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8am to 8pm 7 days

JEREMY BILLINGHAM

TV Aerials, Radio Aerials, Sky & Freesat
Supplied - Installed - Repaired

Droitwich, Worcester, Bromsgrove, Pershore
Kidderminster & Stourport

Common and not so common causes of poor TV reception
  
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Human Performance

Perhaps the single and most important contributing factor with regards to how well a TV Aerial or Satellite dish will perform and indeed how many months / years after it's installation it will continue to work is very much dependent on the person who initially installs the equipment. No matter how good the quality may be or even how expensive the Aerial was, it's life expectancy could be measured in months rather than years if the original installation was not of a good standard. Click on my "Cowboys & Bodgers" gallery to see some fine examples.
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Old Analogue TV Aerials

 
In some ways you might think that this is an obvious one but just because you may have a 25 year old Analogue TV Aerial on your roof top doesn't automatically mean that you won't be able to receive perfect digital TV pictures on every Freeview channel.

Analogue TV Aerials or "Narrow-band" Aerials as they should be called were made to work efficiently in specific parts of the TV band and unlike (Wideband) Digital TV Aerials they become inefficient trying to receive signals outside the section of TV band they were designed for.


Receiving all of the available Digital / Freeview channels with an old Analogue TV Aerial really depends on which TV transmitter your Aerial is pointed towards. The following is a list of TV transmitters that cover and broadcast to more than 99.9% of homes in Worcestershire.

Bromsgrove

The Bromsgrove transmitter transmits most of the main BBC and ITV channels as well as all of it's HD channels within the receiving range of old analogue TV Aerials, almost all other Freeview channels are outside the receiving range of these Aerials but if you're located within a few miles of this transmitter then there is a greater chance of picking up many more Digital channels but this is pot luck and very dependant on your location relative to the transmitter, etc. So in short, this transmitter does require a Wideband Digital Aerial to receive all of the available channels.

Kidderminster

The Kidderminster transmitter, unlike the other transmitters I've
listed here is often referred to as a "Freeview light transmitter" in other words it, unlike many other transmitters doesn't transmit all of the available Digital channels but all of the channels that are currently available can still be received by the older analogue type TV Aerial. This will change during the spring of 2018 to make way for new mobile phone services, so to continue to receive TV signals and all available TV channels from this transmitter an Aerial upgrade may be necessary before the end of April 2018.


Lark Stoke (Near Stratford-upon-Avon)

The Lark Stoke transmitter transmits most of the main BBC and ITV channels as well as all of the HD channels within the receiving range of old analogue TV Aerials. If you're located within a few miles of this transmitter then there is a greater chance of picking up many more Digital channels but this is pot luck and very dependant on your location relative to the transmitter, etc. So in short, this transmitter does require a Wideband Digital Aerial to receive all of the available channels.

Malvern

The Malvern transmitter currently transmits all of the available Digital / Freeview channels within the receiving range of older type (Narrow band) analogue TV Aerials. This will change during the spring of 2018 to make way for new mobile phone services, so to continue to receive TV signals and all available TV channels from this transmitter an Aerial upgrade may be necessary before the end of April 2018.

Ridge Hill (Near Ledbury)

The Ridge Hill transmitter transmits all of the available digital / Freeview channels within the receiving range of old analogue TV Aerials so an Aerial upgrade is currently not necessary for this transmitter.

Sutton Coldfield

The Sutton Coldfield transmitter transmits most of it's Digital / Freeview channels within the receiving range of the older type analouge (narrow-band) TV Aerials, so long as your TV Aerial is in a reasonable condition it will work just fine. There are currently around 15 or so channels that are available from this transmitter that may require an Aerial upgrade but this will depend on many local factors but from my own personal experience many old Aerials do receive these channels without too much difficulty.

Wrekin (Near Shrewsbury)

The Wrekin transmitter transmits most of the main BBC and ITV channels as well as all of the HD channels within the receiving range of an old analogue TV Aerial. If you're located within a few miles of this transmitter then there is a greater chance of picking up many more Digital channels but this is pot luck and very dependant on your location relative to the transmitter, etc. So in short, this transmitter does require a Wideband Digital Aerial to receive all of the available channels.
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Coax plugs


Designed more than 50 years ago and with millions of them in use today I often find that this industry standard 4 piece coaxial plug can be the sole cause of TV channel break up / pixelation or sometimes, the only reason why there are no TV channels being received at all.

