Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Development: Downtown Definitions

I've got a post brewing about downtown restaurants, but part of my post depends on the various definitions for "downtown" Indianapolis. Here's what I think (feel free to write in the comments section if you think I'm off on any of these):

Central Business District (CBD)
  • N: New York St.
  • E: Delaware St.
  • S: Washington St.
  • W: Capitol St.
The core of office buildings downtown. A handful of large office buildings are outside this area – the Simon Building, City-County Building, and 300 N Meridian – though they all touch the border of the CBD. Monument Circle, representing the center of the city, is within this area.

Mile Square
  • N: North St.
  • E: East St.
  • S: South St.
  • W: West St.
The original 10-block-by-10-block platting of Indianapolis by Alexander Ralston. As each block downtown is almost exactly 0.1 miles in length, 10-blocks-by-10-blocks is 1-mile-by-1-mile or 1 square mile. Hence, the “Mile Square.”

This definition differs from the CBD by beginning to add the arts/entertainment/retail sectors of downtown. Circle Centre Mall, the southern end of Mass Ave and the Wholesale District are now included, in addition to the RCA Dome, Conseco Fieldhouse and the Indiana Convention Center.

Downtown Loop
  • N: I65
  • E: I65/I70
  • S: I70
  • W: White River
Perhaps the most typical definition of downtown. Adds the campus of IUPUI, the northern end of Mass Ave. as well as the Lockerbie Square, St. Joseph, Chatham Arch, Fletcher Place and Ransom Place neighborhoods.

Regional Center
  • N: 16th St.
  • E: I65/I70
  • S: I70
  • W: Beltway RR
The “official,” though least often cited, definition of downtown. Used for official reporting of downtown statistics. Adds the Old Northside neighborhood, Biocrossroads area and the Indianapolis Zoo.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Gear: Tuning HDTV with an LG LST-4600A

Since this is my first Gear post, let me first talk a little about my gear philosophy. Obviously, I love gadgets and learning how they work. But being an engineer, one of my main goals with any project is cost optimization -- ruthless efficiency! This goal was a necessity when I was in college and graduate school and money was tight, but it still remains a basic part of my design mentality. If money were no object, I would just go buy things off-the-shelf. But what fun would that be?!

Now onto the point of this post: HDTV tuning. As you may be aware (or maybe not), HDTV is available for free over the air (OTA). All you need is an HDTV (ATSC) tuner -- which, per federal law, all new TVs are required to have -- and an antenna. Plug in the antenna, scan for channels, and you'll be rocking in just a few minutes!

But what if you have an older HDTV without a tuner? Or maybe you have a standard definition TV (SDTV) and would like to watch the wide-screen versions of your favorite TV shows (sure, you won't be watching "true" HD, but the wide-screen format may appeal to some). Discrete HDTV tuners are fairly expensive right now, generally starting around $150, though prices are dropping.

My solution? I happened to come across an ebay auction for a pair of LG LST-4600A HDTV tuners. They're actually boxes intended to control TV service in hotel rooms, but in very basic operation, they can tune OTA HDTV and send it to your TV. The auction was $25 + $15 shipping, with a best offer option. I offered $15, they countered with $18, and I accepted.

Sure, the LST-4600A aint sexy, but who cares when they only cost this much:

Total cost: $33
Per Unit: $16.50 = CHEAP!

Now to get this guy going. First trick? No remote and not even an infrared (IR) sensor on the LST-4600A. (I never said my projects were easy!) There's a port on the box for an infrared sensor and LG sells them directly through their parts department for $17.65 (call 1-800-243-0000 and ask for part #6712000003A). Any universal remote will work to control this tuner, though I went with an open box One-For-All URC-6131n from Best Buy for just $8.99 (originally $18.99). Programming Zenith TV code 0017 allows control of all functions.
New total cost: $16.50 + $17.65 + $8.99 = $43.14. This is a bit higher than I was hoping when I first discovered this device, but still not bad compared to the cost of a brand-new tuner.

Now that I can control the box, I need to configure it to tune HDTV. Being a hotel-room TV box, many of the configuration functions are hidden within the service menu (I guess they didn't want guests messing with the configuration and then calling the front desk!). To enter the service menu, hit the Menu button on the remote repeatedly until the on-screen menu stops popping up and disappearing. Then hit 9876 and Enter (this access code can also be set to 4321, 3698 or 1478, but both of mine were set to 9876).

Once in the service menu, you have to individually adjust each Menu Option you'd like to change. Enter the Menu Option number, hit Menu (NOT Enter), then enter your desired Value for that Menu Option and hit Enter twice. You must re-enter the service menu each time you want to change a parameter (a little annoying, I know, but thankfully you only have to do this process once). These are the Menu Options (the numbers in the 100's) I had to adjust, along with the Value (0 to 4) options available:

100: Video Interface
  • 0: Composite
  • 1: Component
  • 2: RGB (analog/"old" computer video connection)
  • 3: DVI (Digital Video Interface, commonly found on HDTVs and computer monitors)

102: ATSC Band

  • 0: Broadcast (OTA/Antenna)
  • 1: CATV (Cable)
  • 2-4: (I honestly don't know what these are, but they're N/A for our purposes)

105: Video Out Format

  • 0: 1080i (HDTV)
  • 1: 720p (HDTV)
  • 2: 480p (EDTV)
  • 3: 480i (SDTV)
For this setup -- antenna input, SDTV output through the component video ouput -- I selected Component, Broadcast and 480i. You can also set the LST-4600A to tune unencrypted digital cable (QAM), even on basic/analog cable service. All that's necessary is to change the ATSC Band to CATV. This is an easy way to get the major networks in HD without paying extra for Digital Access, a Digital Receiver and Remote, AND the HDTV Choice Pak (a total of $16.85/mo on top of my regular cable service). I use this on my main HDTV with built-in tuner.

One caveat: though major networks are unencrypted in most areas, this is not guaranteed. I can only speak for my service (Brighthouse Networks in downtown Indianapolis) which provides unencrypted HD feeds for NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, The CW and PBS.

Welcome to DIG-B

Hello and welcome to DIG-B! I know, I know, you're all wondering what the hell that beautiful acronym is. On the surface, I thought it sounded pretty cool, and maybe vaguely Irish. I'm part Irish, so I've got that going for me, which is nice.

But basically this blog is about my three passions. Let's break it down:

DI - Development in Indy. From time to time, I like to get out and take pictures of buildings under construction in Indianapolis. I'm no professional photographer, but I figure it's a fun way to capture the booming and rapidly changing face of downtown Indianapolis. I'll use this blog to post my pictures along with some exceptionally thin commentary. In the beginning, there will mainly be "current status" posts, but in the future -- as my photo collection grows -- I hope to make more "before-and-after" or "time lapse" posts.

G - Gear. I'm a HUGE geek. Big techie. Love computers and gadgets. I update my computers all the time and almost always have some project or object (of my desire) on the horizon. I'll keep you updated on the projects I want to do and review how things work out in the end.

B - Beer. I have a growing passion for beer. The midwest is blessed with some of the best breweries in the country, so I consider myself very lucky and take advantage of that fact as much as I can. This blog will serve as my beer diary.

Lafayette Brewing Company apparently brews a seasonal beer called Digby's Irish Stout, so I've already got potential product tie-ins going for this blog! Nice.

If any or all of this sounds interesting to you, I hope to see you back here often at DIG-B!