Digital distress


POSTED: Saturday, May 23, 2009

Question: Ever since Hawaii went digital, we are unable to receive KHET and KHNL, even with a converter box. We live in Makiki, if that makes any difference. What can we do other than subscribe to cable TV?

Answer: KHNL's and KHET's digital transmitters (as well as those of KFVE and KIKU) are located on Makakilo Ridge, at the south end of the Waianae Mountains, so living in Makiki does make a difference.

You probably aren't in the line of sight of those transmitters because of all the high-rises in your neighborhood.

Noncable viewers north of Waipio-Gentry (Mililani, Wahiawa and beyond), on the North Shore, and on the Windward side also are not receiving KHNL's DTV signals because of obstructions.

KHNL is planning to move its digital transmitter farther up the ridge to where KHET has its tower, said Miles Miyahara, fleet and facilities manager for KHNL. That move might happen this summer, but there's no time line or specific date.

Viewers “;might have a chance to receive our signals then, but there's no guarantee because of the wide differences in digital frequency,”; he said. KHET is on digital channel 11, a VHF (very high-frequency) channel, which “;tends to do better over longer distances because the lower frequencies are less prone to interference.”;

KHNL and its sister station KFVE are on UHF (ultrahigh-frequency) digital channels 35 and 23, respectively, which are more prone to interference, Miyahara said. Because of that, some viewers still might not gain better reception when the tower is moved to higher ground.

As for KHET, Makiki is one of those neighborhoods where some viewers have problems receiving a signal, while others on the same street report receiving “;a clear over-the-air digital signal,”; said Linda Brock, vice president of programming and community relations for PBS Hawaii.

KHET has applied with the Federal Communications Commission for a waiver to raise its power level, already at the maximum allowable level but “;not as strong as we had hoped it would be,”; she said.

The added power will increase the chances of people receiving KHET's signal, but “;we cannot guarantee it,”; she said. “;Over-the-air signals, especially digital TV signals, are very finicky and are subject to many conditions.”;

Brock also explained that some stations could not continue broadcasting from analog transmitter sites because they weren't able to renew their leases.

So, “;What used to be a simple function because all the TV signals were concentrated in town has now become a challenge due to the various areas in which stations' transmitters are located,”; she said.

The only transmitters in town will be KHON, KITV and KBFD. KWBN, KALO and KWHE are located on the Koolau Mountains above Waimanalo, while KGMB will soon join KHET, KHNL, KFVE and KIKU above Makakilo, Brock said.

Short of subscribing to cable or satellite TV, you might be able to get reception via a bounced signal off a nearby building by using an inexpensive indoor antenna. If so, look for a combination VHF/UHF antenna, Miyahara advised.

Go to http://www.khnl.com, click on “;find it”; at the top, then “;Big Switch”; to get more information.

KHET's chief engineer, Steve Komori, and staff are available to speak with viewers about problems, Brock said, and had these added tips:

» You might need to invest in a better antenna, i.e., “;a high-gain directional antenna,”; pointed toward Makakilo. When adjusting the antenna, do it in small increments and wait approximately 10 seconds in between each move for the TV or converter box to reacquire the signal and display it.

» The placement of the antenna is important when it comes to receiving the digital signal. Placing it near the TV might not always yield the best results.

Check Komori's blog at leslienotes.typepad.com/digital_dialog for more information.



To the employees at the Nimitz City Mill. It wasn't until after I put together a wooden chair that I realized I had the seat on the wrong way and it was too tall for my desk. I took the chair back to City Mill, and they helped me put the seat back on the right way and cut down the legs. I now have a usable chair. - Happy Customer