down a neighborhood source for this interference but, while our other channels remained clear, I got the same OPB problem everywhere, including our downtown North Bend Boardwalk by the Bay (400 Virginia Avenue), from where I can see OPB's tower on Noah Butte.

* Here's a running account of the random times I've been checking our OTA channels for interference, using that small, battery powered TV set at 400 Virginia Avenue, or our 32 inch TV at home:

Note: Save for some News Hours, the following mostly represents viewing "snapshots", not continuous monitoring.

Date       Time     Location       OPB's 4 Channels   Other Chans     Comments

Aug 27th   2:45pm   400 Virginia   Messed up          Fine            Unwatchable
Aug 28th   2:10pm   400 Virginia   Messed up          Fine            Unwatchable
Aug 29th   1:45pm   400 Virginia   Messed up          Fine            Unwatchable
Aug 30th  12:30pm   400 Virginia   Intermittent       Fine            Watchable
Aug 30th   1:40pm   400 Virginia   Almost perfect     Fine            The occasional snag
Aug 30th   4:35pm   400 Virginia   Fine               Fine            Problem gone
Aug 30th   4:45pm   Home           Fine               Fine            Problem gone
Aug 30th   5:05pm   Home           Getting stripes    Fine            Watchable with horiz stripes
Aug 30th   5:50pm   Home           Messed up          Fine            Unwatchable
Aug 30th   7:00pm   Home           Fine again until exactly 7pm, messed up to 7:10, watchable to fine
                                   through the evening's fund raising with short periods of stripes.
                                   *Gave our TV occassional glances. I might have missed something.
Aug 30th  10:45pm   Home           Messed up          Fine            Unwatchable
Aug 31st  10:47am   Home           Fine               Fine            Occassional checks this morning
Aug 31st   2:30pm   400 Virginia   Fine               Fine
Aug 31st   3:00pm   400 Virginia   Intermittant to--  Fine             --unwatchable (sound worst)
Aug 31st   4:00pm   Home           Unwatchable        Fine             Stripes, break-ups
Aug 31st   5:00pm   Home           Unwatchable        Fine             Stripes, break-ups
Aug 31st   6:00pm   Home           Unwatchable        Fine             Stripes, break-ups
Aug 31st   7:00pm   Home           Fine               Fine             Clear and good sound
Aug 31st   7:06pm   Home           Barely watchable   Fine             Stripes and sound buzz
Aug 31st   7:09pm   Home           Mostly fine        Fine             Occassional snags
Aug 31st   7:47pm   Home           Brief periods--    Fine             --of stripes/buzz.
Aug 31st   8:15pm   Home           Stripes            Fine             Brief periods unwatchable
Sep  1st   9:40am   Home           Fine               Fine
Sep  1st   2:20pm   400 Virginia   Snags to stripes   Fine             At 30 to 120 second intervals
Sep  1st   3:20pm   400 Virginia   Intermittantly unwatchable. Channels 9.x had the same problem.
Sep  1st   4:00pm   Home           Unwatchable --but  Ch-9.x OK
Sep  1st   5:00pm   Home           Unwatchable --but  Ch-9.x OK
Sep  1st   6:30pm   Home           Unwatchable        Ch-9.x had blinking pilot light and Info display
                                                      but picture and sound otherwise OK.
Sep  1st   8:50pm   Home           Fine               Fine

The View from home (above, on August 31st)

The view from 400 Virginia Avenue (August 31st)
(click to enlarge these images)

UHF signal search antenna

* Here's a drawing of my small exploratory antenna (on a long pole), which I made to find out if my problems were due to interference or parasitic oscillations in our old, tiny, amplified, outdoor antenna. I walked our property to determine if location and height made much of a difference, finding that the signals were definitely stronger with elevation and distance away from the house.

* I got good clean signals --using just that 9 inch diameter loop of 1/16 inch bronze welding rod, a standard 75 to 300 ohm balun/transformer (that's it near the loop), and a well anchored 8 foot 2x4 (since I ended up almost within falling distance of our home's electric power cables).

* Reception is now via a standard looking UHF-VHF antenna, 25 feet of RG-6 and no pre-amp (for such a short run).

* Most of today's TV signals are in the lower end of the UHF band, for which antennas can be small affairs (compared to those old VHF monsters --the kind that housing associations would try to outlaw with their CC&Rs). Sometimes all you need is that loop of wire --properly fed into your down lead cable. We still have one high band VHF channel here, thus our UHF-VHF antenna.

* Our GE brand, "70 mile", VHF/UHF antenna is a puny looking thing, compared to the Winegard and Channel Master antennas I use to install some 30+ years ago. It cost $50 locally, which included a good J-mount and a built in balun.

* Charter^ was charging nearly $55/month here for stand-alone Internet access, and nearly $30 (each) if combined with two other services (phone and Internet, at the same rates) --for about $90/month total. Presumably, each of the other services, alone, take that higher rate. So that's what we we're saving by troubling to put up an antenna --every month. For years we accessed the Internet via free public WiFi --for news, email, and maintaining our 40+ web pages --which are all freely hosted at NeoCities (and for which, we freely donated). For that 3rd service of telephone, we use a Tracfone, which costs us about $10/month --depending on use.

We had an old CDMA flip type cell Tracfone (cost something like $15), since CDMA technology use to work everywhere (even behind our big dune here), but we've since had to graduate to a ($15 again, "triple minutes") 4G capable flip phone.  Hopefully, you have good 4G service where you live, good broadcast TV and plenty of public WiFi signal choices, but be sure that you use a friend's private (password secured) WiFi when buying stuff or doing banking. (We do zero banking via the Internet.)

According to an over-the-air/antenna reception 2020 study, 40% of US TV content viewers over 18 reported owning an antenna, up from 29% in 2019. See: