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garrycol

TV Reception Lake Macquarie - Newcastle

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My mum lives in Belmont Lake Macquarie and for about a month has been having TV reception problems.  Usually no problems in the mornings but as they day progresses, the channels become pixelated or the signal dropping out for a few seconds before coming back for a little while then dropping out again.  As the location is behind a ridge most of the antennas are high up on poles so not easily retuned by homeowners.

My Mum does remember receiving a note in the letter box from the local MP a little while back saying some areas were suffering reception problems but does not recall the detail,  Neighbours have similar issues and some have called in antenna installers to fix.

Obviously the networks have changed their transmissions somehow and this is causing the issue.

Does anyone know if any such changes have been made and what they were.

My Mum at 89 is a bit too old to climb the pole and move the antenna to a new position.

 

Thanks

Garry

 

 

 

 

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Garry,

When the digital switchover occurred there was indeed some big changes in your area. Mostly it was caused by the Illawarra and Hunter Valley (Newcastle) main transmitters being on the same transmission channels. In summer there is ducting in the atmosphere so the Illawarra signals are interfering where the Newcastle signals are weak. Also the Central Coast has a single frequency network where there is multiple transmitters on the same transmission channels. This is all because there is only 5 blocks of channels available.

There is a new set of Band 4 UHF transmitters at Optus/Hutchison Site Belmont Water Reservoir Violet Town Rd BELMONT NORTH  

NBN28, ABC30, SBS31, NEN (Prime)32, NRN(SCA)33

Firstly, disconnect the antenna at the receiver and go to the installation menu and do a full automatic scan and wait for it to finish. This will erase all existing channels. Now reconnect the antenna and do another scan. If the signals from Belmont North are strong enough the receiver will store channels 28 - 33.now stop the scan. As this scan occurs or after it is finished check the bar graph on signal strength. You need around 80 % for reliable reception.

Go to http://myswitch.digitalready.gov.au type in her street address and to the top right corner and click on transmitters available. Select Belmont north. and see if she is in a green zone.

If you can return an indoor antenna from Jaycar try https://www.jaycar.com.au/slim-digital-tv-indoor-antenna-with-amplifier/p/LT3206 It should be mounted on its side with the telescopic rods folded out as a single vertical line with a tip to tip length of 548 mm.

If that is unsuccessful or undesirable https://www.jaycar.com.au/heavy-duty-uhf-phased-array-tv-antenna/p/LT3154 phased array or other brands from antenna installers mounted with its longest side horizontal. It should be able to me mounted on a short pole outside and cabled using quad shielded coax cable.

Alanh

 

 

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Thanks for the information but that all seems relevant to some time ago - at least a year ago and TV reception was fine then.  This issue has just started in the last 4 weeks or so.  Indoor antennas do not work in the location and never have and as such all antennas in the area are about 6m higher than the roof line.  The current antenna is fully digital and worked fine until a few weeks ago.

So do you know of any changes made in the past month.

 

Cheers

 

garry

 

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Garry which transmitters is she watching Newcastle, Belmont North Wyong or Sydney directly?

Alan

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Hi Alan - i have no idea - the aerial and all the others in the area point to the North West so not Sydney.  The aerial was professionally installed when digital came then a couple of years later the whole lot fell down in a storm and a totally new aerial installed - it has a phased array aerial similar to the one you linked above and under it a linked basic yagi style antenna underneath.

As I said all was OK until about 4 weeks ago then it started playing up - it is related to the transmissions not the aerials - the neighbour cannot watch TV at all where at least my mum's is watchable. 

The TV says signal strength is good even though it is pixulated.

Oh - at about the same time a new mobile phone tower was erected about 300m away - should no be an issue but who knows.

cheers

Garry

 

 

Edited by garrycol

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Garry, 

I was thinking of interference. the mobile phone tower is the likely culprit. Remember that in 2013 there was a restack of TV transmission channels so that channels 53 - 68 could be sold to the mobile phone industry. It is likely that is the cause. They are legally entitled to transmit from the mobile tower but also from mobile phones using 4G/LTE from Telstra and Optus's 4Gplus.

Your only protection is to insert a filter https://www.jaycar.com.au/fl694lp-4g-lte-tv-antenna-signal-filter-f-type/p/LT3067 at the input to any masthead or distribution amplifier and if you have neither then at the antenna input to the receiver. This would also help the neighbour.

There is no point putting the filter at the receiver input if there is any form of antenna amplifier because it will cause the interference to form.

Alanh

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Thanks Alan - I agree the tower is a suspect - the only thing is that TV reception changes as the atmospherics change in the afternoon and evening - no issues in the morning then past 12 noon TV reception deteriorates - if it was the tower the interference would be 24/7 but anything is possible.

I am physically 450km away and tried to get my mum to retune the TV today but I gave up as a lost cause so she is going to have to call the antenna man to come and fix - she will probably go halves with the neighbour who has worse reception.

i was hoping the same one may have heard of a specific reason for the issues in the area.

I appreciate your input - thanks

 

Garry

 

 

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You could be correct but the Belmont tower has been up for some time and issues only started a couple of weeks back.  Even to realign the aerial the antenna guy will still need to come out due to its height above the house.  Unfortunately due to high buildings near the boundary (Bunnings is one) a high antenna will still be needed even though the transmitter is only 1km but not line of site due to shielding buildings - both brick and steel.

