Digital TV has come to Granite County
HISTORY – Free over the air TV used to be available in both Drummond and Philipsburg. Each town had two channels of TV; one from Butte and one from Missoula. These channels were in an analog format and the quality varied from poor to good depending on many variables. As time went by, the FCC licenses were not renewed and the stations fell into disrepair. A few years ago, applications were made for free over the air TV channels in Drummond and Philipsburg. These would be digital channels bringing superior quality and High Definition TV to Granite County. The process has been slow and will take some time to complete but it has started. This article will help you learn about digital TV and show you how to receive the new signals.
WHAT IS DIGITAL TV? – Digital TV or DTV for short is a new way of transmitting TV signals from the station to the viewer. In the days of analog, the farther you were from the tower, the weaker the signals became; the picture got snowy. Even worse, the surrounding mountains caused the signals to bounce and reflect which produced ghosts and degraded the quality significantly. With DTV, you either get the signal or you don’t. If you get it, it should be as pure in quality as it left the originating station. In addition there are two other major benefits: (1) stations can broadcast in High Definition and (2) they can broadcast more than one program at a time.
HOW CAN I RECEIVE DTV IN DRUMMOND OR PHILIPSBURG? – First of all, you need an outdoor antenna. All of the signals in Granite County are UHF so the antennas are smaller, lighter, and easier to install. At the end of this article, there are links to antennas that you should use. Then you need a Digital Television or a DTV Converter Box. A Converter Box will work with any TV set no matter how old it is; it will not be able to receive High Definition, however. The newer “flat screen” TV’s are capable of receiving DTV and also HD.
HOW DO I CONNECT A DIGITAL TV OR CONVERTER BOX? – With a converter box, follow the directions that came with it. Essentially, you connect the outdoor antenna to the INPUT of the Converter and then the OUTPUT of the Converter to your conventional TV set. Now set your TV to channel 3 and follow the setup instruction. If you turn on your TV (on channel 3) and the Converter Box and you don’t see anything, check your connections. If you have connected everything properly, you should see a set up screen; follow the instructions.
With a “flat screen” TV simply connect the outdoor antenna to the TV set. Go to the setup menu and follow the instructions.
With both the Converter Box and the Flat Screen, you will need to do a “scan”. This can be confusing! DTV stations can broadcast on a specific channel but the channels that appear to you are different. For example, in Philipsburg, KECI is broadcast on channel 17. During the initial “SCAN” your TV set will find channel 17 and label it as KECI-HD, channel 13.1. It will also find channels 12.2 (This TV) and 13.3 (Movies). From this point onward, you will always tune in KECI by selecting channel 13 then use the channel up button to get to 13.2 and 13.3.
NOTE: You must do a scan before you can select any channels. Trying to tune in a channel directly prior to a scan will result in no picture. This applies to both Converter Boxes and Flat Screen TV’s.
WHERE DO I POINT THE ANTENNA? -At this time, the station’s location is the same as it used to be years ago. In Drummond, it is on Airport Road, just off the highway. In Philipsburg, it is about a mile down Rock Creek Road.
WHAT CHANNELS ARE AVAILABLE NOW (AND IN THE FUTURE)? – For now, KECI is the only channel available; they broadcast 3 channels altogether. In the future, we are hoping to add KPAX, CBS from Missoula, CW Network from Missoula, ABC and FOX from Missoula, and Montana PBS. The future plan will include 12 TV channels in all, five of which will be in HD.
WILL RABBIT EARS WORK? – Probably not. Do not buy amplified rabbit ears as they are a waste of money. A simple outdoor antenna works best. I suggest the Antenna Direct 42XG. It has a range of price from $25.00 to $53.00 depending on where you buy it. It requires some assembly but is small and very light at only 4 pounds. Here are some links to vendors:
IF I HAVE QUESTIONS, WHO DO I CONTACT? – You can contact Charlie Cannaliato, the project engineer. You can reach him at email@example.com.