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33 comments
Power-User

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Posts: 139

How to improve my tv reception

06/04/2007 11:20 PM

I live several miles from a major city and currently use rabbit ears for my TV reception. We don't watch it all that much except for news and hockey.

The reception I get is variable - some days it is good, others it's not so good to terrible on some stations.

My indoor antenna does have an adjustable dial which I have on its max setting all the time.

If there a good antenna out there that I don't know about or is there a way to accentuate the TV signal my homw receives above what I can currently do with my set-up?

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#1

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/05/2007 3:41 AM

The dial on your antenna is probably the gain for a built in amplifier. It is possible to have this turned too much as over amplification can cause distortion in the TV signal

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#2

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/05/2007 3:45 AM

Elevation above ground level is a factor. The higher the antenna the fewer signal attenuation interference paths are presented 'twixt transmitter and receiver, like buildings, vehicles and people.

Another factor is the antenna gain. Directional antennae have a high gain in the forward direction and pointing this type of antenna directly at the transmitter will boost the signal strength many-fold.

A third factor is the polarity of the signal. If the signal is horizontally polarised, use an antenna in the horizontal plane; if vertical, use the antenna in the vertical plane.

When TV used to be broadcast on VHF in the UK, most homes had huge directional antennae slung from most chimneys in vertical polarisation. When UHF came along the VHF antennae disappeared and smaller (because of the higher frequency/lower wavelength) horizontally polarised antennae became the norm, like this:

It is rarely worth setting up a rooftop TV antenna onesself. Aerial installers have the knowledge, equipment and the practice on board. Also, there is a warranty factor in buying in the service, and the risks to onesself and one's property from falling from height inadvertently because of the lack of correct equipment and training may be too much to bear. Buying in the service is recommended.

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Participant

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#33
In reply to #2

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/24/2011 12:41 PM

Here's the image.

mjh

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Anonymous Poster
#3

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/06/2007 1:42 AM

i think the above discussion sort of wraps it up.....polirazation,if you are living far from the transmitter you should opt for high antenna gain (direction it points should be that of the signal path from the transmitter), antennae height though a compromize is to be reached...not too high,type of antenna may be will matter but dont forget not to join too many pieces of signal cable from yout antenna to the television set, better use one long piece of cable.and some trees around (not sure for tv signals)....

all the best.

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Participant

Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2
#4

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/06/2007 3:08 AM

Not sure where you live but all tv broadcasts are now forced to go to a High Definition format which means new antennas and a greater range of reception. There are currently more channels broadcast off air than are available with cable and Sat.

If you are willing to upgrade your equipment to a HD system you might be surprised at how many channels you can get.

First check with your local broadcast antennas they usually have websites that will let you know what channels are available in your area.

Second buy yourself a proper antenna based upon distance away from broadcast antennas. Terk offers many different antennas that could help you.

Last If none of this works look into Direct TV or Dish Network.

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#5

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/06/2007 6:42 AM

You never mentioned where you live exactly, what you have around you (mountains), what transmission frequencies you want to recieve (UHF VHF) and how far away the TV transmitter is...

Best is usually a Sat setup for most problem situations....

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#6

Re: How to improve my TV reception

06/06/2007 8:52 AM

How to improve my TV reception:

I suggest that you use a Hi- outside antenna, and install an antenna amplifier on it to improve your overall signal, it will have a pre- amplifier mounted on the antenna, and the power supply for same would be in the house. Also it would be advisable to use 75 ohm coax cable.

I hope this helps.

Cheers

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#7

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/06/2007 10:34 AM

PWSlack had the best technical answer in #2. Since you did not say where you are it is hard to say exactly what would help you. In the USA and Canada (and possibly other countries) television video is broadcast with an analog AM signal horizontally polarized. Audio is sent on an FM signal on nearly the same frequency. That is why you see roof top antennas that appear to be flat. "Rabbit ears" are a form of simple dipole antenna which can vary from flat to a "V" or "L" but are not as capable as the rooftop antenna.

