How to tune analog channels in digital converter boxes

Updated April 17, 2017

Broadcast television has gone all digital. Since the switch to digital TV, in order to watch free over-the-air, local broadcast TV on an analogue TV set, the set has to be connected to a digital-to-analogue converter box. Analogue TV sets are equipped with a built-in NTSC tuner, as opposed to a built-in digital (ATSC) tuner. The converter box, which is equipped with a built-in ATSC tuner, is needed to pick up and decode the broadcast digital TV signals. The device then converts the signal into an analogue format that the NTSC tuner built into the analogue TV set can decode.

Hook up the digital converter box to the analogue TV if you haven't already done so. Connect the TV antenna to the converter box's "RF In" terminal (which is usually labelled "Antenna In"). Use a coaxial cable to connect the converter box's "RF Out" terminal (which is usually labelled "TV Out" or "Out to TV") to the "RF In" terminal on the back of the TV set.

Connect the digital converter box to a power source and turn it on. Press "Power" on the TV to turn it on as well.

Tune the TV to channel 3.

Use the "Menu" button on the digital converter box's remote control to open the device's menu options. Highlight and select the "Channel Scan" option. The converter box will begin to scan for over-the-air broadcast digital TV signals. This operation will take a minute or more. Do not interrupt it. You should see a meter bar on the TV screen indicating how much of the scan is currently complete.

Leave the channel on the television set itself, set to channel 3. Now, since the digital switch, if you're using an analogue TV set, you can no longer pick up the different local TV channels by tuning the TV set itself to different channels.

Press the Channel Up or Down button on the digital converter box's remote control to flip through the local channels. Now, since the digital switch, if you're using a digital converter box to pick up the local TV channels on your analogue TV, you have to tune the digital converter box to the channel you want to watch.

Use the number buttons on the digital converter box's remote control to key in the channel you want to tune into. Rather than using the Channel Up and Down buttons to flip through all of the available channels until you arrive at the one you want, keying in the channel number will take you directly to the channel you want to see.


As you flip through the channels picked up by the converter box, if you discover any missing local channels, try adjusting the TV antenna, perhaps moving the antenna closer to a window and performing the channel scan again. If adjusting the antenna doesn't help, you may need to invest in a higher quality indoor TV antenna. Or, if this doesn't solve the problem either, you may even need to invest in an outdoor TV antenna.

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About the Author

Maya Austen began freelance writing in 2009. She has written for many online publications on a wide variety of topics ranging from physical fitness to amateur astronomy. She's also an author and e-book publisher. Austen has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the New England Institute of Art and currently lives in Boston, Mass.