Tips on Choosing a Plasma TV

Gone are the days when CRTs were the default choice as far as television technology was concerned. In fact, today we have a problem of plenty with a range of display technologies ranging from LCD, LED to Plasma TVs. All these new technologies fall in the ‘Flat Screen’ variety. A superior technology to CRTs and a comparable one to LCDs is the plasma display technology. The modern tech lingo related to televisions which includes words like ‘High-Definition’ (though nobody cares to define what that means!), contrast ratio, 1080p or 780p or 1080i can only serve to confuse the non-techie consumer.

About Plasma TVs
Such a television screen is made up of thousands of tiny cells each filled with non reacting noble gases like Neon and Xenon, which emit ultraviolet light on the application of an electric potential across them. This ultraviolet light excites the red, green and blue phosphor coatings on cells, causing them to emit light in the red, green and blue frequencies (the component frequencies that form all colors) to make a single color pixel on screen.

Each of these cells are supplied with varying amount of electrical voltages through a grid, to create a high quality picture, pieced together by every one of the individual cell’s light output. Hence, these televisions are capable of emitting a high luminosity picture. Contrast ratio is a ratio of the brightest white and blackest black color that a television set can produce.

Compared to LCD displays, plasma TVs provide richer black colors, due to their high contrast ratio. These TVs can be manufactured in particularly large sizes, which the highest diagonal sizes being greater than 100 inches. Unlike LCD displays whose viewing angle is limited, another advantage of having this TV set is the greater viewing angle it provides, up to 160°.

Choosing a Plasma TV
When choosing one, you must compare the most important specifications of the products that are on offer in the market. Here are the prime features you need to look out for.

Size Matters
First and foremost, size is an essential feature to check out. According to the size of the room where you plan to install, you must know what your viewing distance will be. These TVs come with a diagonal size starting from around 30 inches or lesser to more than 100 inches. For any plasma TV with size exceeding 30 inches, the viewing distance has to be in excess of 8 feet. For screen sizes in excess of 40 inches, it has to be 9 to 10 feet. Otherwise, at a short distance, the picture may seem slightly pixelated. So, take the viewing distance into consideration while buying one.

It’s all About Resolution
These television sets come in various resolutions, ranging from 1024×1024, 1024×768, 1366×768 to 1920×1080. These can be primarily divided into 720p and 1080p resolutions. The best choice among all these is 1080p (1920×1080), as it can provide the highest clarity and is ideal if you are using it with gaming consoles and DVD players. The 1080p resolution is what you call ‘High-Definition’, as it provides amazing picture quality. Also, look for surround sound systems with high wattage speakers.

HDMI Connectivity & Other Features
Other than size and resolution, look for HDMI connectivity in particular, as it lets you connect laptop and desktop computers with it. HDMI cables provide high quality audio and video signals. Look for wall mount attachments, if you plan to hang it on a wall. Other than that, USB connectivity, built in satellite TV compatibility, etc. are some of the other things to look out for.

To summarize all that was discussed, when you are looking for a plasma TV, the prime features to look out for are its size and resolution. Other than that, features like HDMI and VGA connectivity, surround sound, DVD and game console compatibility are other things to look out for. Some of the best brands to look out for are Samsung, LG, Philips and Panasonic. Once again I would suggest that you take the viewing distance into consideration while buying large screen (30 inch plus) TV sets.

Ways to Align a Dish Antenna

The first and foremost thing that you have to remember about the dish antenna is that, its working is totally dependent on its alignment. If you are not able to adjust it at proper angles, then the entire system will falter.

The location of antenna requires a good view of satellites, hence it may require that the person performing the task of installation and alignment to climb on dangerous places. You also have to be prepared for tackling the electrical anomalies that come your way. Let us see the process in detail.

Tools Required

  • Nut Driver
  • Screw Driver
  • Adjustable Wrench
  • Electric Drill
  • Coaxial Cables
  • Mast Hardware

Steps Involved in Alignment

Step 1: Co-ordinate Calculation
There are basically three types of co-ordinates that need to be calculated ― azimuth, elevation, and tilt. A receiver box is provided with the dish antenna kit. Once you connect the receiver box with the TV screen, the instructions to calculate these co-ordinates will prompt on the screen. They will vary according to the zip code of the place. You will be asked to enter this code. The three co-ordinates will be displayed on the screen menu on merely entering the zip code.

Step 2: Determining the Site
Elevation angle clearance of antenna must be at least 19º. This provides an unobstructed view of all three satellites. Mind you, these satellites are placed in southern skies, hence your antenna should be pointing in that direction. Northern border states should have an elevation angle clearance of 30º and for southern border states, it should be 60º. So, an antenna site must be selected so that, it takes care of the above conditions and you can have it pointing in the required direction. Keep in mind that, dish antenna gain increases as the frequency increases.