Even if the coax plug is initially fitted correctly it will often eventually work loose with the passing of time and movement of the TV and it's associated cables, often allowing the fine coaxial braid to touch or even wrap around the solid copper conductor / core of the coax cable producing a short with the result of a total loss of signal and / or no TV pictures. (Click on image above)

So if you are able to check these plugs and the connection of them to the cable/s before a telephone call is made it could just mean that tonight's episode of Coronation Street or Eastenders won't be missed. It could also potentially save you hundreds of pounds too and avoid you becoming a victim of the TV Aerial sharks as one of my customers very nearly did, click on my News page and read "Third time lucky"

For the reasons I've explained above I stopped using this type of coax plug around 2003. I now only use the single piece coax plug which has many advantages with non of the disadvantages associated with the old type of plug.

Clicking on the coax plug above will reveal 4 images.

Top Left Image = Standard four piece coax plug
Top Right Image = Twist-on single piece coax plug
Bottom Left Image = Cable with (exaggerated) common fault
Bottom Right Image = Cable prepared for fitting of coax plug




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Coax cable


Coax cable that's less than 10 years old, even if it's not of the highest quality is unlikely to be the direct cause of pixelation or channel loss.
Also coax cable which is not exposed to water or sunlight which is inside the wall cavities of your home will normally last a lifetime or longer.
This all changes once a cable is exposed to sunlight. For example the lifespan of a coax cable that's run outside, down a south facing roof is somewhere between 10 and 15 years, whereas a coax that's run down a north facing roof will often last in excess of 20 years.
Once the UV light in the suns rays starts to impact on a coax cable it's ability to pass the UHF signal from the TV Aerial to your TV becomes impaired.

If the signal from your TV Aerial was strong when it was new then it may be many years before you notice any TV reception problems.

Perhaps the single biggest problem with coax cable is water ingression, although the newer more modern foam filled coax has reduced this problem dramatically there are still many thousands of miles of the older five aircell type coax that's strewn across roofs in Worcestershire.

If a coax cable is run over or down a roof and degrades due to sunlight as described above and if it is the older aircell type there is a good chance that you may notice water dripping into the first thing
that the coax cable is attached to.

​My image to the right here is a very common sight when coax has lay on a roof for a long period of time. Water can also enter the coax via a damaged dipole cap, also seen by clicking on my image to the right.


Over the years I have discovered many TVs, Video recorders and Amplifiers etc that have been damaged by water. When the outer jacket or skin of the coax has cracked and broken down as seen in my photo above it will allow rain water to enter and flow down the coax into expensive equipment, sometimes destroying it.

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Ready made TV Aerial fly leads

I sometimes see these shop bought fly leads behind TVs or sometimes run around the skirting board of a lounge or bedroom etc. Generally these leads have a greater signal loss over short distances when compared to standard TV coax, this is due to the smaller diameter/poorer quality coax that's used in their manufacture. They are often sold in lengths from two meters up to 20 meters. I would not recommend lengths greater than five meters and lengths of between two and five meters only if you know that you have a strong incoming signal.

These leads are sold with molded coax plugs on each end.
Making them into a shorter length once you've bought the lead is a BIG no no. I've lost count of how many times over the years I've been called out by a customer who is convinced that they are in need of a new TV Aerial because they have no TV pictures or the TV displays "No Signal" only to find one of these DIY shortened leads behind the TV and nothing wrong with the Aerial. This is a very common DIY mistake.

DIYers will buy a lead that they know might be a little too long, on arrival home they then chop the lead down to the length they require. Unfortunately once this has been done there's only one place for the lead and that's the bin. The center core of this coax is often a very fine copper or steel braid, unlike a normal coax which has a solid copper core, so any coax plug you might buy will not fit correctly and will always be a potential future problem, if not straight away sometime in the near future, guaranteed!

Another problem with this lead is that they have a habit of breaking just inside where the molded plug meets the coax cable. It's impossible to see or feel the break but once there is an internal break the lead will loose it's ability to pass the signal efficiently or not pass any signal at all.

My advise - Avoid if at all possible. I'm always willing to make up a custom made fly lead to what ever length you require or any reputable, independent TV retailer should do likewise.



