Transmitter transitions into obsolescence
The analog signal of KHON-TV is off the air and it's not the first time.
Viewers who watch the station via cable or satellite wouldn't have noticed, but the KHON newsroom got six calls on Sunday after the analog signal went a-snowin'.
"We took a power hit, a power surge," explained Joe McNamara, president and general manager, who said KHON has also been transmitting a digital signal for three years.
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"The (analog) transmitter is 43 years old ... and it's been on its last legs for a year."
It no longer has manufacturer support for parts or service, forcing the engineering staff to scrounge around the country, he said.
"We've been working with a guy on the East Coast who used to work for RCA," the manufacturer, McNamara said.
The man is a broadcast engineering hobbyist who, while he is unable to travel, "he's been advising us and found some parts for us," McNamara said.
A handful of Oahu TV viewers continue to depend on stations' analog over-the-air signals, but those will be shut off by Feb. 19 in the federally mandated, so-called DTV Transition. It has been previously covered in this space, but it bears repeating that the transition will not give households a high-definition TV picture.
There are rumors that Honolulu stations will cut analog signals earlier than that, McNamara said.
Nevertheless, KHON engineers have been "trying to get some parts ... but it just takes a little glitch, it could shake this thing apart," McNamara said.
Converter boxes that translate analog signals to digital have been on the market for some time. Government-sponsored $40 coupons toward converter purchases have been available since January and each household can get two.
The coupons cut the price to less than $20 a box, McNamara said, encouraging those who have not yet purchased boxes to get them soon.
Coupons can be obtained from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration or downloaded online and must be used within 90 days.
The National Association of Broadcasters has compiled a list of box models that not only convert digital signals for analog TVs, but also pass through the analog signals that low-power TV stations and translators will continue to transmit.
There are 36 such stations currently licensed in Hawaii, including four on Oahu.
McNamara said he and KHON Director of Engineering Bob Vaillancourt will continue to help viewers with questions about installing the converters at 591-2222. The other TV stations also offer similar help.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org