ATSC HD Modulator Usage

A modulator is used to convert a signal source, which could be video and audio from a video camera, just audio from a microphone, or digital information from a computer, into an RF signal that can be transmitted over the air or through a cable to a receiving device.  One common application for a modulator is to distribute locally generated video throughout a coaxial network in a home or business.  While primarily used in commercial installations, they are also frequently used in homes.  

For these applications, you will see both QAM and ATSC modulators available, but they are designed for different purposes.  The QAM modulator is most commonly used to transport cable TV signals, or to insert new channels into an existing cable TV network.  The ATSC modulator is used to distribute an HDMI video source over a coaxial cable network that also carries ATSC TV signals from an over-the-air TV antenna.  Most televisions and set top boxes that have ATSC/OTA tuners will then be able to view it along with the OTA channels.  

The Channel Master CM-1050 ATSC HD Modulator is a professional grade modulator that converts a video signal from an HDMI input into a digital ATSC format.  It can be used for a number of popular applications.  But, regardless of the application, there are installation guidelines that apply to most uses.  

When you turn the CM-1050 ATSC HD Modulator on by applying the power, the unit will first display the current software info, followed by “Please wait” for about 15 seconds.  Once the display changes to “ATSC 8VSB”, you can start the setup process by pressing the “Enter” key on the front panel, and then entering the default password, which is 0000.  When the Main Menu is displayed, the first option is “Modulator”.  Pressing “Enter” again, RF ATTEN will be displayed.  For most general installations, this doesn’t need to be changed.  Pressing the right arrow will take you to the Frequency display.  This is the most common setting that requires changing as it determines the RF output channel of the modulator.  Pressing Enter will allow this to be changed by using the up and down arrows.  Setting the RF channel is the most critical setting on the modulator.  For this to work properly, you need to make sure you are not using the same RF channel as one of the off-air channels in your area.  

Remember that the channel number you see on your TV set is the “virtual” channel number, and in many cases, is not the actual off-air RF channel.  You can find a listing of both the virtual and actual RF channels in your area with the Antenna Selection Guide by simply entering your zip code.  Once you have identified an unused RF channel that you would like to use, press the up and down arrow keys to select the channel you want, and then press the Enter key to select it.  The next step is to press the right arrow key and select Yes and Enter to save your changes.

After changing the RF channel, in order for the TV set to show the correct channel number, you need to update a few more settings.  Return to the main menu and press the down arrow until you see “Stream”.  Select it by pressing Enter, and then use the right arrow to move to “Major No.”  Select Enter, and then use the arrow keys to change this setting to either the RF channel number you selected, or to any unused virtual channel in your area.  Press Enter again to select it.  This is the channel number that will be displayed on your TV set.  At this point, you can simply press the right arrow key until you get to the Save Changes page.  Select Yes and Enter and you are done.  If you want, you can stop at the “Short Name” and “Long Name” options to name your channel before you save your changes.  For most installations, those are all the changes you need to make.  While in the “Stream” menu, it is best to not change any other settings. Please contact Channel Master Support for more information on these settings.

Once the RF channel has been selected and the Major No has been changed, connect the line from the antenna to the Input port on the back of the unit, connect the line going to the rest of the building to the Output port, and connect your video source to the HDMI In port.  The final step is to rescan all of the TV sets and set top boxes so that they recognize the RF channel you have added, and you are done.  You are now distributing your content to all the TV sets on your network.

The source for the Channel Master ATSC HD Modulator can be a DVR, a security camera, a computer, or virtually any device that has an HDMI output.  So, what are some of the applications you may want to use?  There are many business applications, including:

  • In a business office, it can be used for an inhouse information channel for news, corporate messaging, general information for staff, etc.
  • Provide the same HD video content to multiple TV sets in a retail store
  • Digital signage in commercial environments to promote products, provide information for clients, outdoor advertising, directions, building directories, etc.
  • Interpretive information in zoos, cultural sites, museums, galleries, tourist attractions 
  • Menus in restaurants
  • Providing the same video source to multiple TV sets in restaurants and bars
  • Distribution of security camera and CCTV video in apartment buildings and businesses 

For home users, there are also many applications, including:

  • Allowing multiple TV sets in the home to watch the same program from a DVR
  • Displaying the video from a computer to multiple TV sets at the same time 
  • Security camera video to all TVs in the home
  • Again, virtually any HDMI source that you want to see on multiple TV sets

The Channel Master ATSC HD Modulator can also be configured over a local network by connecting an Ethernet cable from the network to the device.  Once connected, any PC on the same network can access it by opening up a web browser and entering the modulator IP address.  The IP address can be found by pressing the right arrow three times when you are viewing the ATSC 8VSB opening screen.  The same default password, 0000, is used to log into the modulator.  All the settings discussed above are accessible through the web interface.  Make sure you click on the “Save” button to save your changes.

The Channel Master ATSC HD Modulator is a very useful and easy to install addition to many business and home coaxial cable networks that need to have video from a single source available on multiple TV sets throughout the building.