How to Install an Aerial Digital TV

Written by frank gates
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How to Install an Aerial Digital TV
Antennas come in all shapes and sizes. (antenna 2 image by Madrider from Fotolia.com)

There are two different types of HDTV antennas available, indoor and outdoor. The type of antenna you need depends upon the quality of the reception available, not just in your neighbourhood, but specifically at your house. If you are in an excellent reception area, a simple set-up antenna may suffice. If you are in a poor reception area, you will probably need an outdoor, rooftop antenna. If you are in a no reception area, you are just out of luck. Installation techniques vary depending upon the style of antenna you are installing.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • HTDV antenna and mounting hardware
  • RG6 coaxial cable and connectors
  • Ground rod & No. 8 or No. 10 copper or aluminium ground wire for outdoor mast

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Perform a simple reception survey for the geographic location where your television is located, such as your house. Broadcast television is essentially "line of sight" which means that obstacles, such as tall buildings and mountains which are between your house and the broadcast transmitter site, will knock down the signal strength. With digital signals you will not get fuzzy pictures, you will get no picture.

  2. 2

    Go to your local electronics store and take a look at the available HDTV antennas. Familiarise yourself with the indoor and outdoor variety so you can identify this type of antenna later. Talk to the store's salespeople and find out if they have local knowledge on what kind of antennas are popular in your neighbourhood.

  3. 3

    Walk around your neighbourhood and take a look at the rooftop antennas. Now that you can identify an HDTV outdoor antenna you can see what all of your neighbours are using. Make sure to notice how high the HDTV antenna is above the rooftop. Lower elevation antennas are on a self supported mast (pipe) less than 10 feet tall. This means you live in a fairly good reception area. Higher elevation antennas are 10 feet above the roof on a mast that has guy wires for stability. This means you live in a poor reception area. It also means you may consider hiring an antenna professional to install your rooftop antenna.

  4. 4

    Talk to your neighbours and ask them about their HDTV antenna solution. What kind of antenna are they using and how many channels are the receiving? They have already gone through the same process that you are preparing to go through; you can benefit from their experience.

  5. 5

    Go online and check the "AntennaWeb" website. The site offers a national database of broadcast locations and can give you exact data on expected signal availability and compass directions toward broadcasters from your house.

  6. 6

    If you are really unsure as to what type of antenna you need, hire an antenna specialist to perform a site survey. This technician will be equipped with survey antennas and signal strength meters and will be able to tell you exactly what you need in terms of antenna and what reception you will receive, generally, in terms of HDTV channels. This service is not free.

  7. 7

    Choose an outdoor antenna that comes with a signal amplifier. This amplifier is placed in the coaxial antenna feed and will amplify signals to improve the signal strength provided to your television receiver. If the reception is very poor, an amplifier will not improve this poor signal, it will only amplify it. The signal amplifier is a good choice if your neighbourhood survey reveals that your neighbour's antennas are low medium and high elevation above the rooftop. A signal amplifier may allow you to perform a low elevation installation and still have good results.

  1. 1

    Choose an indoor, set top, HDTV amplifier that is aesthetically acceptable as you will be looking at it every day. Check out these antennas at your local electronics store.

  2. 2

    Choose an indoor antenna that comes with a built-in amplifier. These antennas are more expensive, however they are most likely to give you the best results.

  3. 3

    Move the indoor antenna around when you are switching channels if you are in a questionable reception area. In some towns there is one main broadcast site in the area so you do not need to move your antenna around. In other towns there may be two or three broadcast sites located in different directions. Moving your indoor set top antenna around enables you to see all of these signals.

  4. 4

    Install your new indoor HDTV antenna by connecting the coaxial cable from the antenna to the TV input. You may have choices of cables depending upon the quality of the antenna you select. Your television may only have a VHF 75 ohm coaxial connector plus a 300 ohm flat wire connector. Make sure that your new indoor HDTV antenna has the cables with the connectors that match your television. You can buy adaptors if necessary.

  1. 1

    Install your outdoor HDTV antenna in your attic or on your roof. If you live in an apartment or condominium complex, check with your landlord or your Homeowners Association for any antenna restrictions before you buy the antenna.

  2. 2

    Choose an attic location for the antenna that is clear of the attic access entry so you can easily get in and out of your attic after the antenna is installed.

