Tech tips: Going Digital

21:14, Jan 23 2013

When the Government announced that our television broadcast was going digital, it meant the current free-to-air analogue signal would be switched off and New Zealand would move to digital transmission for all free-to-air channels.

The digital changeover is happening in stages.

The next region to go digital is the South Island on April 28. The Waikato is in the upper North Island region which is going digital on December 1.

Freeview Satellite and SKY Digital are available to most homes using a satellite dish connected to a digital receiver.

An Otorohanga reader mentioned in passing he was having issues with poor reception and signal dropouts, according to messages displayed by his satellite receiver.

This may be a technical phenomenon called sun outage. It occurs during the months of March, April, September and October, and can last as long as 15 minutes a day and takes place over a fortnight. It happens because the radio frequency noise from the sun is stronger than the desired signal from the satellite, resulting in a brief service interruption.


However, if you experience outages for longer periods of time, it's likely a symptom that the satellite dish is not operating in optimum condition. The dish may be affected by corrosion, movement or rain fade, which amplifies the effects of these sun outages.

Even a slight movement in the alignment of the dish, caused by wind, a seasonal expansion or contraction of your roof or even a shifting in the foundations of your home, can result in the strength of signal being reduced.

This may not cause permanent picture loss but it will make the signal weaker and vulnerable to degradation in poor weather.

David Hallett is the Chief Nerd of Need A Nerd in the Waikato. Need A Nerd can be reached on 0800 633 326 (NEED A NERD). To ask a question email and be in with a chance to win ESET Smart Security 3 for PC and Apple Mac ($144).