This type of antenna is known as a beam or Yagi, after its inventor. It has one active element, usually a dipole like your Rabbit Ears, and multiple passive elements, at least one longer element behind the active element, called a reflector, and usually several shorter elements, called directors, in front, towards the TV station. These antennas not only have gain (increase the signal coming from the TV station), but also are highly directional, i.e. reduce signals coming from other directions. This is important if you are between cities which have stations broadcasting on the same channel. Some people, with high ceilings, even will hang a Yagi from their ceiling. The performance will not be as good as on the rooftop, or even in the attic, but it will be better than using Rabbit Ears. VHF and UHF Yagi antennas for broadcast TV can be bought at RadioShack, BestBuy, and even home centers like Home Depot.

An inexpensive antenna which you can build yourself using a dipole (or your Rabbit Ears fixed in the horizontal position) is called a "corner reflector". It will not have as much gain or directivity as the Yagi, but it will outperform the twin-lead dipole or Rabbit Ears simple antennas.

To construct the home-brew corner reflector you need a corrugated box, or build a framework the same size, which is twice as wide as your dipole/Rabbit Ears antenna is long. Its design is somewhat dependent on which channel you want to receive the best, since different channels have different frequencies, and therefore different wavelengths. The box or framework should be lined with aluminum foil as a "V"-shaped reflector on two adjacent sides, preferable in a continuous piece, although this is not critical. The sides chosen using a box with an open top would be the bottom of the box and one adjacent side.

What is important is that the foil be wrinkled as little as possible and that the dipole be located exactly one wavelength from each side and parallel to the line of the corner connecting them. You can get the foil to adhere to the box with glue or tape. The reflector can also be made of wire netting, sheet metal or even fabricated metal spines arranged in a V-formation. Such spines must be parallel to the radiator (dipole) with a spine spacing of less then 0.1 wave-length of the operating frequency. The sides of the box should have holes in them to support the dipole, which should be extended using non-conducting rods or tubes. The cable hanging out the center of the dipole should remain at right angles to the elements as far as possible. Some designs route the cable directly to a hole in the center of the corner where the two lined flat sides hinge. Orient the box so that the open side (usually the top) is turned over so it points toward your station and the dipole is horizontal, with the foil at the back and new top. Then prop up the edge of the open side to it tilts to 45 degrees. This will place your reflector above and below the dipole element. Now the dipole will receive not only energy coming directly towards it but also reflections from above and below it. Spacing is critical to insure that these reflected energy waves arrive in phase with the direct ones.

The dipole antenna is usually a half-wave antenna so use that as a guide. At VHF frequencies, size can become problematic, but if you have enough room and a big enough box it could still work. UHF channels are much easier to work with due to the shorter wavelength.

The box design gives you a 90-degree corner reflector and it closely matches the impedance of your cable and TV, roughly 75 ohms. You could also make a 60 degree reflector from two flat plates if you had a way to suspend the dipole at one wavelength from each side. It would have higher gain and directivity but a lower impedance which would require matching with a balun. I believe you could take a normal 300-ohm to 75-ohm (4:1) TV balun and wire it backwards (1:4), connecting the co-axial cable going to your TV to the screw terminals, for use with a 60 degree corner, but I am not sure about that. Better stick with the simple 90-degree design.

To find more on this google: corner reflector antenna television

Here is one URL with info: http://www.northcountryradio.com/Articles/crfl.htm

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Power-User

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Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
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#9
In reply to #7

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/06/2007 1:20 PM

Thank you very much for your response!

Glad to see I wasn't the only one who read Mad Magazine!! :)

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/06/2007 1:40 PM

Yeah, I thought of using old Alfred E. for my Avatar, but thought my Alma Mater's mascot fit my personality better.

So why "Impact Cases"? The term conjures up several possibilities in my mind:

1. High profile civil lawsuits or criminal charges?

2. Shipping containers that are impervious to rough handling?

3. Covers for handheld electronics to prevent damage when dropped?

4. Outer skin of a metallic object tempered for strength and ductility?

5. A font variation designed to grab attention, like: lower case, UPPER CASE, IMPACT CASE?

6. Term for body bags used to transport airplane crash victims after aircraft has "impacted terrain"?

So which one is it and why, or is it something I had not thought of?