Thanks

 

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New Optus mobile site started up at 24 Bluebell St a few weeks ago. That may be the source of your problem.

 

On 19/06/2017 at 3:39 PM, garrycol said:

Neighbours have similar issues and some have called in antenna installers to fix.

 

That is probably your best bet. Get some one in with the right gear to sort it out.

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Garry,

They need to get a TV antenna installer who has a digital field strength meter with a spectrum analyser. You can measure accurately the strength of the signals the errors in the signal as to whether they are caused by reflections or noise/interference, measure the additional distance reflected signals are taking and the level of interference and at which frequencies. 

As a result someone who knows how to use the digital field strength meter with spectrum analyser will be able to identify the cause and then after installation verify that reliable reception will continue under all reception conditions.

 

Alanh

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12 hours ago, I am not a duck said:

New Optus mobile site started up at 24 Bluebell St a few weeks ago. That may be the source of your problem.

That is probably your best bet. Get some one in with the right gear to sort it out.

Yes it is the suspect but if it was the mobile phone tower it would cause interference 24/7 - as it is interference only starts in the afternoon and goes into the evening - there is no interference in the mornings.

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On 6/20/2017 at 0:33 PM, garrycol said:

I am physically 450km away and tried to get my mum to retune the TV today but I gave up as a lost cause so she is going to have to call the antenna man to come and fix - she will probably go halves with the neighbour who has worse reception.

Let us know how she goes.

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Garry,

The times you quote are typical of using mobiles, however the weather also changes in this pattern as well. This why a digital field strength meter is required to isolate if the signal is fading from Mt Sugarloaf/ ducting from Illawarra which is weather related or if it is interference  from the mobile phone tower.

I should also add any corrosion in the antenna system will aggravate interference problems because it causes intermodulation. I assume being so close to the coast that salt laden air will cause antenna corrosion.

 

Alanh

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Interestingly I tried to ring OPtus to discuss the installation of the mobile phone tower nearby but soon gave that away as a bad joke. 

I intially rang the advertised number and got through to the Phillipino Call centre.  Unless you have an issue with your mobile service they are not interested.  I asked to be put through to the behind the scenes admin area that deals with tower installation and got no where - a blank we have no numbers like that.  To sound racist and I am not - Optus and Telstra really need to better understand the culture of the places that they set up their call centres because if the operator does not understand the issue the shutters come down in a face saving measure and you get no where. The guy did not understand that we had Free to Air and my TV service was not being provided by a service provider.

If you get through to an Aussie they do actually try to help. I had a similar issue with Telstra last year and managed to find the private email address of the CEO - that got a response within 30 minutes - all sorted.  I tried to find the private email of Allen Lew the Optus CEO but could not find it.

These Telcos really need to also have contact details for more admin type issues not associated with day to day account delivery and get rid of the overseas call centres.  Service is not in the lexicon for companies like Optus and Telstra

I then tried to lodge a complaint with the Telephone ombudsman about not being able to contact the telco - not their problem though they did have a direct tel number for the OPTUS Fixed Infrastructure section but it was a dead number.

Now I am not accusing the Optus tower of causing the issues but it would be nice to discuss with Optus so I may better understand if there could be a conflict.

 

 

 

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Interestingly, I have exactly this difficulty with a customer today, viz experiencing bad breakups in the evening only.

An initial test this morning shows the digital TV signals have not deteriorated since I was called to repair the installation 4 years ago when the installing technician, for some inexplicable reason, installed the TV antenna with the incorrect polarisation. The property is behind a tree line, which can cause issues in some situations, but I do not consider this to be a factor here.

There is also a Telstra mobile tower 400 metres away with the following radiation pattern for the frequency of interest most likely to interfere with TV reception:

Capture.JPG.0ec2cc77596d4579952dac24bdcb3cb8.JPG

The property in question is located in the 210° sector, so it may be causing the issue if the tower gets loaded up in the evening, I don't know yet.The tower has been operational for over 12 months, & the customer has only had breakup for the last 2 weeks or so.

There is a non LTE protected masthead amplifier at the property, an analysis of the signal shows there is some interference from the mobile phone tower, but not at a level that I would expect to cause issues at the time of measurement.

It was a wet & windy day, so rooftop work was not possible. I intend to wait until the customer advises me the problem has returned in the evening, whence I shall go & investigate the signal once more, to confirm the source of the problem, & decide on the course of action to resolve it. I could not justify changing/replacing items until determining the cause of the breakup - it may be a problem with the reception/distribution equipment at the house.

(Just by the by, there is a Telstra tower 200 metres from where I live, an Optus tower is about to be installed 100 metres from my property boundary. The requisite notices for the Optus installation were posted as required, Objections on the basis of possible TV interference would not usually be considered either pre or post installation. Technology changes, & sometimes this requires people affected by this change to remediate it at their expense. (I won't, however, get involved on the effect of RF radiation on living organisms. In my opinion the jury is still out on that one.)

I expect when this Optus tower is switched on, there will be work for me (& others) to overcome interference from the TV antenna installations using non compliant masthead amplifiers within a couple of hundred meters of this tower, as happened when the Telstra one became operational.)

 

EDIT: Attended the property yesterday evening & saw a couple of glitches, nothing showed on my meter.... Attended again today & removed the masthead amplifier as it isn't really required. Now to see how things go.

Edited by I am not a duck
Update

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