Step 3: Installation of the Mast
This step is important because there might be some cases, where the antenna is compatible with receiving signals of multiple satellites. Mount the base firmly such that, it does not shift its position. Causes such as wind or antenna’s own weight should not force it to tilt. Also, there is a bubble level given with the mast. It is absolutely imperative that you keep the bubble centered. If you are not able to center it, loosen the screws of the base, and adjust the position of the mast again, so that it is always centered.

Step 4: Attaching the Mast
On top of the mast, slide the antenna assembly till it meets the pivot. Azimuth clamp bolts should be tightened, so that the antenna has a side-to-side pivot movement.

Step 5: Cable Routing
Properly inspect the wiring for any kind of deformities. You will be provided with receiver grounding block in the kit. Mount this receiver grounding block close to the receiver. While inserting the cable into the block, make sure that you keep a loop of wire aside. This is to let the rainwater drip away. You will need another cable to connect the block from inside.

Step 6: Grounding
It is highly recommended that you ground, both the antenna and grounding block. The grounding point can be the entry of a cold water pipe into your house. The wire which comes from dish antenna must go through the grounding block first, and then to the grounding point. A wire for grounding should also be dedicated to the block.

Step 7: Attaching LNB
LNB stands for Low Noise Blocks. It is attached to the rod of an antenna. An interesting thing about LNB is that, it comes with the compatibility of four different outputs. So, it makes sense to run down four wires to grounding block. You can use different wires for different output.

Step 8: Fine Tuning
First you’ll have to adjust azimuth, elevation, and then, tilt. Plug in the cable. Here you will receive instructions on TV screen to fine-tune to a satellite. There are three satellites and you need to fine-tune with each of them. Once you fine-tune with one satellite, your receiver will automatically fine-tune itself with the other two. All you have to do is follow the simple instructions that are displayed on TV screen.

Without properly alignment and installation, your satellite-TV experience will surely be hampered. Understanding dish antenna design before implementing the above steps is crucial.

Tips on Making a Homemade TV Antenna

With household expenses reaching its peak, it is but obvious that a cable TV bill would only come as an unwanted expense. Well, the solution to this problem lies in the comforts of your very home itself. All you need to gather is, a few discarded equipments and you can put together your own TV antenna. The best part of making an antenna is that it is cheap, affordable and you do not have to pay for watching what you love. Besides, these antennas work well to give you a HDTV experience on your flat screen TV, thus making it a better alternative than investing in DTV.

Putting together your own TV antenna is not much of a task. Quite the contrary, it is as easy as saying one-two-three. One – you collect the needed material, two – you assemble the parts, three you tune it. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, let’s get to the main designs then.

Design #1: Using Wooden Planks and Wire Hangers

Step #1: Keeping things read.

  1. 22″ x 8″ plank of wood (pine wood is preferred)
  2. 8 wire hangers
  3. 8 flat-head screws
  4. 8 washers
  5. Copper wire
  6. Insulation tape
  7. Balun
  8. Drill machine
  9. Coaxial cable
  10. Measurement tape
  11. PVC pipe or stick to hoist the antenna (optional)

Step #2: Measure and mark the plank to be used

  1. Start by leaving a 2″ space at one end of the plank.
  2. Leave a margin of 1 1/2″ from either side of the plank and draw a line across the length of the plank.
  3. On these lines measure and mark a distance of 5 1/4″ from the initial 2″ mark.
  4. You should get 2 rows of equidistant marks.
  5. Drill holes at the 8 marked points on the plank of wood.

Step #3: Use the wire hangers to create receptors of the antenna

  1. Straighten out the wire hangers so that you have 4 equal wires.
  2. Measure the wires and find the mid point of each wire.
  3. Bend the wire at the center to form a 45 degree angle.
  4. Ensure that you maintain a distance of 3″ between the two ends of the wire.
  5. Attach the wires to the board with the help of screws and washers.

Step #4: Install the Wire and Balun

  1. Before you tighten the screws, pattern the copper wires as shown above.
  2. Insulate the wire where they intersect so that they do not make contact.
  3. Attach the balun (transformer) to the two phasing copper wires.
  4. Secure them into position by fastening the screws and washers
  5. Trim off the sharp edges of the wire hangers to avoid injury.

Step #5: Ready to be tested

  1. Attach the coaxial cable to the balun.
  2. Attach the antenna to the TV through the coaxial cable.
  3. Position the antenna to receive signals.
  4. Fine-tune the settings and enjoy the show.
  5. In case you wish to use a reflector, cover pieces of cardboard with tin foil and attach to the plank. Ensure that the wire and the foil do not make contact.

