Archive for the ‘Home Theater’ Category

HDTV Antenna

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

You can’t beat free. Well, unless you pay me for the privilege. And that’s what convinced me to try out ditching the cable TV in favor of an antenna. Over-the-air TV is so far removed from the old days of snowy pictures and adjusting the bunny ear antennas. With the digital transition a few years back, almost everyone is broadcasting in HD. As long as you are within range of a decent number of broadcast towers and don’t miss the cable-only shows, the transition is easy.

For the antenna build I selected these parts:

Now I could have gone so far as to mount it to the chimney on the roof, but I wasn’t looking forward to scaling that kind of grade and investing in a 15′ ladder to get up there in the first place. Plus I didn’t want to invoke the ire of the HOA. Yes, I know, it’s illegal for HOA’s to prevent me from having an antenna on the roof at all. But it is legal for them to have a say in where and how big it can be. Better not to rock the boat if I didn’t have to.

The side of the house was a second choice that quickly went out. I have very large eves which would prevent a mast from going above them. The attic was a consideration, but everything I read said that it is the absolute last resort. The materials on the roof tend to decrease what little signal you might get.

The best choice? The garage. I have an unusually tall garage ceiling at about 14′ tall. Plus one side wall faces nearly the exact direction of all TV towers in range, and the opposite wall has a large window.

The coax distribution box was 6′ underneath. Couldn’t of worked better if I planned it.

First the mount. It wasn’t really intended to go into dryall – the width didn’t match stud placement and anchors holding that much weight weren’t my first choice. I also needed a couple inches off the wall to have enough leeway for angling the antenna as needed. A set of 2×4 blocks accomplished both requirements.

 

Next was the pole. The mounts don’t do anything fancy. They’re just a set of formed metal with a U-bolt that clamps down on the circular mast. So I made the block spacing as large as possible, leaving a few inches on each end.


The antenna holds on to the pole with a bare U-bolt and in a similar fashion the friction and clamping force will keep it in place.

 

The coax cable screws right in and is affixed to the wall with standard wire clips.

Below is the distribution box for the cable TV service. All I had to do was unplug the cable coming in from the street and hook the antenna in as the new source. Presto: instant antenna service to the whole house. The distribution amplifier will overcoming the signal loss as it winds it’s way through the walls to the various TVs. A passive splitter would have decreased the signal substantially. I still get internet service from Comcast, so the cable goes directly into one of the runs in the basement to my wiring closet.

And there we go. All done.