Better TV antenna reception?
October 3, 2006 7:52 AM   Subscribe

What is the easiest, cheapest way for me to boost my TV antenna signal?

The TV is in the basement. We get zero channels. There is a coax cable traveling to the old cable box outside that I was thinking I could tack a pair of rabbit ears to. Or would I be better off with a more robust TV antenna sitting on top of the TV itself?

Or better yet, is there something I could make out of an old coat hanger? TV just isn't important enough to us to waste too much good money on.
posted by Hanover Phist to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Your basement will block signals because its underground, surrounded by reinforcing steel, etc. I'd got the coax route with a pair of el cheapo rabbit ears.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:10 AM on October 3, 2006

You aren't going to get good reception in the basement, even with signal boosters... placement is everything. I'd start doing something with that old cable run.

Here's what I'd do... take this indoor antenna and nail it up on the roof somewhere, or anywhere high and solid. Measure the run to the old cable box and buy the cheapest coax cable you can find, or if you want to go ultra-cheap, use antenna wire (in that case you may have to get a $3 adapter to convert from regular wire to coax. Meet that at the old cable box to join with the wire running inside. Then plug your TV up to the cable outlet box. I'd recommend sealing exposed wiring with rubber sealant or marine grease as otherwise the parts willl rapidly corrode and become unreliable.
posted by hodyoaten at 8:13 AM on October 3, 2006

I sort of went nuts on the antenna question in an earlier askMe post. Since you're looking for cheap and easy though, I'd try the rabbit ears outside connected to the coax cable. Remember that UHF (channels above 13) don't improve with simple rabbit ears, there needs to be a loop, or sometimes a loop enclosed in a rectangular plastic box, that sits between the rabbit ears to act as a UHF antenna.

You'll have more success putting the antenna outside & higher than you would buying a better one for on top of the TV. Although there is a UHF antenna that looks like a bakers rack @ that is supposed to be an excellent value.
posted by putzface_dickman at 8:27 AM on October 3, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I suspected the coax to rabbit ears (or UHF antenna) solution would be the best, but it's good to have my suspicions confirmed before going ahead with the labour. Much appreciated!
posted by Hanover Phist at 9:40 AM on October 3, 2006

Rabbit ears are not omnidirectional. if you are in a signal rich environment, you'll get ghosting, miss some channels altogether.

If cheap = $10, I agree, that's the best you can do. You'll have to adjust them for optimum reception on whatever channel you want to watch. You can find them at junk stores for REALLY cheap.

If cheap = $150, there is a nice little inside/outside antenna with a rotator that can go in an attic or on a pole outside. It has an amplifier for TV signals and a trap for FM signals. It's fairly small, too. And when you leave, it can leave with you.

It's available elsewhere at slightly lower cost.

Good luck!
posted by FauxScot at 12:07 PM on October 3, 2006

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