How to Troubleshoot Your DTV Converter Box

Have you hooked up your DTV converter box and still no TV reception? We can think of some four-letter words that we would say if we were in their shoes. That, however, would not solve the problem, so cooler heads must prevail.

Here are some tips to try to fix the problem.

Is everything on?

A few years ago we exchanged multiple emails with a reader trying to figure out why he had missed a signal. He had just bought an RF modulator and had done everything right in the situation. A week later, the person realized that he had not switched to RF modulator power. We know he’s already checked it, but check again to make sure your converter box is getting power.

Is everything well connected?

Plugging a cable into the wrong port happens, so checking your connections is critical to help determine the cause of signal loss. There are a couple of rules that can help when connecting cables. From the source to the display, always connect the output to the input and, where possible, match the colors of the cable end to those of the input. Make sure everything is tight and the connections are secure.

Is your TV tuned to the correct channel and input source?

Your television must be tuned to channel 3 if the DTV converter box is connected to the television with a coaxial cable. If you used a Composite RCA cable, you may need to put the TV on the AUX/Video channel. If your DTV converter box has a channel switch that switches between channels 3 and 4, make sure it’s on the same channel your TV is tuned to.

Have you set up the DTV converter box correctly?

You need to do a channel scan after connecting the DTV converter box. If you don’t do a channel scan, your DTV Converter Box will not display any local channels. Testing is part of your DTV Converter Box’s menu system, so use your remote to access the menu and test.

Is the antenna aligned correctly or in the best location?

There are numerous problems associated with digital reception which are explained in more detail in an article on reception loss. For example, the transmission towers might have changed locations, or the point on the tower from which the signal is transmitted might be lower so it wouldn’t travel as far, or the frequency of the signal might have changed. Any of these factors can affect where the antenna should be installed and how it should be positioned.

  1. This is the hardest thing to fix with a DTV converter box. If you’ve followed the steps above, then you’ve already done another channel scan on the DTV converter box and you’re probably getting some sort of TV signal. If you still don’t have all your channels — even if one channel is missing — then the source could be your antenna.
  2. For users of outdoor antennas, a site called AntennaWeb can make recommendations on the correct antennas to use and the direction from which the different stations’ signals are coming. We can help you understand how to use the AntennaWeb form. You will be able to see how you need to align your antenna to get digital signals. It will also show you the best type of antenna for your area, so you know if you have the right antenna to begin with.
  3. If you use an indoor antenna, then our best recommendation is to buy an antenna designed for digital reception, especially if you currently use a directional antenna such as rabbit ears. Antennas designed for digital are flat and must have an amplification of up to 14db. The antenna must be multidirectional. An example of an antenna designed for digital reception is the RCA ANT1500.