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Power-User

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/06/2007 1:48 PM

nope you thought of it..number 2 and to a certain extent 4 :)

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#8

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/06/2007 1:18 PM

Thank you to all who replied to my question.

I neglected to say I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I was in sweden this past spring and saw a lot of antennas similar to the one posted by PWSlack and was wondering if it applies to North America broadcasting.

As for distance from the city - we are about 2 miles west of the city limits. I am about 4 miles from a couple of broadcast towers (I can see them from my place) so distances isn't a significant problem.

I have not found a cable or "legal" satellite service for me to be willing to shell out the $'s they want for them. Quite frankly the 5 channels I do receive satisfies our vireing needs so all I want to do is to improve the quality of picture I receive.

As this isn't my area of expertise, I am relying on all of you out there for advice which I graciously thank you for!

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#26
In reply to #8

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/28/2007 1:02 PM

As old as this thread is, you may or may not get this reply.

For an antenna, I would go to radio shack and pick up one of their VHF/UHF roof mounted antennas. That should have your signal coming in like gangbusters.

I don't know where Canada's broadcasting standards are going, but here in the US they are phasing out all analog (traditiional) stations in favor of digital transmission. To receive the digital signal on the ol' analog TV, one will have to buy a conversion box to get convert the digital back to analog... and your antenna may or may not work with the digital system. This is something you may want to look into.

Sincerely

Bill

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#28
In reply to #26

Re: How to improve my tv reception

12/13/2007 11:10 PM

A TV ant. is a TV ant. dude. Digi makes no difference to it.

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#29
In reply to #28

Re: How to improve my tv reception

12/14/2007 8:36 AM

Sorry, guest, but he is correct. Your antenna may or may not work with the new digital system, but NOT because it is digital, but because most digital signals will be in the UHF spectrum of frequencies, not VHF. Therefore, if you have a VHF only antenna (channels 2-13) you would NOT be able to receive the digital signals very well, especially if you are in the fringe areas, not close by the transmitting antenna. If you have a dual band, or VHF/UHF antenna, you should have no problem.

However, once analog broadcasting ceases, TV stations which currently broadcast in both analog (on VHF channels) and digital (on UHF channels) will have the option of switching their digital signal to their old analog frequency. In that case you would need a VHF antenna (or dual-band) to receive the digital signal. Best bet if you want to receive over-the-air (not cable or satellite) broadcast TV would be to make sure you have a dual-band antenna. If you don't know what you have, take a look at it and if you have arm-length or so elements (VHF) AND hand-length or so elements (UHF), then you have a dual-band antenna! Of course, you will have to have either a TV with a digital (DTV) tuner, which includes almost all newer HD(High Definition)TV's, or a DTV adaptor. You will not need an HDTV just to receive digital broadcast, but most DTV broadcasts will offer HDTV signals. If you have cable or satellite you probably will not see any difference, as the FCC edict does not affect them.

If you have a radio or scanner that you like to listen to the audio portion of TV programs, sorry, but that will end on Dec. 31, 2008, so enjoy your shows for one more year. Of course, you should be able to get a digital adaptor for your analog portable TV. I hope they make one small enough to be practical for my portable TV!

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Anonymous Poster
#31
In reply to #29

Re: How to improve my tv reception

07/29/2008 10:01 PM

I have an analog tv with the hd converter box and I get quite a few channels that are very clear. I have an antenna in my attic. But with the weaker signals I will get a channel one day and not the next. Also when I do get the weaker channels sometimes they will break down to pixels for a few seconds. My question is would a signal booster mounted up on my antenna help? Don

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#12

Re: How to improve my TV reception

06/06/2007 9:28 PM

I am really surprised that you are not overdriving your set at 4 miles distance. If you are seeing good contrast with "tearing" of the picture, you are getting too much signal and need an attenuator or turn down the AGC. I have got excellent reception on some channels at 50 miles with rabbit ears with no amplifier. Years ago I made 2 folded dipole antennas out of twin lead; 1 for the low VHF channels, and 1 for the high VHF channels. I had dual banana plugs to quickly change antennas. They were nailed to the carport outside the apartment, and worked excellent at 50 miles. The simple UHF loop works well at 50 miles. With a Yagi on the roof you can get at least 100 miles.

