How To Improve Digital TV (DTV) Reception

Many of us are still using OTA (Over The Air) Digital TV to get our local channels in High Definition.  I use a $10 rabbit ear w/loop antenna that I bought from Radio Shack and for the most part it's able to pick up all of the broadcast stations.  I have been having problems with reception from time to time when people walk around in front of the TV.  I've already relocated the antenna away from other electronics up in the highest spot available, which helped but didn't make for a fully stable HD picture.  I was sure that the only way to fix it was to put an antenna up on the roof, until today.

While searching for something totally unrelated in one of our junk bins, I found a little TV amplifier.  I figured that I would give it a shot to see if it would stop all of the breaks in signal I had been getting on NBC.  After hooking it up, I was very happy to see that my HD Olympics are now totally uninterrupted no matter who walks where in the house.  So, to wrap it up really short, the quick tip today is that if you're having intermittent signals with your DTV, try out a little power amplifier.  It cleared up all of my problems.
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disappointed in GOV

why can't they put up towers to extend signals if they cannot boost them ?

You're an idiot.

You're an idiot.

DTV Dead Zones

I agree 100%. I, too, live in a dead zone in Virginia. Funny thing is, we are only about and hour and a half away for Washington, DC and we can't get any local stations. The only stations we can get in are foreign stations and a lot of good that does us here in the US. It's a shame when the local news tells you to stay tuned for updates, but I guess that only applies to those people who can afford satellite TV.
The government screwed up when they made the change to digital tv. Shute, can't even watch President Obama give his speech/s of which I don't like missing.

Digital TV is a disappointment to all those people who used to be able to at least watch the local stations, but now can't watch any local TV!

What the bandwidth is used for

We did the sam ehere in Canada switch to digital) this was done to free up some of the spectrum for emergency radio commuinications (Police, Ambulance ...) and for extra bandwidth for new cell carriers.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (US) website has some good info including a grapical representation of the electromagnetic spectrum and what each portion is used for.

Outcry from KY

I live in a well populated area in KY. Just wanted to say that I hate the DTV movement. It's a complete waste. I now receive 3 channels (if I'm lucky) that are spotty at best. My family that live out in the country and far off the paved road in the middle of the forest, running the same setup receive at least TWICE the channels, with RARE spotting or glitching. It's completely rediculous. I think I'm definitly going to use an old Dell Dimension 3000 box and some software I found to watch tv from the Internet. Since I have a 10 Mbps downspeed, I think this is the best option I have seen since the DTV movement.

It's possible to pick up a

It's possible to pick up a cheap outdoor bowtie antenna for less than $50. Or you can build your own from coathangers, wire and a stick of wood. (Plans can be found online.) While the $10 antenna might work, you should find a big improvement with a better antenna.

I was fortunate enough to run across an old indoor two-bay bowtie in the basement. It turns out to be the best type of indoor antenna one can use. Before that I was experimenting using a two-bay home-built which did a surprising good job. Definitely much better than the old rabbit ears I had been using.

The biggest issue I have now is that most Canadian stations aren't at full power yet and as such I can't pull most of them in with just an indoor. I do have a "sweet spot" in my room which often gets a strong US signal when I point the antenna upwards, although it's weather dependent.

DTV dead zones

Anonymous in Michigan is right on the money! My old Zenith - 20 years old, gets in more channels with the rabbit ears and the convertor box than my brand new Philips tv. What a racquet the government has going with this crap. What used to be free is no longer the case. Sure you can get all the channels you want, just buy this antenna, or this cable, or this satellite dish, blah, blah, blah. Makes you wonder who was the brain child of this. We can only hope they are experiencing some of the same frustrations!


Your comment is entirely untrue in certain rural areas.
This family lives in the great DTV "DEAD ZONE" called Michigan. Not only have I, more than once, filed compliants with the FCC, the local television stations, and the major television networks, I made an appointment with an FCC technician. He advised us to change our coaxial setup. It didn't work, so now we're back to square one.
The cause, as told to us by the FCC tech is that our area stations and their transmitters are too far away to receive an adequate signal. The stations on the other hand say the FCC will not allow them to boost their signals. Their was no obvious signal increase after June the 12th. If anything the local stations actually decreased their tranmitters power.
Was wondering if I piggy-back another indoor booster to the one already installed if this will help? I read that some apartment dwellers are setting up outdoor antenna's inside of their apartments, with good results. Who knew? From 8:00 am in the morning to around 12:00 am at night, we usually have spotty to no reception for all but two area television stations. The FCC tech stated that we are lucky to receive the second station in our area.
We have relatives that cannot receive good reception in their home, but were able to receive more channels in their garage using an old model TV and good old rabbit ears. They moved an old couch to their garage. I can see them now, during a blustery Michigan snowstorm, out in their garage donning, mittens, winter hats, boots, snow pants, and winter coats in order to watch prime time television.
I think the government doesn't have a clue what they are doing and the DTV debacle is proof. What I do not understand is why there is not a bigger public outcry. It's like the government is keeping the DTV mess "under wraps."
The whole DTV signal mess is ridiculous, and a waste of taxpayer money.!

