Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Switch off, Emley Moor, your analogue time is up!

Does just what it says on the box
 Today's the long awaited analogue signal switch off day in my area. That means the telly signal from the Emley Moor transmitter is switched off and only digital signals remain.

Emley Moor transmitter, Yorkshire, England UK
 Most of us have long since switched to digital, to Freeview, but not all.

My elderly neighbour's set had lost her analogue BBC1 this morning by the time I went round, as promised, to retune her set.

Marvellous modern TVs are so sophisticated at tuning themselves in at the touch of a couple of pokes of the remote. We all look like techies to technophobic folks who are scared of computers, remotes, answering machines, mobiles/cell phones etc. I really don't count myself as in any way an expert!

 I fumbled about with her remote for a few minutes, looking for the obvious, and managed to get her set to do a complete set-up scan and get itself tuned to the digital channels. No probs. I was an instant hero!

Then I got back home to my own TV.

Couldn't for the life of me recall how to set my "favourites" after the big re-tune!
(I did work it out eventually!)

 My neighbour noticed the digital reception was better than her old analogue signal. She was just so grateful she didn't end up with a "snowy" picture! Those were the days! Or were they? I reckon none of us feels much nostalgia for the days a decade or so ago when tuning your TV meant hours of random twiddling knobs backwards and forwards to get the best picture and sound. 

The old Test Card - lines and squiggles to tell you if you'd tuned it right
 Some of us born in the sixties or further back still remember the old test card that came on when there were no more programmes to show at the end of the day. Days when you could count the number of channels on one hand. 

Rediffusion television showroom, very like the one from which my parents rented our first black and white set c 1964
 When my parents first got a telly in the early 60s, we had a set rented from the UK company "Rediffusion". There was one of their television showrooms in the local town. Our telly had a coin box on the back into which you had to feed old two shilling coins. When the money had run out, the set would switch itself off curtly till you'd paid up. It was a bit like playing a one-armed bandit on a day trip to the seaside arcades! 

The guy from Rediffusion had to come and empty the box at the back of the TV every so often, or it would risk getting so full there'd be no room for more coins to keep the unit operational!

When the TV was first turned off, the picture plinked off to a line before the line disappeared. Equally, you had to let the TV "warm up" when you first switched it on. You were always aware of the "tube" inside which could "go" when it wore out. You always unplugged the set when there was a thunderstorm.

This was the age of the cathode ray...
 Aerials weren't always too powerful, affected by wind and all sorts of weather. The picture would indeed go "snowy" and you'd have to walk round the room if you had an internal or set-top aerial to fix it in the place with the best signal. Figures on the screen would often have a "ghost" or blur when the reception was short of crystal clear.

"Snowy" pictures weren't only in winter
 No. I've little nostalgia for the actual nuts and bolts of those analogue days. 

I'm just grateful my TV seems to know exactly what it's doing, even if I don't! It doesn't show me so many programmes worth the license fee these days. But it can turn me into a local hero of technological wizardry on my block! 

Now, where did I leave my Tardis?

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