Design #2: Using PVC Pipes

Step #1: Keeping things ready

  1. Two 15″ x 2″ PVC pipe
  2. PVC Angle
  3. Conducting Wire
  4. Balun
  5. Coaxial Cable
  6. Drill Machine
  7. 2 flat-head screws
  8. 2 washers
  9. Measurement tape

Step #2: Preparing the frame

  1. Leave a 2″ margin from one end of the pipe and measure 1.75″ on the pipe.
  2. Mark 6 equidistant spots on the pipe each 1.75″ apart from the other.
  3. Using the drill machine, drill holes in the pipe.
  4. Remember to go all the way through to the other side so you can pass the wire through.

Step #3: Pass the wire through

  1. Starting from the fourth hole, curl the wire around the pipe.
  2. Pass it through the holes to form an increasing spiral.
  3. While forming the sprial ensure that the wires do not come in contact with one another.
  4. Pass it through the last hole and flatten it across the length of the pipe to fasten it to the center.
  5. Fasten the other loose end a little distance away from the first.

Step #4: Setting it up

  1. Attach the balun to the frame of the antenna.
  2. Connect the coaxial cable to the balun
  3. Attach the other PVC pipe to this frame using the PVC angle.
  4. Set up the antenna indoors or outdoors as per your requirement.
  5. Connect the antenna to the TV using the coaxial cable and tune your settings.

Design #3: Using a Bicycle Rim

Step #1: Keeping things ready

  1. 26″ bicycle rim (mountain bike)
  2. Copper wire
  3. Four 12″ x 1.25″ PVC pipes
  4. 2″ PVC end cap
  5. 20 foot x 2″ PVC pipe
  6. Drill machine
  7. 8 flat-head screws
  8. 8 washers
  9. Coaxial cable
  10. Balun

Step #2: Prepare the frame

  1. Start by getting rid of the spokes from the rim.
  2. Prepare a frame putting together the four 12″ PVC pipes to form a cross.
  3. Join them using the PVC cross
  4. Screw this frame to the bicycle rim.

Step #3: Wired up

  1. Pass the copper wire through the spoke holes.
  2. Curl the wire around the rim forming loops.
  3. Ensure the wire doesn’t touch any two loops on either side.
  4. Fasten the loose ends of the wire to the PVC pipe.

Step #4: Attach the balun

  1. Attach the balun to the two ends of the wire.
  2. Attach the coaxial cable to the balun

Step #3: Set it up

  1. Fix the frame onto the 20 foot pipe.
  2. Screw it in place with a flat-head screw and washer.
  3. Wind the coaxial cable around the pipe.
  4. Mount the antenna on the roof/ground.
  5. Connect the coaxial cable to the TV
  6. Fine-tune the settings and it is ready to be used.

These antennas can be placed indoors to safe guard it from storm and lightning. They work well to pull in HDTV signals and can be connected to your flat screen TV.

The Guide to Television Furniture

As television makes greater and greater inroads into our lives today, it is undeniable that for a large number of people, TV furniture is almost as crucial as the television set itself. Sadly, however, there are others who know nothing about this. Which means they should definitely be reading this article.

The thing about television furniture is that should provide a sense of a shared experience. In most American homes, a TV is much more than just an audio-visual medium, because TV watching is pretty much the closest they can get to a communal event, where the entire family gathers around the TV set. Therefore, the TV furniture that you buy should reflect this sense of harmony and inclusion, which means color and shape are crucial aesthetic questions to consider when buying an item of TV furniture.

A natural conclusion to draw here would be that because it is so important for a community experience, which is a fairly traditional attribute, all TV furniture should be traditional rather than modern.

Well, yes and no. Depending on the kind of TV set you own and the general décor of your home, your TV furniture ought to reflect its surroundings and most importantly, fulfill the purpose for which you are buying it.

For instance, think of a flat-screen TV set, which is by far the most popular kind of TV set today. An essentially modern gadget, it nevertheless requires a TV stand, which is a fairly traditional piece of furniture. However, in keeping with the changing times, TV stands, too, have become modern pieces of furniture.

Therefore, just as a flat-screen set lends a distinct and modern character to your living area, so does a new age TV stand enhance the general effect. Besides, a great-looking item of TV furniture can also become an excellent conversation piece.

However, a funky TV stand does not mean that you discard the traditional entirely. While a sleek, shining, space-age kind of TV stand would work wonders for your interiors, you might want to opt for the more traditional but no less effective wall unit.

A wall unit is obviously larger and more accommodating than a TV stand, and the good news is that wall units these days are as streamlined and cool as the TV stands we just spoke about. Built largely of Formica, wood, glass, chrome and other trendy materials, wall units are extremely chic these days.

The most wonderful thing about modern TV furniture is that you can have it customized. For instance, there are prefabricated TV furniture sets that you can disassemble and reassemble whenever you wish, which means they can be personalized to suit your space. Besides, a capacious wall unit will hold objects that are not directly related to the TV, such as small bric-a-brac. There are even likely to be compartments to hold books and magazines.