How to Boost TV Antenna Signal Homemade

Boost Antenna Signals Like a Pro: 12 Game-Changing Hacks for Crystal Clear HDTV

Whether you live in a city, a sandy beach, or several miles away from the nearest city, installing a TV antenna can be the most cost effective way to untether from those ever-growing cable and satellite subscriptions. For people who live in rural areas, an antenna may be their only option.

However, getting an antenna installed and functioning optimally is not always a straight forward task. If you rely on a television antenna and are not receiving all the OTA (Over-the-Air) channels you should be, we have put together a list of DIY type fixes you can try today.

There are several factors that can contribute to your antenna signal not be optimized, including your installation, distance from the towers, location, direction, among many other factors we will discuss in a moment. Below is our guide on 12 ways to boost your TV antenna signal strength.

#1. Ensure the Right Direction: Boost HDTV Antenna Signal with Proper Placement

Whether you’re using an indoor antenna or outdoor one, proper placement is key. For an indoor one, try different locations within your home, and for an outside antenna, aim it towards the broadcast towers for better reception. Use a directional antenna for more precise aiming, especially in rural areas where where you might have a weak signal.

Consumers who use unidirectional antennas are usually of log-periodic or Yagi design. If you have poor signal reception, try re-aiming your antenna towards the transmission or broadcast towers. You could be astonished to find that even a shift by a few degrees might help.

But how do you know where the nearest transmission towers are? Fortunately, there are some online tools like the one found on our TV station locator tool page.

When orienting your antenna, pay attention to the following two things:

  1. The antenna mast should always be vertically level: Use a carpenter’s level to verify that the mast is level. If the antenna isn’t vertical from bottom to top, it will have a poor signal reception. Ask another person to rescan the channels on your TV and inform you how your re-aiming efforts are working.
  2. Ensure that you use the tower’s magnetic azimuth heading to aim your antenna using your compass. A compass smartphone app can also be used. When you are aiming towards a group of towers, experiment for some time to receive the best signal.

#2. Move Your Antenna: Relocate to See if Reception Improves

It may be the case that your current installation location is just not ideal. Relocating may be the best way to improve your TV antenna signal. If you’ve tried step #1 above and are still not getting the result you expect consider moving your antenna to another location.

Relocating your antenna may work due to the physics of signal transmission and its LOS (Line Of Sight). If you are going to do the heavy lifting required in relocating your TV antenna, be sure to carefully plan out your new location.

Make sure your new location takes into consideration things like trees, hills, walls, buildings, and any other obstruction you may be dealing with.

Next, run the RabbitEars report for your location, and reassess whether your current antenna is even capable of receiving TV broadcasts. You may find that upgrading your antenna can solve some of these problems.

#3. Coaxial Cable Quality: Minimize Signal Loss with the Right Cables

Investing in quality coaxial cables, like the RG6 variety with tri or quad shielding, is like upgrading from a dirt road to a smooth, multi-lane expressway. My antenna setup was once plagued by pixelation, and after some research, I realized my old coaxial cable was the culprit. A switch to RG6 cables not only eliminated the annoying visual glitches but also enhanced the overall signal quality.

Now, let’s discuss the pitfalls of long cable runs. I vividly remember the frustration of having my antenna in the living room but needing to run a cable to the bedroom. The result? A noticeable drop in signal strength, leading to pixelated screens and occasional signal loss. It was a lesson learned—keeping cable runs as short as possible is key to maintaining optimal signal quality.

So, what’s the takeaway here? Choose quality over quantity when it comes to coaxial cables. Opt for shorter cable runs to ensure your TV signals reach their destination without unnecessary detours. It’s a small investment that pays off big in terms of a crisp, uninterrupted viewing experience.

#4. Antenna Amplifiers: Enhance Weak Signals with Signal Boosters

Digital TV signals generally get weaker as they go through the coaxial cable to your TV or network tuner. If the signal is split at one or more points, the signal reaching your TV may become weak, making it necessary to install a preamplifier or a distribution amplifier.

An antenna preamplifier is usually installed on the antenna mast close to the antenna. It amplifies your signal before a line loss occurs. Ensure the coax cable length between the preamplifier and antenna is as short as possible to get the best results.

Channel Master CM-7779HD PreAmp 1 TV Antenna Amplifier with 5G LTE Filter, Adjustable Gain Preamplifier - Professional-Grade Signal Booster

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Additionally, ensure you don’t install signal splitters on the coax cable that runs between the power supply and the preamplifier. If your connection has signal slitters along this cable, it could be the reason for the poor signal.

A distribution amplifier can be used in place of splitters if you’re planning to split the digital signal to multiple TVs throughout your house. For more information on when and where to use these devices we recommend checking out our detailed guide here.

#5. Outdoor Antenna Height: Elevate for Better TV Reception

Your antenna reception will perform optimally if it has a clear line of sight to the broadcast towers. Ideally, this means that the antenna should be pointed directly towards the tower, ensuring there aren’t any local obstacles like mountains, trees, or buildings on its way.

The obstacles create a perfect opportunity for the signals to split when they bounce off these surfaces and become out of face in what is called multipath interference. During the VHF analog days, multipath interference would produce weird effects like ghosting.

