Saturday, May 14, 2011

Garden Valley Translator District Update

 By Rich Smith

The Garden Valley Translator District operates 8 digital TV broadcast stations from two mountains. The Grimes Pass stations retransmit signals received from Boise to Garden Mountain. In addition, PBS manages one station at each location. Digital Television provides many benefits, including interference-free reception, High Definition channels, and more channels. Presently, 14 free over-the-air stations, including five HD stations, are available. However, Digital Television also creates some technical challenges. The transition to Digital mandated by the FCC is costly and has resulted in reception problems for those who live in mountainous areas.

In the days of analog TV you could usually receive a watchable signal throughout the valley even if it was grainy and plagued by interference. Nevertheless, digital TV requires a more robust signal. Some folks may be unable to receive all of the digital stations we broadcast or sometimes the picture will freeze or break up (“pixelate”). Good digital reception depends on many factors, including a line-of-sight to the Garden Mountain transmitter, good weather, and a good quality antenna and lead in wire.

To receive a trouble-free digital TV, it is best to have a line-of-sight with the Garden Mountain transmitters. Even a hill, or trees between your antenna and the transmitter, can inhibit reception. This may require a new antenna (available at the Middlefork Trading Post) and lead in cable. A word of warning: Some antennas for sale in Boise are not “all-channel” antennas and will not receive all of our stations. Often, simply making sure your old antenna doesn’t have missing or bent elements and is pointed toward Garden Mountain will solve your problem. Your lead-in cable should also be in good working condition, and in some fringe areas, an antenna amplifier may help you to receive a better digital signal.

With limited funds, the GVTD could not upgrade all of our old analog equipment to digital, so we modified some old equipment to broadcast digital signals. The low power analog transmitters are not ideal for digital, but they allowed us to broadcast digital signals while we applied for grants to upgrade all the stations. We intend to complete the upgrade to higher power digital equipment in the next few months, and by this summer all stations should be broadcasting with the latest digital equipment. We expect this will resolve many reception problems.

The GVTD board meets at the Garden Valley Senior Center on the last Thursday of every month, at 7pm. If you have any questions or suggestions for the district, or need help receiving a signal, or just wish to visit with us, you are welcome to attend our open board meetings at the Center.

Rich Smith may be contacted at


  1. Is there a contact person, e-mail, phone #?

  2. Contact Rich Smith at