OTA HDTV - station list/directory & antennas

tanstaaf1

Member
In the past I've tried direcTV and various cable subscriptions and regard them as a waste of money & time. I'd be most happy with my NetFlix + local programming + music (lots of music; I do have yahoo music service and I'm considering that pandora service).

With that in mind, I'm thinking that getting an MCE computer with an "over the air" (OTA) HDTV tuner would make me happy IF I could actually receive any High Def stations. So, my questions are:

(1) Anyone know of a directory of HD broadcasters I could search by zip or something?

(2) Can you recommend a great antenna? As long as I'm buying an antenna, I ought to look at FM reception as well I suppose. Obviously the worth of #2 is contingent on the availability of #1.
 

Steve

Senior Member
Antenna Web will show you all your local stations and recommend an antenna. The antenna really depends on how far and what direction the channels you want are. Usually a good unidirectional works best.

If you can share the channel info (distance and direction) we can maybe help recommend the right antenna. Also depends if you want to attic mount, roof mount, etc. Solid Signal has a lot of info on antennas.
 

tanstaaf1

Member
Steve said:
Antenna Web will show you all your local stations and recommend an antenna. The antenna really depends on how far and what direction the channels you want are. Usually a good unidirectional works best.

If you can share the channel info (distance and direction) we can maybe help recommend the right antenna. Also depends if you want to attic mount, roof mount, etc. Solid Signal has a lot of info on antennas.
Thanks so much! That "AntennaWeb" is worth the price of admission to CocoonTech all by itself!! :lol: Most of the stations are aggregated pretty tightly to my S.W. around 30 miles distance. There are some other digitals to the West around 60 miles. I *thought* that my hill location was going to help tremendously with reception but antennaweb makes it pretty clear I'm mistaken - "down hill" is to the E & N.E. so the best I can say is I am probably "flat" wit the signal (at least I'm not down hill, I don't think). I do have many trees to my S.W., unfortunately, but my house has a 3 story tower which will get me above most of it if I mount there (not where I would have planned on mounting, w/out guidance of antennaweb, as it will compete with the weathervane). Maybe I can put it atop the weathervane and change stations as the wind blows!

I thought I might have a handful of stations I could pick up well, but it looks like I'd have almost as many stations as basic cable with the right antenna!!

Does what I've said help you suggest any particular antennas? With an OTA HD tuner built in to the computer I would only need a "HDTV *ready*" television, right?
 

Steve

Senior Member
What color does it recommend for your stations? The good thing about digital broadcasts is the station will either work or it won't. On low signal it will pixelate and then just go out, unlike the older analog which would get fuzzy, ghosty, etc. So, a stronger signal won't help the picture, it will just insure that it stays up. I am also around 30 miles from most stations and really wanted to get something up for my Superbowl party. I wound up trying this antenna mainly because it was locally available. I only have it around 15 feet up (doesn't even clear roof and on side of roof away from stations) but it works ok for most major stations (signal of around 50 to 80 depending on station). This was a 'green' antenna in a 'red' zone but it still worked ok. For a permanent solution I would want something better as I do get some pixelation. The old type antennas like these I understand work well. Also, are all of your stations all on 1 band like UHF? If so, a UHF only antenna like this may be best. There are lot of factors. You may want to start simple and see what happens - I just took the antenna above and put it on a table on the patio just to get an idea before I mounted it.

Yes, you just need the HD tuner somewhere, whether its in a separate box or the TV but if I was buying a TV now I would try to get a built in tuner. What if your MCE box bites the dust? Would be nice to still be able to watch HD TV. Just a thought.
 

tanstaaf1

Member
Yellow/dark Green-uhf would get me 12 local stations - 8 of them digital. Most of the digitals are sisters of non-digitals I am familiar with; presumably they have the same broadcast? This would make me happy if I could get all this.

Beyond this there are a lot of stations I'm not familiar with, so it is hard to know if they are worth the effort; only few of them are digital. On the other hand, if I could go all the way to "violet" I would be able to pick of stations from San Franciso and other, more cosmopolitan cities and that might provide a lot more interesting viewing.


Hmmm. Networks I'd be missing in violet are SAH (shop at home - no thanks), AZA (spanish - which I want to learn but I dunno if this is the way to do it). Then TEL, TFA, UNI (I am not sure what those are), and a couple "IND" (presumably independent, which might be great ...or not). Major network stations are pretty much the same except for news and timing, wouldn't you think?

I'll probably stick with door #1.
 

Steve

Senior Member
As long as all the stations you want are UHF I would probably recommend a dedicated UHF antenna like linked above. There are several variants that will probably all work. If you get one with with high gain you may even be able to use it in the attic and not have to put it all the way up on that tower. Just get one and try it in different spots before getting mounting materials, etc.
 

tanstaaf1

Member
Steve,

I looked more closely at the map provided by AntennaWeb and it is REALLY screwed up, showing some of the major roads I was trying to orient against going in directions and taking bends they simply don't take. This mismatch was borne out by a comparison with Google map. I sent an email to the antennaweb folks.

Anyway, as a result I am not sure where my house should be placed on the map and when I tried what I thought was a better guess I end up with a totally different result than yesterday!

Now I think I need dark red (medium directional) or dark blue (medium directional with preamp) to get my local stations. Where can I find a more complete explanation of the meaning of the color coding? AntennaWeb doesn't really explain very much about antenna tradeoffs. The other site doesn't consistently use the color coding system. Do I just pick one of the "mid direct" antennas? If I want to be able to see VHF, also, do I need a special antenna? How about to get better FM radio reception?
 

Steve

Senior Member
I wouldn't stress over the colors or maps, its just a guideline. More important is where the stations are, distance and whether they are VHF or UHF. Usually a UHF only antenna is best but you can certainly use a combo antenna like the Radio Shack one. At 30 or so miles and 3 stories you should be fine.
 
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