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Indoor TV Antennas

Hans-Georg Michna

Trying to set up an indoor TV antenna and can't get good reception? Check these hints.

  1. The position of the antenna can make a very big difference. Moving the antenna to a different place in the room, ideally near a window and on electrically conducting underground, can make big difference. Depending on the frequencies, moving the antenna by just a few inches can make a decisive difference. Try to put the antenna on a sheet of metal or on a large metal cookie box, particularly a simple rod antenna. Unfortunately, in marginal conditions, you may have to move the antenna by a few inches as outside weather conditions and temperatures change, to maintain good reception. Under very marginal conditions you may have to move the antenna even when switching channels.
  2. Pre-amplifiers are overrated. If they amplify too much, they can make things worse (by creating distortions through something similar to overmodulation in the amplifier or in the receiver). Usually an indoor antenna connected directly to the receiver over a not too long cable doesn't need a pre-amplifier at all. If you have an adjustable pre-amp, try first to set it to a low amplification factor. Here more is usually not better.
  3. Signal strength indicators can be misleading, because the problem is often not a too weak signal, but a too low signal-to-noise ratio. You may simply have to look at the picture.
  4. Rain and fog or clear weather and sunshine can change the receiving conditions and can make a difference. So test in various weather conditions before you declare an installation perfect.

If all this does not yield good enough reception, your only way out is to move the antenna outdoors. The first step is to attach it to the wall outside the window. The second step is to put it on the roof. Note that there, too, you may have to move the antenna, sometimes just by a few inches, to achieve optimal reception. Check all channels, before you finally affix the antenna.

One final hint. The dealers may ask you whether you want to receive HDTV (High Definition TeleVision) now or soon. Some may then propose that, for the higher resolution and quality, of course you need a bigger or more refined, but ultimately more expensive antenna.

There is very little truth in this. Physically a HDTV transmission is not different from a non-HDTV transmission. The only tiny grain of truth in this may be that, if you can get higher picture quality, you may also want fewer distortions due to poor reception. This, of course, holds water only if your reception is marginal.

Back to the home page - Hans-Georg Michna


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