Is there a radio to receive DTV audio?
May 28, 2009 3:49 PM   Subscribe

Posting for a friend:

"I own a Sony ICF-C113V bedside clock-radio that receives television signals from the soon to be obsolete VHF channels (2-13). Does anyone know if there is a clock-radio solution on the market yet that receives the audio portion of the DTV television signals in a clock-radio footprint? I have an iHome which I use as my primary clock-radio for alarms and music (iPod), but would still like the option to listen to television periodically."
posted by ThyroidBob to Technology (9 answers total)
Receiving analog TV audio is really simple, especially for VHF stations. You just take a normal FM radio and expand the tuning range a bit. From an engineering and cost perspective, adding this feature to a clock radio is essentially free.

But I don't think you can decode the audio portion of a digital broadcast without processing the entire signal. You can skip the video decompression, but you have to do all the other RF stuff, the nice antenna, the fancy signal processing, error correction, etc. In other words, your clock radio would need to have a more-or-less complete digital TV receiver inside. This feature would not be freeā€”far from it. It would be more complicated and more expensive than the entire clock radio, by a large margin.

That said, I haven't actually looked for such a device, so it may exist. But I wouldn't get my hopes up.
posted by ryanrs at 4:08 PM on May 28, 2009

You're looking for a clock radio w/ ATSC tuner, but a quick google result shows only LCD TVs w/ clock radios.
posted by wongcorgi at 4:33 PM on May 28, 2009

The tuning on my analog radio is kind of crappy -- the little needle doesn't quite line up with the numbers, probably because it got banged up in a move at some point. So I usually find my favorite station -- which is on the frequency 88.5 -- by tuning down to 87.5, which is audio for TV channel 6, and then finding the second station above that. (It's easy to tell apart television audio from radio-station audio.) I won't be able to do that post-transition!
posted by madcaptenor at 4:58 PM on May 28, 2009

Best answer: You should be able to use a tv converter box. This receives the digital transmission and generates a channel 2 or 3 signal that is normally fed to a older TV antenna input. My guess is you could connect it to the radio, or even possibly just connect a wire to the converter output and put it near the radio. Tune the radio to the same channel as the converter box output and Bobs your uncle!

You will need to use the remote from the converter box to select the digital tv channel.

Here is one from Amazon for $44. If you can still get a coupon, it may be almost free!
posted by cosmac at 6:24 PM on May 28, 2009

cosmac: I was thinking of that but I would guess that a simple clock radio doesn't have an input port.
posted by delmoi at 10:10 PM on May 28, 2009

Although your friend could get a FM Transmitter and rebroadcast the audio from the converter box on regular FM channels. My Gym does this, if you want to listen to the audio on the TVs they have setup, you bring an FM receiver. My MP3 player has one, and it works pretty well.
posted by delmoi at 10:15 PM on May 28, 2009

This Page has FM transmitters as cheap as $10, many are iPod specific but it looks like you could get a decent dongle for under $30.
posted by delmoi at 10:20 PM on May 28, 2009

If the converter box has an analog RF output on channel 2 or 3, then you can hook that to the clock radio's antenna. If the converter only has composite, component, and s-video outputs, then you'll need a modulator or FM transmitter.
posted by ryanrs at 11:35 PM on May 28, 2009

Exactly. The converter boxes I looked at are meant to connect to the antenna inputs of the TV, so it has a modulator built in. Since the radio can already tune in the TV band, it should work. If you attach a wire to the modulator output, it acts as a transmitter and should be able to go a few feet to the radio without connecting to the antenna itself.
posted by cosmac at 5:57 AM on May 29, 2009

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