direction IS critical

I actually took a 13" TV and my converter box up on the roof to aim my old RadioShack U100 UHF antenna, and I agree that the aim is VERY touchy. Three degrees can make a BIG difference in signal strength.

Try to get you started with the direction to aim your

And I have all the major stations (plus subchannels) that I ever had, plus almost all of the minor ones. There's one independent channel that I lost, that swears it's still broadcasting in my area (per their web site), but doesn't show up at all on antennaweb. I'm thinking of building one of the bowtie antennas I've found free plans for on the Internet to see if I can find it again. Some people have been building these without the reflectors, and have had good results hooking two of them, pointed in different directions, combined into one downlead. This would likely have caused horrible ghosting on analog, but digital apparently doesn't care.

The ABC affiliate for this

The ABC affiliate for this area is about 50 miles away.

I'm not so sure about that.

I'm not so sure about that. In Chicago, I had twice as many channels when I switched to digital. It was really nice! I'm not sure who could benefit from the old analog band. What could it even be used for now? Certainly not broadcasting.

TV Reception

Before digital, TV reception was available to almost everyone, even without cable. Now, with the transition to digital, many are ending up with less programming than they had before. That's not progress. Makes me suspect that this transition was a sell-out by the Bush Administration to reward the cable companies and corporations who will benefit from the vacated analog channels.

re: How To Improve Digital TV (DTV) Reception

Where I live, about 50 miles north of Atlanta and on a mountain facing the city, I get 85-95% on ALL of Atlanta affiliates using a small indoor antenna that came with my HDTV Wonder card for my computer that I rigged onto my back porch. It works perfectly except for when it rains heavily (cuts out occasionally). One thing ive noticed about digital is that it is much more temperamental when it comes to pointing. You must have it pointed virtually dead on center or the signal will decrease dramatically. Analog is more forgiving when it comes to this. Also with almost all digital stations being broadcasted in the UHF band, the signals will not be able to travel as far as VHF can since VHF signals are able to bend more to follow the curvature of the earth. Many people who are in deep fringe rural areas that are able to get a decent analog signal from stations 75+ miles away using a rooftop antenna will likely have to get a tower with multiple high gain UHF antennas (xg91, db8, cm4228 comes to mind) to get a watchable signal, unless they live on a big mountain facing the towers like I do maybe.I will miss being able to watch the VHF Chattanooga stations (100 miles away) like I once did with analog. I will also miss analog VHF DXing during summer months : (

re: How To Improve Digital TV (DTV) Reception

Not necessarily. The ABC affiliate for this area is about 50 miles away. I get their analog signal but nothing on their digital channel except late at night when it is clear outside.Funny thing. Our FOX and NBC affiliates share a building and broadcast equipment. I can get NBC but no FOX.Bye bye ABC & FOX. :(

re: How To Improve Digital TV (DTV) Reception

Bob Brown if you can receive analog broadcasts then you should be able to receive digital broadcasts. All you have to do is get a DTV converter box and you can get up to two $40 coupons to offset the cost from: You may have to use an inexpensive signal preamplifier that mounts near your antenna or an amplifier that you would connect before the signal goes into the DTV converter box.

re: How To Improve Digital TV (DTV) Reception

I'm really on the "dirty end" of this stick! Living in an extremely rural section of Pennsylvania, out analog commercial tv stations are all (5 of them) about 45 mountainous miles away. To date we have been using antennas inside the attic of our farm house.In a few short months we will lose all tv reception.1) we are beyond range of all/any commercial tv broadcasting stations.2) Our rural sparse populated region is not blessed with cable access.Because of the high incidence of regular lightening strikes here (we have scarred and charred trees all around us), I am wary of putting a satellite disk on the roof.It all adds up" we are simply SOL. Thank you federal government for mandating us back about 50 years in modern communications.Bob