  3. 3

    Choose an attic location that allows the antenna to be moved around horizontally so you can "peak" up the signal strength after the antenna is in place.

  4. 4

    Avoid locations that force the antenna to "look" into a metal fireplace or other metal object.

  5. 5

    Install a "mini" mast in the attic. This can be an 18-inch length of galvanised steel pipe or PVC attached vertically from the underside of the roof or to the ceiling rafters. The antenna comes with mast mounts for 1.25 inch diameter masts.

  6. 6

    Run RG-6 coaxial cable from the antenna to the TV. Keep the cable length as short as comfortably possible. The signal loses strength as it travels through the coaxial cable.

  7. 7

    Route the coaxial cable from the attic into the TV room by choosing a closet closest to the TV and drilling a hole through the closet ceiling into the attic. Avoid drilling into rafters, pipes or existing electrical conduits. Seal the hole with silicon after the entire installation is complete and everything is working. Drill a second hole to bring the cable out of the closet and into the room. This hole should come out through the closet/TV room wall at the same height on the wall as the existing 110 VAC power outlets. Use a TV wall plate and don't forget to place the wall plate on the cable before you place a connector on the cable.

  1. 1

    Decide which way you must point your antenna before you do anything else. Use the data you obtained from AntennaWeb to give you a general idea.

  2. 2

    Connect a length of coaxial cable from the antenna to your TV, temporarily, and move the antenna around your roof while a friend watches the TV and tells you what the reception is like. This way you can identify the direction. If you have choices you can choose the best place to install the mast.

  3. 3

    Mount your antenna mast to the chimney if the chimney is in good condition and vertical. Ideally, the antenna mast will not exceed 10 feet. Place the top chimney mounting strap as high up on the chimney as possible and the second mounting strap 4 feet below the top mounting strap. This uses up 5 feet of the 10 foot mast leaving 5 feet above the top of the chimney. Be aware that there is a downside to chimney mounting; smoke and gas damage to the antenna. Place the straps across the centre of the bricks, not the joints between the bricks. Tighten each strap to keep it in place and then attach the mast to the mounting bracket and finish tightening the straps. Don't forget to place the antenna on the mast before attaching it to the chimney. Once everything is together, orient the antenna in the best direction for signal strength and when done, tighten everything.

  4. 4

    Mount your antenna to an outside wall of your house. Unless you have an outside wall with no roof overhang, you must mount the mast far enough away from the wall to clear the roof overhang. This type of mast placement is best with the mast extending all the way down to the ground and be secured to something solid like a patio or deck. Use wall brackets that are at least 5 foot apart for stability. The mast should not extend more than 10 foot above the top wall bracket to avoid using down guys. There is a lot of wind loading on any antenna so make sure that everything is very secure, no wall anchors.

  5. 5

    Avoid mounting your mast and antenna with any hardware that requires penetrating the roof. The risk of roof damage is high and it pays in the long run to have an experienced antenna technician do any roof installations. If there is any future problem, you have recourse to fix it through the antenna technician's insurance (make sure of this first). If you cause your own roof leak, you can easily end up with damage repair costs.

  6. 6

    Run RG-6 coaxial cable from the antenna to the TV. Keep the cable length as short as comfortably possible. The signal loses strength as it travels through the coaxial cable.

  7. 7

    Route the coaxial cable from antenna, down the mast, under the eaves and through an attic breather hole or through the attic outside wall. Continue routing the cable to the TV just as you did in the attic antenna instructions.

  8. 8

    Use a six inch "Drip Loop" whenever you run the coax cable through and outside wall and into the house. A "Drip Loop" is an added bend to the coax cable that allows rain to travel down the outside cable attached to the wall and then drip away without going into the house. Make a drip loop by running the cable vertically down an outside wall and instead of going directly into the hole leading into the house, the cable continues downward six inches past the hole and the makes a "U" turn back up and into the hole. This means that the cable must be four inches off to one side of the hole on the long vertical run to allow a clean bend or "Drip Loop" to be formed below the hole.

  9. 9

    Ground the mast using No. 8 or No. 10 copper or aluminium ground wire from the mast to copper coated steel ground rod driven down three feet into the ground.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not work on the antenna during wet, slippery or thunderstorm weather.

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