While adjusting the "rabbit ears" on the TV one of them touched a floor lamp. The lamp wasn't on, but it's a 3-wire lamp so its exterior is grounded; there was a brief spark and the TV quit. I took the back off the TV and replaced the fuse on the PCB; unfortunately, there must be a bigger problem because the new fuse blew immediately as soon as I pushed the power button.
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Re: Sparking rabbit ears
If the fuse blows the instant the power is switched on, there is most likely a heavy short in the primary side of the power supply. This could be the rectifier diodes or the switching transistor (or IC). If you do not have experience identifying and replacing shorted semiconductors, allow a qualified tech to handle it for you.
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Very few TVs have built in antennas (used to be called Rabbit Ears) in this HDTV era. The exception is portable hand hold units. You can experiment with the set by taking a 1-2 foot long piece of bell wire - strip about 1/2 inch of one end and put it in the center conductor of the antenna jack. If you are in a metro area, you will likely scan and get several channels (I get over 20) but you are better to get an amplified portable antenna or better yet, something you can place outdoors. Reception better near windows and upper floors.
First you may need a 300 ohm to 75 ohm transformer if you have a flat wire with 2 leads coming out of the rabbit ears..you can get one at walmart, I attached a picture of what they look like...hook the 2 terminals from the rabbit ears to the transformer and plug it into the round terminal of the tv, set the tv to cable or antenna, what ever it has for settings, unfortunately though you may not get all that much with old rabbit ears as they are lower frequency pickup than the new HD channels run on.
Check to see if you have the "Rabbit ears" plugged into the correct spot and you are on "Analog tv" if you are trying to use digital tv on "Rabbit ears" it can't send out a strong signal like the areal ontop of a house. You may need to get an adapter to broadcast a stronger signal but even better if you can connect to roof antena.
You will once again, purchase a converter box to receive an over the air channel. I don't think you will have to really worry about using an over the air mode on the TV. It may be in the menu, but will work otherwise after being placed on channel 3 to receive through the converter box. The rabbit ears will be connected to the converter box itself.
First, make sure your connections are right. The rabbit ears need to be disconnected from the TV and reconnected to the converter box. Then the output cable from the converter box connects to the TV. Then try turning the rabbit ears or re-locating them near a window if the wire is long enough. You should be able to get some signal. A newer indoor antenna may help you pull in some of the weaker stations.
You mentioned rabbit ears for old tv, how old are the rabbit ears? Time and humidity will make rabbit ears lose connections internally. Also, if your old rabbit ears have the flat cable going to the tv you probably had to add a converter to go to the new tv. The flat cable will lose signal strength were ever the cable touches metal. Also the adapter will cause signal lose. The best bet is to buy an amplified indoor antenna. You also may try a paper clip and about 3to4' of small gauge wire put the paper clip (bend out to fit) into the center of the antenna in on the tv have the wire connected and let it hang or lift it to see how the picture improves. The problem with rabbit ears is that you have to use war time tactics. Crawl on your stomach and adjust to best picture, if you stand and adjust the signal is usually reflected off your body and will be nice until you walk away.
Your TV is old enough to have not only screw terminals for the antenna, but it sounds like it has separate UHF and VHF terminals as well. Pick up a 75-ohm to 300-ohm adapter (available at Radio Shack and probably most other places that sell TV's and antennas). This is a small cylinder-shaped part with a threaded antenna connector on one end, and a flat wire with two terminals on the other end. Connect the cable from the converter box to the round connector, hook the two terminals to the VHF antenna screws on your TV, put the TV on channel 3 and you'll be set.
You should also pick up a new antenna designed to work with digital broadcasting. If you use the old rabbit ears you were using before, you will probably not pick up all the channels available in your area.