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#13

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/06/2007 9:37 PM

Being that close to Calgary you should get very good reception using an all channel yagi antenna on your rooftop or in the attic oriented towards the TV towers. you may have to adjust the direction to get the best reception from your favorites.

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#14

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/06/2007 10:43 PM

Not so long ago I was living in the country about mid way between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. My nearest neighbor had a $300 T V antenna with rotor amplifier and all the bells and whistles, he could get 5 channels and was happy. Being a ham radio operater,we set up our radio station. When we got tired of what was going on on the radio, I pulled the antenna off of the radio and hooked it up to the TV. Just to get the kids off my back( we had been almost two years with out a working tv. To my supprise we got 14 channels from both Tulsa and Okc. and other neighboring towns. That was on a two meter vertical antenna with no amp.

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#16
In reply to #14

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/07/2007 9:56 AM

hilltoper,

Oh so you're the guy who pilfered my cable hookup so many years ago!

(grin)

Seriously, could you have been receiving cable channels from a nearby, amplified but poorly shielded neighbor's system?

Hey, also, if your Two Meter vertical was a 5/8 wave or a co-linear it would have some gain over a dipole anyway. Also, those antennas tend to be a little more broad-banded and could certainly do well on VHF TV receive.

As a ham, you probably know that terrain and surrounding construction can lead to all sorts of reflections and blockages, creating "sweet spots" as well as areas of "RF Neverland". Perhaps you got lucky and your neighbor was not so lucky!

Were both antennas at an equal height, or had you placed your 2M antenna on a tower or mast that got it up higher than the neighbor's roof mount?

All kinds of possible explanations. Maybe his antenna was just defective or not tuned properly.

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#15

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/07/2007 12:39 AM

This may be kind of a dumb question but what is the dial that you have set to maximum. Is it a gain control for a INTERNAL AMPLIFIER (This requires a power source such as batteries or a power lead from a wall wort that is plugged into the wall)

Other wise it a passive device (no external power) and the control is a tuning control.

If it is a tunning dial, then it should be adjusted for best signal reception. (setting it at maximum WOULD NOT BE the answer)

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#17
In reply to #15

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/07/2007 12:04 PM

Indeed, and well done for pointing this out.

Now that the distance between the transmitter and the receiver is known to be relatively small it could be that the poster may be over-driving the input to the TV's circuits with a signal that has been amplified too much. Were this to be the case then a high-gain antenna would make things worse, not better.

It might be time for him/her to make some phone calls to antenna installers in his/her area for some locality-based advice and service, perhaps?

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/07/2007 12:21 PM

At the actual distances he has, a wire coat hanger on the end of a bit of mains cable should give him next to perfect pictures - assuming that his TV is of reasonable quality and does not have any problems in the Tuner area.....a second "known to be good" TV should be used to qualify that point.

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#19
In reply to #15

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/07/2007 12:49 PM

Sorry for not posting this earlier. I am using a Nexxtech amplified UHF/VHF HDT Antenna which has a Gain Control dial on it.

When I said the dial is at max - it is because that is the position where the interference is at a minimum.

One item I didn't mention is that when the house was uilt, the owner had cement floors put in (it's a splt level) - consequently there is more iron in the construction than would otherise be in a normal house. Could this interfere with the signal at all?

While I know a roof antenna would help, I thought that because I am so close, a good TV top antenna should work. In the end that might not be possible.

Is there an additional amp I could buy that would enhance the signal coming out of my antenna before it goes into the TV or is such an idea too off the wall?

Also, is there a wireless transmitter that could be used in conjunction with a roof top antenna thereby avoiding having to run wires to the TV. We don 't have an attic as our ceilings are cathedral and so dropping the wire through would be problematic given where the TV is located.

Finally we have a new TV - a 42: Samsung LCD TV.

Comment to hill topper - is that vertical antenna you metioned simmply a pole or does it have four rods extending horizontally from the top as I have seen on houses which I have assumed has a ham operator living in it?

