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Is Your Antenna Digital Ready? (2012 Article)

Is Your Antenna Digital Ready? (2012 Article)

The short answer is ‘YES’.

The above antennas were designed to be able to receive all television frequencies from the outset. The use of a phased array for the UHF part of the antenna ensures good performance across the whole of the UHF range. The digital transmission still uses the same frequencies for television except for the lower bands – basically the 45 thru to 138 MHz range for those technically inclined.

The design of an antenna is set for a certain ‘carrier wave’ wavelength or a certain range of these. And as these wavelengths have not changed between analogue and digital transmissions, only the way in which the information that gives the picture has changed. Therefore the antenna will function on both analogue and digital.

To understand what a carrier wave is will hopefully simplify this. As the name suggests the carrier wave is the signal that carriers the picture and sound information to the destination. A simple analogy for this is:  If you go outside and pickup your garden hose, hold it just pointing up slightly and turn it on.  You will have a stream of water coming out in an arc.  Ok well imagine that as our carrier wave, the length of which for arguments sake we will call the wavelength.  Ok now we need to add the information to send across to the other end of the stream. Get a friend to stand at the other end of the stream and tell him that if you send a wiggle in the flow once that means ‘yes’ and if you wiggle the hose twice it means ‘No’. Now send him some information by answering some question from him with a ‘YES’ or ‘NO’. Ok you have just added some information to your carrier wave and that has been carried across to your friend. It does not matter then that the information is digital or analogue to the carrier wave. Therefore then as the antenna is designed to receive the carrier wave, the antenna does not care either that the information is digital or analogue. After all many people did not have to change their antenna at home to receive the digital signal did they?

Why then do people advertise that it is a digital antenna?

That is mainly for sales reasons. Sometimes the antennas have been ‘smoothed out’ for digital; meaning that they have been simplified. Analogue transmissions often required a very strong signal to be sent to get a good picture but digital does not. To get that strong signal many pieces of aluminium were added with the idea that if they all worked together they would boost the signal strength. This was workable for analogue signals. However sometimes they did not work completely together and for digital it becomes rather like a room full of noisy party goers where you can’t hear your self think or what the person in front of you is saying. So a simpler antenna for digital is preferred. Because in a quiet room you can easily hear the other person and make out exactly what he is saying – and with digital that is everything. It is either a perfect picture or not working at all. So as long as the TV can read the zeros and ones it will give a perfect or at least a very good picture. So the emphasises has changed from “give me a tonne of signal strength” to “give me just a quality signal”.  The explorer antennas were always designed with this approach, due to having to receive efficiently every frequency used for television broadcasting around Australia. The signal was then looked after with excellent quality cables and connections for minium signal loss.

So is there a digital antenna? Sure there have been design changes to some of the antennas to refine them for digital, but I believe that a really high quality simple antenna for analogue is a good antenna for digital.

 So you DO NOT need to change your explorer antenna.

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