How Does a TV Work?

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What are TV waves?

  • TVs work pretty much the same way that radios do, in that they receive radio signals sent from a television broadcast station. A television signal is also a radio wave, but it just has a different wavelength. Wavelength is a term that refers to the distance from each high point of the wave. When waves move they have a high point and a low point. They look just like waves in the water. The high point is typically referred to as a "crest," while the low point is commonly called a "trough." You can measure a wavelength by marking the distance between the crests. The frequency of a wave is determined by how often or what rate each wave occurs. This is generally called an "event." How many times an event happens will determine its frequency. Television waves have a frequency, again, much like radio frequencies sent on a carrier wave.

TV Antennas

  • Television antennas have metal-based rods and are usually comprised of aluminum pieces all laced together. They are made to receive like signals from broadcast TV stations. Let's say a TV station sent out a signal of 350 megahertz. A person has only to tune into that frequency to be able to see and hear the signals. Their TV antenna catches the signals and sends it to a receiver inside the television set.

Inside the TV

  • Put simply, people can see what is on a television because the cathode ray tube or "CRT" allows them to see light that is not normally visible to the naked eye. When a TV antenna catches a TV signal, it does not look the way it does when we see our favorite TV show, of course. The CRT, located inside the television set, fluoresces (or lights up), particles within the transmitted TV or electromagnetic wave. The TV receiver, also located inside the TV, simply unlocks those suppressed signals on the broadcasted carrier wave. The TV station sends out a signal, the TV box interprets the signals in a way we all can understand. Phosphor paper, placed behind the TV glass, determines what color the image will or will not be. The type of phosphor paper in the TV depends on if it is a black and white or color TV. Black and whites have only one sheet, while color TVs have three sheets--red, green and blue. Light bounces on the sheets in different patterns. Again, what color you see depends on the light arrangement.

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