Our family has never been much for watching TV – we’ve seemed to get by ok with watching movies on a laptop, and now that Netflix streams directly, well… But I am a fan of the NFL so it was time to get this TV thing figured out.
Note: This post definitely breaks the 300 word rule. Skip down to the TV Fool Goods for the meat of the matter: Where to mount an antenna and which way to point it.
8/20/2012 Update – It’s been nearly two years now since writing this and I recently got an email request asking what channels we get, and if they come in clear. Here’s a list of the channels, what I think they are, the definition, an clarity:
|4.2||MeTV (I think)||480i||Clear|
|5.2||KSL-LWN (Not sure what this is)||480i||Clear|
|7.3||KUED vMe (Espanol)||480i||Clear|
Cable or Satellite would have been the easy way to go, but we still don’t watch enough to warrant the monthly cost – so it was over the air broadcast for us. Luckily the nation went all digital last year so the picture quality and sound should be just as good as cable or satellite (or not, I really don’t know how they all compare – for my level of sophistication anything that isn’t coming in as half static will be acceptable).
Rabbit Ears and Tin Foil!
Ok so I know better than to think that a set of rabbit ears will get me anywhere these days, especially here in Park City. I assumed I’d be required to get an antenna that could pull a signal from Salt Lake, over the Wasatch range. Ha! Ha! Ha hahh aa hahahaha h ahaha! Yeah. Right. So I went and bought a digital antenna that had a range of 50 miles or so, just to cover my bases. Actually here’s the full rig I purchased:
The mounting pole figured to be a better option than just tossing it up onto the roof.
When everything arrived the air in the house buzzed with excitement. We were going to have TV! Weeks later, the equipment sat in their original boxes in the garage – I really had no idea how to set it all up. Where should the antenna go? On the roof? In the attic? Did I need to get an 80 ft mast installed? Where do I aim the dang thing?
There seemed to be such a lack of information – www.dtv.gov was of no real use – The FCC Map Page was of similar use. AntennaWeb came the closest to giving me the answer, but it only showed one station, and recommended getting a ‘directional’ antenna.
Finally I somehow came across tvfool.com – and the heavens opened and a bright light shown and there was much glorious singing.
The site itself isn’t much to look at, but with the information that’s available you won’t miss the polished edges. Just browse over to the TV Signal Locator page and you’ll have found your glory. The image above is a directional map of all the stations I can pick up from my location. The site will also give you a ton of information on each station – how far it is away, what direction, if the transmission tower is in Line of Sight or not – and a bunch of other signal items that I never quite figured out.
The biggest thing the site told me was that there’s a major broadcast station located on Quarry Mountain, that hill on the east side of Highway 224 between Kimball Jct and Park City proper. I’d always wondered what those towers were up there, and now I know. And now my antenna is pointed in that direction – 147 degrees from my location, exactly. It’s nice to have a compass on hand for such occasions.
The best bit of info TV Fool gave was the fact that I could mount the antenna in the attic! Glory be! The attic, where access to 120v power was already available. A coax cable could be run through pre-exisiting access to the basement. No hole would have to be drilled in the side of the house and I wouldn’t have to climb up on the roof. None of these things would have been a deal killer, but it’s nice when easier becomes sufficient.
If the antenna was mounted on the roof and had a clear path to the Quarry Mtn towers a preamp might not be necessary. Without it on we get crappy reception however, so it’s a good thing we have it. I keep it on a main floor switch so it isn’t using juice when we’re not watching.
Hope this helps someone. Good luck.