Category Archives: Tools

Television Reception Calculator

Want to find out the signal reception strength of TV stations that serve your area? Check out the calculator on the FCC’s Website:

Enter your Zip Code or address and get the TV stations and signal strengths that can be received at your location. This takes both distance and topography into consideration and is great for procuring and aiming the correct antenna for your locale. Linked to Google Maps you can actually target your house or location using the satellite maps and dragging the teardrop to your exact area. -33-


A Disaster Plan For Television Viewing

You have Cable, Fiber or The Dish and think you are set for the new digital television cutover. Your service providers have assured you through their marketing ads that you do not have to worry about the digital transition and should just relax, sit back and enjoy the show when everyone with an antenna on their roof will be scrambling to get a signal when the government finally decides to shut down analog TV. Don’t allow yourself be lead down the primrose path because your service provider is only telling you part of the story.


As all services do, your television service will occasionally suffer from outages from natural and manmade disasters. Imagine for a moment that you lose your television signal but still have power or have backup power available. Imagine further that you are in need of emergency information or just want to watch your favorite show that appears on a broadcast station. What do you do when your signal from your service provider dies? The smart viewer will have a backup plan in place.


A backup plan consists of the following:


·      A “Rabbit Ear” type of TV antenna.

·      A digital to analog (DTV) converter box or a digital tuner in your television.

·      Necessary cables to make the connections between a DTV Converter and your antenna and TV.

·      Instructions on how to connect everything to your TV and scan for TV channels.


This may seem like a lot of trouble but you will be very happy you have your plan in place if and when you need it. You won’t be able to receive all your fancy and expensive premium channels with this setup but it is comforting to know that you will be able to receive basic broadcast television and more importantly emergency information when it is needed most. Oh, and the most important thing is not to wait for a problem before you try to make your connections and setups. Try it now when there is no stress to perform in an emergency. You will be happy you did. -33-

TV Converter Box Coupon Applications Available

Article Updated January 2, 2008

Happy New Year. Your federal government has a late holiday gift for you. If you follow Televising The Revolution you already know the FCC has set February 19, 2009 as the date when analog television will end its broadcast day and begin to broadcast in digital.


Beginning January 1st, 2008, American consumers will be able to log in to and request up to two coupons worth $40 each to assist in purchasing new digital-to-analog converter boxes. Alternately you can call 1-888-DTV2009 to apply over the telephone. Printed applications will also be available at post offices and at public libraries, in English, Spanish, and other languages.


Once you apply be patient because the coupons won’t be sent out until mid-February of this year. Starting February 18, 2008, the government will send coupons via The US Postal Service in the form of a gift card consumers can use at electronics retailers that sell the set-top converter boxes . Currently the selection of converter boxes on the market is slim but that should improve as more manufacturers jump on the bandwagon over the next several months. As of this writing the converter boxes are retailing for $60. to $70.


The coupon program itself is administered by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). It is backed by $1.5 billion appropriated by Congress and established in Title III of the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 (PDF)


What will this “converter box” do for you? Not much more than the basics. According the NTIA proposal the converter box shall:

  • appropriately processes all Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) radio frequency (RF) signals provided to the antenna-only input and then provides output signals in standard definition video for display on a National Television Systems Committee (NTSC) television receiver/monitor;
  • delivers NTSC composite video and stereo audio to drive NTSC monitors;
  • delivers Channel 3 or 4 switchable NTSC RF output for television receivers;
  • complies with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements for Closed Captioned, Emergency Alert System (EAS) and the required parental controls;
  • operable by and includes a remote control; and
  • tunes to all television channels 2-69.

The government is not in the entertainment business. By providing a basic digital to analog converter it wants to make sure it is only paying for the bare minimum to supply people who are using analog receivers with a viable alternative to continue to receive free television from over the airwaves.


For more information, or to sign up for coupons, you can call 1-888-DTV-2009 or visit -33-

Lithium Ion Battery Air Travel Restrictions

If you are one of the many air travelers who carry spare lithium laptop, cell phone, camera and other electronic equipment batteries with you when traveling by air, take note: The government has some new rules which go into effect on New Year’s Day, 2008.


There are new regulations going into effect on January 1, 2008 if you travel by air with lithium batteries. Everyone would be well served by checking with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website BEFORE they travel. 


The SafeTravel.Dot.Gov website has additional information that may be helpful.


This information is subject to changes by the Federal Government. Check back with the above links often for the most up to date information. -33-


EDITOR’S NOTE – 12-30-07 at 2100H – Minor revisions to clarify article.


Ditty Bag

What the heck is a Ditty Bag? In production parlance and as listed in this column it is a kit of useful items used in television and film production. The ditty bag can contain a group of handy items to have at one’s disposal. The items may vary depending on personal choices.  


  • Felt marking pens
  • Erasable felt-tipped markers
  • Make-up powder puff (for erasing marker)
  • Air blowing bulb
  • Flashlight
  • Lens tissue and lens cleaner
  • Magnifying glass
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Tweezers
  • Orange sticks
  • Pencils and ballpoint pens
  • Screwdrivers
  • Assorted brushes
  • Rubber bands
  • Black cloth
  • Tools
  • “C” clamps 3-in. (7.5 cm)
  • Spring clamps
  • Scriber
  • 1/4 x 20 screws 1 – and 2 1/2 – in.
  • 3/8 x 16 screws 1 – and 2 1/2 – in.
  • Washers
  • Dental mirror
  • Magnifier
  • Canned air
  • Dulling spray
  • Black Wrap
  • Light Meters
  • Calculators
  • Stopwatch
  • Electrical tape
  • 1″ camera tape
  • 2″ gaffer tape
  • White Gaffer’s Tape
  • Black camera tape
  • Medical Tape
  • Double Sided Stick Tape
  • 1/2″ or 1″ paper tape
  • 1/8″ or 1/4″ chart tape
  • Spike Tape
  • Transfer tape (also called snot tape)
  • Trickline
  • Clothes Line
  • Grease pencils (China Marking Pencils)
  • Chalk for actors’ marks
  • Wipes–large and small
  • Spare batteries (AAA, AA, C, D, 9-volt)
  • Spare flashlight bulbs
  • Small plastic storage bags
  • Trash bags
  • Spray cleaner
  • Rags/paper towels
  • Mole foam  (or similar)
  • Freezer Bags with zipper seal
  • Non-lubricated Condoms – In humid environments or in rain, this will help keep microphone elements dry. It can also be stretched over transmitters to keep rain out.
  • Alligator Clips
  • Spring Clothespins
  • Rubber Bands
  • 50-foot cloth measuring tape
  • Stopwatch

The list is endless. As you are building yours remember that when it comes to the production environment you cannot be over prepared. -33-

 Footnote: All information mentioned herein is for the consideration of the reader and any use of the mentioned items is at the risk of the user. The author is not liable for any complication due to usage. Generic and/or Brand names are not an endorsement and other items may be substituted at the user’s discretion.