Tom's Vanity Press
The online home of some random schmo.
browse by date
MacGyver, eat your heart out!
February 8, 2009 at 19:22:20
Categories: audiovisual classic_tv history Now what, pray tell, is the etymology of *that* expression? What a gruesome act that would be - to eat one's heart out! What am I supposed to do? Go down to the kitchen, get out a carving knife, stab myself in the chest, yank out my still-beating heart and shove it down my throat before collapsing on the floor, blood a-squirting everywhere? Ponder on *that* image, why don't you, next time you decide to use that cliched idiom, budding writers everywhere! I did, but I'm still using it regardless. Sue me. Anyways... Continuing from my previous discussion, I thought I'd take a step back in time and focus on one aspect of my A/V set-up that has seen a major improvement - my reception of television programmes. Now, being someone who enjoys watching his TV from time-to-time - in particular some shows that screen out-of-area and late at night (that's for another post!) - it is of utmost importance that my reception is of the best quality that I can afford, which is why I bought a digital set-top box . However, the box alone will not rectify any reception problems you might be having. In fact, you'll probably need to invest in a better antenna due to digital TV's increased demands. But I'm as skint as a skink, so I can't be blowing my limited funds on such luxuries as, say, an outdoor aerial . So, for a long time, I've been trying to make do with what I have, repositioning my antennae in all sorts of weird and wacky ways - turn the antenna this way, pull the rabbit ears this way, balance the antenna on a pile of Britannicas, you know the drill - all with little or no success. Perhaps my most outlandish, hare-brained reception improvement scheme was carried out in February of 2008 when I decided to build a small-scale, indoor 'guyed mast', as you can see here:
In addition to the mast, you will notice my old VCR  on the far left. I mentioned previously that it "packed it in", however, that's not entirely true. It still works...sort of. I think I will leave all of the trials and tribulations, headaches and hiccups that I've had with that machine for another post! There's quite a tale to tell there... The idea came to me one night, when I was mucking around with the antenna in both pictures (it's got amplification and it currently lives on top of the downstairs TV) and the digi-box, when I noticed that, if I were to hold the antenna in a particular way, I would be able to pick up a stable picture of the digital channels serving the Wollongong area. Mind you, the picture would only last for a few seconds before breaking up in a shower of digital artefacts. Nevertheless, I was excited by this discovery, and I thought "What if there was a way I could keep the antenna in this position without me having to hold onto it all the time?". After all, I had no intention of holding the antenna in that position just to watch a show (or staying up at 3am to record any shows that might screen at that hour) - how silly and impractical would that be? Also, digital boxes tend to be very temperamental with regards to the signals they attempt to decode, so a stable construction that could hold the antenna in the exact position required would be of great benefit. I went downstairs and I noticed an empty cardboard tube, probably used to hold Christmas wrapping or something like that. Then it hit me. I could somehow balance the antenna on this tube. I would need to cut a recess into one end of the tube, so that the base of the antenna could slot in. I would secure it into place using sticky tape. But how would my tube stand upright, supporting all of that weight? I took a page from the fundamentals of transmitter tower construction. Most of these tall towers stand upright and rigid thanks to the support of a series of taut metal ropes - guy ropes - anchored to the ground below - a guyed mast. So I fashioned some guy ropes out of two spare shoelaces and anchored them to the floor with some more stickytape, as shown. To make the construction just that little bit more rigid, I stuffed the tube with some newspaper. Making the mast reminded me of that old TV show "MacGyver"  and the protagonist's amazing ability to get out of scrapes or to save the day by making and using something with just the items surrounding him. Say if MacGyver was trapped in an office somewhere in a fictional South American country, the building's surrounded by some Contra-esque militia, and he needed to get in contact with Pete Thornton back at headquarters. He could put together - "MacGyver up", if you will - a mast and transceiver made out of a broom, his shoelaces and some paperclips or something like that. Of course, MacGyver's mast would be *way* cooler than my version, but anyhow... Unfortunately, the idea didn't quite work out the way I envisaged it would. No matter how I positioned the antenna, I still couldn't get a stable enough signal for it to be of any use. So I had to abandon the idea and continue watching fuzzy pictures of WIN TV. An utterly useless invention by any means , nevertheless it lives on in my memory, in pictorial form and in this post! (...plus MacGyver's version would actually work!) I even had plans of hoisting one of my indoor aerials on a pole outdoors and then run a length of flyleads from the pole to the TV, but that idea never went past the planning phase. In the end, though, I decided that there was no alternative but to go to the store and buy myself a better antenna. I set it up, repositioned a side-draw, balanced the antenna on the side-draw and I haven't looked back since!  TomGyver  I'm going to have to in any case, come 2013 when, supposedly, they're going to shut down the analogue TV signals. Better to be an 'early adopter', I say.  "What would we need an antenna for?", my folks would say. "We've got FOXTEL."  Update 26/2: Sorry...my *sister's* old VCR! Older siblings can be really possessive of things sometimes, especially if they no longer have any use for them :P  Where, may I ask, is "MacGyver" on the TV1 schedule? They're playing Richard Dean Anderson's 'other' show "Stargate SG-1" on sister channel Sci Fi, so why not play "MacGyver" as well? Many fond memories watching that show as a child. I know I can get the DVD boxset and watch it anytime, but still... They can cut out one of the "Law & Order" incarnations or something to accommodate the man with the mullet. Cut down on their "Groovy Movies", perhaps... ...and, while we're at it, what about these five-minute 'shorts' TV1 have been screening over the past year or so, featuring material from classic shows from their archives such as "The Facts of Life", "Webster", "T.J. Hooker", "Charlie's Angels", to name a few? Hello! Why not play the *complete episodes* of these classic shows like they used to, instead of filling up the schedule with more recent shows such as "House", "Monk", "NCIS" and the aformentioned "Law & Order" clones? What a bloody shambles TV1 has become over the years. Someone should blow them up :P  Could my mast be classed as chindogu, I wonder? I mean, it can be used but it's quite impractical. However, the intent was for it to be useful - I didn't just make it for the sake of itself - so is it really chindogu?  Until now, that is. Last updated: May 8, 2010 at 14:05:17
Add a comment
Contact me Subscribe (RSS) Your host
Tomislav "Tom" Bozic
a "recovering hikikomori"
and "Croatian mirepoix"
was born on
14th Iyyar 5744, or
27th Floréal CXCII
and spends most of his time within the
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
metropolitan area. (the rest shall be revealed in due course...)
All dates and times displayed on this page are based on Sydney local time.