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  TV Overview - Detailed Channel and Tower information

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It is difficult to say exactly how many TV stations you might receive at home using a TV antenna, without using the TV Tower Locator button below. Variables include:

  • Size of your TV antenna radials
  • Is the antenna using an amplifier?
  • Location of antenna. Whether antenna has a line of sight to tower, such as from a roof top, or inside an attic, or whether antenna inside the home next to a window
  • Terrain between your home and TV tower(s). Buildings, hills, and other obstacles harm the transmission range
  • Channel frequency the station broadcasts on
  • Height of TV station antenna tower
  • Power of TV station transmitter

Your first assignment is to find TV towers in your area, and what direction from your home are they located. TV Towers are seldom near their TV studios. The broadcast studios and offices are often located in the city while the tower is located outside the city, standing high and mighty in a grassy field. There could be a tower atop or next to the studio's building, but more likely it will have a microwave dish atop that transmits the studio signal to the actual transmission tower.

Below on this page I list three sites that will show you where TV towers are in your neighborhood. Two of these sites contain advertisements. You do not have to buy or pay anything to use these sites. The third site is a government site. Your taxes already paid for this site.

Your second assignment will be to walk around outside your home to see where an antenna may be placed that meets your neighborhood regulations and has a reasonably unobstructed view toward most of the TV towers you found in step one. The higher the antenna the better. Consider how the coax cable will get from your antenna to the TV set.

As you talk with retailers and others, you will hear many claims that their antennas will bring you TV from stations seventy-five miles away and further.

Rain and snowstorms can affect TV broadcast signals as well as our sun during sunrise/sunset. For this reason, I find that towers located further than forty miles from your TV set might experience additional screen dropout (pixilation) that would be uncomfortable to watch without a good antenna. If using an indoor TV antenna, the acceptable TV viewing range would likely be cut to a twenty-mile tower range.

TV antennas do not like to be indoors. The UHF frequencies TV signals travel on do not easily penetrate metal, wood, or other dense objects. In attics, try and keep the front of your antenna as far away from struts and rafters as you can. On the ground, the antenna will work best when placed on a pole where the bottom of the antenna is at least three feet from the ground, and the pole is mounted in an open area away from bushes and trees. And if you just must be technical about this, all antennas should be aimed upwards at a forty-five-degree angle.

Sometimes a seemingly perfect antenna location is far away from the TV set(s). The best location is on top the home, or in a clear area on the same side of the house as the TV set. The closer the outdoor antenna is to the TV the better. All coax cables produce some signal loss. The longer the cable run, the larger the TV signal loss. While we can compensate for long runs with a pre-amplifier on the antenna, it would be great if you do not have to add any components that may cause maintenance down the road.

 

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While using the below web links for TV tower locations, review the TV channel list to see if any stations in your area broadcast on a channel below 14. Any channel below 14 is considered VHF (Very High Frequency). VHF signals require an antenna designed to capture VHF TV signals. A UHF (Ultra High Frequency) antenna will not bring you VHF TV channels unless the tower is very close to your home. 

A VHF antenna has one or more straight radials at least a few feet long. VHF channel 11 antenna radial is around five feet long. The lower the true channel number, the longer the antenna radials need to be.

UHF antennas use radials usually less than one foot in length. True UHF channels antenna radial length is as short as five inches.

If you have a VHF channel in your area, do not purchase any antenna unless the box specifies that it is designed to capture both VHF and UHF bands. The old triangle shaped TV antenna shown below still works for digital TV today.

UHF channels 14 - 51

VHF High channels 8 - 13

VHF Low channels 2 - 7

Not many, but a few TV stations have not moved to the UHF band (channels 14-51). A few stations are still in the HIGH VHF TV broadcast band (channels 8 through 13).

To reduce confusion with TV viewers, digital TV broadcast specifications have code that tells the TV set to display the original old analog channel number of, say, channel 6 on the TV set, as this was the stations original channel number, even though the TV station may now be broadcasting on channel 26.1.

As added fun, analog could only have one station per channel number. Our rascally digital specifications allow for each channel number to have multiple TV stations.

When using your TV remote control to manually access these RF channels with a 1 through 12 after the main number, press the dot or dash button before the final number. For instance, press 26 dot 1. If your TV remote control has no dot by the numbers, use the dash - button. 26 dash 1.