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/07/2007 1:18 PM

If the reception is just poor because of having a a desktop antenna, then amplifying a poor signal will still have a poor signal.....but with greater strength!! e.g. you gain nothing.

An outside antenna is always best. Can you run a wire down outside the house or via another room that accesses the roof better?

The cheaper video/audio Tx & Rx need to have video and audio supplied from say a video recorder (working as a receiver for example), maybe there is one for the VHF/UHF signal, and I just do not know about it!! or should ask in your local shops....or checkout ebay...

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#21
In reply to #20

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/07/2007 2:10 PM

Thanks Andy

That was my gut feel but I thought I would post it anyway.

I am intrigued by the antennas I saw in Sweden (as per the the pic posted by PW Slack above) and am wondering if the North American signal is the same as the European one and as such, that type of antenna would work here. Does anyone know?

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#22
In reply to #19

Re: How to improve my TV reception

06/07/2007 2:17 PM

Check your owners manual. You may be capable of receiving digital DTV or HDTV signals with that new LCD TV. In that case you would need to choose the digital tuner (ATSC) on your menu, not the NTSC (analog) tuner. Also, at this time stations broadcasting in both analog and digital usually have their digital signals on UHF channels numbered above 100 (so as to avoid confusion with analog UHF stations). The FCC has said that when the time limit expires in a couple years for allowing analog signals, broadcasters may choose to switch their digital broadcast to their old analog frequency (channel) or leave it where it is now. My guess is that Canadian broadcasters will follow suit, but you should check on that.

Yes, if you have your TV on the lower level and the ceiling is reinforced concrete (using steel rebar or mesh) this could significantly impact your signal. The metal acts as a shield. VHF signals have a wavelength of around 6 to 2 meters or a little shorter. Metal bars spaced closer than that will block the signal. UHF might get through some rebar, but mesh reinforcement is sure to block it as well. You would not need to get your antenna outside to fix that, simply up onto the upper level, as high as possible. Yes, use a "booster" amplifier. If you have any significant length (more than a dozen or so feet) of cable you will have signal losses in the antenna cable. You have seen how the one built into your TV helps a little. The person who said you will also boost noise is partially correct. If you can place your antenna upstairs or outside and the noise is coming from inside your house, then boosting the TV signal should not amplify that noise. Also, if the TV signals are just weak and the noise is not coming from inside your house, then an amplifier can also help. Yes, noise will be amplified also, but your tuner should be able to do a better job of discriminating between noise and signal with an amplified input.

The so-called HDTV antennas being sold today are really just UHF-only antennas repackaged. A good VHF/UHF antenna should pull in the digital UHF (HDTV) signals just fine. Also, if you have a dipole or "rabbit ears" (two elements) it may not be entirely omnidirectional, i.e. you may get some gain by turning it around, but this will change direction depending on which station you are trying to pick up and its location.

Here is another thought. If you have an large flat metal structures outside in your yard or nearby (barn, utility shed, above ground storage tank, etc. you may receive better via the reflection than via the direct path, which may be blocked by something. Best to revolve your antenna all the way around and find the best signal.

You could also try putting your "rabbit ears" into an "L" configuration instead of a "V" or flat-top (if you have tried both already). This will convert it to something similar to a ground-plane vertical, but with some directionality. The flat-top dipole receives mostly horizontally polarized signals, the "L" mostly vertical, and the "V" gets a combination, i.e. 50/50 or 60/40 something like that. Try all three configurations and see which works best.

Just a few things to try. If you don't get significant improvement, and like someone else suggested, use a "known working" TV for comparison, since there could be something in the settings on your new TV which is preventing you from getting good broadcast signals.

If all else fails, and you have a place to put it, try purchasing Yagi antenna. A reputable dealer should take it back it it doesn't help your situation. Most of the newer designs need very little assembly. Usually the elements swivel and fold in so it will fit more easily into the box. If you balance it right, you could even hang it from a tree or a garage rafter (or set on top of the rafters). However, this requires turning for multiple stations in different directions and might be overkill.

