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The signals on a TV antenna are quite variable and dynamic depending on how you place it, where it’s set and what’s around it. There are also a number of factors besides these that impact how good a result you will be getting on your OTA (over the air) coverage set up. Let’s look at some steps you could take to improve the results given by your outdoor antenna.
Starting with the most crucial factor. Where is your antenna placed? Is it on a balcony or a roof? Is it ‘outside’ at all? The ideal condition to place your antenna is on the end of the straight line joining the broadcasting tower and the antenna itself with no obstacles in between. But since that isn’t really necessary for good results neither is it an available option for most consumers, anything close to such a condition should provide quite satisfying results. Even though signals aren’t completely blocked by obstacles, they can get distorted or may adopt more than one paths due to them. The condition where a signal has to come in from multiple angles to the antenna is called multi-path. Generally speaking, your antenna should be separated from any directly hindering obstacles, like a washing machine or other bulky bodies. Even relatively lighter bodies can distort the signal to a disturbing extent where the picture either appears deformed or worse, does not appear at all.
Even having machines that may emit some sort of radiation or signals can mess up the reception quite a bit. Omni-directional tv antennas should especially be kept away from any such sources of radiation like radios to keep the incoming signal pure and un-interfered with to get closer to ideal results.
Height is one of the most important factors in deciding how good an OTA reception you will get. Outdoor antennas are generally placed on roofs to avoid impedance or problems in signal reception. However, If the roof that the antenna is placed on is too low relative to the surrounding environment, like in forests or suburbs that are close to taller buildings, the reception can be faulty. So to avoid any sort of distortion or impedance for your Tv signal, you should place it at a height that is clear of all obstacles. Generally, a height of at least 10 feet from ground level is preferred for antenna placement and a height of 30 feet should usually be more than adequate to achieve satisfying results. Anything above that might be too far up especially if attaining heights like that is problematic, as it may be for a lot of consumers. The main goal here is to get the antenna in a plane that is void of all hindering objects.
If you have an outdoor tv antenna that is uni-directional in its coverage, you may need to rotate it quite a bit before you hit the ‘sweet spot”. This is because some signals may not radiate in wavefront like sunlight but be more like laser beams. So to get the best reception, the path with the straightest line between the source and receiver is needed and it might take some ‘trial and error’ to find exactly where that sweet spot is. Something else to keep in mind about orienting your antenna is to keep it exactly level. An outdoor antenna that is even a little tilted might not get the best reception. You could use building tools to ensure perfect balance and symmetry of your antenna. There are websites to see exactly where your nearby transmitting towers are so you can orient your antenna towards the exact co-ordinates of the broadcasting tower by using the compass on your phone or a real compass. You can also use devices to rotate your antenna while you’re inside your room in order to get the best result quickly rather than having to go up to where the antenna is placed and doing it all yourself.
4) Clearing surroundings
Clearing away any big or small items from around the area where the antenna is placed can make a world of difference. Just like holding up a sheet of paper can cast a shadow behind it, making ‘blind spots’, small dense objects especially metallic ones can block incoming transmissions considerably. So removing any unnecessary objects may make up for the non-standard results that you may be getting. It should also be noted that grills and fine nets of metal-work don’t work the same way for signals as they do for air. Air can pass through but signals can get heavily distorted or absorbed along the way. So the signal should be provided a way without any nets or fine work in between the transmission center and the receiver antenna.
Another thing to keep in mind is that objects that emit electromagnetic radiation like radios or cell phones or high voltage motors can also end up messing with your reception quite a bit so placing the antenna in an area where there are no objects or machinery to mess with your TV’s coverage is worth paying attention to.
Keeping your antenna in a position where winds may not cause it to wobble or change its orientation is also a reason behind constantly varying reception quality. Although changes to the physical condition of your antenna may not be very dramatic but having it protected from weather effects is something that may go a long way in ensuring that you have good reception. Even the tiniest layer of rust on the outdoor tv antenna can cause signals to deflect and may result in poorer reception. Periodic cleaning of the receiver is a good idea to keep your receiver’s results as high as they should be.
6) Signal amplification
Antennas have two major set- up types they’re either amplified or non amplified. If you’re a consumer that lives within close range of a broadcasting tower, the difference between the results of an amplified and non amplified signal should not be too much. But as you get farther and farther from the broadcasting or transmitting source, the need for signal amplification increases. And at distances above 20 or 30 miles, the difference may become quite significant. So installing an amplifier between your antenna and the receiver box might do you a world of good. You can actually see the relative OTA signal strength for each of your channels in the ‘settings’ section on your TV. Seeing the difference between results of signal strength before and after the amplifier box installation can probably make it clear whether you need an amplifier or not. Websites are available to check where your nearest transmission towers are and exactly how far you are from them. If you live away from the transmission area by more than 10 miles, then looking into getting an amplifying device may pay off in better results on your TV screen.