   

Below are links to respected web sites that will show you the TV stations that may be available to view on TV sets at your address. Each site will ask for your zip code. However, you should include the street address of your TV in order to give you the most accurate response. You can use just your zip code, but zip codes often refer to a large area, so it may not give an accurate view of available stations at your address. There will be a map and more but pay attention to the list of stations and the distance their towers are from your address.

Home Address Example: 100 Possum Gut Road, Snakenavel, AL, 12345

Carefully note on the website to see if the TV towers are from various directions from your home.  Depending upon the distance from your home if the TV towers for stations you are likely to watch are over one hundred-degrees apart on the compass you may need a second antenna.

I believe it better to combine two antennas than use a rotator, especially if you are going to use a DVR to record shows. You might accidently leave the antenna pointed in the wrong direction when the DVR starts recording. Or you wish to watch a station south of your homestead while recording a program on a station north of your home. Maybe one person wants to watch the south station on one TV while you watch a program on the north station on a second TV.

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LINKS TO SEE YOUR AVAILABLE TV STATIONS.

Here are three sites that will show you where TV towers are in your neighborhood. Two of these sites will try and sell you something. You do not have to buy or pay anything to use these sites. The third site is a government site. Your taxes already paid for this site.

The easiest site is the Antennas Direct site. I like this site because the list of stations has a simple design with the station name, channel, and distance between the address you entered and each TV tower. This site is a retail company that sells antennas. You do not have to purchase anything on this site to use the tower locater function. Cancel out any pop-up advertisements. However, I have bought antennas from this company and I do like their products.

Remember, instead of inserting just your zip code, enter your entire street address with city, state and zip on their zip code line for a more accurate reading. No apartment number needed. Place a comma between each data item. 

   

Antennas Direct is the first of our three choices for locating towers and channels in your area.

Our button below should send you directly to the Transmitter Locator page. To visit the page manually, send your web browser to www.antennasdirect.com.

On the Antennas Direct website, click on Learning Center, then select Transmitter Locator.

https://www.antennasdirect.com/transmitter-locator.html

  

 

Rabbit Ears  ( www.rabbitears.info )  is a free site where a group of engineers provide technical information on various topics including digital television broadcasting.  The information on this site is excellent but a little technical for some and divided up on various pages.

DIRECTIONS: After Clicking the Rabbit Ears Info button above,

1. Click on Search Map. In the bottom left of map enter your information.

2. Location: your street, your town, your state, your zip code

3. Then click Search next to entry

4. Map will change to highlight your location

5. Now click on "Move Pushpin to center map view

6. The latitude and longitude boxes will auto fill.

7. Now click the GO button

A list of Television Broadcast stations for your area should appear. At the top of the list is a round map showing TV station locations and where they are in relationship to your address.

This list will show you how far the tower is from your address, in which direction and the signal strength. Some towers that are closer to you might have a weaker signal than other towers further away, because the nearby tower may be a low-power transmitter.

Looking at the Signal Strength column: Once the signal strength falls into and below the 35, your TV reception could waver, depending upon your TV antenna strength and location, along with the quality of the television tuner. Better TV sets often have better tuners. Tuners are not important when connected to cable and satellite systems, but you do want a good tuner in your TV (or DVR) if you are watching and recording Over-The-Air television.

The Rabbit Ears Tower Search program automatically assumes you are using a roof top antenna thirty feet high, and the program looks out sixty miles for broadcast towers. This means that some of the stations listed toward the bottom part of the list will possibly not be available for you to view on your home TV.

After reviewing the Tower List, you can click the Expand link under the round tower locator display above the Tower List to enlarge the diagram if you wish. This opens a new page. Close this new page to return to the Tower List. Your address is the center of the circle, and the TV towers with each transmit channel number will be shown within the circle depending upon the towers address. The Channel Number is the true channel frequency, not the display number you see on your TV. The Tower List will show you both the display and transmit (real) channel number in the first column in the list.

Or click here to go straight to Rabbit Ears map to search for stations in your neighborhood. Follow instructions above.

 

For those that do not trust retail sites because of security reasons and cookie tracking advertisements, here is the USA government site.

https://www.fcc.gov/media/engineering/dtvmaps

There are many other sites on the internet that offer various degrees of broadcast station information.

  

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