Antenna and Reception Information
What do I do about Reception problems?
The FCC has a Digital Reception Map that will give you a good idea of what your reception should be if you provide your zipcode.
If you use rabbit-ears or an outside antenna, you will need to make adjustments to that antenna. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Try connecting your antenna cable directly to your converter box if you are using a splitter or looping through a VCR or DVD. That configuration will cut down the strength of the signal reaching your converter box.
- Your DTV reception can be affected by nearby moving vehicles, such as cars, trucks, trains and airplanes. In some instances, shadowing or reflections from these vehicles may cause your digital picture to temporarily break-up or even disappear completely. If this occurs, you should try moving or reorienting your antenna to find a position that provides the most reliable reception. If you are using an indoor antenna, switching to an outdoor antenna system which may include a directional antenna or rotor could improve reception. In severe cases it may not be possible to completely eliminate the effect of nearby traffic.
- Your DTV reception can also be affected by severe weather conditions such as storms and high winds. These reception issues can result from fluctuations in the broadcast signal that can be caused, for example, by moving leaves and branches on trees. You can minimize the effects of high winds or storms by re-orienting your antenna to obtain the strongest available signal. If this does not work, a better indoor antenna or an outdoor antenna may help. In addition, make sure that outdoor antenna mounts are secure to minimize any movement caused by the wind.
Are there any things to remember about Antennas?
There is no such thing as a digital antenna. Any quality indoor or outdoor antenna will work for digital television sets or converter boxes. But be advised to following these six suggestions:
- Safety is first. Always be sure to carefully and completely follow the manufacturer’s antenna installation instructions that came with your antenna, especially pertaining to installation around power lines, working on ladders, lightning protection, grounding, etc.
- Outdoor is generally better. Outdoor antennas have a better view of the transmitting station, with no building-induced signal loss. They receive less interference from other household electronic/electrical appliances.
- Higher is better. The higher an antenna is, the more direct signal it can receive from the TV transmitter, while at the same time reducing the reception of interfering signals from other household electronic/electrical appliances. The higher the better, but any antenna should be at least four feet above the structure to which it is mounted, and ideally above the roofline.
- Direct is better. If a position above the roofline is not possible, the antenna should at least be on the side of your building facing the TV signal broadcast tower. In many cases, you may need a rotor connected to your antenna so that you can rotate the direction of your antenna to be sure that you are pointed in the correct direction as not all broadcasters are located at the same site. Some may be in opposite directions.
- Bigger is better. The larger an antenna, the more signal it receives. This is especially important on channels 2-6, where the longer wavelength requires a larger antenna in order to be efficiently received. Larger antennas also become directional which reduces ghosting caused by reflected signals coming from the side and the rear of the receiving antenna.
- Combo is a must. You must have a combination VHF/UHF antenna to receive all broadcast stations in Arkansas as there are stations broadcasting on both VHF and UHF. All digital television sets and converter boxes have round screw on type antenna inputs that only accept coaxial lead in wire. Some antennas have terminals or output wires that will require the use of a matching transformer or "balun". This is true of older indoor antennas with flat wire, about a half inch wide, with two fork type connectors. Outdoor antennas with terminals that look like two bolts with wing nuts will also need a balun.
What additional things might be helpful to know?
- Some antennas are VHF or UHF only and will receive only stations 2-13 or 14-51, but not both. ALL television markets in Arkansas will require dual band VHF-UHF antennas in order to receive all possible AETN and commercial stations. Be sure your antenna is a combination VHF-UHF type.
- Indoor antennas can come in various styles. Combination VHF-UHF antennas will have both a loop of wire or a piece of sheet metal in the shape of a halo or bow-tie, and two telescoping rods that can be extended to approximately 4 feet in opposite directions.
- Most outdoor antennas will consist of a horizontal boom with cross members of varying lengths extending through it along its length. At one end of the horizontal boom there will be a "V" shaped section consisting of two shorter booms also with cross members of the same length extending through them. If your antenna does not have BOTH of these features, it is not a dual band VHF-UHF antenna. Check the specifications on the package to be sure.
- Once the type of antenna you need is selected using this information, careful attention must be paid to its installation. While not difficult to install, antennas are sensitive to installation details. For wood-frame buildings where the antenna will be situated on the roof's peak, the antenna should be at least four feet above the peak. When installed above a flat metal roof, the antenna should be at least ten feet above the roof. For multidirectional antennas, allow for some mounting flexibility so that the antenna can be moved a few feet in each direction in order to obtain the best picture on all channels before a permanent mounting position is selected.
- Outdoor antennas should have high quality coaxial wire connected between it and the television set or converter box. Any wire older than 10 years should be replaced. Depending on the market area, a power rotor should be installed on an outdoor antenna. Most Arkansas television markets have transmitters in various locations requiring antenna re-pointing to maximize signals from different stations.
- All outside antenna installations MUST be grounded properly according to the manufacturer's instructions to prevent injury or fire caused by lightening. All outdoor antenna installations MUST be in areas safely away from power lines entering the home.
- Antennas should be connected directly to the digital input of the converter box or digital TV set. Do not install splitters or connect multiple TV sets or converter boxes to a single antenna. Once a reliable signal is received, experimentation with signal splitters and other devices on a single antenna can be undertaken. If the signal strength falls below the minimum necessary to receive a broadcast station, the picture will disappear and the antenna may have to be connected directly to a single TV set or converter box to once again receive a signal.
- Indoor antennas in rooms such as kitchens, or bedrooms with large mirrors may not receive a good digital signal. Large metal objects such as major appliances and copper backed glass mirrors can block or reflect signals.
- Indoor antennas may need to be moved, rotated, raised or lowered around the room to receive a digital signal. Telescoping rods may have to be lengthened or shortened to receive different VHF channels. Loops or bow ties may have to be rotated to receive different UHF channels. Experimentation is the only way to find a good strong signal with an indoor antenna.
Can I put an antenna in my attic?
Generally, antennas do not perform optimally in an attic. Even when an antenna will perform well outdoors, reception of TV signals in an attic can be made very difficult by interference from other electrical devices. The building's construction can also hinder the entrance of the TV signal or cause reflection of the signal, which leads to ghosting. Depending on building construction, you can expect to lose at least 30% of the signal. In a house with aluminum siding, signal loss could be up to 100%. Outdoor installation is always best.