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FAQ Frequently Asked Questions about TV Antennas

Date:2018/12/27 15:42:16 Hits:

Q: What is OTA television and how does it work?
A: Over-the-air television is a term used to describe television signals that are broadcast by your local television broadcast towers (as opposed to a cable or satellite signal). Since 2007, these signals are broadcast using digital signals, as opposed to the analog signals, which were in use prior to 2009. There are currently 3 ways to pick up your local stations:

The first is an OTA digital receiver which will receive your local channels. These digital tuners with HD outputs can be purchased at any electronics chain for about $99-$199. They can be added to almost any television and there will be no monthly fees. 

The second is an HDTV with a built-in digital tuner. All TVs made after 2007 should have an ATSC (HDTV tuner) already built-in. (Note: If your TV says “HD ready” it does not have a digital tuner built in. "HD Ready" refers to any display that is capable of accepting and displaying a high-definition signal at either 720p, 1080i or 1080p using a component video or digital input, but does not have a built-in HD-capable tuner.)

The third is an HD satellite tuner. Both Dish Network and Direct TV offer HDTV satellite receivers with the over-the-air tuner built into the same unit. The advantage of using this method is that there is no need to utilize separate equipment to receive premium HD networks like HBO HD and ShowTime HD. Also, the local and satellite channels can both be integrated into the program guide, to make it seamless for the viewer when switching between local and satellite. 

Q: What is the difference between UHF and VHF antennas?

A: The most obvious difference between VHF and UHF antennas is the size. A half wave dipole for channel 2 will be 10 times longer than for channel 28. This means that a much more elaborate UHF antenna can be constructed without the antenna becoming physically unmanageable. With more elements added to the UHF antenna, higher gain and directivity can be obtained.

Q: Getting VHF stations is a problem for me. I get everything else fine.
A: Many stations that have reverted to VHF assignments have dramatically cut their transmitter power, in some cases by over 90%! Some stations mistakenly thought they could save money by cutting their power while reaching the same number of viewers. In other cases, the FCC imposed reduced power limits to stations that reverted to their old VHF assignments in order to prevent interference with adjacent markets. There has been a misperception among some station owners that while dramatically lowering DTV transmitter power, they could serve the same coverage area as analog, and this has turned out to be incorrect. Many stations who have reverted back to VHF are now finding themselves with significantly reduced coverage areas and fewer viewers after switching to VHF. 

One potential problem with re-using low VHF (2-6) and high VHF (7-13) TV channels for DTV is the possibility of interference from other signals during certain times of the year. "Skip" may bring in distant broadcasts on the same channel and create interference. Low VHF (2-6) digital broadcasts are particularly prone to interference and are often hard to receive reliably, regardless of what model of antenna is used. Note: The physical size of low VHF and high VHF antennas is much larger than that of a UHF antenna.

Q: How does the material of my home affect an antenna’s reception?
A: When using an indoor TV antenna, building materials such as brick, metal siding, radiant barrier, or stucco can greatly reduce the incoming signal. 

You may also need to elevate and/or move your antenna. Place your antenna as high up as possible, or near a window or wall facing the broadcast towers. If you have an attic antenna, try moving the antenna outdoors. If outdoors, make certain the antenna is not aimed at physical obstacles such as a roof, buildings, trees, or a hill.

Important: Remember to rescan for channels on your TV every time you move your antenna.

Q: What is a Yagi?
A: The Yagi antenna is credited to Hidetsugu Yagi (although not the original inventor), A Japanese physicist. The Yagi was designed to improve the gain of the antenna concentrated in one direction. The directivity is accomplished with added elements called directors and reflectors. The Yagi has high Gain, is very directional, and has a narrow bandwidth. In simple unidirectional antennas like the Yagi, frequency bandwidth is inversely proportional to antenna gain. One way to increase the frequency bandwidth of a simple antenna like a Yagi is to increase the diameter of the antenna conductors. The greater the conductor diameter, the wider the band with increased conductor diameter also has a second benefit, it increases the physical strength of the antennas.

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