TV Fool

I do not believe that streaming files from the internet or a media server is a satisfying alternative to cable or satellite service.  For me, television viewing begins and ends with programming.  At my house, this programming is broadcast television.  Broadcast television is superior to internet streaming for local programming and noninteractive viewing.  It can be superior to cable and satellite for cost and image quality.

Both cost and image quality depend on proximity to broadcast resources, antenna suitability, and installation quality.  Determining exactly how to install what antenna requires information about broadcast resources.  TVFool.com stores this information and makes it available as a report that most DIYers can easily interpret.  A TVFool report for your address will show what broadcast resources are available, whether they are UHF or VHF, how far away they are, how strong the signal is, and in what direction you need to point an antenna to receive the signal.  With all this information, you are ready to choose the right antenna, install it in the right location, and point it in the right direction.

First step is to run a report for your address.  Be sure to enter the expected height of your antenna as this can have a dramatic impact on predicted performance.  Notice I said predicted.  When I positioned my antennas in my attic, I ‘walked the attic’ — testing reception at various locations within the attic until I got the best possible reception.  Hills, trees, and building construction can impact reception, so the TVFool report is an educated guess as to your potential reception quality.

The report is divided into three parts.  The biggest part of the report is a list of channels ordered by signal strength.  The stations at the top of the list are the ones you are most likely to receive best.  The polar graph to the left is a more visual representation of orientation and strength.  The graph on the bottom separates UHF from VHF.  If all of your channels are UHF or VHF, you will want to look at antennas designed to pull in those specific frequencies.  If you have both UHF and VHF channels, you may need to compromise or install two antennas.  Joining signals from two antennas is a great option when all UHF or VHF signals come from a single direction.

If you are not sure what is on each of the listed stations, TitanTV is a program guide that will show you what is on which channel.

On the report, mark stations that you must have and those you would like to have.  Note UHF/VHF, strength, and direction.  Use this information to decide if broadcast will work for you and, if so, what hardware will be required.  Here are some scenarios…

  1. You are less than 20 miles from a lot of broadcast stations and receive strong signals from a lot of directions.  You will want an omnidirectional antenna that can pull in signals from all directions but is less effective bringing in a distant station.  If there are VHF high channels (7-13) on your list, the CM4228HD might be a good antenna for you.  If you have no VHF stations you might be happier with a DB8 for UHF.
  2. You are 20-40  miles from a lot of broadcast stations and receive strong signals from a single direction.  You could still use a CM4228HD or a DB8, but a more directional antenna will provide a stronger signal.  The best narrow beam, long range UHV antenna is the 91XG.  Depending on the range, your stations should all fall within a twenty-five degree area of the polar graph.  If your channel list includes VHF stations, a Y10-7-13 is a good choice to pull those in.  You can couple the signals with a CM-7777.
  3. You are more than 40 miles from a lot of broadcast stations and receive strong signals from one direction.  You will need a directional antenna.  The best narrow beam, long range UHV antenna is the 91XG.  Depending on the range, your stations should all fall within a twenty-five degree area of the polar graph.  If your channel list includes VHF stations, a Y10-7-13 is a good choice to pull those in.  You can couple the signals with a CM-7777.
  4. You are more than 40 miles from a lot of broadcast stations and receive strong signals from a lot of directions.  You will need a directional antenna.  The best narrow beam, long range UHV antenna is the 91XG.  You’ll need a rotator to point the antenna at the station you want to watch.  If your channel list includes VHF stations, a Y10-7-13 is a good choice to pull those in.  This can be on the same mast with the rotator if you have many VHF stations or on a different mast if you only have VHF in one direction or on a separate mast with its own rotator if you tend to watch VHF and UHF on separate sets concurrently.  You can couple the signals with a CM-7777.  If you have more than one television, you need to think about the whole pointing concept.  For starters, in most cases, you will need to get out of your chair to move the antenna when you change the channel.  There is also the situation where concurrent viewers want to look at stations in two directions.  If there are two sets, it might be best to erect two antennas.  As the number of televisions increases, it may make more sense to combine antennas on a single coax.  ‘Ganging‘ antennas can improve reception.  (I’m interested in ganging four 91XG antennas in my attic using the 4-way lossless trick.)
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One comment on “TV Fool

  1. Pingback: Aereo Goes National | The Beer's on COMCAST!

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