Most people point their antenna by trial and error — using a compass then fine tuning by judging picture quality or watching a signal strength meter on a TV or DVR. Some people invest in a signal strength meter. I have a better way.
I use a Silicon Dust HD Homerun to point my antennas. The HD Homerun has many advantages over much more expensive signal strength meters including…
- easy to use
- simultaneously monitoring two stations
- dual use
- better information
An HD Homerun is a dual tuner device that streams your antenna signal on your LAN. The least expensive OTA HDHR available at this time is the HDHR Dual which retails for $129.99 and is currently selling for $79 on Amazon.com.
It’s very easy to use…
- Attach the HDHR to you LAN and antenna
- Install and run the HDHR app
- Open two instances of the HDHR Config Tool
- Set each to a channel you want to analyze
- Adjust the antenna to achieve the highest possible Symbol Quality
Notice I said Symbol Quality. The HDHR app reports signal strength, signal quality, and symbol quality. Per Silicon Dust…
- Signal Strength (ss) is the raw power level as measured by the receiver
- Signal Quality (snq) is how clearly defined the digital data is
- Symbol Quality (seq) is the amount of correct or corrected data over the last second
A less technical explanation where the concepts are explained in terms of the experience of listening to a radio…
- Signal Strength represents the volume
- Signal Quality represents how clearly you can hear the lyrics
- Symbol Quality indicates the percentage of the lyrics you could hear or guess correctly
Signal Strength is somewhat irrelevant; if your antenna isn’t pointed properly, it doesn’t matter how loud you turn up the volume, the static will prevent you from hearing the lyrics correctly. Similarly, amplifying a weak HDTV signal can result in a high signal strength but too much noise to decode the digital data correctly.
Use the Signal Strength for a rough idea of direction, but align the antenna for the highest Symbol Quality, ignoring Signal Strength.
Let’s take a look at a real life example…
Here I show my TVFool report next to two instances of the HDHR Config Utility. As I adjust the antenna to pull in WMUR, I can easily see the impact of the change on WBZ.
Once you have your antenna pointed, the HDHR is a great tool for understanding performance issues. When I am having a bad reception day, I pop up the Config Utility to see what is going on.
Finally, the HDTV was not designed as an antenna pointer. You can use it to watch broadcast television via a number of apps and servers. To sum things up, everyone should have an HDHR on their network!