Ask Sail

Freeze Frame

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Dean Hall of Anacortes, Washington, asks:

"I enjoy watching TV broadcasts from our local PBS station while aboard my boat. When they switched from analog to digital signals, I added a small digital converter to my set. I do get reception, but with some freeze frames. Any suggestions?"

Gordon West replies:

If the freeze frames are occurring offshore, an amplified omni-directional TV antenna will dramatically improve reception. A non-amplified loop antenna hoisted aloft is good for picking up strong analog signals, but may not be powerful enough to pick up UHF TV signals from your local PBS broadcaster. The compact Shakespeare SeaWatch 2025 (about $150) has a powerful preamplifier for when you are offshore.

If you’re in a downtown anchorage, even with an amplified antenna, UHF signals will many times “multipath,” causing freeze frames. Simply turn down the adjustable gain control and watch the picture improve as you attenuate weaker “multipath” signals. Mount the antenna permanently on a spreader or near the top of your mast, and you will be set for great TV reception.

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