However, multipath interference will most likely result in pixilation or lack of a picture at all these days.

Unfortunately, having a clean line of sight to the closest TV station or transmission tower is unattainable for many households. Therefore, you should mount the antenna as high as possible and outside if possible. This is the best option to clear your local obstacles.

Your attic isn’t the best place to mount the antenna if an outdoor option is available. However, if you have no choice but the attic to get the antenna up in the air, check out our attic antenna installation guide.

At your home, the roof provides the highest option, and it is recommended that you install the antenna at least 2-30 feet above the ground. If mounting your antenna on your rooftop, be sure to properly ground it.

#6. Signal Overloads: Install a Signal Attenuator

Is your home located too close to a TV transmitting tower, and you are experiencing signal overloads on your DTV converter box or TV tuner? Are mobile LTE and 5G networks causing signal interference? In this case we recommend a signal attenuator such as the the Channel Master LTE Filter.

Channel Master CM-3201 LTE Filter - Optimized for new 2023 LTE, and 5G, Standards in the US. - Blocks LTE and 5G signals that interfere with TV antenna reception.

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You should understand that no one antenna type or antenna will provide great TV signal reception at every location. Your TV antenna’s distance from the television station transmitters is another factor determining signal reception quality.

If you live close to a station transmitter or a broadcast tower, and the signal’s path to your TV is unobstructed, you might receive q quality signal on your TV antenna. As discussed above, this isn’t always a good thing as it might result in overloading your TV tuner.

#7. TV Signal Problems: Resetting your Digital Tuner

Digital tuners come in modern TVs or can be purchased separately as an external network tuner device. These external network tuners allow you to stream your digital TV antenna signals to various smart devices in your home, including your television.

 

SiliconDust HDHomeRun Flex Duo 2 x ATSC Tuners - HDFX-2US

 

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To refresh the channel information, try clearing the memory cache of the tuner. Due to channel repacks and other variables, broadcasters might change the channel’s meta information occasionally. Usually, resetting your tuner isn’t necessary; a channel rescan would suffice.

However, resetting the tuner might be a trick worth trying if you have a hard time accessing some channels. Follow the procedure below to recompile your channel list and clear the tuner’s existing memory:

  • Disconnect the antenna’s coaxial cable from the converter/set-top box or TV.
  • Perform a channel scan on your converter/set-top box or TV having the antenna disconnected.
  • Turn off, disconnect the converter/set-top box or TV, and wait.
  • Then, reconnect the antenna on your device or TV.
  • Plug your converter/set-top box or TV back and switch it on.
  • Finally, perform a channel scan.

#8. Weather Factors: Protect Your Antenna Against the Elements

Image of old weather beaten antennas on top of an apartment building. Image shows a multidirectional antenna setup using two different outdoor antennas.

Outdoor equipment can be worn down and eroded by wind, rain, and even the blazing sun. An antenna’s structure might be waterproof and strong, but if the individual pieces like connectors and screws are of poor quality, they can’t last for long.

Once a year, it is recommended that you inspect the outdoor TV antenna and any other devices or cables. This allows you to spot any eroded or rusted parts and fix them before they turn into a problem.

Weatherproof Cable Connections

Check all the connections between the equipment and coaxial cables in particular, and waterproof them if needed. This is a pretty simple thing to accomplish. To begin with, disconnect and clean the coax cable from its connection and dry it. After plugging it back in, carefully wrap a moisture-proof tape around the connection.

If you are not using compressions connectors on your coax, you should be. You can pick up a coax compression connector kit on Amazon relatively cheap and it will save you may headaches down the road. We recommend this kit from Ideal Industries.

You can alternatively waterproof the cable connections. Unplug the cable and directly apply waterproofing grease like STUF Dielectric to the cable core and the connector before you plug it back in. This will not interfere with the flow of signals to your TV.

Some antennas have a rubber or weather “boot” that protects sensitive components like baluns (the rubber section of the antenna that covers where the coax cable emerges) or transformers. If the antenna has a balun, inspect it and perform a replacement if it’s broken or damaged.

Replacing The Damaged Coax Cables

Old coaxial cables having frayed or worn outer sheaths should be avoided because they can sometimes have open places, enabling moisture to penetrate. Ensure you use the modern RG6 cable featuring quad or tri shielding to protect the signals from electromagnetic interference.

Fastening Your Antenna

Finally, if you are sitting at your home watching a TV and suddenly lose signal due to strong winds, you’ll need to ensure that your outdoor antenna is firmly and securely mounted. For example, if you’ve mounted the antenna on top of a swaying pole in strong wind, poor signal reception will result because a moving antenna may lead to signal dropouts.

#9. Signal Interference: Identify and Eliminate Electronic Disturbances

Isolating The TV Coax Cable From Electrical Wiring

Some electrical appliances at your home, like hair driers and microwaves, might distort the TV signals. This usually is common in older homes with older wiring systems. The electromagnetic shielding in these homes is considered poor by the current standards.

Does the TV signal deteriorate as soon as your daughter or wife activates the hair drier? Your home may have substandard electromagnetic shielding.

