“UHF – The Future Begins in Portland, Oregon!”

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  • #52
    bossjock
    Participant

    I’m guessing this 18-minute video from 1953 was produced for Zenith as a sales aid to distributors and dealers of the day. This vid has something for everyone, from vintage Portland scenery to testimonials from long-gone dealers to detailed explanations of the jerry-rigged tuner technology that enabled sets to receive ch. 27:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OaaCsGF61s&hd=1

    #2785
    Alfredo_T
    Participant

    UHF tuners of the 1950s were extremely insensitive. The Zenith turret strip tuner described in this video would have had a conversion loss on the order of 10 dB or more. This would mean that on UHF one would need to give the TV about 10 dB more signal to get the same quality of picture as on VHF. I am really surprised that reception in Salem and Corvallis could have been possible.

    I have read that in markets where both VHF and UHF were available, some TV dealers actually steered consumers away from UHF because they did not want to have headaches due to complaints from customers unhappy with poor UHF reception (like the one man who says, “This is like a snowstorm!”)

    #2786
    jr_tech
    Participant

    “I am really surprised that reception in Salem and Corvallis could have been possible.”

    Actually, reception in Salem was generally pretty decent, as it was *nearly* line of sight to the Council Crest tower. Most Salem installations used 20 to 40 foot masts and high gain antennas. My Aunt and Uncle lived at the North end of town and used only a 10 foot mast and a Rhombic antenna and got a better picture than we did in the foothills of the west hills.

    Corvallis was an entirely different matter, fairly spotty reception and many 70 to 100 foot masts, such as the installation shown behind the Corvallis map near the end of the film.

    Fun film… thanks for posting, bossjock!

    #2787
    Alfredo_T
    Participant

    That tall mast in Corvallis, shown toward the end of the film, looks pretty rickety!

    #2788
    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    “I am really surprised that reception in Salem and Corvallis could have been possible.”

    Did you notice there were no interviews from Salem or Corvallis? You had to take Zenith’s word for it. This gave me the impression Zenith was not telling the truth. Here’s another reason why they were really stretching the truth. Do you remember what KPTV said in the interview? They were not operating at full power. That was correct. Power was increased after the film was made. Take a good look at the original power.

    February 1953 “Television Factbook” KPTV channel 27 with studio & transmitter at 3405 S.W. Council Crest Drive.

    Antenna: Feet Above Average Terrain: 1023ft.

    Antenna: Feet Above Ground: 251ft.

    Power: Visual: 18kw

    Power: Audio: 9kw

    Ownership: Empire Coil Co.

    August 1954 “Television Factbook” KPTV channel 27 with studio at 735 S.W. 20th Place & transmitter at 3405 S.W. Council Crest Drive.

    Antenna: Feet Above Average Terrain: 1310ft.

    Antenna: Feet Above Ground: 535ft.

    Power: Visual: 204kw

    Power: Audio: 110kw

    Ownership: Empire Coil Co.

    August 1955 “Television Factbook” KPTV channel 27 with studio at 735 S.W. 20th Place & transmitter at 3405 S.W. Council Crest Drive.

    Antenna: Feet Above Average Terrain: 1280ft.

    Antenna: Feet Above Ground: 534ft.

    Power: Visual: 646kw

    Power: Audio: 324kw

    Ownership: Empire Coil Co., a subsidiary of Storer Broadcasting Co.

    #2789
    scowl
    Participant

    One question: why was KPTV a UHF station? My understanding is that UHF stations at the time only appeared in areas where the VHF band was too crowded. Portland wasn’t one of those areas.

    The DuMont network which was struggling for channel space in large cities proposed to the FCC that some cities become UHF-only cities which would allow far more stations with no potential for interference. That didn’t go over very well.

    #2790
    Alfredo_T
    Participant

    Thanks for the information, Craig–I was aware of the first two power levels that KPTV used but not the third one. As I recall reading, the lowest power level was obtained using a prototype RCA transmitter with a peak visual power of 1 kW (the little teapot that could??). The second was obtained by attaching RF amplifiers (10 kW peak visual output) to the RCA transmitter and replacing the antenna with a higher gain model. The third, I would imagine, required a completely new transmitter. I have an image of the KPTV people shoveling money into a furnace when I think of the investments that they made into their UHF transmitter plant.

    #2791
    jr_tech
    Participant

    “Did you notice there were no interviews from Salem or Corvallis? You had to take Zenith’s word for it. This gave me the impression Zenith was not telling the truth.”

    Childhood memories may sometimes be in error, but for sure, my parents obtained their first TV shortly after ch 27 turned on, around Thanksgiving of ’52. My Aunt and Uncle from Salem were very fascinated by the set, and purchased one shortly thereafter, I *think* before Xmas. Reception at their house was decent, but I remember many early viewers, them included, being *very* impressed when ch 6 hit the air!

    The first *really* snow-free, ghost free picture that I saw at our house (before ch 6 came on) was a chance Sunday morning reception of skip from KNX-T ch 2 from LA!

    #2792
    boisebill
    Participant

    Up into the 70s it was still not uncommon to see very old UHF antennas on roofs in Portland. Became kind of a game to spot one.

    #2793
    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    “One question: why was KPTV a UHF station? My understanding is that UHF stations at the time only appeared in areas where the VHF band was too crowded. Portland wasn’t one of those areas.”

    The FCC had put a freeze on VHF grants. Portland wanted TV badly. We were in the stone age. The largest market in America without a TV station. Seattle had TV in 1948.

    #2794
    jr_tech
    Participant

    Was Portland bigger than Denver in 1952? as I understand it KFEL ch 2 beat KPTV by several months (July ’52), and was the first post-freeze CP put on the air. Oddly, Denver got a great VHF station, while Portland got stuck with a weak UHF looser. 🙁

    #2795
    Craig_Adams
    Participant

    Well the period of time must have been short but that’s what I remember reading. Plus Denver had two TV stations go on the air in a short period of time, where Portland was stuck for a year with one UHF. I would guess Denver’s stations were granted before the VHF freeze.

    KFEL-TV Ch 2 – July 18, 1952.

    KBTV Ch 9 – October 12, 1952.

    #2796
    Randy_in_Eugene
    Participant

    In a radio interview many years ago (I have it on tape somewhere), I heard a retired Eugene TV engineer tell of trying, to no avail, to receive ch 27 on various Eugene hilltops with an amplifier and high-gain antenna. Eugene saw it’s first television when KOIN went on. I think the last remaining ch 6 roof antenna is two houses down from me. The college students renting the place probably have no clue what it is. However, it happens to be aimed squarely at our 88.1 station, the U of O student-run KWVA, so who knows.

    #2797
    Randy_in_Eugene
    Participant

    Alfredo_T “the lowest power level was obtained using a prototype RCA transmitter with a peak visual power of 1 kW…”

    A friend, now deceased once told me of driving around the hills of Portland looking for ch 27 shortly after it came on. He came upon a little unmarked building and knocked on the door. The owner of KPTV answered and gave him the tour, mentioning the transmitter power was 1kw.

    As an aside, my friend, and the owner (Herbert Mayer?) both had horizontally polarized FM antennas on the roofs of their cars.

    #2798
    semoochie
    Participant

    If I’m thinking about this correctly, there was no coast to coast network television until 1952 so maybe we weren’t really missing that much, being four years late to the party.

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