Radioshack also sells a "Low-Profile Omnidirectional Amplified TV Antenna"
Model: 15-1634 for $79.99 (USD). While not as powerful as the Yagi, it just might work for you.

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#23

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/09/2007 1:39 AM

You have received a lot of advice about improving reception.

A lot of it is good antenna theory.

You do not need to design an antenna though; just buy one.

Go to a Radio Shack that still sells antennas and amplifiers.

Only a few stores still have broadcast devices; since, most of society is converting to cable or satellite dish.

Buy a combination antenna that has VHF, UHF, and FM. A lot of signal will be lost just traveling down the coax; giving you not great reception still unless you install a mast amplifier. The mast amplifier will install on the mast, right at the antenna and connect between the antenna and your tv.

The power supply for the amplifier is located in your home at the TV set and plugged in a wall receptacle. Dc voltage is fed up the coax to the amplifier and the amplified signal is fed down the coax to the tv set.

The antenna will cost about $100 US dollars and the amplifier will cost about $50 US.

Buy goog coax. If local station are received too strongly; you can install an adjustable signal attenuator between the TV and output jack of the power supply.

Remember:

1. Power supply plugs in at tv set

2. Coax connects fron antenna jack of power supply to "TV" connection on mast amplifier at antenna.

3. Antenna connects to "Signal In" jack on mast amplifier.

4. At the tv set a short coax is connected from the tv set to the "TV" jack on the power supply.

If the power supply is unplugged the antenna signal will go away.

Have someone who understands all I have just said to help you install this.

Please don't get near any power lines.

Ask me (eddie-nel) if you don't understand my reply. My answers will be practical installation info. without being any more technical than needed.

Good viewing.

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Participant

Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 1
#24
In reply to #23

Re: How to improve my tv reception

06/24/2007 9:54 PM

I live about 60 miles from the nearest tv station...I am receiving pretty good high def signals from a couple of stations. I am using the biggest antenna that Lowes sales with an amplifier down by the tv. I think that I could get many more stations with a little advice. My antenna is about twenty feet high surrounded by trees and some nearby hills.

From what I gather from reading the previous posts I might benefit from

1. more height

2. a mast amplifier

3. some way to turn the antenna ( another city the same distance)

4. a directional antenna

would someone please comment and maybe prioritize for me.

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Location: Saint Louis, Missouri USA
Posts: 1932
Good Answers: 9
#25
In reply to #24

Re: How to improve my TV reception

06/25/2007 10:59 AM

You may already have a directional antenna. Most home stores sell either Yagi-type or corner reflector type, or a combination of the two.

You can get more gain and directivity by stacking Yagis, but you would need some additional expertise as the distance between them becomes critical and some impedance matching may be required.

With a directional antenna, a rotator becomes more important than with a simple omni-directional antenna (horizontal dipole, "V", or vertical monopole), because you may actually decrease the signal from a station not in-line with the station you are pointing at. If this is the case, a rotor should be your highest priority.

If you are using an omnidirectional antenna, a mast amplifier may be your highest priority.

More height works equally well with either, and may be the lowest cost option, but may be easy or problematic, depending on your situation. A higher antenna may require you to extend or rewire your feed-line (cable). You may have antenna height restrictions where you live (better check with community authorities). No telling how significant the effect would be as compared to the other options, since there are too many unknown factors.

This would be just to hard to prioritize without all the facts and even some experimentation.

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Guru

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 553
#27

Re: How to improve my tv reception

11/17/2007 4:37 PM

Not long ago we used boosters for antena gain for better reception with setting in between medium to max , you don`t have option if signals die out before they reach you but move on to newer technologies

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Posts: 88
#30

Re: How to improve my tv reception

07/05/2008 7:43 AM

Question: How to improve my tv reception?

Answer : Cable.

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Anonymous Poster
#32

Re: How to improve my tv reception

04/24/2009 3:15 PM

I was getting good reception with a attic antennae with a small ampflier but since I purchased a new tv, the reception is poor. I was previously told that if I was getting good reception on a analog tv, I would get the same on the new Sony but that isn't happening.

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