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Masthead amplifiers


During the past 45 years or so large numbers of these amplifiers have been fitted to TV Aerial systems.

The amplifier or booster as it's often called is usually located on the TV Aerial mast outside and a power supply which supplies the amplifier with power is often located behind the TV in the lounge.

Up until the digital switch-over in 2011 these amplifiers were used extensively throughout the country to improve weak analogue TV signals. I'm now often finding that many people are experiencing pixelation/poor reception because of these amplifiers.

Some TVs as well as other Digital receiving equipment are often unable to cope with the high signal levels that these amplifiers can produce.

The answer in many situations is just to simply remove the amplifier and power unit from the system.
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12 Volt power supplies

See above for an explanation as to what this does.

If you have one of these sitting at the back of your main TV in the lounge or anywhere else in the house for that matter and your'e having difficulty with TV reception then this box is often worth a closer look.

One of the most common problems I'm called out to is when these power supplies have either been accidentally switched off, unplugged or removed by the previous occupier of the property.

A 12 volt power supply is often thought by their owners as being a simple TV booster not realising that if they are switched off or unplugged all the TVs in the house will be adversely effected.

Sometimes the markings on the unit itself doesn't make it clear as to whether it is a simple TV booster or a 12 volt supply but it is important to know what it is before you go and try to buy another.

If you're not sure what you have, take a close look at the box and normally somewhere on it will be marked "12 volts" (but not always) They can be a few different colours but black or white are the most common.

If you think that the 12 volt power supply is the source of your TV reception problems it is more often than not that it's going to be a connection to the 12 volt supply rather than the box itself being at fault.

Some 12 volt supplies have a little red or green LED light, if this LED is not lit try unplugging the coax leads, if at that point the LED light comes on then the fault is within the coax plug or the coax cable and not the power supply.

If it's plugged in and switched on but cold to the touch or you can't hear it buzzing when you put it to your ear then it's more than likely dead and needs replacing. I've not found one yet that simply blows the fuse in the plug but I guess it's always worth a try first.

Another problem with these units is a bit of a strange one but by no means is it rare. When checking the box look out for signs of small droplets of water or a white powdery substance within the coax input socket which will indicate that water is or has been present.

Over the years when I've found water in a power unit and shown the water to be dripping out, my customer is in denial and total disbelief, sometimes blaming the cat or even themselves, telling me that they may have spilt some water when they had been watering plants on the window sill. Until I show them the water is coming from inside of the coax they still find it hard to believe. In this case replacing the coax cable completely all the way up to the masthead amplifier or to the TV Aerial is recommended also it's sometimes necessary to replace the power supply too. (See my section regarding coax cables above)


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TV Wall Plates

This is something I'm seeing increasingly often. This type of wall plate has been fitted in their millions since the late 1960s / early 1970s so some are now coming up to 50 years old.

The older, original ones seemed to have been manufactured to a higher standard and quality than the wall plates that have been available over the past 20 to 25 years or so but although better made the 40 to 50 year old plates are now suffering from old age and fatigue.

Although the failure of these older plates do have a good excuse in that they have done well to get to be 40 plus years, the newer, mass produced ones don't as I'm often finding faults in the recently produced plates that have been manufactured on mass over the past 25 years.

With the older original 1960s/1970s bakelite type wall plates the problem seems mostly to do with their input socket hole at the front, having had coax plugs shoved in in out over the decades they are now getting very sloppy and there is often not enough grip to retain the coax plug and lead sufficiently, so as a consequence the contact and connection between the socket and coax plug is poor.

TV wall plates less than 25 years old suffer with the same problem as described above but often in addition to this they also suffer with various types of problems on the reverse side of the plate which is impossible to see without removing the plate from the wall.

Many have simple printed circuits, often with blobs of solder here and there which over time develop tiny hairline cracks or dry joints. These cracks in the circuit board are very hard to see unless you have lots of light and a good magnifying glass, I often find that they are the sole reason for major TV reception problems and if they are part of TV system which uses a 12 volt Power Unit / PSU then multiple TVs will be effected all at once.
Click on my
Cowboy & Bodgers Gallery and scroll down to "Installer Fault 13" for further reading.

