Football season means lots of games to watch–and I like to watch more than one game at a time. That means switching back and forth between channels. Or going to a sports bar, where they have multiple games showing on different TV’s at the same time. This year, that got me to wishing I had Picture in Picture (PIP) capability, like we used to have, before satellite and cable TV came along.
PIP is built into most modern HD TV’s, but is rarely used because it requires 2 inputs. DirectTV and cable (including FIOS) only give you one–the cable from the dish or the Set Top Box (STB). However, there is an easy way to do it–and it’s almost free.
There are several ways to do it, especially if your TV has a built in tuner. Most TV’s do, but mine doesn’t. The reason you need the extra tuner is for the extra window in your PIP setup. However, I did take advantage of the government’s free offer to give me a converter box for the analog to digital conversion last year. I have two of those boxes–I had no use for them, but they were free, and I figured I might use them down the line. What a genius.
If you have a tuner built into your TV, just connect your antenna to the tuner input. This is called an Of f the Air (OTA feed). In my case, I connected the antenna to the converter box input, then the output to the Antenna A input on the TV.
And, you don’t even need an expensive antenna to do this–I used an old UHF antenna, left over from our analog TV days. In my case, I had to use a balun (converts the impedance from 150 to 75), but if you have a built in tuner, you won’t need that. It’s the black object you see attached to the antenna in the picture.
I just taped it to a cardboard box so it would sit vertically. And I just happen to be in an area where I can get all the local broadcast stations with no problem.
You can find out how your location fares by going to antennaweb.org. It will tell you where the TV station’s transmitter’s are located, and which direction they lie from your location.
The way I did is not very efficient, since the converter converts the digital signal from the TV station into an analog signal, and the TV has to convert it from analog back to digital, but it works, and I get a great picture. You’re also limited to one of the windows being from an OTA station. For instance, you can’t watch HGTV on one window and ESPN on the other. But you can watch ABC (or any other OTA stations) on one and HGTV on the other.
And, as an added bonus, if you ever lose your satellite or cable TV service, you can watch OTA stations while you’re waiting for a repair.
So, yesterday, I was able to enjoy the US Open in one window and Oklahoma football on the other. Bring it on, NFL–I’m ready.