Digital Set Top Box Setup: Breaking Out Of The Analogue Mould

Australia, like any other nation, is shifting from analogue signals to digital. Did you know that more than 90 percent of Australians have already embraced digital television? According to Australian communication minister, “Many lounge rooms have upgraded to new widescreen screens with built-in digital TV tuners, offering access to the traditional channels along with a range of new digital-only channels. But if you’re not ready to put your old television on the nature strip, it’s easy to upgrade an old television to digital with a cheap set-top box.” This means that you can enjoy Freeview channels in your old, analogue television through a set top box. For that, you need to consult service providers specializing in digital set top box setup.

Why switch to set top box?

Although analogue signals served us well for many years, it still had its flaws. TV screens were greeted with fuzzy, pixelated pictures and frequent disturbances that marred the joy of experiencing TV shows. With the advent of digital technology, programmers can now serve better by delivering more channels with high audio/video quality among other developments.

Australia plans to wind up analogueue signals by the end of 2013, the tentative date being December 3. So, if you have an analogue television, you won’t be able to watch your favourite shows unless you have a set top box installed. STBs are meant to convert analogue signals to digital. That means you will receive the same signals as that of a digital TV. Of course, the picture quality won’t be as great as a digital television! What’s more, you can enjoy Freeview channels, which won’t be possible without installing an STB.

What kind of STU (set top box unit) should I opt for?

There are two kinds of set top boxes – standard or normal and HD STBs. The latter are more expensive than the normal ones, but offer a great value for money. If you have a digital TV, its best to opt for an HD STU in order to experience high-definition picture quality. If you are happy with your analogue television, then a normal set top box will do the job for you.

Why do I need the help of set top box installation experts?

Reputed service providers offering set top box setup services, can help you in zillion ways – from choosing a set top box, installing such by connecting it to your televison to fixing your digital antenna and cabling issues.

Things You Should Know

You can record digital channels with the digital STU running through a VCR, but that’s quite time consuming. What you can do is upgrade to a digital video recorder with an in-built hard drive, commonly known as PVR or personal video recorder. You can pause live digital television or record your favourite shows without any hassle.

However, PVRs are a bit complicated. For instance, personal video recorders, such as TiVo and Telstra’s T-Box, require constant internet connection to download to the program guide.

But there’s a solution. Many set-top boxes and digital TVs are able to record digital broadcasts to an external USB hard drive.

Choose a set top box with care. Note that some STBs feature an aerial output but doesn’t have an RF modulator. So, if your analogue television only features an aerial socket, an STU without an RF modulator will be of no use. Lastly, always consult set top box installation experts to avoid any sort of hassle.

James Taylor is an expert technician experienced in TV installation, set top box set up, antenna installation and the likes. His articles provide great insights on digital technology and communication.

“Pele Dancing” ~ Kilauea Volcano lava flow
digital television
Image by Konabish ~ Greg Bishop
NOTE By clicking on the Words In Blue you’ll open a photo in some, or additional information in others.

"Pele Dancing" was captured by French Volcanologist Katia Krafft while she and her Volcanologist husband Maurice Krafft were photographing and filming the streams of molten lava flowing down the slopes of Mauna Loa Volcano (on the Big Island of Hawai’i), during its 1984 eruption. Pele is the Hawaiian Goddess of Volcanoes, and this dramatic nighttime photograph shows her exulting in her awesome volcanic power." My framed copies (2) have hung in my home for over 30 years. It has special meaning to me.

I decided to post mine when I came across this Flickr photo today, posted by someone I didn’t know of, and intended as a Christmas greeting. BELOW — The "Juan Cortez" photo immediately reminded me of the "Pele Dancing" image.

I’d been meaning to post this and more photos (and video) for awhile. But none of it is digital. So I’ll at least do this much. These are my words, unless shown in quotes. It also shows me I should have taken the advice of friends who suggested I do a blog.

Maurice and Katia Kraft were internationally-known and respected French volcanologists, who traveled the world chasing volcanoes: They financed their travels by selling the photos and videos of their adventures — that had lasted many years – along with speaking engagements. National Geographic has spectacular footage of their work and comments. There is a lot available about them online.

"The small town of Kalapana was once a treasured Hawaiian fishing village. It was also the site of one of the largest and nicest black sand beaches. But in 1990, Madame Pele changed the landscape of Hawaii dramatically. From April through December of that year, lava flowed relentlessly, burying the town and the Royal Garden Subdivision under over 32 feet (10 m) of molten rock." I remember watching the incredibly detailed news coverage on television — night-after-night!

