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OVER-THE-AIR (OTA) FAQ

How good is over-the-air digital reception?
In the analog era of OTA signals, snowy and blurry pictures were not uncommon.  Digital changed all that.  Now, if you get signal, you get excellent picture quality, better than many other video sources. 
Data compression is used by cable and satellite providers.  This allows them to offer you many channels but the compression will result in compromised picture quality.  Off-air antenna reception is the best way to enjoy digital programs at the full resolution the TV networks intended since no compression of signal occurs prior to you receiving it.

Are there more local channels?
Due to bandwidth limitations, the cable and satellite providers usually are not able to carry all of the local channels in your area. With an OTA antenna, you can pick from any local station within your viewing radius. In certain areas where terrain and interference are not an issue, reception up to 100 miles away is not unusual. This opens up opportunity for OTA reception for surrounding communities as well as the one closest to you.

What does OTA cost?
FREE, FREE, FREE! The OTA programming is all free. Your only cost is the OTA components and installation of the antenna.

How do I know what is available in my area?
OTA signal transmission is a "line of sight" signal.  Occasionally, certain local situations may offer a bounced signal but line of sight is generally needed to receive good, consistent signal.  The curvature of the earth usually restricts signal beyond 70 miles.  The higher you mount the antenna, the more distance you will gain.  Buildings or terrain between you and the transmitter tower(s) can cause reception problems. So, the first step is to locate the transmitters for your local stations. WE CAN HELP with custom OTA Site Data.

What type of antenna do I need?
Location – Location – Location!  It applies here just like in real estate.  Distance and direction from the transmitters, height of the transmitting tower, the power of the transmitter, the terrain/buildings between you and the tower all will be important in determining the size of your antenna.  A customized OTA Site Data can help simplify the selection process.  If the tower is close and you have few obstructions, an indoor set-top antenna might be sufficient.  The further away from the tower and the more obstructions you are dealing with will require larger, taller and sometimes amplified antennas to capture signal.

What is the difference between VHF and UHF signal?
These are two different frequency ranges: VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency). VHF channels are further broken down by "low-band" VHF (channels 2-6) and "high-band" VHF (channels 7-13). UHF channels are 14-69. VHF requires a larger antenna than UHF.

Why are some channels identified as UHF but they have a VHF number?
The FCC required that a "reference" to their old legacy analog channel be embedded so viewers would not have to memorize a whole new set of channel numbers. The TV might identify a digital station as being in the VHF range when it's actually in the UHF range.  A good example of this is in Fargo, ND.  WDAY Channel 6 is actually broadcast in UHF on channel 21.

Will an amplifier help my reception?
If size, distance or height of the antenna still do not pull in the locals transmission, an electronic amplifier will help boost the signal strength. A potential drawback of amplifiers is that they amplify noise along with the signal, and if the signal is strong, they can make reception worse. Many indoor antennas have built in amplifiers already. Most of these indoor antennas are only suitable for metro or suburban reception, and primarily on UHF channels. Once you get into what is known as “fringe” area reception, specific antennas and “boosters” need to be more carefully considered.  There are also amplifiers that install in-line between the antenna and TV.  A low noise preamplifier or "preamp" can be installed on the outdoor antenna mast. Most experts recommend only using an amplifier if you need to.  Highly directional multi-element VHF Yagi antennas and more efficient UHF antennas may be part of the solution, depending upon the circumstances of your location.  An OTA site data will help in determining what you may need for that location.

Can I use the antenna wire that I already have?
We highly recommend using only 75 ohm coax for your wiring needs. Coax is a round cable used by cable and satellite companies.  We recommend RG-6 coax for best performance.  Many of the older antennas use a 300-ohm twin-lead, sometimes referred to as a flat wire.  Newer highly efficient UHF antennas have a 75 ohm coax connection, thus eliminating the losses of a 75 to 300 ohm transformer.  Most modern TVs and digital converter boxes will only have a coax connector.  If running new wire is not possible, we do have 300-ohm to 75-ohm connectors available.  The old twin-lead wire was not shielded and can pick up unwanted ‘noise’ that will affect reception.  Coax is more durable and since it is shielded, will not pick up electrical interference from your home wiring.

Can the antenna be mounted inside my attic?
Mounting an antenna in an attic will result in poorer reception but it is possible. If you have a strong signal, then it might not matter.  Most attic mounts end up needing either a preamp or an amplifier.  Foil backed insulation, shingles, metal roofing, metal siding, metal gutters – all of these can impact signal getting to your antenna.  If you experience signal reception issues in the attic, then moving the antenna to different locations in the attic might help.  Make sure the antenna is mounted so that it does not touch the roof or the floor.  Using a mast in the attic works best.

What type of mounts do you recommend?
There are many different ways that an antenna can be mounted.  Mounting locations can vary for soffits, fascia, rooftops, towers, masts, etc.  The main thing to remember is that the higher you can mount it, the better your reception will be.  Antenna mounts should be galvanized metal and may need to be secured with guy wire.  We do not recommend mounting them close to a chimney since the smoke and gases from chimneys can degrade the metal as well as reception. 

How do you aim the antenna?
A compass will be your best friend in aiming your antenna.  There is significant research that will need to go into finding which direction the transmitters are in your area.  We strongly recommend acquiring an OTA site data custom designed for your location.  This will give you all the compass readings for each station within a typical 90 mile radius.  It will also make setting up a rotor much easier if that is something you will need because of multiple directions to the transmitters.

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