Tell me about your digital TV antenna setup that works well.
December 5, 2020 7:25 AM   Subscribe

We ditched cable and bought a digital TV antenna. Yay! But the reception is intermittently terrible. Boo! If you have a good setup that would work with our circumstances, I'd love to hear about it.

Those circumstances: our TV is nowhere near a window, without any easy way to run a wire from a window-mounted antenna to the TV. The layout of the house is such that the antenna pretty much has to be in the house next to the TV. It's an older house, too, with solid lathe-and-plaster walls. And we're in south Minneapolis; not sure if urban vs suburban vs rural matters for signal strengths.

If you know of a specific antenna model that works for you in similar circumstances, or any other things we could be doing to get better signal, please spill.
posted by COBRA! to Technology (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I live 10 miles from the TV broadcast antennas and I couldn't get a consistent signal until I bought a 25-foot coax cable and put the antenna against a window. I think you'll have to get that antenna to the edge of your house, probably facing north assuming the broadcast towers are north of you. I've got this.
posted by COD at 7:37 AM on December 5, 2020

Have you used AntennaWeb?

In our case we had to run coax up to the attic and point in a specific direction.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:58 AM on December 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

One of the easiest things you can try: Depending on your antenna (it may help to know the model you have) it may or may not be direction sensitive. Where you are it shouldn't make too much of a difference, however make sure your antenna is positioned to 'point' to Shoreview, where most of the transmitters are, and not downtown (where a lot of people think they are). Again, not likely to be a major issue given your proximity, but you never know. There's a lot of trees and other houses in SoMi and UHF is line-of-sight, so elevating it also might help.

Is your antenna amplified? Pick one that is. This site sill show you where the transmitters are, their range, and recommend antennas to you based on your location.
posted by SquidLips at 8:04 AM on December 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Just noticed that you mentioned you ditched cable. That would mean there's a coax cable coming into your house from outside somewhere with an outlet near your TV. Could you get a roof-mounted antenna and patch that into the existing cable where it enters your house? This is assuming your TV is in close proximity to the existing Coax output in your home. Same outlet but now you're using your own antenna as the source.
posted by SquidLips at 8:10 AM on December 5, 2020 [5 favorites]

Yeah, if your older house is like mine there's probably 2 miles of various iterations of coax cable running around. You could install an antenna in the attic* and hook it up to some/all of the coax lines, and theoretically all/some of the jacks would have a signal then.

*If all your connections are in the basement, this might get trickier, but maybe there's a window you could still point to, or you could run to something outside, or connect to something upstairs?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:57 AM on December 5, 2020

There are devices which you can put on your home network, near the antenna, and then stream the TV shows back to you actual television set. (They are a TV tuner and a network card in a box, basically.)

HDHomeRun is one of these, I think; nerds can build one with the unfriendly tvheadend software and a Raspberry Pi.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:19 AM on December 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

In Minneapolis, When I ditched my cable, I have used this for a few years. I pay the $5/month anti nag fee. I get EVERY local TV station I would get with an antenna and probably a few more. Because I use it on my phone and cast, I can actually spoof my gps and watch local TV in more than 2 dozen cities.

It is not a solution for your antenna, but it is a great solution for your problem which as I see it is reception. Try it. Can always cancel it.
posted by AugustWest at 9:28 AM on December 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

Ooooh, Locast seems like the winner. Thanks!
posted by COBRA! at 11:07 AM on December 5, 2020

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