Wright's Aerials


Early last year we installed a TV distribution system in a very large private house. The house is absolutely beautiful. It's set on a hillside and when you come into the valley it looks fabulous. I love that house. It's brilliantly designed to sit on the hillside just below the trees and it has a sort of modern perfection that is rarely seen. It is all, as Kenny Everett used to say, 'in the best possible taste'. The place was brand new and the AV equipment was state of the art. My part of the job was relatively simple. I installed a VHF and UHF distribution system. It carried five analogue off-air TV channels, six off-air DTT muxes, ten CCTV channels, a channel derived from a Sky HD box, a channel derived from a DVD player, and a menu channel for an audio distribution system. The house has a cinema seating thirty.

Strange to say the owner is not really very interested in television, but he just thought that he'd better do it right. He’s a bit fanatical about having everything ‘right’, to the point where I think it decreases his happiness quite a lot. Maybe he should loosen up a little. It was certainly true that having the house built almost caused him to have a nervous breakdown.

Once everything was up and running I didn't hear a thing from this job until Tuesday this week when the main contractor rung up, sounding agitated. The owner had rung him to complain bitterly about the TV system. Now this tale, as you'll see, is an example of how the facts get distorted beyond recognition, and this time I was confronted with the bald statement that 'it doesn’t work upstairs'. I expressed my surprise.

Before I had time to turn round the owner himself rung me, sounding most upset. There was 'terrible interference upstairs'. He was polite but I could sense his extreme disappointment in my performance. I’d really let him down, and he wanted me there as soon as possible so I could right my bad work. The interference was ‘terrible – you couldn't possibly watch it’. It was a tremendous disappointment after all the money he’d spent.
I arranged a visit. The place is quite a long way from here, so this could be no casual five minute thing.

At the house I found that all the TV sets were working perfectly, except for two. These had been delivered and installed that week by one of the large retail outfits. This was quite a climb-down from the original story, which was that every TV set upstairs had bad reception. I was shown upstairs to the first of the two TV sets. The owner said as we climbed the beautiful curved staircase that the two sets would probably never be used because the two rooms were just 'overspill guest rooms', but he thought it best to have them right. The ‘engineer’ had tried ‘for ages’ but he couldn’t get the TV sets to work on the satellite channel without 'terrible interference'. He had declared that the problem was caused by the ‘weird’ TV system. There was, apparently, no space between the channels, which meant that one of the CCTV channels was interfering with the satellite reception. For some reason he had put the satellite channel on preset 20, despite the fact that every other set in the house has it on preset 6.

The sets were identical wall-mounted LGs in bedrooms larger than our main one, with en-suites. I switched the first TV set on. It came on with analogue BBC1. I flicked through the channels and was disconcerted to find
that Channel Five had a really ropey picture and no sound, just a loud hissing noise. I was prepared to believe anything of analogue Channel Five because I hadn't been allowed to install an outdoor aerial, and the signal was really poor on channel 37. I hadn't bothered about it too much because I knew that every telly would be an IDTV and the DTT signals were fine. I connected the analyser and the C5 audio carriers, both analogue and nicam, were perfectly normal. The penny, I have to admit, did not drop. I shrugged and flicked through the camera channels. They all looked OK. I found the satellite channel up on preset 20. The picture was perfect, but when I turned the sound up I just heard the same roaring hiss that I'd heard on C5. At that point the euro finally dropped. I pressed 'menu' 'set up' 'manual tune' and switched from System BG to System I. I then re-tuned every channel so everything was in the right order. I noticed that only presets 5 and 20 were set to System BG. The other TV set had preset 20 (only) set to system BG.

I then thought it wise to go round the whole house, checking that everything was correctly tuned in. The Sony in the kitchen needed re-tuning, but only to put everything in the right order. Everything else was OK.

So what do we learn from my wasted afternoon? Firstly, that the man from the retail shed was not a competent installer. Also, that a report of a general failure might really mean that a few TV sets have a problem on one or two channels. And we should bear in mind that when a customer talks of dreadful interference that he can't describe, he might be talking about a sound-only fault. And we should remember that some customers can somehow omit the most salient fact from their account, which in this case was the fact that the problem only arose when two new TV sets were installed.

Twenty miles there, twenty miles back, two hours on site. I emailed the main contractor with an account of my afternoon. He responded by asking if I could 'absorb the cost'. Ha!

Print this page © 2003-2012, Wrights Aerials Add to Favorites