Other types of wall plates will sometimes have resistors and or capacitors attached to the board on the back of the plate, these plates have various uses and are designed for different reasons but can again be a problem source.

Clicking on the wall plate photo above will produce four images.
Changing the faulty wall plate in my example above gave an 8db increase in signal strength, 3db is equivalent to a doubling of power so the 8db gain achieved on this occasion cured the pixilation and channel loss problem this customer was experiencing.




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Resting or roosting birds

A bird of this size, (pigeon in my photo) sitting half way along the TV Aerial as this one is, is unlikely to cause much in the way of break up or pixelation on the TV but if the incoming signal to your TV from your TV Aerial is very weak or only just sufficient then a bird of this size could just tip the signal over what is known as the "Digital cliff edge" If this happens then pixelation or loss of picture altogether could be expected.

Should the bird have decided to perch on top of or much closer to the dipole section of the Aerial then there would be a greater possibility of reception problems (The dipole is the most important part of the TV Aerial and is the part that has the coax cable connected to it)

I would guess that if the bird had been sitting on the Aerial in rain (unlikely but possible as birds prefer to shelter in trees etc when raining) then the chances of problems would increase.

As birds are unlikely to stay too long in this position, hopefully any signal reception problems are usually short lived.

If by any chance you can determine that during periods of pixelation you do have an uninvited guest relaxing on your TV Aerial then see my
News Blog - "TV Aerials used as a platform to launch Aerial assault on garden patios and conservatory roofs" for further reading as there is a solution to the problem.



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High Gain Digital Aerials 5 - 12 years old

This problem is becoming more and more common and will perhaps be an on going problem for some years to come.

In the years running up to the analogue switch off, which in our region was November 2011 there had been many thousands of High Gain WB TV Aerials or Digital TV Aerials installed. Many of these are now starting to fail

There are a couple of different reasons as to why this is happening but over the last few years I'm seeing more and more of these Aerials literally falling to bits.

Perhaps one reason for so many of these Aerials now starting to fail is that in the years running up to the Analogue switch off and Digital switch over there were many so called professional companies and individuals jumping on the Digital Aerial replacement bandwagon, many of which had little previous experience or knowledge of the TV Aerial industry.

Also it's not an uncommon mistake for a DIYer who has limited knowledge on the subject of Aerials / TV signals to go out and buy the biggest, longest, highest gain TV Aerial he can afford, often, mistakenly thinking that if they buy the biggest Aerial and they end up with having too much signal it's going to be better than not having enough. Unfortunately this was also probably the reasoning behind some of the "jump on the band wagon" so called professionals too, not to mention the fact that these guys would also over sell the idea of having a super high gain Aerial to any unsuspecting customer in order for them to make super high gain profits.

The problem with these super high gain, multi element Aerials is two fold. Firstly, because of their increased weight and size this type of Aerials wind loading is substantially greater than for a smaller lower gain Aerial so consequently the bracketry holding them as well as the fixings and pole etc all needs to be much more substantial than for a smaller/shorter Digital Aerial, this was often neglected by the fly by night Aerial riggers during that time. As I drive around today I notice many heavy weight / high gain TV Aerials placed upon skinny and inferior one inch diameter poles, all waiting for the next big gust of wind to bring them down

Secondly, these Super High Gain Aerials also have many more elements / components than the shorter, smaller versions.
With more elements comes more weight so weight saving was achieved as much as possible during their manufacture by making the elements out of flimsy pressed aluminium and or the use of poorer quality lighter weight plastics. All in all this has meant that many of them are now starting to fall apart after a relatively short period of time.

When you consider that there are TV Aerials out on roof tops that are still working perfectly today after 40 years of service, then the 5 or so years life of these expensive High Gain Digital Aerials is not good to say the least.



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DIY Amplifiers

This particular DIY bought TV Amplifier seems to be one of the most commonly bought TV amplifiers available and I'm guessing it's because of it's extremely low price tag. This Amplifier is generally only sold by the large retailers.

I have been called out by numerous customers over the past 5 years or so, some of them requesting that I install them a new TV Aerial only to find that there is nothing wrong with their Aerial but one of these Amplifiers is sitting behind the TV set which then turns out to be the sole cause of their TV reception problems.

