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Archive for November, 2010

Electrical Tip of the Day – HD TV 101 (how to get the best picture quality).

November 8th, 2010 No comments

With the cost of HD TV’s coming down by the week, and a great many new services being offered by providers more and more people are making the switch or are upgrading to better units.  We are seeing a major influx of TV related cable and electrical issues.  Let’s take a look at a few things you should know, first a basic list of  symptoms:

  • Pixelation or “fuzzy” picture
  • Pictures and images that just don’t seem to look as good as it “did in the store”
  • Audio drop outs (called digital drop) or loss of sync between audio and the picture
  • Frame skip or jump
  • TV’s and equipment that seem to “go bad” prematurely
  • Internet and voice over Internet (VOIP) services that are unreliable and not stable
  • Unidentified noise in the audio (Example – you can here the sound of the furnace kicking on or the refrigerate in your audio system)
  • And of course install issues by providers (cable stapled or strapped around the exterior the home and drilled thru the walls)

cable

Now, lets talk about some of these in detail and the related fixes

1)  OLD CABLE – There is “old’ cable and “new” cable.  In this case we are specifically talking about the cable wire.  Old cable (RG59) typically does not like to support the newer higher Meg-Hz cable signals.  If you have a large home and the cable is original or has not been upgraded in the last 15 years or so chances are you have the older RG59 type – which typically seems slightly smaller in diameter and slightly more flexible.  Probably need to look at getting some of the runs upgraded

2)  SPLITTERS AND TERMINATIONS – If you go down in your basement (or maybe your garage or crawl space) and there is an area that looks like a 3 year old went crazy with wire and splitters then some improvements are in order – this is typically one of the first places we start in a clean up project.  Every split and every fitting causes signal loss – and again if some of this work is older the splitters and cable end fittings used may not support HD signal well.  It is always best to make every run count, use the least amount of cable possible, only install the best HD rated splitters, and only split what is in use.

3)  GROUNDING – like most things of an electrical / electronic nature grounding is  huge in the audio and video world – sadly most homeowners and install techs pay it little attention to it.  Here is a quick run down on how to REALLY ground your cable.  First, at the point of entry the first cable fitting should have a ground connection that bounds by #10 gauge or better copper wire from the cable fighting to the main grounding bar in the electrical panel, it may also be grounded directly to the ground rod (THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT).  Second, all the splitters in the systems should be grounded back to the same location or at least bounded to the homes ground wire system.  Why, well there are a lot of reasons, but the easiest explanation we like to call the “Ghost in the Machine”  effect – if cables are not grounded they have a no way to dissipate things that shouldn’t be there unless they do so at the connection points at your TV, computer, or audio system – the exact places we are trying to improve signal quality.

4)  Install methods – this is always a sticking point for me… do these service providers really feel like stapling cables on the outside of your home or business is doing a god job?  I once watched a SAT TV installer drill a hole thru a pocket door in a historic home, stick on a cable box, and proceed to install they equipment and leave… no really – THIS HAPPENED, they installed it in a door!  We just finished up a job this week were cable TV tech ran the cables to the different rooms of the home by laying them in the gutters, not kidding.   Fit and finish of any system effects the outcome and the install quality, as well as the ability to work on the system in the future  Cables should be ran INSIDE of the dwelling unit and concealed in wall spaces where ever possible.

So, if you have been frustrated or not satisfied with your HD TV we can help!  We can do full set up and installation of almost any gear, while provide a proper install and a warranty on the work.