Digital TV Signal Interference – Simple Tips
Digital TV Signal Interference. On a daily basis, TV salespeople are dealing with customers returning their TVs citing faulty tuners – as they are unable to tune in any or all of the Digital TV channels. Here are a few basic approaches to take before hitting the panic button..
In earlier days of analogue TV a poor signal would result in a fuzzy picture or ghosting. Annoying as that may have been, at least the image was still watchable if you were desperate enough. The upgrade to digital eliminated these issues, but (unknown to many) the downside is that you generally have a perfect picture – or NO picture at all. There is no middle ground; a less than perfect signal can leave you with no image at all!
While the solution may sometimes have to be a new Aerial, it isn’t always the only option. There are plenty of scenarios to try first before resorting to that expense.
On paper, the thought of boosting your signal seems like a logical step to take. The stronger the signal, the better the result, right? Not really. Using an amplifier from places like Dick Smith or Jaycar might work if there is a slight drop in reception on some channels, but it’s quite likely that you will make the problem worse. Most Digital TV Signal Interference issues are not caused by weak signal strength, but rather interference. Therefore, you should do everything you can to reduce interference and improve the quality of your signal before you try to amplify it, because most of the time you’re just amplifying your interference too.
A booster may work great if you are running two or more TVs in the house from the same antenna and the shared signal between the two drops as a result. This means that the signal is clean (i.e. interference free) to begin with, but when it is shared across two TV tuners it drops to a level which causes break up or loss of signal. Boosting it back up to its original strength at both points will certainly be the right thing to do, and this is exactly what signal boosters are made for.
Also it would be a wise idea to remove any old signal splitters that are currently in use, as these may also play a part in signal loss – particularly if they are the old “passive” type. These are not powered, but just a white plastic box which has a little board inside and the cables are just held by clamps. If you must use a splitter, make sure to use the powered digital antenna boosters from brands such as Kingray. These usually also have a gain adjustment which is very important, as a signal which is too strong can also cause a TV signal to break up.
If your reception issues are due to interference, as in most cases, then the first thing you should check is the antenna cable between your television or set-top box and the wall socket. In a lot of cases, these are old, thin cables with minimal shielding, and this is a classic reason for signal loss. You should use an RG6 Quad Shield Antenna cable for minimal signal loss – these are not that expensive and can be purchased from any retailer or electronics store. F-Type connectors are best (these are the screw in type ends which are also used by Foxtel and Telstra) as they give the most secure, firm connection.
There are plenty of everyday items which can be a source of interference for your signal. Computers, Wireless Routers and modems, cordless phones and big AC power adaptors used by some electrical items are all things to check when searching for a source of interference. Regardless of their frequency, these can all have the potential to cause problems if they’re in close proximity to your TV. Switch them all off, and plug them back in one by one to see which is causing the problem. When / if you find the culprit, try to relocate it to another part of the house far away enough for it not to interfere with your signal.
Sometimes the reception is fine, but the picture has speckles or fine dots flashing on the screen. This is usually caused by electrical interference through your cabling, stemming from items like your Fridge, Microwave or Air Conditioner. If this is the case, investing in a good quality Power Board with an electrical noise Filter would be the way to go. These are made by brands such as Belkin, Crest and Monster – but in most cases the latter would be a last resort as the Monster brand are very pricey and the cheaper brands will almost always fix the problem.
It’s certainly worth a little investment in time and money on these steps as it could save you hundreds of dollars by having to call in a professional. In some cases you may just end up having to install a new aerial, however trying these steps beforehand is a very clever thing to do, and may save you the expense.
F-Type connectors: F-Type connectors provide the most secure connection between cables and wall sockets than your older type RF connector. They also provide better shielding against Digital TV Signal Interference, and therefore you will find F-type sockets on Foxtel boxes, Modems, and in almost all brand new apartment complexes
RG-6 Antenna Cable: RG-6 antenna cable is a visibly thicker type of antenna/coax cable than the older common thin aerial cables, which are known as RG59. RG-6 cables have a much thicker aluminium braid wrapping inside which helps block out nearby Digital TV Signal Interference.
Digital TV Amplifier: This product is ideal for situations where you want to operate two TVs from one antenna. If you use a cheaper splitter, this situation often results with the two TVs receiving a lower quality signal, but if you use an amplified splitter (like Kingray for example) it boosts the signal so you minimize Digital TV Signal Interference and don’t lose any quality.
Passive Splitters: Passive splitters can come in a many forms, but generally they are all designed to let you split the signal from one aerial to a couple or more Television sets. Doing this however, will weaken the signal strength, so it’s best avoided. If you are forced to use a splitter, you might need a powered splitter as we spoke about above.
Isolator: These commonly come in the form of surge power boards, and they protect your electrical appliances from atmospheric disturbances, spikes, surges and line noise. Even the small power fluctuations that occur every day can be harmful to the long-term life of electronics, so investing in a surge protector can help keep you appliances operating smoothly for longer.