I've found a variety of faults produced by these amplifiers from just simply not working at all to them producing a huge amount of amplification and with just about every other fault possible in between. I would strongly recommend giving this Amplifier a wide berth.

Also when installing a TV Amplifier behind your TV set or up in your loft it is important to know just how much signal you are giving the Amplifier for it to amplify also then reading from the specifications sheet or packaging that came with the Amplifier consider the Amplifiers gain and noise figures and understand what that might do for your TV/s picture......All in all buying an Amplifier to fix TV reception faults by the average DIYer is not an easy task and perhaps best avoided.

I guess that some DIYers attitude is - if it works it works if it doesn't I've only lost a few quid. As an example - a good quality Amplifier should cost many times the price of this one but unlike this one it'll probably last a lifetime. As the old saying goes "you get what you pay for" as regards Amplifiers this couldn't be more true.

So if you do have an Amplifier that looks like the one in my photo above and you're experiencing TV reception problems then the first thing to do would be to remove it and with a bit of luck it could just be the sole source of your interference.




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Trees and Foliage

Trees and foliage can cause major reception issues either for a TV Aerial or Satellite dish.
For obvious reasons the spring, summer and autumn months more so than winter but not exclusively so as large Leylandii Conifers are a problem all year round and even more so when they are wet.

Sky satellite dishes normally suffer problems with reception when a tree or foliage puts on their first spurt of growth during spring.
Something like an ivy or creeper that has grown up on the same wall as the dish can easily be pruned or cut back before it becomes a problem.

Note - any leaf matter in front of the face of the dish will have a dramatic effect on the signal being received so ideally, and also to make life easier, pruning should be done before the foliage reaches the dish face.

I often find that customers are surprised when I point out that the small amount of leaf matter that is growing in front of their Sky dish is the only reason why they are experiencing pixelation and picture break up.

Trees that cause a reduction in signal reaching a Satellite dish are normally within 100 meters of the dish. Over the years I have climbed (using my ladders) many trees to snip off an offending branch or two.
If the tree is sited in a neighbours garden or on public land then sometimes the only option would be to lift the dish higher or if that's not possible to re-site the dish in a different location.

Trees that cause a reduction in signal reaching a TV Aerial on the other hand can be as much as a mile away or more depending the lie of the land. Some trees can act as a complete block with regards to an incoming UHF TV signal from a transmitter especially the likes of a large conifer that's in close proximity to, and taller than the TV Aerial itself.

Although the above example is extreme I do see large conifers causing this problem from time to time. Much more common are trees that are in the near to middle distance away from the TV Aerial and the effects on your TV viewing will depend on what type of tree it is, the time of year and the weather conditions at the time etc.

A tree such as the Poplar (in full leaf) which is whipping back and forth in a strong wind can cause havoc with your TV viewing.
If your TV Aerial is pointing through Poplar trees to receive signals and you experience a lot of pixelation when it's windy then my services may be required in order to find another transmitter in a different direction.



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The Weather


The weather can effect TV reception in a few different ways but the following example is one of the most common. The example below is copied from my News Blog titled - "Do not adjust your set" Dated 15th of November 2012

I've received numerous calls over the last couple of days from people experiencing problems with TV reception. If you don't normally suffer with reception problems (Picture break-up and/or missing channels) and the problems have started within the last couple of days, it is more than likely that the current weather situation is to blame.

As of Thursday 15th of November 2012 the UK is under the influence of a large anticyclone or high pressure system which is centred over Central Europe.

When this happens reception from some transmitters can be adversely affected.

Most homes that have TV Aerials pointing towards the Ledbury/Ridge Hill transmitter and are located in areas surrounding Droitwich, Redditch, Bromsgrove and the north west part of Worcester are on or close to the outer limits of the designed transmitting/reception range of this transmitter.

Although the distance from this transmitter is not normally a problem for most of us most of the time, on the odd occasion, once or twice a year or so when the right weather conditions prevail and possibly due to interference from other transmitters poor reception can be experienced.

I remember many years ago the BBC weather man would sometimes make an announcement during the weather forecast, telling us not to adjust our sets, indicating that it was the weather that was responsible for the poor reception.

Although I've not heard these announcements for a long time and despite the fact that we are now fully Digital it seems that the weather can still affect TV reception in a similar way to how it did when TV first occupied the corner of our living rooms.

