How good is over-the-air
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.