Setting Up a Converter Box
Set up the converter box as soon as possible to check DTV signal reception and troubleshoot any problems. (1) The converter box must be connected to the antenna and the television; (2) if the round RF coaxial cable is being used, the television must be set to Channel 3; and (3) the converter box must be activated using the “channel scan” or “auto scan” function. The converter box will not function properly until the channel scan is performed. VCRs and DVD players can be connected using a variation of this basic set-up, as explained further below. The converter box must be turned on to be used and channels must be changed using the converter box. Once a converter box is set up, the television should be able to receive more than 20 digital television channels.
Basic Converter Box Set-Up: Follow the converter box’s printed instructions to connect the converter box. Turn the television’s power “off” and disconnect the antenna. Connect the antenna to the “Antenna In” port on the converter box using the antenna’s existing RF coaxial cable (or add a 300/75 ohm transformer if the antenna has a flat wire; see Twin-Lead Wiring Diagram). Plug the new RF coaxial cable supplied with the converter box into the “Out to TV” port on the converter box and into the “Antenna In” or RF coaxial connector port on the television; see Coaxial Wiring Diagram.
Red, White, and Yellow Composite A/V Cables: If the television has three available red, white, and yellow ports (jacks), the three-part composite A/V cable can be used – instead of the round RF coaxial cable – to provide better picture and sound. Composite A/V ports can also be used if an RF coaxial connector port is not available on the television (typically because another device is using the RF port).
Turn on the Box and TV: After connecting the antenna to the converter box and the box to the television, turn on both the converter box and the television. Separate remote controls for the converter box and the television may be necessary, but some converter box remotes may be able to control television volume and on/off functions. If a round RF coaxial cable is being used, set the television to Channel 3 and leave it set there. If there is a small selector slide-switch on the back of the converter box, it must be set to "3" (for channel 3), not to 4. On the television, select “antenna” (not “cable,” etc.) as the input source. On some larger screen televisions, it may be necessary to select “Video 1” or “Video 2” as the source, instead; this is accessed using the “Menu” or “Set-Up” button on the television’s remote control. The objective is to get a screen with lettering and numbers, which is the initial signal from the converter box.
Perform a Channel Scan: From the converter box menu (press the “Menu” button on the remote control), locate and highlight the “Channel Scan” or “Auto Scan” or “Auto Program Channels” function using the converter box's remote control. Then press the “OK” or “Select” button. The scanning process will then begin and may take two or three minutes to complete. Once that is done, the television should receive more than 20 digital channels. If only a few channels are available, repeat the channel scan function. It there are more than just a few “No Signal” indicators, check the antenna and adjust it as necessary. See the section above, entitled Antenna and Reception Issues.
Channel Numbering: Most channels are transmitting multiple signals. These are labeled with a channel number followed by a dash or period, and then 1, 2, 3, or 4, depending on the number of additional sub-channels. For example, channel 26 has four digital PBS sub-channel signals: 26-1, 26-2, 26-3, and 26-4.
More information about the digital television transition is available on the following topics:
- Are All of the Televisions in the Household DTV-Prepared?
- Applying for $40 DTV Coupons
- Expired or Lost DTV $40 Coupons Can Now Be Replaced
- Purchasing a Converter Box
- Reviewing Converter Box Features
- Antennas and Reception Issues
- Cables or Other Equipment Needed?
- Portable and Large Projection TVs; S-Video and Composite A/V Cables
- Channel-Selection Trouble-Shooting Guide
- Setting Up a VCR or DVD
- Recycling Older Televisions
- Additional Information and Resources
- Alternative Formats
- Digital Transition Assistance for Older Adults and Adults with Disabilities