So the same old rule still applies....

"DO NOT ADJUST YOUR SETS"

My recommendation is simply to do nothing and wait for the weather to change.

But if the thought of having to miss another episode of Coronation Street or Eastenders becomes too much to bare and you want to reduce the risk of this happening in the future then please give me a call as there is sometimes a relatively cheap and inexpensive solution to the problem.​




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Intermittent interference on SKY

If you you are able to watch SKY on secondary TVs throughout your home there is a reasonable chance that you may see this type of interference from time to time.

It only affects TVs which are connected to the SKY box via TV coax, often there is also an amplifier involved although this usually goes unnoticed as it's normally tucked away in the loft.

This type of interference which are sometimes referred to as "buzz bars" are frequently accompanied with a crackling / spluttering sound with the bars running horizontally across the screen and it can last from just a split second to as much as two or three seconds at a time.

Many people report that the interference is worse in the evening and although there is a chance that this could be true it's more than likely that more TV viewing is done in the evening so it's a more noticeable problem during peak viewing times.

With the roll out and upgrade of many mobile phone transmitters to 4G this interference is becoming more and more common, and it's 4G which is to blame!

Prior to 2014 there were millions of SKY boxes manufactured and sold with their modulators set to RF Ch 68 and if you've had secondary TV/s connected to your SKY box there is a reasonable chance that the factory default frequency setting of Ch 68 has not been changed, even if it has been altered there is still a good chance that its been moved to either Ch 67 or 69, unfortunately any RF output channel which is used from around Ch 55 and up is susceptible to this type of 4G interference so I guess that there are many, many thousands of people throughout the country which are affected.

One good thing is that this type of interference is normally easily cured.

If you're competent enough to alter the SKY boxes RF frequency then I would still suggest you give me a quick call and let me know which terrestrial TV transmitter your Aerial is pointing at and I will tell you which RF Ch number to use.

If you chance it and go it alone there is a reasonable chance you will wipe out a group of Digital TV channels if you guess and choose a random RF number.

If what I've written above all sounds to complicated then just give me a call as I'm more than happy to talk anyone through the simple process of altering the SKY boxes RF setting, over the phone....FOC.

Please note - The new SKY Q system is not affected by 4G interference, also most SKY boxes manufactured and sold after 2014 have had part of their modulators removed making it more difficult (but not impossible) to watch SKY on secondary TVs, consequently there's less chance of 4G interference.



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Sky magic eye or Sky mouse

Over the years I have supplied many hundreds of these and I've seen many hundreds more in properties where I've not been the original supplier.

First of all I'd like to point out that which ever make, model or version you may have, and there are many versions of the same thing, almost all of them are extremely reliable.

If you find that the light on your magic eye is no longer lit or you are unable to watch Sky or change channel on Sky don't think for one second that the Magic eye is at fault (unless of course you've just stood on it and it's internals are hanging out) The probability of the eye being at fault is as close to nil as you can get.

I often get called out to magic eyes when customers think they are faulty and interestingly I sometimes see another new one along side the old one where the customer has popped down to Homebase or a similar store and purchased another one only to find the new one doesn't work either.

The only problem with magic eyes (normally) is that they are totally dependent on the 9 volts that travels along the cable along with the Sky signal from your Sky box. If the connection from your secondary TV/s back to your Sky box is less than perfect you will experience problems.

So if you loose your Sky pictures on your secondary TV/s then the place to check first is at the back of the Sky box (usually located under your main TV in the lounge) Check and make sure a coax cable is connected to the socket marked "RF 2"

If you have just had a new Sky HD box fitted then don't waste your time looking for a RF 2 socket as this socket no longer exists on box's made after 2013 /14, if this is the case the only way forward is to call someone like myself for further advise.

If you have more than one extra TV connected to your Sky box then be aware about calling Sky at this time as it may prove to be a frustrating task and although it's perfectly legal they may not be too happy or helpful knowing that you have multiple TVs connected to your Sky box.

Note - If you only have one extra TV with one mouse I would suggest a call to Sky, you will at least be offered something called an "i o Link" and for around £10.00 this would be your cheapest option. They will will send you the link in the post. When it arrives follow the simple fitting instructions that are included.