Ensure you inspect the entire system starting from the antenna whenever you notice that your TV images keep blacking out at specific moments. Ensure that the coaxial cables aren’t running perpendicularly or parallel to any electrical wiring, and they do not intersect at any point.

Test the effect of your appliances by separately activating them while also observing the signal reaction to isolate the cause of the issue.

When you’re confident that you’ve isolated the source of the interference, install a power conditioner to protect the television equipment from any power surge damage whenever filtering the electromagnetic noise interference.

Dealing With The Reflective Surfaces Around Your Antenna

Reflective surfaces are a form of interference that may distort or weaken the radio frequency signals around the TV antenna. These include metal roofs that may block the reception or interfere with the TV signals.

For example, bug screens and burglar bars on your window might block the reception by the indoor antennas if they are metallic. Keep a distance of about 6ft between these metallic objects and your antenna.

Cell Phone Signals

Many cellphones 4G LTE and 5G signals can sometimes interfere with TV signals and UHF channels. You can install an LTE filter like the Channel Master LTE filter mentioned above to avoid such interference. You screw the LTE filter between your set-top box and the coaxial antenna cable.

Radio Signals

Do you live near an FM radio station? There is a probability that the station may interfere with your weaker VHF television station. Most preamplifiers also have inbuilt FM traps to boost antenna signals to block these signals.

#10. Protect Against Power Surges: Safeguard Electronics from Lightning Strikes

It is a fact that power surges caused by thunderstorms might damage your household appliances. The buildup of static electric charges on the antenna caused by storms might damage any devices connected to the antenna. This could include your signal booster, distribution amplifier, TV tuner and more!

Although you might not live in an area prone to lightning, you will still want to have a strategy for dealing with power surges since they are inevitable.

First off, it is recommended that you properly ground your antenna. This protects the TV equipment from direct lightning strikes and the other common issues caused by thunderstorms, like a static electrical buildup.

You could also decide to simply install surge protectors on the coax cable between your set-top box or TV and the antenna. However, you should remember that surge protectors only ground the coax cable and do not offer to ground to the antenna mast.

#11. Antenna Stacking: Improve Reception with Multiple Antennas

There may be situations where the antenna is working just fine, but it can’t pick up a tower(s) in a varying direction; mounting a second antenna, also called antenna stacking, might make sense.

If your first antenna is VHF or UHF, having a second one is an excellent way to boost your TV antenna signal. This makes sense because it affords you a chance to receive a channel or two on the other spectrum (Frequency band). To minimize any interference between two antennas, ensure that;

  • Their coax cables are of the same length to prevent phase problems.
  • The antennas should be separated by 2-4 ft in the distance, especially when mounting the two on one mast.

Ensure you mount and connect each antenna individually to your TV, to be sure that each individual antenna is receiving all their channels. Then you have a couple of options:

  1. Antenna Coupler: Remember, the signal combiner has two coax IN ports to connect your antennas and a single OUT port for it to connect to your set-top box or TV.
  2. External Network Tuner: This is our preferred way to connect multiple antennas and making the signals available over Wi-Fi to any smart device in your house.

#12. Antenna Rotator: Maximize Reception with a Rotating Antenna

If you have a unidirectional outdoor antenna and your area’s transmission towers are over 90 degrees apart in relation to you, you might consider purchasing and fitting an antenna rotator. The rotator helps you re-orient the antenna towards the next transmission tower(s) whenever necessary without you having to climb onto the roof yourself to turn the antenna.

We did a comprehensive article that discusses antenna rotators here, including their installation and where your can buy them. Antenna rotators are of different price categories. However, you shouldn’t scrimp on them. Do not purchase a cheap rotator that’ll be breaking now and then.

We like this rotator made by RCA readily available on Amazon. You can check out its latest price here.

RCA VH226E Programmable Outdoor Antenna Rotator

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Installing an antenna rotator on the mast may require professional experience or a reasonable amount of Do-It-Yourself skill. Usually, the control unit is placed near the television.

The rotator should be installed close to the antenna to minimize the load-bearing weight that it will be turning. After installing it, do the configuration by performing an initial rotation and registering the tower locations with the control unit’s memory positions. After that, you will just use the remote to choose a memory position for turning your antenna.

Conclusion

In conclusion, mastering the art of boosting your HDTV antenna signal is the key to unlocking a world of crystal-clear TV reception without the hefty cable bills. From strategic antenna placement to the magic of tv antenna amplifiers, each tip is a step towards better signal strength and a more enjoyable viewing experience.

Remember, investing in quality coaxial cables ensures a smooth signal highway, while periodic channel scans are like a spring cleaning for your TV. If you’re reaching for the stars with an outdoor antenna, make sure it’s mounted high for optimal performance.

Battling interference? Keep those cables away from electrical wiring, and let power conditioners be your noise-filtering heroes. In a multi-TV household, distribution amplifiers maintain harmony, ensuring everyone gets their fair share of signal goodness.

The antenna rotator is your dance partner, ensuring your outdoor antenna is always grooving towards the best signal. Stacking antennas, like having multiple sets of eyes, is your secret weapon for diverse signal reception.