Hawaiian lava flows are very different from those like Mount St. Helens, which buried millions of acres in choking volcanic ash, whose terrific "megatons" blast blew-down ancient forests like toothpicks. Hawaiian volcanoes are generally not explosive, and their basaltic lava is beautiful in its pahoehoe form. Although it had flowed as much as 7 miles from its source, this lava remained molten, nearly 2,000 degrees fahrenheit.How? As it flowed on the surface, down the volcano’s slopes, it followed the terrain and created channels. As the top of the flow cooled in the air it eventually solidified the surface — and insulated the lava, which now flowed in closed tubes. That allowed the lava to flow great distances, while retaining much of its heat. But then the flow eventually reached the "bench" — flat, spread-out land created by thousands of past flows. Now it slowed greatly, and the lava flow broke-out seemingly everywhere, going in many directions. Yet it remained well-insulated, very, very hot. And it had the "push" of the flow continuing behind it, driving it to the sea..

Now began the torturously slow destruction: Homes and a few small businesses including the market, taro fields, farms, crops, tropical forests, anything that couldn’t be moved. Even the famous "Star of the Sea Painted Church" was threatened, until an incredible effort relocated it. This was the first place I went upon arriving on the Big Island; as soon as my plane landed at Hilo I found a rental car and drove to Kalapana at 3 AM to witness the historic ‘house-moving’

Residents in some cases watched for hours, even days, as the lava relentlessly approached their property; maybe cooled enough to crust-over, harden, and completely stop; only to break-out again a few feet away. The agonized residents had no way of knowing that the incredible volume of lava would eventually cover a vast area in sterile rock many feet deep. It would cover beautiful, ancient beaches, creating completely new shoreline — thousands of feet to sea from the former shoreline. Exactly the way every one of the Hawaiian islands was formed over millions of years. But that was no consolation to those who were watching the slow-motion death of Kalapana. [From the Hawaii Volcano Observatory website: In March 1990, the eruption entered its most destructive period of the 20th century when lava flows turned toward Kalapana, an area cherished for its historic sites and black sand beaches. By the end of the summer, the entire community, including a church, store, and 100 homes, were buried beneath 15–25 m (50–80 ft) of lava. As the lava flows advanced eastward, they took to the sea, replacing the palm-lined Kaimū Bay with a plain of lava that now extends 300 m (985 ft) beyond the original shoreline. In late 1990, a new lava tube finally diverted lava away from Kalapana and back into the National Park, where flows once again entered the ocean.]

In early May, 1990 Maurice & Katia Krafft had rushed to the Big Island of Hawaii because of the volcanic eruption and miles-long lava flow of Kilauea Volcano… and it’s destruction of the paradise that was Kalapana Village. I was there for the same reason. All I had arranged was a flight into the nearest airport, at Hilo.

Fate or whatever it was found us staying at the same small, remote lodge on the edge of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park… 30 miles away from the lava flow at Kalapana! As world-renowned volcanologists, the Kraffts’ had no trouble crossing the barricaded access to Kalapana Village. It could not be forgotten that, even though this was a natural event of the earth, it was also a nightmare of devastation because the lava flow had reached more than 7 miles from the volcanic caldera to enter this populated area. This was amazing to witness, but nonetheless a disaster. Being a firefighter I already knew that if I wanted to enter the area I had to do so with respect. I wouldn’t photograph any homes.

The Hawaiian Civil Defense (and director Harry Kim) were the authority here. I asked for a pass, and it was given because I was a Fire Captain they felt could benefit from seeing their handling of this natural disaster. And of course I was very interested in watching the lava flow close-up.

I’m not a volcano chaser; but the normally ‘safer’ Hawaiian volcanoes have always fascinated me. I had experienced the blast-furnace heat from this same volcano on previous trips; I had even hiked miles to see volcanic craters, along with ‘kipukas’ — ‘islands’ of native forest completely surrounded by lava flows; cut-off from the rest of the world, some are known for developing life (animal and plant) that exists only within their boundary. I walked on new earth that hadn’t yet broken-down into soil; places where existed no sign of ever having been walked upon by another person. I found small, fragile, volcanic residue called "Pele’s Tears", and "Pele’s Hair" — strands of golden glass spun only when erupted lava, thrown high into the air, spins out glassy strands thinner than human hair, that then travel great distances in the wind. Wow. Some incredible memories flow around me.