If you've had a new Sky HD box fitted (Since 2013 /14) and you've had the RF 2 problem rectified with the addition of another piece of equipment then look for the socket marked RF 2 on the other piece of equipment which is normally located within close proximity to the Sky box, again checking the coax cables are connected correctly.

If on the other hand you still have Sky pictures showing on your TV where the Magic eye is normally located but you can no longer change channel on Sky then the problem will usually lie within the coax cable and or coax plug/s.

First try wiggling the lead/plugs while watching the light on the Magic eye if you see it flicker then you have found the loose/poor connection and fault. Finally, if you have a socket on the wall try gently wiggling the coax plug from side to side inside the TV socket, again while keeping a careful eye on the light for the faintest flicker.

99.9% of the time it's either the fly lead, the coax plugs, the socket on the wall or the lead that's fallen out of the back of the Sky box and not the Magic eye which is at fault.

Locating this fault by following my simple steps above could save you a lot of time, frustration and of course, money. Good luck!

Please note

The following examples below are extremely rare but I've included them just as an indication of the sorts of things that can cause interference


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Christmas trees lights


One Christmas a few years ago I received a call from a customer in Drakes Broughton.
His complaint being that all of his digital TV channels were breaking up for a second or so every few seconds which made normal TV viewing impossible.

My customer also told me that everything had worked normally up until a few days before. When I arrived I quickly established that the TV aerial system was working as it should be and was not the cause of the problem. I thought that the probable cause was likely to be interference being generated inside or possibly external to the property.
I asked the customer to switch off as many electrical/electronic items in the house that he could but this made no difference to the ongoing picture breakup. It was while I was contemplating what to do next, scratching my head and staring out of his patio window that I noticed a Christmas tree in the lounge window of a house over looking the bottom of my customers garden, the distance being around 60 meters. I also noticed that my customers TV pictures were breaking up in unison with the flashing of the lights on the tree.

To confirm the possible cause, my customer called his neighbour and asked if he could switch off his Christmas tree lights for a few minutes......bingo! The source of interference was found.

Although I did not get chance to inspect the lights I would guess that faulty component/s lay within the switching electronics of this set of fairy lights.


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Electric fences


Some years ago and before digital switchover I was contacted by a customer in Church lane, Martin Hussingtree near Worcester.

I was asked to upgrade their old TV Aerial system and also make it so that they could watch and control their Sky TV from other rooms in their house.

This was something I was doing on an almost daily basis around that time so I didn't expect or foresee any problems.

After upgrading their TV Aerial my customer was then able to view all the new Digital TV channels that were available but what I didn't plan for was an electrical buzz bar type of interference across the TV screen when they viewed Sky in other rooms. This buzzing across the screen lasted for only a split second but repeated every 2 or 3 seconds or so which made it annoying to watch Sky in those rooms

After checking for all the possible faults with the equipment that I had installed I then proceeded to check as many electrical items in the house that could and although I didn't find anything faulty I did conclude that the interference was being produced from outside the property.

The only thing I could suggest to my customer was for them to go to the Post Office and fill out a TV/Radio interference form produced by the DTI.

About a month or so passed when I got a call from my customer to say they had just been visited by the DTI's radio investigation unit and had found that the electric fence used by the local farmer to keep livestock in his field and out of their garden was the source of their interference.

I believe after making contact with the farmer by my customer the problem was resolved when the box with the battery and electronics inside was moved further away from my customers home.

In conclusion it's just another example of what sort of thing that can effect TV reception. Please note, these examples are extremely rare and for most types of interference there is often a much more simple cause and subsequent cure.





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Car dashboard Radar detectors 


Some time ago I was called out by a customer in Showell Green in Droitwich. He was complaining that most evenings and weekends he was unable to watch his Sky TV.

He also told me that during the week throughout the day there was often not a problem but around 6pm each evening the problem started again.

I needed to see the problem that he was experiencing so I arranged a call for after 6pm. On arrival at his property I noticed that the TV screen was a wash with lines and buzz bars coming and going every few seconds or so, which made it was impossible to watch anything via his Sky box.

I did all the normal checks starting with the easy bit which is to confirm that the box was connected and working correctly, which it was.

As the problem was one that came and went at different times of the day apart from making sure the dish had a direct line of sight to the satellite I guessed that there must be something outside the property which was causing the problem.

I rigged up a Sky dish, attached a meter and immediately noticed a strange pulsing on that too.

Dish and meter in hand I could see that the pulsing increased as I walked away from my customers home and peaked about 3 doors up on the opposite side of the road.

A neighbours car had not long pulled up onto their drive and on the dashboard I could see some flashing lights which I guessed were some sort of radar speed detector. Knocking at the neighbours door I asked if they could unplug the device so as to confirm the source of the interference and with immediate effect normal Sky TV viewing
was restored in my customers home.




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Radio alarm clocks


A few years ago I received a call from the resident manager of Kingfisher Court in Droitwich.
 
Kingfisher court is a large block of modern apartments for the over 55s on the north side of Droitwich.
 
Many of the residents had complained that they were unable to watch CH4 from 9am in the morning for about 30 mins. The TV interference had been happening for a few days.
 
With a spectrum analyser and a test aerial in hand I set out just before 9am one morning to kingfisher court. I first checked the room where the TV amplifiers were housed but could find nothing wrong, also the input signals into those amplifiers was without fault.

Next to the room where the amplifiers were was a room used for guests which I was told most of the time remains unoccupied.
 
Walking into this room I immediately noticed the radio alarm clock LED display flashing, although it wasn't making a sound I unplugged it and bingo the source of the CH4 interference was found.

The probability of ever finding another radio alarm clock with this type of fault would be close to nil but it just goes to show that almost anything electronic is capable of producing interference given the right set of circumstances.  


 
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Electricity Substations

Although I've come across this problem a few times over the years it was while installing a Satellite dish for customers Roger & Janice in Showell Grove, Droitwich late one winters afternoon that I once again ran into this quite rare phenomenon of an electricity substation interfering with signals coming from a Satellite.

Although the substation was on the other side of the road and not too close to their house it turned out that it was close enough to block or interfere with all signals arriving at the dish which was sufficient to make the Sky TV pictures unwatchable.

At the time the substation in Showell Grove was surrounded by a six foot wooden fence and I guess many people didn't even notice it or know it was there, now as seen above (2015), it's more obvious as to what it is.

The solution for my customers in this case was to move the dish to the front of the house (not so pretty) allowing part of the house to act as a shield between the incoming satellite signals and the electricity substation.

Finishing late that winters evening tired & cold it's not an installation I will forget easily!




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Mice


The following was taken from my News page "Four legs and sharp teeth" Dated 23rd January 2013.

Today I was contacted by a new customer who had found my small add in the Yellow Pages.

On arrival at his home in Himbleton he informed me that he had lost reception on both of his TV's some days before and was now starting to get bored watching just DVDs.

I initially thought it was going to be straight forward spotting that he had a 12 volt power supply attached to the back of his main TV in the lounge. I Quickly established that this was working and then moved on to check all connections, again all of which were ok.

As the property was out in the countryside and built in the 1960s I guessed that the run of coax to the loft then to the mast-head amplifier & then on outside to the TV aerial was probably not going to be in a straight line or indeed straight forward, so I quizzed the customer as to what he knew of this run of coax.

At that point I was shown into the bedroom wardrobe above the lounge. Here there was a surplus of 2 meters of coax and a poor coax to coax joint, "that's it" I said, this has to be the problem, often this type of coax joint will eventually go open circuit with the passing of time and not allow the 12 volts pass up to the amplifier, but in this house and this time it was just not to be.

Checking the Masthead amplifier in the loft I confirmed that it was in good condition and that there was also a good signal arriving into it from the Malvern transmitter.

Being sure that there had to be a problem with the coax cable I again quizzed my customer as to what he knew about the run of coax cable.

This time I was shown into the kitchen where I was told that the coax cable ran through the wall from the lounge into and under the back of the kitchen units.

Removing the kick boards under the kitchen units immediately exposed a TV coax Y splitter, normally this alone is all it takes to disrupt the 12 volts in it's path to the amplifier but removing the Y split still made no difference. There just had to be something else.

Using a torch and scrambling around on the kitchen floor, looking under the units I spotted it......at last.......coax that was chewed completely through by a bored or hungry mouse.

Replacing this length of coax cable then cured the problem.

I guess with this very cold weather that we are now experiencing our four legged friends are just as keen to get out of the cold as we are.
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