But the lava flows I’d seen had been at night. On one memorable occasion, I was talking to a NPS Ranger, Jeff Judd, and we realized we both had a common connection via my job in the Fire Dept. And we got-along great. After the tourists left the lava flow for their lodgings (a drive of 20+ miles across nothing but volcanic terrain), we hiked out across the lava fields in the dark. Although they were glowing an orange-red in the cracks, there was a solid, cooled surface we could walk on…. being careful not to step on any thin crust covering an active lava flow. Jeff had done just that years earlier, suffering painful third-degree burns and very lucky to escape with his life. We spent over an hour watching the lava, walking over slabs of solidified lava that was still moving on the molten, liquid lava it floated on: A mini-version of plate tectonics.

This volcanic activity in Kalapana was a rare opportunity. After receiving my pass I crossed the barricades, and soon met-up with Maurice and Katia Krafft, who were accompanied by Vivianne Clavel. She was a young Swiss doctor and volcanologist, in Hawaii to study the damage to the human respiratory system, when exposed to all the gases present in an eruption. Called "Vog". But right now, we were all intent on photographing and filming everything going on. Because we were so close to the ocean, getting fresh air was easy. Lava flows broke-out everywhere mauka– – away from the sea. Lava surrounded tall coconut palm trees; because of the high water content of the tree, the lava would cool and solidify, leaving the trunk to eventually dry-out and then burn-up from the intense heat… leaving ‘tree molds’ many feet deep. Lava flows that cover vegetation quickly will create methane gas beneath the lava flow; that gas will shoot-out long flames, or create gas bubbles in the lava that suddenly explode. Lava was filling in ponds and streams. The strangest sight I saw was a pond of grayish water shooting-up jet-black orbs that popped like huge bubbles from a carbonated drink.

We found a shallow stream-fed pond that ‘toes’ of lava were slowly creeping into, causing the water to boil near the edges of the lava. That area cooled by the water would solidify, and another ‘toe’ of red-orange lava would break-out on the side of the now ‘frozen’ part. There was always a bubbling, sizzling sound present, broken only by Maurice Krafft’s booming voice, as he yelled to Katia in French. Vivianne and I had agreed here to later exchange our photos and video, once we were back home in our countries.

I had been so excited to get out to the flows after getting my pass that I broke one of the most important rules: Be prepared to be out for as long as it takes. Now I was running out of film and batteries, and even worse: water. I hated to start back, but I felt I’d be able to come back better-prepared tomorrow. That was not to be. I had been allowed only this short but incredible few hours by Madame Pele. Early the following day the Krafft’s — hearing of a just-beginning-to-erupt volcano in Alaska, caught a plane to their next adventure. Vivianne was back to her research. Kalapana was no longer a place I could access. There was still plenty to see and do, and I continued my trip — even returning to Kalapana to shoot the lava flows that were now creeping across the black sand beaches — an incredible and strange sight.

It was one year later, June of 1991, that I saw a report on television that Maurice and Katia were in Japan, at a volcano named Unzen. They were on the ridge of a valley nearly 3 miles from the crater when the volcano suddenly unleashed a huge, violent eruption: A pyroclastic flow — hot ash, superheated gas and lava — blasted down the steep slopes and caught them in the open. 43 scientists, journalists, and firefighters died there that day, including both Maurice and Katia. Though I’d known them only briefly, I felt their loss as I would a good friend. Their deaths were a major blow to the community of volcanologists, and everyone who had been saved from volcanic activity because of their work.

I later received a letter from Vivianne Clavel, the Swiss doctor with us in Kalapana. She was not sure of my address, so had sent only the letter. She asked if I had heard the sad news about the Krafft’s, over which she was heart-broken. They were her best friends. She asked if we could exchange our photos and video, "anything and everything", in her words, from that day in Kalapana. Most of what I had was of the volcanic activity, but I put together a VHS video, along with photos, and sent them to Vivianne’s home in Geneva, Switzerland. I never heard from her again. I received a letter from Vivianne’s mother. She said "your letter was found by us in her apartment… our dear Vivianne disappeared on Mount Lokon Volcano (Sulawesi). She was taking photographs at the (edge) of the crater when it suddenly erupted…. You see, she died some weeks after her dear friends Maurice and Katia Krafft, and of the same death…"

From a website about them: "Since their disappearance, no one has taken up the torch with the same skill, charisma, courage but humility, love and desire, in the study, understanding and knowledge transfer of these phenomena that are beyond human understanding".

On 1 July 2016, WDT temporarily suspended its programming, broadcasting stock scenic footage with a scrolling message stating “Programming on this channel in Regional Western Australia is currently unavailable”. WIN’s Nine Network-affiliated stations had switched to Network Ten, displacing WDT’s affiliation and requiring the station to negotiate a switch to Nine Network. WDT was unable to reach an affiliation deal with Nine in time for the switchover, with the co-owners stating that Nine had been actively rejecting offers.

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